israel and palestine conflict
This boy’s story is truly gut-wrenching, and yet to the occupiers it seems that young Atta is just another relatively trivial casualty. This in itself is a damning testimony to the inhumanity of the Palestinian Occupation.
Atta is young in years but he is wise enough to recognise that there will be no justice for him – no investigation, no punishment, no accountability.
His mother recognises that he is burying his anger, for the moment.
Lord, have mercy!
if you can’t view this video, click here.
There’s a lot of excitement in the air right now about the apparent resuscitation of the Israeli/Palestinian peace process, with new talks scheduled to begin at any moment!
Former US President, Jimmy Carter, and ‘The Elders’ praised John Kerry for his “tireless commitment to bringing Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table after five years of stalemate” while Christian Zionists blasted the US President for actions that they see as compromising the safety of the state of Israel!
It seems to me that Amira Hass is one of the few who really grasps the situation, even if hers is a truth that nobody wants to hear. The ‘peace talks’ haven’t got a chance! If they serve any purpose at all it will only be to enhance Netanyahu’s political career by portraying him as a willing negotiator.
After the peace talks fail
A Palestinian generation has come of age that is in no hurry to reach an agreement with the Israelis, because the Israelis aren’t ready for a fair agreement.
By Amira Hass
Don’t worry, in this round of talks with the Palestinians, Israel will again miss the opportunity to change and be changed – just as the Rabin-Peres government and the Barak government missed their opportunities. Discussions over a referendum ignore the essence: Any future worth living for the Jewish community in this part of the Middle East depends on the ability and will of that community to free itself from the ethnocracy (“democracy for Jews only”) that it has built here for nearly seven decades. For this we desperately need the Palestinians.
But military and economic superiority is blinding us. We are sure that they need us and that we have pushed them into such a weak position that we can extricate a yes from them regarding what they have been saying no to for 20 years; that is, much less than the 1967 borders.
The negotiations expected now, with the very non-neutral American participation (if we even get to that after the pre-negotiation phase), will not produce independence for the Palestinians. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition problems can’t be blamed for that. It’s the Israelis who are not yet ready to demand that their leaders work toward a peace agreement, because they’re still enjoying the occupation too much.
It’s not for nothing that we have been blessed with 6,800 weapons exporters, the title of the sixth largest weapons exporter in the world, and first or second place among countries selling unmanned aircraft, which were upgraded by trying them out on the Lebanese and mainly the Gazans. Even if few of our people are involved in the manufacture and export of weapons and in the defense industry in general, that’s a minority with an extensive influence and a great deal of economic power that shapes politics and produces messianic and technocratic rationalizations.
The European Union’s directives on noncooperation with the settlements and companies linked to them have come at least 15 years late. As early as the 1990s it was clear to Europe that the colonization of the West Bank and Gaza contradicted its interpretation of the Oslo Accords, but that didn’t prevent it from spoiling Israel with favorable trade agreements. Neither these agreements nor massive support for the Palestinian Authority (that is, compensation for damage done by Israeli rule and its restrictions on movement), gave Europe real political clout in Israel’s eyes and in the corridors of the negotiations. And then a determined first step by Europe rehabilitated its political standing.
The Palestinians have made clear that if the Europeans back down on these directives, as Israel has demanded and the United States wants, they will stop the talks (when they start). But the directives’ main psychological impact will dissipate without quick implementation. When and if implemented, the results will not be felt immediately in Israel, and even then, they will be felt only gradually. That is, it will take time before more and more Israelis realize that the occupation isn’t worth it. That will be enough time for us to continue feeling that we’re stronger than the Palestinians.
But depending on the Palestinians’ weakness is an optical illusion of the arrogant. True, the PLO’s leadership is fossilized and controlled by one individual who rarely consults and rarely takes his people’s opinions into consideration. But even he can’t accept what the Netanyahu-Bennett-Lapid government plans to offer. True, Palestinian society is more fractured geographically and politically than it was 20 years ago, but it has great stamina, which the Israelis lack.
The PA and the Hamas government are groaning under the financial burdens of economies under siege. The social and economic rifts have deepened and an atmosphere of depoliticization has taken over. But beneath the surface there are new developments. Initiatives are afoot to turn the Palestinian people – in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the diaspora – into one deciding body. Ideas are being seriously discussed for methods of struggle outside negotiations. A generation has come of age that is in no hurry to reach an agreement with the Israelis, because the Israelis aren’t ready for a fair agreement. And when we, the Israelis, wake up and beg for an agreement, it might be too late.
“Like a mighty tortoise moves the church of God!” So the hymn goes (or at least a popular parody of the old hymn).
The ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ movement (BDS) seems to be gaining real global traction.
- Gideon Levy has signed on!
- The Israeli McDonald’s franchise has boycotted the settlement of Ariel!
- The EU has made a historic decision to isolate the settlements altogether!
Meanwhile the Anglican Church in Canada has resolved to “educate themselves more deeply” about the Israel/Palestine crisis!
Against the backdrop of history the actions of the European church almost always seem incredibly insipid! Our sisters and brother in South Africa and in Latin America have often been at the forefront of social change, as were our African-American brethren in the US less than a generation ago. But when was the last time a European synod took a courageous stand for justice and peace?
I guess I should be thankful that this very moderate resolution put before the Canadian Anglican synod was actually passed. Certainly if one judges by the comments on The Anglican Journal website there are no shortage of church members who continue to equate opposition to state-sponsored violence in Israel with Antisemitism.
Perhaps that is what keeps us all so timid? Indeed the church does have a dreadful history of Antisemitism. Even so, God help us if our guilt about past sins intimidates us to the point where we remain silent in the face of institutionalised racism and abuse.
Anglicans pass hotly debated Palestine – Israel resolution
After a long and passionate debate, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada meeting in Ottawa has passed a resolution on the issue of peace and justice in Palestine and Israel.
The resolution reiterates the established positions of the church, which “recognize the legitimate aspirations, rights and needs of both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace with dignity within sovereign and secure borders; condemns the use of all kinds of violence, especially against civilians; calls for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories (West Bank and Gaza); and calls upon Israel, as an occupying power, to recognize the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids the transfer and settlement of its citizen in occupied territories. ”
However, it also calls on Canadian Anglicans to take some new steps, including educating themselves more deeply.
The resolution commits the church to act with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and other ecumenical partners to:
- enable deeper church-wide awareness of and response to the call of the Kairos Palestine document: A Moment of Truth
- educate the church about the impact of illegal settlements on the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis; about imported products identified as produced in or related to the illegal settlements and misleadingly labelled as produced in Israel; about the complexities of economic advocacy measures
- explore and challenge theologies and beliefs, such as Christian Zionism, that support the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories
- explore and challenge theories and beliefs that deny the right of Israel to exist
- and strengthen relationships with Canadian Jews and Muslims, to resolutely oppose anti-Semitism, anti-Arab sentiments and Islamophobia.
Debate ranged among members, from some who said the resolution went too far and demonstrated left-wing or anti-Israel bias, to those who said it did not go far enough in addressing the oppression of Palestinians suffering under an apartheid system.
There was also a concern that this resolution followed in the footsteps of a United Church of Canada resolution that called for a boycott of goods produced in the occupied territories that are labelled as Israeli products. Bishop Michael Ingham of the diocese of New Westminster responded, saying this resolution “calls for nothing approaching that. It calls us to learn more about these products.”
The motion passed with the support of 73 per cent of the almost 300 members.
Another resolution was also passed that invites Anglicans to observe Jerusalem Sunday on the seventh Sunday after Easter. The day will be used to give special attention to the work of the Anglican church in the Holy Land and to take up a special offering as a gift to the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.
Forgive me if you don’t immediately grasp the meaning of the title above. I was reading some of the optimistic reports from U.S. journalists about the progress of the ‘peace process’ for Israel/Palestine. I was reminded of that famous letter that appeared in the New York Sun on September 21st, 1897, entitled, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”.
It’s nice to believe in Santa Claus. It helps you to feel that all is right with the world and that good will be rewarded and evil punished. Belief in the Israeli/Palestinian ‘peace process’ plays exactly the same role, and it’s equally mythical!
Read the wisdom of Uri Avnery below, spelling out in a very straightforward way why there can never be any genuine ‘peace process’ until both parties actually want one, and the State of Israel has made it very clear that it is totally uninterested!
The only light on the horizon for the Palestinians is the fact that Syria seems to be surviving the foreign onslaught. If Syria can recover and if the Arab world can begin to unite, perhaps enough pressure can be brought to bear on Israel such that a Palestinian state might become a real possibility. Even so, this is a dim light on a distant horizon.
Kerry and Chutzpah
IF YOU happen to bump into John Kerry at Ben Gurion Airport, you may wonder whether he is coming or going. He may well be wondering himself.
For many weeks now he has been devoting most of his precious time to meetings with Binyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, trying to get these two people together.
It is about half an hour’s car ride between the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem and the Palestinian President’s Mukata’ah in Ramallah. But the two are more distant from each other than the Earth and Mars.
Kerry has taken it upon himself to bring the two together – perhaps somewhere in outer space. On the moon, for example.
TOGETHER FOR what?
Ah, there’s the rub. The idea seems to be a meeting for meeting’s sake.
We have watched this procedure for many years. Successive American presidents have undertaken to bring the two sides together. It is an American belief, rooted in Anglo-Saxon tradition, that if two reasonable, decent people get together to thrash out their differences, everything will fall into place. It’s almost automatic: meet – talk – agree.
Unfortunately, it does not quite work this way with conflicts between nations, conflicts that may have deep historical roots. In meetings between leaders of such nations, they often just want to hurl old accusations at each other, with the aim of convincing the world that the other side is utterly depraved and despicable.
Either side, or both, may be interested in prolonging the meetings forever. The world sees the leaders meeting, the mediator and the photographers working hard, everybody talking endlessly of peace, peace, peace.
I remember a Scandinavian gentleman named Gunnar Jarring. Remember him? No? Don’t blame yourself. He is eminently forgettable. A well-meaning Swedish diplomat (and Turkologist), he was asked by the UN in the early 1970s to bring the Egyptians and Israelis together and to achieve a peaceful settlement between them.
Jarring took his historic mission very seriously. He shuttled tirelessly between Cairo and Jerusalem. His name became a joke in Israel, and probably in Egypt, too.
The protagonists in those days were Anwar Sadat and Golda Meir. As we disclosed at the time, Sadat gave Jarring a momentous message: in return for getting back all of the Sinai peninsula, conquered by Israel in 1967, he was ready to make peace. Golda rejected this proposal out of hand. There was, of course, no meeting.
(A popular joke doing the rounds had Golda and Sadat facing each other from opposite banks of the Suez Canal. Golda shouted: “Make Love not War!” Sadat looked at her through his binoculars and replied: “Better war!”)
Everybody knows how this chapter ended. After Golda had rejected everything, Sadat attacked, won an initial surprise victory, the whole political world started to move , Golda was kicked out, and after four years of Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin came to power and agreed the same peace with Sadat that had been proposed before the war. The 3000 Israeli soldiers and around 10,000 Egyptians who died in the war did not see it.
Jarring, by the way, died in 2002, unsung and forgotten.
KERRY IS no Jarring. First of all, because he does not represent a powerless international organization, but the World’s Only Superpower. The full might of the United States of America is at his disposal.
Or is it?
That is really the most relevant – indeed the only relevant – question at this moment.
He will need a lot to achieve his heart’s desire: the meeting – not just the meeting, but The Meeting – between Netanyahu and Abbas.
That looks like an easy task. Netanyahu declares, with his usual sincerity, that he wants to meet. Nay, that he is eager to meet. With the polished charm of a seasoned TV presenter familiar with the power of visual images, he even offered to put up a tent halfway between Jerusalem and Ramallah (at the infamous Qalandia checkpoint?) and sit down with Abbas and Kerry until a full agreement on all aspects of the conflict is achieved.
Who could resist such a generous offer? Why the hell does Abbas not jump at it and grasp it with with both hands?
For a very simple reason.
The very start of new negotiations would be a political triumph for Netanyahu. Actually, it’s all he really wants – the ceremony, the bombast, the leaders shaking hands, the smiles, the speeches full of goodwill and talk of peace.
And then? Then nothing. Negotiations that go on endlessly, months, years, decades. We have seen it all before. Yitzhak Shamir, one of Netanyahu’s predecessors, famously boasted that he would have dragged out the negotiations forever.
The profit for Netanyahu would be clear and immediate. He would be seen as the Man of Peace. The present government, the most rightist and nationalist Israel has ever known, would be rehabilitated. The people around the world who preach a boycott of Israel in all spheres would be shamed and disarmed. The growing alarm in Jerusalem about the “de-legitimization” and “isolation” of Israel would be relieved.
What would the Palestinian side get out of it? Nothing. No stop to the settlements. Not even the release of old prisoners who have been incarcerated for more than 20 years (like those who were released to Hamas in return for Gilad Shalit). Sorry, no “preconditions”!
Abbas demands that the aim of the negotiations be spelled out in advance: the establishment of the State of Palestine with borders “based on” the pre-1967 lines. The omission of this statement from the Oslo accords of 1993 led to their eventual evaporation. Why make the same mistake twice?
Also, Abbas wants to set a time limit for the negotiations. A year or so.
Netanyahu, of course, refuses all of this. At the moment, poor Kerry is trying to put something together that would satisfy the wolf while keeping the lamb alive. Give Abbas American assurances without Israeli assurances, for example.
IN ALL this bickering, one basic fact is ignored.
It’s that elephant again. The elephant in the room, whose existence Netanyahu denies and which Kerry is trying to ignore.
The assumption is generally made that the negotiations are between equals. In cartoons, Netanyahu and Abbas appear to be of equal size. The American picture of two reasonable people talking it out between themselves presupposes two more or less equal partners.
But this whole picture is basically false. The proposed “negotiations” are between an almighty occupying power and an almost totally powerless occupied people. Between the wolf and the lamb.
(it’s the old Israeli joke again: Can you keep a wolf and a lamb together? Of course you can, if you put in a new lamb every day.)
The Israeli army operates freely throughout the West Bank, including Ramallah. If Netanyahu so decides, Abbas may find himself tomorrow morning in an Israeli prison, together with the old people Netanyahu refuses to release.
Less drastically, the Israeli government can at any moment, at will, stop transfering the large sums of tax and customs money it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, as it has done several times already. This would immediately bring the PA to the brink of bankruptcy.
There are hundreds of ways, one more refined than the other, in which the occupation authorities and the occupation army can make life intolerable for individual Palestinians and their community as a whole.
What can the Palestinians do to put pressure on the Israeli government? Very little. There is the threat of a Third Intifada. It worries the army, but does not frighten it. The army’s answer is more repression and bloodshed. Or another resolution of the UN General Assembly, elevating Palestine to the rank of a full member of the world organization. Netanyahu would be furious, but the actual damage would be limited.
ANY PRESSURE to start meaningful negotiations that would lead to a peace agreement in – say – a year must come from the President of the United States of America.
That is so obvious that it hardly needs mentioning.
This is the crux of the matter.
Kerry can bring cash, a lot of cash, to bribe the Palestinians, or whisper into their ears dire threats to frighten them into meeting Netanyahu in his imaginary tent – it will mean next to nothing.
The only chance to start real negotiations is for Barack Obama to put his full weight behind the effort, to confront Congress and the hugely powerful pro-Israel lobby and dictate to both sides the American peace plan. We all know what it must look like – a combination of the (Bill) Clinton outline and the pan-Arab peace initiative.
If John Kerry is unable to deliver this pressure, he should not even try. It really is an imposition to come here and shake things up when you have no means to impose a solution. Sheer impertinence.
Or, as you say in Hebrew, Chutzpah.
Uri Avnery is founder of the Israeli Peace Bloc, Gush Shalom
This sort of ‘final solution’ language should have no place in public discourse – let alone in Israel!
The only thing harder to stomach than Lieberman’s racist invective is the deafening silence of the international community.
How can anyone take any ‘peace process’ seriously when characters like Lierberman are at the helm?
Lieberman: Israel needs to conquer and thoroughly cleanse Gaza Strip
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest political ally has called for Israel to carry out a “thorough cleansing” of the Gaza Strip as a tenuous ceasefire between its Hamas rulers and the Jewish state frayed.
Speaking on Israel Radio, the far-right former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman called for Israel to reconquer the crowded coastal enclave to avoid “finding ourselves in two years with Hamas having aircraft and hundreds of missiles that will reach beyond Tel Aviv”.
His comments came as the Israeli Air Force attacked targets in the Gaza Strip after six rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel into the early hours of Monday morning. No one was injured. It was the first ceasefire breach since April.
Mr Lieberman suggested that neither the eight-day aerial campaign Israel launched in November with the stated goal of halting rockets from Gaza, nor the devastating Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09 in which more than 1,100 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died, had proven effective at quelling the violence.
“Without willingness to take things to their conclusion we merely increase the threats,” he said, adding that Hamas “has no intention of coming to terms with the Jewish presence in the land of Israel and therefore what is needed is to seriously consider conquering the Strip and carry out a thorough cleansing.” Mr Lieberman was number two on Mr Netanyahu’s electoral list during elections last January, and currently holds the post of chairman of parliament’s foreign affairs and defence committee. Mr Netanyahu’s office declined to comment on Mr Lieberman’s statements. Yair Lapid, the centrist Finance minister, said the remarks were “irresponsible”.
After the rocket fire, Israeli warplanes pounded what the military said were arms storage facilities and a rocket launch site in the Strip. There were no injuries from either the rockets or the air strikes. Israel ordered the closure of the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings between Gaza and Israel, a step condemned as a “collective punishment” by Jaber Wishah, a spokesman for the Gaza City-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
Israeli army officials believe the rockets were fired by the Islamic Jihad group, a small militant faction currently at loggerheads with Hamas. But Israel said Hamas, which has controlled the Strip since seizing power there in 2007, bears overall responsibility.
Meanwhile, police said vandals slashed the tyres of 21 cars in the Arab Beit Hanina neighborhood of East Jerusalem in the latest of a wave of anti-Arab crimes by suspected Jewish extremists who have struck three times in and around Jerusalem in the past 10 days. Palestinian residents said the government was not doing enough to stop the vandalism. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police are treating the matter as a “high priority”.