israel and palestine

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Here’s a far more sober analysis of the US President’s visit to Israel/Palestine.

Sam Bahour is no fool, and neither is he a pessimist. As a Palestinian American though, he inevitably feels pain every time he hears Obama speak of the US’s unconditional support for Israel.

Why shouldn’t American support of Israel have conditions and require that certain humanitarian standards be met, as is the case with every other country on the planet? Why indeed?

Father Dave

Sam Bahour

Sam Bahour

source: www.vindy.com…

Obama fails in the Mideast

As I watched President Barack Obama’s helicopter pass above my home, just before landing at the Palestinian Presidential Compound next to Ramallah, I just shook my head in disappointment, first as an American, then as a Palestinian. I thought: “Another U.S. president, on another high fanfare visit, carrying the same, failed political messages.”

It was difficult to follow Obama’s visit on TV. In normal practice when dignitaries come to town, Israel disrupts the satellite signals that feed our televisions. Nevertheless, I was able to tune in to a single Arabic channel, broadcast from Lebanon, that was unaffected by this.

Peeling away all the protocols, red carpets, formalities and artificial photo opportunities, I focused on what was coined “the policy speech.” President Obama gave it in Israel at a conference center to an audience of Israeli students. The president crafted a message directly to Israeli citizens, bypassing the right-wing Israeli prime minister who, until today, continues to build illegal, Jewish-only settlements, despite America’s and the world’s disapproval.

Clear message

The message to Israel was clear: there is no better ally to Israel than the U.S. He went on and on about how Israel will always be backed by the U.S., no matter what. Militarism won the day.

To Palestinians, and the majority of the world, that message no longer makes sense. Why support Israel as a military occupier that continues to build Jewish-only settlements? Why support Israel when it (as the U.S. State Department has documented) structurally discriminates against non-Jews, both Christian and Muslim, inside Israel? Why support Israel when it refuses to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes? In short, if Israel has become a rogue state and is moving (as Israeli leaders have acknowledged) toward a form of apartheid, why should the U.S. be there to fund it, arm it, use its veto to protect it from the United Nations, diplomatically cover for it, and do business with it?

Given that Israel is costing U.S. taxpayers over $3 billion annually and has put the U.S. in a weaker position in the Middle East because of its intransigence, it is past due that every American demand of their government to withdraw its resources and political clout from entities that are moving the region away from peace, instead of closer to it.

Larger message

Just before Air Force One landed at Ben-Gurion Airport in Israel, President Obama’s limousine, the armored vehicle known as “The Beast,” broke down after being wrongly filled with diesel instead of gasoline. A new one was flown in and no disruptions to the schedule occurred. Nevertheless, perhaps this limousine ordeal carried a larger message: whether “The Beast” or a global superpower, it is crucial that issues are filled with accurate and appropriate substances, otherwise, sooner rather than later, they will start with a sputter and end with a total breakdown.

The U.S. has filled the peace process, for the last 20 years, with Israeli-designed falsehoods, only to bring us to a total breakdown today. I was hoping (but not holding my breath) that President Obama would shift gears on this trip and come with a message to the Israelis that the world’s superpower is now going to fill the process with accountability. That did not happen, and will not, until average Americans say, “Enough is enough.”

Sam Bahour describes himself as a Palestinian-American business consultant from Youngstown living in Al-Bireh/Ramallah, Palestine.

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This is the sort of rhetoric continues to widen the gulf between Israel and the rest of the world. At least the Israeli Prime Minister tries to pay lip service to the aspirations of the Palestinian people, even if his ‘peace process’ is a mirage.

As Israel becomes increasingly isolated and the surrounding Arab nations continue to appoint governments that are actually listening to their own people, the problem for Israel and its remaining ally – the United States – becomes increasingly serious. At some point Israel will be recognised as a serious liability to the US. It is only a matter of time.

Father Dave

source: news.antiwar.com…

Naftali Bennett

Naftali Bennett

Bennett: No Palestine in ‘God-Given’ Israel

Insists God Didn’t Set Aside Enough Space for a State in Occupied Territories

by Jason Ditz

The process of forming a new government is still slowly moving along, but Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett, whose far-right party is seen as almost certain to be part of the next government, made his first parliamentary speech last week, rejecting the notion of a free Palestinian state on religious grounds.

“There is no room in our small but wonderful God-given tract for another state,” Bennett insisted, adding “it won’t happen” and that negotiations could only begin after the Palestinians accept that not only Israel, but all of their land belongs exclusively to Israel.

Bennett maintains that all of the occupied territories, including the entire West Bank and the Gaza Strip, belong to Israel as a sort of divine set-aside, and has faulted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for being “ambiguous” about whether or not peace could ever be allowed.

Bennett’s position as an opponent of peace talks on general principle is odd, as Jewish Home has come to a sort of joint arrangement with Yesh Atid, a secular centrist party that has pushed peace talks in the past, to join the government together to strengthen their bargaining position.

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Ramzy Baroud’s analysis is depressingly realistic – “Until Palestinians find an alternative to this sorry trio of Israel-US-PA peacemakers, all they can expect is more of the same.” Mahmoud Abbas’ achievement of enhanced UN status for Palestine is soon to become another “footnote” in the struggle for justice, he says, as violence, settlements and the daily grind of the Occupation continues as usual.

But perhaps the ‘alternative’ is closer than Baroud thinks? The UN vote certainly reflects the growing international support for Palestine, and that vote has been followed up with tangible signs of support from numerous countries (Cyprus being the latest example). The Muslim world seems to be coming together in their support (as indicated in the latest statements from Bangladesh) and there are no shortage of alternative peace-brokers.

Father Dave

source: english.alarabiya.net…

Bulldozers and more talks: Paving the road for Palestine’s new status quo

By Ramzy Baroud

Despite much saber-rattling by Israel and the U.S. administration and hyped-up expectations by the Palestinian leadership, the recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state late last year is on its way to becoming yet another footnote in protracted conflict that has endured for 65 years.

Only hours after the announcement, Israel had its own announcement to make: the building of a new illegal settlement (according to international law, all of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are illegal) in Palestinian land. The area is called the E-1 zone by Israel. A couple of European countries responded with greater exasperation than usual, but soon moved on to other seemingly more pressing issues. The U.S. called Israel’s spiteful move “counterproductive”, but soon neglected the matter. Palestinian activists who tried to counter Israel’s illegal activities by pitching tents in areas marked by Israel for construction were violently removed.

Mutual interest?

Mahmoud Abbas’ PA is at a standstill in the same pitiful possession. It continues to serve as a buffer between occupied, ethnically cleansed and rightfully angry Palestinians. Its existence would not have been possible without Israel’s consent. Fiery speeches, press releases and conferences aside, the PA has affectively sub-contracted part of the Israeli occupation – as in maintaining Israel’s security for example –in exchange for perks for those affiliated with the PA. Examples of these privileges include easier access to business contracts or jobs. It is this symbiosis that constantly averts any serious confrontation between Israel and the PA. Both parties would lose if the status quo were seriously hampered. For Israel to reclaim its responsibilities as an Occupying Power under international law would be a huge financial and political burden that could impede its settlement constructions in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. In fact, Israel is able to maintain all the benefits of military occupation without much cost. For Abbas, shutting down the PA conglomerate would mean financial and political suicide for the branch of Fatah politicians affiliated with him.

Thus some clever manifestation of the ‘peace process’ show must be found that would help both parties save face – Israel to finish its settlement plans and the PA to sustain its enterprise.

In fact, Israel’s decision on Jan 30 to release $100 million of taxes and tariffs collected on behalf of the PA (which it has withheld, some say robbed to punish the PA for its U.N. bid) was possibly a prelude to the resumption of the same ongoing peace charade. According to an Israeli official cited by AFP, the transfer was a “measure to ease the financial crisis faced by the Palestinians,” ironically manufactured by Israel. That gesture of ‘good will’ is likely to be harnessed into some ‘confidence building measures’ in hopes of resetting the entire ‘peace process’ game.

Read the rest of this article here: english.alarabiya.net…

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The day of US-Israeli hegemony in the Middle East may well be drawing to a close. The United Nations decided not to wait for Uncle Sam to broker a deal before declaring Palestine a nation state, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and its member states seem ready to take the initiative in seeing the Israel-Palestine impasse resolved.

The role of Egypt’s President Morsi has been crucial in recent months – visiting Gaza and now hosting the OIC meeting – and now Bangladesh has joined the chorus, demanding full statehood for Palestine.

Of course both Obama and Kerry are putting a renewed effort into restating their ‘peace process’ but have they left their run too late?

Father Dave

source: bdnews24.com…

‘Back a sovereign Palestine’

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni has called upon the Muslim world to support Palestine in ‘a result-oriented’ way to make it a sovereign state that Bangladesh backs ‘unequivocally’.

She made the call while speaking at a special session titled ‘Israeli Settlements on Occupied Palestinian Land’ on Sunday during the 12th Islamic Summit Conference of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Cairo.

According to a media release, Dipu Moni reiterated “unequivocal support of Bangladesh for a fully sovereign Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

“She called upon all OIC member states to extend support to Palestine in a more useful and constructive manner with a result-oriented approach,” it said.

The Bangladesh Foreign Minister condemned the repression of Palestinians by Israeli authorities “through cold-blooded policy of settlements in the occupied land of Palestine that is a glaring affront to the values of human rights and human conscience.”

read the rest of this article here: bdnews24.com…

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Perhaps the US does still have a role to play as a peace-broker in the Israel/Palestine stand-off?  Certainly a visit by Obama to the West Bank would be a healthy start!

Certainly this will be a boost for Mahmoud Abbas. Lately all the kudos has gone to his counterpart in Gaza, with visits from dignitaries around the Muslim world. Even so, the visit could further entrench the divide between the two Palestinian factions, with Hamas being seen as representing the Muslim world while Fatah remains a puppet of Western interests.

It will all depend on how Obama manages the situation. Personally, I hold out little hope. Israel and the US have been blocking the path to a negotiated peace settlement for many years now. Is this really likely to change overnight?

Father Dave

Obama in Cairo - June 2009

Obama in Cairo – June 2009

Source: news.yahoo.com……

Obama to make first visit to Israel ‘in the spring’

President Barack Obama will visit Israel “in the spring” for the first time since taking office in January 2009, the White House said on Tuesday. Israeli media reports said the trip was set for March 20. Possible military action against Iran and the crisis in Syria seem sure to top the agenda.

Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the possibility of a visit during a Jan. 28 telephone call, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters. Carney said Obama would also visit Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and make a stop in Jordan, and that dates would be released later.

Obama visited Israel in July 2008, when he was running for office, but he has not been back since. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign—and Republicans in general—have sought to use that as a political weapon, suggesting it shows he’s willing to shortchange the staunchest U.S. ally in the region. But both of George W. Bush’s visits to Israel came in 2008, when his second term was nearly up, and Republican icon Ronald Reagan never went.

The visit will come as Obama and other world leaders, notably Netanyahu, have warned that time is running short for a diplomatic end to the tense standoff with Iran over that country’s suspect nuclear program.

“When the president spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu on January 28, they discussed a visit by the president to Israel in the spring,” Carney said. “The start of the president’s second term and the formation of a new Israeli government offer the opportunity to reaffirm the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel and to discuss the way forward on a broad range of issues of mutual concern, including Iran and Syria.”