Don’t Expect a Romney Intifadeh, the Palestinians Are Used to Disappointment

Even before Romney revealed his cards, it was clear to a growing number of Palestinians that their fate is in their own hands

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Uriel Sinai / Getty Images

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney visits the Western Wall on July 29, 2012, in Jerusalem

It seems the writing is on the wall for the Palestinians: should Governor Mitt Romney win November’s presidential election, they have no credible reason to expect any help from the U.S. in realizing their national aspirations. In a recent Florida session with donors, a tape of which was posted by Mother Jones, the Republican nominee made clear he believes that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — the standing policy of the U.S. government — “is almost unthinkable to accomplish.” Acknowledging that failure could leave “a potentially volatile situation,” he drew a parallel with the conflict between China and Taiwan, suggesting that “we sort of live with it, and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.”

Romney explained his conclusions by repeating long-standing Israeli talking points, blaming the Palestinians for the failure of the peace process and claiming they seek Israel’s destruction rather than peace. Echoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he also implied that Israel could not afford to hand the West Bank over to a sovereign independent Palestinian state because that would somehow deliver Iranian missiles to Israel’s doorstep. Instead, he argued, Israel would have to patrol the border between any Palestinian state and its Arab neighbors and also control its airspace — conditions that the Palestinians won’t accept.

(PHOTOS: Palestinians Take to the West Bank’s Streets in Protest)

Given that the Palestinians, and indeed most of the international community, tend to blame Netanyahu’s hard-line positions for the failure to make any progress in reviving the peace process, their takeaway from Romney’s speech would have been this line: “The idea of pushing on the Israelis to give something up to get the Palestinians to act is the worst idea in the world.” In other words, a President Romney would leave it up to Israel to decide when, how and whether to move toward a two-state solution.

Election politics has prompted some in Washington to proclaim themselves scandalized by Romney’s remarks — an Obama campaign official on Tuesday said Romney was “playing with fire” and that by making remarks so clearly at odds with official U.S. and Israeli positions, the candidate showed he was “not ready for prime time.” But don’t expect Ramallah to erupt in demonstrations amid cries of betrayal. For the majority of Palestinians, Romney’s remarks simply reaffirm, albeit with an honesty that wouldn’t do in the diplomatic sphere, what has been the de facto U.S. policy for the past decade. While their hapless President Mahmoud Abbas continues to hope against hope, most Palestinians long ago stopped waiting for the U.S. to deliver their freedom.

Washington gave up any pretense of playing the honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians with the election of President George W. Bush. The Oslo peace process ground to a halt after the Taba talks in January 2001. Israel’s new Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had declared the Oslo agreements “null and void” amid the clashes of the second intifadeh, and he eventually persuaded the Bush Administration to treat the Israeli-Palestinian conflict primarily as an issue of terrorism and security. In the interest of its attempts to rally Arab support over Iraq and later against Iran, the Bush White House in its second term encouraged an entirely symbolic series of negotiations between Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the goal being a “shelf agreement” — i.e., one that could be implemented in some better future rather than in the present. Even that failed.

(MORE: Mitt’s Mission in Israel: Optics, Christian Zionists and Absentee Ballots)

President Obama came into office vowing to jump-start the process. On his second day in office, he named Senator George Mitchell as his special envoy to the Middle East tasked with restarting negotiations. He also immediately began pressing Netanyahu to freeze all settlement construction on lands conquered in 1967 to signal the Palestinians of his seriousness about a two-state solution. Two years later, faced with the recalcitrance of Netanyahu backed by a bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill that raised the domestic political risk of sustaining the standoff, Obama backed down. Mitchell’s resignation in May 2011 signaled the end of Team Obama’s Middle East peace effort in all but name. His reasons may have been quite different from Romney’s, but Obama had also concluded that pressing the Israelis to give up something they don’t want to give up is ill advised. Instead, like Romney advocates, Obama by the end of 2010 had opted to “kick the ball down the field” and hope for a better day.

Nor is this a temporary blip. Even under the most auspicious circumstances, the peace process was unable to bridge the gap between the minimum the Palestinians require and the maximum the Israelis were willing to give. And the shifts in both Israeli and Palestinian politics over the two decades since Oslo have considerably hardened the outlook on both sides. Israel today is ruled by leaders that vehemently opposed the Oslo process, while the last time the Palestinians got to vote (in 2006), the party they chose as their government was Hamas, which had been even more vehemently opposed to the peace process.

The prospect of achieving a two-state peace via a bilateral consensus at the negotiating table remains remote for the foreseeable future. Admitting as much, however, has been deemed unwise for the U.S., for Israel and for a Palestinian leadership that has invested the entirety of its political being in the Oslo accords. After all, admitting that there’s no prospect of ending the occupation through a “peace process” that survives only as a misleading label for the status quo would force all sides into an uncomfortable choice of accepting things as they are or finding new ways of changing it.

(MORE: Romney’s Comments on Palestinian Economy Stir Controversy)

Netanyahu is being pressed by his own base in the direction of formalizing the de facto creeping annexation of the West Bank, while Abbas has become a kind of twilight figure, facing a rebellion on the ground that could sweep away the Palestinian Authority. He is once again threatening to walk away from Oslo and annul the agreement, to dissolve the Authority or to press forward with his bid for statehood at the U.N., but neither the U.S. nor Israel, nor many of the Palestinians on whose behalf he threatens these actions, appear to take such threats very seriously. Abbas may be waiting — in vain — for Washington to change course, but not many Palestinians believe that’s likely to happen.

Romney’s comments, and the extent to which they jibe with Obama’s default policies even as the catechisms of the peace process are duly recited, are simply a reminder that the game is up. No matter who wins the White House in November, the Palestinians aren’t going to get any change out of Washington. Even before Romney revealed his cards, it was clear to a growing number of Palestinians that their fate is in their own hands. And as they move to take control of their destiny, the “peace process” status quo will become increasingly untenable.

MORE: Netanyahu’s New Government: Warming to Peace Talks with the Palestinians?

65 comments
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mike921
mike921

Why should the US bother helping either side?  Israelis and Palestinians both neither like or respect the US.   It's time to stop foreign charity (aid) - we don't have to compete with the Russians anymore, and unless there's something (resources) in it for them - the Chinese don't care....

drorbenami
drorbenami

Hey tony baloney,

as the dead pile up higher and higher in syria and now al jezzera is writing about children being tortured, TIME's crack middle east editor writes an article about palestinian frustrations....

the degree of your sickness becomes more obvious with each new article...

Drew Hadz
Drew Hadz

Israel is a modern nation complete with a modern skyline and women able to walk around without a black bedsheet from head to toe... Israel's neighbors invaded Israel 3 times and got no punishment aside from Israel getting to keep its legitimate gains.... If your neighbors invade you three times you deserve some recourse and those neighbors Egypt, Syria, and Jordan are modern day sewers filled with a large group of people HOPING to turn back the clock to the 6th century.... 

The arabs lost the multiple invasions they launched to exterminate israel and they deserve to suffer for it and continue to suffer for it until their peoples can accept a world with science and one without strapping on a dynamite jacket because of a dusty old book.

IcarusRising
IcarusRising

 Reading your comments one cant help but feel that you have racist ideas and your allegiance is to the ( Modern Nation ) of Israel. May I suggest you move there for good.

http://whatreallyhappened.com/...

new_york_loner
new_york_loner

Because I question the efficacy, validity and wisdom of the so-called, "special relationship" between the United States of America and the Jewish State in Palestine, many online posters accuse me of being, "anti-Semitic".  Others who share my views report similar treatment.

If I hated the world's Jewish people, I would support the idea of concentrating them all in a tiny piece of real estate in a partitioned  Palestine...in the middle of hostile, Muslim Arab  country....especially now, when we have  nuclear weaponry in the hands of at least one Muslim nation.  

And the Jewish state certainly has a nuclear arsenal and the means to deliver the nukes on target, right now.  The stage is now set for Armageddon and/or the Samson Option.

Zionism is counter-productive to its stated goals.  Concentration enables annihilation; dispersal insures survival.  These are the laws of nature on this planet...deal with it.

The US Constitution forbids the US federal government from establishing any religious state within our borders...certainly the Founders would extend this prohibition to a state outside our borders...especially to a nation state that is not a member of our union of American states.  US aid to Israel is unconstitutional....but such aid has full  bipartisan support.

TheFunOne21
TheFunOne21

 People are just calling you for what you are.

Considering there has never been a palestine, claiming Israel to be palestine is on its surface, proof of your antisemitism and stupidity.

But you seem to be ok with that, so....

IcarusRising
IcarusRising

 For you, Ignorance is bliss .. Denial is not a river in Egypt.

http://whatreallyhappened.com/...

TheFunOne21
TheFunOne21

and posting from conspiracy theory websites like whatreallyhappened just proves my point, thanks for that, icarus!

This is why your side always loses btw, you have no value for the truth or reality and you operate on the notion that everyone is as ignorant and hateful as you are.

Meanwhile, we have two US presidential candidates competing over which one loves Israel more...so how's that been working out for you?

new_york_loner
new_york_loner

This is a well-written, refreshingly honest and accurate appraisal of the situation. 

The only fair, logical and democratic alternative is the one-state solution...consensual annexation of the Occupied Territories and full Israeli citizenship for all who now reside there....nobody wants that, but, hey, the apartheid wall and hundreds of thousands of Israeli "settlers" have made the 2-state solution unobtainable.

Forty years of brutal occupation are enough...the Palestinian Arabs have suffered more pain, delivered by  the Israelis, than the Holocaust-producing German people have suffered...it's ime to give the  Arabs of Palestine  a  break....the conflict is fueling the international violent Jihad...it's what motivated  the 9-11 hihjackers...the USA has  paid its dues to the world's Jews....time to cut the umbilicus to the Jewish theocracy in Palestine.

Kris Hadyn
Kris Hadyn

Actually Obama tried to push a two state idea with a demilitarized Palestine and most Palestinians absorbed into other Arab states, but Israel wasn't interested and Congress crawls to whatever Israel wants.

TheFunOne21
TheFunOne21

 Or arabs can acknowledge that they lost this war of attrition and surrender.

I can assure you Israelis will never agree to a one state solution and there is no power on this planet that can force them so sorry but your desire to see Israel gone will remain unfulfilled.

Go burn a cross, it will make you feel better.....

TheFunOne21
TheFunOne21

I'm no fan of Mitt Romney but he only speaks the truth.  This was never about a two state solution, a group of arabs started calling themselves "palestinians" (which btw, used to be a synonym for Jewish) in order to convince the gullible that they had some legitimate claims to this land in order to destroy Israel.

They have failed spectacularly and as a result, so has this moribund peace process because it was never pursued in earnest, it was just a cover for a far more nefarious purpose to which no Israeli would ever accede.

Judging by the turmoil in the middle east and world's apathy with regard to the situation, and the very real possibility of war with iran, the status quo is the best case scenario for palestinians because they are likely to get much, much worse.

IcarusRising
IcarusRising

 FunOne, you are no fun, but more importantly, History Challenged. Where do you get this kind of revisionist story from ?

TheFunOne21
TheFunOne21

 When you refer to the truth to which palestinians have readily admitted as "revisionist history" it makes it very easy to see why your side always loses.

Do you never grow tired of being a loser or have you accepted that you have no other purpose on this planet?

TheFunOne21
TheFunOne21

 LOL, IcarusRising, you are claiming to be interested int he truth and then quoting for conspiracy theory websites all in one post, seriously, I needed that chuckle this morning, so thanks for that.

So if you're just being a troll then why on such a serious subject...we can all use a laugh but for many, this is a matter of life and death.

SixSixSix
SixSixSix

If Israel keeps the West Bank by whatever cutesy name they give it, ultimately Israel will go the way of the Crusader Kingdom which lasted 100 years. At this point, Israel is just shy of 70 years. Rabin was right, find a way out of the spiral by adopting peace, or let it tighten into a final blow out. That is what will finally "resolve" the issue. Israel has to lose just one battle, and it is being undercut demographically from within by Arab and subsidized non-productive Yeshiva babies.

Vincent Lovece
Vincent Lovece

 Palestinian birthrates have been falling, actually, and unlike the crusader states, whose ruling ethnicity was a tiny group of mostly (Romance-speaking French nobles descended from Germanic Franks) foreigners with little domestic support, Israel has a large, well-educated, and very firmly rooted native Jewish population. The crusader states could barely mobilize a small force of knights, and before it was over, resorted to hiding behind castle walls when enthusiasm waned and their European reinforcements along with it.

Even if Israel were outnumbered, outgunned, and surrounded, they have show they can still win wars and not only survive, but actually conquer surrounding lands. I'm not worried for Israel as things are right now.

new_york_loner
new_york_loner

Vincent wrote:  "Israel has a large, well-educated, and very firmly rooted native Jewish population."

Six million citizens is not "large" for a nation state...Bibi constantly tells us how tiny Israel is.... and how few the Israelis are.

Well-educated? Perhaps, but that does not mean that they are wise, or that they not gullible.

Who is more a  "native"  of Palestine... a Palestinian  Arab, whose family has lived there since the Pax Romana...or the first or second  generation of transplanted, Zionist Jews that were born in Israel since 1948? 

Does a Jewish person born in some town in Kansas, USA, have a birthright to land in Palestine?   I sincerely doubt it.... the Jewish birthright claim is not legit....it's Biblical BS.

TheFunOne21
TheFunOne21

 Since Pax Romana??

LOL, do you actually believe this tripe or do you merely hope others will be naive enough to believe it.

Considering that in 1948, many arabs had only lived on the land for 2 years, and considering that pax romana was 2000 years ago, and considering that there wasn't an arab on the land 2000 years ago, well, unless your math is as bad as your history, you should be able to figure it out from here...but you won't because it destroys the fantasy you created so you'll continue to believe the lie.

It won't matte,r Israel will still thrive.

SixSixSix
SixSixSix

 Historical analogies are never precise. Hiding behind castle walls and missile shields may or may not be the similar but being drastically out numbered is. Israel cannot conquer and hold any more land than it already has. Lebanon and the Gaza had to be evacuated. It also has an internal birthrate problem of a non-productive sub-population of Orthodox religious Jews on permanent welfare. There is no obvious further incoming immigration to replace that from eastern Europe, except illegal immigrants from Africa. Israel needs peace desperately but is living in a long run fools paradise not unlike the short term one before 1973 when everyone thought Sadat was wimp and just glowering at the Arab armies would make them go away.

Armand Winter
Armand Winter

 Who are Romney's clients? Netanyahu? He was married to a Bain employee and worked with Romney at Boston Consulting Group.

I think if the truth be told, this has more to do with international banking of government entities.

Arafat's widow from England reportedly inherited up to $4 BILLION from Arafat's Swiss bank account.... how much of that money was US aid meant for the Palestinian people?

Romney's hands are dirty.

Jacob Blues
Jacob Blues

So you're trying to connect Yasser Arafat's embezzlement of aid money for the Palestinians with Mitt Rommney working with Netanyahu several decades ago. 

Let us know what vintage you're working with because it appears to be very fine and very rare. 

Jacob Blues
Jacob Blues

Wow, who knew you could foist off over a decade of terrorism and an extremist ideology like HAMAS' in just half a sentence. 

Almost as quickly as Tony tosses off Yasser Arafat's rejection of peace plans at Camp David and Taba.  With an encore round by Mahmoud Abbas in 2008. 

But its all Netanyahu's fault. 

What a bunch of BS. 

Armand Winter
Armand Winter

 Norquist's wife is a Palestinian Muslim that gives money to terrorists.

Norquist, with his wife, Samah Alrayyes, born Muslim, founded the Islamic Free Market Institute which shares office space in Washington­, D.C. with Norquist’s lobbying firm Americans for Tax Reform. The Islamic Institute was founded with seed money from Abdurahman Alamoudi, a convicted jailed terrorist who pleaded guilty to accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from Libya.

Now, she is employed as a public affairs officer at the U.S. Agency for International Development – and so it appears that yet another Islamist finds employment in a branch of the U.S. government.

Grover Norquist is an advocate for legitimating Shariah Compliant Finance as an ethical alternative to capitalism. And second, Norquist's chosen battle ground for this subversive effort has been and remains the chiefly influence- and lobby-based contracts drawn up through USAID.

SixSixSix
SixSixSix

 I like anything that slanders Grover Norquists except racial slavering. How did you do that? Making me defend Grover Norquist. I hate you worse than you have everyone else in the world. This just isn't fair!

IcarusRising
IcarusRising

Jacob, Sorry ... I just realized after looking at your profile that you are an advocate for the dark side and that you are not an American patriot, but an Israeli, Zionist apologist, so please forgive me for even considering your very, bias and misleading opinions in this forum.

Jacob Blues
Jacob Blues

Actually Icarus, I am an American citizen, home-owner, taxpayer, and voter. 

But I appreciate you being honest about your own bigotry. 

IcarusRising
IcarusRising

I think Romney has just pushed the last nail into that coffin.

People like you need to wake up and smell the coffee. We the American people will not fall for your BS anymore. It is high time for you to decide which country you owe your allegiance to. If you owe your allegiance to the US, then prove your patriotism by not championing positions that are contrary to the national interests of the United States.

Jacob Blues
Jacob Blues

Romney has pushed the last nail in the coffin?  I'm sorry, I didn't realize that a Presidential candidate had that much power.  Seriously, who knew that comments made on the political stump meant so much. 

I mean, it was only Senator Barak Obama that stated that Israel had every right to level Gaza in response to the rocket fire coming from HAMAS back in 2008.  The same senator also stated that Jerusalem was Israel's eternal and undivided capital. 

Whew, look at how the time flies. 

As for myself, I'll reiterate what I told you below.  I'm an American citizen, born and bred, home owner, taxpayer, and voter.   As for patriotism, my opinions count just as much as yours and I'll be damned if I'm going to just step aside and allow a bigot like yourself to tell me what is in my best interest as an American and place limits on my participation in the political process because you don't like my opinion.

As far as I'm concerned, it is in the best interest of the United States to have a strong alliance with Israel.  If you prefer political repressive nations as strong allies, I suggest you take your own advice and choose one of the many Arab states with similar governments (you have 20 to choose from) and you can be as repressive as you wish over there. 

Armand Winter
Armand Winter

 Romney has vowed to fire Bernanke and replace him with a Mormon, how do you think his Jewish friends would like that?

Jacob Blues
Jacob Blues

Will the new Fed Chairman (or woman) be intelligent, wise, and able in steering the US economy? 

If so, I have no problem with any new appointee.  I look for competance in such people, not their personal faith. 

Pellam
Pellam

 Why would Jewish people care any more or less than any other Americans? Are you implying that Bernanke's religion is of any consequence, one way or another, to Jews? If so, I doubt you ever really knew an American Jew.

Pellam
Pellam

 I take Israelis over the crazies in the Arab countries any day.

IcarusRising
IcarusRising

My friend, you can take all the Israelis and the sooner the better for both of you, as for crazies, well they exist in all societies and nations but here we are talking about the Palestinians and their legitimate, democratic and national aspirations as human beings.

Jodi Cassell
Jodi Cassell

Netanyahu is a terrorist ... sorry, you have to answer to your actions even if you are Jewish.  Look - I support the concept of Israel if they are not agressive and seek to exist in peace with their neighbors, but they are  NOT supporting peace in the Middle East.  I honestly don't understand their perspective - persecuting Palestinians in  Israel etc ...it's like they became the Nazi's themselves ...  just sayin.

Jacob Blues
Jacob Blues

Netanyahu is a terrorist?  By what definition? 

"Just sayin" that Israel has become the new Nazis shows that not only do you have no clue as to what's going on in the Middle East, but have no clue as to what the Nazi's actually did. 

Based on that your claim of 'supporting the concept of Israel' falls flat on its face. 

Drew Hadz
Drew Hadz

why support peace when your fascist arab neighbors try and invade you every other Tuesday?

lets never forget whom invaded whom 3 effing times.

Israel is surrounded and inhabited by hostile crazies whom wish their world to be in the sixth century.

Bill Pearlman
Bill Pearlman

If you think that Israel=Nazi Germany then you are sorely in need of a history lesson.

Jodi Cassell
Jodi Cassell

Romney was wrong - pretty clear to most of us that Netanyahu is the one that doesn't want piece.  Unfortunately Israel may have to learn the hard way ... they are a small aggressor on a continent of huge and numerous arab nations that pretty much hate them.  They may take over Palestine's land, but wind up losing their country in the process, which I wouldn't mind at all as long as it doesn't take others in the UN out with them.   What needs to happen here is that the UN needs to exert some pressure on Netanyahu over the settlements ... kick him out if he can't play nice with his neighbors ...

Drew Hadz
Drew Hadz

The arab donkeys have already invaded them and lost three times... read some history about how their new land was gained.... by pushing back against THREE invading arab hordes.

the arabs have convinced many they deserve no recognition.

JoeInFL
JoeInFL

 Jodi,

Really? Am I to understand that you are okay with a member state of the United Nations just being over-run and wiped out by its neighbors?  You claim you "wouldn't mind that at all".

Somehow I think you lack credibility when complaining that Netanyahu doesn't want "piece" (I think you meant "peace".).

Jodi Cassell
Jodi Cassell

A United Nations member who is encroaching and building on another countries land, who discriminates against Palestinians living in Israel does not belong in the United Nations.  AT the VERY least the UN needs to be the one leading the effort to negotiate here - NOT the US.  You are going to tell me that 

Netanyahu wants peace?  How do his actions support that?  Israel is as much a terrorist as any of the other Arab nations ... why exactly should we be giving them a pass for their actions? 

Drew Hadz
Drew Hadz

When the nazis invaded their neighbors they were wiped out..... however Egypt, Syria, and Jordan never got a lick of punishment for their THREE SEPARATE INVASIONS aside from the ass-kicking the jews gave the amateurs.

After all the invasions and arab backstabbing their neighbors dont deserve to exist let alone an independent Palestine that would again find some way to to launch a half baked invasion yet again.

these arab nations dont deserve nations to begin with.

Bill Pearlman
Bill Pearlman

Sure, hamas, hezbollah, the al-aksa martyrs brigades and the Iranian revolutionary guards are just a fun bunch of lads. Good and pure of heart. Not like those greasy hook nosed Jews, right Jodi

aaaai
aaaai

Joe, you're being very dishonest here.  The peace initiatives rejected by the Palestinians is an Israeli talking point that has little basis in fact.  I'd argue that since Israel holds all the cards in this situation, they're the ones who deserve the lion's share of the blame. 

If you'd like to prove me wrong, please list all of these peace initiatives that were rejected at every occasion by the Palestinians. 

The Palestinians are screwed.  They have no leverage, and their only option is to sit tight and magically hope that Israelis will give them some land one day. 

Jodi Cassell
Jodi Cassell

No Joe - my point is more that the UN should weigh in on this ... it is not an American problem so much as a WORLD problem.  And I disagree with you that the Palestinians are more responsible for the crisis.   There have been more Netanyahus and  Ariel Sharons than anything in Israel's history.  

  

JoeInFL
JoeInFL

 I never said Netanyahu wanted peace.  He probably doesn't.  But, some of his predecessors did (i.e., Rabin) and, at every occasion, those peace initiatives were rejected by the Palestinians.  Both sides deserve some blame here, but the Palestinians deserve the lion's share.

Also, you seem to say that because you don't feel Israel is behaving honorably, they don't belong in the UN and should be wiped out.  If every country in the UN warranted removal for dishonorable actions, there wouldn't be a country left in the entire organization.

priestson
priestson

 

Mitt Romney is right for entirely wrong reasons. The two-state  road map is a blind alley. Only when  Israelis and Palestinians agree on the formation

of a single state neither  based on apartheid,

religion or race will there be  a lasting

peace. This implies all residents  are  equal citizens of the new state. Right of return

of both parties within  feasible limits

and control of immigration, freedom of movement and  legal settlement where land i s bought only when

there is a willing seller. A pipe dream?  Perhaps, I do not see this happening in the

next fifty years but the present situation is highly unstable and unfair to the

weaker party that is not  enjoying the

unqualified support of America. Nonetheless, back in 1990 who would have believed

that apartheid would be dead in South Africa  a few years latte and a new multiracial state

formed  without violence.

Pellam
Pellam

 Yes, since peaceful coexistence among religions works so well in other Arab nations we should try it in Israel. It failed or is failing  in Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, etc. How can you possibly think it would be feasible in Israel?  Or, perhaps you just do not really care.