Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Middle East Peace Not Desired

Obama, complete surrender to Zionism and its lobby

Alan Hart

September 07, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- - -He did it with seven words. “Ultimately the U.S. cannot impose a solution.”

He was speaking at the White House the day before the start of the new round of direct talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, after he had met with them and Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Abdullah II. (In my last post I anticipated Obama saying at the point of his complete surrender that “America can’t want peace more than the parties.” He also said that - ahead of schedule!)

Today there is a growing number of seriously well informed people of all faiths and none (including me) who believe there will only be peace if it is imposed.

Among those who have dared to say so in public is one of the most eminent Jewish gentlemen of our time, Henry Siegman.

A former national director of the American Jewish Congress, he is president of the U.S./Middle East Project, which was part of the Council on Foreign Relations from 1994 until 2006 when it was established as an independent policy institute.

He is also a research professor at the Sir Joseph Hotung Middle East Programme of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

During his more than 30 years of involvement in the Middle East peace process, he has published extensively on the subject and has been consulted by governments, international agencies and non-governmental organizations involved in the peace process.

In a comment piece for the Financial Times on 23 February 2010, (quoted in Conflict Without End? the Epilogue to Volume 3 of the American edition of my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews), he wrote this:

“The Middle East peace process and its quest for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict that got under way nearly 20 years ago with the Oslo accords has undergone two fundamental transformations. It is now on the brink of a third.

“The first was the crossing of a threshold by Israel’s settlement project in the West Bank; there is no longer any prospect of its removal by this or any future Israeli government, which was the precise goal of the settlements’ relentless expansion all along. The previous prime minister, Ehud Olmert, who declared that a peace accord requires Israel to withdraw ‘from most, if not all’ of the occupied territories, ‘including East Jerusalem,’ was unable even to remove any of the 20 hilltop outposts Israel had solemnly promised to dismantle.

“A two-state solution could therefore come about only if Israel were compelled to withdraw to the pre-1967 border by an outside power whose wishes an Israeli government could not defy - the US. The assumption has always been that at the point where Israel’s colonial ambitions collide with critical US national interests, an American president would draw on the massive credit the US has accumulated with Israel to insist it dismantle its illegal settlements, which successive US administrations held to be the main obstacle to a peace accord.
“The second transformation resulted from the shattering of that assumption when President Barack Obama - who took a more forceful stand against Israel’s settlements than any of his predecessors, and did so at a time when the damage this unending conflict was causing American interests could not have been more obvious - backed off ignominiously in the face of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rejection of his demand. This left prospects for a two-state accord dead in the water.”

On 16 August in a piece for the Huffington Post which was originally published by Ha’aretz in Hebrew, Siegman added this:

“Most Israelis, particularly the present government, have been blithely indifferent to repeated international condemnations of Israel's systematic theft of Palestinian territory on which it has been settling its own Jewish population in blatant violation of international law. Yet their reaction to what they see as an attack on the "legitimacy" of the State of Israel, a concept foreign to international law, seems to bring them to the edge of hysteria.

“In fact, Israel's legitimacy within its 1967 borders has never been challenged by the international community. It is its behavior on territory beyond its own borders to which the international community - including every U.S. administration - has objected. To construe the condemnation of violations of international law as anti-Semitism is absurd.

“It was not an anti-Semite seeking to delegitimize the Jewish state, but Theodore Meron, an internationally respected jurist and the legal advisor to Israel's Foreign Ministry, who following the war of 1967 conveyed the following legal opinion to Israel's Foreign Minister Abba Eban: ‘Civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention,’ to which Israel is a signatory. That Convention's ban on population transfer is ‘categorical and not conditional upon the motives for the transfer or its objectives. The Convention's purpose is to prevent settlement in occupied territory of citizens of the occupying state.’”

So yes, Israel’s leaders knew that settlements on Arab land occupied in 1967 are illegal.
They simply didn’t give (and still today don’t give) a damn about international law. But this attitude, a mixture of extreme arrogance and insufferable self-righteousness, does not make them the main villains in the story of what happened after June 1967. The main villains were (and still are) the governments of the major powers and the one in Washington DC above all.

What they should have said to Israel in the immediate aftermarth of the 1967 war is: “You are not to build any settlements on occupied Arab land. If you do, you’ll be demonstrating your contempt for international law. In this event the international community will declare Israel to be an outlaw state and subject it to sanctions.”
If something like that riot act had been read to Israel there would have been peace many, many years ago.
The pragmatic Arafat was reluctantly reconciled to the reality of Israel’s existence inside its pre-1967 borders as far back as 1968.

In his gun and olive branch address to the UN General Assembly on 13 November 1974 he said so by obvious implication. Thereafter he put his credibility with his leadership colleagues and his people, and his life, on the line to get a mandate for unthinkable compromise with Israel. He got it at the end of 1979 when the Palestine National Council voted by 296 votes to 4 to endorse his two-state policy. What he needed thereafter was an Israeli partner for peace. He eventually got a probable one, Yitzhak Rabin, but he was assassinated by a Zionist fanatic.

The more it became clear that Israel’s leaders were not interested in a genuine two-state solution for which Arafat had prepared the ground on his side, the more his credibility with his own people suffered.
It is in the context briefly sketched above that Obama’s seven words have their real meaning.
At the time of writing it seems reasonably clear that Obama is hoping that Abbas and his equally discredited Fatah leadership colleagues can be bribed and bullied into accepting what Netanyahu will eventually offer - crumbs from Zionism’s table. (My guess is that Abbas at a point will resign rather than trigger a Palestinian civil war).

THE question is what will Obama do when Israel refuses to give enough to satisfy the demands and needs of the Palestinian people for a just about acceptable measure of justice? We already know the answer. “Ultimately the U.S. cannot impose a solution.” Effectively those seven words tell Israel’s leaders that they can go on imposing their will on the occupied and oppressed Palestinians with the comfort of knowing that Obama is not going to use the leverage he has, and every American president has had, to cause them, or try to cause them, to be serious about peace on terms virtually all Palestinians and most other Arabs and Muslims everywhere could accept, and which a rational Israeli government and people would accept with relief.
Put another way, those seven words are effectively a green light for Zionism alone to determine the future of the Palestinians, a future which at some point will most likely see the final ethnic cleansing of Palestine, followed by another great turning against the Jews (provoked by the Zionist state’s behaviour) and a Clash of Civilizations, Judeo-Christian v Islamic.

In his analysis on the day Obama delivered his seven words, Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s admirable Middle East Editor, offered this thought.

“There might not be room for many more failures. The conflict is changing. A religious war is now being grafted on what used to be fundamentally a competition for territory between two national movements. You can make deals with nationalists. It's much harder with people who believe they're doing God's work.”
The next question asks itself.

Why won’t Obama be the president to call and hold the Zionist state to account for its crimes, even when doing so is necessary for the best protection of America’s own interests? Part of the answer is, of course, that he is no more willing than any of his predecessors to have a showdown with the Zionist lobby and its stooges in Congress and the mainstream media. But there might be more to it.

In the privacy of his own mind Obama probably understands better than any of his predecessors how the conflict was created and what has sustained it. If that is the case, he will also know there’s no guarantee that real American-led pressure on Israel to be serious about peace would work and that it could be counter-productive.

I am a supporter in principle of the case and the need for the Zionist state of Israel to be totally isolated, boycotted and sanctioned as Apartheid South Africa was, eventually.


The danger is that even the credible threat of a real boycott and sanctions could play into the hands of those Israeli leaders - Netanyahu has long been their standard bearer - who have brainwashed Israelis, most if not quite all, into believing that the world hates Jews, always has and always will, and that Israeli Jews have no choice but to tell the world to go to hell.

In this context (and as I note in the Epilogue of the American edition of my book), I think it could and should be said that Zionism succeeded, probably beyond its own best expectations, in transforming the obscenity of the Nazi holocaust from a lesson against racism and fascism and all the evils associated with them into an ideology that seeks to justify anything and everything the Zionist state does. War crimes and all.

So it could be that in the privacy of his own mind, Obama knows it is already too late (not to mention too dangerous) to try to push Israel’s leaders much further than they are willing to go.
What, I wonder, will honest historians of the future make of what is happening right now?
My guess is that they will conclude that when Obama launched his push for peace, the Zionist state was already a monster beyond control.


An Unsettled Issue: Israeli Settlement Construction Booms Despite Ban

By Juliane von Mittelstaedt in Jerusalem

In Washington, the Israelis and Palestinians are discussing peace, but in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, construction is proceeding at full speed. A legal ban is being ignored and the government is looking away. The thousands of new homes could hinder reconciliation.
Officially, at least, this is the hour of diplomacy. For the first time in two years, Israelis and Palestinians are meeting for direct peace talks. United States President Barack Obama has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Washington. Settlement construction is one of the most sensitive issues at the talks.
It's also an issue where the fronts are growing increasingly tense. "As far as we are concerned, we will continue building after we have buried our dead," Naftali Bennett, the general director of the settlers' association Yesha said hours before the start of peace talks. Just a short time after his announcement, the settlers began erecting several symbolic settlements in the West Bank. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, Bennett had threatening words. "It is not good enough that the moratorium will end on Sept. 26," he said. "Ehud Barak needs to act to approve 3,000 new housing units -- 1,500 of them right now."

The message is clear: After Hamas terrorists shot four Israelis near Hebron, the settlers no longer want to adhere to the 10-month construction stop that expires at the end of September. An army commander told the newspaper Maariv that the settlers threatened to "flood" the West Bank "with thousands of homes." He said he was concerned that dozens of cement mixers would drive in at night to pour the walls and that there was nothing the military could do to stop it.

And why should they if they have the impression that the government doesn't even support the moratorium?
Construction work could soon begin again in 57 settlements. The peace talks that began on Thursday with an official reception thrown by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton won't change that. After all, construction of settlements also continued during previous rounds of peace talks. From the start of the Oslo peace process in the 1990s until today, the number of Israeli settlers living in the West Bank has tripled -- growing from 110,000 to more than 300,000 people living in 121 settlements and 100 outposts. In addition to that there are 200,000 more settlers in East Jerusalem.

The Land Is Practically Free

Construction may even proceed at a faster pace than before. In the West Bank, there are few signs that the moratorium has even been put in place. In dozens of settlements, excavators and cement mixers are a regular sight, and Palestinians work in temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Around 2,000 homes are currently under construction -- and in most cases, work had begun shortly before or after the start of the moratorium.

One such place is Anatot, a settlement near Jerusalem, that is dotted with flower beds, trees, cute street signs at every entranceway and a street lamp every few meters. Anatot is the perfect suburban idyll. And it's just one of many settlements where inhabitants can quickly forget that they are settlers.

Now there are plans to expand Anatot. A new neighborhood is being erected with 70 apartments, as the construction manager proudly states. The settlement is being expanded by one-third from its current population of around 200 families.

A few of the new homes have already been completed. They're attractive cubes build of creamy white Jerusalem sandstone. A colorful sign at the entrance to Anatot advertises "cottages with quality of life." It's a dream that costs 1.02 to 1.4 million shekel (around €280,000) -- less expensive than a small apartment in West Jerusalem. The construction in the West Bank is massively subsidized by Israel. The land is practically free. After all, it is "state" land. The development costs are paid by the state, and the residents get affordable loans.

Nevertheless, construction is not actually permitted here. The building project is not included in the list of 490 "legal exceptions" which the government managed to make to the settlement moratorium.

The Moratorium 'Was a Fiction Right from the Outset'

"The construction boom here began shortly before the building freeze," says Dror Etkes, who is perhaps the Israeli who knows the most about the settlements. For years he has been documenting settlement construction and submitting complaints against illegal projects.

Etkes is sure that active construction is taking place in at least 46 out of 120 settlements. Building projects have only actually been frozen in five settlements, he says. Even government inspectors have found violations of the moratorium in 29 settlements. So far, however, no construction firm has been called to account over those violations. That is despite the fact that the building freeze, for the first time in Israeli history, is not just a "political" requirement, but is actually enshrined in law -- meaning that any violation should be legally punished.
Additionally, infrastructure projects are not included in the building moratorium. As a result, a number of sewage treatment plants and water reservoirs are being built in settlements -- including on Palestinian land. In Beitar Illit, a new road is being built.

Neither were the associated financial incentives -- the only reason that many Israelis choose to live in the West Bank -- affected by the moratorium. Those benefits include cheap loans, subsidized rents, tax breaks and countless other perks, all of which could easily be cancelled.

"The difference between the level of construction before and during the moratorium is much, much less than the settlers claim," says Etkes. "It's not just that the building freeze has been undermined -- it was a fiction right from the outset." One of the consequences, he says, has been that construction activities have become even more focused on the eastern settlements -- in other words, those small, isolated and often radical settlements that would need to be evacuated if a peace agreement were reached. It is expected that the inhabitants of those settlements would defend themselves with force against such a move.

Part 2: 'Building Freeze Is More Harmful than Useful'

Construction work is also going on in Kfar Adumim. The settlement is significantly larger than the norm -- 2,700 people live here in the hills between Jerusalem and Jericho. Among them are two members of the Knesset, the two hardliners Aryeh Eldad and Uri Ariel. 30 houses are to be built here and 50 Palestinian workers are employed on the site. One man, who is busy laying bathroom tiles, says they started work a month before the building freeze came into force. In the beginning, they had 300 men working at full speed to lay as many foundations as possible in the short time.

Etkes sees the circumventing of the building freeze here as a "classic example of the cooperation between the settlers and the government": Some of the foundations were hastily laid before the building freeze came into force, some afterwards -- but nobody bothers to police it. "The building freeze was discussed for half a year, that was enough time for all parties to prepare."

This is no different from other settlements. Once the moratorium comes to an end, the settlers immediately begin to build. Or, if they do not need housing right away, they can save the foundations as a "reserve" in case of future building freezes. In addition, dozens of settlers' organizations have submitted building applications to local authorities that could be approved in the coming months.

The tiler will not give his name because he is afraid of losing his job, which pays him a minimum of about €30 a day. But he did say that many of his colleagues began work on the site two days before the construction moratorium in the settlements came into force. He also said that building work is still going on in Har Homa in Bethlehem, even though the building freeze is in force there. Carpenters work at night so as not to draw so much attention.

With Each Project, the Future Clearing of Settlements Becomes More Difficult

Whether that bothers the man as a Palestinian? "What should we do? As long as they are allowed to carry on building here, we'll be here too," he says with a shrug. It is the pragmatism of those who do not believe the Israelis will be leaving the West Bank anytime soon. It is the same almost everywhere near Jerusalem. But what about the isolated settlements, with those near Nablus, near the Jordan Valley, near Hebron. "It's a similar situation," says Etkes.

Ten apartments here, 40 there. In no other place are the projects as massive as at Ramat Shlomo, the Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem where, earlier this year, 1,600 new apartments were approved -- just as US Vice President Joe Biden was travelling to Israel. The Americans were irritated and insisted that the Israelis obide by the construction moratorium. But even small projects bring with them thousands of new settlers -- and with each, the later clearing of settlements becomes even more difficult. And without clearing the settlements there can be no viable Palestinian state.

All it takes is a few figures from Israel's statistical office to determine that no reduction of construction activity worth of mention has taken place. Israel's Channel 10 TV, for example, has reported that 8,000 Israelis either moved to the West Bank or have been born there in the past six months. Projected over the remaining months of 2010, that would be 16,000 people. In recent years -- without the construction moratorium -- the average growth rate was 5.5 percent, which with 300,000 settlers in the West Bank, would mean an annual increase of around 16,500 people. "In other words, the much-discussed construction moratorium has brought us 500 fewer settlers," Etkes says.

'At the End of the Day, There Will Be Another 1,000 Homes'

For the Palestinians, the time elapsed since the start of the construction moratorium hasn't been a good one. According to Human Rights Watch, the Israeli civil administration in West Jordan has torn down a total of 267 Palestinian homes in recent months, more than ever before. The homes had been built without permits, but that's the case with most new Palestinian homes because they are hardly ever approved.

By contrast, says Etkes, he has no doubt that the homes in the settlement that have been built illegally during the moratorium will, at least some of them, be legalized later. "At the end of the day, there will still be another 1,000 homes more in the West Bank."

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