Till September: The PA’s Meaningless Deadlines

Long Lives the Will of the People
Long Lives the Will of the People

Long Lives the Will of the People

Ramzy Baroud 26 Feb 2011

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his supporters in the Fatah party want us to believe that dramatic changes are underway in the occupied Palestinian territories.

This is part of a strategy intended to offset any public dissatisfaction with the self-designated Palestinian leadership in the West Bank. The PA hopes the ‘news’ will create enough distraction to help it survive the current climate of major public-regime showdowns engulfing the Middle East.

Anticipating a potential popular uprising in the occupied territories – which could result in a major revamping of the current power, to the disadvantage of Abbas – the PA is now taking preventive measures.

First, there was the resignation of the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Ereka on February 12. Erekat was clearly implicated in negotiating, if not squandering, Palestinian rights in successive meetings with Israeli and American officials. This was revealed through nearly 1,600 leaked documents, which Aljazeera and the Guardian termed the ‘Palestine Papers’.

Erekat was hardly representing himself, as he readily gave away much territory, including most of Jerusalem. He also agreed to a symbolic return of Palestinian refugees to their land, now part of today’s Israel. By keeping his post, the entire PA ‘peace process’ apparatus would have remained ineffective at best, and at worst entirely self-seeking, showing no regard whatsoever for Palestinian rights.

With Erekat’s exit, the PA hopes to retain a margin of credibility among Palestinians.

Erekat, who made his entrance to the world of ‘peace process’ at the Madrid peace conference in 1991, opted out in a way that conceded no guilt. He claimed to have left merely because the leak happened through his office. The PA expects us to believe that, unlike other Arab governments, it functions in a transparent and self-correcting manner. Erekat wants to be seen as an “example of accountability”, according to the Washington Post (February 16). He claimed: “I’m making myself pay the price for the mistake I committed, my negligence. These are the ethics and the standards. Palestinian officials need to start putting them in their minds.”

The message is neatly coined, although it belittles the real issue at stake. This has caused much outrage in Palestinian intellectual, political and public circles. Negligence is one thing, and relinquishing a people’s rights is another entirely.

Two days after Erekat’s departure, the PA cabinet in the West Bank also suddenly resigned. The cabinet had met earlier that day, and its Prime Minister Salam Fayyad then submitted his resignation to President Abbas. The latter, in turn, accepted the resignation and immediately reappointed Fayyad to form a new government. An exercise in futility? Of course, but for a good reason.

The resignation was merely tactical. It aimed at quelling the current popular discontent and preventing it from spilling over into street protests. But it was also tactless, for it reintroduced the very man who formed the old government to assemble a new one. If indeed Fayyad’s political performance was lacking – and thus deserving of rebuke and mass resignation – then what is the point of putting the same man in charge of yet another phase of inefficiency and ineffectiveness?

The dramatic move was meant to show the people that the PA did not need a popular uprising to initiate reforms and change. Fayyad was reappointed because he is valuable to the current political structure of the PA, and he’s also the most trusted Palestinian official as far as the US is concerned.

Then, on top of all this, the PA cleverly set September as a deadline for elections in the occupied territories. This date acquired a compounded value when Western officials began assigning other great expectations to September as well. One such call was made by EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, who expressed her hopes – along with those of the ‘international community’ – that a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians would be reached by September.

Based on the current political reality – a rejectionist Israeli front, a Palestinian front that is polarized and largely self-seeking, and a US-led Western front that is incapable of doing much more than pressing the Palestinians for more concessions – we know only too well that no peace will come in September.

Abbas, a pragmatic man by his own admission, knows this as well. The September deadline is largely aimed at creating further distraction. If all eyes are focused on that date, there will be no need to worry about the here and now.

But September is also not too far off, a reality that calls for some early steps. Hamas expectedly rejected the call for elections without a platform of political and territorial unity. Why should Hamas get involved in another election if any unfavorable outcome will only bring further punishment to the Palestinian people? A sound concern, of course, but that rejection allowed Abbas, on February 17, to condition the elections based on Hamas’ participation. In other words, Hamas is once more positioned as the hurdle that stands between the Palestinians and unity, political normalcy and democracy. Now Hamas will be continually derided for delaying the ‘Palestinian national project’, until September leisurely arrives and disappears, leaving behind no mark of meaningful change.

Abbas and his trusted men already know the outcome of this endeavor. In their defense, the strategy also has little to do with September, elections or Hamas’ position. It is aimed at deepening the divide among Palestinians, and distract from the main problem, which is the fact that the PA serves no purpose other than managing the administrative side of the Israeli military occupation. The PA is devoid of any national value to the Palestinian people, and only serves the interests of those involved in subjugating them. The Palestinians are now required to move past this dismal political moment and seek an alternative – an all-inclusive, representative and truly democratic institution to lead the next stage in their fight for freedom.

The PA wants to stall until September. But will Palestinians wait that long?

- Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, LondonS), available on Amazon.com.

A House Surrounded on all Sides

Plans to surround Omar’s house.
Palestine Monitor, 16 February 2011
After the Israeli Courts ruled against the demolition of Omar Hajaj’s home in Al Walajah, the Ministry of Defense ordered to surround his home with an electronic fence. If the plans are implemented, Omar and his family will be virtually entirely cut off from his village and surrounding land.

Omar Hajaj is a 45-year-old day laborer in Israel, living with his wife, three sons (ages one, five, and ten-years old) and his father’s wife in Al Walajah. Al Walajaha is a village of approximately 2000 inhabitants and lies just North of Bethlehem. Nowadays, this family is facing one of the most unique cases: the Israeli army wants to surround his home with an electronic fence, that if touched will send a signal to Israeli military authorities. The Israeli Ministry of Defense considers this house to be built on the wrong side of the road, which separates the Jerusalem District from the West Bank. Originally, the Ministry of Defense had ordered his house to be demolished, but the Israeli Court struck this down. In response, the Israeli Ministry of Defense has ordered the house to be surrounded with a fence and a special corridor with four gates leading Omar to the West Bank.

Plans to surround Omar’s house.

Plans to surround Omar’s house.

What follows is his story.

My family was living in the old village of Al-Walaja until 1948, until Israel ordered us to leave, demolished our houses and relocated the village to the other side of the valley. But we always hoped we would come back to the original village. So my parents built this small house in 1948, and progressively extended it as the family grew.

In 2000, we received an order from the Israeli authorities to demolish the house arguing it was built without permit. We were in the court for 6 years, and during that time the bulldozers stayed straight in front of the house, waiting the official order to raze our life. The army harassed and pressured my family; the soldiers would enter our house on a daily basis, sometimes twice a day, threatening us, claiming that we did not have the right to live there because we are from the West Bank whereas our house is built in the Jerusalem district. They used to take our ID and to lead us to the other side of the street, which is considered in the West Bank.

In 2006, we finally got the fruits of our struggle when the Israeli court of Jerusalem ruled that the demolition was not justified. I was so happy; I remember I went to the soldiers with the document and I told them they could not enter my house anymore, it was now “officially” my land. The soldiers were baffled; they called their commandant who confirmed with them that I had won the case. After that, they didn’t harass us for a while.

But unfortunately, they never really left us.

In early 2010, they started building the wall in Al Walajah. In May, I received an official visit of representatives from the Minister of Interior, the vice Minister of Defense and an engineer to explain to me they received an order that my house has to be surrounded with an electric fence built 10 meters along each side of my house. We will have to pass through four gates. We will of course have to wait to enter and exit the house.

Moreover, only my car will be allowed to enter my land i.e. to pass through the gates, and we could have guest for a very limited time but no one can sleep over except us. It means that anytime my children are back from school, anytime they want to play outside with their friends, anytime I forget to buy bread, anytime there is an emergency, we will have to pass through this “checkpoint”… I cannot even believe it and they even asked me to sign the paper allowing this! When my lawyer requested a map of the wall plan that will surround my house, the army refused to give it.

Three months ago, the Israeli High Court of Justice suspended construction of the wall. From now we work on opening personal cases. But many villagers are not motivated anymore. On 45 cases directly affected by the building of the Separation Wall, only 28 applied. I believe that we have to keep struggling. I was born here and my children were born here. I have spent my entire life here. I want for us all to be able to die on this land. I belong to this land. We are a nation that deserves a land. Even if I have to pass through 4 gates to exit my house, I will not leave.

 

RELATED

WATCH: The Battle for Al-Walaja

Palestine Monitor 23 November 2010

In a small Palestinian village between the ancient cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem, lies the village of Al Walaja.

In early 2010, the Israeli military entered the village to oversee the confiscation of Palestinian land for the construction of Israel’s separation barrier, in defiance of international law.

In the months that followed, the people of Al Walaja, with support from Israeli and international activists, began a spirited campaign of non-violent resistance to put a stop to the theft of their land.

Written, directed and produced by Aaron Fernandes.

Featuring in depth interviews with the people at the front of the struggle,”Against the Wall: the Battle for Al Walaja” offers a rare insight into the proud struggle of a small community against near impossible odds.

If Israel pushes ahead with the current plans for the wall’s construction, the village will be surrounded on all sides by concrete and barbed wire, forming an open air prison, with only one entry and exit point under military control.

As yet, both the wave of demonstrations and appeals to the Israeli Supreme Court have not stopped the construction, and several villagers have lost land whilst others have been arrested for demonstrating their opposition.

Yet despite the threat of intimidation and arrest and the ongoing construction which continues to date, the villagers are refusing to back down from their peaceful protests.

Excellent background and history. Watch peaceful demonstrators being savagely attacked by Israeli soldiers

Sources from Palestine Monitor

‘Um, You’ve Got an Olive in Your Hijab’

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Christopher Cottrell

During the olive harvest season in Beit Umreen, a northern village in the Occupied West Bank, many families’ daily routines shift to the vast green hillsides and fields peppered with olive trees.

The delectable fruit and the precious oil it produces represent a staple income source for many rural Palestinians. Grossing around 25 Sheikels per kilo, a family can earn around $900 per day harvesting olives.

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(For me, the sound of olives plopping onto the plastic tarps below reminded of raindrops on a tin roof, but I’m sure others also hear the “ka-ching” of a cash register.)

A tree is relinquished of its fruit by first beating the branches with hardwood sticks. Any leftover olives are then picked out by hand.

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Nestled within dusty branches, the vibrant green and purple olives are easy to spot.

The leaves and sticks are eventually sorted out, leaving just the olives to be poured into a burlap sack.

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After an hour of work, we reclined in the shade of an olive tree and ate pomegranates, falafel and za’atar – a Middle Eastern spice made from thyme, salt and toasted sesame seeds.

My friends’ mother gathered fallen olive tree branches and made a fire for tea. Passing me the first steaming cup, I saw that her hands were worn from many harvests past.

The serenity of our break was interrupted every few minutes by the sound of passing cars, their drivers honking to greet neighbors in adjacent fields.

Anytime a car drove by I instinctively checked the color of the license plate (yellow would have meant Israeli settlers). Especially during the olive harvest season, settlers frequently attack Palestinian farmers, often razing crops in their wake.

International activists often visit the Occupied West Bank during the olive harvest. The extra manpower reduces the amount of time farmers spend exposed in their fields and the mere presence of foreigners is sometimes enough to deter settler attacks.

In the past, even Israeli rabbis have come to the defense of Palestinian farmers. Just last month, Jewish settlers clashed with activists of the Rabbis for Human Rights movement near the southern city of Hebron.

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “activists were going to 40 Palestinian villages to protect olive growers and uphold their right to work the land, and harvest. They would act ‘as human shields’ if necessary.”

Christopher Cottrell is an independent American journalist based out of Nablus. Currently working as a part-time volunteer at An-Najah National University working with journalism students. You may also follow Chris at www.chris-cottrell.com.

Olive Harvest

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img_1788

Christopher Cottrell

During the olive harvest season in Beit Umreen, a northern village in the Occupied West Bank, many families’ daily routines shift to the vast green hillsides and fields peppered with olive trees.

The delectable fruit and the precious oil it produces represent a staple income source for many rural Palestinians. Grossing around 25 Sheikels per kilo, a family can earn around $900 per day harvesting olives.

img_1777

(For me, the sound of olives plopping onto the plastic tarps below reminded of raindrops on a tin roof, but I’m sure others also hear the “ka-ching” of a cash register.)

A tree is relinquished of its fruit by first beating the branches with hardwood sticks. Any leftover olives are then picked out by hand.

img_17821

Nestled within dusty branches, the vibrant green and purple olives are easy to spot.

The leaves and sticks are eventually sorted out, leaving just the olives to be poured into a burlap sack.

screen-shot-2010-10-29-at-11-26-33-pm

After an hour of work, we reclined in the shade of an olive tree and ate pomegranates, falafel and za’atar – a Middle Eastern spice made from thyme, salt and toasted sesame seeds.

My friends’ mother gathered fallen olive tree branches and made a fire for tea. Passing me the first steaming cup, I saw that her hands were worn from many harvests past.

The serenity of our break was interrupted every few minutes by the sound of passing cars, their drivers honking to greet neighbors in adjacent fields.

Anytime a car drove by I instinctively checked the color of the license plate (yellow would have meant Israeli settlers). Especially during the olive harvest season, settlers frequently attack Palestinian farmers, often razing crops in their wake.

International activists often visit the Occupied West Bank during the olive harvest. The extra manpower reduces the amount of time farmers spend exposed in their fields and the mere presence of foreigners is sometimes enough to deter settler attacks.

In the past, even Israeli rabbis have come to the defense of Palestinian farmers. Just last month, Jewish settlers clashed with activists of the Rabbis for Human Rights movement near the southern city of Hebron.

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “activists were going to 40 Palestinian villages to protect olive growers and uphold their right to work the land, and harvest. They would act ‘as human shields’ if necessary.”

Christopher Cottrell is an independent American journalist based out of Nablus.  Currently working as a part-time volunteer at An-Najah National University working with  journalism students. You may also follow Chris  at  www.chris-cottrell.com.

Life in Palestinian Refugee Camps

Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman, 24 Oct 2010

Besides mass slaughter and destruction, wars create refugees, millions at times, uprooted, displaced and homeless, on their own somehow to survive. Israel’s “War of Independence” was no different, dispossessing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, a story Western media reports don’t explain or even mention.

In his book, “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story,” Ramzy Baroud recounted his father Mohammed’s story. Born in 1938 in Beit Daras village, he saw it conquered, leveled and erased, except from the memory he took to his grave. A captive in his own land, he lived years as a Gaza Nuseirat camp refugee, raising his family including son Ramzy, dreaming always of going home, struggling as a freedom fighter to end decades of conflict, violence, occupation, and oppression, what Edward Said called “a slow death,” shattered hopes, and inexorable toll of its incalculable horror to so many.

Spanning over seven decades of history and survivor recollections, it tells a powerful firsthand story of those who lived it, not the airbrushed Western version of the new Israeli state, born in blood, mass slaughter, destruction, and displacement of hundreds of thousands of survivors, to this day oppressed, harassed, intimidated, humiliated, attacked and arrested for being Muslims, not Jews on their own land, in their own country, illegally occupied for decades.

In his book “Behind the Wall: Life, Love, and Struggle in Palestine,” Rick Wiles recounts other refugee stories, people he encountered firsthand in the West Bank, connecting them to their original villages, expulsion, daily life and dreams of return.

Abu Gaush shared his own 1967 experience, saying:

During the Six Day War, “My family fled to the mountains as we were frightened that 1948 was happening all over again….The soldiers emptied all the houses in the villages and forced everyone out onto the streets. The only direction left was to Ramallah, and they told us to go there. Other soldiers were saying, ‘Go to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) – all land before there is ours – and if you stop before (arriving), we will kill you.’ ”

Including poignant photos, Wiles’ book includes seven sections, discussing: Memories of Exile, The Wall, The Spirit of Resistance, Purity and Love, Land of Palestine, Strength and Sumoud (steadfastness), and Dreams of Return, including his final image of a grandfather giving his original home’s key to his son, symbolic of the continuing right to return struggle, what won’t ever stop until succeeding.

Numbers of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons

Al Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, says Palestinian refugees today are the world’s “longest suffering and largest refugee population.” In its January 2010 report titled, “Survey of Palestinian Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, 2008 – 2009,” the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights (BRC) calls them “the largest and longest-standing case of forced displacement in the world today,” numbering 9.8 million, increasing by about 100,000 a year.

Most are refugees, another 450,000 internally displaced. For over six decades, they’ve been denied solutions and reparations for their rights under international law and UN resolutions. An earlier article discussed BRC’s report in detail, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/05/palestinian-refugees-and-internally.html

Life in Occupied Camps

Besides those internally displaced, Palestinians have lived in forced exile for decades throughout the world, most within 100 km of their original homes. Those in camps comprise about 21% of the total. Hundreds of thousands of others are in 17 unofficial camps in Occupied Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. About 79% live outside UNRWA’s 58 camps, including many in West Bank villages and cities, about 100 locales comprising over half the population.

In 2008, the European University Institute’s Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies published a report titled, “Palestine Refugee Camps: Disciplinary Space and Territory of Exception,” examining daily camp life in 59 camps: 19 in the West Bank, 8 in Gaza, 12 in Lebanon, 10 in Jordan, and 10 in Syria. Saying they’re not “natural” settings, they become “slum areas” or under-developed urban sprawls, some “open spaces,” others “closed.”

In Lebanon, for example, “the gap between the numbers of camp and urban refugee dwellers….is enormous,” compared to Jordan and Syria where differences are minimal, yet even “country-by-country analysis does not in any way suggest internal homogeneity, because the question of camp locations within the different countries matters as well.”

Some are more urban, other peripheral or rural, the differences among them huge, including job discrimination, poverty, and overall conditions. According to Norweigian Institute for Applied Social Science surveys in Jordan and Syria, Palestinian refugee living conditions for those outside camps differ little from host country populations. In camps, however, it’s worse, especially in Lebanon. Education there is one of many problems, 60% of 18 – 29 year old Palestinians not finishing school.

In Lebanon and Jordan, 60% of camp homes lack proper sanitary installations for safe drinking water. Population density is a major issue, too many people occupying too little space, creating an enormous environmental and public health problem. Buildings are crammed together in narrow alleys, with little natural light, exposure to hazardous substances, inadequate temperature control, and poor ventilation. In Lebanon, the infant mortality rate is 239 per 100,000 births, and chronic infant illnesses are up to three times higher than the country’s norm.

The Schuman Centre’s study preceded Cast Lead, so its Gaza analysis needed updating. The war displaced up to 90,000 people and caused mass destruction. Yet little reconstruction is possible with the Strip under siege and virtually all needed materials and spare parts banned. In addition, three years of closure wrecked Gaza’s economy, and sent unemployment and poverty levels soaring – the former up to 65%, the latter 80% with 96% of the Strip’s industrial capacity shuttered, leaving well over 80% of the population aid-dependent. Three-fourths of Gazans live in camps, but all of them get below minimal amounts of everything, struggling daily to survive.

Overall, Palestinians see camps as “symbols of illegitimacy,” a disconnected gray zone under occupation conditions. Of the 4.8 million registered by UNWRA, about 1.2 million live in Gaza, another 800,000 in the West Bank in 27 camps – 19 in the West Bank, 8 in Gaza, the rest in towns and villages.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), their 2009 dependency ratio is 85.3% in Gaza and 72.1% in the West Bank. High unemployment and poverty remain grave in both areas, especially in Gaza. So does public health and malnutrition, causing growing levels of illnesses and chronic diseases.

UNWRA calls the refugee population “victims of health inequalities,” the occupation, of course, the main contributor, resulting in a chronic imbalance between needs and demands on the one hand, and resources and other constraints on the other. Healthcare, personal safety, legal and political protection, and human welfare are fundamental human rights. Under occupation, they’re consistently denied, especially in Gaza under siege.

Despite established laws, no international body has an explicit mandate to protect Palestinian refugees. After the 1948 Nakba, the UN Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP), UNWRA, and later the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were supposed to provide aid, protection, and reparations, but supplied little. In addition, UN agencies, the ICRC, and world community, in deference to Israel, avoided durable solutions, including their obligation to enforce binding international law provisions.

Moreover, refugees are seen more as needing humanitarian aid than having mandated rights, even though international law protects them, including their “inalienable right” of return. As a result, displaced Palestinians remain among the world’s most neglected, abused people, including diaspora ones (the majority) excluded from the political process and peace negotiations.

The Palestinian National Authority (PA) represents those in the Territories alone, but, in fact, given the Hamas/Fatah split, only West Bank and East Jerusalemites. Most Palestinians are thus disenfranchised. As a result, a volunteer Civitas participant, a collective research project on exiled Palestinian communities, expressed her frustration, saying:

“Before the peace treaties, Palestinian political parties were more effective, and we had a voice: we worked properly! We made our voice heard to the entire world. But the world now hears only the voice of the Palestinian president, and his prime minister. As a citizen, I no longer have a voice. His voice is enough, (and he collaborates with Israel. Earlier) my voice was heard. If….peace….silence(s) me then I don’t want it!”

Diaspora and internal refugees demand their legal rights. Those in Gaza and the West Bank can challenge their occupier directly. Those outside cannot. Without legal documents, passports, travel rights, identity papers, electoral involvement, and ownership and inheritance entitlements, they can’t seek redress for decades of injustice, what Israel all along has denied, unchallenged by PA officials. Unless their collective voices are heard, the conflict’s historical roots and their rights will go unaddressed, and they’ll remain the world’s “longest suffering and largest refugee population.”

Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com 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.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/

Zionism and Peace Are Incompatible

Alan Hart

Alan Hart, AlanHart.net, 22 Oct 2010

At last somebody has said it in the most explicit way possible. The somebody also said: “The problem is Zionism and the solution is dismantling the Zionist framework and instituting a secular democracy that does not discriminate between Israelis and Palestinians.”

The somebody was Miko Peled, a Jewish peace activist who was born in Israel and lives in America.

He is the son of an Israeli war hero, Matti Peled, who was a young officer in the war of 1948 and a general in the war of 1967. After that war, General Peled signalled his own commitment to truth by rubbishing Zionism’s version of events. He did so with the statement that there was not a threat to Israel’s existence and that it was a war of Israeli choice (i.e. aggression not self-defense). General Peled was also one of a number of prominent Jews who called soon after the 1967 war for the immediate establishment of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

In his latest article from which my headline for this piece was extracted, Miko says that the two-state solution was clearly viable 40 years ago, but today…? He writes (my emphasis added):
“Now the West Bank is riddled with towns and malls and highways built on Palestinian land for Jews only and Israeli cabinet members openly discuss population transfers, or rather transfer of its non-Jewish population. The level of oppression and the intensity of the violence against Palestinians has reached new heights… Discussing the two-state solution now under these conditions shows an acute inability to accept reality… There is an illusion that a liberal, forward thinking government can rise in Israel and then everything will be just as liberal Zionists wish it to be. They will pick up where Rabin and Arafat left off and we will have the pie in sky Jewish democracy liberal Jews want so much to see in Israel. This illusion is shared by American Jews, liberal Zionists in Israel and around the world and in the West where guilt of two millennia of persecuting Jews still haunts the conscience of many. If only there were better leaders and if only this and if only that… But alas, reality continues to slap everyone in the face: Zionism and peace are incompatible. I will say it again, Zionism and peace are incompatible.”

Miko adds that serious study of the history of modern Israel shows that “the emergence of Netanyahu and Lieberman was perfectly predictable.”

I agree and offer this summary explanation of why.

Zionism is not only Jewish nationalism which created a state in the Arab heartland mainly by terrorism and ethnic cleansing. It is also a pathological mindset. In the deluded Zionist mind the world was always anti-Jew and always will be. It follows that Holocaust II (shorthand for another great turning against Jews) is inevitable. It follows that there can be no limits to what Zionism will do in order to preserve nuclear-armed Greater Israel as a refuge of last resort for all Jews everywhere when the world turns against them.

When I was reflecting on Miko’s main point, that Zionism and peace are incompatible, I found myself wondering why really it is that American presidents will not use the leverage they have to try to call the Zionist state to account for its crimes when doing so would clearly be in America’s own best interests.

I’m beginning to think that the awesome influence of the Zionist lobby and its stooges in Congress is not the complete answer. And the question I am asking myself is this: Could it be that all American presidents know there is nothing nuclear-armed Israeli leaders would not do if they were seriously pressed to make peace on terms which they believed in their own deluded minds would put Israel’s security at risk? Always in my own mind is what Prime Minister Golda Meir said to me in a BBC Panorama interview and from which I quote in my book – in a doomsday situation Israel “would be prepared to take the region and the whole world down with it.”

If it is the case that American presidents are frightened of provoking Israel, the conclusion would have to be that the Zionist state is a monster beyond control and that all efforts for peace are doomed to failure.

Is the situation really as bad as that?

My own answer is yes. But there are some observers who think that after the mid-term elections in America there might be one more opportunity for President Obama to bring enough Israelis to their senses in order to give peace its very last chance.

This new hope has been inspired, apparently, by reports of a forthcoming Palestinian (and presumably wider Arab) initiative to have the Security Council recognize Palestinian independence within the 1967 borders.

In Ha’aretz on 20 October, Aluf Benn wrote this:

Israel’s diplomacy has reached a turning point. Instead of dealing with the failed direct talks, from this point Israel will be orchestrating a diplomatic holding action against the Palestinian initiative to have the UN Security Council recognize Palestinian independence within the 1967 borders. Such a decision would deem Israel an invader and occupier, paving the way for measures against Israel. Obama could scuttle the process by casting an American veto. Would he do it? And at what price?

Barak is warning Netanyahu that Obama is determined to establish a Palestinian state, even if it requires political risks. The president doesn’t have to come out publicly against Israel, but can simply stand on the sidelines when the Security Council recognizes Palestine. The international movement to boycott Israel will gain massive encouragement when Europe, China and India turn their backs on Israel and erode the last remnants of its legitimacy. Gradually the Israeli public will also feel the diplomatic and economic stranglehold.

It’s not certain that this will happen.

We shall see.

Alan Hart

Alan Hart

Alan Hart has been engaged with events in the Middle East and their global consequences and terrifying implications – the possibility of a Clash of Civilisations, Judeo-Christian v Islamic, and, along the way, another great turning against the Jews – for nearly 40 years…

Alan maintains an online blog with a wealth of articles that can be found here http://www.alanhart.net/

Platini: ’I’ll Kick Israel Out Of Europe’

French soccer legend Michel Platini (C),

Palestine Monitor, 2 October 2010

The UEFA President has taken a tough stance, “Israel must choose between allowing Palestinian sport to continue and prosper or be forced to face the consequences for their behaviour.”

Michel Platini, president of European football’s ruling body, threatened Israel with expulsion from the union if it continues to undermine football in Palestine. His comments this week were prompted by Israel’s refusal to allow six of the Palestinian national team to travel from Gaza to a match with Mauritania in August.

Israeli spokesmen said the players were denied access for “security reasons”, claiming they did not have the correct permit. Protests were held in the West Bank town of Al-Ram and Palestinian Football Federation (PFF) President Djibril Rajoub vowed to take the matter further and “demand the removal of Israel from international sporting organizations.”

Following a conversation with Rajoub, Platini, president of the European Union of Football Associations (Uefa), took a strong stance on Israel’s restrictions. “We accepted them in Europe and furnished them with the conditions for membership and they must respect the letter of the laws and international regulations otherwise there is no justification for them to remain in Europe”, he said. “Israel must choose between allowing Palestinian sport to continue and prosper or be forced to face the consequences for their behaviour.” Platini added that International Football Federation (FIFA) chief Sepp Blatter had struck a similar tone during a private phone conversation

Palestinian football has been frequently disrupted by policies of the occupation, although informally there are agreements to leave it untouched as a “humanitarian gesture”. The domestic league season is often shut down prematurely; only seven seasons have been completed since 1977 and players are commonly subjected to harassment and violence. Two national team players from Gaza, Ayman Alkurd and Wajeh Moshate, were killed during Operation Cast Lead and the national stadium was destroyed by Israeli bombs.

Despite the problems, the PFF has been flourishing of late. In 2008, the men’s national team played its first match on home soil, and a year later 15,000 watched the women’s team take on Jordan. Both have gone on to enjoy some creditable results and FIFA conferred its development award on Palestine in 2008 “in recognition of the difficult task that it had accomplished in keeping football alive”.

With membership of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), already secured, and European Union (EU) acceptance seeming more likely, Platini’s comments represent a momentum check for Israel. Rejection from European football, which they have participated in since receiving a special invitation in 1994, would be a damaging blow to Israel’s standing in its adopted continent.

The matter will be discussed at a special Uefa meeting in Belarus in October.

Read more about football in Palestine http://www.palestinemonitor.org/spi…

Happy smiling faces?

smiley5

Marian Houk, 20 August 2010

A new crop of billboards has gone up at strategic locations around Ramallah — that is, at the entrances to the city, where diplomats from donor countries is most likely to see them.

The second target seems to be the cadres of the Palestinian Authority’s various Ramallah-based ministries.

The billboards, sponsored by USAID, show headshots of various young people. Next to their faces are [in Arabic] the words:
“I’m very happy…about my new school…”etc.

This promotional campaign must have cost many, many tens if not hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars.

The new schools (seven of them, constructed by USAID and handed over to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank in 2009) are great.

These USAID ads — are stupid and embarassing.

A few hours after these billboards were visible, the U.S. announced that invitations were being sent to Israel and to the current Palestinian leadership in Ramallah to come to Washington D.C. on 2 September for a [re]-launch of direct talks.

As the inevitable became apparent, Palestinian-American businessman Sam Bahour wrote on The Hill blog that “Palestine’s investment community remains in a wait-and-see mode. More peace talks will not spark the significant investments required to build an economy that can serve an emerging state. Serious state-building economic development requires land, water, access, movement, ports, and spectrum, which Israel remains in full control of today. My clients, and many like them, refuse to be misled, yet again, by another round of empty talk from politicians as settlements go up in East Jerusalem … Israelis and Palestinians have agreed to enter direct negotiations (yet again) in Washington on September 2 … The lead-up to these talks saw both Palestinian and Israeli leaders touting economic growth as a prelude to moving the political process forward. The growth they cite is hard to comprehend … the economy is micro-managed by a foreign military. Yet leaders, foreign and domestic, laud the temporary West Bank economic growth that results from a brief respite in a harsh crackdown. Very few in the U.S. Congress have done their homework to gauge if US policy is helping or actively impeding the prospects for peace. One brave congressman who has gone the extra mile is Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA). Rep. Baird sets a prime example of a legislator willing to challenge the current unhelpful US path. At a recent speaking engagement organized by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Baird advocated that his colleagues visit the West Bank and Gaza and see firsthand the results of the current policy. He noted that ‘they’re certainly ignorant about what’s happening on the ground in Gaza because they’ve never been’ and they’re nearly as ‘ignorant about what’s happening in the West Bank because they haven’t been to a checkpoint…” Sam Bahour’s analysis is posted here.

  • Marian Houk is the Editor of UN-Truth news site. She is a Member of the Online News Association, Member of the Foreign Correspondents Association (in Israel) and Marian Houk is a past President (1986) of the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) at UNHQ/NY

Impact of Israeli Military Order No. 1650

Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman, 18 August 2010

Located at the European University Institute (EUI), the Robert Schuman Center for Advanced Studies (RSCAS) conducts “inter-disciplinary and comparative research (on) major issues facing the process of integration and European society.”

Prepared by Asem Khalil, its new report is titled, “Impact of Israeli Military Order No. 1650 on Palestinians’ Rights to Legally Reside in Their Own Country,” accessed through the following link:
CARIM_ASN_2010_46

Taking effect in April 2010, it defined all West Bank residents as “infiltrators” (including native born ones), requiring they get IDF-issued permits.

Order No. 1650 (Prevention of Infiltration) and Order No. 1949 (Security Provisions) were issued in October 2009 as amendments to a 1969 Order No. 329 (Order regarding Prevention of Infiltration), declaring “infiltrator” state enemies from Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon would be imprisoned and/or deported.

Potentially, all West Bank and East Jerusalemites risk dispossession and expulsion, part of Israel’s longstanding policy to seize all parts of Palestine it wishes, removing indigenous Arabs from their homeland illegally, controlling those remaining under an oppressive apartheid system critics call worse than South Africa’s with good reason.

It’s a sophisticated form of social, economic, political and racial discrimination, strangulation, and genocide, incorporating the worst elements of colonialism and apartheid as well as repressive dispossession, displacement, and state terrorism to separate Palestinians from their land and heritage, deny them their civil and human rights, and gradually remove or eliminate them altogether.

Apartheid is the worst form of racism, Israel’s militarized occupation its most extreme form, incorporating violence, military incursions, land theft, home demolitions, targeted assassinations, indiscriminate murder, mass arrests, torture, destruction of agricultural land, and isolation – measures amounting to slow-motion genocide, including suffocating Gazans under siege.

Military Order No. 1650 amended Order No. 329 (1969), the latter’s 10 sections including sentencing armed and unarmed infiltrators, deporting them, evidence, unlawful stay after permit expirations, and obtaining them under false pretenses.

Order 1650 has nine sections, updating nearly all of Order 329, the latter defining an infiltrator as “a person who entered the Area knowingly and unlawfully after having been present (on) the east bank of the Jordan, Syria, Egypt or Lebanon following the effective date.”

The new order calls an infiltrator “a person who entered the Area unlawfully following the effective date, or a person who is present in the Area and does not lawfully hold a permit.”

Since “knowingly” no longer applies, document irregularities make anyone an infiltrator, subject to expulsion, fines or imprisonment, Israel potentially criminalizing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians as illegals in their home country, unimaginable virtually anywhere else in the world. The new Order corrupts the rule of law, placing all Palestinians at risk. Specifically:

— any Palestinian without an IDF-issued permit is presumed to be an infiltrator;

— the order’s language is broad and vague, giving the military wide discretion;

— this action was handled secretly;

— it violates Fourth Geneva’s Article 49 prohibiting:

“Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country….”

— the military may prosecute, imprison, and/or deport anyone called an infiltrator without judicial review;

— deportations may be executed within 72 hours of order issuances or sooner, and those affected may be imprisoned until deported;

— individuals first affected may be Palestinians Israel wishes to transfer to Gaza, even those born in the West Bank or legally relocated there;

— foreign passport-holding spouses of West Bank residents abroad are likely to be targeted; tens of thousands are affected;

— foreign nationals called infiltrators may be jailed for up to seven years; and

— potentially the entire West Bank/East Jerusalem population is vulnerable.

Regulating Residency Status

The term “resident” was first used in Military Order No. 65 on August 18, 1967, referring to those having permanent residency in the “Area.” Subsequent Orders applied the term to permanent residents “legally” present, dependent on their having been counted in the September 1967 census. Others became immediately “illegal” for lacking lawful documentation. Henceforth to stay, they needed permits and Israeli authorization to work and engage in commercial activities. As a result, many Palestinians were fined, imprisoned or deported.

Those registered (counted) became candidates for ID numbers, strictly regulated by other Orders, including No. 297 (1969), requiring “males over 16 years old” have an ID card always on their presence to show on demand. Females over 16 were “permitted” to request them.

As later amended, they contained name, address, date of birth, gender, religion, nationality, spouse’s name, names and gender of children, and their dates of birth. Order 1206 (1987) issued ID cards to children at birth, their registration linked to mothers, not fathers, perhaps for the greater chance that they were non-residents so authorities could deport them with their parent, Israel having final say. As a result, many children of non-resident parents may be denied registration at the whim of the official in charge.

Regulating Population Access and Exit

In 1967, Palestinians living outside Occupied Palestine and those who fled, can’t return, the determinant being residency based on Israel’s census. Those counted can stay. Others cannot without prior authorization. Those there “illegally” became aliens in their own land, hundreds of thousands displaced (called nazeheen) as a result.

Consider Israel’s logic:

— Area residents can be readmitted through borders;

— qualifying requires being counted in Israel’s census; yet

— to be included depended on Area residency at the time it was taken.

Those absent lost it and couldn’t return to be counted and registered. As a result, many became stateless. Luckier ones got temporary legal stays abroad, then became unlawful once their authorization expired, yet couldn’t return to Palestine.

“Stateless Palestinians, Palestinian refugees, and those denied reentry became ‘illegal’ and ‘unlawful’ – and accordingly undesired – wherever they found themselves, no matter what they did.”

Thereafter, their very existence became suspect, whether in host countries or the Territories. They were trapped in a no man’s land of illegitimacy. Even “legal” residents weren’t secure, their status dependent on satisfying whatever conditions Israel imposed.

Residency alone doesn’t assure legal status; that is, the “right to have rights,” what citizens of other countries enjoy. Israeli military orders explicitly state what non-residents cannot do without authorization. For example, they can’t open, manage or work in any commercial activity with permit permission, “implying what Israel will tolerate residents doing without prior authorization. The fact that they are able to do certain things means that their freedom is not a right.” Rather, it’s what authorities grant.

As a result, restrictions may be imposed at any time for any reason, “even without the explicit suspension of the margins of actions tolerated for legal residents.” For Palestinians, status isn’t an entitlement or a right, making them vulnerable to lose residency at the whim of Israeli officials, what happened to many for “political” or “security” reasons. Others were denied reentry when they exceeded their alloted time abroad abroad or if their travel document expired while there.

Departure through Israel’s airport requires a “Laissez Passer,” requiring renewal within a year. Otherwise residency status is automatically revoked. Palestinians exiting through Jordan’s Allenby Bridge crossing faced the same fate if staying abroad more than six years.

After the Oslo Accords, Palestinians could get a Palestinian Authority (PA) travel document, valid for three years. However, thousands who lost their ID cards before Oslo were considered non-residents, prohibited from entering the Area without (Israeli-issued) permits as visitors, or in some cases, a newly issued ID number if family unification was granted.

As occupier, Israel holds “supreme power” over borders and internal movement, for both residents and non-residents alike.

Family Unification

Those not “legally” registered can only obtain residency status through family unification, what’s extremely hard to get. Otherwise, they need visitor permits for temporary stays, filed indirectly through relatives. Affected persons include:

— Palestinians present but not counted in the 1967 census;

— those the war displaced;

— those outside the Area at the time;

— those whose residency was revoked for overstaying a trip abroad;

— children of residents not duly registered; and

— children of non-resident mothers born between 1987 and 1995.

In all cases, Israel has full authority to grant or deny unifications for any reason. Residency is a privilege, not a right. Even granted, it can be revoked at any time for any reason, Palestinians having no rights in their own land.

Because of restrictive policies and changed rules over time, the number of families affected is high, the largest group being those where one spouse is a non-resident and needs permission to live with the other. At all times, Israel minimizes approvals for political or security reasons, its real agenda to control population growth and reduce it.

Even successful family unifications are complex, long and costly, discouraging many from applying. To enter Occupied Palestine requires temporary visitor permits, granted for three months and requiring renewal. Whenever visitors overstay, they’re illegal, subject to expulsion and denial of future permission. Overall, permit issuance is frozen, 200 short visa extensions only issued in 2007, making the likelihood of family unification slim.

Palestinians of Gaza and East Jerusalem

According to Oslo, the West Bank and Gaza are one unit together with East Jerusalem – what’s, in fact, denied by de facto and de jure separation, hardened with Gaza under siege.

After the 1967 occupation, both Territories were declared closed military areas while Israel annexed East Jerusalem. In 1972, a “general exit permit” was issued, marking a change in movement in Occupied Palestine. In 1991, during the Gulf War, Israel cancelled it. Thereafter, Palestinians who wanted to enter Israel needed permits.

In March 1993, Israel imposed a “general closure” on the Territories, still enforced, making it difficult to change residency from one area to the other. After the second intifada, conditions worsened, Palestinians failing to update their West Bank residency expelled to Gaza, others as punishment, and some prohibited West Bank entry after visiting Gaza.

In 2007, with Hamas in control, Gaza was declared an “enemy entity,” making movement between the Territories nearly impossible. It was also harder to change residency from one area to the other. As a result, Palestinian families holding West Bank and Gaza IDs face similar obstacles to others with non-resident spouses.

Recently, Israel’s High Court rejected a petition challenging the 2003 Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, prohibiting Palestinians from entering Israel and preventing thousands of couples from living normally, most unable to reunite, others residing in Israel without health insurance, work permits, or other social benefits.

According to General Uri Shoham, Israel’s Military Advocate General from 1995 – 2000, “all Israeli governments from 1967 to the present have laid down a strict requirement that all activities of the Israeli military in the control of the Territories must adhere to the principle of ‘the rule of law,’ ” the alternative being John Locke’s 1690 observation that “Whenever law ends, tyranny begins.”

It’s why Israel issued military orders to rule, through law as it claims, no matter how repressive. Contrary to General Shoham, “is this what legality is all about and that this is what rule of law means?” Distinguish instead between “rule by” and “through” law and the rule of law. The former can be called “formal conceptions of legality,” the latter a “substantial conception of legality.”

The former are “value or content-free. Legality is simply converted into respecting certain principles or criteria for making new rules of law and in applying (them) whenever conflict arises.” The latter “look beyond the making and attempt to reach the values behind them.”

Israel uses law and legality to rule by and through law by carrying out discriminatory policies, using military orders to deny Palestinians registration, treat them as aliens in their own land, prohibit reentry, forbid family unifications, and expel, imprison or fine anyone for any reason. That’s how a police state operates, Israeli policy for over 43 years.

As a result, freedom and equality are absent, Palestinians’ basic rights denied. “Only a substantial conception of the rule of law – in which freedom and rights are integrated in the same concept of legality – allows law, especially positive law, to be converted into a tool for discrimination, apartheid and colonialism, and reduces legality to legalism,” a tool for social, economic and political control.

Using “legality,” Israel occupies Palestine oppressively, denying its residents basic freedoms, including civil liberties and human rights, controlled through, not by the rule of law. What must end one day and will. What determined resistance won’t tolerate any other way.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com 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.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/

All Quiet on the Eastern Front

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery, July 31 2010

PEOPLE ENDOWED with sensitive political ears were startled this week by two words, which, so it seemed, escaped from the mouth of Binyamin Netanyahu by accident: “Eastern front”.

Once upon a time these words were part of the everyday vocabulary of the occupation. In recent years they have been gathering dust in the political junkyard.

THE VERBAL couple “Eastern front” was born after the Six-day War. It served to buttress the strategic doctrine that the Jordan River is Israel’s “security border”.

The theory: there is a possibility for three Arab armies – those of Iraq, Syria and Jordan – to gather east of the Jordan, cross the river and endanger the existence of Israel. We must stop them before they enter the country. Therefore, the Jordan Valley must serve as a permanent base for the Israeli army, our troops must stay there.

This was a doubtful theory to start with. In order to take part in such an offensive, the Iraqi army would have to assemble, cross the desert and deploy in Jordan, a lengthy and complex logistical operation that would give the Israeli army ample time to hit the Iraqis long before they reached the bank of the Jordan. As for the Syrians, it would be much easier for them to attack Israel on the Golan Heights than to move their army south and attack from the east. And Jordan has always been a secret – but loyal – partner of Israel (except for the short episode of the Six-day War.)

In recent years, the theory has become manifestly ridiculous. The Americans have invaded Iraq and defeated and disbanded Saddam Hussein’s glorious army, which turned out to be a paper tiger. The Kingdom of Jordan has signed an official peace treaty with Israel. Syria is using every opportunity to demonstrate its longing for peace, if Israel would only return the Golan Heights. In short, Israel has nothing to fear from its Eastern neighbors.

True, situations can change. Regimes change, alliances change. But it is impossible to imagine a situation in which three terrifying armies cross the Jordan into Canaan, like the children of Israel in the Biblical story.

Moreover, the idea of a ground attack, like the Nazi blitzkrieg in World War II, belongs to history. In any future war, long-range missiles will play a dominant role. One could imagine the Israeli soldiers in the Jordan valley reclining on deckchairs and observing the missiles flying over their heads in both directions.

So how did this silly idea gain new life?

IT MAY be useful to go 43 years back in time, in order to understand how this bogeyman was born.

Only six weeks after the Six-day War, the “Allon plan” was launched. Yigal Allon, then Minister of Labor, submitted it to the government. It was not adopted officially, but it did exercise a major influence on the Israeli leadership.

No authorized map of the plan was ever published, but the main points became known. Allon proposed to annex to Israel the Jordan Valley and the western shore of the Dead Sea. What was left of the West Bank would become enclaves surrounded by Israeli territory, except for a narrow corridor near Jericho which would connect the West Bank with the Jordanian kingdom. Allon also proposed annexing to Israel certain areas in the West Bank, the North of Sinai (“the Rafah Opening”) and the South of the Gaza Strip (“the Katif Bloc’).

He did not care whether the West Bank would be returned to Jordan or became a separate Palestinian entity. Once I attacked him from the Knesset rostrum and accused him of obstructing the establishment of the Palestinian state, which I advocated, and when I returned to my seat, he sent me a note: “I am for a Palestinian state in the West Bank. So how am I less of a dove than you?”

The plan was put forward as a military imperative, but its motives were quite different.

In those days I met with Allon fairly regularly, so I had the opportunity to follow his line of thought. He had been one of the outstanding commanders of the 1948 war and was considered a military expert, but above all he was a leading member of the Kibbutz movement, which at the time exercised a lot of influence in the country.

Immediately after the seizure of the West Bank, the people of the Kibbutz movement spread out across the ground, looking for areas that would be suitable for intensive modern agriculture. Naturally, they were attracted to the Jordan Valley. From their point of view, this was an ideal place for new kibbutzim. It has plenty of water, the terrain is flat and eminently suited to modern agricultural machinery. And, most important, it was sparsely populated. All these advantages were lacking in other West Bank regions: their population was dense, the topography mountainous and the water scarce.

In my opinion, the entire Allon plan was a fruit of agricultural greed, and the military theory was nothing but an expedient security pretext. And, indeed, the immediate result was the setting up of a great number of kibbutzim and moshavim (cooperative villages) in the valley.

Years passed before the limits of the Allon Plan were burst open and settlements were established all over the West Bank.

THE ALLON PLAN gave birth to the bogeyman of the “Eastern Front”’ and since then it has terrorized those who seek peace. Like a ghost, it comes and goes, materializes and vanishes, once in one form, once in another.

Ariel Sharon demanded the annexation of the “widened valley”. The valley itself, a part of the Great Syrian-African Rift Valley, is 120 km long (from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea) but only about 15 km wide. Sharon demanded almost obsessively the addition to it of the “back of the mountain”, meaning the eastern slope of the central West Bank mountain range, which would have widened it substantially.

When Sharon adopted the Separation Wall project, it was supposed to separate the West Bank not only from Israel proper, but also from the Jordan Valley. This would have enabled what was called the “Allon Plan plus”. The wall would have encircled the entire West Bank, without the Jericho corridor. This plan has not been implemented to date, both because of international opposition and because of lack of funds.

Since the Oslo agreement, almost all successive Israeli governments have insisted that the Jordan Valley must remain in Israeli hands in any future peace agreement. This demand appeared in many guises: sometimes the words were “security border”, sometimes “warning stations”, sometimes “military installations”, sometimes “long-term lease”, depending on the creative talents of successive Prime Ministers. The common denominator: the valley should remain under Israeli control.

NOW COMES Netanyahu and resurrects the verbal duo “Eastern Front”.

What Eastern Front? What threats are there from our eastern neighbors? Where is Saddam Hussein? Where is Hafez al-Assad? Is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad going to send the armored columns of the Revolutionary Guards rolling towards the Jordan crossings?

Well, it goes like this: the Americans are going to leave Iraq some day. Then a new Saddam Hussein will arise, this time a Shiite, and ally himself with Shiite Iran and the treacherous Turks, and how can you rely on the Jordanian king who abhors Netanyahu? Terrible stuff may happen if we don’t keep watch on the bank of the Jordan!

This is manifestly ludicrous. So what is the real aim?

The entire world is now busy with the American demand for starting “direct talks” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. One might be tempted to think that world peace depends on turning the “proximity talks” into “direct talks”. Never have so many words of sanctimonious hypocrisy been poured out on such a trivial subject.

The “proximity talks” have been going on for several months now. It would be wrong to say that their results have been close to zero. They were zero. Absolute zero. So what will happen if the two parties sit together in one room? One can predict with absolute certainty: Another zero. In the absence of an American determination to impose a solution, there will be no solution.

So why does Barack Obama insist? There is one explanation: throughout the Middle East, his policies have failed. He is in urgent need of an impressive achievement. He promised to leave Iraq, and the situation there makes it impossible. The war in Afghanistan is going from bad to worse, a general leaves and a general arrives, and victory is further away than ever. One can already imagine the last American climbing into the last helicopter on the roof of the American embassy in Kabul.

Remains the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Here, too, Obama is facing failure. He hoped to achieve much without investing anything at all, and was easily defeated by the Israel lobby. To hide the shame, he needs something that can be presented to the ignorant public as a great American victory. The renewal of “direct talks” is meant to be such a victory.

Netanyahu, on his part, is quite satisfied with the situation as it is. Israel is calling for direct talks, the Palestinians refuse. Israel is extending its hand for peace, the Palestinians turn away. Mahmoud Abbas demands that Israel extend the freeze on the settlements and declares in advance that the negotiations will be based on the 1967 borders.

But the Americans are exerting tremendous pressure on Abbas, and Netanyahu fears that Abbas will give in. Therefore he declares that he cannot freeze the settlements, because in that case – God forbid! – his coalition would disintegrate. And if that does not suffice, here comes the Eastern Front. The Israeli government is giving notice to the Palestinians that it will not give up the Jordan Valley.

In order to emphasize the point, Netanyahu has started to remove the remaining Palestinian population in the valley, a few thousand. Villages are being eradicated, starting this week with Farasiya, where all the dwellings and the water installations were destroyed. This is ethnic cleansing pure and simple, much like the similar operation now going on against the Bedouins in the Negev.

What Netanyahu is saying, in so many words, is: Abbas should think twice before he enters “direct talks”.

THE JORDAN Valley descends to the lowest point on the surface of the earth, the Dead Sea, 400 meters below mean sea level.

The revival of the Eastern Front may indicate the lowest point of Netanyahu’s policy, with the intent of putting to death once and for all any remaining chance for peace.

permlink: http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1280589635