Iraq Wants More Russian Weapons for Its War with IS

Iraq Wants More Russian Weapons for Its War with IS

PETER KORZUN | 25.02.2017 | WORLD

Iraq Wants More Russian Weapons for Its War with IS

Russia is considering Iraq’s request for arms supplies. The statement was made by a Russian official during the IDEX-2017 arms exhibition in Aby Dhabi. Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) Deputy Director Alexei Frolkin said that Russian-Iraqi military technical cooperation “is developing quite effectively.” According to him, Russia is rendering significant military assistance to Iraq, which is fighting Islamic State (IS) militants.

On January 30, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow did not rule out the possibility of assistance to Iraq in the fight against the IS terrorist group if Baghdad shows such an interest. The statements on arms supplies come amid the ongoingoperation to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul, which began in October, 2016. Iraqi troops have managed to advance in the eastern part of the city, but the western part – on the right bank of the Tigris River – remains under militants’ control.

Russiaand Iraq have a history of successful military cooperation. In October 2012, Iraq signed a $4.2 billion deal to include a combination of 43 Mi-35 (28) and Mi-28NE (15) attack helicopters, plus 42-50 Pantsir-S1 combined short to medium range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapons systems. The contract was fulfilled last October as the attack helicopters and anti-aircraft systems had been delivered to the Iraqi military.

The Iraqi armed forces inventory also includes Russia-produced TOS1ABuratino heavy flame throwers, Grad truck-mounted 122mm multiple rocket launchers, 152mm MSTA howitzers, Su-25 attack planes and armored vehicles.

According to Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Russia-made weapons are widely used in the battle for Mosul.TOS-1A heavy flamethrower system is a 220mm 24-barrel multiple rocket launcher and thermobaric weapon mounted on a T-72 tank chassis. It is designed for defeating enemy personnel in fortifications, in open country, and in lightly armored vehicles and transport. In addition to traditional incendiary rockets, it can also fire thermobaric rockets. When fired, the rockets disperse a cloud of flammable liquid into the air around the target, and then ignite it. The explosion is significantly longer and the shockwave is much stronger than a conventional warhead. All the oxygen in the near vicinity is also consumed, creating a partial vacuum. It is a formidable weapon to strike terrorists hidden in bunkers and caves, like in Mosul, for instance. A full salvo of the system’s 24 rockets will make a rectangle 200 meters by 400 meters to incinerate more than eight city blocks.

The Wall Street Journal reported in December that a Russian Kornet anti-tank guided missile destroyed 120 IS truck bombs in Iraq. Reportedly, it obliterated a US-made Abrams tank. The Kornet can defeat reactivearmorand penetratesteel armorup to one meter deep.

Iraqi Mi28 and Mi-35 effectively launch attacks against IS positions in Mosul.

The military cooperation with Iraq – the country engaged in fierce fight against the IS – is part of a larger process.

Moscowis the key player in the Astana process aimed at achieving peace in Syria. It is expanding its naval base in Tartus as well as a new air base near Latakia, giving it a large, permanent military foothold to project power.

Turkey, a NATO member, is in talks with Russia regarding the purchase of advanced S-400long-range air defense missile systems. The parties are studying the prospects for boosting military cooperation in all areas, including procurement deals in electronic systems, ammunitions and missile technology. The related issues were discussed during the visit of General Hulusi Akar, the head of the Turkish armed forces’ General Staff, to Moscow last November.Moscowand Ankara are engaged in implementation of the ambitious Turkish Stream gas project.Turkeyhas even mentioned the possibility of joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Political forces in Libya have approached Russia for help. In January Eastern Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar visited Russia aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov on patrol in the Mediterranean.

The Russian-Egyptian relationship has flourished recently, including intensive military cooperation.

Moscowenjoys close ties with Tehran, cooperating in Syria. Iran has recently boosted its anti-aircraft capabilities after receiving Russian S-300 air defense systems.

Russiaand Jordan cooperate in the anti-terrorist effort.

Russiaand Israel set a good example of avoiding conflicts and incidents: both countries do not interfere with each other’s activities in Syria.

Algeriais strengthening ties with Moscow. It has recently purchased 14 Su-30MKA fighters and 40 Mi-28 attack helicopters. Other contracts may follow as the country is facing a terrorist threat to make it strengthen its borders.

Moroccoand Tunisia are interested in strengthening its military capabilities with Russian weapons.

The military cooperation encompasses the Persian Gulf. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Qatar’s State Minister for Defense Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah signed a military cooperation agreement last September on the sidelines of the Army-2016 international military-technical forum in Kubinka near Moscow.

The success of the military operation, as well as Moscow’s staunch support of the ally in Damascus, boosts its clout in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Moscow has become an important partner for regional powers regardless of their opposing interests.

Russia is back to the region as a major actor. It has turned the tide of the Syrian conflict to take control of the peace process. It has built a close relationship with Turkey, including joint military activities in Al Bab. It develops strategic relationship with Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and other countries, including Israel. According to Newsweek, over the past two years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has received the leaders of Middle Eastern states 25 times – five more than former US President Barack Obama, according to a Newsweek analysis of presidential meetings.

Russian military effort in MENA is gaining ground. High effectiveness of Russian weapons in the Syrian boosts the customer demand and, consequently, political clout. The military operation in Syria has greatly raised its regional profile. It prevented Islamic extremists from turning the country into a part of “caliphate” to encourage their supporters and sympathizers across the Muslim world.

Moscow is perceived as a pragmatic, savvy, no-nonsense player able to weigh in on regional matters by both diplomatic and military means. New alliances emerge and old friendships are revived to involve the countries long regarded as being within the Western sphere of influence. The political landscape of the region is going through fundamental changes, with Russia greatly influencing the process.

Even after all the oil has gone the USA will still be killing women and kids in Iraq

Radioactive Weapons Are Killing Innocent Civilians in Iraq—and the US Military is Behind It

By Prof. Vijay Prashad,

SEE ALSO The USA spread depleted uranium all over Iraq without any cares in the world

The horrors caused by the USA & UK’s indiscriminate use of depleted uranium in Iraq

iraq_war_crimes

“Everyone seems to be dying of cancer. Every day one hears about another acquaintance or friend of a friend dying.”

On Monday, February 20, US-led coalition fighter jets bombed al-Shefaa, a residential area in eastern Mosul (Iraq). Sources from a variety of perspectives say that several dozen civilians died in the raid and a large number were wounded. The highest numbers are being quoted by the Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency, while the lower numbers come from al-Jazeera. The coalition commanders have not answered questions about the raids.

According to Airwars, a large number of civilians have been killed due to US-led coalition bombings that began in 2014. The total civilians killed range from 5,875 to 7,936, while those specifically killed by coalition airstrikes number between 2,405 and 3,517. These are twice the number of civilians as killed by Russian airstrikes in Syria, according to Airwars figures.

The Iraqi military confirms that it has slowed down its advance into Mosul because it does not know how to fight ISIS without endangering the 750,000 civilians in the region. The most recent UN situation report from Iraq counts 160,000 people already displaced as a result of the Mosul crisis. Low income levels, shortages of water, great threats because of the fighting – these define the situation for residents in and around Mosul.

A joint investigation by Airwars and Foreign Policy pushed the US military to confirm that in two incidents in 2015 the United States used depleted uranium (DU) shells against ISIS targets in Syria. When Airwars’ Samuel Oakford asked the United States military whether it had used any DU in Syria, they first denied it, then finally admitted to its use earlier this month. DU ammunition was fired from A-10 aircraft against fuel tankers.

Strikingly, the A-10 aircraft normally carries high explosive incendiary (HEI) ammunition which, according to its manufacturer General Dynamics, ‘provides fragmentation and incendiary effects for use against personnel, trucks, ammunition storage and many other targets’. The HEI would have been sufficient to destroy the fuel tankers, so that it was unnecessary to use DU – a radioactive substance – to contaminate parts of northern Syria.

Make the Desert Glow.

At the same time as the US was using radioactive weapons in Syria, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said of ISIS – ‘We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out’. This was plainly a reference to some kind of radioactive bombardment. It was precisely what the administration of Barack Obama had already been doing.

Not long after Cruz first made this comment – which became a standard for his stump speeches – Mark Halperin of Bloomberg asked another Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, whether he would go nuclear against ISIS. ‘Well, I’m never going to rule anything out’, replied Trump. When pushed by Chris Matthews of MSNBC on this issue, Trump said, ‘Somebody hits us within ISIS – you wouldn’t fight back with a nuke?’

Three generals who made their mark in Iraq between 1991 and 2008 now lead President Trump’s national security team. General James Mattis (Secretary of Defense), General John Kelley (Secretary of Homeland Security) and General H. R. McMaster (National Security Advisor) all led the US counter-insurgency operations in Iraq. Of the three, General James Mattis had the closest relationship to the use of radioactive weapons in Iraq. This was during the siege conducted by the United States against the city of Fallujah in 2004. To grasp the attitude of the US officers in this war, reflect for a minute on Mattis’ statement made in a 2003 speech to soldiers regarding how to comport themselves in Iraq, ‘Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet’.

Fallujah is one of the most forgotten contemporary US battlefields. In that battle to defeat the popular insurgency against the American occupation, the United States used chemical (white phosphorus) and radioactive (DU) weapons with great abandon. The fierceness of the war destroyed three quarters of the city and sent most of its population to the grave or into flight. At this time, General Mattis headed the 1st Marine Division that was key to the Fallujah war.

Ironically, the United States went into Iraq in 2003 with the claim that it wanted to destroy weapons of mass destruction. In turn, it was the United States that used weapons of mass destruction inside Iraq.

The United States dropped at least 116,000 kgs of DU ammunition during the bombing campaign of the 2003 Iraq War. At that time, A-10 fighter jets were used for these missions, the same planes used in Syria. Strike logs released to George Washington University in 2013, shows that in the early months of the war (March-April 2003), DU ammunition was used against cars and trucks as well as buildings of all kinds. The widespread use of these radioactive weapons across Iraq contaminated large swathes of the country. What transpired in Fallujah the next year was merely the continuation of what had become normal policy. The data from that war has not been released as of yet. It would show that DU weapons were fired not only from A-10 jets, but also from tanks and other ground-based devices. These not only contaminated the soil, but also endangered US troops.

It is not as if the US military did not know that DU weapons are dangerous. The US Environmental Protection Agency calls these weapons ‘a radiation health hazard when inside the body’. A 1975 US Air Force review suggested that these weapons not be used against troops, but only against ‘tanks, armored personnel carriers or other hard targets’. This prohibition was routinely violated during the US War on Iraq. In 2003, the UK’s Royal Society of Medicine and the UN Environment Program warned against the use of such weapons. None of these warnings were heeded. People like Mattis and Kelley had their fingers on the trigger. There is no available evidence that they cautioned against what is tantamount to a war crime.

Everyone Seems to be Dying of Cancer.

Evidence from Baghdad and Fallujah is compelling. Before she died of leukemia, artist Nuha al-Radi wrote, ‘Everyone seems to be dying of cancer. Every day one hears about another acquaintance or friend of a friend dying. How many more die in hospitals that one does not know? Apparently, over 30 per cent of Iraqis have cancer, and there are a lot of kids with leukemia. The depleted uranium left by the US bombing campaign has turned Iraq into a cancer-infested country’.

Dr. Samira Allani, a pediatric specialist at the Fallujah General Hospital, sees the connection between Iraq and Japan – two countries struck hard by weapons of mass destruction. The rate of children born with birth defects in Fallujah are much greater than that of children born – after 1945 – in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The dust from DU emits alpha radiation, which experts say is twenty times more dangerous than the gamma radiation from nuclear weapons. There was no dramatic mushroom cloud over Baghdad or Fallujah, but the smaller explosions might have been just as deadly.

Over the years, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has pushed a non-binding resolution in the UN General Assembly against the use of DU ammunition. Both in 2012 and 2014, the overwhelming majority of the world’s states voted for a resolution brought by the NAM against DU weapons. Both times the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Israel voted against the resolution. In December 2014, the NAM resolution came just as US A-10 fighter jets arrived in Kuwait to bomb ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq. There was fear that the US would use DU weapons once more in the region. This fear, we now find, was not unwarranted. The US has said that it used DU twice. One should not be comforted by this number, since there might be other instances where DU was used in the last few years.

It would be naïve to assume that the United States and its coalition are not using DU weaponry in the fight against ISIS in Mosul and elsewhere. These are dangerous weapons, whose radioactivity lasts a very long time and damages societies for generations. Statements by Trump and Cruz about the use of nuclear weapons and the lack of outrage against that shows how desensitized the population has become about violence against the brown bodies of West Asia.

And even against the ecology of the region. In her captivating memoir, Nuha al-Radi writes about fleeing into her family orchard when the US bombing of Iraq took place in 2003. ‘The birds have taken the worst beating of all’, she wrote. ‘They have sensitive souls, which cannot take all this hideous noise and vibration. All the caged lovebirds have died from the shock of the blasts, while birds in the wild fly upside down and do crazy somersaults. Hundreds, if not thousands, have died in the orchard. Lonely survivors fly about in distracted fashion’.

Whether Nuha, powerful artist that she was, wrote of the birds alone or wrote with allegory close to her pen is moot. Both the birds and Iraqis as well Syrians go about in a distracted fashion. Their lives continue to be turned askew by the hideous bombardment of this ongoing war.

Vijay Prashad is professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He is the author of 18 books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK Press, 2012), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013) and The Death of a Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016). His columns appear at AlterNet every Wednesday.

The real “anti-Semitism”: Palestinians face intense online hate from israelis

Palestinians face intense online hate from Israelis, say campaigners

Palestinian lawyers call for investigation of police minister as survey shows soaring levels of anti-Arab speech on Hebrew social media

By Jonathan Cook • Middle Eastern Eye • February 25, 2017

 

no-arabs-483

By Jonathan Cook • Middle Eastern Eye • February 25, 2017

Israel’s 1.7 million Palestinian citizens are facing a tidal wave of incitement and hate speech on social media, including from government ministers, community leaders have warned.

They say the increasingly hostile political climate in Israel is stoking violence from the police and street gangs, and has laid the ground for a recent raft of racist legislative proposals.

The alert comes as a group of Palestinian lawyers demand that Israel’s attorney general investigates Gilad Erdan, the internal security minister, for incitement to racism.

Adalah, a legal group for Israel’s Palestinian minority, highlighted statements from Erdan blaming Palestinian citizens for “arson terrorism” last November after forest fires swept the country, despite their having been no prosecutions.

“Israel has experienced arson terrorism and I won’t let anyone sweep this fact under the rug,” he wrote on Facebook in December. “Why does it seem unrealistic that Arabs would attempt to harm Jews?”

Adalah argued Erdan’s comments were part of a wider government strategy to portray Palestinian citizens, about 20 per cent of Israel’s population, as a “fifth column”.

Although other government ministers had incited, the group said, Erdan’s statements were especially harmful because of his role overseeing the police. Adalah said he was bolstering a police culture that already treated Palestinian citizens as an “enemy within”.

“Incitement from Erdan is dangerous because it reinforces and sanctions existing prejudices in the police,” Nadim Shehadeh, a lawyer with Adalah, told Middle East Eye. “As a result, the police are likely to have an even lighter finger on the trigger.”

Concern about the effects of incitement from leading politicians has been underscored by a survey published this month that found rocketing levels of online abuse from Israeli Jews against Palestinians.

7amleh, an organisation promoting social media rights for Palestinians, identified 675,000 posts in Hebrew last year expressing racism or hatred towards Palestinians – one every 46 seconds, and more than double the previous year’s figure.

“There are terrifying levels of hate speech online from Israeli Jews,” Nadim Nashef, 7amleh’s director, told MEE. “No one in Israel – politicians, the police, the courts and the social media companies – has shown any interest in doing something about it.

“But it’s worse than that. The politicians are fuelling the problem. It has become completely normal in Israel to incite against Palestinians. You find it everywhere. It is entirely mainstream.”

The research identified more than 50,000 Hebrew speakers as persistent offenders on social media, especially Facebook, said Nashef. Spikes in online abuse correlated with incitement from Israeli politicians and the media, he added.

Popular terms of abuse included threats to kill, rape, burn, expel, and assault Palestinians.

Both Adalah and 7amleh said incitement from Israeli Jews was rarely investigated or prosecuted. Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories, on the other hand, had their accounts closed or were arrested and jailed over less serious online activity.

7amleh said its research showed that the brunt of online abuse was directed at leading Palestinian politicians in Israel.

The most common targets were Haneen Zoabi, one of only two Palestinian women in the parliament, and Ahmed Tibi, a former adviser to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, 7amleh said. Both Zoabi and Tibi have reported regular death threats.

According to the survey, they received more online abuse than the leader of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, Mahmoud Abbas.

“When we are targeted rather than the Palestinian leadership in the occupied territories, a clear message is sent to the [Jewish] public that we have no place in the parliament and those we represent have no right to be citizens,” Zoabi told MEE.

The climate of incitement had very concrete effects, said Zoabi: “It gives a green light to police violence. It is converted into shootings and deaths.”

She said dozens of Palestinian citizens had died in unexplained circumstances at the hands of the police in the last 15 years.

Zoabi also pointed to the increasing reports of gangs chanting “Death to the Arabs!” in Israeli cities and Jerusalem, as well as a growing incidence of street assaults.

Polls have shown high levels of racial prejudice among Israeli Jews. A survey last year found 49 per cent would not live in the same building as a Palestinian citizen.

Another showed a similar number of 16 and 17-year-olds would deny Palestinian citizens the right to vote.

Adalah said constant incitement from government politicians had made possible the drafting of ever-more discriminatory and anti-democratic legislation.

Shehadeh noted that recent laws allowed the parliament to expel the minority’s legislators over their views, and hampered the work of human rights groups assisting Palestinians.

Zoabi agreed. “Every week we see bills being introduced, such as a ban on the mosque call to prayer, or moves to step up home demolitions in Palestinian communities. The political culture sanctions ever more violence through legislation.”

Nashef said a turning point in the levels of incitement could be traced to comments by Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, at the last general election, in early 2015. Netanyahu posted a video on Facebook telling the Jewish public it was vital they voted because “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls”.

“When the prime minister talks like this, then everyone else understands that it is okay to do it too,” Nashef said.

7amleh’s survey showed a significant peak of online incitement and hate speech last November, as hundreds of fires broke out across Israel and the occupied territories, triggered by a prolonged drought and high winds.

Despite the exceptional weather conditions, Erdan led government ministers in accusing Palestinians, especially those in Israel, of being behind the fires.

Adalah cited Erdan’s Facebook post from early December. Dozens of Palestinian citizens were arrested by police, but none have been charged with “nationalist crimes” over the fires.

Nevertheless, Netanyahu has continued to make similar accusations, stating last month: “That fact that we can’t prove it [that the fires were terrorism] doesn’t mean it’s not what happened.”

Nashef said: “These inciteful statements garner a lot of media attention and our research shows they have a powerful impact in shaping public attitudes. But few notice when they turn out to be based on lies or misinformation.”

Adalah also cited comments by Erdan justifying the fatal shooting of Yacoub Abu al-Qiyan by police last month during a demolition operation in Umm al-Hiran, a Bedouin community in Israel’s south.

A police video and post-mortem examination report indicated that Abu al-Qiyan lost control of his car after he was shot, and careered into a group of policemen, killing one of them.

According to Israeli media, a justice ministry report – due to published next month – has found no evidence that Abu al-Qiyan carried out an attack or belonged to an extremist organisation.

Nonetheless, said Shehadeh, Erdan and other government ministers repeatedly accused Abu al-Qiyan, without evidence, of being an Islamic State terrorist.

Erdan tweeted hours after the two deaths: “The terrorist sharply turned his wheel and quickly accelerated in order to run over a group of police officers.”

Netanyahu’s office similarly described the incident as a “car-ramming attack”. Implying that Abu al-Qiyan was part of global trend of Islamic terrorism, Netanyahu said Israel and the world were “fighting this murderous phenomenon”.

Adalah’s letter to the attorney general also pointed out that Erdan had repeatedly blamed the deaths in Umm al-Hiran on Palestinian legislators there to protest against the demolitions. Erdan singled out Ayman Odeh, the leader of the Joint List, the Palestinian coalition in the parliament.

In comments to the media, he said: “Ayman Odeh and the rest of the MKs from the Arab [sic] List who have come to enflame sentiments this morning: This blood is also on your hands. … You are a disgrace to the State of Israel.”

In Umm al-Hiran, Odeh was himself injured twice, including to the head, by sponge-tipped bullets fired at him by police.

Problem with Facebook

Nashef criticised Facebook, where most of the online hate speech was found, for contributing to the problem.

Last summer Facebook agreed to crack down on what Israel defines as incitement by Palestinians. Paradoxically, Erdan was the minister who met the tech companies.

According to reports, in the first half of 2016, a tenth of all content restrictions imposed by Facebook globally were at the Israeli government’s behest.

But Nashef said nothing was being done to deal with incitement and hate speech from the Jewish public.

“It is not reasonable that large numbers of Palestinians have their accounts shut down or are arrested and jailed for online hate speech, while Israeli Jews can engage in the same or worse activity and there are no consequences,” he said.

Neither the justice or police ministries were available for comment.

7amleh said the biggest peak in online abuse followed the arrest last March of army medic Elor Azaria. He was filmed executing a badly wounded Palestinian, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif. This week he was sentenced to 18 months’ jail for manslaughter.

Several government ministers, including Netanyahu, expressed strong support for Azaria.

The survey showed another outburst of online abuse followed attacks last September by the culture minister, Miri Regev, against two Palestinian cultural icons.

She described the late national poet Mahmoud Darwish as the “leader of the Palestinian industry of lies”, and accused a popular rapper, Tamer Nafar, of giving “legitimacy to terrorism”.

The Trump-Netanyahu Circus

The Trump-Netanyahu Circus

By Ramzy Baroud

Information Clearing House” –  The President of the United States can hardly be taken seriously, saying much but doing little. His words, often offensive, carry no substance, and it is impossible to summarize his complex political outlook about important issues.

This is precisely the type of American presidency that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prefers.

However, Donald Trump is not just a raving man, but a dangerous one as well. His unpredictability must worry Israel, which expects from its American benefactors complete clarity and consistency in terms of its political support.

At the age of 70, Trump is incapable of being the stalwart, pro-Zionist ideologue in a way that suits Israeli interests well.

Take, for example, the White House press conference following the much anticipated visit by Netanyahu to Washington on 15 February.

The visit was scheduled immediately after Trump’s inauguration on 20 January and is considered the Trump Presidency’s answer to what Israel wrongly perceives as a hostile US administration under former President Barack Obama.

However, Obama granted Israel $38 billion  over the course of ten years, estimated to be the most generous aid package in US history. He supported all the Israeli wars against Palestinians during his presidency, and unfailingly defended Israel before the international community, at the United Nations and every global forum in which Israel was justifiably criticised.

But Israel expects blind support. It needs a US administration that is as loyal as the US Congress, always praising Israel, degrading Palestinians, dismissing international law, calling to stop funding the UN for daring to demand accountability from Israel, feeding Israeli “security” phobias with monetary and absolute political backing, demonising Iran, undermining the Arabs and repeating all Israeli talking points fed to them by Tel Aviv and by the fifth column lobbyists in Washington.

Trump is striving to be that person, the messiah that Israel’s army of right-wing, ultranationalists and religious zealots have been calling for. But this appears beyond the man’s control, no matter how hard he tries.

“Looking at two-state or one-state, I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one both parties like. I can live with either one,” Trump said in answer to a journalist’s question, implying to Israel that the US will no longer impose solutions; instead, Trump pushed the “one-state solution” idea to the very top of the discussion. It is not what Israel wanted – or expected.

In Washington, Netanyahu, with unmistakable pomposity, stood before the media and simply lied. He painted Israel as vulnerable, a prey for dark “radical Islam” forces, ready to strike from every corner.

He presented Iran’s nuclear capabilities as if it is lined up to incinerate Israel, itself built atop the graves and villages of dispossessed Palestinians. No journalist had the courage to quiz the Israeli leader about his own country’s massive nuclear arsenal and other weapons of mass destruction. Listening to him preach fabricated history to the incurious American media, one would think that militarily powerful Israel is occupied by hostile Palestinian foreigners, and not vice versa.

Netanyahu claimed his people belonged to Palestine as the French belonged to France and the Chinese to China. But if European Jewish immigrants are the natives of Palestine, then what is one to make of Palestinians? How is one to explain their existence on land that has carried their collective name for millennia?

This is inconsequential to the US government and mainstream media. US media is as uninformed about the realities of the Middle East as Trump, who seems to have only two main talking points about the whole issue, both embarrassingly bizarre:

 

Israel has been treated “very, very badly” by the US, and he has a “really great peace deal” in store.

On the contrary, Palestinians have been treated “very, very badly” by the US, the most generous supporter of Israel. Israel has used mostly American weapons in its wars against Palestinians and other Arab nations, with thousands of Palestinians losing their lives because of this blind American patronage.

As for his “really great peace deal”, Trump has nothing. “Really great” seems to be his answer to everything, to the point that his words are becoming ineffectual clichés, suitable for twitter jokes and comedy.

Furthermore, Netanyahu, urged on by – to quote former Secretary of State, John Kerry – the “most right-wing coalition in Israeli history” – wants the US to unconditionally support Israel as the latter is finalizing its future “vision”.

Now, it seems that Israel is concluding that territorial quest. The “Regularization Law” passed recently in Israel’s parliament – the Knesset – will retroactively validate all Israeli illegal settlers’ claims over Palestinian land. Top Israel officials now openly speak of annexation of the West Bank, using language that was formerly reserved for Jewish extremists.

Israel’s president believes annexation is the answer. “I, Rubi Rivlin, believe that Zion is entirely ours. I believe the sovereignty of the State of Israel must be in all the blocs,” Rivlin said, emphasizing that he was referring to the entire West Bank, as quoted by the Times of Israel.

The consensus among Israel’s ruling class is that a Palestinian state should never be established. Trump, although incoherent, granted them just that.

So what does Netanyahu want? We know he does not want a Palestinian state and plans to annex all Jewish colonies, while continuing to expand over stolen Palestinian land. He wants Palestinians to exist, but without political will of their own, without sovereignty, forced to accept that Israel is a Jewish state (thus signing off on their historic right to their own land); to remain subdued, passive, disarmed, dehumanized.

Netanyahu’s end game is Apartheid, racist segregation where one party, Israeli Jews, dominates and exploits the other – Palestinian Arabs: Muslims and Christians.

But human dignity is not open for negotiation, no matter how a “good negotiator” Netanyahu is – according to Trump’s assertion.

Palestinians have resisted Israel for nearly 70 years because they challenge their servitude. They will continue to resist.

Israel has the military means to punish Palestinians for their resistance, to push them behind military checkpoints and trap them behind walls. Yet, it is not a matter of firepower, and no wall can be high enough to stymie the echoes of oppressed people striving for freedom, human rights, equality and solidarity.

Netanyahu must feel triumphant because of Trump’s assuring words. The Israeli leader wants any victory, however illusive, to buy time and the allegiance of his camp of extremists, especially now that he is being investigated for fraud and is likely to be indicted.

He may even initiate a war against Gaza to create further distraction, and will readily spin facts so that his country is presented as a victim, to test American support and to “downgrade” Hamas’ and other Palestinian groups’ defenses.

However, none of this will change the reality that Netanyahu has unwisely constructed. His vision for Israel is the perpetual subjugation of Palestinians through a system of racial discrimination that will continue until the world unravels the lies and the propaganda.

Having Trump by his side, Netanyahu will work diligently to perfect the Palestinian prison in the name of Israel’s security.

Palestinians must now respond, without the irrelevant rhetoric of a “two-state solution”, but with a unified universal message to the rest of the world: expecting – in fact, demanding – freedom, equality, full rights in a society that is not predicated on racial order, but on equal citizenship.

Israel has laid out its dark vision. Palestinians must present the antithesis to that destructive vision: a road map towards justice, equality and peace for all.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com.

أردوغان ينقلب على عقبَيْه والحرب سجال

فبراير 25, 2017 أولى

محمد صادق الحسيني

العيون شاخصة نحو الباب، بعد احتلالها من جانب قوات الغزو التركية وميليشياتها الإرهابية، تحت عنوان تطهيرها من داعش…!

هو صاحب رقصة الهيلاهوب البهلوانية الذي يراوغ بين اللعب بالورقة الروسية وبين الحنين الجارف لحضن سيده الأميركي…!

وكل ذلك بتخطيط وتوجيه من الشيطان الأكبر العالمي وكما يلي:

أولاً: هناك أمر عمليات أميركي لأذناب الولايات المتحدة في «الشرق الأوسط» بالتخطيط لحرب ضد محور دول المقاومة على أن تنفذ خلال هذا العام.

ثانياً: الروس على علم بذلك، وهناك اتفاق بين الطرفين الأميركي والروسي أن يكونا ضابطَي إيقاع في حال وقوع الحرب وأن لا يدخلا الحرب مباشرة.

ثالثاً: الأردن ضمن المحور الأميركي والأميركيون يقومون بخداع الروس وتقديم الأردن على أنه يرغب في لعب دور إيجابي في الأزمة السورية.

في هذه الأثناء لا بد لصديقنا الروسي أن ينتبه ويراقب كما هو آتٍ:

أولاً: عندما تضع المرأة مولودها يكون في حاجة إلى التنظيف السريع من بقايا المشيمة والشوائب الأخرى العالقة بالجسد الغضّ، وذلك كي يتمّ تحضيره على مسيرة الحياة بشكل صحيّ نظيف.

وهكذا هو النظام العالميّ الجديد الذي أطلق عليه السيد لافروف في مؤتمر ميونيخ: نظام ما بعد الغرب.

أي أن على الحليف الروسي للدولة السورية أن يعتمد الطرق الصحية السليمة لنمو وتطور علاقاته مع حليفه السوري والإيراني.

إذ إن استمراره في محاولات احتواء المولود المشوّه خلقياً، أردوغان، لن يؤدي إلا إلى مزيد من الخسائر والدمار للشعب السوري ومزيد من الخسائر المادية والبشرية للحليف الإيراني اللصيق للشعب العربي السوري.

ثانياً: يجب أن يكون الحليف الروسي قد وصل الى قناعة بأن الخطوات التي اتخذها أردوغان منذ آب 2016 وحتى الآن لم تكن سوى مناورة سياسية لتقطيع الوقت حتى تتضح سياسة الرئيس الأميركي الجديد بعد انتخابه الى جانب تحقيق مكاسب اقتصادية تنقذ اقتصاده المنهار.

ثالثاً: لا يتمثل دليلنا على ذلك بمستوى التمثيل المنخفض للدولة التركية في أستانة فحسب، الضامن الثالث لوقف إطلاق النار، فقط وإنما في ممارسات أردوغان وأجهزته الأمنية وجيشه المتعلقة بما يلي:

– التفاهمات التي توصّل لها أردوغان خلال جولته الخليجية الأخيرة مع محمد بن سلمان وتميم قطر حول زيادة تسليح الجماعات المسلحة في أرياف حلب ومنطقة إدلب وأريافها.

– تقوم السعودية وقطر بتمويل الصفقات، بينما تقوم أجهزة الاستخبارات التركية بتقديم التسهيلات لإيصالها إلى المسلحين التابعين لتركيا والسعودية.

– قيام أردوغان بطرح موضوع تحرّك الإمارات العربية الداعم للأكراد وضرورة مواجهته عن طريق تسليح الجماعات المشار إليها أعلاه.

– اتفاق أردوغان مع المذكورين أعلاه على ضرورة الاستمرار في تسليح الجماعات المسلحة استعداداً لمرحلة ما أسماه: العودة إلى حلب.

رابعاً: كان أردوغان وأجهزته قد باشروا تنفيذ هذه الخطة حتى قبل الزيارة، إذ إن الاستخبارات العسكرية التركية كانت قد سلّمت المجموعات المسلحة في الفترة من 1/2 وحتى 15/2/2017 الأسلحة والتجهيزات التالية:

– دبابات ثقيلة من طراز ت 72 / عددها اثنان وعشرون دبابة. وقد تمّ إدخالها كاملة عن طريق باب الهوى.

– ناقلات جند مزوّدة برشاشات عيار 23 ملم/ عددها ثماني عشرة.

– رشاشات BKC/ عددها مئتان وثلاثون رشاشاً.

– مدافع هاون عيار 82 ملم/ عددها إثنان وثلاثون مدفعاً.

– قذائف هاون عيار 82 ملم/ عددها ثلاثة آلاف ومئتا قذيفة.

– مدافع ميدان عيار 155 ملم /عددها إثنا عشر مدفعاً.

– قذائف مدفعية عيار 155 ملم/ عددها ألفان وأربعمئة قذيفة.

– قواذف 7/ R P G /عددها أربعمئة وستون قاذفاً.

– قذائف R P G / 7 عددها أحد عشر ألفاً وخمسمئة قذيفة.

وقد قامت الجهات المعنية بشراء هذه الأسلحة بواسطة شركة تجارة سلاح ألمانية وجميعها بلغارية المنشأ.

– تمّ شحن جميع هذه الأسلحة على ثلاث دفعات من ميناء بورغاس Burgas البلغاري إلى ميناء الاسكندرون «التركي».

خامساً: كما أن على الحليف الروسي كون أن الحليف الإيراني والحلفاء الآخرين على وعي كامل بذلك ، أقول عليه أن يعي خطورة التآمر الذي يقوم به أردوغان، ليس فقط ضد سورية والعراق، وإنما ضد المصالح الاستراتيجية الروسية في شرق المتوسط وفي العالم أيضاً.

سادساً: إذ إن أردوغان عضو حلف الناتو قد اتفق مع «إسرائيل» على إجراء مناورات بحرية مشتركة في شرق المتوسط تشارك فيها قطع بحرية أميركية ويونانية وقبرصية. وبالتأكيد فإن هذه المناورات لن تكون موجّهة ضد الوجود الأوغندي، وإنّما ضد الوجود الروسي في شرق المتوسط.

علماً أن هذه المناورات ستجري في شهر نيسان المقبل من العام الحالي.

سابعاً: تم الاتفاق بين أردوغان و«إسرائيل» على استئناف برنامج تحديث الدبابات التركية من طراز M 60 ، حيث كلّف وزير الدفاع «الإسرائيلي» السابق، شاؤول موفاز، بإدارة هذا البرنامج، بالإضافة إلى تكليفه بالإشراف على تنفيذ صفقة تسليح إلكتروني تقوم بموجبها شركة البيت «الإسرائيلية» Elbit systems بتزويد الجيش التركي بالتجهيزات التالية:

– منظومات رادارية.

– مجسّات الكترو ضوئية أجهزة تجسس وتنصت ، أي ما يُطلق عليها:

Electro-optical – sensors

ثامناً: كما يجب أن لا نغفل استمرار التعاون الجوّ فضائي «الإسرائيلي» مع أردوغان:

– إذ إن «إسرائيل» تواصل تزويد نظام أردوغان للصور والمعلومات الفضائية التي تجمعها أقمار التجسس «الإسرائيلية» من طراز أفق.

– إضافة إلى استمرار الطائرات «الإسرائيلية» من طراز F 16 D بالوجود في القواعد الجوية التركية المشار إليها في رسالة سابقة ومواصلتها عمليات التدريب المستمرة على ضرب الأهداف المحصّنة تحت الأرض.

تاسعاً: ومن اللافت للانتباه تركيز قيادة سلاح الجو التركي و«الإسرائيلي» على استخدام نظام LANTIRN في عمليات التدريب.

علماً أن نظام الملاحة هذا يسمح للطائرات بالعمل ليلاً ونهاراً وفي أنواع الظروف الجوية كافة.

وهو النظام المعروف بالانجليزية بـ :

Low Altitude navigation And Targeting infraRed for Night

إنها الخديعة المكشوفة، التي لا بدّ من فضحها على الملأ، ومواجهتها كما يجب، وإفشالها وهو سيتحقق عاجلاً أو آجلاً..

بعدنا طيّبين قولوا الله.

فخامة الرئيس المقاوم

فبراير 25, 2017

أسامة العرب

إنّ للاستقلال ولاسترجاع السيادة الوطنية ثمناً باهظاً يجب أن يُدفع من الأرواح والدماء والدموع التي هي الرصيد الفعلي ومنظومة القيم الرمزية للأمة، والتي يجب أن تعتزّ وتفخر بها وتعمل جاهدة على استثمارها في بناء دولة يحظى فيها المواطن بالعزة والكرامة، ويُشيَّد فيها نظامٌ ديمقراطي حكيم راشد، لا يُحتكم فيه إلا لقيم الوطن ومصالحه العليا.

ومن هذا المنطلق، فإنّ المواقف الوطنية التي صدرت مؤخراً عن رئيس الجمهورية العماد ميشال عون بمواجهة التهديدات «الإسرائيلية»، وبمواجهة رسالة المندوب «الإسرائيلي» داني دانون الموجّهة للأمم المتحدة المحرّضة على لبنان، أتت في مجال التأكيد على حق لبنان ببسط سيادته على كامل أراضيه لا سيما مزارع شبعا وتلال كفرشوبا والجزء اللبناني من بلدة الغجر، ولمطالبة «إسرائيل» بتنفيذ القرار 1701 بعد مرور أكثر من 11 عاماً على صدوره، وبالانسحاب من الأراضي اللبنانية التي تحتلّها، ووقف انتهاكاتها للخط الأزرق وللسيادة اللبنانية جواً وبحراً، خصوصاً بعدما نفّذ لبنان التزاماته تجاه الأمم المتحدة وقوتها العاملة في الجنوب اللبناني. أيّ أنّ رئيس الجمهورية المؤتمن على الدستور تصرّف وفق مسؤولياته والصلاحيات المخصصة له، لكونه يحدّد السياسة الخارجية للبلاد، إضافة الى ذلك فقد أراد بجوابه المباشر إعلام المجتمع الدولي أنّ «إسرائيل» ما تزال تشكّل خطراً على لبنان، لا العكس.

وهذا الموقف ليس بجديد على فخامة الرئيس المقاوم، فلطالما آمن عماد الوطن بأنّ المقاومة هي حقّ مقدّس لتحرير الأرض والشعوب من الاستعمار، وبأنّ شروط النجاح في ربح معركة المستقبل تكمن بالحفاظ على المكتسبات التي أنجزتها الأجيال المتعاقبة، ذلك أنّ الدفاع عن الوطن بوجه المحتلّ ليس بواجب وطني وقومي وشرعي فقط، وإنما هو حقّ طبيعي مرتبط بحق الشعوب بتقرير مصيرها والذي تكفله شريعة الله وقوانين الأرض، وفي مقدمها شرعة إعلان الأمم المتحدة وشرعة حقوق الإنسان.

ومن حسنات هذه المواقف، أنّها استجابت لاستغاثات هيئة أهالي العرقوب ومزارع شبعا لوجوب وضع حدّ للإهمال والتجاهل الرسمي لقضية احتلال العدو الصهيوني لمزارع شبعا وتلال كفرشوبا والجزء اللبناني من قرية الغجر، باعتبار أنّ النظام الرسمي اللبناني قبل اتفاق الطائف سكت عن إقدام العدو الصهيوني على احتلال تلك الأراضي اللبنانية، ثم طوت معظم العهود والحكومات المتعاقبة بعد الطائف صفحة هذه القضية، باستثناء عهد التحرير. ولهذا، يجب أن يتمّ وضع هذه المسألة الوطنية على رأس أولويات العهد الجديد واهتماماته، تثبيتاً لهويتها اللبنانية وهوية أبنائها أولاً، وتأكيداً على حق لبنان في تحرير أرضه المحتلة ثانياً، وتعبيراً عن التزام لبنان الرسمي بالحفاظ على كامل أراضيه وحقه في السيادة عليها ثالثاً، وللقيام بحملة دولية لتحريرها رابعاً، ولتكوين ملف بالخسائر الاقتصادية خامساً، ولرفع شكوى أمام محكمة الجنايات الدولية ضدّ العدو الصهيوني ومطالبته بالتعويض عن هذه الخسائر سادساً.

ونشير هنا إلى أنّ ملكية مزارع شبعا تعود للعائلات اللبنانية التالية: الخطيب، غادر، سرحان، صعب، مركيز، عبد الله، نصار، تفاحة، دعكور، كنعان، عبد الهادي، الزغبي، ناصر، الحناوي، حمد، البقاعي، حسن، إبراهيم، نبعة، رحيل، فارس، فرحات، موسى، قاسم، علي، دلة، منصور، قحواني، ظاهر، حمدان، غياض، غياضة، السعدي، عطوي، الجرار، هاشم، ماضي، زينب، حمد، نصرالله، زهرة، عواد، النابلسي، شاهين، الخوري، أبو رضا، الشعار، ريمة، الترك، رحال، مخايل، سارة، الشريحة، عبد الرحمن، ناصيف، دلال، شريفة، بنوت، زغاط، أبو حويلي، خوندي، عرابي، خالد، غانم، فراشة وعبدو. كما تشترك كلّ من: الأوقاف الإسلامية والمسيحية الروم الأرثوذكس في ملكية هذه المزارع. أما بالنسبة لشمال قرية الغجر اللبنانية، فإذا ما كان عدد سكانها بالمئات في العام 1967، فإنهم أخذوا في الازدياد تدريجياً، ليصل عددهم اليوم بحسب بعض التقديرات إلى نحو ألف نسمة.

ومن المعروف، بأنه بعد الانسحاب «الإسرائيلي» من الجنوب في 25 أيار 2000 بقيت مزارع شبعا وتلال كفرشوبا والجزء اللبناني من بلدة الغجر محتلةً من قبل العدو الذي رفض اعتبارها من ضمن القرار 425، زاعماً أنها احتلّت في العام 1967 وغير مشمولة بالقرار الأممي، ولكن موقف لبنان بقي واضحاً إزاء هذه المسألة ومؤكداً على أن تلك الأراضي مشمولة بالقرار 425، وأنّ «إسرائيل» يجب أن تنسحب فوراً منها. كما ضغط لبنان بالسابق على الأمم المتحدة من أجل استصدار قرار دولي لاستعادة أراضيه المحتلة، ولكن الضغوط «الإسرائيلية» – الأميركية كانت أقوى، حيث زعمت الأمم المتحدة بعد ترسيم الخط الأزرق عقب الاندحار «الإسرائيلي» من جنوب لبنان أن تلك الأراضي ليست لبنانية، وقد نَقل هذا الموقف إلى كل من لبنان وسوريا الموفد الشخصي للأمين العام تيري رود لارسن، ولكن لبنان أبى أن يتخلّى عن أراضيه وأصرَّ على موقفه وأبقى على كل تحفّظاته. فضلاً عن ذلك، فقد قامت الدولة اللبنانية مؤخراً بتقديم وثائق جديدة عدّة للأمم المتحدة تثبت فيها لبنانية أراضيها المحتلة، منها خريطة توضيحية للحدود اللبنانية – السورية تشمل مزارع شبعا وتلال كفرشوبا والجزء اللبناني من بلدة الغجر، ومنها خريطة تحمل توقيع القاضيين العقاريين المختصين بالمسح العقاري في منطقة مزارع شبعا، اللبناني رفيق الغزاوي والسوري عدنان الخطيب اللذين أصدرا قراراً مشتركاً في 27 شباط 1946 أكدا فيه ان الحدود الفاصلة بين قريتي المغر وشبعا أصبحت نهائية. ولكن من المؤسف، أنّ كافة جهود لبنان مع الأمم المتحدة لم تستطع أن تثمر. ولهذا واصلت المقاومة عملياتها كالمعتاد لتحرير أراضيها، وقامت وما تزال تقوم بسلسلة من العمليات الناجحة التي جعلت العدو الصهيوني يتذكر ماضيه في جنوب لبنان ويعيش في مأزق جديد.

ومن هنا، نخلص للقول بأن مواقف فخامة الرئيس وإن تعرضت لبعض الانتقادات، إلا أن تلك الانتقادات جاءت فارغة من مضمونها، لا سيما وأن مواقف الرئيس رمت للتأكيد على لبنانية مزارع شبعا وتلال كفرشوبا والجزء اللبناني من بلدة الغجر ولرفع جزء من الضيم والإجحاف عن أهالي تلك المناطق الحدودية المحتلة صهيونياً، في حين أن هذه المسألة كان من المفترض أن تكون محلّ إجماع وطني، والتفاف حول وطنية الرئيس وشجاعته.

ولكن بغض النظر عن آراء رجال الساسة، فإننا متأكدون بأن شعبنا الأبيّ بشرائحه كافة وخاصة شبابه يتميز بروح وطنية راسخة تكنّ الاحترام والتقدير لتضحيات الشهداء الأمجاد. ويبقى أن نتذكر الجرائم والمجازر الدموية التي سجلها الاحتلال «الإسرائيلي» بحق أمتنا، حتى نرسّخ إيماننا بوجوب التضامن مع المقاومة، ومن أبرزها مجزرة حانين ويارين وعيترون وبنت جبيل والأوزاعي وراشيا وكونين والخيام والعباسية وصبرا وشاتيلا وسحمر وبئر العبد وإقليم التفاح وجباع ودير الزهراني والنبطية الفوقا وقانا، والتي يندى لها جبين الإنسانية وتُدمى لها القلوب.

وأخيراً، فإن الشعب اللبناني كلّه يُثمّن مواقف الرئيس العماد ميشال عون الشجاعة والمؤيّدة لأهمية معادلة الشعب والجيش والمقاومة، لأن العدو لن يرضخ لتطبيق القرارين 1701 و425 الصادرين عن مجلس الأمن إلا باستمرار حركات المقاومة المعزّزة بتضامن الشعب وإسناد الجيش، ونضمّ صوتنا لصوت هيئة أهالي العرقوب ومزارع شبعا ملتمسين من فخامة الرئيس استحداث وزارة دولة لشؤون الأراضي اللبنانية المحتلة صهيونياً. عاقدين الأمل بأن يتحرر كل شبر من أراضي لبنان الغالي في هذا العهد الجديد، عهد الشرفاء والمقاومين.

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Should the Palestinians Seek Justice NOW at the International Criminal Court?

Should the Palestinians Seek Justice NOW at the International Criminal Court?

There is little doubt that the mid-February Netanyahu/Trump love fest at the White House further dampened already dim Palestinian hopes for a sustainable peace based on a political compromise. The biggest blow was Trump’s casual abandonment of the two-state solution coupled with an endorsement of a one-state outcome provided the parties agree to such an outcome, which as so expressed is a result almost impossible to suppose ever happening in the real world. Israel would never agree to a secular one-state that effectively abandons the Zionist insistence on a Jewish state with deep historical roots and biblical validation. The Palestinians would never agree to live in such a Jewish one-state that essentially abandoned their long struggle to achieve national self-determination, thereby gaining liberation from the last major remnant of the colonial era.

With geopolitical bravado suitable for the real estate magnate that he remains, despite the presidential trappings of his formal role, Trump also vaguely promised to negotiate a grand deal for the region that evidently reached beyond the contested territory of Palestine so long locked in conflict, and thus encompassed neighboring countries or possibly the whole region. It is easy to speculate that such murmurings by Trump were not welcomed in either Jordan or Egypt, long favored by rightest Israelis as dumping grounds for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Such added ‘political space’ is attractive from an Israeli perspective, both to ensure that Israel maintains a comfortable Jewish majority if the one-state solution were ever forcibly implemented by Israel. At the same time the prospect of population transfer would allow Israel to achieve a higher degree of racial purity, a feature of the dominant Zionist imaginary long before Israel became internationally recognized as a state.

An inflammatory part of this new political environment is the accelerated expansion of the existing network of unlawful Israeli settlements located in occupied Palestine. Although near unanimously condemned in Security Council Resolution 2334 last December, Israel responded by defiantly announcing approval of thousands more settlement units, endorsing plans for an entirely new settlement, and by way of a Knesset initiative provocatively legalized settlement ‘outposts,’ 50 of which are distributed throughout the West Bank in direct violation of even Israeli law. It is possible that the Israeli Supreme Court will heed anticipated judicial challenges to this latest move, and eventually void this Knesset law, but even if this happens, the passage of such a law sends a clear message of iron resolve by the political forces currently steering Israeli policy never to permit the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.

In these circumstances, it becomes incumbent upon the Palestinian Authority to show the world that it is still alive, and it currently has few ways of doing this. Given these realities it would seem a no brainer for the PA to light up the skies of public awareness of the Palestinian plight by vigorously demanding justice at the International Criminal Court (ICC). After all there is a wide consensus on the global stage that all the settlements, and not just the outposts, are in violation of Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These settlements have for decades served as a major obstacle in the search for a satisfactory diplomatic solution of the conflict. Of course, it would be naïve to expect Israel to comply with an adverse judgment of the ICC, or to participate in such a proceeding in ways other than by challenging the competence of the tribunal, but a favorable outcome would still be of great value for the Palestinians. It would cast Israel in an unfavorable light in relation to the UN, international law, and world public opinion, and undoubtedly encourage the further development of the already robust global solidarity movement.

Yet, despite these circumstances that makes the ICC seem such an attractive option, a PA decision to take this path is far from obvious. The former Foreign Minister of the PA and member of Fatah’s Central Committee, Nasser al-Kidwa, effectively dismissed the ICC option by calling it ‘complicated’ without any further explanation, leaving the impression that the costs of taking such a step were too high. However, the issue is not yet settled as mixed signals are emanating from Palestinian leadership circles. For instance, the PLO Secretary General, Saeb Erekat, in contrast to Kidwa, minced no words in his insistence that the ICC investigate “the colonial settlement regime.”

It seems useful to speculate on why there should be this ambivalence among Palestinian leaders. After all, international law, international public opinion, and even most European governments are all supportive of Palestinian claims with regard to the settlements. Israel remains more defiant than ever, and shows every sign of further expansion, possibly with an eye toward soon unilaterally declaring an end to the conflict, a move that Washington might find temporarily awkward, but in the end, acceptable. At the core of this debate about recourse to the ICC is the tricky question as to whether deference to the muscular vagaries of geopolitics serves Palestinian interests at this time.

Recourse to the ICC: Pros and Cons

The argument favoring recourse to the ICC is almost too obvious to put forward. It would back Israel into a corner. The Netanyahu government is certain to react with anger and concrete expressions of hostility to any such move by the PA. Such a reaction would be widely seen as a convincing confirmation of Israel’s vulnerability to any impartial test as to whether its settlement policies meet the minimum requirements of international law. And most importantly for the PA it would demonstrate that despite recent political disappointments the Ramallah leadership was prepared to embark upon a controversial course of action that displayed political courage, including a willingness to endure expected vindictive acts of retaliation.

Recourse to the ICC would play well with the Palestinian people, especially those living under occupation. They experience daily tensions with violent settler groups and see no future for themselves absent confrontation with Israel. If the PA chooses such a course, it would help restore support for the flagging claims of the PA to serve as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people at the global level. This is turn could lead finally to durable arrangements of unity as between Hamas and Fatah, which would raise confidence levels that the Palestinians were prepared for this latest, difficult stage of their national movement.

The arguments against going to the ICC are somewhat more elusive. There is no doubt that Palestine, recognized by the UN as a state now enjoys the jurisdictional qualifications to participate in ICC proceedings. What is less clear is whether the ICC would be responsive, and able to circumvent technical obstacles, such as finding suitable Israeli defendants. During its 15 years of operation the ICC has been very reluctant to be pro-active except in Africa, and even there it has been recently stung by an intense pushback by African governments and the African Union. The ICC has been reluctant to stir up political opposition in the West, which would certainly occur as soon as the ICC launched a full investigation of Palestinian grievances against Israel.

There is also the reverse problem of ICC action that might disappoint the PA. To appear balanced, the ICC would probably extend its investigation to include allegations relating to indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza. It could then decide that a strong case of probable criminal responsibility attributable to Hamas existed, while allegations against Israel failed because of the inability to establish criminal intent. Although a setback for the PA, such an outcome at the ICC would be internationally criticized as contrary to reasonable interpretations of international law, and be widely regarded as a reflection of political pressures exerted by Washington.

Likely, the PA is most inhibited by the ‘lawfare’ campaign being waged by Israel and the United States. Already during the Obama presidency there was Congressional legislation terminating financial assistance to the PA in the event of any recourse to the ICC. Since Trump these warnings have escalated, including the total suspension of financial aid, the closing of the PLO offices in Washington, and threats to put the PLO and Fatah back on the US list of terrorist organizations. It is evident that the PA is taking these unseemly threats seriously.

There are also PA fears that any ICC initiative would induce Israel to move more quickly toward closure with respect to the underlying conflict, annexing most or all of the West Bank. Such a reaction would both be in keeping with Israel’s tendency to respond disproportionately to any formal action directed at the legality of its policies and practices. Israel is particularly sensitive about war crimes charges, and vows extraordinary measures should any of its citizens be so charged. Now that Netanyahu can count on unconditional support in the White House and the US Congress it would not be surprising to see him use the occasion of an ICC initiative to proclaim Israeli sovereignty over the whole of historic Palestine.

Conclusion

In light of the above, it seems almost certain that the PA will not act take advantage of the ICC option any time soon. The PA is likely to adopt a posture of neither/nor; that is, neither explicitly ruling out recourse to the ICC, nor activating the option. This reflects the reality that the PA is caught between the rock of US/Israel bullying tactics and the hard place of an increasingly restive Palestinian population, being acutely reminded of its ordeal by the grim realization that 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation.

The United States posture, although somewhat more belligerently pro-Israel as a result of the Trump presidency, is really nothing new except in style. Even during the Obama presidency the US opposed every attempt by the PA to rely on international law or the UN to advance its national struggle. Instead of welcoming the use of law rather than weapons, the US Government castigated efforts of Palestine to gain membership in the UN System or to seek even symbolic relief for its grievances in international venues. This turn against international law, as well as against the UN, is clearly a signature issue for the Trump presidency, and not just in relation to Palestine, and this is not good news for the world. ­

This article was originally published on the author’s blog. A version was also previously published in the Middle East Eye

 

 

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