Israel, Palestine, et al.

Most of this document is a list of articles (beginning here)
that deal with general aspects of
the dysfunctional relation between Israel and Palestine.
To find the most recent one, just go to the bottom (End).

For an interesting photo, click here. (Source)


Excerpts from Righteous Victims by Benny Morris
which describe what was offered to, and rejected by,
the Palestinians in 2000 and early 2001.
Paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.

[This is a long paragraph in the book;
it is here divided into three parts.
As well, references have been added, as an additional part (d).]

[O]n 2000-07-05, President Bill Clinton announced that
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and
Palestinian National Authority President Yasser Arafat
would meet at Camp David, starting on 2000-07-11,
for the “make or break” summit
During July 11–26, Barak and Arafat,
with Clinton (assisted by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright)
playing a crucial mediating role,
tackled the major issues dividing Israel and the Palestinians:
  1. The refugees,
  2. Jerusalem,
  3. the borders between a future Palestinian state and Israel,
  4. the Israeli settlements, and
  5. the problem of water supplies and pollution.
Over the summit hung the threat by Arafat that,
in the absence of a final status agreement,
the Palestinians would unilaterally declare statehood
(and, presumably, the state’s borders)
on September 13.

[Major results of the negotiations were:]
  • Jerusalem
    A crucial sticking point was Jerusalem.
    Barak, breaking a long-held, consensual Israeli taboo,
    agreed to a division of Jerusalem,
    with the Palestinians to receive sovereignty over
    most of the Arab-populated neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city.
    But no agreement was reached on the future of the walled Old City and,
    more particularly,
    the Temple Mount (Haram ash Sharif) area within it, containing
    the Dome of the Rock and
    the al-Aqsa Mosque
    as well as the (presumed)
    underground remains of King Solomon’s and Zerubabel’s (and Herod’s) temples.
    Arafat stuck firm to his demand that
    the Temple Mount and the whole of the Old City
    come under Palestinian sovereignty;
    he rejected President Clinton’s last-minute proposal that
    the Old City be divided between Israel and the Palestinians,
    with the Temple Mount to be governed conjointly by
    the Security Council,
    (the permanent president of the Islamic states’ “Jerusalem Committee”)
    the Palestinians.
  • Refugees
    Major disagreement also surfaced over
    the Palestinian demand for recognition and implementation of
    “the right of return” of the refugees
    (based on UN General Assembly Resolution 194, from December 1948)
    to their homes, villages and towns in Israel
    (Israel rejected this “right” and the return of millions of refugees,
    though it agreed to absorb “several thousand” refugees over ten years
    as part of a “family reunion scheme” and
    to participate in paying compensation for the refugees’ lost property).
  • West Bank and Gaza
    There was also contention over the Palestinian demand that
    Israel hand over all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip
    to Palestinian rule

    (Barak was willing to concede 84–90 percent of the West Bank
    and almost all of the Gaza Strip).

The summit collapsed,
with both the Israelis and Palestinians letting fly with recriminations.
In private, Barak (and, to a degree, Clinton) expressed astonishment and anger
at the Palestinian rejection of
the most far-reaching Israeli concessions ever offered.
Arafat, for his part, lambasted the Israeli proposals as inadequate—in his view,
they awarded the Palestinians
the trappings rather than the reality of sovereignty

and, besides,
Israel would continue to rule large chunks
(the Jordan Valley, the area around East Jerusalem) of the West Bank.
The Americans [some Americans]
blamed Arafat for the collapse of the talks,
charging that, unlike Barak,
he had failed to offer any concessions on the important issues.

[For views more sympathetic to the Palestinians,
see Clayton Swisher’s The Truth About Camp David
and, on the web,
2002-04-03, Wanniski, Have I Got a Deal For You!!
2002-06-04, Wanniski, The Palestinian ‘Right of Return’
2002-06-11, Wanniski, Ehud Barak, What a Jerk!
2004-11-07, Wanniski, Yasir Arafat, a True Peacemaker
2004-11-22, Wanniski-Hays-Swisher, The Truth About Camp David
2005-01-05, Wanniski, A New Account on Why Camp David Failed
2005-08-15, Christison, Anatomy of a Frame-Up: Camp David Redux

Arafat was subjected to mounting Israeli and American pressure
to match Israel’s flexibility and
to delay the announcement of statehood,
which all understood would throw the Middle East into a major crisis.
Arafat agreed to the delay
(he understood that his “state,” if declared would not receive world recognition),
but refused to budge on the substantive issues,
even after the new Israeli foreign minister, Shlomo Ben-Ami, proposed that
the Temple Mount be placed under UN Security Council control
in a final settlement
and that
90–95 percent of the West Bank
would be handed over to Palestinian sovereignty.

Barak’s peace proposals [] of July 2000 at Camp David, paradoxically,
also contributed to the [al-Aqsa Intifada].
Barak had come to power [in July 1999] announcing
a complete break with the Netanyahu past and
an intention to reach a final settlement with the Palestinians.
During the 1980s and 1990s,
the PLO leadership had gradually accepted, or seemed to accept,
history’s verdict:
That Israel, in its post-1948 borders, was there to stay—
keeping 78 percent of historic “Palestine.”
But the PLO wanted the remaining 22 percent, the West Bank and Gaza Strip,
regarding this as a modicum of justice.

At Camp David
Barak had endorsed the establishment of a Palestinian state;
but he had proposed that
it make do with 84–90 percent of the 22 percent
and to underline his point had insisted that
the bulk of the settlers and large concentrations of Jewish West Bank settlements
be incorporated into Israel.
Also Israel was to control
the territory between a greatly enlarged “Jerusalem” and Jericho,
effectively cutting the core of the future Palestinian state in two, and
giving Israel control of the border crossings
between the Palestinian state and Egypt and Jordan.
To Palestinian eyes,
this was not fair or just.

Moreover, one of the basic assumptions of the Barak proposals was
the non-return of the Palestinian refugees to their homes.
They could return to Palestine, i.e. the West Bank and Gaza,
but not to the sites of their pre-1948 homes in Israel.
For the refugee communities,
especially in the camps of the Gaza Strip and Lebanon,
this spelled ideological death.
The vision of a return is what had kept them going,
the be-all and end-all of their political existence,
a major part of their identity,
during the previous half century.
Without doubt,
the refugees who are so prominent
in the ranks of the Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Fatah’s Tanzim and
in the front lines of the al Aqsa Intifada,
are, at least to a degree,
motivated by this dream of a return and
by a desire to prevent its removal from the agenda.

The most important immediate effect of the Intifada was to precipitate
a new American diplomatic initiative,
involving concessions to the Palestinians that went beyond
what had been offered at Camp David [],
and tentative Israeli acceptance of these new proposals.

Following weeks of behind-the-scenes diplomatic footwork,
President Clinton dispatched a set of proposals
for a comprehensive, final status Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement

to Barak and Arafat.
Dated 2000-12-23,
the Clinton peace proposals called for
  • a hand-over of “94–96 percent” of the West Bank
    to Palestinian sovereignty
    and Israeli territorial compensation to the Palestinians elsewhere
    (presumably in the northwestern Negev, adjoining the Gaza Strip)
    for the 4–6 percent it would retain;
  • the evacuation of most Israeli settlements;
  • an international force to secure the new borders,
    particularly between the West Bank and Jordan;
  • early warning stations in the West Bank;
  • the demilitarization of the Palestinian state;
  • the division of Jerusalem according to demographic concentrations,
    with the Arab districts under Palestinian sovereignty
    and the Jewish districts under Israeli sovereignty;
  • some form of
    Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount
    Israeli sovereignty over the Wailing Wall
    “and the area sacred to the Jews” or “the holy of holies”
    (meaning the area under the two mosques).
As to the refugees, Clinton somewhat confusingly proposed that
  • Israel agree to recognize
    the physical and moral suffering caused the Palestinian people
    as a result of 1948;
  • a return of Palestinian refugees to the Palestinian state
    while Israel might absorb some of them;
  • at the same time,
    both states should recognize the refugees’ “right of return,”
    either to “their homeland” or “historic Palestine”;
and he called for international aid for rehabilitating the refugees.
Israeli critics charged that Clinton—and, by extension, Barak—
had in effect accepted “the right of return”;
Barak countered that Israel had agreed only to
a refugee “return” to the prospective West Bank-Gaza Strip Palestinian state,
alongside a token return of refugees to Israel proper.

At the end of December
the Israeli government formally accepted Clinton’s proposals
as a basis for a settlement;
Arafat responded with a long list of questions and objections,
amounting to a rejection.
[Some other authors (e.g., Finkelstein)
dispute that interpretation of the respective reactions.]

As Yasser Abd Rabo, one of Arafat’s ministers and peace negotiators, put it:
“Clinton’s proposals are one of the biggest frauds in history,
like the Sykes-Picot Agreement.”

During the following weeks, with Washington mediating,
the Israelis strove to reach a peace agreement
while at the same time
to obtain at least a reduction in Palestinian violence
so as to make the continued negotiations with the Palestinians
palatable to the Israeli public.
Israeli officials tried to project optimism
(“the two sides have never been closer to agreement”)
but either
there was too little time to make the necessary compromises or
the Palestinians were simply uninterested in reaching an agreement
that would include their effective abandonment of “the right of return”—
which Jewish Israelis almost unanimously agreed
would spell suicide for the Jewish state—
and of full sovereignty over the Old City of Jerusalem.

Palestinian and Israeli delegations met for a last effort at Taba, in Sinai,
during 2001-01-21 to 27
but the talks were continuously undermined by Palestinian acts of terrorism
(such as the execution-style murder of two unarmed Israeli civilians
by Tanzim operatives in Tulkarm on January 23)
and by Palestinian unwillingness to budge from their fixed positions
on Jerusalem, the borders, and the refugees.
[Note the one-sided description of just who was
“unwilling to budge from fixed positions”.]

The talks broke up on 2001-01-27 with a joint statement
that, in effect conceded that
nothing had been concluded or agreed,
though Abu Alaa and Ben-Ami affirmed that
“significant progress had been made” and that
they had “never been closer to agreement.”
Again, Arafat had either played Israel along,
unwilling simply to make peace with the Jewish state, or,
though willing,
had simply failed to rise to the occasion
and make the best deal he would ever be offered.
[Even if it was “the best deal he would ever be offered,”
that doesn’t mean that it was necessarily fair or just.]

In either case, the Palestinians, it would seem, had once again
missed an historic opportunity
in their century-long struggle for independence and statehood.
[Is it possible that Israel also missed an opportunity here?]

The following day, 2001-01-28,
Barak called a halt to all talks with the Palestinians
(after Arafat’s hate-filled speech against Israel [on the same day]
at Davos [])
and devoted the remaining week to his election campaign.
[As it turned out, he lost to Ariel Sharon.]
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process had ground to an indefinite halt.


Excerpts from Norman G. Finkelstein’s
Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict
which discuss the 2000 Israel/Palestine/U.S. Camp David negotiations.

[I2.4.9 (Introduction to the Second Edition, pages xx–xxi)]

After seven years of on-again, off-again negotiations
and a succession of new interim agreements
that managed to rob the Palestinians
of the few crumbs thrown from the master’s table at Oslo,
the moment of truth arrived at Camp David in July 2000.
US President William J. Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak
delivered Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat
the ultimatum of
formally acquiescing in a Bantustan or
bearing full responsibility for the collapse of the ‘peace process.’
Arafat refused, however,
to budge from the international consensus for resolving the conflict.
According to Robert Malley, a key American negotiator at Camp David
[all quotes from Malley are from this article],
Arafat continued to hold out for a
‘Palestinian state based on the 1967-06-04 borders, living alongside Israel’,
yet also
‘accepted the notion of
Israeli annexation of West Bank territory to accommodate settlements,
though [he] insisted on a one for one swap of land of “equal size and value” ’ —
that is, the ‘minor’ and ‘mutual’ border adjustments
of the original US position on Resolution 242.
Malley’s rendering of the Palestinian proposal at Camp David—
an offer that was widely dismissed but rarely reported—
deserves full quotation:
‘a state of Israel incorporating some land captured in 1967
and including a very large majority of its settlers,
the largest Jewish Jerusalem in the city’s history,
preservation of Israel’s demographic balance between Jews and Arabs,
security guaranteed by a US-led international presence.’
On the other hand,
contrary to the myth spun by Barak-Clinton as well as a compliant media,
‘Barak offered the trappings of Palestinian sovereignty’,
a special adviser at the British Foreign Office observed,
‘while perpetuating the subjugation of the Palestinians.’
Although accounts of the Barak proposal significantly differ,
all knowledgeable observers concur that it
‘would have meant that
territory annexed by Israel would encroach deep inside the Palestinian state’ (Malley),
dividing the West Bank into multiple, disconnected enclaves, and
offering land swaps that were of neither equal size nor equal value.

[Endnote 43, cited here, references in particular
three New York Review of Books articles by Hussein Agha and Robert Malley
which significantly expand on the brief summary above.
These three references appear here.]

[I2.4.10 (page xxi)]

Consider in this regard Israel’s reaction to the 2002-03 Saudi peace plan.
Crown Prince Abdullah proposed,
and all twenty-one other members of the Arab League approved,
a plan making concessions
that actually went beyond the international consensus.
In exchange for a full Israeli withdrawal,
it offered not only full recognition but ‘normal relations with Israel’,
and called not for the ‘right of return’ of Palestinian refugees
but rather only a ‘just solution’ to the refugee problem.
A Haaretz commentator noted that
the Saudi plan was ‘surprisingly similar
to what Barak claims to have proposed two years ago’ at Camp David.
Were Israel truly committed to
a comprehensive withdrawal in exchange for
normalization with the Arab world,
the Saudi plan and its unanimous endorsement by the Arab League summit
ought to have been met with euphoria.
In fact, after an ephemeral interlude of evasion and silence,
it was quickly deposited in Orwell’s memory hole.
When the Bush administration subsequently
made passing reference to the Saudi plain
in a draft ‘road map’ for settling the Israel-Palestine conflict,
Israeli officials loudly protested.
Nonetheless, Barak’s—and Clinton’s—fraud that
Palestinians at Camp David rejected a maximally generous Israeli offer
provided crucial moral cover for the horrors that ensued.

[The next section of Image and Reality, “Learning from the Nazi Holocaust,”
discusses critically
the ways that Israel has treated the Palestinians under its occupation.]

The Agha-Malley articles from The New York Review of Books

[Here are the three articles by Hussein Agha and Robert Malley
dealing with the 2000 Camp David negotiations,
together with two other articles written in response.]

Camp David: The Tragedy of Errors
By Hussein Agha, Robert Malley
New York Review of Books, 2001-08-09

Camp David: An Exchange
By Gidi Grinstein, Dennis Ross,
Reply by Hussein Agha, Robert Malley
New York Review of Books, 2001-09-20

Camp David and After: An Exchange (1. An Interview with Ehud Barak)
By Benny Morris
New York Review of Books, 2002-06-13

Camp David and After: An Exchange (2. A Reply to Ehud Barak)
By Hussein Agha, Robert Malley
New York Review of Books, 2002-06-13

[The beginning of the article, slightly reformatted; emphasis is added.]

Both sides in the Israeli–Palestinian war have several targets in mind,
and public opinion is not the least of them.
The Camp David summit ended almost two years ago;
the Taba negotiations were abandoned in January 2001;
Ariel Sharon has made no secret of his rejection of the Oslo process,
not to mention the positions taken by Israel at Camp David or in Taba;
and the confrontation between the two sides has had disastrous consequences.
Yet in the midst of it all,
the various interpretations of what happened at Camp David and its aftermath
continue to draw exceptional attention both in Israel and in the United States.

Ehud Barak’s interview with Benny Morris makes it clear why that is the case:
Barak’s assessment that
the talks failed because Yasser Arafat cannot make peace with Israel
and that
his answer to Israel’s unprecedented offer was to resort to terrorist violence
has become central to the argument that
Israel is in a fight for its survival against
those who deny its very right to exist.
So much of what is said and done today
derives from and is justified by that crude appraisal:
  1. Arafat and the rest of the Palestinian leaders must be supplanted
    before a meaningful peace process can resume,
    since they are the ones who rejected the offer.
  2. The Palestinians’ use of violence
    has nothing to do with ending the occupation

    since they walked away from the possibility of reaching that goal
    at the negotiating table not long ago.
  3. Israel must crush the Palestinians—
    ”badly beat them” in the words of the current prime minister—
    if an agreement is ever to be reached.

The one-sided account
that was set in motion in the wake of Camp David
has had devastating effects—
on Israeli public opinion as well as
on US foreign policy.

That was clear enough a year ago;
it has become far clearer since.
Rectifying it does not mean, to quote Barak,
engaging in “Palestinian propaganda.”
Rather, it means taking a close look at what actually occurred.

[Which Agha and Malley proceed to do in their article.]

Camp David and After—Continued
By Ehud Barak, Benny Morris,
Reply by Hussein Agha, Robert Malley
New York Review of Books, 2002-06-27


The 2007 book
The Lost Years: Bush, Sharon, and Failure in the Middle East
by Mark Matthews
gives a good presentation of U.S./Israeli/Palestinian relations
from the 2001 inauguration of George W. Bush (Bush-43) to the end of 2006.
It gives the most in-depth picture that I have yet run across (as of 2008-03)
of the causes of Bush-43’s evident tilt
towards Israel and the American Jewish community.

For a book published in America,
it is less slanted towards the Zionist position than most.
However, it still in parts shows a strongly Zionist slant.
For example, consider the first two sentences of the Preface
(emphasis is added):
inherited a bleak but by no means hopeless Middle East landscape
from Bill Clinton.
His Democratic predecessor’s
risky attempt to conclude an Israeli-Palestinian peace
at Camp David in the summer of 2000 had failed,
leading nine weeks later to the outbreak of the second intifada.

Yes, that’s a fairly standard Zionist explanation
for the causes of the al Aqsa intifida.
It suggests an argument for avoiding peace talks with the Palestinians:
If they fail,
it will likely lead to violence from disappointed Palestinians.

However, many people think there are other reasons for the al Aqsa intifada:
  1. A dawning realization among the Palestinians
    that the agreement that Rabin and Arafat had struck in the Oslo accords
    was fundamentally unfair,
    biased towards Israel and against the Palestinians.
    For an overview of the Palestinian view on the flaws of Oslo,
    see Chapter 7 of Norman G. Finkelstein’s
    Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict.
  2. Even given the tilt of the Oslo agreements towards Israel,
    Israel had failed to live up to their part of the bargain.
    For many examples of this,
    see Chapter 13 of Benny Morris’s Righteous Victims
As a result of all of these,
the Palestinians had developed the feeling that
Israel had no real intention of coming to a fair agreement with them,
and they had no choice but to resort to violence.

Miscellaneous Articles


The brilliant offer Israel never made
by David Clark
The Guardian (UK), 2002-04-10

To get peace talks started again means confronting a few myths

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

With Israel,
it will be necessary to challenge some deeply held illusions
about the peace process and why it broke down.
Chief among these is
the assertion that
the Palestinians rejected a “generous” Israeli offer at Camp David

two years ago.
It is
a view that spans the Israeli political spectrum,
uniting the hard right with born-again rejectionists like Ehud Barak,
confirming all in their belief that
political dialogue has been exhausted
and that
Arafat is an inveterate terrorist.
It is time for some constructive revisionism.

Barak’s proposal for a Palestinian state based on 91% of the West Bank
sounded substantive,
but even the most cursory glance at the map
revealed the bad faith inherent in it.
It showed the West Bank
carved into three chunks,
surrounded by Israeli troops and settlers,
without direct access to its own international borders.

The land-swap that was supposed to compensate the Palestinians
for the loss of prime agricultural land in the West Bank
merely added insult to injury.
The only territory offered to Palestinian negotiators consisted of
stretches of desert adjacent to the Gaza Strip
that Israel currently uses for toxic waste dumping.

The proposals on East Jerusalem were no better,
permitting the Palestinians control of a few scattered fragments
of what had been theirs before 1967.

Barak offered
the trappings of Palestinian sovereignty
while perpetuating
the subjugation of the Palestinians.

It is not difficult to see why they felt unable to accept.
The only surprise is
how widely the myth of the “generous offer” is now accepted.

[That is only a surprise to those who deny
the extent of Zionist control over media, culture, academia, and politics.]

For this, Bill Clinton must accept responsibility.
With the end of his presidency in sight,
Clinton saw time running out along with
the hope that he might be remembered in history
for something more dignified than blow jobs in the Oval Office.
[Change “blow jobs in the Oval Office” to “unjustified war with Iraq”
and you have a pretty accurate description of the next presidency as well.]

He needed a quick deal rather than a just deal
and chose to attempt to bounce Arafat into accepting Israel’s terms.
When this failed, Clinton vented his wrath at the Palestinian leader.

Maladroit diplomacy played its part,
but the failure at Camp David was the product of a deeper problem
for which the Palestinians must also accept their share of blame.
With the benefit of hindsight,
the 1993 Oslo agreement that embodied the land-for-peace compromise
was a mirage.
Although both sides signed up to a two-state solution,
neither was completely sincere in accepting its implications.
The Palestinians clung to maximalist demands on refugee returns
in the hope that demographics would allow them to rewrite the past.
The Israelis insisted on territorial demands
that made a mockery of the idea of a viable Palestinian state.

It is here that the Saudi peace initiative has come to play
such a critical role in getting the peace process back on track.
calling for Israel’s withdrawal from all of the occupied territories
holding out the prospect of
a compromise on the refugees that would meet Israeli concerns,
it forces both sides finally to come to terms with each other’s existence.


An Arab-American Perspective
an interview with James Zogby
The American Conservative, 2003-05-05

Dr. James Zogby talks with TAC about why Oslo failed
and how an Israeli-Palestinian peace can still be realized.

Getting Israel Right
by Paul Gottfried,
Chronicles, 2003-08-26

Israel is an ethnically particularistic state,
in which non-Jews exist as second- or third-class citizens.

Israel: The Alternative
by Tony Judt
New York Review of Books, 2003-10-23

[This is cited by Stephen Walt in
“On Tony Judt: A memoir”, 2010-06-03.]


Top PM aide: Gaza plan aims to freeze the peace process
interview with Dov Weisglass (or Weissglas) by Ari Shavit
Ha’aretz, 2004-10-07

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

“The significance of the disengagement plan is
the freezing of the peace process,”
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s senior adviser Dov Weisglass has told Haaretz.

“And when you freeze that process,
you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and
you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem.
this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails,
has been removed indefinitely from our agenda.
And all this with authority and permission.
All with a presidential blessing
and the ratification of both houses of Congress.”
[They’re all stooges of the Jews, as Weisglass implies.]

“The disengagement is actually formaldehyde,” he said.
“It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary
so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.”

Asked why the disengagement plan had been hatched, Weisglass replied:
“Because in the fall of 2003 we understood that everything was stuck.
And although by the way the Americans read the situation,
the blame fell on the Palestinians, not on us,
[yes, “the Americans” are always compliant patsies of Israel]
Arik [Sharon] grasped that this state of affairs could not last,
that they wouldn’t leave us alone, wouldn’t get off our case.
Time was not on our side.
There was international erosion, internal erosion.
Domestically, in the meantime, everything was collapsing.
The economy was stagnant, and the Geneva Initiative had gained broad support.
And then we were hit with the letters of officers and letters of pilots
and letters of commandos [refusing to serve in the territories].
These were not weird kids with green ponytails and a ring in their nose with a strong odor of grass.
These were people like Spector’s group
[Yiftah Spector, a renowned Air Force pilot who signed the pilot’s letter].
Really our finest young people.”

[Note what he is saying:
Some of Israel’s “finest young people” oppose Israel’s policies.
But in America, anyone who opposes those policies
is smeared as an “anti-Semite” by America’s Jews.
And America’s “liberals” are so in love with, or deluded by, the Jews
that they will do nothing to displease them.
While the “conservatives” shudder in fear (e.g.)
that they might be stuck with the dreaded “anti-Semite” label.]

NYT coverage



[An excerpt from pages 91–92 of Beyond Chutzpah by Norman G. Finkelstein;
emphasis is added.]

Since the late 1970s
and even more so since the beginning of the 1987–1993 uprising,
when it could no longer be ignored,
Israel’s human rights record in the Occupied Territories
has been monitored by a multitude of human rights organizations,
some based in Israel itself, such as
(Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories),
the Public Committee against Torture in Israel, and
Physicians for Human Rights—Israel,
and others fulfilling a global mandate such as
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
It is also subject to supervision by U.N. and other agencies
charged generally with monitoring compliance with human rights law.
Although each of these bodies maintains an autonomous research and field staff,
their respective findings on Israel and the Occupied Territories,
regarding both actual fact and legal interpretation,
on substance as well as on detail,
are often indistinguishable, one from the next.
An Amnesty International study
of human rights violations during the second intifada
observes [on page 9]:
“[T]here have been numerous investigations
into the situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories—
by the UN ... and international and local human rights organizations—
and there has been a remarkable consensus
in the conclusions and recommendations of the resulting reports.

[What has been lacking has been the will to implement them.]”


'We Do Not Wish to Throw Them Into the Sea'
A Conversation [between] Ismail Haniyeh [and Lally Weymouth]
Washington Post, 2006-02-26

Aggression Under False Pretenses
By Ismail Haniyeh
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2006-07-11

GAZA, Palestine -- As Americans commemorated their annual celebration of independence from colonial occupation, rejoicing in their democratic institutions, we Palestinians were yet again besieged by our occupiers, who destroy our roads and buildings, our power stations and water plants, and who attack our very means of civil administration. Our homes and government offices are shelled, our parliamentarians taken prisoner and threatened with prosecution.

The current Gaza invasion is only the latest effort to destroy the results of fair and free elections held early this year. It is the explosive follow-up to a five-month campaign of economic and diplomatic warfare directed by the United States and Israel. The stated intention of that strategy was to force the average Palestinian to "reconsider" her vote when faced with deepening hardship; its failure was predictable, and the new overt military aggression and collective punishment are its logical fulfillment. The "kidnapped" Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit is only a pretext for a job scheduled months ago.

In addition to removing our democratically elected government, Israel wants to sow dissent among Palestinians by claiming that there is a serious leadership rivalry among us. I am compelled to dispel this notion definitively. The Palestinian leadership is firmly embedded in the concept of Islamic shura , or mutual consultation; suffice it to say that while we may have differing opinions, we are united in mutual respect and focused on the goal of serving our people. Furthermore, the invasion of Gaza and the kidnapping of our leaders and government officials are meant to undermine the recent accords reached between the government party and our brothers and sisters in Fatah and other factions, on achieving consensus for resolving the conflict. Yet Israeli collective punishment only strengthens our collective resolve to work together.

As I inspect the ruins of our infrastructure -- the largess of donor nations and international efforts all turned to rubble once more by F-16s and American-made missiles -- my thoughts again turn to the minds of Americans. What do they think of this?

They think, doubtless, of the hostage soldier, taken in battle -- yet thousands of Palestinians, including hundreds of women and children, remain in Israeli jails for resisting the illegal, ongoing occupation that is condemned by international law. They think of the pluck and "toughness" of Israel, "standing up" to "terrorists." Yet a nuclear Israel possesses the 13th-largest military force on the planet, one that is used to rule an area about the size of New Jersey and whose adversaries there have no conventional armed forces. Who is the underdog, supposedly America's traditional favorite, in this case?

I hope that Americans will give careful and well-informed thought to root causes and historical realities, in which case I think they will question why a supposedly "legitimate" state such as Israel has had to conduct decades of war against a subject refugee population without ever achieving its goals.

Israel's unilateral movements of the past year will not lead to peace. These acts -- the temporary withdrawal of forces from Gaza, the walling off of the West Bank -- are not strides toward resolution but empty, symbolic acts that fail to address the underlying conflict. Israel's nearly complete control over the lives of Palestinians is never in doubt, as confirmed by the humanitarian and economic suffering of the Palestinians since the January elections. Israel's ongoing policies of expansion, military control and assassination mock any notion of sovereignty or bilateralism. Its "separation barrier," running across our land, is hardly a good-faith gesture toward future coexistence.

But there is a remedy, and while it is not easy it is consistent with our long-held beliefs. Palestinian priorities include recognition of the core dispute over the land of historical Palestine and the rights of all its people; resolution of the refugee issue from 1948; reclaiming all lands occupied in 1967; and stopping Israeli attacks, assassinations and military expansion. Contrary to popular depictions of the crisis in the American media, the dispute is not only about Gaza and the West Bank; it is a wider national conflict that can be resolved only by addressing the full dimensions of Palestinian national rights in an integrated manner. This means statehood for the West Bank and Gaza, a capital in Arab East Jerusalem, and resolving the 1948 Palestinian refugee issue fairly, on the basis of international legitimacy and established law. Meaningful negotiations with a non-expansionist, law-abiding Israel can proceed only after this tremendous labor has begun.

Surely the American people grow weary of this folly, after 50 years and $160 billion in taxpayer support for Israel's war-making capacity -- its "defense." Some Americans, I believe, must be asking themselves if all this blood and treasure could not have bought more tangible results for Palestine if only U.S. policies had been predicated from the start on historical truth, equity and justice.

However, we do not want to live on international welfare and American handouts. We want what Americans enjoy -- democratic rights, economic sovereignty and justice. We thought our pride in conducting the fairest elections in the Arab world might resonate with the United States and its citizens. Instead, our new government was met from the very beginning by acts of explicit, declared sabotage by the White House. Now this aggression continues against 3.9 million civilians living in the world's largest prison camps. America's complacency in the face of these war crimes is, as usual, embedded in the coded rhetorical green light: "Israel has a right to defend itself." Was Israel defending itself when it killed eight family members on a Gaza beach last month or three members of the Hajjaj family on Saturday, among them 6-year-old Rawan? I refuse to believe that such inhumanity sits well with the American public.

We present this clear message: If Israel will not allow Palestinians to live in peace, dignity and national integrity, Israelis themselves will not be able to enjoy those same rights. Meanwhile, our right to defend ourselves from occupying soldiers and aggression is a matter of law, as settled in the Fourth Geneva Convention. If Israel is prepared to negotiate seriously and fairly, and resolve the core 1948 issues, rather than the secondary ones from 1967, a fair and permanent peace is possible. Based on a hudna (comprehensive cessation of hostilities for an agreed time), the Holy Land still has an opportunity to be a peaceful and stable economic powerhouse for all the Semitic people of the region. If Americans only knew the truth, possibility might become reality.

The writer is prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority.

ADL Letter [responding to Ismail Haniyeh] to The Washington Post
By Abraham H. Foxman, National Director, Anti-Defamation League

Letters Responding to the Palestinian Prime Minister
Washington Post, 2006-07-13

[Includes the Foxman letter above.]

Beyond Lebanon
This Is the Time for a U.S.-Led Comprehensive Settlement
By Brent Scowcroft

Washington Post Op-Ed, Sunday, July 30, 2006; B07

[Paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has stated that a simple cease-fire in Lebanon is not the solution to the current violence.
She says it is necessary to deal with the roots of the problem.
She is right on both counts.
Hezbollah is not the source of the problem;
it is a derivative of the cause, which is
the tragic conflict over Palestine that began in 1948.

The eastern shore of the Mediterranean is in turmoil from end to end,
a repetition of continuing conflicts in one part or another
since the abortive attempts of the United Nations
to create separate Israeli and Palestinian states in 1948.
The current conflagration has energized the world.
Now, perhaps more than ever,
we have an opportunity to harness that concern and energy
to achieve a comprehensive resolution of the entire 58-year-old tragedy.
Only the United States can lead the effort required to seize this opportunity.

The outlines of a comprehensive settlement have been apparent
since President Bill Clinton's efforts collapsed in 2000.
The major elements would include:
  1. A Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders,
    with minor rectifications agreed upon between Palestine and Israel.
    [Compare Carter’s view.]
  2. Palestinians giving up the right of return
    Israel reciprocating by removing its settlements in the West Bank,
    again with rectifications as mutually agreed.
    Those displaced on both sides
    would receive compensation from the international community.
  3. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia unambiguously reconfirming
    his 2002 pledge that
    the Arab world is prepared to enter into full normal relations with Israel
    upon its withdrawal from the lands occupied in 1967.
  4. Egypt and Saudi Arabia working with the Palestinian Authority
    to put together a government
    along the lines of the 18-point agreement reached between Hamas and Fatah prisoners in Israeli jails in June. [??]
    This government would negotiate for the Authority.
  5. Deployment, as part of a cease-fire,
    of a robust international force in southern Lebanon.
  6. Deployment of another international force
    to facilitate and supervise traffic to and from Gaza and the West Bank.
  7. Designation of Jerusalem as the shared capital of Israel and Palestine,
    with appropriate international guarantees of freedom of movement
    and civic life in the city.

These elements are well-known to people who live in the region
and to those outside who have labored over the decades
seeking to shape a lasting peace.
What seems breathtakingly complicated, however,
is how one mobilizes the necessary political will, in the region and beyond,
to transform these principles into an agreement on a lasting accord.

The current crisis in Lebanon provides a historic opportunity
to achieve what has seemed impossible.
That said, it is too much to expect those most directly implicated --
Israeli and Palestinian leaders -- to lead the way.
That responsibility falls to others, principally the United States,
which alone can mobilize the international community and Israel and the Arab states for the task that has defeated so many previous efforts.

How would such a process be organized?
The obvious vehicle to direct the process would be the Quartet
(the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations),
established in 2001 for just such a purpose.
The Quartet, beginning at the foreign-minister level,
would first organize the necessary international force for southern Lebanon and Gaza and then call for a cease-fire.
The security force would have to have the mandate and capability
to deal firmly with acts of violence.
Ideally, this would be a NATO, or at least NATO-led, contingent.
Recognizing the political obstacles, the fact is that
direct U.S. participation in such a force
would be highly desirable -- and perhaps even essential --
for persuading our friends and allies to contribute the capabilities required.

With a cease-fire and international security force in place,
the Quartet would then construct a framework
for negotiating the specific elements of a comprehensive settlement,
after which Israel, the Palestinian Authority
and appropriate Arab state representatives
(e.g. Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon)
would be added to the process to complete the detailed negotiations.

The benefits of reaching
a comprehensive settlement of the root cause of today's turmoil
would likely ripple well beyond the Israelis and the Palestinians.
A comprehensive peace settlement would not only
defang the radicals in Lebanon and Palestine
(and their supporters in other countries),
it would also reduce the influence of Iran --
the country that, under its current ideology,
poses the greatest potential threat to stability
in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt and Jordan.

A comprehensive settlement also would allow Arab leaders
to focus on what most say is a primary concern:
modernizing their countries to provide jobs and productive lives
for their rapidly growing populations.

Removing the argument that
nothing can be done because
domestic constituencies are fixated on the "plight of the Palestinians"

would allow creative energy, talent and money
to be rechanneled into education, health, housing, etc.
This would have the added benefit of addressing conditions that encourage
far too many young Arabs to glorify terrorism
as a legitimate means for dealing with the challenges of the modern world.

It is even possible that a comprehensive settlement might help stabilize Iraq.
A chastened Iran, bereft of the "Israeli card,"
might be more willing to reach a modus vivendi with the Sunnis and Kurds in Iraq,
and with the United States as well.
All countries in the region -- not to mention Iraq itself --
need a stable, prosperous and peaceful Iraq.
The road to achieving this may well lead eastward
from a Jerusalem shared peacefully by Israelis and Palestinians.

This latest in a seemingly endless series of conflagrations in the region
just may present a unique opportunity to change the situation in the Middle East
for the better for all time.
Let us not shrink from the task.

The writer was national security adviser
to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush.
He is now president of the Forum for International Policy.

Stop the Band-Aid Treatment
We Need Policies for a Real, Lasting Middle East Peace
By Jimmy Carter


The general parameters of a long-term, two-state agreement are well known.
There will be no substantive and permanent peace
for any peoples in this troubled region
as long as Israel is violating
  • key U.N. resolutions,
  • official American policy and
  • the international "road map" for peace
by occupying Arab lands and oppressing the Palestinians.
Except for mutually agreeable negotiated modifications,
Israel's official pre-1967 borders must be honored.

[Compare Scowcroft’s view.]
As were all previous administrations since the founding of Israel,
U.S. government leaders must be in the forefront
of achieving this long-delayed goal.

A major impediment to progress is
Washington's strange policy that dialogue on controversial issues
will be extended only as a reward for subservient behavior and
will be withheld from those who reject U.S. assertions.
Direct engagement
with the Palestine Liberation Organization or the Palestinian Authority
and the government in Damascus
will be necessary
if secure negotiated settlements are to be achieved.
Failure to address the issues and leaders involved
risks the creation of an arc of even greater instability
running from Jerusalem through Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran.

[While I am generally not a fan of former president Carter,
in this case I agree with his opinion wholeheartedly.]

End This Tragedy Now
Israel Must Be Made to Respect International Law
By Fouad Siniora
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2006-08-09


A military solution to Israel's savage war on Lebanon and the Lebanese people is both morally unacceptable and totally unrealistic. We in Lebanon call upon the international community and citizens everywhere to support my country's sovereignty and end this folly now. We also insist that Israel be made to respect international humanitarian law, including the provisions of the Geneva Conventions, which it has repeatedly and willfully violated.

As the world watches, Israel has besieged and ravaged our country, created a humanitarian and environmental disaster, and shattered our infrastructure and economy, putting an intolerable strain on our social and economic systems. Fuel, food and medical equipment are in short supply; homes, factories and warehouses have been destroyed; roads severed, bridges smashed and airports disabled.

The damage to infrastructure alone is running into the billions of dollars, as are the losses to owners of private property, and the long-term direct and indirect costs due to lost revenue in tourism, agriculture and industrial sectors are expected to be many more billions. Lebanon's well-known achievements in 15 years of postwar development have been wiped out in a matter of days by Israel's deadly military might.

For all this carnage and death, and on behalf of all Lebanese, we demand an international inquiry into Israel's criminal actions in Lebanon and insist that Israel pay compensation for its wanton destruction.

Israel seems to think that its attacks will sow discord among the Lebanese. This will never happen. Israel should know that the Lebanese people will remain steadfast and united in the face of this latest Israeli aggression -- its seventh invasion -- just as they were during nearly two decades of brutal occupation. The people's will to resist grows ever stronger with each village demolished and each massacre committed.

On July 25, at the international conference for Lebanon in Rome, I proposed a comprehensive seven-point plan to end the war. It was well received by the conference and got the unanimous and full backing of the Lebanese Council of Ministers, in which Hezbollah is represented, as well as of the speaker of parliament and a majority of parliamentary blocs. Representatives of diverse segments of Lebanese civil society have come out strongly in favor, as has the Islamic-Christian Summit, representing all the religious confessions, ensuring a broad national consensus and preserving our delicate social equilibrium.

The plan, which also received the full support of the 56 member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, included an immediate, unconditional and comprehensive cease-fire and called for:
  1. The release of Lebanese and Israeli prisoners and detainees through the International Committee of the Red Cross.
  2. The withdrawal of the Israeli army behind the "blue line."
  3. A commitment from the U.N. Security Council to place the Shebaa Farms and Kfar Shouba Hills areas under U.N. jurisdiction until border delineation and Lebanese sovereignty over them are fully settled. Further, Israel must surrender all maps of remaining land mines in southern Lebanon to the United Nations.
  4. Extension of the Lebanese government's authority over its territory through its legitimate armed forces, with no weapons or authority other than that of the Lebanese state, as stipulated in the Taif accord. We have indicated that the Lebanese armed forces are ready and able to deploy in southern Lebanon, alongside the U.N. forces there, the moment Israel pulls back to the international border.
  5. The supplementing of the U.N. international force operating in southern Lebanon and its enhancement in numbers, equipment, mandate and scope of operation, as needed, to undertake urgent humanitarian and relief work and guarantee stability and security in the south so that those who fled their homes can return.
  6. Action by the United Nations on the necessary measures to once again put into effect the 1949 armistice agreement signed by Lebanon and Israel and to ensure adherence to its provisions, as well as to explore possible amendments to or development of those provisions as necessary.
  7. The commitment of the international community to support Lebanon on all levels, including relief, reconstruction and development needs.

As part of this comprehensive plan, and empowered by strong domestic political support and the unanimous backing of the cabinet, the Lebanese government decided to deploy the Lebanese armed forces in southern Lebanon as the sole domestic military force in the area, alongside U.N. forces there, the moment Israel pulls back to the international border.

Israel responded by slaughtering more civilians in the biblical town of Qana. Such horrible scenes have been repeated daily for nearly four weeks and continue even as I write these words.

The resolution to this war must respect international law and U.N. resolutions, not just those selected by Israel, a state that deserves its reputation as a pariah because of its consistent disdain for and rejection of international law and the wishes of the international community for over half a century.

Lebanon calls, once again, on the United Nations to bring about an immediate cease-fire to relieve the beleaguered people of Lebanon. Only then can the root causes of this war -- Israeli occupation of Lebanese territories and its perennial threat to Lebanon's security, as well as Lebanon's struggle to regain full sovereignty over all its territory -- be addressed.

I believe that a political resolution rooted in international law and based on these seven points will lead to long-term stability. If Israel would realize that the peoples of the Middle East cannot be cowed into submission, that they aspire only to live in freedom and dignity, it could also be a stepping stone to a final solution of the wider Arab-Israeli conflict, which has plagued our region for 60 years.

The 2002 Arab summit in Beirut, which called for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace based on the principle of land for peace, showed the way forward. A political solution cannot, however, be implemented as long as Israel continues to occupy Arab land in Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank and the Syrian Golan Heights and as long as it wages war on innocent people in Lebanon and Palestine. As Jawaharlal Nehru said, "the only alternative to coexistence is co-destruction."

Enough destruction, dispossession, desperation, displacement and death! Lebanon must be allowed to reclaim its position in this troubled region as a beacon of freedom and democracy where justice and the rule of law prevail, and as a refuge for the oppressed where moderation, tolerance and enlightenment triumph.

The writer is prime minister of Lebanon.

Beyond the Cease-Fire
Nice as it sounds, this is not the moment for an Israeli-Arab peace settlement.
Washington Post Editorial, 2006-08-29

[An excerpt (emphasis added):]

The alternative to unilateralism is Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
But the elected Hamas government appears no closer to accepting
the essential precondition —
that it recognize Israel's right to exist —

than it was before the war.

[Here the Washington Post clearly shows its pro-Israel bias.
Lord knows, the Palestinians have precious few bargaining chips
in negotiating with their occupier, the regional super-power.
One of those few bargaining chips surely is
whether they recognize Israel’s right to exist.
Why should that concession be made prior to negotiations,
without Israel having to concede anything?
And if they do concede that prior to negotiations,
what do they have left to bargain with?
About the thing they would have left to offer
would be that they renounce terrorism
and resolve to live in peace with Israel under the negotiated agreement.
But the U.S. and Israel (it’s hard to separate their negotiating positions)
have demanded that as a precondition too.
So the U.S. (and Washington Post) position is that
the Palestinians abandon all their negotiating levers
before they even sit down to bargain.
No wonder the world thinks the U.S. is in Israel’s hip pocket.
And the Washington Post only encourages this pro-Israel policy.]

Olmert Government Issues West Bank Bids
The Associated Press, 2006-09-04

[Emphasis is added.]

The government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday
issued bids to build 700 homes in the West Bank,
its largest settlement construction project since taking office in May.

The Construction and Housing Ministry published ads in Israeli media
requesting proposals for
the new construction in the Maaleh Adumim and Betar Illit settlements,
both outside Jerusalem.
Saeb Erekat, a confidant of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas,
condemned the planned settlement expansion.

“This undermines all efforts being exerted to revive a peace process,”
Erekat said.
“And at the end of the day,
the choice will be between settlements or peace.
You cannot have both.”

The U.S. and other foreign governments do not recognize the settlements,
and consider settlement construction an obstacle to Mideast peace.
President Bush has signaled that
he would agree to Israel holding on to some settlements
under a peace agreement.

[Thus Bush gives away what is not his to give.
No wonder they hate us.]

U.S. Embassy spokesman Stewart Tuttle said
any final borders between the sides should be reached through agreement.

“The U.S. position hasn't changed:
the Israeli government shouldn't expand the settlements,” he said.
“The U.S. position is that
the borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state should be negotiated.”

[In a very typical move,
note that this restatement of what is supposedly the U.S. position
is only given by a very junior person,
a spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv.
The bigwigs, Rice and Bush, rarely repeat it.
Thus, for example, in important meetings with the Israelis and the Arabs,
the issue of the settlements never seems to be brought up by Rice.
So, it seems, the U.S. merely pays lip service to the position stated by Tuttle,
while to the Arabs the issue is as vital
as stated by the Palestinian spokesman above.
Until the U.S. people awaken to the significance of this issue,
there seems no hope for peace.]

[So far as I can tell,
this important (if you are interested in Mideast peace) news
did not appear at all in the WP,
except indirectly in the following portion of
an article dealing with John Bolton and Lincoln Chaffee:
Chafee's foreign policy concerns -- expressed in a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- could alienate Jewish voters and some Christian conservatives who tend to be staunchly pro-Israel. In the letter, Chafee, who chairs the Foreign Relations subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, urged the Bush administration to stop Israel's construction of 690 new homes in two West Bank settlements.
and three weeks later in paragraph 21 of 2006-09-25-Wilson.]

U.S., Israel eye-to-eye on Mideast peace
By BARRY SCHWEID, AP Diplomatic Writer

If there ever was any doubt that
the Bush administration and the Israeli government are of one mind
on Mideast peacemaking and Iran's nuclear programs,
it is fading during talks Israel's foreign minister is holding here.

[Yup, the U.S.A. has become a vassal state to the Jewish one,
to the extent that it even pays $3 billion a year in tribute to its master,
as well as raising armies to fight its master’s battles.
And our “Christian” churches have been so corrupted by feminism
(which, in general, hates the conservative Muslim social order—
see, for example, the feminist domination of the State Department—
Rice, Karen Hughes, Elizabeth Cheney, et al.)
that they can’t even raise a scintilla of protest.

As to the Rice-Livni lovefest,
if this news report is an accurate account of what they discussed,
Rice didn’t even bring up
Israel’s plans to build yet more settlements in the West Bank,
in clear violation of what is claimed to be U.S. policy.
Which only goes to show how hypocritical the United States is
when it comes to Israel.
No wonder we are hated so widely.]

In His Own Words
New York Times, 2006-10-28

[Emphasis is added.]

Comments on foreign policy by Philip D. Zelikow,
counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:

On Israel

In a speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Sept. 15:

“For the Arab moderates and the Europeans,
some sense of progress and momentum on the Arab-Israeli dispute
is just a sine qua non
for them to cooperate actively with the United States
on the things that we care about.

“We can rail against that belief; we can find it completely justifiable.
It is a fact.

“That means an active policy on the Arab-Israeli dispute
is an essential ingredient to forging a coalition
that deals with the most dangerous problems.”

War Turns the Tide For Israeli Settlers
By Scott Wilson
Washington Post, 2006-09-25

[Some excerpts; paragraph numbers, emphasis and comments are added.]

AMONA, West Bank --
The movement to expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank,
which only a few months ago appeared to be a divided, waning political force,
is experiencing a revival
after a summer of war that caused many Israelis
to question the wisdom of abandoning more territory.


A state commission last year identified
more than 100 unauthorized outposts
in the West Bank and Gaza before its evacuation.
Unlike larger Jewish settlements in the territories --
all of which are deemed illegal under international law --
the outposts were built without the explicit approval of the Israeli government.

Outposts are usually no more than a few shipping containers and trailers
that often
expand the boundaries of established settlements to neighboring hilltops.
Many of them, including Amona,
are built on private Palestinian land.

Sharon promised the Bush administration that
he would raze about two dozen outposts erected
since he took office in March 2001,
although none has been dismantled to date.

[Israeli promises to the U.S. broken.
But who in the U.S. cares?
This information is rarely reported, let alone condemned.
we hear endless reports on how the Palestinians fail to restrain violence,
never (well, hardly ever) about how Israel routinely breaks its commitments.
What a double standard!]

Less than a month after taking over from Sharon,
Olmert ordered Israeli soldiers and border police
to remove nine trailers from this outpost.
Pro-settlement demonstrators pelted the soldiers with rocks, sand and paint;
scores of people were injured.

[What? Jews being violent?
I thought only Muslims could be violent.
Isn’t that the party line,
beat into us by endless news reports and commentary,
in the U.S. of A.?]

The rest of Amona was left standing.

Olmert has this month alone
advertised for bids to build
854 new housing units in West Bank settlements,

(see 2006-09-04-AP)
most of them in the large blocs he intends to keep.
The construction runs counter to
the U.S.-backed peace blueprint known as the "road map,"
which Olmert says he supports
as the best way to reach an agreement with the Palestinians.

Arabs Pressure Rice On U.S. Peace Efforts
By Robin Wright
Washington Post, 2006-10-04

CAIRO, Oct. 3 --
The Bush administration's effort to foster a bloc of moderate Arab states to stand against growing militancy in the Middle East has come up against a brick wall,
with several close U.S. allies bluntly telling Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday that they do not want to be pitted against other Arab governments and movements, according to senior Arab officials.
The solution, the allies told Rice,
lies with stronger U.S. leadership in
solving the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Arab-Israeli Conflict: To Reach a Lasting Peace
International Crisis Group, 2006-10-05

“The Lebanon war must serve as a wake-up call”,
says Robert Malley, Crisis Group’s Middle East Program Director.
“Surely everyone now realises that as long as
the political roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict are not addressed,
it will remain a bottomless source and pretext
for repression, radicalisation and bloodletting,
both in the region and beyond.”

[Would that that were true.
Earth to Rice: Read this report.]

Breaking the Law in the West Bank - The Private Land Report - Nov. 2006
by Dror Etkes and Hagit Ofran,
Peace Now 2006-11-21

This report by the Peace Now Settlement Watch Team is
a harsh indictment against the whole settlements enterprise
and the role all Israeli governments played in it.

The report shows that Israel has effectively
stolen privately owned Palestinian lands
for the purpose of constructing settlements
and in violation Israel's own laws regarding activities in the West Bank.
Nearly 40 percent of the total land area on which the settlements sit is,
according to official data of the Israeli Civil Administration
(the government agency in charge of the settlements),
privately owned by Palestinians.
The settlement enterprise has undermined
not only the collective property rights of the Palestinians as a people,
but also the private property rights of individual Palestinian landowners.

Israeli Map Says West Bank Posts Sit on Arab Land
New York Times, 2006-11-21

[Some excerpts from the article; emphasis is added:]

JERUSALEM, Nov. 20 — An Israeli advocacy group,
using maps and figures leaked from inside the government, says that
39 percent
of the land held by Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank
is privately owned by Palestinians.

Israel has long asserted that it fully respects Palestinian private property in the West Bank and only takes land there legally or, for security reasons, temporarily.

If big sections of those settlements are indeed privately held Palestinian land, that is bound to create embarrassment for Israel and further complicate the already distant prospect of a negotiated peace. The data indicate that 40 percent of the land that Israel plans to keep in any future deal with the Palestinians is private.


Within prominent settlements
that Israel has said it plans to keep in any final border agreement,
the data show, for example, that
some 86.4 percent of Maale Adumim, a large Jerusalem suburb,
is private;
and 35.1 percent of Ariel is.


There is a court case pending over Migron, which began as a group of trailers on a windy hilltop around a set of cellphone antennas in May 1999 and is now a flourishing community of 50 families, said Avi Teksler, an official of the Migron council. But Migron, too, according to the data, is built on private Palestinian land.

Mr. Teksler said that the land was deserted,
and that its ownership would be settled in court.
Migron, where some children of noted settlement leaders live,
has had “the support of every Israeli government,”
he said.
“The government has been a partner
to every single move we’ve made.”

Mr. Teksler added:
“This is how the state of Israel was created.
And this is all the land of Israel.

We’re like the kibbutzim.
The only real difference is that we’re after 1967, not before.”

But in the Palestinian village of Burqa,
Youssef Moussa Abdel Raziq Nabboud, 85,
says that some of the land of Migron,
and the land on which Israel built a road for settlers,
belongs to him and his family, who once grew wheat and beans there.
He said he had tax documents from the pre-1967 authorities.

“They have the power to put the settlement there and we can do nothing,”
he said.
“They have a fence around the settlement and dogs there.”

Mr. Nabboud went to the Israeli authorities with the mayor, Abu Maher,
but they were told he needed an Israeli lawyer and surveyor.
“I have no money for that,” he said.
What began as an outpost taking 5 acres has now taken 125, the mayor said.

Mr. Nabboud wears a traditional head covering;
his grandson, Khaled, 27, wears a Yankees cap.
“The land is my inheritance,” he said.
“I feel sad I can’t go there. And angry. The army protects them.”

The Trap of Recognizing Israel
by Jonathan Cook
Antiwar.com, 2006-12-16

Israel and Apartheid: In Defense of Jimmy Carter
by Tony Karon

Israel breaks settlement promise to U.S.
West Bank housing for settlers ousted from Gaza approved despite pledge
Associated Press (via MSNBC), 2007-12-26

Israel has approved a new settlement in the West Bank
to house former Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip,
officials said Tuesday,
breaking a promise to the U.S.
to halt home construction in the Palestinian territories.

Construction in the northern West Bank town of Maskiot began months ago,
but the project only received final approval from the Defense Ministry last week,
said Dubi Tal, head of the Jordan Valley regional council.

Saeb Erekat, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas,
condemned the construction and urged the government to revoke its authorization,
saying it violated the spirit of cooperation inaugurated by a meeting Saturday between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

“What message are they trying to send?” Erekat asked.

The settlement will house 23 families who were evacuated
when Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip last year,
and will eventually house 100 families,
Tal said.
“I estimate that within two or three weeks
the foundations for temporary housing will begin,” he said.

Olmert has signaled in recent weeks that
he is ready to make broad territorial concessions to the Palestinians
under a final peace settlement,
but he has also said he wants Israel to retain large settlement blocs.
The Palestinians claim all of the West Bank,
captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war,
as part of a future independent state.

Under the stalled, U.S.-backed “road map” peace plan,
Israel pledged to freeze all settlement expansion,
while the Palestinians promised to crack down on militants.
Neither side has followed through.

‘The U.S. view ... remains unchanged’

“The U.S. view on settlements remains unchanged,”
said Geoff Anisman, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.
“The U.S. continues to urge both sides to meet their road map obligations
and to avoid taking steps
that could be viewed as predetermining the outcome of final status negotiations.”

Israel to Build New Settlement in Occupied West Bank
New York Times, 2006-12-27

For the first time in 10 years, Israel said Tuesday
it will build a new Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank,
prompting Palestinian anger and American concern.
The Palestinians want to build an independent state
in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem
and consider any Israeli building there an act of thievery.
Israel says it accepts the idea of a Palestinian state
but that its exact contours have to be negotiated.
The new settlement will be called Maskiot....


A spokeswoman for the American consulate in Jerusalem,
which deals with the West Bank, said a new settlement would be troubling.
“We’re looking into it, and if turns out to be a new settlement,
we would be very concerned, given Israel’s obligations under the road map,”
said Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm, the spokeswoman.

The road map calls for a freeze in settlement building along with
a Palestinian push to dismantle terrorist groups.
Israel says the dismantling should come first
and no such action has taken place.
But it has separately promised the Bush administration
that it would only build within existing settlement structures
to account for natural growth,
“thickening” settlements but not expanding them physically.

Israel also promised that it would dismantle
more than 20 illegal outposts set up since March 2001,
but it has only dismantled one, and that under Israeli court order.
Peace Now,
a leftwing Israeli lobby that opposes the settlements and follows them closely,
says that there have been more than 50 outposts established illegally
since March 2001,
and that there are more than 100 illegal outposts in the West Bank altogether,
many of them, like the semi-settlement of Migron,
built on private Palestinian land.

Much of the world considers all Israeli settlements in the West Bank
to be illegal under international law;
the United States, which used to call them illegal,
now calls them “obstacles to peace” that prejudge final status negotiations.
The outposts are illegal under Israeli law
because the government has not authorized them.



Condi’s Savage War on the Palestinians
by Tony Karon

[T]he increasingly violent conflict between Hamas and Fatah
is not only a by-product of Secretary Rice’s economic siege of the Palestinians;
it is the intended consequence of her savage war on the Palestinian people –
a campaign of retribution and collective punishment
for their audacity to elect leaders
other than those deemed appropriate to U.S. agendas.

Israeli, Syrian representatives reach secret understandings
By Akiva Eldar
Haaretz, 2007-01-16

[An excerpt.]

The contacts ended after the Syrians demanded an end to meetings on an unofficial level and called for a secret meeting at the level of deputy minister, on the Syrian side, with an Israeli official at the rank of a ministry’s director general, including the participation of a senior American official. Israel did not agree to this Syrian request.

The Syrian representative in the talks, Ibrahim (Abe) Suleiman, an American citizen, had visited Jerusalem and delivered a message to senior officials at the Foreign Ministry regarding the Syrian wish for an agreement with Israel. The Syrians also asked for help in improving their relations with the United States, and particularly in lifting the American embargo on Syria.

For his part, the European mediator stressed that the Syrian leadership is concerned that the loss of petroleum revenues will lead to an economic crash in the country and could consequently undermine the stability of the Assad regime.

According to Geoffrey Aronson, an American from the Washington-based Foundation for Middle East Peace, who was involved in the talks, an agreement under American auspices would call for Syria to ensure that Hezbollah would limit itself to being solely a political party.

He also told Haaretz that Khaled Meshal, Hamas’ political bureau chief, based in Damascus, would have to leave the Syrian capital.

Syria would also exercise its influence for a solution to the conflict in Iraq, through an agreement between Shi’a leader Muqtada Sadr and the Sunni leadership, and in addition, it would contribute to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the refugee problem.


“This was a serious and honest effort to find creative solutions to practical problems that prevented an agreement from being reached during Barak’s [tenure as prime minister] and to create an atmosphere of building confidence between the two sides,” he said.

It also emerged that one of the Syrian messages to Israel had to do with the ties between Damascus and Tehran. In the message, the Alawi regime - the Assad family being members of the Alawi minority - asserts that it considers itself to be an integral part of the Sunni world and that it objects to the Shi’a theocratic regime, and is particularly opposed to Iran’s policy in Iraq. A senior Syrian official stressed that a peace agreement with Israel will enable Syria to distance itself from Iran.

Noted Arab Citizens Call on Israel to Shed Jewish Identity
New York Times, 2007-02-08

A group of prominent Israeli Arabs has called on Israel
to stop defining itself as a Jewish state and become
a “consensual democracy for both Arabs and Jews,”
prompting consternation and debate across the country.

Their contention is part of
The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel,”
a report published in December
under the auspices of the Committee of Arab Mayors in Israel,
which represents the country’s 1.3 million Arab citizens,
about a fifth of the population.
Some 40 well-known academics and activists took part.

They call on the state
to recognize Israeli Arab citizens as an indigenous group with collective rights,
saying Israel inherently discriminates against non-Jewish citizens in its
symbols of state,
some core laws, and
budget and land allocations.

The authors propose a form of government, “consensual democracy,”
akin to the Belgian model for Flemish- and French-speakers,
involving proportional representation and power-sharing in a central government and
autonomy for the Arab community in areas like
education, culture and religious affairs.

The document does not deal with
the question of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip,
where an additional three million Palestinians
live under Israeli occupation without Israeli citizenship.
The aim of the declaration is to reshape the future of Israel itself.

The reaction of Jewish Israelis has ranged from some understanding
to a more widespread response, indignation.
Even among the center-left, where concern for civil rights is common,
some have condemned the document as disturbing and harmful.
On the right, Israeli Arabs have been accused of constituting a “fifth column,”
a demographic and strategic threat to the survival of the state.

Three’s a Crowd: Israel, Iran, and the Bush Administration
by Gabriel Kolko
Antiwar.com, 2007-02-12

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

Israeli experts have come to the realization that
American policy in the Middle East is not merely an immense failure
but also a decisive inhibition to Israel reorienting its foreign policy
to confront the realities of the region that the Jews have chosen to live in.
The U.S. has ousted the Taliban from Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein from Iraq
and created an overwhelming Iranian presence.
In Palestine, its campaign for democracy has brought Hamas to power.
Troop escalation in Iraq is deemed futile.
“It’s a total misreading of reality,
one Israeli expert is quoted when discussing America’s role in the region.
Israeli interests are no longer being served.
American policies have failed, and
Israel has given a carte blanche
to a strategy that leaves it more isolated than ever.


Israel’s power after 1947 was based on
its military supremacy over its weaker neighbors.
It is in the process of losing it – if it has not already.
Lesser problems, mainly demographic,
will only be aggravated if tension persists.
It simply cannot survive allied with the United States,
because the Americans will either leave the region
or embark on a war that risks Israel’s very existence.
It is time for it to become “normal” and make peace with its neighbors,
and that will require it to make major concessions.

It can do that if it embarks upon an independent foreign policy,
and it can start immediately to do so with Syria.

Wasting Time In The Middle East
by Joel Beinin
TomPaine.com, 2007-02-23

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

[Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert announced that
Israel and the United States had agreed that
they would boycott the Palestinian government of national unity
which will be formed on the basis of the accords reached in Mecca
unless it
  1. recognizes “the right of the State of Israel to exist,”
  2. stops “terrorism” and
  3. agrees to fulfill the agreements signed by the PLO.

Such demands appear to be sensible requirements for a diplomatic process.
But in fact they are one-sided and hypocritical.
  1. The Palestinians must recognize the right of Israel to exist.
    Israel is not required to define its borders or
    to recognize the right of a Palestinian state to exist.

    [For additional arguments on this,
    see “The Trap of Recognizing Israel” by Jonathan Cook.]
  2. The Palestinians must stop “terrorism,”
    Israel is not required to stop
    military operations in the Palestinian territories or
    the building of settlements.
  3. The Palestinians should fulfill the agreements they have signed,
    Israel is not required to do so,
    even though it has violated
    many provisions of the Oslo accords and the roadmap,

    such as
    • opening “safe passages” between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank,
    • carrying out of the third “redeployment”
      (withdrawal from Palestinian territories),
    • treating the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territory,
    • freezing settlement construction, etc.

Syria-Israel peace talks
Israel has also been intransigent toward its Arab neighbors.
On January 16 Ha’aretz reported that
secret informal talks between Syria and Israel from September 2004 to July 2006
formulated understandings for
a comprehensive peace agreement between the two countries.
In exchange for Israeli withdrawal from Syrian territory occupied in 1967,
Syria would
  • sign a peace agreement recognizing Israel,
  • ensure that Lebanon’s Hizballah
    would limit itself to being a political party,
  • require [Hamas leader Khaled] Meshal to leave Damascus and
  • distance itself from Iran.
The contacts ended after
Israel rejected a Syrian request for an official meeting
with the participation of a senior American official.
Syrian President Bashar al-Asad subsequently affirmed publicly
his willingness to negotiate a peace with Israel.
Olmert rebuffed these overtures.

[The Syrian offer sounds like a great deal for both Israel and the U.S.
It’s amazing that the hard-liners in Israel and the U.S. turned it down.
Is retaining that Syrian territory all that important?
But note this attempt by Israel to blame the U.S. for the impasse.]

Israel and Iran Share Most Negative Ratings in Global Poll
BBC World Service and PIPA, 2007-03-06

A majority of people polled for the BBC World Service across 27 countries believe
Israel and Iran have a mainly negative influence in the world
with almost as many saying the same about North Korea and the United States.


Israel is viewed quite negatively in the world,
possibly because the poll was conducted
less than six months following the Israel/Hezbollah war in Lebanon.
On average,
56 percent have a mainly negative view of the country,
just 17 percent have a positive view,
the least positive rating for any country evaluated.

In 23 countries the most common view is negative,
with only two [USA, Nigeria] leaning towards a positive view
and two [Kenya, India] divided.

[I am not Jewish,
but if I were this poll would call for a serious reaction.
Being the least favorably viewed country in the world
cannot be a positive for the state that describes itself as “the Jewish nation.”
Jews may think that they are quite wonderful,
and that anyone who thinks otherwise has some version of mental illness,
but this business of blaming everyone but themselves cannot survive forever
when so much of the world has turned against them.
Wouldn’t it be wiser to take the concerns of the world community seriously?]

Unsurprisingly, the most negative views of Israel
are found in the predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East,
with very large majorities
in Lebanon (85%), Egypt (78%), Turkey (76%), and the UAE (73%)
having negative views.
[At the governmental level,
Turkey and Israel have a reasonably positive relation.
Thus it is surprising that this poll claims
only 2 percent of the Turks surveyed view Israel favorably,
the lowest of any nation considered.]

Large majorities also have negative views in Europe,
including Germany (77%), Greece (68%) and France (66%).
Indonesia (71%), Australia (68%) and South Korea (62%)
are the most negative countries in the Asia/Pacific region.
Brazilians (72%) are the most negative in Latin America.

The two countries that tend to view Israel positively do so in modest numbers.
Forty-five percent of Nigerians and 41 percent of Americans
have positive views of Israel’s influence in the world,
while nearly one-third in each country has negative views.
The Kenyan and Indian populations have divided views of Israel.

Because this is the first time
the survey has included Israel among the countries rated,
there is no evidence that its current ratings are better or worse than before.

Official Israeli Government Data Confirms:
Large Part of West Bank Jewish Settlements
Sit on Privately-Owned Palestinian Land

Peace Now, 2007-03-14

West Bank Sites on Private Land, Data Shows
New York Times, 2007-03-14

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

Some of the land listed as private has been seized legally,
though supposedly temporarily, by the Israeli military for security purposes.
Many settlements were built on such land,
even though it is supposed to be returned to its owners.
The military simply signs a renewal of the seizure order every few years.
But the military keeps secret
how much land is under such temporary seizure orders.

[It is impossible to believe that there is military justification
for keeping such information classified.
This is, it seems clear, just another effort by the rotten Israeli government
to hide from the world accurate information about its nefarious activities.
What a shame it is that the American body politic
seems to care not a whit about what Israel has done to the Palestinians.]

In a 1979 court case, the Israeli Supreme Court declared that
the seizure of private land for establishing settlements for security purposes
is illegal.
But the official data shows that
32 percent of the land in settlements established after 1979 is private land.

Obstacle or Opportunity?
How the Palestinian Unity Government Offers a Path to Peace
By Daoud Kuttab
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2007-03-26

[Its last three paragraphs:]

In June 1967, Israel occupied Palestinian and Arab lands.
Forty years later, in defiance of U.N. resolutions,
the Israeli army is still occupying the lands and oppressing the people,
and the government still supports
building illegal settlements in Palestinian territory.
Soon after the occupation, the late Moshe Dayan said that
the Israelis were waiting for a phone call from any Arab leader.
Instead, Arabs resolved
not to recognize Israel,
not to negotiate with Israel and
not to make peace with Israel.

Since then, Palestinians and other Arabs have reversed themselves,
offering peace, negotiations and recognition
in return for Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders.
The new Palestinian government,
which plans to participate in the upcoming Arab summit,
will approve and reiterate the Arab peace initiative,
first made in Beirut in 2002,
that called for an exchange of land
[as well as a
“just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem
to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194”]

for recognition as well as normalization.

It is time for Israel and the international community
to see that the cup is half full.
By choosing to work toward peace, they can fill it the rest of the way --
or stand by and watch the drops of hope dry up.

Olmert: ‘Not one refugee can return’
Jerusalem Post, 2007-03-30

Olmert reiterated that
Israel would not accept the return to Israel of any refugees.
It is “out of the question,” he said.
“I’ll never accept a solution that is based on their return to Israel,
any number.”


“I will not agree to accept any kind of Israel responsibility for the refugees.
Full stop,” [Olmert] said.
“It’s a moral issue of the highest level.
I don’t think that we should accept any kind of responsibility
for the creation of this problem.”

Olmert Rejects Right of Return for Palestinians
New York Times, 2007-03-31

TEL AVIV, March 30 —
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in interviews published Friday that
Israel would not allow a single Palestinian refugee to return
to what is now Israel,

and that
the country bore no responsibility for the refugees
their plight resulted from
an attack by Arab nations on Israel

when it was a fledgling state.


In an interview with The Jerusalem Post,
Mr. Olmert seemed to rule out any negotiation on refugees.
He would not accept any notional Palestinian “right of return” to their homes, telling the newspaper:
“I’ll never accept a solution that is based on their return to Israel,
any number.”

Mr. Olmert said that
the refugee problem was caused by the Arab attack on Israel in 1948
and called it “a moral issue of the highest standard.”
He said:
“I will not agree to accept any kind of Israeli responsibility for the refugees.
Full stop.”

Then he added:
“I don’t think we should accept any kind of responsibility
for the creation of this problem. Full stop.”
He said the return of even one Palestinian refugee to Israel was
“out of the question.”

Palestinians say that even before the Arab nations attacked Israel,
many Arabs fled or were forced to flee by Jewish fighters.
After the war, Israel barred their return.
[That is true, but incomplete.
Many neutral observers, scholars, and historians,
including some Israelis, agree that
most, if not all, of the Palestinian flight was caused by
deliberate policies and actions of the Jewish forces.
See, for example, Baruch Kimmerling on
Plan D and the Israelification of the Land”.]

Settlers’ Defiance Reflects Postwar Israeli Changes
New York Times, 2007-04-22

[An excerpt:]

HEBRON, West Bank, April 20 —
One night last month,
100 Jewish settlers marched down the main road here
with little more than a stack of sleeping bags
and claimed a vacant four-story building
in the middle of an Arab neighborhood.


The settlements are viewed by much of the world as illegal
because they are built on land taken in war,
and as an obstacle to peace and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Over nearly four decades they have grown,
with many of the enclaves looking like ordinary suburbs.
There are now 240,000 Jews living among 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank
and another 200,000 Jews living in areas of Jerusalem also conquered in 1967.

For each of the last five years,
the population of the settlements has grown by nearly 5 percent,
twice the rate of the previous average growth,
according to Peace Now,
a group that opposes the settlements and closely tracks them.
Kiryat Arba, the Jewish settlement less than a mile northeast of Hebron,
has more than doubled in the last two decades, to 7,000 residents today.
Hebron itself,
considered to have some of the most uncompromising of the settlers,
has some 700 Jews.


The settlers say they used money from a wealthy American donor
to buy the building from a man living in Jordan.
Palestinian advocates deny that,
saying that the man who owns the property still lives in Hebron
and will fight to reclaim it.

Nonchalantly, NYT Details Israeli Ethnic Cleansing
by Jeremy Sapienza
Antiwar.com Blog, 2007-05-13

I can’t imagine the vitriol that would be packaged as journalism
if some southern US state were to, say,
subsidize the construction of white neighborhoods and yet
refuse permits for private building in overcrowded black neighborhoods.
In 2007.
It would be the only news for weeks.
But it’s Israel, so the New York Times shrugs.

Red Cross Report Says Israel Disregards Humanitarian Law
New York Times, 2007-05-15

The International Committee of the Red Cross, in a confidential report about East Jerusalem and its surrounding areas, accuses Israel of a “general disregard” for “its obligations under international humanitarian law — and the law of occupation in particular.”

The committee, which does not accept Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem, says Israel is using its rights as an occupying power under international law “in order to further its own interests or those of its own population to the detriment of the population of the occupied territory.”

With the construction of the separation barrier, the establishment of an outer ring of Jewish settlements beyond the expanded municipal boundaries and the creation of a dense road network linking the different Israeli neighborhoods and settlements in and outside Jerusalem, the report says, Israel is “reshaping the development of the Jerusalem metropolitan area” with “far-reaching humanitarian consequences.” Those include the increasing isolation of Palestinians living in Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and the increasing difficulty for some Palestinians to easily reach Jerusalem’s schools and hospitals.

The Red Cross committee, which is recognized as a guardian of humanitarian law under the Geneva Conventions of 1949, does not publish its reports but provides them in confidence to the parties involved and to a small number of countries. This report was provided to The New York Times by someone outside the organization who wanted the report’s conclusions publicized. The leak came just days before Israel’s celebration of Jerusalem Day this Wednesday, observing the 40th anniversary of the unification of the city.

The committee is better known for its role in visiting prisoners all over the world to try to ensure humanitarian conditions. It has been involved for decades with the Israeli-Palestinian situation as part of its role in upholding the Geneva Conventions, which cover the responsibilities of occupying countries. But its reports rarely surface.

The report considers all land that Israel conquered in the 1967 war to be occupied territory. It was the result of nine months of work by the committee and was delivered in late February “to Israel and to a small number of foreign governments we believe would be in the best position to help support our efforts for the implementation of humanitarian law,” said Bernard Barrett, a spokesman for the committee in Jerusalem.

Israeli officials said that they respected the committee and that they had cooperated with it gladly on issues ranging from the release of captured Israeli soldiers to asking its officials to give briefings on international law to Israeli diplomats and commanders serving in the occupied West Bank.

They confirmed having received the report, but disagreed with its premises and conclusions.

“We reject the premise of the report, that East Jerusalem is occupied territory,” said Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry. “It is not. Israel annexed Jerusalem in 1967 and offered full citizenship at the time to all of Jerusalem’s residents. These are facts that cannot be ignored.”

Israel, he said, “is committed to a diverse and pluralistic Jerusalem, to improving the conditions of all the city’s inhabitants and to protecting their interests as part of our sovereign responsibility.” He added, “If any population in Jerusalem is thriving and growing, it is the Arab population.”

He also noted that Israel made great efforts to ensure health care for Palestinians, pointing to 81,000 entry permits in 2006 for Palestinians needing care inside Israel.

Conditions have worsened for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, which has long had inferior services.

Security restrictions and the barrier that runs around and through parts of East Jerusalem were Israel’s response to suicide bombings after 2000, but they made it much more difficult for Palestinians to move into and out of Jerusalem.

It is virtually impossible for Palestinians from the West Bank or Gaza to move to Jerusalem if they were not born in the city; even visiting requires a permit that can be hard to get. Natural population growth and building restrictions in Arab parts of the city means that large families often share very small apartments.

Palestinians argue that the building restrictions are meant to suppress the growth of the their community; the Israelis counter that zoning restrictions are imposed throughout the city.

The Red Cross report notes that the separation barrier “was undertaken with an undeniable security aim,” but adds, “The route of the West Bank barrier is also following a demographic logic, enclosing the settlement blocs around the city while excluding built-up Palestinian areas (thus creating isolated Palestinian enclaves).”

Mustafa Barghouti, spokesman for the Palestinian unity government, welcomed the report, calling it consistent with the rulings of the International Court of Justice, which said in a nonbinding opinion in 2004 that Israel’s security barrier was illegal where it crossed the 1967 lines into occupied territory. “Israel violates international law with impunity, and couldn’t continue this blunt violation for 40 years if it did not feel impunity toward the international community,” Mr. Barghouti said.

West chooses Fatah, but Palestinians don’t
They prefer Hamas, which represents an alternative
to Fatah’s acceptance of the Israeli occupation.
By Saree Makdisi
Los Angeles Times, 2007-06-20

[Blogspot copy: “ Palestinians Think Otherwise...”.
An excerpt:]

Here in the U.S., Hamas is routinely demonized,
known primarily for its attacks on civilians.
Depictions of Hamas portray its “rejectionism” as an end in itself
rather than as
a refusal to go along with a political process
that has proved catastrophic for Palestinians on the ground.

Has Hamas done unspeakable things?
Yes, but so has Fatah, and so too has Israel (on a much larger scale).
There are no saints in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

What Hamas Wants
New York Times Op-Ed, 2007-06-20

Engage With Hamas
We Earned Our Support
By Ahmed Yousef
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2007-06-20

Israeli Settlements Found to Grow Past Boundaries
New York Times, 2007-07-07

JERUSALEM, July 6 — Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank use only 12 percent of the land allocated to them, but one-third of the territory they do use lies outside of their official jurisdictions, according to a new report released on Friday by Peace Now, an advocacy group.

According to the report, based on official data released by the Israeli government after a court order, 90 percent of the settlements sprawl beyond their official boundaries despite the large amount of unused land already allocated to them.

More than 10 percent of the land included within the official jurisdiction of the settlements is owned privately by Palestinians, as is 70 percent of the land the settlements control outside of their official boundaries, said the report, whose findings were published in Haaretz newspaper on Friday. Peace Now opposes the settlements and tracks them.

Dror Etkes, who prepared the report with Hagit Ofran of Peace Now, said that in his view the official data showed that the government had taken West Bank land beyond the needs of the settlements, possibly to prevent Palestinian construction there and to add a zone of separation between the settlers and the Palestinians.

But once an area is closed to Palestinians, settlers have seized adjacent Palestinian lands, often privately owned, without being stopped by the Israeli Army, which is the legal sovereign in the occupied territories.

“There is a pattern of a failure to enforce the law on the settlers,” Mr. Etkes said. “But the lack of enforcement isn’t an accident. It became another tool to achieve the military goals of the occupation, which is to allocate the land and hold it.”

A Destination, Not a Road Map
By Daoud Kuttab
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2007-07-23

We can no longer afford a step-by-step approach
like the process begun in Madrid.
In the past, plans employing incremental improvements
have been targets for extremists
seeking dates and locations to use to derail the peace process.
Consider what a radical Israeli citizen did to Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
And Palestinian extremists have carried out suicide bombings and other horrific acts
on the eve of Israeli elections and important redeployments,
virtually guaranteeing the abandonment of Israeli withdrawal plans.

What we need, as suggested in the Arab peace initiative
and a number of Palestinian-Israeli peace initiatives,
is an agreed-upon final status --
something like the 1967 borders --
and the process to implement terms that will be agreed to by all parties.
Otherwise, future summits will continue to fail.

In Divided Hebron, a Shared Despair
Palestinians and Jewish Settlers in West Bank City Struggle for Existence
By Scott Wilson
Washington Post, 2007-07-26

[Nothing especially important in this story,
just another account of the conflict over who can live in Hebron.]

Embarrassing history
United Press International, 2007-08-06

[Emphasis is added.
Much of this aspect of Israeli history is also related in
Righteous Victims by Benny Morris.]

The Palestinians call Israel’s 1948 war of independence
their nakba, or catastrophic ethnic cleansing, or forced exile.
The Israelis, for their part,
have steadfastly rejected any suggestion of ethnic cleansing
as calumny in all its anti-Semitic horror.

Historic revisionism is now under way.
Without fanfare, just below the media radar screen,
the Israeli Education Ministry
has approved a textbook for Arab third-graders in Israel that concedes
the war that gave birth to Israel was a “nakba” for the Palestinians.
The textbook refers to
the “expulsion” of some of the Palestinians and
the “confiscation of many Arab-owned lands.”

Textbooks for Jewish Israelis in the same grade make no such verbal concession.
But Israel’s “new wave” historians
have been combing through fresh material now available
from the British mandate period and Israeli archives
that document the history of Israel before and after it became a state.
Long-lasting myths are being debunked.

Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian and Haifa University lecturer,
whose ninth book is titled The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine,
documents how
Israel was born with lands
forcibly seized from its Palestinian inhabitants
who had lived there for hundreds of years.

During the British mandate (1920-1948),
Zionist leaders concluded Palestinians,
who owned 90 percent of the land (with 5.8 percent owned by Jews),
would have to be forcibly expelled to make a Jewish state possible.
Pappe quotes David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister,
addressing the Jewish Agency Executive in June 1938, as saying,
“I am for compulsory transfer. I do not see anything immoral in it.”

Pappe outlines Plan D (Dalet in Hebrew)
[Baruch Kimmerling has also commented on this],
which followed earlier plans A, B and C, and included
forcible expulsion of some 800,000 Palestinians from both urban and rural areas
with the objective of creating by any means necessary
an exclusive Jewish state without an Arab presence.
The methods ranged from a campaign of disinformation --
“get out immediately because the Jews are on their way to kill you” --
to Jewish militia attacks to terrorize the Palestinians.

The first Jewish militia attacks, says Pappe,
began before the May 1948 end of the British mandate.
In December 1947 two villages in the central plain --
Deir Ayyub and Beit Affa --
were raided, and their panicked Palestinian inhabitants fled.
Jewish leaders gave the order to drive out as many Palestinians as possible
on March 10, 1948.
The terror campaign ended six months later.
Pappe writes 531 Palestinian villages were destroyed,
and 11 urban neighborhoods in cities were emptied of their Palestinian inhabitants.

There is no doubt in Pappe’s mind that Plan D “was
a clear-cut case of an ethnic cleansing operation,
regarded under international law today as a crime against humanity.”

Plan Dalet began in the rural hills on the western slopes of the Jerusalem mountains halfway on the road to Tel Aviv, according to Pappe.
It was called Operation Nachshon,
and served as a model for massive expulsions using terror tactics.
Pappe also details what he calls the “urbicide of Palestine”
that included attacking and cleansing the major urban centers of Tiberias, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Safad and what he calls the “Phantom City of Jerusalem”
once Jewish troops shelled, attacked and occupied
its western Arab neighborhoods in April 1948.
The British did not interfere.

Lobbied by the World Zionist Organization and its guiding spirit Chaim Weizmann, who became the first president of Israel (1949-52),
the British decided in favor of a Jewish state in Palestine
in the 1917 Balfour Declaration.
This was a letter from the British Foreign Secretary
to Lord Rothschild (Walter, 2nd Baron Rothschild),
the leader of the British Jewish community,
for relay to the Zionist Federation.
The British also pledged indigenous Arab rights would be protected
as they divvied up the Ottoman Empire.

The myth was then created of “a land without people for a people without a land” even though the “empty land” had a flourishing Palestinian Arab population.
[How this canard has been perpetuate
is thoroughly documented in the introduction (look up “Peters” in the index)
and chapter 2 of
Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict
by the brilliant, but much-persecuted, American scholar Norman Finkelstein.]

The U.N. partition plan of Nov. 29, 1947,
gave the Jews 56 percent of Palestine, with one-third of the population,
while making Jerusalem an international city.
The Jewish part included the most fertile land and almost all urban areas.

When the British handed power to the Jews on May 15, 1948,
including the influx of survivors from Hitler’s concentration camps,
two-thirds of the population was still Palestinian.

The first Arab-Israeli war quickly followed as
the armies of Egypt, Transjordan (now Jordan), Syria, Lebanon and Iraq
joined Palestinian and other Arab guerrillas
who had been attacking Jewish forces since November 1947.
The Arabs failed to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state
and were defeated.
The war ended with four U.N.-arranged armistice agreements
between Israel and Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

Commenting on Pappe’s historical research,
Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut and editor at large of the Beirut Daily Star, writes,
“Many Israelis will challenge Pappe’s account.
Such a process should ideally spark an honest, comprehensive analysis
that could lead us to an accurate narrative of what happened in 1947-48 --
accurate for both sides, if it is to have meaning for either side.”

An Israeli official textbook for Palestinian third-graders, says [Khouri],
“that fleetingly acknowledges
the Palestinian trauma of exile and occupation in 1948
is an intriguing sign of something that remains largely unclear.”
The “something” is worth exploring and reciprocating,
“if it indicates a capacity to move toward
the elusive shared, accurate, truthful account of Israeli and Palestinian history that must anchor any progress toward a negotiated peace.”

The consensus in Israel today, says Pappe, is for
a state comprising 90 percent of Palestine
“surrounded by electric fences and visible and invisible walls”
with Palestinians given only
worthless cantonized scrub lands of little value to the Jewish state.
In 2006, Pappe sees that
1.4 million Palestinians live in Israel
on 2 percent of the land allotted to them
plus another 1 percent for agricultural use
with 6 million Jews on most of the rest.
“Another 3.9 million live
concentrated in Israel’s unwanted portions of the West Bank and
concentrated in Gaza that has three times the population density of Manhattan,”
notes Pappe.
Back from the Middle East last week,
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said
prospects are good for a two-state solution.
A “viable and contiguous” Palestinian state,
pledged by the Bush administration,
remains a pipe dream.

Touring Israel’s Barrier With Its Main Designer
By Scott Wilson
Washington Post, 2007-08-07

KFAR ADUMIM, West Bank --
From his stone balcony,
Dan Tirza looks out over a rippling expanse of Judean desert,
the biblical landscape of the Jewish people.
A student of that history, the retired army colonel is a leading actor
in Israel’s modern story of statehood, conquest
and the volatile task of erecting a boundary that divides Arab from Jew.

Police Fight to Remove West Bank Settlers
New York Times, 2007-08-08

[An excerpt:]

[H]undreds of Israeli riot police officers on Tuesday
forcibly removed Jewish settlers
from houses they had been occupying illegally for months
in the West Bank city of Hebron.


A small part of Hebron is occupied by 650 Israeli settlers, living among thousands of Palestinians, under a 1997 deal with the Palestinian Authority.

In contrast to the way the Israeli Army operates — through quiet arrests of Palestinians during the night in the cities of the occupied West Bank — the Israeli government gave the settlers significant notice. The relatively fierce confrontation served both the settlers and the government, creating heroes among the settlers and allowing the government to show to the world that removing the nearly 80,000 settlers who live beyond the separation barrier would not be an easy task.

The government can also show Washington and the more moderate supporters of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, that it is willing to confront settlers if necessary.

But more than the evacuation, Israelis on Tuesday debated the meaning of the refusal by a group of religious soldiers to participate in the operation.

The soldiers are members of a program that allows them to serve in the army and study in yeshivas, or religious schools. They consulted their parents and rabbis, who counseled many of them to call in sick or otherwise refuse orders to evacuate the settlers.

These rabbis believe, as they did about the Gaza evacuation, that it is wrong to evict a Jew from his home in any part of the biblical land of Israel.

In the end, 12 members of the Kfir regiment of religious soldiers, including two company commanders, refused their orders and were immediately court-martialed, receiving sentences of up to a month in military jail.

Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni, head of the central command, said bluntly, “This phenomenon endangers the foundations on which” the Israeli Army “operates, being the people’s army in a democratic state, which is obligated to carry out any mission given to it.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said: “Any state that wishes to live can have only one army. Soldiers are given orders from their company and regiment commanders only and not from any other person, as respectable as he may be.”

The liberal newspaper Haaretz warned that the “ideological refusal to evacuate settlers is no longer a marginal phenomenon,” suggesting that more parents and rabbis were telling students to refuse, with support from some conservative politicians.

One of them, Aryeh Eldad of the National Union Party, said the episode was a warning to the government that “if they try to harness the army for expelling Jews, they will remain with no army.”

All Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 boundaries are considered illegal by much of the world; Israel disputes that. But there are more than 20 settler outposts created since March 2001, illegal under Israeli law, that the government has promised Washington to dismantle but has not.

A Segregated Road in an Already Divided Land
by Steven Erlanger
New York Times, 2007-08-11

JERUSALEM, Aug. 10 —
Israel is constructing a road through the West Bank, east of Jerusalem,
that will allow both Israelis and Palestinians to travel along it —

There are two pairs of lanes, one for each tribe,
separated by a tall wall of concrete patterned to look like Jerusalem stones,
an effort at beautification indicating that the road is meant to be permanent.
The Israeli side has various exits; the Palestinian side has few.

The point of the road,
according to those who planned it under former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon,
is to permit Israel to build more settlements around East Jerusalem,
cutting the city off from the West Bank,
but allowing Palestinians
to travel unimpeded north and south through Israeli-held land.

“The Americans demanded from Sharon contiguity for a Palestinian state,”
said Shaul Arieli, a reserve colonel in the army who participated in the 2000 Camp David negotiations and specializes in maps.
“This road was Sharon’s answer,
to build a road for Palestinians between Ramallah and Bethlehem
but not to Jerusalem.
This was how to connect the West Bank
while keeping Jerusalem united
and not giving Palestinians any blanket permission to enter East Jerusalem.”

Oslo Revisited
by Uri Avnery
Antiwar.com, 2007-08-15

[An excerpt.]

Fourteen years after the signing of the Oslo agreement,
it is again the subject of debate:
was it a historical mistake?

In the past, only the Right said so.
They talked about “Oslo criminals,”
as the Nazis used to rail against “November criminals”
(those who signed the November 1918 armistice
between the defeated Germany and the victorious Allies.)

Now, the debate is also agitating the Left.
With the wisdom of hindsight,
some leftists argue that the Oslo agreement is to blame for
the dismal political situation of the Palestinians,
the near collapse of the Palestinian Authority and
the split between Gaza and the West Bank.
The slogan “Oslo is dead” can be heard on all sides.

What truth is there in this?


The Language of Force
by Uri Avnery
Antiwar.com, 2007-08-30


A popular Israeli saying has it that
“The Arabs understand only the language of force.”
[An Israeli poll] may confirm what many Palestinians think:
it is the Israelis themselves who don't understand any other language.


Let Us Praise the Greatest Mensch Who Walks the Earth. Henry Siegman
by Philip Weiss
Mondoweiss, 2007-09-13

[Emphasis is added.]

There are two ways to know a prophet.
One is that every word he speaks brings moral clarity to a perplexing issue.
The second is that he is published in the London Review of Books,
not in the States.

Today is Rosh Hashana, and with all the piety I have in my spirit,
I urge my fellow Jews to read Henry Siegman’s piece
on “There Is No Peace Process”
(“The Great Middle East Peace Process Scam”)
in the August London Review of Books.
Siegman is the former head of the American Jewish Congress.
He worked at the Council on Foreign Relations.
I believe he once said that members of his own family don’t speak to him
because of his comments on Israel/Palestine.
Why he is not published in the U.S. I haven’t a clue; it is our shame.
Why politico doesn’t ask his opinion of Walt and Mearsheimer,
why Charlie Rose doesn’t have him on at every turn in the road,
why he is not profiled in the New York Times Magazine or the New Yorker--
these things are beyond me.

Here are some of the perplexing issues Siegman answers in his article.
[The numbers are paragraph numbers in the edition linked to above.
They are clickably linked to the paragraphs in that edition.]

Why has there not been peace through decades of negotiation?
That reason is

the consensus reached long ago by Israel’s decision-making elites that
Israel will never allow
the emergence of a Palestinian state
which denies it
effective military and economic control of the West Bank.

Why are Palestinians angry? They have time and again lost territory.
Israeli civilian and military infrastructure
has rendered 40 per cent
[of the 22 percent of Palestine that they were reduced to in ‘49,
from the 50 percent they were granted in ‘47]
off limits to Palestinians.
The rest of the territory,
including major population centres such as Nablus and Jericho,
is split into enclaves;
movement between them is restricted by 450 roadblocks...

But the liberal Israeli Gershom Gorenberg
called the settlements an “accidental” empire!
Anyone familiar with
Israel’s relentless confiscations of Palestinian territory...
knows that
the objective of its settlement enterprise in the West Bank
has been largely achieved.

Gaza, the evacuation of whose settlements
was so naively hailed by the international community
as the heroic achievement...
was intended to serve as the first in a series of Palestinian bantustans.
Gaza’s situation shows us what these bantustans will look like
if their residents do not behave as Israel wants.

Bantustan.... You’re not calling it apartheid!
[Haggai Alon, former Defence officials says]

the IDF is ‘carrying out an apartheid policy’
that is emptying Hebron of Arabs
and Judaising (his term) the Jordan Valley,
while it co-operates openly with the settlers
in an attempt to make a two-state solution impossible.

Yes but what about suicide terrorism?
It is not to sanction the murder of civilians to observe that
such violence occurs, sooner or later,
in most situations in which
a people’s drive for national self-determination
is frustrated by an occupying power.
Israel’s own struggle for national independence
was no exception.

The Arabs refuse to compromise!
That is an indecent charge, since
the Palestinians made much the most far-reaching compromise of all
when the PLO formally accepted
the legitimacy of Israel within the 1949 armistice border.

With that concession,
Palestinians ceded their claim to more than half the territory
that the UN’s partition resolution had assigned to its Arab inhabitants.

They have never received any credit for this wrenching concession,
made years before Israel agreed that Palestinians had a right to statehood in any part of Palestine.
The notion that further border adjustments should be made
at the expense of the 22 per cent of the territory
that remains to the Palestinians
is deeply offensive to them, and understandably so.

What is to be done? Siegman says [21]

the international community (i.e., the U.S.)
must end the “blather” about Palestinians reforming their institutions.
It must reject Israel’s 40-year intransigence.

The Security Council must adopt a resolution calling for an end to the conflict and a return to the pre-’67 borders.
[Didn’t 242 and 338 do that?]
If the parties don’t reach an agreement within a year,
send in a U.N. force to
“establish the rule of law.”

The rule of law.
On this holy day, Siegman’s utter clarity about right and wrong touches my soul.
I know that his views have developed (as mine have) by meeting Palestinians,
who he has seen are human beings who yearn for freedoms we take for granted.
Let other Jews follow in his huge footsteps...

Israelis Press Plan to Block the Division of Jerusalem
New York Times, 2007-11-15

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

The Israeli Parliament gave preliminary approval on Wednesday to
a bill intended to hinder any division of Jerusalem
in a future deal with the Palestinians.

The vote came as Israel’s rightist and religious parties
started positioning themselves
before an American-sponsored peace gathering
expected to take place in Annapolis, Md., this month.


Israel conquered the eastern part of Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and
has greatly extended the city limits to the north, south and east,
annexing several Palestinian villages and
building large new Jewish neighborhoods beyond the pre-1967 lines.

The Palestinians claim all of East Jerusalem
as the capital of a future Palestinian state,
and most of the world does not recognize Israeli sovereignty there.
But in 1980 Parliament passed a basic law stating that
“Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.”

The new bill proposes an amendment,
stipulating that any change in the city’s status
would require approval by two-thirds of the 120-seat legislature, or 80 votes,
instead of a simple majority of 61.
In a country without a constitution,
the basic laws have more weight than other laws.

Gideon Saar, a Likud lawmaker who was among the bill’s sponsors,
said its preliminary passage, “two weeks before the Annapolis conference,
sends an important and clear signal to the entire international community
all of the people of Israel and Parliament
oppose concessions in Jerusalem.”

For Mr. Olmert, the issue is complicated and sensitive.
Senior members of his coalition voted in favor of the proposed bill on Wednesday,
as did four members of his own centrist Kadima Party.
Mr. Olmert and most senior members of his party did not attend the vote,
which passed 54 to 24.

Speaking in Parliament a month ago,
Mr. Olmert implied that
he would be ready to give up
some outlying Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.

“Was it necessary to also add
the Shuafat refugee camp, Sawakhra, Walaje and other villages to Jerusalem
and define them as part of Jerusalem?”
he said, referring to parts of the city Israel absorbed in 1967.
“I must therefore admit it is possible to raise legitimate questions.”

But an opposition politician,
Mohammad Barakeh, an Israeli Arab lawmaker from the leftist Hadash Party,
accused Mr. Olmert of colluding with the rightist opposition
to put up obstacles to a negotiated agreement.
“Not only did the government not announce its position on this bill,
but it also allowed members of the coalition to vote freely,”
he said in a statement.

The basic law on Jerusalem does not define its borders.
Already, some Palestinian areas, like the village of Kufr Aqab,
have been left outside the West Bank security barrier,
which Israel says is necessary to stop suicide bombers.

Avigdor Lieberman, a strongly nationalist minister in Mr. Olmert’s coalition,
voted for the bill.
He has stated that
the Old City of Jerusalem and the areas surrounding it
should remain under full Israeli sovereignty,
but he has also announced his readiness to swap
some Palestinian areas on the periphery of the city
for West Bank Jewish settlements,
in the context of a permanent status deal.


Arab Leaders Say the Two-State Proposal Is in Peril
New York Times, 2008-02-22

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

Arab leaders will threaten to rescind their offer of
full relations with Israel
in exchange for
a complete Israeli withdrawal from occupied lands
unless Israel gives a positive response to their initiative,

indicating the Arab states’ growing disillusionment
with the prospects of a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

At an Arab League meeting next month in Syria,
the leaders are planning to reiterate support for their initiative,
first issued in 2002.
The initiative promised Israel normalization with the league’s 22 members
in return for
the creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip,
with East Jerusalem as the capital, and
a resolution of the issue of Palestinian refugees.

But this time,
“there will be a message to Israel
emphasizing the need to respond to the initiative; otherwise,
Arab states will reassess the previous stage of peace,”
said Muhammad Sobeih,
assistant secretary general of the Arab League in charge of the Palestinian issue.
“They will withdraw the initiative and look for other options.
It makes no sense to insist on something that Israel is rejecting.”


UN expert calls Palestinian terrorism
‘inevitable consequence’ of Israeli occupation

International Herald Tribune, quoting the Associated Press, 2008-02-26

[Emphasis is added.]

A report commissioned by the United Nations suggests that
Palestinian terrorism is
the “inevitable consequence” of
Israeli occupation and
laws that resemble South African apartheid,

a claim Israel rejected Tuesday as
enflaming hatred between Jews and Palestinians.

The report by John Dugard,
independent investigator on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
for the U.N. Human Rights Council,
will be presented next month, but it has been posted on the body’s Web site.

In it, Dugard,
a South African lawyer who campaigned against apartheid in the 1980s, says
“common sense ... dictates that
a distinction must be drawn between acts of mindless terror,
such as acts committed by al-Qaida, and
acts committed in the course of a war of national liberation
against colonialism, apartheid or military occupation.”

While Palestinian terrorist acts are to be deplored,
“they must be understood as being
a painful but inevitable consequence of
colonialism, apartheid or occupation,”

writes Dugard,
whose 25-page report accuses the Jewish state
of acts and policies consistent with all three.

He cited
checkpoints and roadblocks restricting Palestinian movement
to house demolitions
and what he terms the “Judaization” of Jerusalem.

As long as there is occupation, there will be terrorism, he argues.

“Acts of terror against military occupation must be seen in historical context,”
Dugard says.
“This is why every effort should be made
to bring the occupation to a speedy end.
Until this is done, peace cannot be expected, and violence will continue.”

Israel’s U.N. ambassador in Geneva slammed Dugard’s analysis.

“The common link between al-Qaida and the Palestinian terrorists is that
both intentionally target civilians with the mere purpose to kill,”
Itzhak Levanon said.
“The fact that Professor Dugard is ignoring this essential fact,
demonstrates his inability to use objectivity in his assessment.

“Professor Dugard will better serve the cause of peace
by ceasing to enflame the hatred between Israelis and Palestinians,
who have embarked on serious talks to solve this contentious situation.”

Dugard was appointed in 2001
as an unpaid expert by the now-defunct U.N. Human Rights Commission
to investigate only violations by the Israeli side,
prompting Israel and the U.S. to dismiss his reports as one-sided.
Israel refused to allow him to conduct a U.N.-mandated fact-finding mission
on its Gaza offensive in 2006.

The report will be presented next month
at the 47-nation rights council’s first regular session of the year.
The new body has been widely criticized —even by its founder,
former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan
for spending most of its time criticizing one government, Israel’s,
over alleged abuses.

U.N. Envoy Critical of Gaza Living Conditions,
Threats to Annapolis Initiative

By Colum Lynch
Washington Post, 2008-02-27

Good Morning, Hamas
by Uri Avnery
Antiwar.com, 2008-03-04

[An excerpt,
consisting of some of the questions (in italics) and answers.
Emphasis is added.]

[H]ow can one reach a settlement
with an organization
that declares that it will never recognize Israel and
whose charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state?

All this matter of “recognition” is nonsense,
a pretext for avoiding a dialogue.

We do not need “recognition” from anybody.
When the United States started a dialogue with Vietnam,
it did not demand to be recognized
as an Anglo-Saxon, Christian, and capitalist state.

If A signs an agreement with B, it means that A recognizes B.
All the rest is hogwash.

And in the same matter:
The fuss over the Hamas charter
is reminiscent of the ruckus about the PLO charter,
in its time.
That was a quite unimportant document,
which was used by our representatives for years
as an excuse to refuse to talk with the PLO.

Heaven and earth were moved to compel the PLO to annul it.
Who remembers that today?
The acts of today and tomorrow are important,
the papers of yesterday are not.

What should we speak with Hamas about?

First of all, about a cease-fire.
When a wound is bleeding,
the blood loss must be stemmed before the wound itself can be treated.

Hamas has many times proposed a cease-fire,

tahidiyeh (“quiet”) in Arabic.

This would mean a stop to all hostilities:
Qassams and Grad rockets and mortar shells
from Hamas and the other organizations;

“targeted liquidations,” military incursions, and starvation
from Israel.

The negotiations should be conducted by the Egyptians,
particularly since they would have to open the border
between the Gaza Strip and Sinai.
Gaza must get back its freedom of communication with the world
by land, sea, and air.

If Hamas demands the extension of the cease-fire to the West Bank, too,
this should also be discussed.
That would necessitate a Hamas-Fatah-Israel trialogue.

Won’t Hamas exploit the cease-fire to arm itself?

And so will Israel.
Perhaps we shall succeed, at long last,
in finding a defense against short-range rockets.

If the cease-fire holds, what will be the next step?

An armistice, or hudnah in Arabic.

Hamas would have a problem in signing a formal agreement with Israel,
because Palestine is a waqf – a religious endowment.
(That arose, at the time, for political reasons.
When Caliph Omar conquered Palestine,
he was afraid that his generals would divide the country among themselves,
as they had already done in Syria.
So he declared it to be the property of Allah.
This resembles the attitude of our own religious people,
who maintain that it is a sin to give away any part of the country,
because God has expressly promised it to us.)

Hudnah is an alternative to peace.
It is a concept deeply embedded in the Islamic tradition.
The prophet Muhammad himself agreed to a hudnah with the rulers of Mecca,
with whom he was at war after his flight from Mecca to Medina.
(By the way, before the hudnah expired,
the inhabitants of Mecca adopted Islam
and the prophet entered the town peacefully.)
Since it has a religious sanction,
its violation by Muslim believers is impossible.

A hudnah can last for dozens of years and be extended without limit.
A long hudnah is in practice peace,
if the relations between the two parties create a reality of peace.

So a formal peace is impossible?

There is a solution for this, too.
Hamas has declared in the past that
it does not object to Abbas conducting peace negotiations,
on condition that the agreement reached is put to a plebiscite.
If the Palestinian people confirm it,
Hamas declared that it will accept the people’s decision.

Why would Hamas accept it?

Like every Palestinian political force,
Hamas aspires to power in the Palestinian state
that will be set up along the 1967 borders.
For that it needs to enjoy the confidence of the majority.
There is no doubt whatsoever that
the vast majority of the Palestinian people
want a state of their own and peace.
Hamas knows this well.
It will do nothing that would push the majority of the people away.


Is time working for us?

For many years, Gush Shalom was telling the Israeli public:
let’s make peace with the secular leadership of Yasser Arafat,
because otherwise the national conflict will turn into a religious conflict.
Unfortunately, this prophecy, too, has come true.

Those who did not want the PLO, got Hamas.

If we don’t come to terms with Hamas,
we shall be faced with more extreme Islamic organizations,
like the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Israel Approves West Bank Construction
New York Times, 2008-03-09

[The full story; paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]



Israel announced plans to build hundreds of homes
in the West Bank and disputed east Jerusalem,

drawing Palestinian condemnation
just days before a visit by a U.S. general
to monitor the troubled peace process.

Housing Minister Zeev Boim said the new housing would include
350 apartments in Givat Zeev,
a West Bank settlement just outside of Jerusalem, and
750 homes in the Pisgat Zeev neighborhood of east Jerusalem.

Speaking to Israel Radio,
Boim said the Givat Zeev construction initially began some eight years ago,
but was suspended because of fighting with the Palestinians.

“When violence subsided,
demand grew again and contractors renewed their permits to build there,”
he said.
The Pisgat Zeev construction, he added,
“is inside Jerusalem’s city borders.”

Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war.
It immediately annexed east Jerusalem and considers all of the city its capital.
The annexation has not been recognized internationally.

The Palestinians claim all of the West Bank and east Jerusalem as parts of a future independent state. But Israel has said it wants to keep large settlement blocs, along with Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, under any final peace agreement.

The Givat Zeev construction “is consistent with our long-standing position that building within the large settlement blocs, which will stay a part of Israel in any final status agreement, will continue,” said government spokesman Mark Regev said. Construction outside the settlement blocs has been frozen, he added.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat harshly condemned the new Israeli construction plans, saying it undermines already troubled peace efforts.

“Why do they insist on doing this and humiliating Abu Mazen in front of the Palestinian public?” he said, using the nickname of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Erekat said he had appealed to the U.S. to pressure Israel to halt the projects.

Palestinian attacks on Israel and Israeli retaliatory strikes, along with continued Israeli settlement construction, have upset U.S.-backed peace talks. The talks, resumed in November after a seven-year breakdown, aim to reach a final peace agreement by the end of the year.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice last week persuaded the Palestinians to resume talks, which they had suspended to protest an Israeli military operation against Gaza rocket squads. More than 120 Palestinians were killed in the offensive.

The talks suffered another blow when a Palestinian man killed eight Israelis at a religious seminary on Thursday.

Israeli officials said privately over the weekend that negotiations would proceed despite the attack on the seminary, which is the flagship for Israel’s settlement movement.

The new construction plans announced Thursday may have been a gesture by Olmert toward the settlement movement, which opposes his talk of withdrawing from large parts of the West Bank and Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem as part of a final peace deal.

On Thursday, a U.S. envoy, Lt. Gen. William Fraser III, is scheduled to arrive in the region for his first joint meeting with Israelis and Palestinians.

President Bush appointed Fraser in January to monitor implementation of the U.S.-backed “road map” peace plan -- which among other measures calls on Israel to freeze all settlement activity. The plan also calls on the Palestinians to rein in militant groups -- a step Israel says has not been fulfilled.

Givat Zeev is in one of the three major settlement blocs that Israel intends to retain in any peace agreement. Bush has signaled support for the Israeli position, and the Palestinians have expressed willingness to consider swapping land where settlement blocs stand for equal amounts of Israeli land.

An overwhelming majority of the 270,000 West Bank settlers live in the major blocs, and an additional 180,000 Israelis live in Jewish neighborhoods Israel built in Jerusalem after capturing and annexing it in 1967. Israel does not consider the east Jerusalem neighborhoods to be settlements, but the Palestinians and international community do.

Separately, an Israeli soldier wounded by Gaza militants in a border ambush on Thursday died Sunday of his wounds, the military said. He was the second soldier to die as a result of the attack, and the fourth soldier killed in Gaza violence this month.

Carter Says Hamas and Syria Are Open to Peace
New York Times, 2008-04-22

Administration Disavows Carter’s Trip
New York Times, 2008-04-23

Rice Suggests Carter Confused Peace Process
New York Times, 2008-04-23

Carter Says Secretary Rice "Not Telling Truth"
By Matthew Bigg
Reuters, 2008-04-23

The Two Israels
New York Times, 2008-06-22

Tough Love for Israel?
New York Times, 2008-07-24

My Trip to Hebron Yesterday
by “Jerry Haber”
The Magnes Zionist, 2008-07-31

[See also the comment on this post by Philip Weiss:
Israeli Blogger Reports on Settler 'Goons' in Hebron. His Blog Gets 'Locked' Down.
The “lockup” problem was just a glitch, not some form of censorship.]

Zionism's dying between Hebron and Yitzhar
By Zeev Sternhell
Haaretz, 2008-08-18

[Paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.
(More on web.)]

“The Zionist Enterprise,” said Berl Katznelson in 1929,
when he summed up the first 10 years of the Ahdut Ha’Avoda movement,
is a “conquest enterprise.”
And in the same breath he added:
“It is not by chance that I am using military terms
to describe the settlement of the country.”
And in fact,
Zionism was a movement of conquest,
and all means were permitted to carry out the task.

[Does America’s ADL, and its Jewish community,
accept the truth of that?]

what was essential and therefore justified in the pre-state days
is now assuming an ugly and violent form of colonial occupation:
the authoritarian regime in the territories,
the creation of two legal systems,
the placing of the army and police at the service of the settlement movement,
the robbing of Palestinian lands.
These all symbolize not the fulfillment of Zionism but rather its burial.
It is there, between Hebron and Yitzhar,
that the settlements are burying the democratic Jewish state.

Like other colonial regimes, the government in the territories
is trying to operate under cover of darkness.
A visit organized by Peace Now three weeks ago, with about 250 participants,
was forbidden to enter Hebron.
The area was declared a closed military area by the head of the Hebron Brigade,
but the Hebron police did not prevent local toughs from trying to attack
the tour’s participants.
Nor did the police stop other cars that left and entered Hebron undisturbed.
We can reasonably assume that
had members of Likud and the National Religious Party come for a visit,
the area would not have been closed,
and the army would have been at the service of the visitors.

The head of the Hebron Brigade is the same person
who on another occasion could be seen on television
rudely arresting the B’Tselem photographer:
The man was recording what was happening before his eyes,
and in the territories that is a serious crime.
When there is a camera on-site,
there is no possibility of denying cases of abuse and humiliation,
or incidents such as shooting at a bound Palestinian.

But worst of all is the fact that behind the brigade commander -
who is only a minor cog who operates in the spirit of his commanders,
behind the battalion commander whose soldier pulled the trigger in Na’alin -
lies the entire chain of command in the territories.
These are the people in whose responsibility young soldiers are placed.

However, as far as the public is concerned,
Ehud Barak is the person who bears overall responsibility
for the partnership between the settlers and the security forces.
We must immediately put an end to this and once and for all
end the culture of violence that dominates in the territories,
a culture that nurtures Jewish criminality
and the daily harassment of the civilian Palestinian population.

Tours of the land of the settlers are a vital necessity
for anyone who wants to learn about what is happening around him.
Anyone who goes out in the field understands immediately that
the problem does not lie in the so-called “illegal” outposts.
Although the unwillingness to confront groups of toughs who flout the law
and government decisions is a disgrace in itself,
it is not the major obstacle to ending the occupation.
The problem lies in the settlement movement itself,
in the Israeli hunger for land.


The real reason for the settlements,
first in the Golan Heights
and later in the Jordan Valley and the central hill country,
was occupying the land:

The spiritual heirs and disciples of Berl Katznelson,
and even those of his generation who were still alive,
saw no reason not to continue the work.
Realistic people like Levi Eshkol and Pinhas Sapir
did not have an intellectual and moral answer
to the demand to continue in the path
that until then had been considered the only one known to Zionism.
On the other side of the map stood the Revisionist right and Gush Emunim.

In sum, right and left were partners to the act.
The nationalist-messianist fervor
and the desire to end the War of Independence
merged into the momentum for occupation:
The entire right and most of the left -
We have returned to the land of the Judges
and the kings of the Davidian dynasty,
said defense minister Moshe Dayan emotionally in the summer of 1967 -
bear joint responsibility
for the gradual creation of the disaster in which Israeli society is wallowing.


Since it was impossible to take control of the lands legally,
a mafia-like culture of theft, lies and deception
developed in the territories,
in which the various government authorities
are still wallowing,
from ministers in tailored suits
to the last of the policemen sweating on the highways.
Contrary to the rules of international and Israeli law,
contrary to elementary rules of justice,
contrary to all logic and every genuine Israeli interest,
broad areas were confiscated for the sake of the settlers
and huge sums were poured in.

But over the years, the golem has risen up against its creator:
When the public finally realized that
if the Jewish national movement does not absorb
universal foundations of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
it will doom itself to destruction,
a force had already arisen over the Green Line
that now threatens to drown all of Israel.

Thus a minority
took control of the fate of the entire society and held it hostage,
due both to the left’s ideological impotence
and a lack of character, determination and leadership.
If society does not find the emotional strength
to remove the noose of the settlements,
nothing but a sad memory will remain of the Jewish state as it still exists.

[Just 38 days after the above was published in Ha'aretz,
a pipe bomb wounded Mr. Sternhell.]

Rice, in Israel, Criticizes Surge in Settlement Construction
New York Times, 2008-08-27

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

Peace Now, the Israeli advocacy group, said in a report released Tuesday that

in the last year
Israel had nearly doubled its settlement construction
in the occupied West Bank,

in violation of its obligations under an American-backed peace plan.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in Jerusalem on a short visit
to help Israeli and Palestinian leaders in their negotiations,
said when asked about the report that
she had told Israeli officials that such building
did not advance the cause of peace.

“What we need now are steps that enhance confidence between the parties,
and anything that undermines confidence between the parties ought to be avoided,”
she said with the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, at her side.

Ms. Livni said that settlement building should not influence the negotiations
because the goal should be
“not to let
any kind of noises that relate to the situation on the ground these days
enter the negotiation room.”

Earlier, Ms. Rice had made clear that
neither Israelis nor Palestinians had fully lived up to their obligations.
Israel is supposed to
end all settlement building and remove illegal settlement outposts,
while the Palestinians are supposed to dismantle terrorist infrastructures.


The Peace Now report on settlements,
based on aerial photos, visits and government data, says that
more than 1,000 buildings are going up in the West Bank,
including 2,600 housing units.
It says that for the first five months of 2008, construction in the settlements
was 1.8 times greater than in the same period of 2007.

Peace Now opposes Israeli construction on land captured in the 1967 war, like the West Bank,
and favors furthering the creation of a Palestinian state there.
Yet it is considered a reliable source of settlement information.

Its report says
more than half of the building is beyond the separation barrier
that Israel has built in recent years on the border of and inside the West Bank.
This is significant, if true,
because Israeli leaders have argued that
ultimately a deal with the Palestinians
will allow it to keep several settlement blocs and neighborhoods in East Jerusalem
in exchange for land swaps.
Therefore, they say, their building in East Jerusalem and close-in settlements on their side of the barrier should cause no concern.

The Peace Now report shows that the building in East Jerusalem is intensive,
with the number of tenders for houses there up to 1,761 this year from 46 in 2007.

A spokesman for Israel’s Housing Ministry, Eran Sidis, said
he could not check on all the data in the Peace Now report,
but he defended building in areas Israel hopes to keep, saying,

“There’s nothing to prevent strengthening settlement blocs
that in the end of the day, in a peace agreement,
will clearly be in Israel’s hands.”

[Let us be clear on what this Israeli government representative just said:
That the actions that Israel has been taking for the last forty years,
and is continuing to take,
will have the effect of
prejudicing negotiations.

That’s what all these facts on the ground are clearly doing,
prejudicing negotiations.
Anyone who denies that is either an idiot, a liar, or in la-la land.
Yet President Bush, on the one hand, says everything should be negotiated,
yet on the other hand speaks blithely about “facts on the ground”
as if he is unaware that those “facts” are and will prejudice the negotiations.
But I am not here to bash President Bush alone.
So far as I can tell,
the entire body of the chattering and policy-making classes
takes the same absurd position.
Where is the leader who will stand up and point out this glaring inconsistency,
so damaging to America’s image in the Middle East?]

'J Street' Leader Says 2-State Solution Is Approaching Its 'Sell-By Date'
by Philip Weiss
Mondoweiss, 2008-08-27

In Israel, A Clash Over Who Is a Jew
Ultra-Orthodox Contest Conversions
By Griff Witte
Washington Post, 2008-08-30

[This is a perennial issue in Israel.
A controversy in the late 1980s with American Jewry over this issue
is discussed at length in Chapter 13 of J.J. Goldberg's Jewish Power.]

ASHDOD, Israel

Yael converted to Judaism in 1992,
and for the next 15 years she lived in Israel,
celebrating the major holidays and teaching her children about the Jewish faith.

But when she and her husband sought a divorce last year, she said,
the ultra-Orthodox rabbis in charge of the process had some questions.
Among them: Did Yael observe the Sabbath?
Did she obey the prohibition on sex during and after menstruation?

Dissatisfied with the answers, the rabbis nullified her conversion.
Yael did not need a divorce, they ruled, because she had never been married.
She had never been married because she had never been Jewish.
And because she had never been Jewish, her children were not, either


Radical Settlers Take On Israel
New York Times, 2008-09-26

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

YITZHAR, West Bank —

A pipe bomb that exploded late on Wednesday night
outside the Jerusalem home of Zeev Sternhell, a Hebrew University professor,
left him lightly wounded
and created only a minor stir
in a nation that routinely experiences violence on a much larger scale.

But Mr. Sternhell was noted for
his impassioned critiques of Jewish settlements in the West Bank,
once suggesting that Palestinians
“would be wise to concentrate their struggle against the settlements.”
And the authorities found fliers near his home
offering nearly $300,000 to anyone who kills a member of Peace Now,
a left-wing Israeli advocacy group,
leading them to suspect that militant Israeli settlers or their supporters
were behind the attack.

If so, the bombing may be the latest sign that
elements of Israel’s settler movement are resorting to extremist tactics
to protect their homes in the occupied West Bank against not only Palestinians,
but also Jews who some settlers argue are betraying them.
Radical settlers say they are determined to show that
their settlements and outposts cannot be dismantled,
either by law or by force.

There have been bouts of settler violence for years,
notably during the transfer of Gaza to the Palestinians in 2005.
Now, though,

the militants seem to have spawned
a broader, more defined strategy of resistance
designed to intimidate the state.

This aggressive doctrine, according to Akiva HaCohen, 24,
who is considered to be one of its architects,

calls on settlers and their supporters
to respond “whenever, wherever and however” they wish
to any attempt by the Israeli Army or the police
to lay a finger on property in illegally built outposts
scheduled by the government for removal.

In settler circles the policy is called “price tag” or “mutual concern.”

Besides exacting a price for army and police actions,
the policy also encourages settlers to avenge Palestinian acts of violence
by taking the law into their own hands —
an approach that has the potential
to set the tinderbox of the West Bank ablaze.

Hard-core right-wing settlers
have responded to limited army operations in recent weeks by
blocking roads,
rioting spontaneously,
throwing stones at Palestinian vehicles and
burning Palestinian orchards and fields all over the West Bank,
a territory that Israel has occupied since 1967.
They have also vandalized Israeli Army positions, equipment and cars.

Blast Injures Israeli Academic Critical of Jewish Settlements
By Samuel Sockol
Washington Post, 2008-09-26

[Paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.]


Zeev Sternhell, a leading Israeli political scientist
and a frequent critic of Jewish settlement of the West Bank,
was lightly wounded early Thursday
when a pipe bomb exploded outside his home in Jerusalem.

Police discovered fliers in Sternhell’s neighborhood
offering a $320,000 bounty for the killing of any member of Peace Now,
an Israeli organization Sternhell has supported
that opposes Jewish settlement
of lands occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben Ruby said
investigators attributed the bombing to “elements on the extreme right” --
Israeli shorthand for radical members of the settler movement.
Violent attacks against Israeli Jews by Jewish extremists are rare,
but Israelis opposed to the settler movement say
they are receiving an increasing number of threats.

Itamar Ben-Gvir,
an activist with a fringe settler group calling itself the National Jewish Front, said,
“I don’t denounce this incident,
but say categorically that we are not involved,”
the Associated Press reported.

The attack provoked condemnations
from Israeli leaders across the political spectrum.
“We are returning to
the dark spectacle of pipe bombs that are aimed at people,
in this case against a very gifted person
who never shies away from expressing his opinion,”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said.

Sternhell, a Hebrew University professor in his early 70s,
was injured after he came to his front door at 1 a.m.
A hospital spokeswoman said several fragments were removed from his leg
and that he would remain hospitalized at least until Friday.

Sternhell is a Holocaust survivor and an expert on fascism
who won this year’s Israel Prize, an honor bestowed by the government,
for his work in political science.

In comments to Israeli news media,
Sternhell said he would not be intimidated by the bombing.
“If this act was not perpetrated by a lone madman,
but rather by an element representing a political or public movement,
this is the start of the road to dismantling democracy,” he warned.

Sternhell has often criticized the settler movement
and the government support it has received.
“Since it was impossible to take control of the lands legally,
a mafia-like culture of theft, lies and deception developed in the territories,
in which the various government authorities are still wallowing,”
he wrote in the daily Haaretz last month.
“Contrary to the rules of international and Israeli law,
contrary to elementary rules of justice,
contrary to all logic and every genuine Israeli interest,
broad areas were confiscated for the sake of the settlers
and huge sums were poured in.”

Following the attack,
police offered to protect the home of Peace Now director Yariv Oppenheimer
and the group’s offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
“We have been getting threats over the phone and through letters,
but this time, with a bomb going off, it is very unpleasant,”
Oppenheimer said.
“We have been warning that the radical right is growing
and becoming more extreme.”

Olmert Says Israel Should Pull Out of West Bank
New York Times, 2008-09-29

[Paragraph numbers and emphasis are added.
For extended excerpts from the interview, published in the NYRB, see


Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an interview published on Monday that

Israel must withdraw from
nearly all the West Bank as well as East Jerusalem
to attain peace with the Palestinians

and that
any occupied land it held onto
would have to be exchanged for
the same quantity of Israeli territory.

He also dismissed as “megalomania”
any thought that Israel would or should attack Iran on its own
to stop it from developing nuclear weapons,
saying the international community and not Israel alone
was charged with handling the issue.

In an unusually frank and soul-searching interview
granted after he resigned to fight corruption charges —
he remains interim prime minister until a new government is sworn in —
Mr. Olmert discarded longstanding Israeli defense doctrine and
called for radical new thinking in words that are sure to stir controversy
as his expected successor, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, tries to build a coalition.

“What I am saying to you now has not been said by any Israeli leader before me,”
Mr. Olmert told Yediot Aharonot newspaper
in the interview to mark the Jewish new year
that runs from Monday night till Wednesday night.
“The time has come to say these things.”

He said traditional Israeli defense strategists
had learned nothing from past experiences
and seemed stuck in the considerations of the 1948 Independence War.

“With them, it is all about tanks and land
and controlling territories and controlled territories
and this hilltop and that hilltop,”
he said.
“All these things are worthless.”

He added,
“Who thinks seriously that if we sit on another hilltop,
on another hundred meters,
that this is what will make the difference for the State of Israel’s basic security?”

Over the last year,
Mr. Olmert has publicly castigated himself for his earlier right-wing views
and he did so again in this interview.
On Jerusalem, for example, he said,
“I am the first who wanted to enforce Israeli sovereignty on the entire city.
I admit it.
I am not trying to justify retroactively what I did for 35 years.
For a large portion of these years,
I was unwilling to look at reality in all its depth.”

He said that maintaining sovereignty over an undivided Jerusalem,
Israel’s official policy,
would involve bringing 270,000 Palestinians inside Israel’s security barrier.
It would mean an ongoing risk of terrorist attacks against civilians
like those carried out earlier this year
by Jerusalem Palestinian residents with a bulldozer and earth mover.

“A decision has to be made,” he said.
“This decision is difficult, terrible,
a decision that contradicts our natural instincts, our innermost desires,
our collective memories, the prayers of the Jewish people for 2,000 years.”

The government’s public stand on Jerusalem until now has been
to assert that the status of the city was not under discussion.
But Mr. Olmert made clear that
the eastern, predominantly Arab, sector had to be yielded
“with special solutions” for the holy sites.

On peace with the Palestinians, Mr. Olmert said in the interview:
“We face the need to decide but are not willing to tell ourselves,
yes, this is what we have to do.

We have to reach an agreement with the Palestinians,
the meaning of which is that
in practice we will withdraw from almost all the territories,
if not all the territories.

We will leave a percentage of these territories in our hands,
but will have to give the Palestinians a similar percentage,
because without that there will be no peace.”

Elsewhere in the interview, when discussing a land swap with the Palestinians,
he said the exchange would have to be “more or less one to one.”

Mr. Olmert also addressed the question of Syria,
saying that Israel had to be prepared to give up the Golan Heights
but that in turn
Damascus knew it had to change the nature of
its relationship with Iran and
its support for Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia.

On Iran, Mr. Olmert said Israel would act within the international system,

“Part of our megalomania and our loss of proportions is
the things that are said here about Iran.
We are a country
that has lost a sense of proportion about itself.”

Reaction from the Israeli right was swift.
Avigdor Lieberman, who heads the Yisrael Beiteinu party,
said on the radio that
Mr. Olmert was
“endangering the existence of the State of Israel irresponsibly.”

He added that
those who thought Israel’s problem was a lack of defined borders —
as Mr. Olmert stated in the interview —
“are ignoramuses who don’t understand anything and they invite war.”

As they reacted to Mr. Olmert’s remarks,
Palestinian negotiators said it was satisfying to hear Mr. Olmert’s words
but they said the words did not match what he had offered them so far.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestinian official, told Palestinian Radio that
it would have been better if Mr. Olmert had taken this position
while in office rather than while leaving it
and that Mr. Olmert had not yet presented a detailed plan
for a border between Israel and a Palestinian state.

In theory, Mr. Olmert will continue peace negotiations
while awaiting the new government.
But most analysts believe that, having been forced to resign his post,
he will not be able to close a deal.

[For a comment by Philip Weiss on this article,
click here.]

Livni in Principle and in Practice
by Peretz Kidron
Middle East Report, 2008-09-30

[This article is mainly about Tzipi Livni,
but contains some remarks on the prosecution of Ehud Olmert
that no doubt many have thought, but not put into writing.
Here they are; emphasis is added.]

The parallel investigations
into the various charges against the prime minister [Ehud Olmert]
were undoubtedly motivated by a genuine desire
to root out delinquency in high places,
of which there has been no shortage, as disillusioned Israelis learned:
Members of Olmert’s cabinet have been indicted or convicted on
charges from sexual misconduct and improper appointments
all the way up to outright theft.
But the allegations against Olmert relate largely to
peccadilloes not entirely uncommon in Israel’s ruling circles,
evoking puzzlement over
the relentless pursuit that ultimately brought him down.
One theory argues that the eagerness of law enforcement agencies
was tacitly supported and perhaps even instigated by
far-right groups
outraged over
Olmert’s apparent intention to follow in the footsteps of
his mentor and predecessor in office, Ariel Sharon,
by ordering a unilateral withdrawal
from extensive portions of the occupied West Bank,
in a pattern laid down by
Sharon’s “disengagement” of Israeli troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip
in August 2005.
Any such “surrender” of territory within the divinely Promised Land
is regarded as anathema by far-right fanatics and religious zealots.
Their anger has already led to
the assassination of one prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin,
who was gunned down in 1995 by a militant
because of his willingess to strike a land-for-peace deal with the Palestinians.
If this speculation about a right-wing conspiracy is indeed correct,
Olmert can count himself lucky to have escaped with his life,
being required merely to offer up his political office.

Rethinking the Two-State Solution
Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2008-10-03

On September 23, 2008, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Giora Eiland and Ambassador Martin Indyk addressed a Policy Forum luncheon at The Washington Institute. General Eiland is former head of the Israeli National Security Council and currently a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. Ambassador Indyk directs the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. The following is a rapporteur’s summary of their remarks.

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Giora Eiland:


the most the Israeli government can offer the Palestinians --
and survive politically --
is far less than what any Palestinian leadership can accept.

[Philip Weiss quotes that statement here;
here are some comments on it by the author of this blog:
  1. That seems to accurately summarize
    where the Israeli/Palestinian relation has been, is,
    and will be as long as can be seen in the future.
  2. It seems to allow no room for peace between the two.
  3. Is the U.S. willing to allow that status quo to persist?
    Will others (specifically, Muslim radicals) blame the U.S.
    for allowing it to persist?
    (Answer: Yes.)
    Will the U.S. elite
    continue to deny that Muslims are blaming the U.S. for its support for Israel,
    rather claiming they oppose us because “they hate our freedoms”?
    (Answer: Apparently they are as locked into that lie as Pinocchio was to his.)

W. Bank Settlers' Rage Grows
By Linda Gradstein
Washington Post, 2008-10-16

Jews, Frustrated by Israeli Army Inaction, Press Attacks on Palestinians

[Are not the “settlers” really invaders,
and are not their actions, whether motivated by “rage” or deliberate planning,
in fact terrorism?]

Israel Seals Off Gaza, Expresses Outrage Over UN Remarks
Antiwar.com, 2008-11-18

'The Time Has Come to Say These Things'
By Ehud Olmert
New York Review of Books, 2008-12-04

On the eve of the Jewish New Year,
Israel’s most popular daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth,
published an extended interview of lame-duck prime minister Ehud Olmert
by journalists Nahum Barnea and Shimon Shiffer.

The following are excerpts from the Yedioth interview,
which Olmert gave hours after handing in his letter of resignation.

[The article contains the excerpts.]


Israel Must Stop Fanning the Flames That Will Consume Us
By David Grossman
Washington Post Outlook, 2009-01-25

[This is in general a refreshing argument for Israel to attempt
a more conciliatory policy towards the Palestinians,
but I think in one place the author perhaps neglects
Palestinian attempts to change Israel’s policies through peaceful methods.
Grossman writes:]

We must not be forgiving of the Palestinians,
as if it goes without saying that
when they are in distress,
their almost automatic response must be violence.

[For a reminder of
the early attempts of the Palestinians to protest through peaceful means
Israeli occupation,
see this, a part of this larger section.]

Several interesting articles on the 2008–09 Israel-Gaza conflict
appear in the 2009-01-26 issue of The American Conserative,
John J. Mearsheimer,
Avi Shlaim (***),
Tom Streithorst,
Daniel Levy (**),
Glenn Greenwald (***)
(stars are purely subjective,
denoting only my level of interest at this instant in time).

Israeli Advocacy Group Begins Campaign to Help Palestinians Sue Over Settlements
New York Times, 2009-01-31

JERUSALEM — An Israeli leftist advocacy group said Friday that it was starting a campaign to help Palestinians sue the state of Israel for its use of their privately owned lands for Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

The campaign by the advocacy group, Yesh Din, which fights for the rights of Palestinians in the occupied territories, follows the publication on Friday in the newspaper Haaretz of classified government data regarding the extent of construction in officially recognized settlements that is illegal by Israeli standards.
[for Yesh Din's database on this, click here (PDF)]

The violations include private and public building carried out without the appropriate permits or outside of approved plans, as well as the construction of whole neighborhoods on private Palestinian lands in blatant contravention of Israeli policy and law.

Tony Blair receives Israeli prize worth $1 million
By Ofri Ilani
Haaretz, 2009-02-17

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair
will be one of the three laureates of the Dan David Prize for 2009,
awarded annually by Tel Aviv University.

Each of the laureates will receive a $1 million prize,
10 percent of which is contributed to 20 doctoral and post-doctoral scholarships.

Blair was selected to receive the prize in leadership
for what the judges described as
“his exceptional leadership and steadfast determination
in helping to engineer agreements and forge lasting solutions
to areas in conflict.”

The Rise of Avigdor Lieberman
And the end of the Labor Zionist vision
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2009-02-23

It's Not Iran; It's Palestine
Israeli consensus on priorities
is dangerously out of line with reality.

by Matthew Yglesias
The American Prospect, 2009-03-05

I had the opportunity a couple of weeks ago
to have dinner with Mustafa Barghouti,
a Palestinian physician, politician,
and advocate of nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation
and a two-state settlement of the conflict.
His message was the same as that from every other moderate in the Arab world,
but it was powerful to hear it in person --
the clock is running out on the two-state solution,
by far the most humane and practical possible resolution to the dilemma.
But with every passing day of Israeli occupation
and every additional Israeli settler,
the idea of a negotiated settlement
seems less -and -less credible to the Palestinian population,
while Palestinian demands for basic rights and human dignity
become no less urgent.

Nobody on the Arab side likes to get very explicit about what happens next,
but one can envision two possibilities.
The first would be that the Palestinians embark upon
an ethical, restrained, nonviolent campaign
to demand rights of citizenship
equal with those enjoyed by Arabs in Israel proper
and Jews on both sides of the pre–1967 border.
This would see international support for Israel vanish rapidly,
as Israel would be put formally in the same position as apartheid South Africa.
If one wants to be rosy about it,
the Israelis could be forced to give in
and maybe Jew and Arab would live happily ever after in one state.
But at best, this would be the end of Zionism.

More plausibly, substantial numbers of Palestinians
will continue to embrace violent resistance to Israel.
This would stave off the complete collapse of external support for Israel,
since the argument that a de facto apartheid regime was necessary
for the physical security of Israel’s Jewish population
would have some purchase in the United States and perhaps elsewhere in the West.
The endgame here is something more like Rhodesia/Zimbabwe --
uglier and ultimately worse for everyone --
but the end of Israel as a Jewish state would be, either way, inescapable.


The JTA addresses the elephant in the room -
Israel does not support the two-state solution

by Philip Weiss
MondoWeiss, 2009-03-13

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

Heilman interviews Zalman Shoval,
a foreign policy adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu ...:

I put the question to him simply and directly,
and asked him for a simple and direct answer in return:
Does Mr. Netanyahu favor the eventual creation of a Palestinian state?

Shoval's response: Um... we'll get back to you on that.”

Israel's Step Back From Peace
By Saeb Erakat (chief Palestinian negotiator)
Washington Post Op-Ed, 2009-03-28

[The last part of the column:]

Rather than ending the occupation,
Netanyahu has proposed an “economic peace”
that would seek to normalize and better manage it.
Instead of a viable Palestinian state,
his vision extends no further than
a series of disconnected cantons with limited self-rule.

Palestinians have not engaged in years of negotiations to see them fail.
But neither is our patience unlimited.
If efforts to reinvigorate the peace process are to have any chance of success,
three factors will be crucial.

The first is intent.
Palestinians and Israelis must renew their commitment to
the vision of two states existing side by side in peace and security.
Since 1988, when the PLO made the historic decision
to formally accept the two-state solution
as the basis for a negotiated settlement with Israel,
this vision has been at the heart of
the Palestinian struggle for self-determination,
and it has remained our consistent position throughout negotiations.
The new Israeli government must unequivocally affirm its support for
the two-state solution and
the establishment of
a viable, independent and fully sovereign Palestinian state
based on 1967 borders,
and it must commit to past agreements between Israel and the PLO.
Without these commitments, Palestinians have no partner for peace.

The second factor goes to the heart of credibility.
By repeatedly violating its obligations under previous agreements,
Israel has undermined the very credibility of the peace process.
Restoring that credibility is vital.
This requires that Israel implement
an immediate and complete freeze on settlement activity,
including all natural growth and the construction of Israel’s wall,
in keeping with both international law
and its obligations under the 2003 “road map.”
Without a settlement freeze,
there will be no two-state solution left to speak of.
Israel must also lift its crippling regime of closures
and restore normal movement in and out of, as well as within,
the occupied Palestinian territory.
Checkpoints, Israel’s wall, the permit system it imposes on Palestinians
and other restrictions on movement
frustrate Palestinian life, fragment Palestinian society
and strangle our economy.
Tied to this is the urgent need to reopen Gaza’s border crossings
to allow the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza,
especially desperately needed humanitarian supplies
and reconstruction materials.

The third factor concerns accountability.
A credible enforcement mechanism designed to hold both parties accountable
for their obligations under previous agreements
must be established by
the “Quartet” of the United States, the United Nations,
the European Union and Russia.
And America must serve as the honest broker
capable of creating a level playing field
between Palestinians and Israelis during talks.

Fortunately, a sound basis for moving the process forward exists,
one that complements America’s drive for a comprehensive regional peace.
First proposed in 2002,
the Arab Peace Initiative offers Israel
full normalization with 57 Arab and Muslim states
in return for
an end to Israel’s occupation of Arab lands
and a just and agreed-upon solution for Palestinian refugees.

The peace process lives on borrowed time.
With its credibility at stake,
it will not survive another round of failed negotiations --
and neither will the two-state solution.
It is in this context
that the choices made by Prime Minister Netanyahu will be judged.
And it is in this context that
the promise of change that President Obama offers becomes so important.

Israel is Changing the Rules of War
by George Bisharat
Antiwar.com, 2009-04-03

Blair, the west’s Mideast envoy,
get $1 million from chief party to dispute (guess who?)

by Philip Weiss
Mondoweiss.net, 2009-04-09

Addressing U.S., Hamas Says It Grounded Rockets
New York Times, 2009-05-05

DAMASCUS, Syria — The leader of the militant Palestinian group Hamas said Monday that its fighters had stopped firing rockets at Israel for now. He also reached out in a limited way to the Obama administration and others in the West, saying the movement was seeking a state only in the areas Israel won in 1967.

“I promise the American administration and the international community that we will be part of the solution, period,” the leader, Khaled Meshal, said during a five-hour interview with The New York Times spread over two days in his home office here in the Syrian capital.


Don’t Forget, Israel Is a Democracy
by Uri Avnery
Antiwar.com, 2009-06-01

How lucky we are to have the extreme Right standing guard over our democracy.

This week, the Knesset voted by a large majority (47 to 34)
for a law that threatens imprisonment for
anyone who dares to deny that Israel is a Jewish and democratic state.

The private member’s bill,
proposed by MK Zevulun Orlev of the “Jewish Home” Party,
which sailed through its preliminary hearing,
promises one year in prison to anyone who publishes
“a call that negates the existence of the state of Israel
as a Jewish and democratic state,”
if the contents of the call might cause
“actions of hate, contempt, or disloyalty against the state
or the institutions of government or the courts.”


The factory of racist laws with a distinct fascist odor
is now working at full steam.
That is built into the new coalition.

At its center is the Likud Party,
a good part of which is pure racist (sorry for the oxymoron).
To its right there is the ultra-racist Shas Party,
to the right of which is
Lieberman’s ultra-ultra racist “Israel Is Our Home” Party,
the ultra-ultra-ultra racist “Jewish Home” Party,
and to its right the even more racist “National Union” Party,
which includes outright Kahanists
and stands with one foot in the coalition and the other on the moon.

All these factions are trying to outdo each other.
When one proposes a crazy bill,
the next is compelled to propose an even crazier one,
and so on.

All this is possible because Israel has no constitution.
The ability of the Supreme Court
to annul laws that contradict the “basic laws”
is not anchored anywhere,
and the rightist parties are trying to abolish it.
Not for nothing did Avigdor Lieberman demand – and get –
the justice and police ministries.


Israel's Crimes, America's Silence
By John Dugard
The Nation, 2009-06-17

President Obama’s recent speech to the Muslim World
failed to address allegations that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza.
Palestinians and people throughout the region were shocked at
the firepower Israel brought to bear against Gaza’s civilians
and do not want Palestinians’ ongoing misery to be further ignored.
Many were surely waiting to hear from President Obama
that the way to peace
does not lie through the devastation of civilian life and infrastructure in Gaza.

To date, too little mention has been made of investigations that show
there is sufficient evidence to bring
charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity
against Israel’s political and military leadership
for their actions in Gaza.

two comprehensive independent reports have been published on Gaza,
and earlier this month a mission mandated by the UN Human Rights Council,
and chaired by South African Richard Goldstone,
visited Gaza to conduct a further investigation into Israel’s offensive.

On May 4 the United Nations published the findings of
an investigation into attacks carried out by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)
on UN premises in Gaza.
Led by Ian Martin, formerly head of Amnesty International,
this investigation found Israel responsible for
wrongfully killing and injuring Palestinians on UN premises
and destroying property amounting to over $10 million in value.
Although this investigation
did not address the question of individual criminal responsibility,
it is clear that the identified wrongful acts by Israel
constituted serious war crimes.

On May 7 the Arab League published the 254-page report of
an Independent Fact Finding Committee (IFFC) it had established
to examine the legal implications of Israel’s Gaza offensive.
This committee, comprising six experts
in international law, criminal law and forensic medicine
from non-Arab countries,
visited Gaza in February.
We concluded that
the IDF had committed serious war crimes and crimes against humanity.

As the committee’s chairman,
I spent five days in Gaza along with the other experts.
Our views were deeply influenced by interviews we conducted with victims
and by the evidence of destruction of property.
We were particularly disturbed by the accounts of
cold-blooded killings of civilians committed by some members of the IDF and
the Israeli military’s use of white phosphorus in densely populated areas.
The devastation was appalling and
raised profound doubts in my mind as to
the veracity of Israeli officials
who claimed this was not a war against the Palestinian people.

The IFFC found that the IDF, in
killing some 1,400 Palestinians (at least 850 of whom were civilians),
wounding over 5,000 and
destroying over 3,000 homes and other buildings,
failed to discriminate between civilian and military targets,
terrorized civilians,
destroyed property in a wanton manner not justified by military necessity and
attacked hospitals and ambulances.
It also found that the systematic and widespread
killing, injuring and terrorizing of the civilian population of Gaza
constituted a crime against humanity.

The IFFC investigated the question
whether the IDF was responsible for committing the ‘crime of crimes’--
Here we concluded that
although the evidence pointed in this direction,
Israel lacked the intention to destroy the people of Gaza,
which must be proved for the crime of genocide.
Instead, the IFFC found that

the purpose of the offensive was collective punishment
aimed at reducing the population to a state of submission.

However, the IFFC did not discount the possibility that
individual soldiers had acted with the required genocidal intent.

Israel’s argument that it acted in self-defense
was rejected, inter alia,
on the basis of evidence that Israel’s action was premeditated
and not an immediate response to rockets fired by militants
and was, moreover, disproportionate.
The IFFC found that
the IDF’s own internal investigation into allegations of irregularities,
which exonerated the IDF,
was unconvincing because
it was not conducted by an independent body
and failed to consider Palestinian evidence.

The IFFC also examined the actions of Palestinian militants
who fired rockets indiscriminately into southern Israel.
We concluded that these actions constituted war crimes
and that those responsible committed the war crimes of
indiscriminate attacks on civilians and
the killing, wounding and terrorization of civilians.

The past twenty years
have brought important developments in international law
in respect to
accountability for international crimes.
Yet Israel has possibly secured impunity for itself
by failing to become a party to
the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
its actions may still be judged by the court of public opinion.

A bold Obama speech on Gaza
would have ensured that the public is on notice that
it’s not business as usual in Washington.
Even American allies, such as Israel,
should have to answer evidence of serious international crimes.
In this way, some measure of accountability may be achieved.
With an active American push,
a new view of the United States may begin to take shape
after eight years of disregard for international and domestic law.

John Dugard is a professor of law,
a former UN special rapporteur on human rights
in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,
and the chairman of the Independent Fact Finding Committee on Gaza.

Palestinian Violence Overstated,
Jewish Violence Understated

by Ira Chernus and Tom Engelhardt
Antiwar.com, 2009-06-26

The Two-State Solution Doesn’t Solve Anything
New York Times Op-Ed, 2009-08-11

THE two-state solution has welcomed two converts. In recent weeks, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and Khaled Meshal, the head of Hamas’s political bureau, have indicated they now accept what they had long rejected. This nearly unanimous consensus is the surest sign to date that the two-state solution has become void of meaning, a catchphrase divorced from the contentious issues it is supposed to resolve. Everyone can say yes because saying yes no longer says much, and saying no has become too costly. Acceptance of the two-state solution signals continuation of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle by other means.

Bowing to American pressure, Mr. Netanyahu conceded the principle of a Palestinian state, but then described it in a way that stripped it of meaningful sovereignty. In essence, and with minor modifications, his position recalled that of Israeli leaders who preceded him. A state, he pronounced, would have to be demilitarized, without control over borders or airspace. Jerusalem would remain under Israeli sovereignty, and no Palestinian refugees would be allowed back to Israel. His emphasis was on the caveats rather than the concession.

As Mr. Netanyahu was fond of saying, you can call that a state if you wish, but whom are you kidding?

As for Hamas, recognition of the state of Israel has always been and remains taboo. Until recently, the movement had hinted it might acquiesce to Israel’s de facto existence and resign itself to establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. This sentiment has now grown from hint to certitude.


Even fewer Palestinians take issue with the categorical rebuff of that demand, as the recent Fatah congress in Bethlehem confirmed. In their eyes, to accept Israel as a Jewish state would legitimize the Zionist enterprise that brought about their tragedy. It would render the Palestinian national struggle at best meaningless, at worst criminal. Their firmness on the principle of their right of return flows from the belief that the 1948 war led to unjust displacement and that, whether or not refugees choose or are allowed to return to their homes, they can never be deprived of that natural right. The modern Palestinian national movement, embodied in the Palestine Liberation Organization, has been, above all, a refugee movement — led by refugees and focused on their plight.

It’s easy to wince at these stands. They run against the grain of a peace process whose central premise is that ending the occupation and establishing a viable Palestinian state will bring this matter to a close. But to recall the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian clash is not to invent a new battle line. It is to resurrect an old one that did not disappear simply because powerful parties acted for some time as if it had ceased to exist.

Over the past two decades, the origins of the conflict were swept under the carpet, gradually repressed as the struggle assumed the narrower shape of the post-1967 territorial tug-of-war over the West Bank and Gaza. The two protagonists, each for its own reason, along with the international community, implicitly agreed to deal with the battle’s latest, most palpable expression. Palestinians saw an opportunity to finally exercise authority over a part of their patrimony; Israelis wanted to free themselves from the burdens of occupation; and foreign parties found that it was the easier, tidier thing to do. The hope was that, somehow, addressing the status of the West Bank and Gaza would dispense with the need to address the issues that predated the occupation and could outlast it.

That so many attempts to resolve the conflict have failed is reason to be wary. It is almost as if the parties, whenever they inch toward an artful compromise over the realities of the present, are inexorably drawn back to the ghosts of the past. It is hard today to imagine a resolution that does not entail two states. But two states may not be a true resolution if the roots of this clash are ignored. The ultimate territorial outcome almost certainly will be found within the borders of 1967. To be sustainable, it will need to grapple with matters left over since 1948. The first step will be to recognize that in the hearts and minds of Israelis and Palestinians, the fundamental question is not about the details of an apparently practical solution. It is an existential struggle between two worldviews.

For years, virtually all attention has been focused on the question of a future Palestinian state, its borders and powers. As Israelis make plain by talking about the imperative of a Jewish state, and as Palestinians highlight when they evoke the refugees’ rights, the heart of the matter is not necessarily how to define a state of Palestine. It is, as in a sense it always has been, how to define the state of Israel.

U.N. Panel Defers Vote On Gaza Report
By Howard Schneider and Colum Lynch
Washington Post, 2009-10-03

[An excerpt:]

A fact-finding mission chaired by former South African judge Richard Goldstone concluded that
there is evidence of war crimes by Israeli soldiers and Hamas fighters
and said that
if the two sides did not conduct independent investigations,
the International Criminal Court should consider prosecutions.

The government of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
responded angrily that
the panel’s findings undermined the right of nations to self-defense
by playing down Hamas’s rocket attacks on Israel
in the years before the three-week winter war.

[This is typical of the use of illogic and emotion by Jews
to argue the case for Israel.
What if the report did “play down Hamas’s rocket attacks on Israel”?
How would that “undermine the right of nations to self-defense”?
It does not follow.

That some response by Israel was justified has never been questioned;
the question always has been the extent of the Israeli response.
But hiding the latter, valid question
behind accusations that Israel’s critics were trying to deny Israel
“the right of nations to self-defense”
is and always has been the tactic of the Jewish propaganda machine.

So we have the standard response of Israel’s defenders:
No one can criticize Israel because Israel’s actions are always justified.
Whatever actions Israel takes against the Palestinians
are always justified by what Palestinians have done;
while the converse is never the case.
Just like children argue: it’s always the other person’s fault.

That the American political system does nothing to counter this obvious bias
proves without question how biased towards Israel American politics is.]

The Golda wars
By Gideon Levy
Haaretz, 2009-10-16

U.N. Rights Council Endorses Gaza Report
New York Times, 2009-10-17

Goldstone Challenges Obama to Point Out Flaws in Report
Administration Condemned Report as 'Deeply Flawed'
by Jason Ditz
Antiwar.com, 2009-10-22

Obama Fails in Middle East
by Robert Dreyfuss
The Nation, 2009-11-06

The announcement by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
that he will not run for reelection
is the exclamation point on
the utter collapse of the Obama adminstration’s Middle East policy.
Launched to great expectations --
the appointment of George Mitchell,
Obama’s Cairo declaration that the plight of the Palestinians is intolerable --
it is now in complete disarray.
It is, without doubt, the first major defeat
for Obama’s hope-and-change foreign policy.

Here’s how it unraveled.

First, Obama began a test of strength with Israel
over that country’s policy of illegal settlements,
an expansion of its occupation of the West Bank
driven by extremist, right-wing settlers
who are fanatical, Bible-believing cultists
who think that Israel has some God-given right to that territory.
The settler-kooks -- indeed, one of their past leaders was named Rabbi Kook --
are supported by ultra-hardliners in Israel’s security establishment,
who see the West Bank as strategic depth in Israel’s defense posture.
What happened after Obama told Israel it had to stop settlements?
Score: Netanyahu 1, Obama 0.

Next, the Obama adminstration capitulated,
refusing to insist on any penalty for Israel’s defiant intransigence.
Not even a hint of any retaliation by the United States
to enforce what it had called the path to a peace deal.
No talk of reducing US aid to Israel,
or cutting back on US-Israeli military cooperation,
or anything.
Score: Netanyahu 2, Obama 0.

Then, while all this was going on,
Obama hinted that he might announce, this fall,
something like a comprehensive US plan for the Middle East.
Everyone knows what a solution looks like:
  1. withdrawal by Israel from the West Bank,
  2. dismantling of the settlements,
  3. an end to the Gaza embargo,
  4. the division of Jerusalem,
    some swapping of land to account for slight changes in borders
    (especially around the capital),
  5. a formula to account for the Palestinians’ right-of-return,
    involving financial compensation --
  6. plus security arrangements.
But months later,
Obama has refused to even hint at his own plan for the region,
caving in to Israel’s demands that all of that be saved for “negotiations.”
Score: Netanyahu 3, Obama 0.

Finally, the United States cravenly supported Israel
over the Goldstone Report on Gaza,
the report that accused Israel (and Hamas) of war crimes
during the December-January conflict there.
Score: Netanyahu 4, Obama 0.

Secretary of State Clinton then put the final icing on the rotten cake,
praising Netanyahu, an extremist, far-right ultra-nationalist,
for his decision to expand, not halt, settlements.
Clinton’s blunder, which shocked and stunned Palestinians and Arab leaders,
represented the ultimate cave-in to Netanyahu and Co.
Final score: Netanyahu 5, Obama 0.


Israel Slips the Snare of ‘Particular Concern’
by Kevin Mink
Antiwar.com, 2009-12-07


[W]hile a reality-based Israeli reporter, writing in Ha’aretz,
can say that
“Israel dismally fails the requirements of a tolerant, pluralistic society,”
the State Department authors mean for us to believe something else entirely.
Forget “dismal.”
According to them,
the behavior of Israeli Jews toward the Palestinians – Christian and Muslim –
has merely “strained” the relationship between the two.



Israel Finds a New Way to Play the Victim
by Ira Chernus
Antiwar.com, 2010-01-21

A report released by the United Nations last year says that Israeli settlers,
angered over the destruction of Jewish outposts,
could exact revenge on up to a quarter million Palestinians in the West Bank.

It’s not just vague speculation.
The report, issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Occupied Palestinian Territory,
names 22 specific Palestinian communities,
with a total population of 75,900,
that are “highly vulnerable” to revenge attacks,
and another 59, with about 175,000 residents,
that are “moderately vulnerable.”
It also names numerous road segments and junctions
where Palestinians are especially at risk.

The people who wrote this report have obviously been there,
observed carefully, and know what they are talking about.

They’ve also listened to the Jewish settlers,
who boast openly of their so-called “price tag” policy,
by which they exact a “price” from Palestinians in response
not just to terror attacks, but also to
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) actions to evacuate unauthorized outposts.
Of course, since they are more or less helpless against the IDF soldiers,
the settlers intend to make Palestinians pay the price.

But the UN report stresses that the IDF is hardly the good guy here:
“The main concern is
the frequent failure of the Israeli security forces
to intervene and stop settler attacks in real time,
including the failure to arrest suspected settlers on the spot. …
Among the main reasons behind this failure is
the ambiguous message delivered by
the government of Israel and the IDF top officials
to the security forces in the field
regarding their authority and responsibility
to enforce the law on Israeli settlers.”


Israel Goes Rogue
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2010-02-19

From identity theft to war crimes – is there anything the Israelis won't do?

Israel's cost-benefit calculation
By Robert Grenier
english.aljazeera.net, 2010-03-01

Robert Grenier was the CIA's chief of station in Islamabad, Pakistan,
from 1999 to 2002.
He was also the director of CIA's counterterrorism centre.

Israel again illustrates the true nature of Judaism
by Kevin MacDonald
TOO Blog, 2010-03-11

Any doubt about the real attitudes within Israel toward peace
have been removed with
the announcement of housing starts in East Jerusalem
timed to coincide with Vice-President Joe Biden’s visit.
For that, we should be thankful to Eli Yishai, the Israeli Minister of Internal Affairs, who, by most accounts is responsible for the timing of the announcement.
As Gideon Levy noted in Haaretz, “the timing, which everyone is complaining about, was brilliant. It was exactly the time to call a spade a spade. As always, we need Yishai (and occasionally [Foreign Minister] Avigdor Lieberman) to expose our true face, without the mask and lies, and play the enfant terrible who shouts that the emperor has no clothes.”

Rather than the 1600 units that were announced originally, now we learn that there are 50,000 housing units planned for Jerusalem in various stages of the approval and construction process. And the “settlement freeze” turns out to be at best a slowing down. Even the settlers aren’t complaining about the policy any more because they are basically getting what they want.


Biden visit exposed Israeli settler truths
by Daniel Levy
Guardian (UK), 2010-03-12

This week the US saw Netanyahu’s government in all its glorious stubborness –
providing a clarity the peace process badly needs


[I]n one fell swoop
the naked Israeli settler reality
was exposed in all of its absurdity.

For the rest of the world, East Jerusalem, just like the West Bank,
is occupied territory;
all settlements over the Green Line are illegal
(even if not everyone always uses that word).
For Israel’s leaders, the timing may have been unfortunate,
but the impulse to settle Palestinian land is fundamentally sound.

Palestinian land is claimed as state land or confiscated,
plans are authorised, tenders are issued, construction begins,
and settlers move in.

After more than 40 years,
and endless seemingly trivial and mundane bureaucratic decisions,
over 500,000 Israelis now reside beyond the Green Line
(for a detailed analysis of this process,
read East Jerusalem settlement experts Daniel Seidemann and Lara Friedman
The settlers and their sympathisers are entrenched
in every relevant nook and cranny
of Israel’s bureaucracy and security establishment.
The momentum they can now generate …
is stronger than Israel’s demographic concerns,
is stronger than fear of Israel acquiring an international pariah status,
and as was proven this week,
is stronger than the needs of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
America’s vice-president has just seen this dynamic first hand and up close.

[This process is covered in great detail, for the years 1967 through 2007,
in Idith Zertal and Akiva Eldar’s Lords of the Land.]


The extremism and excesses of [Netanyahu’s] government
may finally open enough eyes and lead to enough local and international action
to roll back this settler behemoth.
More moderate Israeli governments,
even those perhaps sincerely committed to
a variation on the de-occupation, two-state solution theme,
have definitively failed to halt the settlements march.
When Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert were negotiating on paper
potential Israeli withdrawals,
the settlements and the occupation
were being expanded and entrenched on the ground.
Even when Ariel Sharon was removing 7,500 settlers from Gaza,
he was adding a greater number to the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
But under Netanyahu, what you see is what you get.

Top Ten Reasons East Jerusalem does not belong to Jewish-Israelis
by Juan Cole
Informed Comment, 2010-03-23

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
told the American Israel Public Affairs Council on Monday that
“Jerusalem is not a settlement.”
He continued that
the historical connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel
cannot be denied.
He added that neither could
the historical connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem.
He insisted,
“The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago
and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today.”

He said, “Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital.”
He told his applauding audience of 7500 that
he was simply following the policies of all Israeli governments
since the 1967 conquest of Jerusalem in the Six Day War.

Netanyahu mixed together Romantic-nationalist cliches
with a series of historically false assertions.
But even more important was everything he left out of the history,
and his citation of his warped and inaccurate history
instead of considering
laws, rights or common human decency toward others not of his ethnic group.

So here are the reasons that Netanyahu is profoundly wrong,
and East Jerusalem does not belong to him.

1. In international law,
East Jerusalem is occupied territory,
as are the parts of the West Bank
that Israel unilaterally annexed to its district of Jerusalem.
The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the Hague Regulations of 1907
forbid occupying powers to alter the lifeways of civilians who are occupied,
and forbid the settling of people from the occupiers’ country
in the occupied territory (cf.).
Israel’s expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem,
its usurpation of Palestinian property there, and
its settling of Israelis on Palestinian land
are all gross violations of international law.
Israeli claims that they are not occupying Palestinians
because the Palestinians have no state are cruel and tautological.
Israeli claims that they are building on empty territory are laughable.
My back yard is empty, but that does not give Netanyahu
the right to put up an apartment complex on it.

2. Israeli governments have not in fact been united or consistent
about what to do with East Jerusalem and the West Bank,
contrary to what Netanyahu says.
The Galili Plan for settlements in the West Bank was adopted only in 1973.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin gave undertakings as part of the Oslo Peace Process
to withdraw from Palestinian territory and grant Palestinians a state,
promises for which he was assassinated by the Israeli far right
(elements of which are now supporting Netanyahu’s government).
As late as 2000, then Prime Minister Ehud Barak claims that
he gave oral assurances that Palestinians
could have almost all of the West Bank and
could have some arrangement by which East Jerusalem could be its capital.
Netanyahu tried to give the impression that
far rightwing Likud policy on East Jerusalem and the West Bank
has been shared by all previous Israeli governments,
but this is simply not true.

3. Romantic nationalism imagines a “people” as eternal
and as having an eternal connection with a specific piece of land.
This way of thinking is fantastic and mythological.
Peoples are formed and change and sometimes cease to be,
though they might have descendants
who abandoned that religion or ethnicity or language.
Human beings have moved all around
and are not directly tied to any territory in an exclusive way,
since many groups have lived on most pieces of land.
Jerusalem was not founded by Jews, i.e. adherents of the Jewish religion.
It was founded between 3000 BCE and 2600 BCE
by a West Semitic people or possibly the Canaanites, the common ancestors of
Palestinians, Lebanese, many Syrians and Jordanians, and many Jews.
But when it was founded Jews did not exist.

4. Jerusalem was founded in honor of the ancient god Shalem.
It does not mean City of Peace but rather ‘built-up place of Shalem.”

5. The “Jewish people” were not
building Jerusalem 3000 years ago, i.e. 1000 BCE.
First of all, it is not clear when exactly Judaism
as a religion centered on the worship of the one God
took firm form.
It appears to have been a late development
since no evidence of worship of anything but ordinary Canaanite deities
has been found in archeological sites through 1000 BCE.
There was no invasion of geographical Palestine from Egypt by former slaves in the 1200s BCE.
The pyramids had been built much earlier and had not used slave labor.
The chronicle of the events of the reign of Ramses II on the wall in Luxor
does not know about any major slave revolts or flights by same into the Sinai peninsula. Egyptian sources never heard of Moses or the 12 plagues & etc.
Jews and Judaism emerged from a certain social class of Canaanites
over a period of centuries inside Palestine.

6. Jerusalem not only was not being built by
the likely then non-existent “Jewish people” in 1000 BCE,
but Jerusalem probably was not even inhabited at that point in history.
Jerusalem appears to have been abandoned between 1000 BCE and 900 BCE,
the traditional dates for the united kingdom under David and Solomon. (cf.)
So Jerusalem was not ‘the city of David,’
since there was no city when he is said to have lived.
No sign of magnificent palaces or great states
has been found in the archeology of this period,
and the Assyrian tablets,
which recorded even minor events throughout the Middle East,
such as the actions of Arab queens,
don’t know about
any great kingdom of David and Solomon in geographical Palestine.

7. Since archeology does not show the existence of
a Jewish kingdom or kingdoms in the so-called First Temple Period,
it is not clear when exactly the Jewish people would have ruled Jerusalem
except for the Hasmonean Kingdom.
The Assyrians conquered Jerusalem in 722.
The Babylonians took it in 597 and ruled it
until they were themselves conquered in 539 BCE
by the Achaemenids of ancient Iran,
who ruled Jerusalem until Alexander the Great took the Levant in the 330s BCE.
Alexander’s descendants, the Ptolemies ruled Jerusalem until 198
when Alexander’s other descendants, the Seleucids, took the city.
With the Maccabean Revolt in 168 BCE,
the Jewish Hasmonean kingdom did rule Jerusalem until 37 BCE,
though Antigonus II Mattathias, the last Hasmonean,
only took over Jerusalem with the help of the Parthian dynasty in 40 BCE.
Herod ruled 37 BCE until the Romans conquered what they called Palestine in 6 CE
(CE= ‘Common Era’ or what Christians call AD).
The Romans and then the Eastern Roman Empire of Byzantium
ruled Jerusalem from 6 CE until 614 CE
when the Iranian Sasanian Empire Conquered it,
ruling until 629 CE when the Byzantines took it back.

The Muslims conquered Jerusalem in 638
and ruled it until 1099 when the Crusaders conquered it.
The Crusaders killed or expelled Jews and Muslims from the city.
The Muslims under Saladin took it back in 1187 CE
and allowed Jews to return,
and Muslims ruled it until the end of World War I,
or altogether for about 1192 years.

Adherents of Judaism did not found Jerusalem.
It existed for perhaps 2700 years
before anything we might recognize as Judaism arose.
Jewish rule may have been no longer than 170 years or so,
i.e., the kingdom of the Hasmoneans.

8. Therefore if
historical building of Jerusalem and historical connection with Jerusalem
establishes sovereignty over it as Netanyahu claims,
here are the groups that have the greatest claim to the city:

A. The Muslims, who ruled it and built it over 1191 years.

B. The Egyptians, who ruled it as a vassal state for several hundred years
in the second millennium BCE.

C. The Italians, who ruled it about 444 years
until the fall of the Roman Empire in 450 CE.

D. The Iranians, who ruled it for 205 years under the Achaemenids,
for three years under the Parthians
(insofar as the last Hasmonean was actually their vassal),
and for 15 years under the Sasanids.

E. The Greeks, who ruled it for over 160 years
if we count the Ptolemys and Seleucids as Greek.
If we count them as Egyptians and Syrians,
that would increase the Egyptian claim and introduce a Syrian one.

F. The successor states to the Byzantines,
which could be either Greece or Turkey, who ruled it 188 years,
though if we consider the heir to be Greece
and add in the time the Hellenistic Greek dynasties ruled it,
that would give Greece nearly 350 years as ruler of Jerusalem.

G. There is an Iraqi claim to Jerusalem
based on the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests,
as well as perhaps the rule of the Ayyubids (Saladin’s dynasty),
who were Kurds from Iraq.

9. Of course, Jews are historically connected to Jerusalem by the Temple,
whenever that connection is dated to.
But that link mostly was pursued
when Jews were not in political control of the city,
under Iranian, Greek and Roman rule.
It cannot therefore be deployed
to make a demand for political control of the whole city.

10. The Jews of Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine
did not for the most part leave
after the failure of the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans in 136 CE.
They continued to live there and to farm in Palestine
under Roman rule and then Byzantine.
They gradually converted to Christianity.
After 638 CE all but 10 percent gradually converted to Islam.
The present-day Palestinians are the descendants of the ancient Jews
and have every right to live where their ancestors have lived for centuries.

PS: The sources are in the hyperlinks, especially the Thompson edited volume.
See also Shlomo Sands recent book.

Palestinians Try a Less Violent Path to Resistance
New York Times, 2010-04-07

RAMALLAH, West Bank —

Senior Palestinian leaders — men who once commanded militias —
are joining unarmed protest marches against Israeli policies
and are being arrested.
Goods produced in Israeli settlements
have been burned in public demonstrations.
The Palestinian prime minister
has entered West Bank areas officially off limits to his authority,
to plant trees and declare the land part of a future state.

Something is stirring in the West Bank.
With both diplomacy and armed struggle out of favor
for having failed to end the Israeli occupation,
the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, joined by the business community,
is trying to forge a third way:
to rouse popular passions while avoiding violence.
The idea, as Fatah struggles to revitalize its leadership,
is to build a virtual state and body politic
through acts of popular resistance.


Is the Star of David the new swastika?
In a disturbing reversal of symbolism,
Israeli extremists are defacing Palestinian property with the Jewish symbol
By Judy Mandelbaum
Salon.com, 2010-04-15


Your local paper might not have covered it,
but in the wee hours of Wednesday morning
a gang of Israeli settlers attacked the West Bank village of Hawara.
“Palestinians reported two torched cars
on the village’s central road early yesterday,” Haaretz writes.
“A small village mosque, used only on the weekend,
had the word ‘Muhammad’ sprayed in Hebrew and a Star of David.
Haaretz also found graffiti with the Jewish prayer
‘Praise be onto him for not making me a gentile.’ ”
The attackers also took the opportunity
to destroy some three hundred olive trees,
a major source of local income.

[The article continues with several other similar incidents,
and goes on to make some comparisons to, you guessed it, Nazi Germany.

Patrick Lang briefly discusses this article here,
which generated fairly extensive comments from his readers.

Among the comments, Lang wrote:]

The abusive behavior that I saw in 2008 was terrible.
Police and military people alike acted as though they were unrestrained
in what they could do to the Palestinians or anyone else.
My wife and I were traveling around the West Bank
inspecting church schools that we support.
Most visitors are herded around in buses
under the “protection” and guidance of tour guides.
They don’t see what goes on away from tourist centers.
Grown men are mocked
and required to perform clownish exercises in front of their families
for the amusement of teen aged Israeli soldiers.
Israeli traffic police arrested my driver
after they saw him give an indigent bus fare.
They inspected his chauffer license for ten minutes
until they found some little thing that they could bust him for.
They took him away and left us sitting in the car outside Jerusalem.
I called the hotel and they sent another driver.
On another occasion a police officer at a checkpoint
physically grabbed my wife (who was ill) by the arm
and attempted to drag her out of the car
because she had not responded quickly enough to a question.

[It is well-known that various Jewish groups
sponsor all-expense-paid “educational” tours of Israel
for many American politicians and others whom they wish to influence.
These tours extend down to the level of state legislators
and, in at least one case, a member of a county board.
One wonders how much of the behavior witnessed by Colonel Lang takes place
before the Americans on those tours.

Here is a suggestion:
Why doesn’t someone compile a list
of the American politicians and opinion leaders who have gone on those tours,
and ask them, by e-mail, snail mail or whatever,
if they indeed have witnessed any of the Israeli behavior
which is so regularly documented by the various human rights groups
which monitor the Israeli-Palestinian community?

If the answer is, as I suspect, none,
perhaps further investigation (verging on intelligence work) might show
the means by which Israel controls what is seen.
Perhaps even a Potemkin-village-like phenomenon.

Showing, no doubt, how out-of-touch I am with Washington’s realities,
what I would really like is for some intelligence agency (the CIA?)
to investigate the extent to which these dog-and-pony shows
present a false image of Palestinian reality,
and should be viewed as part of
a Zionist psychological operation within the U.S.
Think any American intelligence agency would look forward to
launching such an investigation?]

A question for Aaron Miller
by Stephen M. Walt
walt.foreignpolicy.com, 2010-04-28

Walt asks the question:

What will we do when “two states for two peoples” is no longer possible
and everybody is forced to admit it?

The Future of Palestine: Righteous Jews vs. the New Afrikaners
by Professor John J. Mearsheimer
The Palestine Center, 2010-04-29

[Walt links to this text here, which picks up some comments.

Here is an excerpt from Mearsheimer’s (no doubt controversial) speech.
Emphasis is added.]

Perhaps the best American response to Netanyahu’s victory
came from the widely read author and blogger, Andrew Sullivan,
who wrote that this sad episode should “remind Obama of

a cardinal rule of American politics:
no pressure on Israel ever.
Just keep giving them money
and they will give the US the finger in return.
The only permitted position is
to say you oppose settlements in the West Bank,
while doing everything you can
to keep them growing and advancing.”


There are two other reasons why there is not going to be a two-state solution.
The Palestinians are badly divided among themselves
and not in a good position to make a deal with Israel
and then stick to it.
That problem is fixable with time and help from Israel and the United States.
But time has run out and neither Jerusalem nor Washington
is likely to provide a helping hand.
Then there are the Christian Zionists,
who are a powerful political force in the United States,
especially on Capitol Hill.
They are adamantly opposed to a two-state solution
because they want Israel to control every square millimeter of Palestine,
a situation they believe heralds the “Second Coming” of Christ.

What this all means is that
there is going to be
a Greater Israel between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.
In fact, I would argue that it already exists.
But who will live there and what kind of political system will it have?


I would classify
most of the individuals who head the Israel lobby’s major organizations
as new Afrikaners.
That list would include
Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League,
David Harris of the American Jewish Committee,
Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations,
Ronald Lauder of the World Jewish Congress, and
Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America,
just to name some of the more prominent ones.
I would also include businessmen like
Sheldon Adelson, Lester Crown, and Mortimer Zuckerman
as well as media personalities like
Fred Hiatt and Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post,
Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, and
Martin Peretz of the New Republic.
It would be easy to add more names to this list.


[Kevin MacDonald has written an analysis of this article here.]

Israel's fated bleak future
By John J. Mearsheimer
Chicago Tribune, 2010-05-09

Incitement Day in Jerusalem
Haaretz Editorial, 2010-05-13

As proximity talks with the Palestinians begin,
Israel’s real policy is being revealed
vis a vis the government’s incitement
which drowns out its whispered promises to the United States.

For a long time now,
Jerusalem Day has served as an excuse for the far right
to excoriate Arab residents of the city’s eastern part
and violently demonstrate their presence in their neighborhoods.
But this year,
the baton of incitement has passed from the delusional fringes
to the very heart of the political arena - the government.

Of all the places the city has to offer,
the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva is
the site where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to celebrate the day.
In front of the students devoutly singing
“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning,”
Netanyahu promised the yeshiva’s head, Rabbi Yaakov Shapira,
that “we have never conceded Jerusalem.”

It would be better not to make such statements right now -
and especially not in a place so identified with
stubborn resistance to any division of the capital.
But Mayor Nir Barkat went even further:
He promised that the freeze on construction in the city would not continue.

Then, as if all this were not enough,
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch
hastened to respond to Washington’s request that
Israel refrain from provocative actions by announcing that
“we will resume razing houses in East Jerusalem over the next few days.”

The greatest achievement of all, however,
belongs to Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar,
who has doubled the number of schoolchildren
visiting the Temple Mount and the City of David,
from 200,000 two years ago to 400,000
since the start of the current school year.
Under a new program drafted by the Education Ministry on the minister’s orders,
students are obligated to visit Jerusalem
at least three times during their 12 years of school.

In theory, there is nothing wrong with this.
Yet the visits tend to focus on sites like the Old City’s Jewish Quarter,
the Western Wall tunnels, Zion Gate
and the archaeological excavations of the Temple Mount’s southern wall -
all disputed areas
that are on the agenda during negotiations with the Palestinians,
and are also associated with new Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem.
Moreover, the tours, which are led by guides
from the extreme right-wing organization Elad,
blatantly ignore the Palestinians’ existence
and bear the clear stamp of religious nationalist indoctrination.

The government’s stance is particularly worrying
given its aggressive actions on the ground:
the tightening of the belt of Jewish settlement
in neighborhoods to the east and south of the Old City
that overlook the Temple Mount.

The government’s dangerous incitement,
which drowns out its whispered promises to the United States,
appears this week to be Israel’s real policy
as proximity talks with the Palestinians begin.

Israel's latest brutal blunder
by Stephen M. Walt
walt.foreignpolicy.com, 2010-05-31

The Mediterranean Massacre
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2010-06-02

More Spin from Israel
by Philip Giraldi
Antiwar.com, 2010-06-03

The Flotilla Raid Was Not “Bungled.”
The IDF Detailed Its Violent Strategy In Advance.

by Max Blumenthal
maxblumenthal.com, 2010-06-03

[Key parts of this article are excerpted in
an article by James Bovard.]

The Israeli flotilla attack: victimhood, aggression and tribalism
by Glenn Greenwald
Salon.com, 2010-06-03

Obama's agenda, Israel's ambitions often at odds
By Scott Wilson
Washington Post, 2010-06-05


Israeli leaders have argued that
Jewish settlements in the West Bank
serve as a buffer against
Arab attack from the east.

[That argument made a certain amount of sense from 1967 through 2003,
when the possibility existed that
Iraq would send its armored divisions through Jordan to attack Israel.
It really was an unlikely problem even then,
because by the time Iraq had moved its divisions,
the move would long have been spotted,
Israeli reserves mobilized to deal with the threat,
and no doubt the Iraq armor would have been absolutely decimated
by the extraordinarily effective anti-tank weapons
that would have been unleashed on them
from the highly effective and well-supplied IAF.
If there is one battlefield technology
that the U.S. (and Israel) have absolutely locked,
it is how to destroy tanks in the open from the air.
Mavericks and Hellfires would have made that advance into a shooting gallery.

But of course since 2003 the threat from Iraq to Israel has vanished.
So what’s left?
Jordan has neither combat power nor desire to cross swords with the IDF.

The “attack from the East” argument,
by anything other than guerrilla forces,
is really a chimera, a canard.
Too bad the Washington Post, like the rest of the MSM,
still repeats this argument without pointing that out.]

Israel Without Clichés
New York Times Op-Ed, 2010-06-10

[Its conclusion:]

Along with the oil sheikdoms,

Israel is now America’s greatest strategic liability
in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Thanks to Israel, we are in serious danger of “losing” Turkey:
a Muslim democracy, offended at its treatment by the European Union,
that is the pivotal actor in Near-Eastern and Central Asian affairs.
Without Turkey,
the United States will achieve few of its regional objectives —
whether in Iran, Afghanistan or the Arab world.
The time has come to cut through the clichés surrounding it,
treat Israel like a “normal” state and sever the umbilical cord.

Defining 'Jewish state': For many, term has different meanings
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post, 2010-10-02

Arsonists Damage a Mosque in the West Bank
New York Times, 2010-10-05

In West Bank, Peace Symbol Now Signifies Struggle
New York Times, 2010-10-13


Palestinians Make a Surprise Move, and Mideast Talks Falter
New York Times, 2014-04-03


Surprising the United States and Israel,
the Palestinian leadership formally submitted applications on Wednesday
to join 15 international agencies,
leaving the troubled Middle East talks brokered by Secretary of State John Kerry
on the verge of breakdown.

The applications were signed by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday evening
as part of a move to gain the benefits of statehood
outside the negotiation process.


[Three cheers for Mr. Abbas and the Palestinians.
Israel has rolled over them like a steam-roller
in populating the West Bank with 500,000 Israelis
"outside of the negotiation process."
Since Israel unilaterally has imposed its will on the Palestinians,
why should the Palestinians not also act "outside of the negotiation process"?
The Israelis and their supporters are such total hypocrites.
It is really a disgrace that SecState John Kerry,
acting for President Barack Obama,
is opposing this move by the Palestinians rather than applauding it.

And note,
applying for the benefits that may come from joining those organizations
is not an "act of terrorism",
the favorite accusation of the Zionist propagandists against the Palestinians.]


A nightmare scenario in the Middle East
By Jackson Diehl, Deputy editorial page editor
Washinton Post Op-Ed, 2015-12-13

The wars in Syria and Iraq and jihadist attacks in the West
have obscured yet another Middle East threat:
the possibility that slowly escalating violence between Palestinians and Israelis
will destroy
one of the few remaining zones of relative tranquility between Morocco and Iran,
along with one of the last secular and moderate Sunni governments.

Attacks on Israelis by Palestinians, which began in Jerusalem in September,
have turned into a steady drumbeat.
There were five in the first four days of last week alone;
13 Israelis were shot, stabbed or deliberately hit by cars,
while three of their Palestinian attackers were shot and killed.
The Israeli army reports 90 stabbings, 33 shootings and 15 car rammings
between Sept. 13 and Dec. 9.
The Associated Press says at least 19 Israelis and 112 Palestinians have been killed,
including Arabs killed in clashes with security forces.

The modest scale of this bloodshed compared with that in Syria or even Egypt
is magnified by the potentially outsize consequences.
For senior U.S. officials, foremost among these is
the potential collapse of the West Bank’s Palestinian Authority
and its U.S.-trained security forces,
which have cooperated closely with Israel against jihadist groups in recent years.
In the worst case,
that could open the way for the Islamic State to move into the Palestinian territories
and launch a direct assault against Israel —
a nightmare scenario for Sunni states in the region as well as Israel itself.

[Prediction: If that happened,
Israel would launch its version of massive retaliation
against the region and/or people from which the attack on it originated.]

If that sounds alarmist,
it nevertheless seems to reflect the view of Secretary of State John F. Kerry,
who on Dec. 5 delivered a stark warning of a possible Palestinian collapse.
“There are valid questions as to how long the [Palestinian Authority] will survive
if the current situation continues,”

he told the Saban Forum, an annual Israeli-U.S. conference I attended.
“Nobody can tell you what the alternative is
in a world buzzing with Daesh [the Islamic State] and jihad and Hamas.”

Kerry has been an indefatigable optimist
on the possibilities for settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict —
so much so that critics including myself have called him delusional —
so the new, somber tone was striking.
From what I heard from senior U.S. and Israeli officials
during the conference’s not-for-quotation sessions,
it stemmed from Kerry’s little-noticed but profoundly discouraging
visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority in late November.

The purpose of the trip was not to broker Palestinian statehood;
Kerry and President Obama have finally accepted that
neither Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
nor Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
is willing or able to make such a deal.
Instead, the administration has taken the more modest but realistic tack
that Obama should have adopted years ago:
pressing for practical improvements in the Palestinian economy and daily life
that could reduce tensions while helping to lay the groundwork for an eventual state.

[The alternative I recommended back on 2006-01-06:
see my post “Color Congress blue”.]

In theory, at least, it’s a program on which all sides can agree —
and in a visit to Washington in November,
Netanyahu suggested to Obama that
Israel might make economic concessions to the Palestinians.
Kerry’s aim was to follow up.

Netanyahu, however, offered nothing of significance in Jerusalem,
at least in the view of the U.S. side.
He may have been restrained by the hard-line members of his cabinet,
or by the calculation that
his government could not be seen to be offering concessions in response to Palestinian violence.
[What BS. How many significant concessions has Israel put on the table
in times of non-violence?]

In any case, U.S. officials were left with little to offer Abbas when Kerry went to visit him in Ramallah.

Abbas, for his part, gave the U.S. delegation the impression that
he had written off diplomatic options entirely.
For years he has threatened to dissolve the Palestinian Authority
and force Israel to resume direct government of the West Bank.
This time the 80-year-old Palestinian president,
who has remained in office years after the expiration of his term,
seemed to persuade Kerry the prospect was real.

Kerry’s speech had the effect of exasperating senior Israeli officials,
who believe that Abbas and his top aides,
while professing to oppose the ongoing violence,
have done their best to stoke it.
On the same day that Kerry spoke at Washington’s Willard Hotel,
Abbas’s chief diplomatic negotiator, Saeb Erekat,
paid a condolence call on the family of a Palestinian Authority policeman
who had shot two Israelis before being killed himself.

The Israelis believe, with reason, that
Kerry and Obama are pressing the Netanyahu government for concessions
while asking little from the Palestinians —
even though almost all the violence has been initiated by Palestinian attackers.
[Say, how much Israeli land has the Palestinian Authority appropriated lately?
How many Palestinian settlements have they established in pre-1967 Israel?]

Still, not just this White House has been frustrated with Netanyahu’s refusal to act.
Stephen Hadley, George W. Bush’s former national security adviser,
also spoke out on the need for practical Israeli measures in the West Bank;
when it was pointed out that Netanyahu had often promised such steps,
his verdict was sharp.

“Didn’t do it,” said Hadley. “He simply never did it.”


U.S. ambassador’s comments ignite diplomatic row with Israel
By William Booth
Washington Post, 2016-01-20


Israeli leaders on Tuesday sharply criticized U.S. Ambassador Daniel Shapiro’s observation that the law in the occupied West Bank is applied differently to Palestinians and Israelis, calling it “unacceptable” and demanding a retraction.

Shapiro’s comments would strike many as a statement of fact: Palestinians in the West Bank live under military occupation, face Israeli military tribunals and can be held for months, even years, without charges; the Jewish settlers in the territory, however, are subject to Israeli civilian courts.

But the plainly critical remarks by the U.S. diplomat in a speech at a security think tank Monday angered Israel’s top leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called them “unacceptable and wrong.”


In his speech, Shapiro said, “Too many attacks on Palestinians lack a vigorous investigation or response by Israeli authorities, too much vigilantism goes unchecked, and at times there seem to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law: one for Israelis and another for Palestinians.”

The U.S. diplomat was referring to assaults and acts of vandalism by Jewish extremists against Palestinians, including a July arson attack in the West Bank village of Duma that killed a toddler and his parents.


In his speech Monday, Shapiro said: “We are concerned and perplexed by Israel’s strategy on settlements. This government and previous Israeli governments have repeatedly expressed their support for a negotiated two-state solution — a solution that would involve both mutual recognition and separation. Yet separation will become more and more difficult if Israel plans to continue to expand the footprint of settlements.”

The U.S. ambassador complained that new “settler outposts are being legalized despite earlier pledges to the United States not to do so, while routine, administrative demolition of Palestinian structures continues. Again, the question we ask is a simple one: What is Israel’s strategy?”

He said it was becoming increasingly hard for the United States to defend Israel in international forums, especially in the absence of peace negotiations. “What is Israel’s plan for resolving the conflict?” Shapiro asked. “For remaining a Jewish and democratic state? And if it judges a political solution to be out of reach for the time being, then what is its plan for managing and stabilizing the conflict in the short and medium term?”



Trump May Turn to Arab Allies for Help With Israeli-Palestinian Relations
New York Times, 2017-02-10


Jared Kushner, the senior White House adviser whom Mr. Trump has assigned a major role in negotiations,
has been intrigued by this logic [of Israeli prime minister Netanyahu],
according to people who have spoken with him.
Mr. Kushner has grown close to Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador
and a close confidant of Mr. Netanyahu’s.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner also had dinner at the White House on Thursday night with Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate, who is a key supporter of Mr. Netanyahu.


 Lock on Palestine
Israel’s occupation is only made possible by unquestioning US support—but a day of reckoning is on the way.
By Rashid Khalidi
The Nation, 2017-06-05

Israel sues heirs of Palestinian ‘lone wolf’ attacker, seeking compensation
by Ruth Eglash
Washington Post, 2017-07-07


“This lawsuit is forcing hungry children to pay compensation for an act that was carried out by their father,” said Mohammad al-Ayan, the attorney who is representing the family in the Qanbar case.

“The person who carried out this act no longer exists, and the state has already punished the family by sealing up their house and confiscating their car. There is really nothing left for them to take,” said Ayan, referring to the Israeli practice of demolishing the homes of Palestinians who carry out attacks against Israelis or sealing their former residences by pouring concrete into the structure.

“Most of the attackers are young. They don’t have any assets. At the most, the state will be able to collect a few thousand shekels,” said Anat Gonen, head of the legal department for Hamoked, the Center for the Defense of the Individual, an Israeli nonprofit group that is also supporting the family.

It’s just another way for Israel “to harass” Palestinians and has nothing to do with financial compensation, Gonen said. “If they are really looking for money, then why does the state demolish their houses? In most cases, their home is the only thing that has financial value.”


Labels: , , , ,