Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi explains why the 1967 borders are important

mustafa barghouti

Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, 4 June 2011

The Atlantic Journal Constitution asked Dr. Mustafa Barghouti and Harold Kirtz to offer the pro and con viewpoints on whether the 1967 borders should guide the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
Pro & Con: Should the 1967 borders guide Israeli-Palestinian peace plan?

Yes.

But the details matter: no conditions, no ‘swaps,’ no settlements.

By Mustafa Barghouthi

President Barack Obama was right to call for a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders. But he should have stopped there. Instead, he added a damaging proviso about “mutually agreed swaps” of land.

Conditions and stipulations trouble Palestinians greatly. Israel used the Oslo Accords not to finalize a peace deal with the Palestinians but to expand settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank — talking peace while seizing our land. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was notorious for accepting what American Presidents asked of him. Yet in the next breath he would note his caveats.

Prime Minister Netanyahu imitated Sharon’s approach two years ago — and again last Tuesday in the U.S. Congress — while reluctantly voicing support for a two-state solution. He said yes to a Palestinian state while simultaneously stripping it of meaningful sovereignty. Israel would maintain major settlement blocs, retain East Jerusalem and a military presence in the Jordan Valley, refuse the return of any Palestinian refugees to stolen homes and land, and ensure that a Palestinian “state” is a nonentity without real sovereignty.

Obama’s political opponents and even some of his ostensible allies heavily criticized him by suggesting he was calling for the 1967 borders. In fact, he was merely restating long-standing U.S. policy that an agreement should be based on the 1967 borders, with land “swaps” (itself a euphemism for forcing a bad deal on Palestinian negotiators). Unfortunately he retreated even from this within a few days because of criticism from Israel and its defenders. In his address to AIPAC he went back to President Bush’s position that borders will have to take into consideration new realities on the ground, which means acceptance of illegal Israeli settlement expansion.

Our best West Bank land and aquifers would go to Israeli settlements in exchange for sub-standard land elsewhere. Already, Israel uses 80 percent of West Bank water resources and on a per capita basis Israeli settlers use approximately 48 times more water than Palestinians. The current unjust water distribution is likely to be made permanent if Israel keeps settlements, all of which are illegal under international law.

Israel’s retention of settlement blocs and a military presence in the Jordan Valley will make our state noncontiguous and nonviable. Our state would be little more than disconnected Bantustans. When the white South African government tried to foist such a plan on the world it was seen as repugnant. Palestinians are surely the holders of the same rights as black South Africans and can no more be expected to accept apartheid conditions than South Africans who rejected inferior rights.

Human Rights Watch recently lent credence to our apartheid concerns with a report detailing Israel’s “two-tier” legal system in the occupied West Bank. Such discrimination in favor of settlers and against Palestinians ought to be regarded as reprehensible just as it eventually was viewed in the Jim Crow South. Tragically, it is visible every day in the West Bank.

Israeli threats to annex — by dint of brute force — West Bank land as a response to our nonviolent legal efforts this September at the United Nations are troubling. This would, however, highlight the apartheid nature of their policies as our “bantustanized” existence would become more visible. Denied statehood, our cause will eventually be transformed from pursuit of two states to a struggle within one state for one person, one vote.

It would be far wiser for Israel to recognize our state on the 1967 borders — and the rights provided us under international law — come September.

Mustafa Barghouthi, a doctor and a member of the Palestinian parliament, was a candidate for president in 2005. He is secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, a political party.

No.

Borders compromise Israel’s security; put Old City in Palestine.

By Harold Kirtz

In his recent speech about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, President Barack Obama proposed that the final borders for a Palestinian state should be based on the lines that existed prior to the June 1967 Middle East war, but adjusted by mutually-agreed land swaps.

This declaration has created considerable discussion and consternation. But a careful reading shows that the president’s comments are consistent with a speech to Congress given in the same week by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, stating that some of the current settlements would be outside of Israel’s final borders.

The key point made by both is that the final borders should be the result of negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

As an observer of the region, I see several problems with using only the 1967 borders, as some have argued for.

First, Israel would be in too vulnerable a position vis-a-vis its Arab neighbors, including a new Palestinian state. The experience of Israel being attacked by thousands of rockets after withdrawing unilaterally without any negotiations from both southern Lebanon and the Gaza strip is an example of this vulnerability. Adjustments for security must be made.

While that vulnerability can never be eliminated, polls of Israelis show that they are willing to take certain risks for a real peace.

So the key factor is — will the Palestinians ever be willing to enter a real peace with Israel? Israel has made many proposals in the past; all of them have been rejected by the Palestinians in one way or another.

Second, I have never been in favor of using the 1967 borders because of the impact on Jerusalem. The 1967 borders would place Jerusalem’s Old City squarely within the Palestinian state.

That would be a mistake. Too many Jewish sites and institutions are in the Old City or immediately surrounding it. Many of those were desecrated or destroyed by the Jordanians when they controlled the West Bank area, including the Old City, between 1949 and 1967. The Israelis have now restored or rebuilt many.

As an American Jew, I am proud of what Israel has done to allow other religions to practice their faith and preserve their places of worship. The Jordanians were never so ecumenical. For that reason, Israel should never give up control of the Old City.

Third, the heart of Tel Aviv is only 10 to 15 miles from the 1967 border and Jerusalem abuts that border. Many predominately Jewish suburbs have grown up around those cities. Those areas should not be given up by Israel either for both security and demographic reasons.

Regarding the mutually
agreed land swaps stated by both the president and the prime minister, various proposals have been developed to permit Israel to retain much of this built-up area, while having the Palestinian state receive other land that is currently within the borders of Israel. These land swaps would permit the Palestinian state to have the approximate amount of land that is accounted for by the 1967 borders.

Negotiations between the two sides would allow the Israelis to best protect themselves, while allowing the Palestinians to develop a viable state.

Despite the attempts of Israel’s detractors to argue that Israel is the problem, Israel has been willing, ever since immediately offering to give back the lands taken in the Six-Day War in exchange for a peace agreement, to live peacefully with the Palestinians.

But it is up to the Palestinians to demonstrate conclusively that they are willing to live with a permanent Jewish state on their border. That is the only way that any of this will work.

Harold Kirtz is president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta.

About Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi
Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi is the Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, the president of The Palestinian Medical Relief Society, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and a non-violence democracy leader based in Ramallah.

A fictional Palestine never to become reality and a collision course (Gush Shalom’s reaction to Netanyahu speech)

Palestine Flag

Gush Shalom press release, May 24, 2011

In Congress Netanyahu rejects peace, offers a fictional Palestine never to become reality and embarks on a collision course with the Palestinians and the whole world.

The speech of PM Netanyahu in the US Congress was composed of dozens of colorful gimmicks and empty cliches, talk of a peace which he does not intend to conclude and of a fictional Palestinian state which he has no intention of seeing become reality.

 

Netanyahu praised democracy to the skies, while intending to continue occupation rule over millions of people by main force, against their will. Netanyahu boasted of the freedom of religious worship supposedly provided by Israel at the holy places in Jerusalem, while the Israeli police has a declared policy of regularly barring Muslim worshippers from the mosques in the heart of Jerusalem. Netanyahu spoke sentimentally about the David and Goliath story in the Bible, while in reality the state of Israel had become a modern Goliath which killed hundreds of children in the three weeks of bombing on Gaza, and the role of David passed to Palestinian protesters armed only with stones.

 

In demanding a perpetual Israeli occupation along the Jordan River Netanyahu makes clear that what he calls a Palestinian state would be little more than an isolated enclave  cut off from the outside world, with all entry and exit under Israeli control – in effect, a new version of besieged Gaza. Netanyahu spread promises to make “painful compromises” and dismantle some of the settlements – and immediately blocked the road  piling conditions upon conditions designed to ensure that the time for compromises would never come and the settlements would remain in being and continue to expand, robbing the lands of their Palestinians neighbors.

Netanyahu should not be blinded by the applause in a Congress which remains the hostage of a power-hungry Israeli lobby. It is unclear how long will this lobby retain its power, and whether either lobby or Congress are truly willing to embark upon a direct confrontation with the President of the United States on Netanyahu’s behalf. In his outspoken opposition to the principle of the 1967 lines with mutually agreed territorial swaps –  the single route to peace which is agreed upon by the entire international community including the U.S. President –  Netanyahu continues to dig in and burrow into his rejection of the chance for peace. His claim that the 1967 lines are “indefensible” is ludicrous, especially considering that it was exactly within these lines that the IDF gained the greatest military victory in Israel’s history. In contrast, the settlements scattered throughout the Occupied Territories produce a blurred boundary, in fact a complete lack of any border, which the IDF finds it difficult to defend. The undoubted historical fact that Jews lived in these areas thousands of years ago can in no way change the fact that nowadays we are there as conquerors and oppressors, and such we will stay as long as a single Israeli soldier remains there against the residents’ wishes. ”

The extremist position that Netanyahu presented, wrapped in rhetoric and cliches, constitutes a final closing of the door to renewed negotiations and an embarkation on a  course of collision with the Palestinians and the entire world, towards the inevitable
“diplomatic tsunami” predicted by Defense Minister Barak. In the longer term it may actually turn out that Netanyahu – the very man who demands of the entire world to recognize the principle of “A Jewish State” – will be the one who drives the Palestinians to despair of achieving their own state and into demanding a vote for the Knesset instead.

Contact: Adam Keller +972-54-2340749

What lies Behind Netanyahu’s Bluster on ’1967 Borders’

(Courtesy the BBC)

Juan Cole, 24 May 2011

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s high dudgeon over the world community’s demand that Israel return more or less to ’1967 borders’ plays to two audiences, his domestic constituency among far rightwing ‘Greater Israel’ parties intent on usurping Palestinian land, and his American constituency among the third or so of US Jews who oppose trading land for peace.

For the rest of us in the US, being yoked to Netanyahu’s angry expansionism is like being forced to date Charlie Sheen. It won’t do our own reputation any good, and it won’t rescue him from his self-destructiveness.

The ’1967′ borders are actually those that obtained before Israel launched its 1967 ‘Six-Day War’ on Syria, Jordan and Egypt. (There is no doubt that Israel launched this war, and that its aggressiveness with Syria in the previous six months contributed mightily to the tensions that led to it.)

The reason Israel has to go back to 1967 borders is that the annexation of territory from a neighbor through warfare is illegal according to the United Nations Charter, which is a treaty to which Israel and the United States are both signatories. ‘Greater Israel’ apologists attempt to get out of this difficulty by saying that countries used to conquer land away from their neighbors all the time. This is a bogus argument, since countries used to do a lot of things, including sponsor the slave trade; Britain even insisted on China allowing the sale of opium in the early 19th century. The world changed when World War II ended and the countries of the world established the United Nations to forestall any recrudescence of Axis techniques of conquest and rule. If Israel does not believe in the UN Charter, it should renounce its UN membership.

It is not just the UN Charter. The Hague Agreement of 1907 and the Geneva Convention of 1949 forbid a power occupying enemy territory in war time from annexing it or in any way changing the life ways of its people.

Another bogus argument the Greater Israel expansionists trot out is that the UN Charter only forbids the acquisition of territory from other countries, and the Palestinians did not have a country, and so they are fair game. This argument is morally despicable, since the Israelis made the Palestinians stateless, thwarting the intention of the League of Nations that Palestine become a state; and now they are using the abjectness and statelessness as an argument that Palestinians can be stolen from at will. But the argument is also incorrect. Both the League of Nations and the UN made it perfectly clear that they intended that the Palestinians have a state in the future, so in preventing this from happening the Israelis are defying international law. The 1947 UN Partition Plan, the legitimacy of which the Israeli government says it recognizes, awarded Gaza and the West Bank to the Palestinians. So it is not true that these territories are no-man’s land or that there is no legal framework for their people’s existence, such that anyone could enslave them or expropriate them at will.

Netanyahu’s argument for not going back to 1967 borders is that it is inconvenient. He says that the 1967 borders are indefensible. This assertion is a logical fallacy, known as special pleading. You can’t launch a war and annex your neighbor’s territory because you fear that your own presents security challenges. Lots of countries are unhappy with their borders. Saddam Hussein annexed Kuwait in 1990 in part because he felt that the British had erred in not giving modern Iraq a deep water port, which made Iraq ‘indefensible’ and put it at an economic disadvantage. Pakistan believes that its failure to secure the headwaters of the Indus Valley rivers in Kashmir in 1947 puts it at a permanent disadvantage vis-a-vis India and makes the country overly vulnerable (‘indefensible’). Netanyahu’s immoral argument that a country just has to take by main force whatever it feels will make it more secure is astonishing and is a standing danger to world peace if it were taken seriously by other countries.


International law forbids Israel to colonize the West Bank– not only the UN Charter but also the Geneva Conventions of 1948.

But beyond the specious character of Netanyahu’s rhetoric (according to which it would have been perfectly all right for George W. Bush to annex Iraq to the United States), the fact is that the whole tiff over ’1967 borders’ is a smokescreen for Israeli expansionism. The settler movement could put down settlements in much of the sparsely populated south of Israel proper with no problem. Instead, they insist on taking Palestinian land. They are not colonizing the West Bank only to make it more ‘secure’ (they are making it less so), but rather out of greed, ambition, and expansionism. It is not about defense, it is about offense.

(Courtesy the BBC)

(Courtesy the BBC)

The Likud Party led by Netanyahu does not believe in allowing the Palestinians to have a state, and does not believe in withdrawing from the Occupied Territories. This obstinate stance and commitment to undermining the international rule of law is why there is no point in ‘engaging’ the Likud with ‘ compromises.’ Netanyahu led the charege against the Oslo Peace process pursued by then PM Yitzhak Rabin in the early 1990s, and when Rabin was assassinated and Netanyahu came briefly to power he did whatever he could to destroy the peace process. He admitted this obstructionism on tape:

Juan Cole

 

Netanyahu rudely lectured President Obama in front of the cameras that the Palestinian desire to see some of the refugees expelled from their homes by the Israelis in 1948 ‘isn’t going to happen’ and he urged Obama to frankly tell the Palestinians that it isn’t going to happen. But he may as well also have instructed Obama to tell the Palestinians that the two state solution is dead.

Israel by now has not only planted colonies all over the West Bank and moved hundreds of thousands of people in, but it has secretly withdrawn residency rights from 140,000 Palestinians. The ‘separation barrier’ removed another 12 percent of Palestinian territory. No one can look at a map of Gaza and the West Bank as they actually exist and see a viable state that could protect the rights of its citizens (the point of a state). Israel keeps announcing new settlements or expansions of existing ones on Palestinian territory.

Netanyahu is saying ‘no’ to peace, ‘no’ to negotiations, ‘no’ to dignity and rights for Palestinians for generations to come.

Ben Franklin said that ‘Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.’ Netanyahu’s children and grandchildren and great grandchildren will one day regret that he slapped away the hand of help and the good will of Barack Obama in favor of a stubborn and greedy Israeli expansionism.

The most likely outcome of Israel’s present course is a one state solution, achieved over decades, with much heartbreak and violence and ruined lives in the meantime. The Jews of Israel will likely end up like the Maronite Christians of Lebanon. France created Lebanon in 1920 for a then Christian majority, but Christian out-migration and rapid Muslim population growth reduced the Maronites to only about 22 percent of the population today if we count children. Likewise, Israeli Jews have already lost their majority among first-graders in what was Mandate Palestine in favor of Palestinians and Palestinian-Israelis. Current demographic trends will likely produce an Israel that is a third Arab by 2030 and that is not even counting the Occupied Territories. The instability in the Arab world and the Greater Middle East, which is growing, could well over time increase Jewish out-migration (out of sheer nervousness) so that it outstrips in-migration of Jews. I can’t see a way for Israel to escape this demographic and geopolitical fate and remain viable as a nation-state. Plans on the Israeli right to denaturalize and expel the 1.5 million Palestinian-Israelis are unrealistic and do not reckon with the likely backlash from the Arab world, which won’t remain weak and abject forever. (We can already see glimmerings of a new, more assertive Egypt).

The course Netanyahu is charting will harm the United States in so many ways they are hard to count. But he is also digging the grave of his own vision of a Jewish state.

Juan R. I. Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. For three decades, he has sought to put the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context. His most recent book is Engaging the Muslim World (Palgrave Macmillan, March, 2009) and he also recently authored Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). You can visit his site at http://www.juancole.com/

Netanyahu and the one-state solution

President Barack Obama watches as  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (right) shake hands at a trilateral meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, Sept. 22, 2009. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama watches as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (right) shake hands at a trilateral meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, Sept. 22, 2009. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Neve Gordon, May 24, 2011
Israel’s unwillingness to compromise on key issues might annul a two-state solution, making only power-sharing viable.

 

 

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address US legislators on Tuesday. He will, no doubt, tell members of Congress that he supports a two-state solution, but his support will be predicated on four negative principles: no to Israel’s full withdrawal to the 1967 borders; no to the division of Jerusalem; no to the right of return for Palestinian refugees; and no to a Palestinian military presence in the new state.

The problem with Netanyahu’s approach is not so much that it is informed by a rejectionist worldview. The problem is not even Netanyahu’s distorted conception of Palestine’s future sovereignty, which Meron Benvenisti aptly described as “scattered, lacking any cohesive physical infrastructure, with no direct connection to the outside world, and limited to the height of its residential buildings and the depth of its graves. The airspace and the water resources will remain under Israeli control…”

Rather, the real problem is that Netanyahu’s outlook is totally detached from current political developments, particularly the changing power relations both in the Middle East and around the world. Indeed, his approach is totally anachronistic.

Netanyahu’s not-so-implicit threat that Israel will continue its colonial project if the Palestinians do not accept some kind of “Bantustan solution” no longer carries any weight. The two peoples have already passed this juncture.

The Palestinians have clearly declared that they will not bow down to such intimidations, and it is now clear that the conflict has reached an entirely new intersection.

At this new intersection, there are two signs. The first points towards the west and reads “viable and just two-state solution”, while the second one points eastward and reads “power sharing”.

The first sign is informed by years of political negotiations (from the Madrid conference in 1991, through Oslo, Camp David, Taba, and Annapolis) alongside the publication of different initiatives (from the Geneva Initiative and the Saudi Plan to the Nussaiba and Ayalon Plan), all of which have clarified what it would take to reach a peace settlement based on the two-state solution. It entails three central components:

1. Israel’s full withdrawal to the 1967 border, with possible one-for-one land swaps so that ultimately the total amount of land that was occupied will be returned.

2. Jerusalem’s division according to the 1967 borders, with certain land swaps to guarantee that each side has control over its own religious sites and large neighbourhoods. Both these clauses entail the dismantlement of Israeli settlements and the return of the Jewish settlers to Israel.

3. The acknowledgement of the right of return of all Palestinians, but with the following stipulation: while all Palestinians will be able to return to the fledgling Palestinian state, only a limited number agreed upon by the two sides will be allowed to return to Israel; those who cannot exercise this right or, alternatively, choose not to, will receive full compensation.

Israel’s continued unwillingness to fully support these three components is rapidly leading to the annulment of the two-state option and, as a result, is leaving open only one possible future direction: power sharing.

The notion of power sharing would entail the preservation of the existing borders, from the Jordan valley to the Mediterranean Sea, and an agreed upon form of a power sharing government led by Israeli Jews and Palestinians, and based on the liberal democracy model of the separation of powers. It also entails a parity of esteem – namely, the idea that each side respects the other side’s identity and ethos, including language, culture and religion. This, to put it simply, is the bi-national one-state solution.

Many Palestinians have come to realise that even though they are currently under occupation, Israel’s rejectionist stance will unwittingly lead to the bi-national solution. And while Netanyahu is still miles behind the current juncture, it is high time for a Jewish Israeli and Jewish American Awakening, one that will force their respective leaders to support a viable democratic future for the Jews and Palestinians living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. One that will bring an end to the violent conflict.

Neve Gordon

Neve Gordon

Neve Gordon is an Israeli academic. He has been a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and the Watson Institute at Brown University. During the first intifada, he was the director of Physicians for Human Rights – Israel. Gordon is the co-editor of Torture: Human Rights, Medical Ethics and the Case of Israel, the editor of From the Margins of Globalization: Critical Perspectives on Human Rights, and most recently the author of Israel’s Occupation. His writings have appeared in numerous scholarly journals as well as in publications like The Washington Post, LA Times, The Guardian, The Nation, Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, Chronicle of Higher Education and The National Catholic Reporter.

This article first appeared in Al Jazeera

Obama at AIPAC; Unconditional Surrender

President Barack Obama May 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

President Barack Obama May 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama May 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Sami Jamil Jadallah, 24 May 2011

As was expected President Barack Obama’s speech this weekend at AIPAC was an unconditional surrender to AIPAC, to Bibi Netanyahu and Israel. He gave up the US presidency in favor of his candidacy for re-election.

Barak Obama did not come to AIPAC to convince the American Jewish leaders and community and argue the case of the US resolve and leadership in settling the Middle East conflict based on international laws and international conventions, a conflict that has cost the US and its tax payers so dearly.

Barack Obama came to convince his friends and sponsors within the American Jewish community he is their candidate and their man in the White House now and in the future, and the only way he can convince such a group is to submit his presidency and the US total and unconditional surrender. He surrendered the US world leadership and prestige coming close to declaring his allegiance to Israel and ahead of the US like so many in the US Congress.

Few days before Bibi Netanyahu came to the White House not to listen but to dictate, and came to the White House to tell the man of the White House, when it comes to Congress, he (Bibi) is the “Boss” and Bibi has what it takes to make the re-election of Obama an impossible task.  Bibi enjoys so much wide spread support among the American Knesset and the Jewish community and the Evangelical Christians Rights, support he does not enjoy in his home country of Israel.

Barack Obama had to be careful in what he says, let alone what he does since the coming months are so critical to his reelection and campaign financing. He could not alienate the most powerful community and group in the US, a group that makes or break the hopes and dreams of any political candidate.  They promise money in return for blood and total unconditional surrender of the US in support of Israel’s agenda, its wars, its settlements, its nuclear weapons and its constant violations of international laws.

He spoke of the borders of 67 yet in the next statement he spoke of “facts on the grounds” facts that were there in violation of international laws, in violation of US laws and in violations of the Geneva Convention. The “Demographic” changes he mentions were deliberate acts of aggression resulting in so much land and water theft and resulting in the “expulsion and ethnic cleansing” and denial of residency for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, an expulsion denial of rights that comes close to the 700,000 Palestinians who were forced to exile by the power of gun in 48.

Since 67 Israel took “Jewish legal” measure to expropriate land and ethnically cleanse people with the support of the very power gun and money supplied by the US and a legal and political cover the US only the US is always ready to provide.

Barack Obama did not speak of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who lost their homes and land to Jewish Settlements and ethnic cleansing, who lost their homes and lands to “Jewish Roads only” and who lost the rights to reside in their own home towns and cities and who sees their homes destroyed and demolish as a matter of routine.

Obama of 2011 was no different from Obama of 2008 when he spoke of unconditional support of Israel at AIPAC -08 where he promised ”Jerusalem” to remain the undivided capital of Israel now he is promising half of what remains of historic Palestine.

This time around, President Obama did not only deliver the US unconditional surrender, he also surrendered the rights of all Palestinians as well.  He surrendered their rights of return, their rights to East Jerusalem, their rights of self-determination and their rights to their water, land and property.  He made sure all of these rights are subject to negotiation with Israel and its veto.

Mr. Obama even went further, by making sure the US will do all it can to bock any efforts by the PLO to bring the issue of “recognition” before the United Nation, not that the UN vote will end the Jewish Occupation of 43 years, or enforce the Rights of Return or the rights to East Jerusalem, but the very idea that the US will block and discourage such efforts goes beyond the total surrender of the US and Palestinians to Israel.

Obama even threw the American Jewish community as part of the deal.  He surrendered this “community” accepting its loyalty and commitment to Israel as the state of the “Jewish People”.  By recognizing and accepting Israel’s demands that Israel as state for “the Jewish People” he ceded the rights of US citizens loyalty to a foreign country, accepting the troubling ideas and practice of double loyalty and dual citizenship, that Israelis is not only a state of Israeli citizens but a state for the American Jews as well. Perhaps a first step in the release of Jonathan Pollard.

Barack Obama broke the “envelop” by asking a “disarmed” Palestinian state broken down to small canton, surrounded by armed Jewish settlements from all sides to guarantees the safety and security of the most powerful military in the Middle East, with hundreds of F-15s and F-16s and F-36, and Kfir fighters, hundreds of AH-64 D Apatche, AH-1 attach Cobra, dozens of Sa’ar 4.5 Class Missile boats and Sa’ar 5 class Corvettes, thousands of Mirkava tanks and APCs, thousands of M109 self propelled Howitzers, Soltan M-71 Howitzers, Caterpillar D9 Armored bulldozer ( specifically for demolition of  Palestinian homes), submarines equipped with nuclear armed missiles,  and hundreds of unmanned aircrafts capable of hitting Iran, and an army that can muster some 700,000 well trained and well equipped in days, with a history of carrying attacks as far as Tunis, Baghdad, Syria ( near the Turkish borders) with over 150 nuclear weapons and Mr. Obama has the “Chutzpa” to demand from the poor defenseless Palestinians who could not even fend against attacks by armed Jewish thugs and settlers to guarantee the safety and security for this poor defenseless  “Jewish state”.

The Palestinian people should not expect more from Obama or any future US president, certainly not the UN or UNSC, and should take the matter in their hands making sure that the proposed two state solution is null and void and work toward a One State, One People as the only option ahead.

Sami Jamil Jadallah

Sami Jamil Jadallah

Sami Jamil Jadallah is an international legal and business consultant and is the founder and director of Palestine Agency and Palestine Documentation Center www.palestineagency.com and founder and owner of several business in technology and services. Sami also runs an online website (Jefferson Corner). His articles are also featured on PalestineNote and Veterans Today.

Articles on RamallahOnline by Sami Jamil Jadallah

Is this the silliest man on the planet?

Obama_relaxing-2-37618


Stuart Littlewood, 24 May 2011

In the space of 45 minutes the US President showed, on 19 May at the White House, how he is rapidly earning a reputation for being the silliest man on the planet and the most untrustworthy.

He was laying out his vision for a new chapter in American diplomacy in the Middle East. In the process he came out with excruciating remarks that would deeply offend the intelligence of every man on the proverbial Clapham omnibus as well as those aboard a Gaza donkey-cart. Here’s a sample.

  • “For decades, the United States has pursued a set of core interests in the region: countering terrorism and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons…”

He extravagantly arms Israeli terrorism, subsidises the illegal occupation of Palestine and has recently stepped up the funding. He does nothing to reduce Israel’s huge arsenal of nuclear weapons, the only ones in the region.

  • “… securing the free flow of commerce and safe-guarding the security of the region…”

Gaza is still under siege after 5 years. Ships carrying humanitarian cargoes to Gaza are murderously assaulted on the high seas by Obama’s friends. And since when were Palestinians in the West Bank able to trade freely, travel freely even within their own territory or feel the slightest bit secure?

  • “…standing up for Israel’s security and pursuing Arab-Israeli peace.”

The two are not compatible. Israel’s security spells insecurity for everyone else. If he hasn’t understood this he understands nothing.

  • “We will continue to do these things, with the firm belief that America’s interests are not hostile to people’s hopes; they’re essential to them.”

Where did he get that idea?

  • “Not every country will follow our particular form of representative democracy…”

Damn right they won’t. America’s democracy allows a foreign power – Israel – to dictate US policy and milk the US taxpayer. How pathetic is that?

  • “The United States opposes the use of violence and repression against the people of the region.” (Applause.)

Applause or hoots of laughter? Ask the Palestinians, brutally occupied and dispossessed for 63 years, what they think of that remark.

  • “The United States supports a set of universal rights. And these rights include free speech, the freedom of peaceful assembly, the freedom of religion, equality for men and women under the rule of law, and the right to choose your own leaders -– whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus, Sanaa or Tehran.”

But not if you live in Gaza. As soon as Hamas was democratically elected in 2006 America slapped sanctions on the Palestinians as a collective punishment and encouraged Israel to tighten its blockade. Despite all the pious preaching, the US administration deliberately poisoned the Palestinians’ fledgling democracy and has done nothing to ensure that their universal rights are respected. Back home Americans are made to suffer if they voice criticism Israel.

  • “Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state.”

In September the Palestinians are applying to the UN for their own state on their own official borders. How does that “isolate” Israel?

  • “As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values. Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums.”

More and more Americans are asking: what shared history, what shared values? Why is America shielding from criticism a thieving, lawless entity regarded by most people as the biggest threat to world peace?

  • “…It is up to the Israelis and Palestinians to take action. No peace can be imposed upon them — not by the United States; not by anybody else.”

Wrong. The international community is under an obligation to act and enforce the rule of law and their own rulings set out in countless UN resolutions.

  • “…The core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, a secure Israel.”

Wrong. The UN has already decided the core issues. They simply need implementing. Besides, nothing meaningful can be negotiated when one party has its military jackboot on the neck of the other. And just for a change, let’s have that mantra the other way round – “a secure Palestine, a viable Israel”.

  • “As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself -– by itself -– against any threat… The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state.”

He says every state has the right to self-defence, which means that Palestinians too must be able to defend themselves against any threat. The White House has its knickers in a hopeless twist trying to ignore the fundamental principle that the right of self-defense is universal.

  • “…An agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel: How can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist?”

First explain: on what borders should Israel be recognised? Does Israel recognise Palestine’s right to exist? Does the US? As Hamas rightly points out, recognising Israel on anything but pre-1967 borders legitimises the occupation and Israel’s continuing crimes against the Palestinian people.

  • “The United States of America was founded on the belief that people should govern themselves. And now we cannot hesitate to stand squarely on the side of those who are reaching for their rights.”

Hooray! So we can all expect America to be four-square behind Palestine’s application for statehood.

In the speech Obama said pre-1967 borders should be the basis of peace, hardly an earth-shattering statement since that’s what international law says and what US presidents before him have said. But to fudge the issue he suggested land swaps, a clear invitation to the biggest hoodlum on the planet, Israeli prime minister Netanyahu,to help himself permanently to the large swathes of prime, strategic Palestinian territory the Zionist regime has already gobbled up. Consulted beforehand, Netanyahu demanded, unsuccessfully, that any reference to 1967 borders be removed from the President’s speech.

He claimed: “While Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines… because these lines are indefensible. They don’t take into account certain changes that have taken place on the ground, demographic changes that have taken place over the last 44 years.”

For decades the Israelis have played for time to create irreversible ‘facts on the ground’ that would help make the occupation permanent. They are still doing it. The settlements were built on stolen Palestinian territory in the fully knowledge that they would eventually have to be handed over if their bluff was called. The Jewish squatters will no doubt be given the choice of moving out or becoming Palestinian citizens. What could be fairer that that?

He complains that Israel’s 1967 borders make it only 9 miles wide at one point. Yes, well, the Gaza Strip is only 4 miles wide in places. Will the Palestinians be allowed to expand their borders for defence purposes?

And if the pre-1967 armistice lines don’t suit Netanyahu perhaps he’d prefer the 1947 UN partition borders.

Integrity means upholding law and justice

Only in the mind of a hoodlum is giving back the loot you’ve stolen a “generous compromise”.

At the White House press conference after the Obama-Netanyahu meeting Obama said: “I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu wants peace. I think he’s willing to take risks for peace… We discussed the issue of Gaza, and I commended Prime Minister Netanyahu on the progress that’s been made in allowing more goods into Gaza. We’ve seen real progress on the ground. I think it’s been acknowledged that it has moved more quickly and more effectively than many people anticipated…”

Since the worldwide outcry and international pledges following Israel’s Cast Lead blitzkrieg 28 months ago, does anyone else think progress has been speedy?

Finally, to underline his loyalty to the foreign power, Obama declared: “We strongly believe that, given its size, its history, the region that it’s in, and the threats that are leveled against us — against it, that Israel has unique security requirements… that’s why we remain unwavering in our commitment to Israel’s security. And the United States will never ask Israel to take any steps that would undermine their security interests.”

So no worries for Obama about the threat posed by Israel, bristling with WMD and US weaponry and throwing a psychopathic fit every five minutes, to its regional neighbours and beyond.

He has just address AIPAC [the unbelievably powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, aka America’s pro-Israel lobby] with the same sychophantic garbage and a few extra gems like this…

  • “Because we understand the challenges Israel faces, I and my administration have made the security of Israel a priority. It’s why we’ve increased cooperation between our militaries to unprecedented levels. It’s why we’re making our most advanced technologies available to our Israeli allies. And it’s why, despite tough fiscal times, we’ve increased foreign military financing to record levels… we will maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge”.

Here’s another magic moment:

  • “We… will stand up to groups like Hezbollah who exercise political assassination… We will continue to demand that Hamas accept the basic responsibilities of peace… And we once again call on Hamas to release Gilad Shalit, who has been kept from his family for five long years.”

Lectures on assassination sound good coming from Obama. No mention of course of Israel’s basic responsibilities or the thousands of Palestinian prisoners rotting in Israeli jails.

  • “No vote at the United Nations will ever create an independent Palestinian state.” An ominous statement which reveals that his earlier boast about standing squarely on the side of those who are reaching for their rights is total bollox.

He then went on to explain how his recommendation three days earlier for peace based on 1967 lines, which ruffled not a few Zionist feathers, didn’t mean that at all.

  • “By definition, it means that the parties themselves – Israelis and Palestinians – will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967… It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last forty-four years, including the new demographic realities on the ground and the needs of both sides.”

Can you imagine anything more calculated to create an endless impasse? It seems he’s pushing for another dragged-out peace process to buy Israel even more time to complete its Greater Israel expansion programme.

When a man is handed the most important job on the planet he’s expected to have integrity in abundance.

And when a man in public life has integrity he doesn’t allow outside individuals or organisations to influence him in the performance of his duties. He remains impartial and fearlessly upholds law and justice for all.

If the most powerful man on the planet lacks integrity he is likely to become the most dangerous.

The second silliest man is here in the UK. And the silliest man arrives this week on a state visit. He brings with him an entourage of more than 500 including 200 security goons, an 8-ton armoured limo that’s equipped to turn itself into an impenetrable ‘panic room’ on run-flat tyres as soon as anyone throws a rotten tomato, and a fleet of other specialist vehicles.

Having recklessly authorised the assassination of Bin Laden, denied him due process and thrown his body into the sea he places all Londoners in peril of a revenge attack. I for one feel deeply insulted by the presumption that the silliest man on the planet is deemed so precious that he is allowed to massively disrupt the lives of more sensible people going about their normal business. And he’ll leave us taxpayers to pick up a huge security bill.

The silliest and second silliest are due to meet. They are birds of a feather. Cameron has told his Zionist friends: “In me, you have a Prime Minister whose belief in Israel is indestructible… I want to be clear, we will always support Israel.” Are they employing the same Tel Aviv trained speechwriters?

I wonder what unmitigated nonsense they will spout about the spread of democracy to the Middle East and the paramount importance of maintaining Israel’s security at everyone else’s expense.

Is it too much to ask that actually do something honourable for once and agree to protect the latest Free Gaza humanitarian flotilla sailing next month?

In the meantime I’m pleased to hear that London’s mayor Boris Johnson plans to bill Obama for his embassy’s unpaid parking and inner-London congestion charges. “Maybe when President Obama’s hors d’oeuvre plate is whisked away he will find a bill for £5.5m,” Boris is reported as saying.

Stuart Littlewood

Stuart Littlewood

Stuart Littlewood is an industrial marketing specialist turned writer-photographer. In 2005 he was invited to write and shoot pictures for a book about the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. ‘Radio Free Palestine’ was published in 2007. For details please see www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk.

  • The Author is a regular contributor to RamallahOnline.com. Find more Articles by Stuart Littlewood on RamallahOnline.

Obama’s Middle East Speech

President Barack Obama talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel as they walk from the Oval Office to the South Lawn Drive of the White House, following their meetings, May 20, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel as they walk from the Oval Office to the South Lawn Drive of the White House, following their meetings, May 20, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel as they walk from the Oval Office to the South Lawn Drive of the White House, following their meetings, May 20, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Lawrence Davidson, 21 May 2011

President Obama’s Middle East Speech – New Year’s Resolutions in May (An Analysis 21 May 2011)

Part I

I watched President Obama’s May 19th speech on the Middle East (most quotes from the speech are taken from the full text) while working out at the gym. I have always found it easier to listen to politicians while I’m busy doing something else. That way, if they say something silly or ignorant, I can distract myself. This mellows out some of the anger or amazement that I would feel if I was paying full attention to them. It’s a healthier way of dealing with this sort of situation. So there I was riding the stationary bike with half of me concentrating on keeping a steady speed and the other half concentrating on the president. That latter half of me soon felt that their was something familiar about Obama’s talk. Not just the words but the character of the talk. I decided to give it 80% of my attention to figure out what all those words reminded me of. At mile four I had it. They reminded me of new year’s resolutions.

Like most new year’s resolutions, the president’s set, despite coming in May, are full of good intentions. First of all, life in the prior months have pointed out one’s problems in ways that are now hard to ignore. That is how the President approached the facts of the Arab Spring. “The people of the Middle East and North Africa [have] taken their future into their own hands.” And that reality is the context for the general new year’s resolution which is–to “mark a new chapter in American diplomacy.” What should the “new chapter”consist of? The President told us: “the United States of America was founded on the belief that people should govern themselves. Now, we cannot hesitate to stand squarely on the side of those who are reaching for their rights….” Our new year’s resolution is to live up to our principles, to be true to our values.

[ An Aside: Anyone who knows the history of American foreign policy (and I have written a book on the subject entitled Foreign Policy Inc.) can tell you that there is no connection between actual policy and the promotion of democracy. Quite the contrary. That is why all our "friends" in the Middle East are autocrats. But, just for argument sake, let’s assume along with Ralph Waldo Emerson, that a "first rate intelligence," and the president certainly is that, can "hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function." Then we can imagine that this speech gives precedence to the idealized notion of foreign policy goals–which are ones that contradict the actual goals pursued to date.]

Part II

Ok. We now know in what direction the “new chapter in American diplomacy” is suppose to go. It is time to move from the general resolution, to some specific behaviors. Typically full of determination, we start off strong.

A) This is not difficult because we begin with the easy things, the things we are already doing. We don’t like the Iranian government. We will continue to be obstructive and negative toward it. We don’t like the Syrian government. We will continue to sanction it. And we especially don’t like the Libyan government. We will continue to try to destroy it. This isn’t really part of the “new chapter in American Diplomacy” but we figure there should be some continuity as we transition into the future.

B) Then we move on to the stuff we are pretty sure we can accomplish. We like the Tunisians now and so the President tells us “we are working with Congress to create Enterprise Funds to invest in Tunisia and Egypt.” No word on what strings might be attached to this. We like the Egyptians now and so “we will relieve a democratic Egypt of up to $1 billion in debt…” Simultaneously, “we will help Egypt…by guaranteeing $1 billion in borrowing….” A bit of a mixed message here, but we can’t always be totally original.

C) Then we move to what can only be described as our “wish list” of resolutions. The things we would like to see done but don’t know if we really have the will power to do it. This is really the moment of truth because all the easy stuff doesn’t really constitute anything new at all. If we are going to actually create a “new chapter in American diplomacy” it is the tough changes that need to be actualized. So here we go:

1. “We acknowledge that our friends in the region have not all reacted to the demands for change consistent with the principles that I [President Obama] have outlined today.” Well, actually none of them have done so. This acknowledgment begs the question, just how are we going to change American policy so as to change the behavior of these dictators?

2. “Bahrain is a long-standing partner, and we are committed to its security. We recognize that Iran has tried to take advantage of the turmoil there, and that the Bahraini government has a legitimate interest in the rule of law. Nevertheless, we have insisted publically and privately that mass arrests and brute force are at odds with the universal rights of Bahrain’s citizens….the government must create the conditions for dialogue….” Judging from its behavior, the Bahraini monarchy would not know “the rule of law” if it tripped over it. How are we going to change American policy so as to encourage change in Bahraini policy?

3. “Yemen, where President Saleh needs to follow through on his commitment to transfer power.” It is pretty clear that President Saleh has no intention of doing this. How are we going to change American policy so as to encourage change in Saleh’s attitude?

4. And then there is the perennial destroyer of America’s perennially declared good intentions – Israel. “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed [land] swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.” On the other hand, “Israel must be able to defend itself – by itself – against any threat.” In addition, “ultimately, it is up to the Israelis and Palestinians to take action. No peace can be imposed upon them.” What does all this mean? It means that President Obama might personally feel that the Israelis should stop stalling and give the Palestinians a fair and just peace, but as a politician he does not have the strength to make them do it. I guess we should give the president credit for having the courage to state his mind here. However, the administration as a whole hasn’t got the will power to carry through on this resolution.

That leaves the Israelis off the hook. Prime Minister Netanyahu wasted no time calling the bluff. There will be no Palestinian state at the “expense of Israeli existence.” And, the Israelis can’t go back to the 1967 lines because those lines are “indefensible.” That is “the reality” of things. This, of course, is nonsense. Those borders have been repeatedly defended in more than successful fashion. If the 1967 borders were not defensible, Israeli settlements would not be sitting east of those lines, in the West Bank and Golan Heights. If those borders were not defensible, the Gaza Strip could not be suffocated by an illegal blockade as it now is, and Lebanon would be moving Palestinian refugees back into the Galilee. Netanyahu is making up his own “reality” here and it is the U.S. who has given him the power to insist that everyone else, even his patron, play by his rules. That is the sort of monster we have helped create.

Part III

So there we have it. Real new year’s resolutions, those that really do establish “new chapters” in our lives, are all about will power. And, when it comes to “our friends in the region” we have damn little will power. It isn’t that there aren’t behavioral/policy changes we could make to create that “new chapter in American diplomacy.” It is just a question of carrying through. Here are a few of the steps the U.S. government could take, if it had the will power to do so, to transform resolutions into realty:

1. Stop the arms sales. While we tell the Bahraini Monarchy that they “must” dialogue with their opposition, we are giving them $19.5 million dollars worth of weapons in 2011. With that kind of aid they can simply carry on arresting or murdering all the people they are suppose to talk to. Also, when it comes to Bahrain, threaten to close down our naval base there. A similar situation exists with Yemen. While we tell the Yemeni president that he “needs to” transfer power, we are giving his security forces $116 million in weapons in 2011. What sort of mixed message is this? If we want to create that wonderful new chapter in diplomacy, cancel the weapons deals. Actually there is some indication that Congress is taking a second look at these sales, but not because of any desire to help along those seeking “self-determination-the chance to make of life what we will.” No, what is worrying the Congress is that, if our friends the dictators fall, American weapons will end up in the hands of the Iranians, or maybe even Al Qaida. Here is that disconnect between U.S. diplomacy and the promotion of democracy. Maybe the House and Senate Foreign Relations Committees don’t have the same new year’s resolutions as the president.

2. Act on what authority the president has to distance the U.S. from Israel. Israel is due to get $3.075 billion for weapons from the U.S. in 2012. Unfortunately, Congress will make sure the Zionists get that bonanza whatever President Obama’s wishes. But there are other things Obama can do to send a message to the Israelis that it is not just business as usual. For instance, as Commander and Chief he can call a halt to all U.S.-Israeli joint military activities. He can shut the Israelis out of any intelligence sharing. He can certainly stop protecting the Middle East’s most consistent and long standing violator of human rights when it comes to the UN Security Council. But he won’t. Hell will freeze over before the U.S. “stands squarely on the side of [the Palestinians who] are reaching for their rights.” There is no will power for this one. It is doomed.

3. The president and his staff can push a citizens’ awareness campaign about the importance of foreign policy. About why the public should pay attention to it, how it is formulated (particularly the role of lobbies), what “blowback” comes from present policy positions and why it does so. We can throw in the defining of national interest as against the parochial interests of particular groups, as well.

Part IV

One wonders just who a speech like this is for? Is it the people of the Middle East? Their historical experience of Western foreign policy, including that of the United States, is one of repeated disappointment. They have been lied to too many times to count. They have been lied to even when the liar does not know he is lying (one thinks of the experience of T.E. Lawrence in this regard and this may or may not be the case with Obama as well). So, my guess is that most of the people in the region who listened to the May 19th speech will come away filled with skepticism. Their response will almost certainly be, “prove it Mr. President.” Show us the will power to bring that “new chapter” from idealized theory into practice.

Or, is the speech largely for the American people? If so, most will be somewhat taken aback. What is this talk of a “new chapter in American diplomacy” all about? We thought that supporting democracy has always been the policy! Confusion. The Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, won’t let the discussion go in the direction of clearing the confusion up. Rather they will nit pick the speech to death, concentrating on that bit about Israel and the 1967 border. Prime Minister Netanyahu is in town to help them do just that. Pretty soon the American people will lose interest. After all, they as most people everywhere, are not too interested in far away places. Unless it is explained to them, they don’t see how it impacts their lives (all more so now that bin Laden is dead). My guess is that Obama’s speech, except for references to Israel’s borders, is old news in a week’s time.

The last word goes to one of the fathers of classical conservatism, Edmund Burke, who pointed out that “a state without the means to change is without the means of its conservation.” Need one say more?

 

Dr. Lawrence Davidson

Dr. Lawrence Davidson

Dr. Lawrence Davidson is professor of history at West Chester University. He is the author of numerous books, including Islamic Fundamentalism and America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood.

The author is a regular contributor to RamallahOnline.com.More articles can be found on RamallahOnline.com, Logos Journal, and Dr. Davidson also maintains an online blog, you can find it at http://www.tothepointanalyses.com