The PA’s ‘Counter-Proposal’ Facilitates Its Colonial Collaboration with Israel

June 16, 2020

Palestinian PM Mohammad Shtayyeh . (Photo: via Facebook)

By Ramona Wadi

Further proof that the Palestinian Authority will not attempt to safeguard what remains of Palestine, let alone insist on decolonization, is the plan submitted to the Middle East Quartet which does nothing other than confirm subjugation to the two-state compromise. Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh is reportedly calling the plan “a counter-proposal” to the US deal of the century.

Scant details are available at the moment. The PA’s proposal, however, puts forth the creation of “a sovereign Palestinian state, independent and demilitarised,” while allowing for “border modifications”.

According to a senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), Wasel Abu Yousef, “No Palestinian leader can agree to the American and Israeli conditions to give up the right of return of Palestinian refugees, agree to the annexation of Jerusalem or allow Israel to annex parts of the West Bank where it has built its illegal Jewish settlements.”

However, the Palestinian leadership sees no contradiction in abiding by the earlier plans to colonize Palestine which were determined by the international community. As long as the PA remains entrenched within the two-state framework, it cannot claim that it is countering the “deal” concocted for Israel’s benefit by US President Donald Trump.

The PA has no allies in the Quartet, which consists of the UN, the EU, Russia, and the US. The US, despite departing from international consensus with its slavish gifts to Israel, is still part of the group. Trump’s plan does not truly contradict the two-state paradigm’s aims; it hastens the process to bring the international community’s intentions to fruition. From the illusion of state-building, the deal of the century moves towards eliminating the idea, which puts the Quartet’s insistence upon the two-state diplomacy on a par with Trump’s plan. The PA is acquiescing, once more, to the colonization of what remains of historic Palestine.

At a time when Palestinians need an alternative that departs from further colonization, the PA is strongly emphasizing what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is fond of describing as “no Plan B”. The PA is rejecting the deal of the century, as it should, to uphold a defunct imposition that actually supports Trump’s plan. Or perhaps the PA’s concept of “Plan B” is to facilitate Israeli colonization by championing the international community’s violent political blunders.

A sovereign, demilitarized Palestinian state is not politically independent but an entity which, in theory, and in fact will please Israel and the international community. The PA’s purported counter-proposal supports Israeli colonization and presents another obstacle to the legitimate anti-colonial struggle which should be guiding Palestinian politics. Palestinians have long ceased to believe that the PA’s propaganda will produce any results, yet its representatives will continue to exploit the people of Palestine to ensure that Israel can complete its colonial project.

Far from opposing Trump’s deal, the PA is entrenching its corrupt stance and strengthening the international community, at the cost of the Palestinian cause disintegrating politically on a permanent basis. If the PA’s notion of a counter-proposal is aiding the international actors to implement the final phase of the Zionist colonization process, it would do better to stop its pompous posturing and admit that it is an ally of the collective that seeks to destroy Palestine forever.

– Ramona Wadi is a staff writer for Middle East Monitor, where this article was originally published. She contributed this article to the Palestine Chronicle.

Exclusive interview with UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk .

Professor Richard Falk
Prof. Richard Falk: “No matter what the facts are or the law is, the US will side with Israel.”

Dr. Hanan Chehata 

Saturday, 29 October 2011 20:35

 

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
In an exclusive and extensive interview with the Middle East Monitor Prof. Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, talks about the on-going intransigence of Israel and its continued failure to abide by international law. In his frank interview Prof. Falk openly points to the ineffectiveness of the UN in holding Israel to account saying that in the case of Israel “the UN is significant symbolically but paralysed or ineffective behaviourally.” He points out that UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in particular “is giving primary attention to his role in the Quartet and that means deferring to the US considerably in relation to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. Hence, that part of the UN is very passive with respect to Israeli violations of international law.”
With regard to the role played by the Quartet’s Special Envoy Tony Blair he says: “At best he has been ineffectual and at worst you can that he has been a badly-disguised spokesperson for the US-Israeli outlook. He cannot possibly be perceived as a sufficiently impartial observer of the conflict for anyone to have any confidence in his recommendations and point of view. He has invalidated himself in this role and the fact that the Quartet continues to keep him as its special envoy suggests how one-sided the Quartet itself has become.”
Prof. Falk also points to America’s sycophantic support for Israel whereby “no matter what the facts are or the law is, the US will side with Israel.” This is despite the fact that “the US policy towards Israel is carried out at the cost of its broader policies in the region and its reputation as a global leader. It’s a very dysfunctional set of commitments that can only be explained by this domestic disorientation that comes from the pro-Israel pressure groups.”
Of Hamas Prof. Falk says “If there is any genuine interest in resolving the conflict, Hamas as the elected representative of the people of Gaza, following what was viewed at the time as a truly free election, should be regarded as political actor without having all these pre-conditions imposed on it which are not imposed on Israel as well. I mean, when you ask Hamas to renounce violence but Israel is not required to do anything different to what it’s been doing, it shows the lack of sincere intention to create a more normal relationship.”

Exclusive interview with UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk

Interview with Professor Richard Falk

UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) Professor Richard Falk has been in London. MEMO’s Hanan Chehata tracked him down and spoke to him about the situation in occupied Palestine.

Hanan Chehata: Despite your role with the UN, the last time you tried to visit the OPTs so that you could carry out your work and investigate the human rights situation, you were detained by the Israeli authorities, held in a detention cell for over 15 hours, denied entry and expelled from the country. That was nearly three years ago. Have you been able to enter the country or is Israel still refusing to allow you, a UN representative, past immigration control?

Richard Falk: The Israelis continue to refuse to alter their posture of non-cooperation. The UN has put some slight pressure to have them reconsider but the UN itself, as it is part of the Quartet, is very weak in supporting someone in my kind of position and wants to stay in a positive relationship with Israel to the extent that it can.

HC: Doesn’t that compromise the UN position if it is trying to maintain that “positive relationship”? Doesn’t that affect the UN’s ability to be unbiased?

RF: Yes. The UN is a complicated entity in the different arenas within which it acts and one of the arenas is, of course, the Secretary General [Ban Ki Moon] and the Secretariat; he in particular is giving primary attention to his role in the Quartet and that means deferring to the US considerably in relation to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. Hence, that part of the UN is very passive with respect to Israeli violations of international law in various ways, including non-co-operation with designated UN representatives. The Secretary General also appointed the very pro-Israel representatives to judge the Flotilla incident of 2010; given who was appointed to head that enquiry it is not surprising that they came to those conclusions.

HC: Despite the 2004 International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling that Israel’s separation wall is illegal and should be dismantled, Israel has refused to comply. It argues that the ICJ ruling was merely an “advisory opinion” and therefore not technically or legally binding. Does the fact that this was an advisory opinion mean that Israel does not need to implement its recommendations?

RF: It is unfortunate, in my view, that this kind of assessment of international law is labelled “advisory”. It was partly, I think, a concession when the ICJ was established to the idea that sovereign states shouldn’t be required to do things they haven’t given their consent to but in actuality an advisory opinion represents the best judgement of the highest judicial body in the international community. In this case the results were very clear, it was fourteen votes to one [saying that the wall was illegal and should be dismantled and compensation given, etc…]. The one against was the American member of the court, and even he went a long way towards supporting the condemnation of the construction of this separation wall. In his speech to the UN in September, [PA President] Mahmoud Abbas called it an “Annexation Wall” which is more appropriate language. This was an authoritative statement as to binding international law and corresponds with the view of experts on international law, so there is no reasonable basis for Israel not to comply with it. It is an example of Israel defying international law.

HC: So Israel should comply with the judgement in theory but there are no sanctions which can be imposed if it doesn’t?

RF: It’s a matter of political will. The General Assembly would have the authority to recommend sanctions and the Security Council would have the authority to impose sanctions; they have done that recently against Iran and to Libya before that, so it’s clearly an issue of geo-politics. The unfortunate reality is that geo-politics trumps international law in most conflict settings and it has particularly been the case in relation to the Palestine-Israel conflict. The excessively close support given by the US to Israel which really is domestically driven creates a situation where no matter what the facts are or the law is, the US will side with Israel.

HC: You ended your September report to the General Assembly with the following recommendation: “that the General Assembly request that the International Court of Justice to issue an advisory opinion on the legal status of prolonged occupation”. While this may well be the right course of action, do you think it is likely that this will reach the ICJ and, if it does, given how readily Israel disregards all resolutions and rulings against it, that Israel would abide by a subsequent judgement against it?

RF: It is a long path to initiate an advisory opinion of this sort and there may be some reluctance given the failure to implement the findings of the earlier opinion. On the other hand it should be remembered that in relation to South Africa’s apartheid the opponents of the regime went to the International Court of Justice four times; one has to conceive of the use of international law as a process not an event that either succeeds or fails at a given moment. Also, even though the advisory opinion on the wall was rejected by Israel and the US it had a certain impact on world public opinion and was helpful in strengthening the global Palestinian solidarity movement.
Richard FalkOne has to understand that the law has two separate objectives: one is to alter behaviour, the other is to change what one might call the “symbolic battlefield”. It is very important to gain the high moral and legal ground in a conflict and if you look back at the big conflicts of the last sixty years the outcome has often been shaped not by the side that’s stronger militarily but by the side that occupied this high moral and legal ground and maintains that control, and is persisting in that control. I’ve sometimes given the illustration of the outcome of the Vietnam War where the US had complete dominance of raw power and yet lost the war. How did it lose? It was the combination of stubborn resistance and Vietnamese skill in mobilising global public opinion in support of their claims sufficiently to convince world leaders and media that justice was on their side. I think that the Palestinians have been successful in achieving greater understanding of their victimisation as a result of Israeli policies. Another ICJ ruling would reinforce that and have an educational impact because it would expose the ordeal of prolonged occupation.

HC: To the best of your knowledge what is the current status of the Goldstone Report?

RF: Its persistent importance is to reinforce civil society initiatives, especially the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) efforts which are enjoying considerable success worldwide. Within the UN itself it is another example of where the UN is significant symbolically but paralysed or ineffective behaviourally. It is one thing to initiate the Goldstone Report, but it’s another thing to follow its recommendations. While the geopolitical leverage of the US was not able to prevent the formation of the Goldstone Report it has been able to prevent its implementation.

HC: While Goldstone’s recommendations have yet to be implemented, the same is true of the Human Rights Council fact-finding mission into the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla in May 2010. This lack of any follow through on UN reports must be very frustrating for those who research and write them, as well as those victims for whom the reports should bring justice. Is there any point in the UN issuing reports like Goldstone if, ultimately, in practice they go nowhere?

RF: It does have a certain demoralising effect, partly because people generally don’t draw the distinction between behavioural and symbolic impact. I think people underestimate the weakening of Israel’s international reputation through these various steps.
In the case of the flotilla incident the issue is somewhat different because Israel in that instance is in conflict with a major sovereign state, Turkey, and therefore pays a big diplomatic price for not resolving this conflict in accordance with international law. So unlike these other situations where there is no countervailing power, in relation to the flotilla incident there is significant countervailing power and at some stage one would expect the Israelis to take some steps to heal the rift with Turkey, if that is possible.

HC: Do you think the BDS movement has a chance of helping the Palestinian cause in the same way that it helped to bring an end to apartheid in South Africa?

RF: I think it is very useful to consider the South African experience because there too it looked as if it would be very difficult to challenge the apartheid regime because both the US and Britain had very important strategic and economic interests in the established order there. It is an example of succeeding with what I call the “politics of impossibility” in that it didn’t look as though you could challenge the apartheid regime non-violently and it was only through this global anti-apartheid campaign that the climate changed sufficiently in South Africa until what appeared to be impossible suddenly happened.
You never know until it happens and then everyone comes with a learned explanation of why it happens. There is no guarantee that it will happen for Palestinians through BDS but it is the most hopeful path at the present time. It is not feasible to challenge the Israeli position by direct military resistance and so the indirect ways of mobilising opposition and raising challenges and applying pressure seems to be the best path to take; it has, I think, already had considerable success. There is no guarantee though. You have a situation of the sort that is represented by Tibet where they have, in effect, won the legitimacy war and yet they can’t mobilise sufficient countervailing power to dislodge China from its role as an occupier.
One needs also to look at the different examples of when a legitimacy war succeeds and when it fails. All of the decolonising struggles are examples of successful legitimacy wars where the weaker side won the war. That’s what is not very clearly understood, that if you look back at the last 60 years, most conflicts have been won, in the end, by the weaker side militarily.

HC: Since the revolution in Egypt and the toppling of Mubarak many people have reported, inaccurately, that the siege of Gaza is over. There is still no free movement of goods or people into or out of Gaza; while the siege may have been eased, it has not been lifted. What is your assessment of the status of the siege on Gaza?

RF: The siege is still imposed in a way that has had a cumulative and cruel impact on the population. They’re essentially locked into a set of very crowded, impoverished and unhealthy conditions. Just being confined is, in itself, a collective punishment of considerable intensity and this has been maintained for more than four years. Even the Conservative British Prime Minister called it an open prison and this opinion was reinforced more recently by David Milliband, ex-Foreign Minister, who is usually sympathetic towards Israel; he agreed with David Cameron.
The health situation in Gaza is very bad. Israel continues to stop medical equipment going into the Gaza Strip, while the water system is in a very poor condition and needs significant repairs. Much of the population doesn’t have access to healthy drinking water. There is huge unemployment, over 45%, and it is a dreadful example of sustained collective punishment which violates Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, by which collective punishment in any form is prohibited.
The siege may have been “eased” but it is still clearly a substantial closure as far as the Gazan population is concerned. It continues to be a flagrant violation of the prohibition against collective punishment. So from a legal and moral and political point of view the easing is perhaps of slight significance but it doesn’t change the status of the blockade or the way in which Israel has continued to try to punish the people of Gaza because they voted for Hamas back in 2006. Israeli leaders have made clear their punitive intentions. It’s not a secret and the security pretext is very thin indeed because they always would have monitored for weapons going through in any case.

HC: According to UNRWA Spokesman Chris Gunness, in Gaza “the abject poor living on just over one dollar a day has tripled to 300,000 since the blockade was imposed.” At the same time, you state in your latest report to the UN General Assembly that “UNRWA itself is experiencing a funding crisis that already is impinging on its capacity to continue even at present levels to provide for the 80 per cent of the Gazan population that is currently dependent on international assistance for subsistence.” What does this mean for Gaza?

RF: It’s a highly unfortunate situation and the internal political pressures in countries like Canada and the United States make it unlikely that adequate funding will come from those sources, so unless countries in the region increase their funding the situation is likely to go from very bad to even worse, though that’s hard to imagine! It doesn’t seem as though the Arab Spring has yet translated itself into tangible changes in the relationship between the Arab countries and the Palestinian struggle, including Gaza.
There is no indication that there will be any improvement. The ongoing justification is that Hamas as a terrorist organisation is not a legitimate administrative, governing body; that is used in a kind of general political way to block objections to the way in which the policies are being administered.

HC: You’ve said before that you think Hamas should be engaged with as a legitimate political player in the region and that the movement should be involved in peace talks and so on. Do you stand by that?

RF: Yes. If there is any genuine interest in resolving the conflict, Hamas as the elected representative of the people of Gaza, following what was viewed at the time as a truly free election, should be regarded as political actor without having all these pre-conditions imposed on it which are not imposed on Israel as well. I mean, when you ask Hamas to renounce violence but Israel is not required to do anything different to what it’s been doing, it shows the lack of sincere intention to create a more normal relationship.

HC: What is your take on the Palestinian bid for statehood?

RF: On one level, I think it is a legally permissible and understandable initiative. Palestine is recognised by over a hundred countries as a state already. It has tried to negotiate a solution but nothing has happened for twenty years since the so-called Oslo process was initiated. So it represents an effort to say we have to pursue Palestinian self-determination by a means other than these phony negotiations presided over by the US which is a partisan ally of the stronger party in the negotiations, which makes no sense at all.
On the other hand it has a problematic side to the extent that it conveys the impression that the conflict is between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel rather than between the Palestinian people and Israel. Even though Abbas in representing the PA as its president also spoke as the chairman of the PLO, the sense given is that this is a dispute about territory and if Israel ends the occupation of the bulk of the land taken in 1967 then it’s possible to have a peaceful solution, a so-called “two state consensus”. This, in effect, undermines greatly the importance of the right of return aspects of the conflict and also possibly creates an atmosphere in which Palestinian rights in Jerusalem are also to some extent sacrificed. And then, of course, it leaves out of the equation altogether the circumstances of the Palestinian minority within Israel and so on.
HC: Tony Blair has been the Quartet Middle East envoy since 2007. What do you make of his role so far?

RF: At best he has been ineffectual and at worst you can say that he has been a badly-disguised spokesperson for the US-Israeli outlook. He cannot possibly be perceived as a sufficiently impartial observer of the conflict for anyone to have any confidence in his recommendations and point of view. He has invalidated himself in this role and the fact that the Quartet continues to keep him as its special envoy suggests how one-sided the Quartet itself has become.

HC: The Hamas-Israel prisoner exchange deal which just took place saw soldier Gilad Shalit swapped for over a thousand Palestinians (although more than half of those are still in Israeli jails). You said of that agreement, “I found it disturbing that the single Israel soldier released received virtually all the attention in the Western press whereas the Palestinians released remained nameless except to call attention to the crimes that had led to their imprisonment. It is a rather vivid example of humanizing the suffering of the occupier while treating the far greater ordeal of the occupied population as a statistic.” That is a very sound observation but what did you make of the exchange more generally?

RF: I think that Hamas regained some of the political momentum that was lost due to the attention given the statehood bid, so you can interpret it from a Hamas perspective as a plus point in the rivalry with the Palestinian Authority.
From Israel’s side it also represented a desirable distraction from the Palestinian statehood issues and Tel Aviv’s embattled position in the UN and with Turkey, the Arab Spring and so on. As such, it gave the domestic audience a certain sense that the government was able to deliver this single individual whose captivity had been made such a big issue within Israel during the Gaza attacks of 2008-9. Commanders often told the Israeli soldiers that their real purpose was to liberate Shalit; this is confirmed by those soldiers who oppose the attacks and spoke out in the documents released by “Breaking the Silence”. They often said they were told that the real purpose of the mission was to create enough pressure for Shalit to be released.

HC: Some people think that Shalit’s release makes Gaza more vulnerable now because Israel will no longer be concerned that Shalit could become collateral damage in its assaults on Gaza.

RF: I don’t know how inhibited Israel was by Shalit’s captivity. Certainly the attacks on Gaza did not suggest that Israel was very inhibited. Of course, he has been used by Israel for propaganda and of course they’ve pointed to some of the Hamas statements that they need to get another Shalit in order to get the rest of the more than 5,000 Palestinians still held by Israel. But when people look at that 1,000 or so Palestinians released they think that Hamas got the best part of the deal; they don’t know that there are more than 5,000 more Palestinians still being held under very bad conditions from an international standards point of view.
There is fairly strong evidence of systematic torture and abuse against the Palestinian prisoners; this also needs to be included in the interpretation of this exchange deal. The same goes for the deportation to third countries of some of the Palestinians released by Israel. That in itself is considered to be a violation of the laws of war and conflict, although apparently the Palestinian prisoners consented to this deportation; of course, they were put under pressure to do so.

HC: You also said in relation to the prisoner exchange deal: “Furthermore, the soldier captured [Gilad Shalit] is treated as a hero of war, while the acts of Palestinian resistance are derided as crimes, or worse, as terrorism.” In terms of International law, do Palestinians have a right to resist the Israeli military occupation of their land?

RF: I’ve always taken the position that there is a right of resistance particularly in relation to an unlawful prolonged occupation, though there is also a duty to respect the innocence of civilian lives. Of course, this puts the Palestinians in a difficult position because they don’t have the kind of weaponry that would allow them to resist effectively against the military dimensions of occupation. Hence, while there is definitely a legitimate right of resistance the question is what is the scope of that right and how tactically is it best to exercise that right under prevailing conditions.

HC: With regards to the thousands of prisoners still being held in Israel you argue that many of those captives should be afforded prisoner of war status as some of them belong to groups “fighting alien occupation in the exercise of their right of self-determination”, in which case they would be afforded, in theory at least, protection not currently offered to any of them…

RF: Yes, I think it would acknowledge the reality of this conflict in a way that does not privilege the occupier and the main abuser of international humanitarian law. It’s a political decision to withhold that status because it allows Israel to maintain the view that it’s enforcing its legal rights and its security interests and that those who resist its occupation are either criminals or terrorists. That is their effort to gain the moral high ground.

HC: In your report to the General Assembly you focus on some of the negative effects on Palestinian children caused by the prolonged Israeli occupation including extreme trauma resulting from, among other things, the night raids by Israeli occupation forces; house demolitions; settler violence; arrests; trials for children in the military court system; and so on. Many children’s rights groups have condemned Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children but not enough is being done to save them from abuse and suffering at the hands of the Israeli authorities. What needs to be done by the international community to help protect Palestinian children in the future?

RF: If people can publicise these patterns of abuse and raise awareness it could have an inhibiting effect because Israel does care about how it is perceived, especially when some of this criticism comes from Israeli NGOs. The most damaging report is in fact by B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, a sort of middle of the road NGO. I think that even though the Israeli authorities will deny the allegations it’s possible that this raised awareness will have some effect.
On the other hand Israel seems to be pursuing a deliberate policy of intimidating younger people to stop them demonstrating in opposition. One of the ways that that Israel thinks is effective is by abusing those who are detained and using abusive methods to detain them. That is probably a policy that is adopted to further the aims of the occupation. Raising awareness of these issues is vital.

HC: You refer to reports of child abuse at the hands of Israeli authorities including one which states that “one three-year-old girl was reportedly taken outside her home at 3 am and threatened at gunpoint. She was told she would be shot and her family home destroyed unless she reported on the whereabouts of her brother. Now, her mother explained, she can’t sleep through the night and is bedwetting.” This is being done by one of the closest allies of the UK and the USA; shouldn’t the British and American governments be doing more to ensure that their ally acts in accordance with international law?

RF: They most certainly should but they seem to have very little leverage over Israel. The level of Congressional support for Israel means that even a president like Obama who is more or less 100% behind Israel is deemed not to have gone far enough to support Israel and to fulfil some of the Congressional demands. They want 150 or 200% support; they want to go even beyond what Israel itself wants! It is an extraordinary situation, politically. I know of no other example where a powerful country has, in the pursuit of its own policies and interests, been so subordinate to a smaller country in this way.
There is no question that US policy towards Israel is carried out at the cost of its broader policies in the region and its reputation as a global leader. It’s a very dysfunctional set of commitments that can only be explained by this domestic disorientation that comes from the pro-Israel pressure groups.
Even in Israel itself I think they are not really adapting to their longer term security interests and the leadership there seems to have lost the capacity to understand their own interests. That is very scary, when a government cannot get hold of its own wellbeing and carries out these self-destructive policies at great expense to other people.

HC: Are you saying it is the power of the pro-Israel Lobby in politics and the media that is the driving force behind American foreign policy?

RF: I think the Lobby has created an atmosphere where it has seemed to politicians to be expedient to support Israel. They may not be directly under pressure but they have interpreted the situation in such a way that you require self-destructive courage to challenge these policies. Their careers, funding and the whole distortion of American political life through this single pressure group is a real failure of constitutional democracy. There are many influential lobbying initiatives that have a distorting effect on policy but none that I know of that is as consistently influential and is not neutralised by countervailing forces. One of the realities in the American political scene is that there is no Palestinian or Arab countervailing initiatives that make it possible for the politicians to feel there is political space to manoeuvre.
You have a similar situation in the US in relation to gun control where there is some countervailing pressure from some civil liberties groups and others but basically there is no real opposition and therefore pro-hunting and pro-gun pressure groups are very effective.

HC: At the beginning of your latest report to the UN General Assembly you begin by making the point that a word count restriction prevented you from going into all of the serious human rights concerns which are associated with the current conduct of Israel. Surely that alone expresses just how many major issues of concern there are to you. What issues remain major concerns for you but did not make it into your report?
RF: I couldn’t put enough stress on the internal realities of the occupation and the blockade of Gaza. It’s mentioned in general but there’s a lot more that could be said. The settlements were discussed in a general way but again the specifics of interfering with mobility in the West Bank, the house demolitions, all of these associated incidents of violence that are connected to the occupation need further explanation and detail. And the way that the Nakba anniversary protests were suppressed by violence; all of that seems to me to be important to give more attention to than was possible.

HC: You use the term “ethnic cleansing” in your report in the context of the efforts by “religiously motivated settlers” encouraging the Government of Israeli to support a policy of ethnic cleansing. How does the term ethnic cleansing apply to the current situation in Palestine?

RF: I think it applies particularly to East Jerusalem and the attempts to change the demographics therein. Another issue that is sort of connected is the separation between Gaza and the West Bank so that they can never be joined together in a politically sustainable way; I think that is a deliberate policy of Israeli colonialism whereby you divide and rule. On the one side you have the ethnic cleaning in Jerusalem and you have a different type of ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and Gaza whereby the Israelis try to make life so miserable for people there that they want to leave; the occasional deportations do this as well.
Another thing we did not touch on, which is really quite central, is that the failure to establish a just and sustainable peace is not a neutral reality because Israel uses this failure to encroach continuously upon the remnant of Palestinian land ownership and presence. Whether the two-state solution was ever viable or not is one question but one way of thinking about this all now is that this is the twilight of the two-state solution.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

U.S. Defense Secretary Warns: “Israel Increasingly Isolated”

Local Editor
As he reaffirmed his country’s commitment to Israel, United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned on Sunday that the Zionist entity was becoming increasingly isolated.

Panetta, who arrived in the occupied territories on Monday morning for the first time since becoming Pentagon chief, said U.S. security commitments should enable Israel to take “risks for peace”.

“It’s pretty clear, at this dramatic time in the Middle East when there have been so many changes, that it is not a good situation for Israel to become increasingly isolated. And that is what has happened”, Panetta told reporters on his plane.

“The important thing there is to again reaffirm our strong security relationship with Israel, to make clear that we will protect their qualitative military edge,” Panetta said. “As they take risks for peace, we will be able to provide the security that they will need in order to ensure that they can have the room hopefully to negotiate”.

The U.S. Defense Secretary said he was confident that the Zionist entity had maintained its military superiority in the region, however, he wondered: “but the question you have to ask is – is it enough to maintain a military edge if you are isolating yourself diplomatically”?
“Real security can only be achieved by both a strong diplomatic effort as well as a strong effort to protect your military strength,” he said.

Panetta will hold separate meetings with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss bilateral defense relations as well as major security issues.

Source: Israeli Media

Israel’s friends: ‘Panetta’s is Wrong!’

“… Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, on his way to Israel, told reporters aboard his plane that Israel was isolating itself from its neighbors:
Let’s break this down country-by-country. Israel is more isolated from Egypt, but is this solely Israel’s fault? There are big, chaotic things happening in Egypt, and Israel is mainly a bystander to them. Israel supported the ex-dictator, Hosni Mubarak, but then again, so did the Obama Administration. Is America, then, isolating itself from the Egyptians who overthrew Mubarak? …
Then there is Turkey. Anyone who has followed the dissolution of the Turkish-Israeli relationship understands that Israel is again, a bystander, or an object, in this drama. The Turkish leadership is turning away from Europe and turning away from America as it seeks to lead the Muslim world….
Of course, Panetta’s comments came after Israel accepted the Quartet’s plan for renewed peace talks, so the timing of his comments seems a bit off…”

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Israel ‘welcomes’ the Quartet Plan for more ‘bla, bla, ..bla’ & urges the Palestinians to join without ‘bla-bla preconditions’!

Israel accepts Quartet peace plan, urges Palestinians to follow suit – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News
“… “Israel welcomes the Quartet’s call for direct negotiations between the parties without preconditions,”… Israel has a few concerns … “Israel calls on the Palestinian Authority to do the same and to enter into direct negotiations without delay,”…Israel’s concerns are the timetable which allocates only three months for negotiations, and the other that the issues of Palestinian refugees and the recognition of a Jewish state are scheduled for a later stage in the negotiations…”

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Mounting Pressure against Israeli Settler Project

Al-Manar
International pressure was mounting on Israel Thursday over its plans for another 1,100 homes in an east Jerusalem settlement.

The Palestinian leadership has said the move effectively rebuffs a proposal from the Middle East Quartet for fresh “peace talks”, though senior Israeli politicians have given the Quartet’s plan a cautious welcome.

But on Wednesday, after the European Union and the United States condemned Israel’s project for an extra 1,100 homes in an east Jerusalem settlement, China, Egypt, Russia and other major powers also voiced their opposition.

“China deeply regrets and opposes Israel’s approval of plans for expansion of Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters in Beijing. “China urges Israel to act prudently.”

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Amr also denounced the plans in a statement issued from Washington. “Such an Israeli step reflects the country’s intention to continue with its provocative policy and defiance of the international consensus regarding the illegitimacy of settlement activities,” he said.

“Egypt is deeply concerned over the accelerated settlement activities recently, particularly over the past couple of months,” he said, referring to approvals for the construction of more than 6,000 settlement units. “Israel should shoulder full responsibility for the repercussions of such provocative policies in light of the latest developments in the region,” he added.

Russia too, called on Israel to reconsider. “We are particularly concerned that decisions on such a sensitive matter should be taken at an extremely important time for the future of the peace process,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement. “We are counting (on Israel) so that the construction projects in east Jerusalem are reviewed.”
The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) issued a statement, saying: “Israel’s decision raises serious suspicions about its sincerity and true intentions. This is a flagrant violation of international law and is not acceptable,” said the MFA.
In the official statement Ankara said that “Israel’s continued construction of illegal settlements in Palestinian lands shows once more that the Palestinian demand to be recognized as a state at the United Nations is justified and timely.”

Britain, France and Italy also condemned the move.

But Israel on Wednesday rejected the objections, insisting the Gilo neighborhood was “not a settlement.” “Gilo is not a settlement, nor is it an outpost,” Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told AFP. “Gilo is a neighborhood in the very heart of Jerusalem some five minutes from the centre of the city,” he added.

Palestinian leaders have nevertheless insisted it marks a snub to moves by the Middle East Quartet — the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia — to restart talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

“With this, Israel is responding to the Quartet’s statement with 1,100 ‘Nos,'” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP Tuesday, shortly after the approval was made public. It was Israel’s refusal to freeze building that prompted the Palestinian decision to seek UN membership in a bid to gain broader international support for a two-state solution.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

What’s Next for the Palestinian United Nations Strategy ?

With the Palestinian Authority’s application to the United Nations Security Council for full membership and what appears to be an impending US veto, in the transcript and video below Mouin Rabbani discusses the next steps.

Mouin Rabbani

In terms of what to expect now, I think it is very much an open question. The Security Council will begin consideration of the Palestinian application for full membership on Monday, but it is unclear how long those deliberations are going to take. It is equally unclear what the Palestinians are going to do when that application is inevitably rejected as a result of either a US veto or successful US bullying of other council members to vote against this application.

The next things to look at are whether and how the Palestinians go to the General Assembly and also how they are going to respond to the latest Quartet statement. If you look at the Quartet statement, I think it is fair to describe it as considerably worse than many of its awful predecessors in the sense that the current Quartet statement says virtually nothing about anything except trying to put in place another bogus process of proposals within three months, and framework agreement within a year, and peace and life for a thousand years by the end of 2012. Been there, done that several hundred times.

The point here is that the Quartet, which was basically established by the Bush administration as a substitute for the international community, was interestingly enough incapable of agreeing on terms of reference for yet another peace process. The basic reason it was unable to do so was because Washington insisted on inserting the most extreme Israeli preconditions for diplomacy into the Quartet statement and, in doing so, met resistance from the Europeans and, it seems, outright rejection from the Russians. Apart from their membership in the Quartet, the Russians have never really taken its directives all that seriously. Washington, on the one hand, rejected inserting anything about a settlement freeze into the Quartet statement basically imposing settlement construction as part of any peace process. At the same time, they insisted on inserting recognition of Israel as a Jewish State as part of the Quartet’s terms of reference. When that failed, the Quartet could do nothing more than come up with a rather lame excuse for yet another process.

I think this is likely to push the Palestinians even further down the path of internationalization. Here we see what can only be described as the extremism which has taken hold in Washington having a positive impact on the development of an alternative Palestinian strategy.

Mouin Rabbani is a Visiting Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies (IPS) in Washington DC. He is an independent Middle East analyst and commentator specializing on Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Rabbani is in Washington, DC until October 10th and is available for media and public appearances.


VICTOR KATTAN on the Palestinian application for sovereign Palestinian statehood
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Victor Kattan is the author of From Coexistence to Conquest: International Law and the Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1891-1949 (London: Pluto Books, 2009) and The Palestine Question in International Law (London: British Institute of International and Comparative Law, 2008). Victor was a Teaching Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London from 2008-2011 where he is presently completing his PhD. Previously Victor worked for the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (2006-2008), Arab Media Watch (2004-2006), and the BADIL Resource Centre for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights as a UNDP TOKTEN consultant (2003-2004).
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“Palestine is the Heart of Arab people”PalestineFreeVoice

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Israeli and Washington Peace Process Rejectionism

Pretending to restart Israeli/Palestinian peace talks, Quartet representatives met in Washington on July 11. Attending were Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and former UK Prime Minister/reinvented war criminal/current Middle East envoy Tony Blair.

Ahead of talks, Clinton and Ashton expressed determination to overcome previously unresolved issues.
On July 12, an unidentified senior US official called the meeting an “excellent and serious discussion on the next steps. (Representatives) expressed support for (Obama’s) May Middle East speech and called to start preparatory phases of talks without any preconditions.”

However, “(t)here are still gaps, and they need to be closed before the Quartet can go forward with public statements.”

In fact, chasms define still unresolved issues. More on that below.

On July 12, Haaretz writer Barak Ravid headlined, “Israel and Palestinian sources to Haaretz: US peace efforts have failed,” saying:
Intensive US strong-arming failed. America “was unable to find a formula that (all) parties could accept.” Manipulative Washington demands were unacceptable. Netanyahu blamed Palestinians for the impasse.

Last January’s Palestine Papers revealed that Obama rejected unacceptable Bush era two state solution “Road Map” terms, effectively accepting settlements as Israeli territory. Or did he?
On September 23, 2009, he told the UN General Assembly he supported “(t)wo states living side by side in peace and security – a Jewish state of Israel, with true security for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people.”

However, on October 21, 2009, Obama’s Special Middle East Envoy George Mitchell said:

“The US believes that through good faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that achieves both the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state encompassing all the territory occupied in 1967 or its equivalent in value, and the Israeli goal of secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meets Israeli security requirements.”

 He meant an independent Palestine would include 6,258 square km, the equivalent of Gaza and the West Bank. However, he suggested land swaps as part of the deal, replacing a two state solution with an ethnically pure Jewish state (excluding Israeli Arabs) and an unacceptable rump Palestine.

In November 2007, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said:

“Israel (is) the state of the Jewish people – and I would like to emphasize the meaning of ‘its people’ is the Jewish people – with Jerusalem the united and undivided capital of Israel and of the Jewish people for 3,007 years.”

In other words, Israeli Arabs aren’t wanted. Either leave or be expelled. Only Jews may be citizens. UN Resolution 194 granting Palestinian refugees the right of return is rejected.

In September 2009, Israeli Foreign Minister/Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman endorsed ethnic cleansing, saying:

“A final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians has to be based on a program of exchange of territory and populations.”

On July 17, the Jerusalem Media & Communication Centre headlined, “Report: US sought Quartet approval for Bush-era settlement assurances.” However, EU and Russia representatives rejected the scheme, saying:
“Senior European diplomats said that the failure of the Quartet meeting pushed the Palestinians even more toward turning to the UN” for independent sovereign state recognition and full status de jure recognition.

American intransigence is responsible, proposing “one-sided wording for an announcement that favored Israel and which had no chance of being accepted by the Palestinians.”

Senior European sources said:

“The Israelis pressured the US very heavily and the American wording was too blatant and unbalanced.”

It called for land swaps, settlements annexed by Israel, and disapproval of Palestinian General Assembly efforts for full status de jure recognition in September. Ashton and Lavrov rejected US language stating:

“Permanent peace means two states for two people (not a two state solution): Israel as a Jewish state and a homeland for the Jewish people and the state of Palestine as homeland for the Palestinian people and each state enjoys self determination and mutual recognition and peace.”

Washington rejected General Assembly sovereign state recognition, saying it must be resolved through Israeli/Palestinian negotiations, “tak(ing) into consideration the changes that occurred in the past 44 years, including the new demographic facts on the ground and the needs of both sides.”

In other words, settlements (exceeding 40% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem) belong to Israel. Unstated but also perhaps expelling Israeli Arabs to make Israel ethnically pure, and demanding Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish state. In return, Palestinians get virtually nothing, except nominal recognition on land unfit for statehood.

That’s how America and Israel negotiate. It’s why peace negotiations were stillborn from inception, a worthless exercise because both countries reject it. As a result, how can Palestinians negotiate without a willing partner.

Yitzhak Shamir This handout file photo provided by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) on March 25, 2009, shows Egyptian President Anwar Sadat standing to shake hands with Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Begin (L) in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, as Speaker Yitzhak Shamir applauds, on November 20, 1977 in Jerusalem. Sixteen months later, on March 26, 1979 in Washington, DC, Israel and Egypt signed their historic peace treaty, making Egypt the first Arab nation to recognize the Jewish State.  (Photo by Moshe Milner/GPO via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Anwar Sadat;Menahem Begin;Yitzhak ShamirIn fact, former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir (1983 – 1984 and 1986 – 1992) admitted it, saying he wanted talks to drag on for years so Israel could expropriate Palestinian land to expand settlements, a policy still in place. Moreover, Prime Minister Netanyahu once called the peace process “a waste of time,” laying down take it or leave it demands like Yitzhak Rabin’s Oslo Accords.

Since the mid-1970s, talks proved more pretense than peace, especially since 2006 with Palestine’s legitimate government excluded from negotiations, spuriously called a terrorist organization and held hostage under siege.

That’s where things now stand, why Palestinians must get de jure General Assembly recognition, then seek international condemnation of Israel’s illegal occupation of a sovereign state, demanding it end.
A Final Comment

Sailing for Gaza, Israeli naval vessels surrounded Freedom Flotilla II boat Dignite al Karama in international waters.

Blocking the small yacht were “three battle ships and seven commando boats of different sizes (with) at least 150 soldiers”, according to Haaretz journalist Amira Hass on board.
Carrying 13 activists, including herself, and three crew members, it pressed on. Israel threatened to attack.

Around mid-morning on July 19, Israeli Radio (Reshet Bet) said naval forces controlled the boat with no clashes, and that it would be towed to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharonoth said IDF chief Benny Gantz ordered naval forces to take over the vessel, “after the activists refused to alter the route of the ship to Ashdod.” Prior to intercepting it, it was heading toward “an area that is under a maritime siege.”

Activists were told to choose between (interrogations and) deportation or imprisonment. Earlier, Flotilla spokesperson Thomas Sommer-Houdeville said the boat carried a message of peace, hope and solidarity with besieged Gazans.

Hass said its “participants regard themselves as representatives of the entire (blocked Flotilla), and are determined to exhaust all possibilities (to) reach (Gaza), or at least carry out the symbolic act of protesting the blockade.”

They understand the risks but took them anyway, challenging Israeli viciousness unarmed in peace.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon accused passengers of “a provocative act.” Haaretz said Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Secretary Ehud Barak congratulated naval forces for successfully intercepting the boat.

Elite Shayetet 13 commandos boarded it, Hamas spokesman Ismail Rudwan calling it “piracy, a war crime and a violation of the principles of human rights.”

Israel’s lawlessness, in fact, gave humanitarian activists another victory. By winning battles, Israel lost the war, exposing itself as a rogue terror state, shooting itself in the foot with each criminal act.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening. He is also the author of “How Wall Street Fleeces America

The Progressive News Hour

Guest today is John Kozy, a retired philosophy and logic professor, now writing on social, political and economic issues. He taught for many years and has been writing for many more.
Visit his web site at www.jkozy.com

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Jeff Gates: WikiLeaks and The Sound of Silence

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December 3, 2010 by Jeff Gates

The scope and scale of WikiLeaks is a marvel to behold. Some praise it as the ultimate form of democracy. Others as the epitome of the most sacred of liberty’s principles: the right to know.

Yet the real story here is not what’s revealed but what’s withheld. The marvel is not what we now know but what is already known that is left unsaid. And what’s given an interpretive spin by those newspapers granted priority access.

The facts suggest that WikiLeaks is less about the right to know than the right to deceive.

Take for example the release of diplomatic cables on the August 2008 war between Georgia and Russia and the interpretative gloss given by The New York Times.

Ashkenazi General David Kezerashvili returned to Georgia from Tel Aviv to lead an assault on separatists in South Ossetia with the support of Israeli arms and Israeli training. That crisis reignited Cold War tensions between the U.S. and Russia.

Then as now, it appeared there was a possibility of resolving Israel’s six-decade occupation of Palestine. At that time, The Quartet was coordinating the peace-making efforts of Russia and the U.S. along with the European Union and the United Nations.

Tel Aviv was not pleased.

Then as now, efforts to broker a peace were thwarted by creating a crisis within a coalition of those willing to invest their geopolitical capital to end a conflict that has long served its Zionist purpose as a source of other conflicts.

The resulting rift between the U.S. and Russia ensured some well-timed entropy and reduced the possibility of ending a decades-long occupation. Then as now, that occupation must end to bring peace to the region.

The Sound of Silence

Without that broader context, it’s not possible to isolate the motivation for that well-timed war. Yet the cables released by WikiLeaks say nothing about that. Nor does The New York Times.

Nor do the cables mention Tel Aviv’s interest in a pipeline across Georgia meant to move Caspian oil through Turkey and on to Eurasia, using Israel as a fee-collecting intermediary.

As with so much that is left “un-leaked,” the silence is telling.

What is leaked is accurately reported: “Official Georgian versions of events were passed to Washington largely unchallenged.” Yet The Times says nothing about the undisclosed bias motivating that behavior. That silence is deceptive.

Instead Times reporter C.J. Chivers notes only that the bombardments by Georgia of South Ossetia “plunged Georgia into war, pitting the West against Russia in a standoff over both Russian military actions and the behavior of a small nation that the United States had helped arm and train.”

Now as then, there’s no mention in the paper of record of the role played by an Ashkenazi general, the Israeli training of Georgian troops or the arms and equipment that Israel provided.
Tel Aviv must be pleased.

The Greatest Threat to Peace

The Times notes “the reliance on one-sided information” as Georgian President Saakashvili told the U.S. Ambassador “the Russians are out to take over Georgia and install a new regime.”

After the Russian Army dealt the Israeli-trained Georgians a quick defeat, President George W. Bush, as the U.S. economy was sliding into a recession, announced a $1 billion aid package to help Georgia rebuild. Rest assured those funds were borrowed.

In the netherworld where Colonial Zionists excel in catalyzing well-timed crises and generating interest-bearing debt, WikiLeaks has already achieved iconic status. Much as The Quartet faded into memory, the peace talks that showed promise just last week have been displaced by talk of yet another crisis—with Iran.

For those skilled at gaining traction for a storyline and then advancing a narrative, WikiLeaks is akin to a script doctor. With The Clash of Civilizations losing traction, this latest crisis helped put it back on track.

Only time will tell if this traction suffices to take the “coalition of the willing” from Iraq and Afghanistan into Iran. Occasionally those played for the fool turn their attention to the deceiver. An October 2003 poll of 7,500 respondents in the European Union found that Israel was considered the greatest threat to world peace.

The U.S. military is not without considerable knowledge confirming the common source of the fixed intelligence that induced America to invade Iraq.

With the Israel lobby seeking to induce the U.S. into Iran, events may take an unprecedented turn. A coalition of the willing might well be persuaded to secure Palestine along its 1967 borders with troops deployed to protect Jerusalem as a site of significance to three major faith traditions.

Should the U.S. Commander-in-Chief decide to earn his Nobel peace prize, he may order U.S. troops to secure the only known nuclear arsenal in the Middle East.

Tel Aviv will not be pleased.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

SECOND COMING OF THE NAKBA

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I4P


Well, well, looks like Obama might get that big pre-election boost after all. You know his ratings are in the tank, the economy is shite and he needs a big-ass Obama miracle, and quickly! He’s got to start running his re-election campaign very soon as the teabaggers are arming themselves and the neocons and Repugs are nipping at his ankles. He needs a serious popularity boost, some headlines filled with praise and worship to confirm he IS the the world’s hero. Hmmmm what can he do, wave a magic O-wand and repair the world banking crisis and US debt, create immediate jobs for all those Americans, end the two useless wars. No, the “Big O” is looking elsewhere for his “miracle” and me thinks it has something to do with that “Nobel Peace Prize” joke, awarded to him for “future” achievements.

Flashback to July, remember this little ditty?

link
1. U.S. warns Abbas: Direct talks or lose backing for state.

2. An Arab League subcommittee on the Arab peace initiative is expected to support the Palestinian position of continued indirect negotiations with Israel, and not a move toward direct talks.

3.The PA has asked the monitoring committee to recommend allowing the U.S. shuttle diplomacy between Ramallah and Jerusalem run its course until September (Check those calendars, it’s almost September folks!)and then consider the PA’s future moves.

So there I was checking up on the news regarding the evil rogue state today, and at first glance of reading the “Malarkey” below, thought I found the tooth fairy and Santa Claus instead, BUT, then Satan emerged!! What am I talking about? THIS:

London-based al-Hayat newspaper quotes Ramallah sources as saying prime minister (Netanyahu) has prepared plan for evacuation of 50,000 settlers.

Yeah, I hear you laughing, tooth fairy right? Wrong, now it gets serious there’s more, and pay close attention to the part I have made “bold”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has prepared a “tempting” plan to be presented to the Palestinians in the direct negotiations, as part of which Israel will offer to withdraw from up to 90% of the West Bank, excluding east Jerusalem, the London-based Arabic-language al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper reported Friday.

Listen, can you hear that sound? That’s the Whooosh of East Jerusalem going to Israel. And……………this nasty deal won’t even be a final one, just merely a wee “agreement” not a “Final Peace Agreement” So the evil rogue state can come back at any time and re-populate all those 50,000 settlers right back into their former homes on Palestinian land. Because, after all, it’s only a “temporary” agreement to confiscate the whole of Jerusalem. There’s more:

“knowledgeable sources” in Ramallah as saying that the prime minister’s plan will be in the form of a new interim agreement, similar to the 1993 Oslo Accords. According to the sources, Netanyahu informed the Western delegates he met with recently that the current situation was not right for reaching a final peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, and that he planned to present a proposal for a new interim agreement, which would be “extensive and tempting” to the Palestinians.

And what about that “Arab League subcommittee” mentioned earlier who were backing Abbas to “not” have talks with Israel? Well Catherine Ashton, the US Quartet member is all over this one:

link Abbas “has requested a few more days for final consultations with Arab partners as well as with the Fatah and PLO executive bodies,” Ashton wrote, and “should be in a position to give a definitive answer by Sunday or early next week.”

And lastly, what’s the plan Stan?

One of the ideas raised by Netanyahu’s associates, the sources said, was coming up with a formula linking the future Palestinian state with its temporary borders to Jordan.

And there you have it, Wa Laa, in one fell swoop you have Obama’s big-ass miracle and re-election gift, the “future” nobel peace prize thingie, and Isarel is all happy with stealing the whole of Jerusalem, and poor Palestine gets the shaft again. Nakba #2 begins.

Posted by I4P Writers Group at 1:24 PM  

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

National unity remains elusive under occupation

Rami Almeghari writing from occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 24 June 2010

Arab League Secretary General Amr Mousa (left) and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh meet in the Gaza Strip, 13 June 2010. (Mohamad Al-Ostaz/MaanImages)

During his recent visit to the Gaza Strip, Arab League Secretary General Amr Mousa received from Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas a memorandum putting forward Hamas’ terms for signing an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal with its rival US-backed Fatah.

Dr. Ahmad Yousef, deputy foreign minister of the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip, told The Electronic Intifada (EI) that the memorandum emphasized points that Fatah should accept before Hamas signs the Egyptian-brokered paper.

Since the split between the Fatah and Hamas factions deepened after the latter stymied foreign-backed efforts to overthrow it in 2007 following Hamas’ election victory the previous year, there has been much talk of restoring Palestinian unity. Such reconciliation has however so far eluded all efforts. Some analysts think it may have a better chance now.

Israeli leaders have admitted that their blockade of Gaza is intended to force Hamas to surrender to three one-sided demands from the Quartet (the US, EU, Russia and the UN): recognizing Israel’s “right to exist” without any reciprocal Israeli recognition; unilaterally abandoning the right to armed struggle while Israel is free to continue its military attacks on Palestinians; and committing to agreements signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) that Israel constantly violates.

Fatah, led by Mahmoud Abbas, who unilaterally extended his expired term as Palestinian Authority (PA) president, has supported these demands. Fatah also controls the PLO, which is the official body that conducts negotiations with Israel. In October 2009, Fatah signed the Egyptian-drafted agreement. So far Hamas has refused to do so, arguing that the paper fails to meet the higher national interests of the Palestinian people and is unfair.

The Egyptian paper would integrate the Palestinian armed factions into the western-backed Abbas-controlled PA and give an upper hand to Abbas in deciding important national issues such as elections.

In recent weeks and amidst a storm of worldwide criticism of Israel’s massacre of passengers on board the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on 31 May, Fatah and Hamas leaders were reported to have traded invitations to reunite and bring the Gaza Strip and the West Bank back under a unified political agenda.

According to Yousef, Hamas says it has no problem reconsidering the Egyptian document provided it would take into account Hamas’ reservations.

“We have agreed that a supreme committee will coordinate between Gaza and the West Bank, and this committee will be comprised of representatives of all parties. We agreed that the election committee to be formed will be made up by consensus of all parties and not as stated in the amended Egyptian paper that Abbas has the final say.”

Asked whether the Quartet would block a Hamas-Fatah agreement, given the three longstanding demands from Hamas, Yousef said, “I think the international community should now pressure the Israeli side simply because Israel has not been implementing the peace accords. We are not going to surrender while we are under occupation. We will continue our path until we restore our sovereignty. I do believe that the recent international solidarity with the Palestinian people is a clear sign of the international community’s increasing awareness of facts on the ground.”
Recently, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Aboul Gheit reiterated his country’s position that Hamas just needs to sign the paper of October 2009 before Hamas’ reservations to the paper are considered.

Numerous media reports have suggested that Egypt has been under consistent US pressure not to allow the reconciliation deal to proceed because the US does not want to legitimize Hamas and further undermine Abbas’ already weak authority.

Ashraf Jumaa, a Fatah member in Gaza of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), echoed the Egyptian demand, saying “Hamas needs to sign the paper, then all its reservations can be taken into account.”

Jumaa also suggested that after the reconciliation document is signed, the parties could go to elections within an agreed timeframe of about six months, so Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip can choose both a new PA president and new PLC.

In January 2010 the term of the PLC, elected in January 2006 when Hamas won a large majority, officially came to an end — although the PLC was never able to function properly due to the mass arrest of many of its Hamas members by Israel, and the internationally-sponsored efforts to overthrow the Hamas-led government which led to the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2007. Hamas remains in full control inside the besieged Gaza Strip, while Abbas and Fatah are nominally in control in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The dilemma of national unity in Palestine is seen by some analysts as a major challenge for the Palestinian people, but some shifts are visible. Leading Gaza political analyst, Dr. Ibrahim Ibrash, believes that the long-standing international demands made on Hamas are no longer effective.
“Many Arab parties have begun to realize the risk in separating Gaza from the West Bank. That’s why Hamas has recently shown some sort of flexibility towards the dialogue with Fatah, especially the latest visit by [Arab League Secretary General] Amr Mousa,” Ibrash told EI.

Despite the official international boycott of Hamas, Ibrash also sees this fraying. “Many European delegations including parliamentary ones have so far visited the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and met with Hamas officials without asking Hamas to accept those demands. Israel itself has not been bound to the Oslo peace process,” he explained.

Asked whether a possible national unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah will force Hamas into committing to the three demands, Ibrash observed: “As the PLO exists and continues holding talks with Israel, there will be no need for Hamas [which is not part of the PLO] to accept the demands. Also, the Hamas government here has tactfully dealt with the situation by enforcing a state of calm across the coastal strip.”

The US is also facing another challenge: Washington has been trying so far unsuccessfully to restart peace talks between the Abbas-led PA and Israel in order to reach a two-state solution. Hamas has repeatedly declared its willingness to accept a two-state solution  but without recognizing Israel — which the PLO did already in 1993 when late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Accords.

As long as the United States and Israel prefer a weak and divided Palestinian political scene, all internal efforts to achieve unity may still face insurmountable obstacles despite these shifts.
Rami Almeghari is a journalist and university lecturer based in the Gaza Strip.

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