peace process

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As the ‘peace process’ crashes and burns (see here), so Israel simultaneously isolates itself even further from the international community through further acts of aggression towards a seemingly insignificant group of shepherds!

What follows is a press release from Gush Shalom – the Israeli ‘Peace Bloc’.

Gush Shalom

source: zope.gush-shalom.org…

The passion for destroying small villages ended up causing a diplomatic incident

September 21st, 2013

Israeli soldiers resorted to violence against diplomats from France and other European countries on their way to give humanitarian aid to inhabitants of a village destroyed by the IDF. Quite embarassing, just a few days after the government made a desperate plea to the European Union to relax its new guidelines , excluding Israeli organizations active in the Occupied Territories from getting European grants.

Already for many years, the occupation authorities implement the most brutal policy precisely against the smallest and weakest of the Palestinian communities. Poor shepherds who live in miserable huts or in caves, at the Jordan Valley and South Hebron Hills. They want nothing but to be left alone to live their life of poverty, but the State of Israel is sending soldiers and police and bulldozers to demolish their homes and leave them without a roof over their heads. .

Those who implement this cruel policy have the illusion that no one notices and no one cares what happens in remote, out of the way spots. When the tiny village called Khirbet Makhoul was destroyed and its residents left destitute and homeless , the world did hear about it. Immediately there arrived a Red Cross delegation and after them, representatives of the European Union – from France , the UK , Spain , Ireland and also from Australia – to support the residents and bring them tents and emergency supplies. This was a clear humanitarian duty , understandable to all . Understandable to all except those who run the occupation policy, people who seem to have long since lost any vestige of moral sensitivity .

Contact: Adam Keller adam@gush-shalom.org…

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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.

Father Dave

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery

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 occupation.

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

 

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It would be interesting to know the reasoning behind the results in this survey. Why do Americans want ‘out’ of Israel/Palestine? Do they think they need their President focusing on domestic issues or is Israel/Palestine just all too hard?

The even more significant question is ‘what would it take for the American politicians to lose interest in Israel/Palestine? One suspects that even a vast and vocal majority called for disengagement, Congress would be unlikely to listen.

Father Dave

source: reason.com…

Covered at Reason 24/7: Majority of Americans Support Israel Over Palestine, Much Larger Majority Want U.S. Out of Peace Process

Ed Krayewski|

Israel can often be a third-rail in American politics. In 2002, George W. Bush became the first president in U.S. history to support a so-called “two-state solution.” When Barack Obama followed that up in 2011 by supporting Israel’s pre-1967 borders as a starting point for that solution, it wasn’t anything new, even though the reactions might have been. What does this have to do with the United States? Americans are increasingly asking that question.

From the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:

A new poll shows that most Americans support Israel, but do not want the U.S. to take the lead in an Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Fifty-five percent of Americans, according to the ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday, sympathize more with Israel than with the Palestinian Authority. Nine percent sympathize more with the P.A., 14 percent sympathize with neither side and 18 percent had no opinion on the question.

Sixty-nine percent of respondents, though, said the U.S. should leave peace talks to the Israelis and Palestinians, while 26 percent said the U.S. should lead the negotiations.

Leaving the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks to the Israelis and Palestinians, though it might sound like common sense (and apparently more than two-thirds of Americans agree) is not something any mainstream presidential candidate has ever suggested.

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Germany has turned! It seems that Angela Merkel has had enough! Four years of humiliation by Netanyahu has taken its toll.

But how far will Germany push the envelope? Is it possible that Germany could become a leading voice in Europe for the rights of the Palestinian people? That is surely too much to hope for, and yet who expected the German Chancellor to go this far?!

Father Dave

(nb. highlights are courtesy of Father Roy)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

source: Haaretz Daily Newspaper

Merkel to warn Netanyahu: Promote peace process or face world seclusion

Prime minister to meet German chancellor in Berlin on Wednesday evening.

By Barak Ravid | Dec.05, 2012 | 1:02 AM

With Israel and European Union states embroiled in a diplomatic crisis, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Wednesday night in Berlin.

Merkel, who has had rocky relationship with Netanyahu over the past four years, is expected to stress that the Israeli leader must choose between promoting the peace process, including establishing a Palestinian state, or facing international seclusion.

Despite the diplomatic crisis and the tension with Netanyahu, Merkel insisted on holding the government summit with Israel in Berlin. A senior German official said that Merkel had never considered a sanction as severe as halting the supply of nuclear submarines to Israel, since “as far as she’s concerned, Israel’s security is sacred.”

The official added that the government summit was Merkel’s idea of cementing and constitutionalizing the German-Israeli relationship so that it is not dependent on the politics of either state.

This main issue of this year’s government summit is science. Leading scientists from both countries are scheduled to join senior ministers.

Netanyahu arrives in Berlin less than one week after the United Nations General Assembly recognized Palestine as an observer state. In contrast to recent years, Germany refrained from assisting Israel’s diplomatic efforts at the UN. The chancellor was raging at Netanyahu’s conduct and decided, at the last moment, to abstain instead of voting against the resolution. Netanyahu reacted angrily to Germany’s vote, and his national security adviser, Yaakov Amidror, had a heated phone call with Merkel’s senior adviser, Christoph Heusgen.

Merkel reversed course on the UN vote for at least two reasons. First, for four years she has repeatedly requested gestures of goodwill from Netanyahu on the settlement issue – but he has refused. Second, Merkel apparently felt her support was being taken for granted and used as a tool to manipulate other European states on the Palestinian issue.

Der Speigel reported on Monday another possible reason. On the eve of the vote, she received a phone call from Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim, musical director of the Berlin Opera. Barenboim, known for his severe criticism of Israel’s policies in the Palestinian territories, requested that the chancellor not oppose the Palestinian move, and noted that the resolution mentions the two-state solution and Israel’s right to exist.

From the start, Netanyahu and Merkel have clashed on the question of settlements. Merkel apparently often felt she was misled by Netanyahu, such as when he leaked specific parts of their conversations and did not fulfill promises on the Palestinian issue.

It is commonly known in Berlin that Merkel has no illusions regarding Netanyahu’s intentions as far as the peace process goes, and no longer believe he will surprise anyone with a sudden change of direction. Apparently, as far as Merkel is concerned, Netanyahu cares more about tactics and political survival than about a long-term strategy that would secure the future of Israel and the Jewish state.

Netanyahu should expect to hear some unequivocal messages concerning the punitive measures Israel announced against the Palestinian Authority, as well as his plans to promote construction in the E-1 area, which would connect Ma’aleh Adumim settlement with Jerusalem, and to add 3,000 units in the West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem.

In contrast to France and Britain, Germany did not summon the Israeli ambassador; Merkel apparently prefers to hold a tough discussion directly with Netanyahu. The chancellor is expected to demand that Netanyahu cancel the settlement decision, or at least commit to freezing its implementation immediately after the elections in Israel.

Merkel is expected to tell Netanyahu that he must choose between promoting the peace process and establishing a Palestinian state, a move that would secure the existence of Israel as a Jewish democratic state, or continue expanding settlements, thus leading to the transformation of Israel into an apartheid state that is isolated internationally.

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Father Roy writes:   A “moment of truth” is approaching.  The highlights in this article are mine.   Peace, Roy

Chief Palestinian negotiator says PLO is determined to change the status quo, UN will be “a moment of truth.

Palestinian leaders plan to shake up the 19-year-old peace process and proceed with a United Nations statehood bid next month over US objections, chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said.

It’s a moment of truth,” Erakat said in an interview at his West Bank office in Ramallah.We’re determined to change the status quo.”

The move to upgrade the Palestine Liberation Organization’s status to that of a “non-member state” in the UN General Assembly comes a year after the failed effort to obtain full membership through the Security Council, a step the Obama administration blocked.

By forcing the statehood issue Palestinians risk jeopardizing international aid that accounts for about 14 percent of gross domestic product and inviting retaliatory measures from Israel, which captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza in the 1967 Middle East war.

The Palestinian bid to upgrade its observer status at the UN is likely to pass the General Assembly, where the US has no veto as it does in the Security Council, Erakat said.

If the vote succeeds, “Palestine will become a nation under occupation,” Erakat said. “The moment we get this, every single thing Israel does in east Jerusalem or the West Bank will become null and void.”

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, told campaign donors that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is going to “remain an unsolved problem” and that the Palestinians are uninterested in peace. Romney made the comments at a closed fundraiser in May and they became public when a video of the event was posted September 18 by Mother Jones magazine.

Upgrading their status in the General Assembly would enable the Palestinians to join other UN agencies, including the International Criminal Court, where they could ask for Israel to be tried for war crimes, Erakat said.

“Israel’s main worry is the ICC,” said Erakat, who declined to specify whether they would proceed with the action. “They don’t want me to have a sword on their neck.”

Israeli leaders are concerned that a Palestinian victory at the General Assembly will bring a “new onslaught” against the Jewish state, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said in a telephone interview when asked about Erakat’s comments.

“It will accomplish nothing except for poisoning the atmosphere so that it will be impossible to resume negotiations,” he said.

If the two-state solution fails, Erakat says Israel will find itself by 2018 in control of a single “apartheid” state in which Palestinians outnumber the Jewish population.

Mr. Netanyahu can’t maintain the status quo,” he said. “We aren’t going anywhere.”