Friday, January 30, 2015

The week that the Third Lebanon War did not break out

The air is full of fuel vapor, and the sparks are flying, but so far the great conflagration did not happen.

As a child, I occasionally heard adults speaking nostalgically of the British Mandate times (though at the time itself they had been in the anti-British underground ...). "In those days you could go to Mount Hermon. The Syrian border was open, it was possible to travel throughout the Middle East. On Mount Hermon there is snow in the winter, just like in Europe. What lovely snow!". Pre-1967 Israel had no snow except for two or three unusually cold winter days in Jerusalem. 

And then there was the war in 1967 and the euphoria and – yes - the electrifying news "Now Hermon is ours! The snow! The snow!" Six years later there was another war, and Mount Hermon was a battleground and the blood of Israeli and Syrian soldiers stained the white snow. But in the end the State of Israel kept hold of Hermon and after a few years formally annexed it (though no one in the world recognizes the annexation) and awarded to Israeli developers the franchise for establishing  the Mount Hermon Resort. Every winter we hear on the radio, several times a day, the jingle " Hermon Resort in full swing!" The commercials explain that there is no need to travel to Switzerland or Austria, since one can just as well ski in the snows of Hermon. "Ours, ours, all of you ours, Crown of the Hermon" is the refrain of an old song, written at the beginning of the Zionist movement, which Israel’s state radio occasionally tries to revive.

Very few in Israel heard of the Syrian village which existed there, at the foot of Mount Hermon, until 1967. A village which was completely razed by Israel's bulldozers. The facilities of the beautiful Mount Hermon Resort were built on its site. What was the name of that village? I once knew. Many years ago, I was there in a delegation of Israeli peace activists. Our guide was a resident of the nearby town of Majdal Shams - one of those residents who, also after decades of Israeli rule, stubbornly refuse to accept Israeli citizenship and regard themselves as Syrian citizens and Syrian patriots. He told us about this village which once nestled at the foot of Mount Hermon and of other villages which had existed in the same area, naming all these villages, one by one. But my impressions of that visit, and the names of all the villages, were written down in my old laptop which later had a fatal collision with a cup of hot tea.

Back to the present: this week, two missiles were fired from Syria in the general direction of Mount Hermon, falling in open fields without causing any casualties or damage. But just in case, the army ordered the immediate evacuation of some thousand Israeli hikers from the Mount Hermon ski site. Later, the army opened artillery fire on a Syrian army camp manned by soldiers loyal to President Bashar Assad, who are mainly engaged in fighting against the rebels threatening his regime. The State of Israel, however, concluded that they were responsible for the rocket attacks. As usual in such cases, the army announced "precise hits on target". What did happen at  these accurately hit targets, who was killed there and who was wounded? We will probably never know.

Some Israeli media commentators remarked on the fact that President Assad's regime, together with members of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards who support this regime, nowadays hold only  the northern sector of the Syrian border with Israel. Most of this border is now under control of the anti-Assad rebels. Commentators also remarked that the rebels carefully avoid any act against Israel, and that Israel provides them with  humanitarian assistance and the treatment of their wounded in Israeli hospitals. What about an assistance which goes beyond the humanitarian, for example the providing of arms and ammunition? This was not so much mentioned in the Israeli media, but abroad the possibility was mentioned several times. In fact, there were some references to Israel building up a “security zone” on the Syrian side of the border, such as was maintained in South Lebanon for many years. The rebel coalition which holds a large part of the Syrian border with Israel also includes the Jabhat al-Nusra Front, which is considered to be the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda. So, is al-Qaeda providing a Security Zone for the State of Israel? Even stranger things have already happened in the crazy region in which we live.

Mostly, however, commentators on that day were concerned with wondering whether the missiles fired from Syria already constituted the retaliation for the attack which the State of Israel launched in the same vicinity last week – in which were killed Hezbollah members led by the famous Jihad Mughniyeh as well as an Iranian general and other Iranian officers - or were additional retaliations to be expected? This question was given a clear answer by the next  morning. The firing of missiles from Syria turned out to have been a diversionary tactic designed to divert Israeli attention to the Syrian border, while the main Hezbollah retaliation was actually launched from the Lebanese border: an accurate ambush laid to a convoy of Israeli officers who moved along the border in unarmored vehicles, a negligence which provoked a lot of questions. (Though, in fact, armored vehicles would not have been of much avail, as the convoy was hit by sophisticated anti-tank missiles designed to penetrate heavy armor). "We had a precise tit-for-tat action” said Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in his speech today. “broad daylight  action for broad daylight action, missile shooting for missile shooting, two cars hit for two cars hit”.

Major Yochai Kalangala and First Sergeant Dor Nini of the IDF were killed by the accurate hit on their jeep. As always when Israeli soldiers are killed, the  papers published extensively the mourning words of their family members,: "Our heroic brother Yochai, Jocha as we always called him, was a full-blooded man, salt of the earth, a warrior in heart and soul, a leader and an outstanding officer." "My brother Dor was a soldier, a warm-hearted hero who loved to help everybody,  a smiling child who was happy to be in a combat unit. When he was in the Gaza Strip we were very worried for him and made a celebration when he returned, but  this time he did not make it." The Spanish soldier who was killed, Lance Corporal Francisco Javier Soria Toledo who served as a UN peacekeeper, was hardly mentioned in the Israeli media. The Spanish media did extensively interview his family and also noted the fact that he was killed in the Israeli retaliatory shooting into Lebanon, and that his death was part of the escalation initiated by the State of Israel.

But here it stops, as of this moment. Foreign Minister Lieberman – whose  party is sharply plummeting in the polls due to the corruption scandal  involving its senior members - made during a visit to Beijing a call for
“a disproportionate response” and the launching of all-out war. Was this a serious strategic assessment or a rather ineffective piece of elections propaganda? To Prime Minister Netanyahu, the polls seem to have given the message that even the blowing of  turbulent winds of war  did not ensure him a significant lead towards the March 17 elections, and that after all it was quite uncertain if a prolonged war could become a winning electoral gambit.

On the other side of the border, the death and destruction rained on Lebanon in 2006 are certainly far from forgotten, and the Lebanese had also seen what happened to the Gaza Strip in 2009 and 2012 and 2014, and there was absolutely no enthusiasm in Lebanon for another round.

So, both parties took up the UN call for a cease-fire and de-escalation. For the time being.

IDF officer Yochai Kalangala, killed this week in a Hezbollah ambush
(here shown receiving outstanding officer commendation from his commanding general)
Photo: IDF Spokesman  

Hezbollah officer Jihad Mughniyeh, killed last week in an IDF raid
(here shown received by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei)
Photo: @khamenei_ir, Twitter

Saturday, January 24, 2015

About buried phosphorus and thuggish diplomacy

In 1974, as a young soldier just inducted into the ranks of the Israel Defense Forces, I was among a group of soldiers whom the platoon sergeant took on a tour of the munitions dump, showing us the different types of ammunition  used by the army. Among other things, he pointed to a pile of wooden boxes which were marked "Exploding Smoke" and said with a sligh wink "In fact, these are phosphorus bombs, but do not write the name explicitly because it might  create international problems." I have to admit that at that moment I did not pay much attention to this; still, it somehow stuck in my memory.

Much later, in 2009, I suddenly remembered the winking sergeant  and his Exploding Smoke. During the Israeli Air Force bombings of Gaza ("Cast Lead Operation") news started to get out of what happened to those on whom such phosphorus bombs happened to fall. Burning phosphorus particles stick to the body, penetrating deeper and deeper inside, causing excruciating pain. Shifa Hospital in central Gaza was crowded with whole families affected by the phosphorus which had fallen on them from the sky, the doctors seeing it happen, often unable to stop it in time. Even phosphorus smoke dissipating in the air can cause severe damage, sometimes death, to those who breath it.

Israeli and international Human Rights organizations made an outcry, and the use of phosphorus in Gaza had a central place in the famous report of the Goldstone Commission. The Government of Israel and the IDF asserted that phosphorus was used only in uninhabited areas (is there any part of the Gaza Strip which is truly uninhabited?). But in the next rounds of Gaza bombings, 2012 and 2014 phosphorus was no longer used. At least this particular horror was spared the inhabitants.

This week, intensive earthworks were going on at the Schneller Compound in Jerusalem, a former military camp on whose site an upscale residential neighborhood is to be erected. Suddenly, severe toxic fumes rose from the ground and spread throughout the whole area. Residents within a hundred meters radius were urgently required to stay indoors and close hermetically all windows. Only after several hours, rescue teams in sealed protective suits managed to locate and neutralize a buried old phosphorus bomb which had been touched by the bulldozers.

The  phosphorus vapors which rose this week from the soil of a quiet Jerusalem neighborhood - as if it is a metaphor for the State of Israel coming this week for the first time under the direct scrutiny of the International Criminal Court in The Hague…

No longer science fiction, no more an apocalyptic forecast of a future when the Palestinians might wield "their "Doomsday Weapon", but a concrete reality. A dry, formal notification by the Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda that a preliminary probe had been initiated about the possibility of war crimes having been committed in the Palestinian Territories; that the probe may relate to crimes committed by Israel, by Palestinian organizations, or both; that the probe is not a full-scale investigation, but the information collected might lead to the decision to open a full investigation; that the decision on such a full investigation would be made by the judges of the court, under the prescribed procedures; and that the probe will be conducted in a "fully independent and impartial manner", with no deadline set for its completion. Fatou Bensouda of Gambia, who had been involved in prosecuting war criminals in Rwanda, was included by Time Magazine in its list of “the hundred most influential people in the world”.

The professional echelon at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem recommended
to Prime Minister Netanyahu to make a moderate and measured response and concentrate on discreet behind-the-scenes action, especially since the prosecutors’ probe is preliminary only, and it would take a long time to crystallize into a formal charge-sheet - if at all.

Netanyahu ignored the recommendation and decided on an all-out international campaign, a frontal attack on the Court, its prosecutors and judges – even to the extent of exerting  international efforts to get funding to the International Court cut if it dares to institute proceedings against officers of the "most moral army in the world". Foreign Minister Lieberman, in his usual blunt way, stated that “the court should be dismantled”. Several observers noted that such angry and a bit hysterical reactions had less to do with apprehension of some Israeli officers being actually prosecuted in absentia at some future time, and more with the realization that even this initial probe might be enough to change significantly the international discourse regarding Israel and the Palestinians.

And then, the focus of attention suddenly shifted away from the court halls in the Hague to the skies of war-torn Syria. There, combat helicopters (or by another version, drones) suddenly appeared and launched an accurate barrage on a convoy of senior operatives of Hezbollah – the Lebanese Shi’ite militia which is one of the main supporters of President Bashar Assad and his regime. The Government of Israel refrained from taking formal responsibility for the attack, but Israel’s mass-circulation newspapers were quick to place headlines praising "the accurate action of our forces," and the "liquidation of the Prince of Terror".

Jihad Mughniyah, a young man without much experience or special skills, had gained the position of command over the forces sent by Hezbollah to the Israeli border in the Golan Heights mainly because of being the son of Imad Mughniyeh, the Hezbollah operations chief who was killed in a mysterious  explosion in Damascus eight years ago. Yedioth Ahronoth published on its front page the photo of father and son, Imad and Jihad, with the prominent red captions "liquidated 2008" near the one and "liquidated 2015" next to the other. On the inside pages was the further information, unearthed by some diligent researcher, that also two uncles from the “Mughniyah terrorist family" had been "liquidated" in the past. Also, there was a warning to readers not to be misled by the photographs of Jihad Mughniyeh, in which he looked like a shy schoolboy, but to understand that he had been a dangerous terrorist and it had been well done to rid the world of his presence.

There was some confusion when it came out that among the twelve killed in the bombing were also an Iranian general and some of his officers. Official Israel responded with a number of conflicting voices: one unnamed “Israeli military source” apologetically told Reuters that Israel did not know about the presence of an Iranian general in the convoy. Another unnamed source contradicted this a few hours later and reiterated the version that Israel “does not accept any responsibility” for the attack in Syria.

"Would Iran and Hezbollah accept meekly such a blow?" wondered  the commentators. "A helicopter attack is a method which leaves clear Israeli fingerprints, it is not a bomb planted by somebody somewhere to which you can plausibly disclaim responsibility. This is poking a finger in the eye of Hezbollah, they can’t afford not to respond" wrote Alon Ben-David in  "Ma'ariv".

Indeed, there were angry protests in Beirut and Tehran, and threats were made of "dire and painful retaliation". The northern region of Israel was placed under an alert higher than at any time since 2006, tanks were stationed  along the Lebanese border,  as were the Iron Dome anti-missile missiles. Deep in the Mediterranean waters Israeli navy missile boats were stationed to defend against a possible attack on the Israeli natural gas rigs, and Defense Minister Ya’alon made dire threats against “anyone who dares to violate Israeli sovereignty” (sic!). And the tension continues. “Someone threw a match into a powder keg and is now waiting to see whether it will explode or not. This is a dangerous exercise in practical chemistry conducted on the eve of the final exam: The elections in Israel" wrote veteran commentator Alex Fishman.

While the alert in the north reached its peak, a violent incident took place in Tel Aviv – a young Palestinian stabbed and wounded passengers  in an Israeli bus, and an eighth-grader has become the hero of the hour for throwing his satchel at the stabber. However, this probably did not come from Hezbollah; rather, it was one more of the Palestinians fed up  with the ongoing occupation, taking a private initiative. As he told in police investigation, what the young knife-man sought to avenge was the deadly bombings of Gaza – which Palestinians remember very well, though Israelis have managed to forget them at record speed. The northern powder keg of which Fishman wrote had not yet exploded. The retaliation, when it comes, might be at an unpredictable place and time chosen by Hezbollah and its Iranian partners.

An immediate Hezbollah revenge could have ensured the victory of Netanyahu in the March general elections: a missile barrage from Lebanon on Israeli cities, which would have required a powerful response by the Israeli Air Force and initiated an open-ended military operation ("Operation Protective Stiff Cloud"?) which would have continued to escalate until shortly before the election date - and during all that time, opposition leaders Herzog and
Livni would have been constrained to express patriotic support for the government and avoid all criticism and propaganda. Alas, up to this moment Hezbollah did not deliver the goods. Even so, our Prime Minister did apparently make some electoral modest gain from the winds of war blowing this week.  Weekend polls indicated an increase in the Likud Party’s showing, not very big but enough to close the gap which separated the ruling party from its Labor Party rival, the two now running neck and neck.

The electoral aspects of the attack in Syria have already been discussed quite a bit. Not so much attention was given to the fact that among those killed in the attack was the officer in charge of the Hezbollah force fighting against the Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL) – which makes him a de-facto ally of the US, even if figuring on its list of terrorists.

Coincidentally or not, just this week was published an interesting strategic assessment by Israel Ziv - formerly an IDF general and now heading a company which provides "security advice and military training for security forces in Latin America and Africa".  Ziv stated unequivocally that "For Israel, ISIS is the lesser evil. The existence of the ISIS State breaks up the dangerous Shiite territorial continuity from Tehran to Beirut which Iran had spent great efforts to build up. It is preferable for us to have there a sword-wielding  force moving about in converted vans, rather than a nuclear power stationing  missiles at our borders. Moreover, the ideological priorities of ISIS are first of all to fight the Shiites and other minorities, rather than dealing with ‘The Zionists'. In this respect they have many years of 'work' laid out for them before having time and energy for us "(Yediot Aharonot, January 19, 2015).

As we know, the approach of President Obama is quite different. Obama regards ISIS as a threat serious enough to warrant the reversal of the planned  American departure from Iraq, a threat justifying and necessitating the launching of an air campaign and even the forming of a de-facto alliance with Iran and Iran’s allies, waging war on ISIS on their own account. In that context, Obama seeks to reach in the near future an agreement with Iran on the nuclear issue - an agreement which would ensure that Iran does not actually build a nuclear bomb, but which would not necessarily require Iran to completely dismantle all its nuclear capabilities.

In the eyes of Prime Minister Netanyahu, such an agreement between the US and Iran would be very bad and dangerous. After for a while keeping a low profile on the Iranian issue, Netanyahu took it up again in full swing, with the encouragement of his Republicans partners who now control Capitol Hill. On the agenda of the Republicans – and of Netanyahu - is a proposal to impose further sanctions on Iran. As Mossad chief Tamir Pardo stated to US Senators (though later forced to publish a denial), such new sanctions would lead to the collapse of negotiations between Iran and the West. Which, it clearly seems, is precisely Netanyhau’s purpose…

Through his close associate Ron Dermer - Israeli Ambassador to the United States, who is in practice mainly Netanyahu’s ambassador to the Republican Party - Netanyahu arranged to get himself invited to Washington and address a joint session of Congress. The date set: March 3, just two weeks before elections in Israel. It would be a first-rate electioneering broadcast: the Prime Minister of Israel, speaking impeccable English to the American legislators, who get up on their feet and give him a standing ovation (AIPAC will take care of their all clapping in unison) with everything broadcast live on Israeli TV. And in this speech Netanyahu would presumably concentrate on the Iranian Threat and  spur Congress to impose more sanctions – even (and especially) contrary to the clearly expressed wishes of the President of the United States.

As has already been reported extensively, Netanyahu did not bother to give the White House or the State Department any hint of his intentions to get to Washington and blatantly interfere in the American political power struggle. And as has been made clear unmistakeably, President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are truly furious at Netanyahu. Unnamed US officials told Ha’aretz: “We thought we’ve seen everything, but Bibi managed to surprise even us. There are things you simply don’t do. He spat in our face publicly and that’s no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price to pay”. Today's headlines in the press published the announcement of President Obama that he will not meet with Netanyahu during this visit to Washington -  nor will Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Kerry or any other member of the administration.

Is this enough to make Netanyahu pay a real price? Quite doubtful. The Prime Minister may regard a public cold shoulder from Obama as a tolerable and even negligible price to pay, as long as Obama continues to give support to Netanyahu's policies where it really counts, for example in the UN Security Council. In the near future, however, Obama might be given an opportunity to exact from Netanyahu a real price: Palestinians are considering resuming their application to the Security Council, whose composition has changed since the failed vote in December. And perhaps it is just barely possible that the American vote will also change, this time?

Bibi King Kong at Capitol Hill (Haaretz, Biderman)

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Paris effect that wasn’t

[The following was originally written in Dutch by Beate Zilversmidt for the website of the Amsterdam-based “Other Jewish Voice”]

Two news items on the same day:

- Jewish ultra-orthodox school closed in Amsterdam, as in Bruxelles and Antwerpen.

- In a Channel-10 opinion poll the Herzog/Livni Labor Party up and with 26 seats leading; leaving  the Likud behind at 24.

That in Amsterdam a Jewish school was closed for security reasons - it struck me painfully. But in the  Israeli news, it was not more than a side note. It was the week after the Paris upheaval.

We in Israel did expect things would have an impact on our elections. That was also what Netanyahu thought when he rushed to Paris calling upon the Jews in France to turn their back to France and make aliya. If that is what the French knew he would do, then they had reason not to want him there, at such a sensitive occasion. Representatives of French Jewry themselves complained, feeling undermined at the very moment that they have asked  for better protection, in France.

But, Netanyahu was speaking over their heads to the Israeli electorate. And if the polls would have shown this week Netanyahu's Likud going up, we would not have been surprised. We would have told ourselves: it is the Paris effect; it will pass. That the opposite happened, that may indicate that Bibi's  fear mongering and world unfriendliness don't bring Israelis anymore to flock behind him. And that in such a week the chances of Herzog go up - if this is proof of an undercurrent coming more and more to the surface, then we may really look forward to a change in the political balance of power.

Here a ray of hope during Europe’s dark hour?

Friday, January 2, 2015

From Nigeria, via New York, to the checkpoint

Source photo 1:, photo 2: +972

Once again, the new year rolled in across the globe. As always, the celebrations in New York’s Times Square, the crystal ball and excited countdown were broadcast live all across the global village. Ahmad Bdeir from the village of Farun on the West Bank will not see this new year. The last day of 2014 was also the last day of his life. 

Until that day, the 39-year old Bdeir was among Palestinians considered relatively lucky, having gotten a permit to work in Israel. This meant that he did not have to skulk across the border and resort to the help of sometimes shady people-smugglers, nor hide from Israeli police on the lookout for “illegal infiltrators”.  On the other hand, it meant that he had to get up very early every morning, to make it through a very overcrowded checkpoint and get in time to the construction site where he derived the livelihood of his family.

Inspection procedures at the checkpoint - called al-Tayba by Palestinians and Sha’ar Efrayim by official Israeli designation -  typically take hours. First, every person must pass through metal turnstiles, one at a time. Past the revolving gates, there are metal detectors and inspection stations to go through. Waiting to proceed, Palestinians are often crowded into metal pens inside the checkpoint, unable to leave or enter. 

The whole process is controlled by Israeli soldiers in hidden posts. The soldiers – usually, 18- or 19-year-old conscripts are completely invisible and unapproachable, in order to prevent any chance of their being attacked. The workers can only hear their voices amplified over the loudspeakers – and complaints at the overcrowding and agonizing slow pace usually go unheard and unheeded. 

Ahmad Bdeir had gone through this process every morning, like about 15,000 others. In one such early morning hour, on December 31, he suffocated. It took several moments for the other tightly packed workers around him to notice what had happened, and much longer for them to get the attention of the unseen soldiers in control. By the time medical teams got to the spot, they could do little more than confirm his death.

Just one day before all this happened, the International Community - as manifested at the spacious and comfortable halls of the United Nations Headquarters in New York - turned down the request of the Palestinians to be free of Israeli soldiers controlling their lives. They had asked for the fiftieth year of Israeli occupation to be 
Its last, for a timetable determining that 2017 would see the birth of Free Palestine. This was rejected, and the Palestinians referred once again to interminable negotiations with Israel, which – certainly under its present government – has no intention of ever ending the occupation. (A different government might or might not be there next year…)

To the positive side, France fully backed up the Palestinians (for which the French Ambassador to Israel is to be summoned and reprimanded at the Foreign Ministry), as did Luxembourg – a mini state but still a member in good standing of the EU. And Britain at least abstained, which also aroused some worries in the PM’s bureau. All of which was not enough in face of the immovable rock in Washington. 

In the past weeks, there had been many rumors of President Obama, long exasperated with the conduct of PM Netanyahu, considering  a change to the long-standing policy of applying an automatic US veto on behalf  of the Government of Israel. Obama may or may not have considered it. In the event he decided to stick with the good old veto and not risk an all-out confrontation on Capitol Hill. And by dint of various maneuverings and underhand deals, the Palestinian proposal fell short of the nine votes needed.  The Americans were absolved of having full responsibility for blocking the Palestinians’ way to freedom, with Nigeria, Rwanda and South Korea becoming convenient scapegoats. 

Be that as it may, the vote in New York precipitated a reaction which had been long discussed and debated among Palestinians, and which President Abbas until now avoided: adhesion to more than twenty international treaties, and particularly the Statute of Rome. That is the necessary preliminary to Palestinians being able to start legal proceedings against specific Israelis at the International Criminal Court at the Hague, on charges of war crimes and/or violations of International Law. 

Netnayhau and his ministers reacted with the expected fury, and threatened retaliations – i.e., that Israel would start its own proceedings against various Palestinians. So, the Hague might in the coming year witness a titanic judicial duel, with both sides likely mobilizing top lawyers and International Law experts. The Palestinians would set out the horrors of bombings and artillery bombardments of Gaza in 2009, 2011 and 2014, and various smaller-scale killings at other times and places. The Israelis would riposte by citing the shooting of missiles at Israel and various suicide bombings. 

It would not be difficult for Israeli legal experts to build up a case against Hamas leaders. Much less easy would it be to pin anything on Abbas. The final result might be to draw up in international public opinion a parallel between Hamas leaders on the one hand and IDF generals on the other, and have respectable international judges deliberate on whose acts are to be considered more heinous – not precisely the line which Israeli governmental PR experts are usually trying to push.

Moreover, the Rome Statue also includes a specific reference to the creation of settlements in Occupied Territory as a serious breach or International Law. Once gaining access to the International Court, the Palestinians could well draw indictments against settler leaders, building contractors who erect settlements as well as Israeli government ministers and officials engaged in the settlement project. To that, it would be difficult to find an opposite and equal reaction from the Israeli side.]]

All of this  would be in the cards only after March 2015 – when there would be in Israel either a brand new government or a new incarnation of the rotten old one. Wait and see.  

A Footnote

The vote in the UN Security Council was decided by Nigeria at the last moment not supporting the Palestinian proposal. That is not quite surprising, considering the following:

1) The President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan is a Christian.

2) He is not just a Christian, he is an Evangelical Christian. He is member of the Nigerian Word of Life Bible Church which is closely connected with the Evangelical Churches in the United States, fanatic supporters of the extreme right in Israel.

3) President Goodluck Jonathan and the Pastor 'Ayodele Joseph Oritsejafor, head of Word of Life Bible Church, were last year on pilgrimage in Israel. It was not just a religious pilgrimage, they also met Netanyahu.

4) Three months ago, in September 2014, the authorities in South Africa searched a Nigerian airplane and found on board three suitcases containing a total of 9,300,000 Dollars in cash. The money was confiscated according to rules against international money laundering.

5) On the plane were three passengers - two Nigerians and an Israeli named Eyal Masika. It was Masika who had the combination for opening the money suitcases.

6)  Eyal Masika lives in the capital city of Nigeria, Exactly what is he doing there? Nobody knows,

7) The plane on which Eyal Masika was travelling with the 9,300,000 Dollars was owned or chartered by the Word of Life Bible Church of Pastor 'Ayodele Joseph Oritsejafor. 

8) After all this came out, President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria contacted directly President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, said that  the 9,300,000 Dollars belonged to the Government of Nigeria and asked for the return of the money. President Zuma agreed. 

9) All this affair with the 9,300,000 Dollars happened in September this year, when it was already well-known that the Palestinians were going to the Security Council and that Nigeria was going to be one of the countries deciding the outcome of the vote.

There was no need for any extensive detective work to find all this. A quarter of an hour on Wikipedia and the Internet were quite enough.