FORGET “NEGOTIATIONS” OBAMA
COMMENTARY ARCHIVES, 8 Jun 2009
The Situation Cries for Law and Justice
Whenever western leaders lecture us about a solution to the Israel-Palestine problem, they rely on those comfortable, woolly words “negotiation” and “peace process”… it’s a convenient crutch.
Kick away the crutch and they’d finally have to grasp the nettle of justice, something they have always avoided.
Justice is underpinned by law, but the operation of law in the Holy Land is conspicuously absent. The Arabs, I believe, want plain, simple justice. Why is this such a problem to a western alliance that claims to itself sweeping moral authority?
President Obama, speaking the other day in a BBC interview, said he believed the US was “going to be able to get serious negotiations back on track” between Israel and the Palestinians. Asked about Israel’s defiance of his call for a halt to illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Obama urged patience, saying it was early in the conversation. “Diplomacy is always a matter of a long hard slog. It’s never a matter of quick results.”
Diplomacy hasn’t produced a result in 61 years, and he made no mention of implementing international law and enforcing UN resolutions. Like others, he much prefers the soft and fluffy option of negotiations that go nowhere and a “process” that is doomed to fail, enabling Israel to pursue its evil designs indefinitely. In their minds, and for some unexplained reason, Israel is exempt from laws, conventions, codes of conduct and respect for human rights that other nations of the civilised world are expected to observe. It is allowed to act the brutal aggressor with impunity
“Negotiations” without law are immoral
There are, of course, several objections to the idea of “negotiations” in the Israel-Palestine context. In particular, it is immoral to put a weak party and a strong party together and expect a fair outcome when the strong party is in permanent occupation and has its military boot on the other’s throat.
It is immoral to expect a weak party to negotiate with a strong party that’s daily in breach of international law, commits war crimes and acts of piracy and continues to steal land and dispossess the weak party’s citizens in order to unlawfully expand its borders.
It is immoral for the sponsors of the negotiations to be partisan and vilify the democratically elected representatives of the weak party, and to refuse to acknowledge the weak party’s right to political self-determination and territorial integrity.
It is immoral to force negotiations without first establishing a level playing field in terms of compliance with international law and UN resolutions. The international community has shirked this responsibility for decades – not because the peoples of the member nations are reluctant but because their leaders are corrupt.
Mr Obama says there needs to be “a good deal of truth-telling” if the rift between America and the Muslim world is to be healed. Which of the many painful truths will he tell? As David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, remarked: “If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. We have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it is true, but 2,000 years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country.”
Truth-telling: what is Obama’s version of the truth?
The whole rotten 90 years of lies and betrayal needs to be ventilated and understood in the West… the chicanery leading up to the 1947 United Nations partition of Palestine that gave the Jews 57 percent when they accounted for only 30 percent of the population, and how the plan designated Jerusalem, with its major religious sites, an internationally administered city.
How the Jews apparently accepted the plan, declared statehood in May 1948 but wanted more. How the new Israel immediately proceeded to uproot 750,000 Palestinian Arabs from their homes and lands, obliterated nearly 400 Arab villages and towns, and allegedly committed some 34 massacres in pursuit of its territorial ambitions.
How Israel demolished 125,000 Palestinian homes, and after 1967 destroyed 18,000 more. How house demolition is still used today as a deliberate strategic tool to break the Palestinians’ will, achieve ethnic transfer and help make Israel’s control of Occupied Palestine permanent.
And how, in the process, Israel has flagrantly breached of every rule, convention and declaration governing civilised conduct.
UN Resolution 194, re-passed many times since 1948, requires Israel to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and compensate those choosing not to. Israel has refused to comply. Meanwhile any Jew from anywhere in the world, who has never before lived in Israel and whose ancestors have never lived in Israel, can go and live in Israel while Palestinians who can prove title to their former homes may not.
In 1967, under the pretext of the Six Day War, Israel seized what remained of Palestine – the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Resolution 242 ordered Israel to withdraw its armed forces, but again it defied the international community and international law. As a result Palestinians today comprise the largest refugee population in the world and have endured the longest, most brutal occupation in modern times.
Obama should remind himself of the countless other UN resolutions that Israel has defied.
Israel says it “withdrew completely” from Gaza in 2005. It didn’t. It still occupies Gaza’s airspace, airwaves and coastal waters, and the military invade with tanks, bulldozers and aircraft to shoot the place up whenever they please. Israel still controls all the border crossings except the one with Egypt, which it is allowed to ‘monitor’.
Gaza’s 3,000 licensed fishermen are unable to put to sea and earn their living for fear of being fired on by Israel patrol boats.
We in the West are asked to believe the siege of Gaza is about rockets “raining down” on Sderot, an Israeli township built on stolen Palestinian land. Stop the Gaza rockets and things will be OK, says Israel. But Palestinians in the West Bank don’t fire rockets and the Israelis are still in occupation after 41 years. They have seized Palestinian agricultural land and water resources for their own use.
While Israelis fill their swimming pools and wash their cars, Palestinians have to survive on as little as 10 to 15 litres a day. More than 38% of their territory is now off-limits to them. In the Gaza Strip the UN reports that a border “exclusion zone” imposed by Israel bites as much as a mile into the narrow enclave and renders 30 percent of Gaza’s farmland unusable.
Gaza overflows with unpalatable truths. Hamas have invited Obama to visit and see the evidence for himself. He could demonstrate his good intentions by accepting.
The ‘roadmap’ endorsed by the UN Security Council puts Israel under an obligation to immediately dismantle outposts erected since 2001, freeze all squatter activity and do nothing to undermine trust, including confiscation and/or demolition of Palestinian homes and property. Israel rides roughshod over these obligations.
“Because Israel does not recognize Ottoman or British-era deeds, 72% of the West Bank is considered Israeli ‘state lands’. More than 200 settlements have been constructed in the Occupied Territories, and 450,000 Israelis have migrated across the 1967 boundaries,” says the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. The main aim of the squatter project, together with the exclusive Jewish claim to the entire country, is to prevent the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.
“The settlements, the infrastructure serving them and the security system necessary to protect them have carved the Occupied Territories into dozens of isolated, impoverished enclaves. Palestinians are forbidden to travel between these enclaves without military permission, thus turning their own towns and villages into prisons.”
Nevertheless Israel’s allies continue preaching a two-state solution to safeguard the ‘purity’ of the racist regime, knowing that it involves the remnants of Occupied Palestine becoming a permanently ghettoized sub-state, subservient to Israel and never capable of prospering.
In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that the route of the Separation Wall, where it intrudes deeply into Palestinian territory, is illegal and should be dismantled. Far from complying, Israel is still building it.
In the wake of Israel’s 22-day devastation of Gaza and wholesale murder of its civilians at the New Year, the Zionist regime is not only blocking humanitarian and reconstruction aid but also denying access to teams investigating allegations of war crimes.
And let’s not forget that 10,000 Palestinians, including women and children abducted from their homes, are rotting in Israeli jails, many without charge or trial. 30+ democratically elected Palestinian parliamentarians are also imprisoned.
Here’s something else for us all – not just Muslims – to worry about. The Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission says that Israel possesses a nuclear arsenal possibly larger than the British stockpile. Israel is the only state in the region that is not a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. It has not signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. It has signed but not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Nevertheless the US government pours aid into Israel at a rate of around $3 billion annually. The money helps pay for Israel’s illegal occupation, its helicopter gun-ships, tanks and high-tech weaponry, Caterpillar bulldozers, and all the other paraphernalia of military oppression. Israel usually gets another $2 to 3 billion in indirect aid – military support, loan write-offs and special grants. So the US taxpayer is generously funding Israel’s destruction of Palestinian infrastructure (often paid for by British, EU and US taxpayers) and livelihoods, and its ethnic cleansing programme.
And what does the President think about the racist overtones in the manifesto of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party? It says: “The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state… Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel… The government firmly rejects attempts of various sources in the world, some anti-Semitic in origin, to question Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital.”
Rivals Kadima aim for a solid Jewish majority and claim the Jewish people have a national and historic right to the Land of Israel “in its entirety”. They seem determined to grab all of it.
The last official word on the question of Jerusalem, I believe, was the UN’s declaration at the time of the 1947 Partition that it should be a ‘corpus separatum’ – an international city. So a good starting point for Mr Obama and the international community would be to knock these nonsensical Zionist claims of exclusive ownership on the head and properly implement at least this part of the UN plan, in order to take some of the heat out of the situation.
There are many more truths that ought to be aired. But enough are mentioned here to send a simple and obvious message to Mr Obama. End the occupation. Apply the law. Deliver justice. Stop helping to sustain Israeli oppression. It would not be tolerated anywhere else.
Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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