Posts Tagged ‘Oslo’

Abbas: "…we will not accept …"

April 25th, 2010 Comments off
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks to ...
The relevance of this man!

AP/ here

“… In his speech, Abbas referred to recent proposals for a temporary state but did not elaborate. “Frankly, we will not accept the state with temporary borders, because it is being offered these days,” he said.

He said the Palestinians were being asked to “take a state with provisional borders on 40 or 50 percent, and after that we will see (haven’t the Oslo bunch been doing just that since eternity?).”

An Israeli newspaper reported earlier this week that Netanyahu made such a proposal. However, Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rdeneh and an Israeli government official both denied that Israel formally presented the idea. The Israeli official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the diplomatic contacts. A Palestinian academic said Israel offered Abbas such a state on more than 50 percent of the West Bank. ……

(Meanwhile) In the Gaza Strip on Saturday, Israeli gunfire wounded two Palestinians and a woman from Malta who were among a group of protesters marching toward the border with Israel,………..”

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Netanyahu Commits to Colonizing East Jerusalem; First Palestinian Expelled under new Policy

April 23rd, 2010 Comments off

The new Israeli policy of deporting Palestinians from the West Bank on arbitrary grounds has kicked in with Ahmad Sabah, who has just been deported to Gaza and separated from his family in the West Bank. The measure contravenes the Geneva Convention of 1949 on the treatment of occupied populations, and it also goes contrary to the undertakings Israel made toward the Palestine Authority in the course of the Oslo peace negotiations.

The episode underlines the ways in which their forced statelessness leaves Palestinians (almost uniquely among major world nationalities) completely vulnerable to loss of the most basic human rights. That he was forcibly moved to Gaza by the Israelis suggests that many of those singled out for potential deportation from the West Bank may be moved to the small slum along the Mediterranean, which the Israelis have cut off from its traditional markets and which they keep under a blockade of the civilian population (a war crime). The Israeli establishment has decided not to try to colonize Gaza, and its isolation and hopelessness make it an attractive place for them to begin exiling West Bank residents, thus making more room for Israeli colonists.

The new policy, which is illegal six ways to Sunday in international law, is the brainchild of the government of far rightwing Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu, an Israeli hawk and expansionist, slapped President Barack Obama in the face again Thursday when he confirmed that he refused to halt construction of new homes in Palestinian East Jerusalem, which is militarily occupied by Israel.

Netanyahu’s announcement is probably the nail in the coffin of any two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (in which the Israelis have thrown most Palestinians now living beyond the Green Line off their land and deprived them of citizenship in a state and all the rights that go with such citizenship). Palestinians are so despairing that only 57 percent even believe in having an independent Palestinian state any more. The rest are resigned to becoming Israelis in the distant future, when demographic realities and perhaps world-wide boycotts of Israel for its Apartheid-style policies toward the occupied Palestinian will force Israel to accept them.

At the same time, Netanyahu tried to throw sand in peoples’ eyes by talking about recognizing an ‘interim’ Palestinian state with “temporary” borders.

Palestinian leaders reject this formulation, which is intended to allow the Israelis to continue aggressively to colonize Palestinian territory while pretending that they are engaged in a ‘peace process.’ The Palestine Authority, established in the 1990s, was already a sort of interim state then, and Palestine’s borders were then ‘temporary.’ So temporary that Israel has made deep inroads into them through massive colonies and building a wall on the Palestinian side of the border, cutting residents off from their own farms and sequestering entire towns and cities.

Netanyahu’s various moves this week, from illegally expelling a Palestinian from the West Bank to Gaza– to blowing off the president of the United States and hitching his wagon to massive increased colonization of Palestinian land– all of these steps are guaranteed to mire Israel in violent disputes for years and perhaps decades. And the US, which has already suffered tremendously in Iraq and elsewhere from its knee-jerk support of illegal and inhumane Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, will suffer further.

Meanwhile, in the wake of a vicious attack on Barack Obama by New York senator Chuck Schumer, Steve Clemons of the Washington Note frankly wonders whether Schumer understands he is in the US Senate or whether he is under the impression he is serving in the Israeli Knesset.

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Oxymoron?: "… the order, is not intended to apply to Israelis, but only to "illegal sojourners" of Palestine …"

April 12th, 2010 Comments off

Amira Hass in Haaretz/ here

” … The fear that Palestinians with Gaza addresses will be the first to be targeted by this order is based on measures that Israel has taken in recent years to curtail their right to live, work, study or even visit the West Bank. These measures violated the Oslo Accords.
According to a decision by the West Bank commander that was not backed by military legislation, since 2007, Palestinians with Gaza addresses must request a permit to stay in the West Bank. Since 2000, they have been defined as illegal sojourners if they have Gaza addresses, as if they were citizens of a foreign state. Many of them have been deported to Gaza, including those born in the West Bank.
Currently, Palestinians need special permits to enter areas near the separation fence, even if their homes are there, and Palestinians have long been barred from the Jordan Valley without special authorization. Until 2009, East Jerusalemites needed permission to enter Area A, territory under full PA control.
Another group expected to be particularly harmed by the new rules are Palestinians who moved to the West Bank under family reunification provisions, which Israel stopped granting for several years.
In 2007, amid a number of Hamoked petitions and as a goodwill gesture to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, tens of thousands of people received Palestinian residency cards. The PA distributed the cards, but Israel had exclusive control over who could receive them.
Thousands of Palestinians, however, remained classified as “illegal sojourners,” including many who are not citizens of any other country. The new order is the latest step by the Israeli government in recent years to require permits that limit the freedom of movement and residency previously conferred by Palestinian ID cards. The new regulations are particularly sweeping, allowing for criminal measures and the mass expulsion of people from their homes.
The IDF Spokesman’s Office said in response, “The amendments to the order on preventing infiltration, signed by GOC Central Command, were issued as part of a series of manifests, orders and appointments in Judea and Samaria, in Hebrew and Arabic as required, and will be posted in the offices of the Civil Administration and military courts’ defense attorneys in Judea and Samaria. The IDF is ready to implement the order, which is not intended to apply to Israelis, but to illegal sojourners in Judea and Samaria.”

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"Does Dennis Ross have a strong attachment to Israel? If so, might this situation be detrimental to the conduct of US Middle East policy?"

April 11th, 2010 Comments off

Stephen Walt responds to WINEP’s Satloff in FP/ here

“… There are only two important issues here, and Satloff ignores both of them. First, do some top U.S. officials — and here we are obviously talking about Dennis Ross — have a strong attachment to Israel? Second, might this situation be detrimental to the conduct of U.S. Middle East policy?
Regarding the first question, there is abundant evidence that Ross has a strong — some might even say ardent — attachment to Israel. These feelings are clearly on display in his memoir of the Oslo peace process, and they are confirmed by his decision to accept a top position at the Washington Institute of Near East Policy (WINEP) — an influential organization in the Israel lobby-upon leaving government service in 2000. As Middle East historian Avi Shlaim put it in his own review of Ross’s book:

Ross belongs fairly and squarely in the pro-Israel camp. His premises, position on the Middle East and policy preferences are identical to those of the Israel-first school. Indeed, it is difficult to think of an American official who is more quintessentially Israel-first in his outlook than Dennis Ross.”

Furthermore, Ross served in recent years as chairman of the board of the Jewish People’s Policy Planning Institute, a think-tank established by the Jewish Agency, which is headquartered in Jerusalem. Satloff does not mention this key fact, but the implications are unmistakable. Why would anyone take such a job if they did not have a deep-seated commitment to Israel?

There is nothing wrong with Ross (or any other American) working for WINEP or chairing the board of an organization like JPPPI. As I’ve emphasized in my previous writings on this topic, I also see nothing wrong with Ross or Satloff, or anyone else for that matter, working to promote America’s “special relationship” with Israel. The same is true for those individuals who support the Cuban-American National Foundation, the American Farm Bureau, the National Rifle Association, or the Indian-American Center for Political Awareness (IACPA). Others may disagree with the policies that these interest groups push, but so be it; that’s how the American political system works. Thus, Satloff’s claim that I am engaged in some sort of McCarthyite witch-hunt is false.

This brings us to the second question: While all Americans certainly have the right to hold different attachments and to express them openly, is it a good idea for someone with a strong attachment to a foreign country — in this case, Israel — to be given responsibility for making and executing U.S. Middle East policy?

I believe the answer is no, and that there is ample evidence in the historical record to supports my position. For example, in 1993, the Oslo Accords handed the Clinton administration a golden opportunity to bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a close. The PLO had finally recognized Israel’s right to exist, the Rabin government was genuinely interested in making a deal with the Palestinians, and the Oslo framework had laid out a path to end the conflict. U.S. Middle East policy at the time was guided by Ross and a number of other individuals who had strong attachments to Israel.

What happened over the next seven years? As Ross’s deputy Aaron David Miller later recalled, the United States acted not as an evenhanded mediator, but as “Israel’s lawyer.” The result was a “peace process” during which Israel confiscated another 40,000 acres of land in the Occupied Territories, built 250 miles of bypass and connector roads, added 30 new settlements, and doubled the settler population, with hardly a peep from Washington. The denouement was the ill-fated Camp David summit in July 2000, a hastily arranged and poorly managed attempt to browbeat the Palestinians into accepting a one-sided deal. It is telling that former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, a participant at Camp David, later admitted that “if I were a Palestinian, I would have rejected Camp David, as well.”

Of course, the Israelis and the Palestinians also contributed significantly to Oslo’s failure. My point, however, is that American interests — and the cause of peace more generally — would have been better served by a more balanced team. Nor is that just my view: other recent studies of the peace process have reached similar conclusions.

One might say much the same about the handling of the peace process under President George W. Bush, who assigned Elliott Abrams a critically important role in making his administration’s Middle East policy. Abrams’s zealous attachment to Israel is beyond dispute, and Bush ended up adopting policies that not only failed to move the peace process forward, but led to further Israeli colonization of the Occupied Territories and helped provoke the Palestinians into a counterproductive war with each other. Moreover, the United States ended up backing Israel to the hilt in its disastrous wars in Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2008-2009. All of which suggests that it is a bad idea to assign top officials to work on issues affecting countries for which they have demonstrably strong attachments. (more/ here)

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In Obama’s White House: "… a suggestion of Denis Ross’s "dual loyalties"…"

March 29th, 2010 Comments off

Smith & Rosen in POLITICO/ here

” … Sources say within the inter-agency process, White House Middle East strategist Dennis Ross is staking out a position that Washington needs to be sensitive to Netanyahu’s domestic political constraints including over the issue of building in East Jerusalem in order to not raise new Arab demands, while other officials including some aligned with Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell are arguing Washington needs to hold firm in pressing Netanyahu for written commitments to avoid provocations that imperil Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and to preserve the Obama administration’s credibility.
POLITICO spoke with several officials who confirmed the debate and its intensity. Ross did not respond to a query, nor did a spokesman for George Mitchell.
“He [Ross] seems to be far more sensitive to Netanyahu’s coalition politics than to U.S. interests,” one U.S. official told POLITICO Saturday. “And he doesn’t seem to understand that this has become bigger than Jerusalem but is rather about the credibility of this Administration.”
What some saw as the suggestion of dual loyalties shows how heated the debate has become.
Last week, during U.S.-Israeli negotiations during Netanyahu’s visit and subsequent internal U.S. government meetings, the official said, Ross “was always saying about how far Bibi could go and not go. So by his logic, our objectives and interests were less important than pre-emptive capitulation to what he described as Bibi’s coalition’s red lines.”
When the U.S. and Israel are seen to publicly diverge on an issue such as East Jerusalem construction, the official characterized Ross’s argument as: “the Arabs increase their demands … therefore we must rush to close gaps … no matter what the cost to our broader credibility.”
A second official confirmed the broad outlines of the current debate within the administration. Obviously at every stage of the process, the Obama Middle East team faces tactical decisions about what to push for, who to push, how hard to push, he described.
As to which argument best reflects the wishes of the President, the first official said, “As for POTUS, what happens in practice is that POTUS, rightly, gives broad direction. He doesn’t, and shouldn’t, get bogged down in minutiae. But Dennis uses the minutiae to blur the big picture … And no one asks the question: why, since his approach in the Oslo years was such an abysmal failure, is he back, peddling the same snake oil?”
Other contacts who have discussed recent U.S.-Israel tensions with Ross say he argues that all parties need to keep focus on the big picture, Iran, and the peace process as being part of a wider U.S. effort to bolster an international and regional alliance including Arab nations and Israel to pressure and isolate Iran. This is an argument that presumably has resonance with the Netanyahu government. But at the same time, Arab allies tell Washington that Israeli construction in East Jerusalem inflames their publics and breeds despair and makes it hard for them to work even indirectly and quietly with Israel on Iran. They push Washington to show it can manage Israel and to get an Israeli-Palestinian peace process going that would facilitate regional cooperation on Iran.
The surfacing of the fierce internal debate underway comes as sources said that the Israeli government is expected to announce as soon as Sunday or Monday that it has struck a deal with Washington on U.S. requests for confidence building steps to advance peace talks.
But officials even disagreed over the nature of the deal or understanding reached.
“There’s no deal as would be understood by most,” the first U.S. official said.“That is, there’s no shared, negotiated and agreed document. Instead, the Israelis have told us a few things we accept as positive, along with much we don’t. So I expect you’ll see us put out something that emphasizes our acceptance of only part of whatever the Israelis say.”
On Friday, before details of the internal administration debate surfaced and in response to Israeli news reports that a spokesman for the Prime Minister had suggested an understanding had already been reached between the Israeli and American governments, a White House spokesman said there was no deal yet.
“United States policy on Jerusalem has not changed,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said by email. “We have not reached any understandings on this issue with the Israeli Government. This is an issue on which the US government has had long-standing differences with multiple Israeli governments and the President believes that the only way for the parties to resolve these issues is by returning to negotiations. That’s why we’ve been talking to the Israelis about how to create an atmosphere that will allow the negotiations to succeed. Those conversations have been productive and will continue, as will our conversations with the Palestinians, about how to make the talks successful.”

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Get rid of Ross

March 28th, 2010 Comments off

Laura Rozen of Politico talks to US officials who see Dennis Ross continue being Israel’s lawyer rather than America’s troubleshooter. It’s scathing:

“He [Ross] seems to be far more sensitive to Netanyahu’s coalition politics than to U.S. interests,” one U.S. official told POLITICO Saturday. “And he doesn’t seem to understand that this has become bigger than Jerusalem but is rather about the credibility of this Administration.” 

Last week, during U.S.-Israeli negotiations during Netanyahu’s visit and subsequent internal U.S. government meetings, the official said, Ross “was always saying about how far Bibi could go and not go. So by his logic, our objectives and interests were less important than pre-emptive capitulation to what he described as Bibi’s coalition’s red lines.” 

Ross, the U.S. official continued, “starts from the premise that U.S. and Israeli interests overlap by something close to 100 percent. And if we diverge, then, he says, the Arabs increase their demands unreasonably. Since we can’t have demanding Arabs, therefore we must rush to close gaps with the Israelis, no matter what the cost to our broader credibility.” 

A second official confirmed the internal discussion and general outlines of the debate. 

Obviously at every stage of the process, the Obama Middle East team faces tactical decisions about what to push for, who to push, how hard to push, he said. Those are the questions. 

As to which argument best reflects the wishes of the President, the first official said, “As for POTUS, what happens in practice is that POTUS, rightly, gives broad direction. He doesn’t, and shouldn’t, get bogged down in minutiae. But Dennis uses the minutiae to blur the big picture … And no one asks the question: why, since his approach in the Oslo years was such an abysmal failure, is he back, peddling the same snake oil?” 

Sounds like Ross is wasting everyone’s time. Why keep him around?

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Ahmad Zuweil

March 15th, 2010 Comments off

Samar, a scientist at Columbia University, sent me this (I cite with her permission): “I am a big fan of yours and a regular viewer of your blog. Regarding your praise to Ahmed Zewail, I am not sure about the criterion that you used to praise him and based on what, if it is on his vision on the Arab world, I think he deserves your praise. I am not defending him since I don’t know him and I only heard him speaking once at AUB in 2004. I also read an interview with him on Aljazeera (), where he discussed the technological strength of Israel in Middle East and that peace resolutions will not solve the problem, for him it was through technology and science. (I agree with him on this but he forgot to mention power). One of the scientists was right that he went to Israel to receive the Wolf prize and he admits it, (), he does not deserve your praise for this. Also, I don’t know if it was you or one of the professors that read the independent article (August 2006, ) because he did not mention two state resolution in his article at all. I think he was referring to his article in the independent on October 2006 (). I liked his August 2006 article, where he mentioned solutions and his vision on how the Arabs can be powerful and respected by the West. In his article “The future of our world” (), he mentioned that Oslo resolution did not solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict since the occupation still exists. I believe that to win a battle and a war you should know your enemy well and be ahead of him in the game, this is how the resistance in 2006 won the war in Lebanon, because they thought ahead of the enemy. I agree with him on one point, that Arabs always like to play the role of the victim and it is always the west conspiracy on the Arabs. But one thing, when there is a will, and despite difficulties, it will always win. Many controversial issues, I leave it to you to decide if he deserves your praise or not. I sent this email to be fair that this person is not as horrible as he was accused by the other people. He deserved the Noble prize and he worked hard for it.”

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‘Journey to Jerusalem, 1995’, Part 1

March 12th, 2010 Comments off

I’m happy to make available to JWN readers Part 1 of a seven-part series I wrote about Jerusalem for Al-Hayat, back in July 1995.. It’s uploaded as a Word docx, here.

Getting this series into uploadable (and also, potentially editable) form is part of an ongoing project to data-mine my own past writings– especially those that are not readily available, even to me. This Jerusalem series from 1995, for example: I think I have it on a floppy disk, someplace. But I don’t have a floppy disk reader any more, and anyway I’ve shifted from a PC to a Mac… What I do have are two yellowing paper copies of the whole series, a scanner, and some new OCR software that I’m still assessing. (ReadIris… not too bad, but not great either. On the other hand, a lot more affordable that Adobe Acrobat.)

Actually, I got the series commercially scanned since my scanner doesn’t have a sheet-feed, and then started dong the OCR.

Working with this material has been interesting: poignant and also extremely depressing. I spent about three weeks in Jerusalem in the summer of 1995, doing the research and interviews for it… Oh my goodness, how much worse the situation of the city’s Palestinians has gotten since then!

Poignant: There was Faisal Husseini, who passed away in 2001 (RIP). There was Faisal’s great but already heavily threatened institution, Orient House, which Ariel Sharon shut down a few months after Faisal’s passing.

That latter Wikipedia page there notes,

    Items confiscated by the Israeli government included personal belongings, confidential information relating to the Jerusalem issue, documents referring to the 1991 Madrid conference and the Arab Studies Society photography collection. Also the personal books and documents of the late Faisal al-Husseini were summarily impounded.

What hooligans the Israelis sometimes are…

One of my main aims in republishing the 1995 series on Jerusalem now is to underline a couple of things:

    1. The kinds of stuff challenges the Jerusalem Palestinians face today are by no means new. They’ve been living in this situation of extreme threat for a long time already.

    2. The fact that the policies pursued by the Israeli authorities toward the Jerusalem Palestinians started to become significantly harsher right after the conclusion of the Oslo Accord in 1993. from the point of view of Faisal Husseini or any other Palestinian Jerusalemite, Oslo was a crock of nonsense that radically undermined rather than increasing their security.

One last note. The OCR really isn’t that great. (Or maybe I need to use it more smartly.) So I’ll put up the pieces in this series one at a time, as I can.

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(Finally) "There has never been an Israeli peace camp"

March 7th, 2010 Comments off

G Levy in Haaretz/ here

“The Israeli peace camp didn’t die. It was never born in the first place. While it’s true that since the summer of 1967, several radical and brave political groups have been working against the occupation – all worthy of recognition – a large, influential peace camp has never existed here.
It’s true that after the Yom Kippur War, after the first Lebanon War and during the giddy days of Oslo (oh, how giddy those days were), citizens took to the streets, generally when the weather was nice and when the best of Israeli music was being performed at rallies, but few people really said anything decisive or courageous, and fewer still were willing to pay a personal price for their activities. After the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, people lit candles in the square and sang Aviv Geffen songs, but this certainly isn’t what one would call a peace camp.

It is also true that the stance advocated by the so-called Matzpen movement immediately after the Six-Day War has now more or less become the Israeli consensus position – but it is mere words, devoid of content. Nothing meaningful has been done so far to put it into practice. One would have expected more, a lot more, from a democratic society in whose backyard such a prolonged and cruel occupation has existed and whose government has primarily invoked the language of fear, threats and violence.

There have been societies in the past in whose name frightful injustice has been committed, but at least within some of them, genuine, angry and determined left-wing protest took place – of the sort that requires personal risk and courage, and which is not limited to action within the cozy consensus. An occupying society whose town square has been empty for years, with the exception of hollow memorial rallies and poorly attended protests, cannot wash its hands of the situation. Neither democracy nor the peace camp can.
If people didn’t take to the streets in large numbers during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, then there isn’t a genuine peace camp. If people don’t flood the streets now – when dangers lie in wait and opportunity is wasted time after time, and democracy sustains blow after blow on a daily basis and there are no longer sufficient resources to properly defend it, and when the right wing controls the political map and settlers amass more and more power – then there is no genuine left wing.
There is nothing like the debate over the future of the Meretz party to demonstrate the sorry state of the left. This comes in the wake of the strange and ridiculous report last week about the party’s poor showing in the last election, and which gives every possible recommendation. Meretz disappeared because the party fell silent; you don’t need a commission to find that out. But even during its relatively better days, Meretz was not a real peace camp. When Meretz applauded Oslo, it deliberately ignored the fact that the champions of the “historic” peace accords never intended to evacuate even a single settlement over the course of the great “breakthrough” that earned its promoters Nobel peace, yes, peace prizes. This camp also overlooked Israel’s violations of the agreements, its illusions of peace.
Above all, however, the problem was rooted in the left’s impossible adherence to Zionism in its historical sense. In precisely the way there cannot be a democratic and Jewish state in one breath, one has to first define what comes before what – there cannot be a left wing committed to the old-fashioned Zionism that built the state but has run its course. This illusory left wing never managed to ultimately understand the Palestinian problem – which was created in 1948, not 1967 – never understanding that it can’t be solved while ignoring the injustice caused from the beginning. A left wing unwilling to dare to deal with 1948 is not a genuine left wing.
The illusory left never understood the most important point: For the Palestinians, consenting to the 1967 borders along with a solution to the refugee problem, including at least the return of a symbolic number of refugees themselves, are painful concessions. They also represent the only just compromise, without which peace will not be established; but there’s no sense in accusing the Palestinians of wasting an opportunity. Such a proposal, even including the “far-reaching” proposals of Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, has never been made to them.
Meretz will surely find some kind of organizational arrangement and will again get half a dozen members elected to the Knesset, on a good day maybe even a dozen. This doesn’t mean much, however. The other left-wing groups, both Jewish and Arab, remain excluded. No one has any use for them, no one thinks about including them, and they are too small to have any influence. So let’s call the child by its real name: The Israeli peace camp is still an unborn baby.”

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Advancing to… 1949?

March 5th, 2010 Comments off

So now, Washington’s “leadership” of the Palestinian-Israeli diplomacy looks poised to rush forward to… 1949, and the proximity talks that Ralph Bunche convened in Rhodes that year.

Haaretz’s reporters tell us there,

    the American administration is hoping the sides will declare the beginning of indirect talks [on Sunday] morning, ahead of the arrival of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Monday.

These “proximity talks” have been touted by U.S. officials as some kind of big deal, even though they are a major step back from what Obama was promising when he came into office 14 months ago.

The P.A. leadership has until now merely been asking that, if the Netanyahu government wants to talk, it should first comply with its own commitments under the 2002 Road Map. But they’ve gotten no support from Washington for that position, and Washington has been putting big pressure on Abu Mazen, including through Egypt, Jordan, etc., with the aim of getting him back into talks– any talks, never mind about what!

The problem is not whether the two “sides” talk to each other; or how close they are when they take; or what shape table or configuration of hotel they might employ. The problem is getting Israel to end its illegal occupation of Palestinian land.

When Saddam Hussein occupied Kuwait in 1990, was Pres. G.H. W. Bush concerned about getting Iraqi and Kuwaiti leaders into a room together– or in rooms in the same hotel together– to “negotiate” a resolution? Of course he wasn’t… Although, just possibly, there might have been a negotiated outcome to have been had. But he never gave anyone a serious chance to explore that avenue. Five and a half months after Saddam’s forces moved into Kuwait, the international alliance that Bush brought together acted swiftly to evict them.

In the OPTs, the occupation has now gone on for nearly 43 years.

Israel has no more claim to the West Bank, Gaza, and Golan than Iraq had to Kuwait. Claims of “holy places” and such don’t confer sovereign rights. Everywhere in the world, people have places they consider somehow sacred in other countries… and they go to visit them on pilgrimages. That’s how it is.

International law concerns itself with quite different matters; and in the matter of the Israeli-occupied lands the Security Council has clearly stated the inacceptability of Israel’s acquisition of those territories by force.

… In Palestine meanwhile, Abu Mazen’s apparent decision to take part in the upcoming “proximity talks” farce has come in for a lot of criticism, including from one rather unexpected source: Muhammad Dahlan.

Maan News reported today that,

    If the American policy is to “waste time pretending we are in negotiations” as Israel continues to build settlements and claim Palestinian heritage sites, Dahlan said, there is no point to go ahead with the talks.

    “We have been sick of the occupation for years, and sick of negotiations since 2000,” he said, referring to the start of the Second Intifada following civil unrest around a failure of the Oslo Accords.

Oh dear. It looks as if the project to rebuild Fateh’s organizational integrity that was pursued with such fanfare last summer didn’t do quite as well as hoped.

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