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Lauder and Dershowitz Admonish Netanyahu

Ron Lauder: 'Bibi Should Sit Down With Palestinians & Put Everything On the Table - Time Is Not On Israel's Side'

Alan Dershowitz: 'It's High Time That Israel's Political Parties Stop Skirmishing & Form United Front To Defend State During Critical Months Ahead'

Dershowitz: 'Israel's Naval Blockade Of Gaza Is Legal Under International Law - Anyone Who Tries to Break It Can Be Arrested & Prosecuted In Court Of Law'

Benyamin Netanyahu (Photo: Amit Shabi)

 Two prominent American Jewish figures Ron Lauder and Alan Dershowitz have called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to launch a viable peace initiative. In separate interviews with the Israeli media, the two friends of Netanyahu, have warned of the Palestinian PR campaign that is being spearheaded by the latest flotilla to Gaza and the UN General Assembly vote recognizing a Palestinian state expected in September. Analyst David Essing is of the view that both Lauder and Dershowitz would not have gone public with such critical comments, unless they felt that Israel's Prime Minister is unwilling to confront his Right wing supporters in and out of his Likud party.

 Ron Lauder and Alan Dershowitz pulled no punches when they publicly admonished their personal friend Binyamin Netanyahu to launch a diplomatic initiative to get peace talks going with the Palestinians. Interviewed on Channel Two TV, Lauder who serves as President of the World Jewish Congress, warned the UN General Assembly vote recognizing a Palestinian state on the lines of 1967 could have serious consequences for the Jewish state. In his view 'time was not on Israel's side'. Lauder criticized those Israeli politicians who contended that it would just be another UN vote soon to be forgotten. On the contrary, Lauder declared: 'It will be a very, very important vote!' For example, if over one hundred UN member members voted in favor they would establish diplomatic relations with the Palestinian state and that would have political and economic consequences for Israel. During his first term, Netanyahu sent Lauder to Damascus to conduct secret peace contacts with Syrian President Hafez Assad that never panned out.

Ron Lauder

Today, Lauder said he disagreed with Netanyahu's approach that there is no solution to the Palestinian issue at this time and Israel must wait out the current upheavals in the Arab world. Lauder argued that the Arab masses in Syria and elsewhere were now most interested in jobs and their standard of living and as such this might provide opportunities for peace. It was a mistake for Israel to be more and more isolationist. On the contrary, 'it was critical for Israel to open up'. Lauder disclosed that he had met recently with French Foreign Minister Alain Jupe who said if there were peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, there would be no UN vote in September. And the cosmetics tycoon added that Netanyahu's address in the U.S. Congress was wonderful - he personally had stood up so many times to applaud that his knees were sore. Nonetheless, 'Bibi should sit down and talk with the Palestinians and somewhere in the middle a compromise can be found, talk about everything including Jerusalem'. Lauder contended that Jerusalem must remain unified and it was wrong to consider it a settlement - 'it is our capital'.

Christians in America also realized that unless Jerusalem was controlled by Israel there would be problems for Christian sacred sites. But it was impossible to find solutions without talking and without everything on the table. In this vein. it was a mistake for Netanyahu to demand that the Palestinians first recognize Israel as a Jewish state. ( DE- the interviewer did not ask Lauder whether the PM should agree to a total settlement building freeze as demanded by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas). As for the support by American Jews, Lauder said they wished to see Israel as engaging more for peace.

Alan Dershowitz

Alan Dershowitz, was once offered by Netanyahu to serve as Israel's ambassador to the UN. Interviewed by the daily Maariv, Dershowitz said he declined because he did not want to raise the question of dual loyalty. In any case, the Harvard law professor has been an ardent and highly effective advocate of Israel's cause. However, Dershowitz also urged Israel to start initiating, adopt preventative tactics to confront the smear campaign and to take international public opinion into consideration. As did Lauder, Dershowitz also agreed: 'The next few months will be critical starting with the latest Gaza flotilla until September'. Therefore it was high time for political parties in Israel to put aside their skirmishing and form a united front to defend the state. If this were done, Israel could turn the tide that is now running against the Jewish state.

As for the flotilla that has tried to set sail from Greece, Dershowitz contended that its organizers were not attempting to aid Gaza but to harm Israel in the international arena. Therefore Israel should take out ads in media around the world proving that Gaza is not a 'huge prison' but rather that its residents actually are better off than Arabs living in the nearby Egyptian town of El Arish or in Yemen or Syria. Israel should inform the world that the economic welfare of the Palestinians has vastly improved, even if this gives some credit to Hamas . It was very important to expose the real intentions of the flotilla activists. (DE- since the Dershowitz interview it has been revealed that some fifty of the flotilla participants are Palestinians, one of them being the son- in- law of Hamas - Damascus leader Haled Meshall).

The eminent law professor also stated that according to international law Israel has the right to impose the blockade in order to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza. In his words: 'There is no grey area here and I doubt there are any serious legal experts who will challenge it'. A maritime blockade is recognized by international law and anyone who tries to break it is considered to be a combatant who commits a military act. Moreover, under international law Israel would have the legal right to arrest all the participants and try them in a court of law, with the possible exception of reporters and medical staff. While this was possible legally, Dershowitz would not advise Israel to do so. His advice to Israel was to take care not to turn the operation against the flotilla into a strictly military action but to also involve the Foreign Ministry, communications experts and to document everything as it happened. In so doing, Israel could show the world how a democratic and civilized country protects its borders.

David Essing

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