Israeli officials say they are just trying to help Palestinians, and Americans, climb down out of the tree

Israel/Palestine
on 37 Comments

The extent that US and some European diplomats will go to prevent the Palestinian Authority from presenting a statehood resolution at the United Nations is astounding, although the motivation for their frantic efforts is not at all clear, especially in light of the slim chance of success.  However, the Israelis, according to a recent report in the Hebrew press, insist (probably disingenuously) that they are not overly troubled by the Palestinian UN resolution or the diplomatic fury it has caused.

Tony Blair, Dennis Ross, the new US envoy David Hale, and foreign minister of the EU Catherine Ashton, were in Jerusalem on Tuesday flailing around for some clever diplomatic formulation which would stop the Palestinians from submitting any proposal to the UN unless it is approved by the United States and Israel.  The officials spent long hours in meetings, made countless telephone calls and floated various proposals, all of which failed, although, most diplomats realize that the chances of finding a compromise acceptable to both Abbas and Netanyahu are very slight.

Barak Ravid, writing in the Hebrew edition of  Ha’aretz on September 15, provides an interesting glimpse of a proposal by Catherine Ashton that was presented to and rejected by Benjamin Netanyahu.  Ashton’s suggestion would have saved the Israelis from the possibility of being taken to the International Criminal Court, but required Bibi to support non-member state status at the UN for the Palestinians.

The article, which leads with Netanyahu’s dramatic announcement that he will travel to New York City in order to speak against the Palestinian statehood resolution at the United Nations, continues with a revealing description of last-minute efforts in Israel to reach a compromise before the UN vote.  The English version of the article does not include the second part of Ravid’s report which deals with the ongoing diplomacy.

Astoundingly, Israeli officials are quoted boasting that the Palestinian UN proposal is in trouble and it is the Israelis that are trying to get the Palestinians off the hook!!!  It is not clear from the syntax of the quote if in the Israeli view, the Americans are partners in rescuing the Palestinians or are also in need of Israeli assistance.   I would guess the former, but with this bunch of occupiers one does not know for sure.

According to Ravid:

The Foreign Minister of the European Union, Catherine Ashton, lengthened her visit to Israel yesterday in order to find a compromise formula.  Ashton met in the morning with Netanyahu, afterwards engaged in consultations with the Quartet envoy, Tony Blair, and spoke on the telephone with Abu Mazzen.  In the evening, Ashton went to the office of the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the second time and gave him a long briefing.  According to officials from the office of the Prime Minister, “Ashton brought up a number of ideas and she told us what the Palestinians thought about them…. The Palestinians understand that they are in trouble and we are trying to bring them down from the tree along with the Americans.”

In her talks with Netanyahu, Ashton raised the French-Spanish proposal to upgrade the status of Palestine at the UN to a non-member state, similar to the status of the Vatican, in exchange for the Palestinian concession not to bring Israel before the International Criminal Court.  Netanyahu rejected the proposal, stressing that giving the status of a state to the Palestinians is a “red line” from the Israeli point of view.  However, “all discussions which do not involve giving the status of a state to the Palestinians are open to discussion,”  Netanyahu told Ashton.

Bibi is willing to negotiate anything, as long it does not include what the Palestinians want.  In this case, it is recognition of a Palestinian state by the UN.  In peace negotiations, Bibi will talk about anything, except what the Palestinians want:  a real state that is independent of Israeli control.

About Ira Glunts

Ira Glunts is a retired college librarian who lives in Madison, NY.

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37 Responses

  1. seafoid
    September 16, 2011, 1:01 pm

    Bibi and Israel and Zionism and indeed Judaism have nothing to offer the Palestinians. The Germans don’t want to upset Israel for obvious reasons but they should have offered the Zionists German territory as reparations post WW2 and not shaft the Palestinians with their “Jewish problem” . they have nothing to say either.

    For 44 years Israeli colonialism has been * too big to fail*

    Fail again
    Fail better.

  2. Kathleen
    September 16, 2011, 1:20 pm

    “Bibi is willing to negotiate anything, as long it does not include what the Palestinians want. In this case, it is recognition of a Palestinian state by the UN. In peace negotiations, Bibi will talk about anything, except what the Palestinians want: a real state that is independent of Israeli control.”

    Now they are trying a new strategy “we are not worried”
    ———————————————

    “The Elders” speak up.
    link to theelders.org
    The Elders support Palestinian appeal to the United Nations
    13 Sep 2011
    The Elders warmly welcome the Palestinian leadership’s efforts to seek support for recognition of Palestinian statehood by the United Nations and believe that such a move is capable of changing the dynamics in the stalled Middle East peace process in a positive direction.

    With the US and Israeli governments publicly opposed to the principle of seeking UN endorsement of Palestinian statehood, the position of the European Union will be key to the prospects of a resolution, whether it is introduced in the UN Security Council or General Assembly, or possibly both bodies.

    The Elders have written to the Foreign Ministers of the 27 member states of the EU urging them to adopt a strong common position in favour of a resolution that would endorse the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to statehood. Such a move would in fact be in line with European Council Conclusions of December 2009 which call for “a two-state solution with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security” and the EU’s “readiness, when appropriate, to recognise a Palestinian state.”

    Oh yeah
    Jimmy Carter

    Former US President Jimmy Carter said:

    “Any future peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians must start on a fresh basis, one based firmly on international law and universal human rights.

    “All settlements on occupied territories have repeatedly been declared by the international community to be illegal under international law.

    “To give peace in the Holy Land a chance, all construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem intended solely for Jewish occupants must halt immediately.”

    Lakhdar Brahimi

    Former Algerian Foreign Minister Lakhdar Brahimi said:

    “The occupation must end. And the way the negotiations have been conducted until now cannot continue. Any return to business-as-usual is unacceptable and doomed to failure.

    “When they resume, future peace negotiations should be meaningful and serious, with clear parameters and an agreed deadline for their conclusion.”

    The Elders believe that any negotiations that resume following action at the UN should aim to define the boundaries of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, with its capital in East Jerusalem. Such an accord could entail equal land swaps to allow for minor adjustments.

    Martti Ahtisaari

    Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari said:

    “Fair and robust external mediation will be an essential ingredient as under present circumstances, the parties are unlikely to be able to reach an agreement on their own.

    “In this regard, a positive and united stand over the anticipated UN resolution by the European Union, Israel’s largest trading partner, would give it leverage to play a bigger political role to help resolve the conflict.”

    Desmond Tutu

    Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chair of The Elders said:

    “For over two decades, negotiations have been more about process than real substance, leading to understandable disillusionment and frustration among Palestinians and all those who seek a just and lasting peace agreement.

    “It has been almost 65 years since the UN agreed to the creation of two states – this solution has been delayed for far too long.”

  3. Woody Tanaka
    September 16, 2011, 1:23 pm

    “Bibi is willing to negotiate anything”

    And that, in a nutshell, is the problem. They do not see the inherent violence in proposing a negotiation that does not contain an explicit, enforced, and rock-solid promotion of the status quo ante. Nor would any rational person with a working brain. Which demonstrates nothing more than the fact that Netanyahoo and the other pro-isralei types who are always clamoring for more talks while the “settler” infestation devour the West Bank think that everyone else is stupid.

  4. seafoid
    September 16, 2011, 1:27 pm

    Israel isn’t up a tree. It’s in a very deep hole that it’s been digging since 1967.

    • Hostage
      September 16, 2011, 3:44 pm

      Israel isn’t up a tree. It’s in a very deep hole that it’s been digging since 1967.

      Agreed.

      Ashton’s suggestion would have saved the Israelis from the possibility of being taken to the International Criminal Court, but required Bibi to support non-member state status at the UN for the Palestinians.

      It won’t work. Years after Côte d’Ivoire accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC under an Article 12(3) declaration, the Security Council was still trying to get the ICC to apply that declaration to new and different situations. There are no provisions that would allow the Palestinians to withdraw their declaration and complaint, e.g. link to humanrightsdoctorate.blogspot.com

      So far, the ICC has never agreed to drop a prosecution on the grounds of a permanent exile or amnesty agreement for a deposed dictator, e.g. link to humanrightsdoctorate.blogspot.com

      So, if Palestine is upgraded to a non-member state, nothing would prevent the Court from prosecuting Netanyahu anyway – except for a yearly Security Council resolution requesting a temporary postponement in accordance with Article 16 of the Rome Statute. I don’t think there will ever be nine votes for such a thing in the Security Council.

  5. Proton Soup
    September 16, 2011, 1:33 pm

    we already know how bibi negotiates from his crowing to the settlers about his negotiating tactics at oslo. whatever you think you’ve negotiated, he will interpret as something else.

    • Kathleen
      September 16, 2011, 1:47 pm

      Or letting Israeli’s know Israel and the I lobby owns the US congress when it comes to our foreign policy in that part of the world

  6. iamuglow
    September 16, 2011, 2:41 pm

    Good news that Netanyahu himself will be speaking against the Palestinian statehood resolution. That should get the Palestinians a few more votes.

    • LeaNder
      September 16, 2011, 7:03 pm

      I have this distinct visual memory of a young female aid fluttering around Peres at Davos (…Erdogan …), while he was still speaking, as if she had an urgent message to convey. Peres, is useless after that event. It doesn’t work anymore to only push the emotional buttons.

  7. Kathleen
    September 16, 2011, 2:56 pm

    Israel has been busy cutting down all of the Palestinians trees
    link to economist.com
    Not much of an olive branch
    The plight of rural Palestinians on the West Bank is as grim as ever

    Oct 15th 2009 | al-Mughayir | from the print edition

    A Palestinian farmer, stumped againAFP

    “WHAT did the trees do?” says Muhammad Abu Awad, a retired teacher of agriculture and father of 14 children, as he looks gloomily at his ravaged field. Twisted, silvery stubs are all that remain of a lush grove that once offered up a yearly abundance of fat green olives

  8. longliveisrael
    September 16, 2011, 3:31 pm

    A more rational analysis

    link to fullcomment.nationalpost.com

    • annie
      September 16, 2011, 3:37 pm

      lol, i just checked out the top comments

      What a load of twaddle. That is equivalent to saying you can’t join our club because other people who like you hate us. You are judged on your behaviour, not the behaviour of others. JK should know that.

      Kay actually expects some to read his article today after the trash journalism of Thursday. I’m surprised he’s still employed.

      Could we have an un-biased, non-jewish opinion please?

      I think Jonathon is all wrapped up in this arab/hamas/iran conspiracy theory against Israel. What are ya nuts?

      lli, you better run over there, Jonathan Kay needs your help.

      • piotr
        September 16, 2011, 10:13 pm

        Kay: Consider the recent visit of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan to Cairo, where he was greeted as a rock star — despite the fact that the Turkish civilization from which he hails, in Ottoman form, was Egypt’s colonial oppressor for centuries; and that Mr. Erdogan’s message of secularization grated hard against the Muslim Brotherhood leaders in his audience. All was forgiven when Mr. Erdogan dedicated much of his public speeches and appearances to trashing Israel.

        Key’s knowledge of history and current events is sketchy. Turks were not colonial oppressors but feudal overlords, which is not the same. The rule of the Sublime Porte was rather remote. More to the point, where he found “Erdogan’s message of secularization”?

        The main idea is that Key tries to be clever, so he actually structured his arguments somewhat originally, but, alas, far from clever.

    • Woody Tanaka
      September 16, 2011, 3:42 pm

      You agree with Jonathan Kay, the hasbara-hoser???? There’s a shocker. Never would have seen that one coming.

    • Hostage
      September 16, 2011, 4:01 pm

      A more rational analysis

      The author bemoans “Turkish hissy fits, Egyptian mob rule, and the case against a Palestinian UDI”, but doesn’t mention construction of 5,000 new units in the illegal Israeli settlements?

      FYI, the Palestinians made their unilateral declaration of independence in November 1988. Now they are asking for multilateral recognition. Any author that doesn’t grasp the simple difference is not really worth reading – especially since he is suggesting that it’s okay to deny the Palestinians their right of self-determination because of troubles elsewhere in “the larger Muslim Middle East”.

      • LeaNder
        September 16, 2011, 7:18 pm

        unilateral … multilateral recognition

        Thanks, I didn’t notice. But I think the use is the point.

        This is a curious metaphor:

        And to this day, they seem unable to respond to any political challenge without resorting to hateful gestures against the postage stamp of real estate that’s been known since 1948 as the sovereign nation of Israel.

      • Hostage
        September 16, 2011, 9:34 pm

        they seem unable to respond to any political challenge without resorting to hateful gestures against the postage stamp of real estate that’s been known since 1948 as the sovereign nation of Israel.

        The Wall Street Journal has an article by Joe Lauria which gives a very good overview of the options available to the Palestinians by going to the UN. It notes that Francis Boyle (who advised the PLO on the 1988-89 UN bid) is advising Abbas and has recommended a shot at membership through a Uniting for Peace resolution in the event of a veto. So in descending order:
        *Full UN membership via the Security Council.
        *Full membership via a General Assembly Uniting for Peace resolution (unlikey if US and UK both vote no as expected).
        *Non-member observer state through a simple or 2/3rds majority in General Assembly (very likely).

        As either an observer or member state Palestine could become a State Party to:

        *The International Civil Aviation Organization. Denis Changnon, an ICAO spokesman, said the treaty gives members full sovereign rights over air space, a contentious issue with Israel, which currently controls the air space above the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinians could bring claims of violation of its air space to the International Court of Justice.
        *The UN Law of the Sea Treaty. Palestinians would gain legal control of national waters off Gaza—where they are currently under an Israeli naval blockade. Under the treaty, the Palestinians could challenge the blockade at the International Court of Justice. They could also claim rights to an offshore natural-gas field now claimed by Israel.
        *Even more troubling for Israel and the U.S. would be Palestinian membership in the International Criminal Court. Ambassador Christian Wenaweser, president of the ICC Assembly of State Parties, said in an interview that a Palestinian observer state could join the ICC and ask the court to investigate any alleged war crimes and other charges against Israel committed on Palestinian territory after July 2002. including Israel’s 2008-09 assault on the Gaza Strip.

        So, Israel is obviously frantic. If those are hateful gestures, then so be it.

      • LeaNder
        September 17, 2011, 9:00 am

        I had to check: Francis A. Boyle, much activity on Wikipedia, and the meaning behind “General Assembly Uniting for Peace resolution”.

        but thanks.

      • Hostage
        September 17, 2011, 1:16 pm

        The doubts surrounding the validity of such an action would almost certainly require an ICJ advisory opinion. For example, the President of the last session of the General Assembly opined that a Uniting for Peace resolution could not be used to override a veto on Palestinian membership based upon Charter grounds.

        I think he was wrong, because a General Assembly resolution can’t ever override a veto in the Security Council according to a strict reading of the Charter. But those limitations are considered senescent. In the Wall case the ICJ affirmed that the customary practice of the organization has evolved over time and that the General Assembly is no longer barred from putting questions on its agenda simply because the Security Council happens to be seized with the matter or there has been a veto. There is dicta in one of the opinions in the original 1947 ICJ membership case which indicated that only nine votes should be required for a Security Council recommendation and that the veto should be inapplicable under the terms of Article 27. link to yale.edu

        That opinion was delivered before there was any practice of “Uniting for Peace”.

      • Shingo
        September 17, 2011, 6:29 pm

        I think he was wrong, because a General Assembly resolution can’t ever override a veto in the Security Council according to a strict reading of the Charter.

        I’m pretty sure his opinion was driven by politics rather than facts Hostage.

      • Sand
        September 17, 2011, 7:31 pm

        HOSTAGE: Tony Karon has a piece up at Time. He says, that David Levy (son of … + on the J-Street Advisory Council) says that Abbas going to the UNSC allows the UNSC to stall any progress by referring the matter to a committee? Is that possible?

        “…An approach to the Security Council will actually reduce next week’s much-hyped showdown during the General Assembly session in New York to little more than a series of predictable speeches. Going the Security Council route makes any action very unlikely. That’s because the first response to a Security Council request to admit Palestine as a U.N. member state would that familiar Washington ritual: Setting up a committee.

        “Any application would almost certainly have to be considered by a technical committee of the whole, and that could take time,” warns Levy. The process would almost certainly be drawn out well beyond the General Assembly session…”

        link to globalspin.blogs.time.com

      • Hostage
        September 17, 2011, 8:14 pm

        I’m pretty sure his opinion was driven by politics rather than facts Hostage.

        No, I don’t really think so. He was in favor of Palestinian membership. It’s really a matter of differing first impressions and constitutional interpretations of the UN Charter (e.g. the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law).

        The first ICJ cases resulting from disputes over interpretations of the UN Charter were resolved on the basis of implied powers:
        a) The members had created an Organization with its own international legal personality;
        b) The members had delegated the Organization the necessary legal capacity to perform its functions and fulfill its purposes;
        c) The members had agreed to give the Organization “every assistance” in any action it takes.

        The minority view is that State parties are only bound by the explicit terms of a multilateral treaty, like the UN Charter. In customary practice no State has ever withdrawn its membership in the UN as a result of a Uniting for Peace resolution.

      • Hostage
        September 18, 2011, 12:29 am

        Abbas going to the UNSC allows the UNSC to stall any progress by referring the matter to a committee? Is that possible?

        Yes and no. Either of the political bodies can refer an application to a subcommittee. For example, the General Assembly resolution on Israel”s membership in the UN explicitly cites the minutes from the 51st session of an Ad Hoc General Assembly subcommittee on that particular question. So the GA introduced a very long delay. The Security Council had initially decided to postpone a decision on the application for several months before it was finally brought-up for consideration and a vote in the next session.

        Nothing prevents the Palestinians from applying for an upgraded observer status, “pending full membership”, after it has made its preference for the latter a formal part of the Security Council record. That is already an established UN practice.

        For example, after the Emergency Session which declared the Wall to be illegal and requested the advisory opinion, the General Assembly Credentials Committee adopted a series of resolutions which decided “that Palestine, in its capacity as observer and pending its attainment of full membership in the United Nations, does not present credentials to the General Assembly” (from either the “PLO” or “PNA”). The UN reports and resolutions about that mentioned “their State, Palestine”. They describe the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967 as “their territory” and said that “the credentials of the delegation of Israel do not cover that territory”. See A/58/L.48, 15 December 2003 & General Assembly resolution A/RES/58/292, 17 May 2004

        The Palestinians already have a resolution from the General Assembly stating that the option of a Palestian state is not subject to the peace process or any veto. So the inclusion of a clause recalling that should make the upgrade a done deal.

      • irishmoses
        September 24, 2011, 2:54 pm

        Hostage,
        If the Palestinians have access to the ICJ, couldn’t they also request rulings on legality of settlements, legality of annexations (Jerusalem and Golan Heights) all of which are illegal under 4GC?

        I think they might also use the ICJ forum to attack the length of the occupation which clearly has been used as a shield for illegal land acquisition. US occupation of Italy, German and Japan ended in 4, 6 and 8 years, respectively with no land grabs even though good arguments might have been made that some land be forfeited for reparations. 44 years seems to be a tad excessive.

        Here’s another hare-brained idea: If Israel is found to have exceeded any reasonable length of occupation, wouldn’t Palestine revert back to UN trusteeship?

      • eee
        September 24, 2011, 3:06 pm

        How is access to the ICJ going to help Palestinians? How has it helped Syria regarding the Golan? How has it helped regarding the security fence? In short keep dreaming. Only negotiations will lead to a peaceful solution. There are no short cuts.

      • Shingo
        September 24, 2011, 7:58 pm

        How is access to the ICJ going to help Palestinians?

        Enough to have the Israelis and the US State Department in a panick.

      • irishmoses
        September 24, 2011, 9:10 pm

        I have been amazed by the intense efforts from the EU, France, the Brits, the Quartet, as well as the US to stop Abbas. It has been a full press effort at the highest levels. Everything else stopped for three weeks. The question is why, particularly since little or nothing will change if there is a veto.

        The only answer I can come up with is that there must be some very strong intel indicating a huge negative reaction from the Arab street, from the Saudis, that could result in major harm to US and EU interests in the event of a veto.

        The Israelis certainly don’t want it because it will change the game against them by making the issue a legal one that won’t necessarily need to be resolved through negotiations. It will also cut the US out of the role of sole mediator and designated Netanyahu poodle. But, I can’t see how all the massive diplomatic efforts stem from Israeli bitching. Its got to be a real tangible fear of something far worse. If that’s the case then maybe there still is a hope that the US won’t veto when push comes to shove.

        Abbas has turned out to be a real stud. Good on him. I hope he stays tough cause he is on a roll!

    • Shingo
      September 16, 2011, 4:37 pm

      LLI never passes up and opportunity to pass up an opportunity to look like a complete idiot

      • Cliff
        September 16, 2011, 4:52 pm

        longliveisrael is a crappy hasbararist

        he comes into a thread, posts a link to an editorial he agrees with and vanishes from the ensuing mockery

        or he’ll make a hysterical statement and then disappear

        in both cases, he’s only capable of superficial condemnations of opinions he cannot handle logically. he responds ideologically and mostly emotionally

        and yes, he’s also simply too stupid to think of a clever thing to say or intelligent, substantiated argument

    • LeaNder
      September 16, 2011, 7:14 pm

      whatever one considers rational. ;)

  9. Avi
    September 16, 2011, 3:44 pm

    The extent that US and some European diplomats will go to prevent the Palestinian Authority from presenting a statehood resolution at the United Nations is astounding, although the motivation for their frantic efforts is not at all clear, especially in light of the slim chance of success.

    Ira, Israel is frantically trying to stop the bid for Palestinian statehood mainly due to the fact that Israel has planned on keeping the occupied West Bank.

    Now, you will probably say that retrospectively it’s easy to make such a claim, but when I look at Israeli maps from the 1970s and see planned roads that systematically bisect the West Bank into Bantustans, I realize that the Oslo Accords were not coincidental.

    Please understand that when it comes to long-term strategic planning, i.e. where Israel will be in 20 or 30 years time, or what it will look like, the Prime Minister’s office and the Knesset have very little say in the matter. The policies are set by the so-called “security” apparatus. They run the show.

    • seafoid
      September 16, 2011, 5:21 pm

      “Israel is frantically trying to stop the bid for Palestinian statehood”

      I was at a conference last week and one of the presentations was from a math professor who works on risk. He spoke about mathematical approaches to risk and how his colleagues had beeen testing formulae to calculate option values. The problem they found was that the formulae failed to allow adequately for tail risk so the losses if they would used in real life would be massive. They were contacted by a crowd of bankers who wanted to use the approach in their financial models. The maths professors told them the formulae wouldn’t work. The bankers went ahead regardless and implemented them in the model. The models broke down during the financial crisis and destroyed billions in capital. The profs knew this would happen. They weren’t listened to.

      What did the Israelis think the end was going to look like ?
      They could flash the Balfour Declaration and everyone would clap?

      How much have they spent on YESHA since 1967?
      How much of it is recoverable ?

      It is wonderful that Bibi is the Prime Minister when the shit hits the fan. Couldn’t happen to a nicer person.

    • Ira Glunts
      September 18, 2011, 8:50 pm

      Avi,

      I believe that the Israeli government is set on keeping the occupied territory, but I am not sure how seriously they are taking the PA resolution.

      Your larger point I very much agree with. Many Israelis have always thought that the West Bank would be a permanent part of the country — at least a good portion the territory. Fewer than people think are enthusiastic about a really independent Palestinian state. Just take the Allon plan plan for a start.

  10. James
    September 16, 2011, 11:47 pm

    i get a kick out of the title of this piece..

    Israeli officials say they are just trying to help Palestinians, and Americans, climb down out of the tree..

    dang, those israeli officals are always trying to be helpful, lol….

  11. john h
    September 17, 2011, 4:55 am

    Yeah, they just forgot to say they were on puff cloud 9 that’s about to disappear. Compared to that a tree is a pretty solid place to be.

  12. alfa
    September 17, 2011, 10:22 pm

    Netinyaho is emulating Daffy in this comic opera, I’m afraid he’s living in his own lala land close by.

    Is it a strange disease that incubates between 44 and 47 years? Symptoms are delusions of grander with Public displays filled with violent vomiting of decet and deceptions. If it’s not disease then is this what possession looks like?? I believe it’s ripe material for opera and stage.

    The Palestinians have the world’s attention and will win the the hearts of worlds pople. Netinyyaho appearing at the UN qulifies him for the Title of The Palestinians Secret Weapon.

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