Israel and Palestine
Richard Falk has never been one to pull punches. He simply states what everybody involved in the so-called ‘peace process’ has always suspected – that the ‘two-state solution’ has been dead in the water for many years.
It’s hard to know whether John Kerry really believes his efforts will make a difference. Certainly Mahmoud Abbas must no better. Meanwhile, as they play out their charade, the Palestinian people continue to pay the price.
Falk: Two-state solution presently obsolete
BEIRUT: Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine for the U.N. Human Rights Council, Thursday called the two-state solution “presently obsolete.”
Falk, who has drawn controversy in the past for his criticism of Israeli policies, was delivering the annual Constantine Zurayk Lecture at the American University of Beirut, speaking on the topic “Rethinking the Future of Palestine: Beyond the Two State Consensus.”
Falk did not completely rule out the two-state solution, saying, “Perhaps in the future it will again become a plausible political project.”
But for now Falk said U.S. President Barack Obama’s model of a two-state solution “continues the global mirage of a negotiation … is essentially a bridge to nowhere,” adding that “no image of an end-game solution at this time is possible as a viable political project.”
Since 2005, he has been the chair of the Board at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and taught at Princeton University for 40 years.
In the wake of the June 1967 war, Falk said, the situation can be characterized as one in which the Palestinians have lost, and the Israelis have gained.
“And they [the Israelis] have been able to do that behind the mirage that a two-state solution was in the cards.”
Using South Africa as an example, he highlighted the need to satisfy a number of political preconditions before a solution becomes a realistic possibility.
Saying that “conditions for a just peace do not presently exist,” Falk also noted, “I realize it’s discouraging to emphasize the prematurity of proposing a solution after 65 years.”
My feeling is that it is Abbas who should have resigned rather than Fayyad.
Abbas lost whatever credibility he had left when he kowtowed to Obama and Kerry in delaying Palestine’s application for membership to the International Criminal Court (ICC)! He is not the democratically elected leader of the Palestinian people and has no reason to delay an election beyond his unwillingness to let go of power.
Deep-seated animosity trumps Palestinian calls for unity
After Prime Minister Salam Fayyad resigned, Palestinian politicians immediately called for elections and a national unity government to reconcile bitter rivals Fatah and Hamas.
But entrenched animosity between the two sides, stretching beyond disagreement over Fayyad, suggested that any thaw in relations between Fatah and Hamas, which control the West Bank and the Gaza Strip respectively, would be slow.
In Fayyad’s first weekly radio address after resigning, the now caretaker premier called for “a general election as the only way to rebuild our political system and achieve our national goals,” namely statehood, which would first require intra-Palestinian reconciliation.
“Just as there is no state without Jerusalem as its eternal capital, there is no state without the Gaza Strip, a part that cannot be partitioned from it,” Fayyad said.
Hamas leaders met Friday in Doha, the base of the Islamist movement’s exiled leader Khaled Meshaal, saying they would discuss “Palestinian reconciliation and developments in the Palestinian arena following Fayyad’s resignation.”
A senior member of President Mahmoud Abbas’s secular Fatah party, meanwhile, called on his leader to “hold consultations with Palestinian movements to form a national unity government and set a date for elections.”
Azzam al-Ahmed said Fayyad’s resignation a week ago, after an announcement by the elections commission that it was ready to carry out elections should they be called, was “favorable to… forming a national unity government.”
But Abbas’s Thursday pledge to launch talks “in the near future” on forming a new cabinet, despite what officials say is a two-week deadline to do so, avoided giving an exact date as the president prepared for a tour to Turkey and Europe.
In Turkey for two days from Saturday, Abbas will meet Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is set to visit the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in May.
Fatah has openly criticized the Erdogan trip as fostering intra-Palestinian divisions.
“Any official, Arab, Muslim or foreign, who visits Gaza without reference to the legitimate Palestinian leadership is blessing and consolidating the division between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” Ahmed said in a separate interview with official Voice of Palestine radio on Monday.
And in a march in Gaza to mark Palestinian Prisoners’ Day on Wednesday, a speech by a Fatah-affiliated politician and an animated retort by a Hamas member underlined the root of the division between the movements.
Palestinian People’s Party member Talaat al-Safadi called for Hamas’s Gaza premier Ismail Haniya to step down also, prompting Hamas member Ashraf Abu Zeida to seize Safadi’s microphone and shout “Fayyad was an impostor, Haniya was chosen by the people!”
After Hamas won a landslide victory in a January 2006 Palestinian general election, the West mounted a boycott of the movement.
Bickering with Fatah culminated in the formation of a unity government in 2007 but that collapsed in bloody street fighting in Gaza just months later.
Hamas never recognized Fayyad’s authority as Palestinian premier, continuing instead to recognize Haniya.
The two movements signed a reconciliation deal in Cairo in 2011, pledging to set up an interim consensus government of independents that would pave the way for legislative and presidential elections within 12 months.
But implementation of the accord stalled over the make-up of the interim government, and a February 2012 deal signed by Abbas and Meshaal in Doha intended to overcome outstanding differences was opposed by Hamas members in Gaza.
History is repeating itself! Berkeley University of California played a central role in the Civil Rights movement, the Free Speech movement, and in protests against the Vietnam War. These young people have a history of leading their country in matters of social justice, and now they are spearheading the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign (BDS) against the Israeli government!
This story also reveals how seriously the Zionist lobby considers this development. Despite the fact that one university’s divestment is only a drop in the bucket, enormous amounts of money and energy are being poured into opposing the move, and the University’s Student President is understandably feeling the pressure!
UC Berkeley Student Senate passes divestment measure, but pro-Israel opponents pushing hard for veto
The UC Berkeley Student Senate has passed a bill that calls upon the university to withdraw nearly $12 million in investments from corporations that do business in the Palestinian West Bank, including Caterpillar, Cement Roadstone Holdings, and Hewlett Packard Company. The bill, SB 160, passed at 5am April 18 by a slim 11-9 margin after 10 hours of emotional debate.
When the final vote count was announced, some students cheered and others broke down in tears. While the measure is largely symbolic and unlikely to change university policy, Israel’s biggest supporters take such divestment votes very seriously and they were actively trying to influence the outcome of this measure.
The fate of the bill is now in the hands of student President Connor Landgraf, a senior bioengineering major who promised student leaders during his campaign that he would not veto any divestment measure. But now, with the bill sitting on his desk, Landgraf is waffling and supporters of the measure say that may be partially because a pro-Israel group appears to have sponsored his trip to Israel last year.
“During my campaign I did say I wouldn’t veto, but now I have different responsibilities,” Landgraf told the Bay Guardian. Since Thursday’s vote, Landgraf said his phone has been ringing off the hook. “I’ve received literally hundreds of emails, and I’m under a lot of pressure.”
read the rest of this article here: www.sfbg.com…
The following article from Haaretz speaks for itself. It staggers the mind to think that (once again) a case is being made for exempting Israel from the requirements levied against every other country in the world! How long will the American people put up with this sort of double-standard?
U.S. visa waiver bill stymied over Arab Americans entering Israel
The legislative effort being pushed by AIPAC would allow visa-free entry for Israelis, but the government is unable or unwilling to reciprocate, insisting on the right to refuse entry to certain U.S. citizens due to security concerns.
A legislative effort led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to enable Israelis to enter the United States without visas may be stymied by the government – Israel’s government.
The hitch is Israel’s inability or unwillingness to fully reciprocate, something required for visa-free travel to the United States. Israel, citing security concerns, insists on the right to refuse entry to some U.S. citizens.
AIPAC is pushing for an exemption for Israel from this rule. But congressional staffers say Israel is unlikely to get such an exemption, which U.S. lawmakers view as an attempt to bar Arab Americans from freely entering Israel.
“It’s stunning that you would give a green light to another country to violate the civil liberties of Americans traveling abroad,” said a staffer for one leading pro-Israel lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The exemption AIPAC is pushing for appears in the Senate version of the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act, one of the key issues for which AIPAC urged supporters to lobby after its policy conference last month.
The language in that bill, proposed by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), requires that the Homeland Security secretary grant Israel visa waiver status after certifying with the secretary of state that Israel “has made every reasonable effort, without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel, to ensure that reciprocal travel privileges are extended to all United States citizens.”
House staffers say that lawmakers, pro-Israel leaders among them, have raised objections to the clause, “without jeopardizing the security of the State of Israel,” because it appears to validate what they see as Israel’s tendency to turn away Arab Americans without giving a reason.
None of the other 37 countries currently in the visa-free program has such a caveat written into law.
Israel’s government has made clear that it likely would not join the visa waiver program without such language in the law, JTA has learned. Israeli officials told JTA that U.S. citizens already are free to travel to Israel and that there is no need for holders of American passports to obtain a tourist visa before traveling.
But there have been numerous reports in recent years that Israel routinely turns away or makes difficult the entry of Americans with Muslim and Arab names, often without explaining why. The State Department, in its Israel travel advisory, warns that “U.S. citizens whom Israeli authorities suspect of being of Arab, Middle Eastern, or Muslim origin” may be denied “entry or exit without explanation.”
James Zogby, the president of the Arab American Institute, which has lobbied against the Senate language, said passage of such a law would codify discriminatory treatment.
“It is ratifying Israel’s position of creating two classes of citizen,” said Zogby, who said he has been subject to long waits when entering Israel.
One recent case that made headlines was that of Nour Joudah, a Palestinian American who was teaching at the Friends School in Ramallah. Joudah, who had traveled to Jordan for Christmas, was denied reentry to Israel although she had a one-year multiple entry visa, and despite the fact that the Israeli Embassy in Washington had advocated for her reentry.
The Ramallah school receives U.S. funding, promotes non-violence and teaches about the Holocaust, noted a congressional staffer. “This is the model of coexistence,” the staffer said.
Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, told Haaretz earlier this year that Joudah had not cooperated during security questioning. Joudah told Haaretz that the encounter with Israeli security at times had been argumentative but said she answered all questions.
Critics of Israel’s entry practices say authorities appear to turn away Americans for political, not security reasons. Joudah told Haaretz that Israeli security officials had asked her about her published writings. While in Ramallah, she had blogged for Electronic Intifada, an anti-Zionist website. In one post, she sharply criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for intimating that it was time to relinquish a Palestinian “right of return” to Israel.
read the rest of this article here: www.haaretz.com…