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WATCH: Jeff Halper On Israel Arming Its Settlers In Anticipation Of Palestine Vote

by on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 4:42 pm EDT in Middle East, World

Ha’aretz reports that Israel is now arming its Jewish settlers in the West Bank with riot gear in preparation for Palestinian ‘mass disorder’, which they say will result from a vote in favor of Palestinian Statehood at the UN General Assembly this September. 

Palestinian leaders have maintained that any and all September protests will be peaceful, but Israeli leaders — such as Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman — are conversely advancing the notion that “Palestinians [are] preparing for ‘bloodshed the likes of which we’ve never seen before'”.

The IDF are being green-lighted to shoot Palestinian protesters in the legs should they cross over an Israeli-imposed ‘red line’ which circles each of the illegal settlements. Settlers are being armed with tear gas and stun grenades, and the Israeli Army Spokesperson refused to state whether they were also being provided with additional arms.

This military buildup and arming of Israel’s most extreme right-winged elements in the occupied territories has peace activists worried:

Hagit Ofran, of Peace Now, an Israeli organisation which monitors settlement activity, said: “We hope the army is making clear that non-violent protest is legitimate and no settlers should use any violence against unarmed demonstrators.”

Arik Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights said there were already “serious questions and problems” with settlement security officials acting outside their designated boundaries. “We’re very concerned that [the IDF move] will not reduce conflict but increase it,” he said.

In an interview with RT News, Jeff Halper, the Co-founder of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, explains why Israel is reacting like a cornered animal in anticipation of the UN General Assembly vote to recognize Palestine:

RT: Are the preparations justified? Is the unrest as inevitable as the Defense Forces are making it out to be?

Halper: I wouldn’t call it ‘unrest’. I would call it a demonstration of Palestinian independence. Because if in fact in September the General Assembly recognizes the state of Palestine within the 1967 borders, it means that the settlements, the checkpoints, the Israeli wall — everything that Israel has is now illegally in the sovereign territory of Palestine. And there is actually no legal justification for stopping Palestinians from walking into settlements and crossing checkpoints.

And that, I think, is a real concern to Israel. That simply, they will ignore the fact the army is there. The army cannot shoot at Palestinians, because it has no legal standing there.


Halper: It is clear that Israel is not going to allow — or gonna try not to allow — September to happen. Israel has no intention of giving up its control of the occupied territory. 

Until today, Israel has managed to keep its whole settlement enterprise, because it succeeded in getting the United States to characterize the occupation as ‘disputed territories’ and not real occupation. Once the UN recognizes Palestine within these borders — now there’s no argument: This is occupation. International law applies.

Probably 140 countries will recognize Palestine, and Israel is gonna be under a lot of pressure to try to maintain the occupation. 

I don’t think the military resistance to the Palestinians is going to help. I think it is actually going to make the entire international community impose sanctions on Israel. The big campaign will be after September — getting the Israeli presence out of the sovereign state of Palestine.



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Neocon David Frum Distorts Reality To Push An Anti-Palestinian Narrative

by on Saturday, December 18, 2010 at 12:17 pm EDT in Middle East, Politics, World

Former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum just posted pure pro-Israel propaganda on his blog, Frum Forum.  In it he attempts to outline why a UN Security Council recognition of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders would be counterproductive.

First, he disingenuously blames the failure of the latest rounds of peace talks on the Palestinians, and then concludes that for the UN to recognize a Palestinian state would be tantamount to giving Abbas cover to never speak with Israel again:

From the beginning of the Obama administration, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to negotiate directly with Israel. Indirect discussions have stumbled along without result. Abbas has insisted he cannot talk without a settlement freeze. Then when he gets his settlement freeze, he explains he still cannot talk.

The beauty of the UN approach is that it provides a perfect excuse never to talk to Israel again.

What Frum fails to mention is that the United States government demanded that Israel freeze its illegal settlement expansions.  By conveniently omitting this fact he implies that ONLY the Palestinians made such a ‘bold’ demand that Israel stop stealing their land as a sign of good faith in negotiating borders roughly along the 1967 green line (with occasional land swapping).

Could you imagine haggling with someone who wants to purchase your car, only to watch him park your car in his garage during the negotiations, and proceed to have a pal of his at the DMV change the title to his name?  Frum seems to believe this is acceptable negotiating behavior.

The US government went so far as to offer the right-winged Israeli government an additional $3 billion in military aid, and to pre-veto any UN Security Council Resolutions for an entire year (thereby hurting its own standing in the world, by trivializing international law as it might one day impact its own ally’s illegal actions), if Israel would just agree to suspend settlement expansion for a mere 3 months.

So how does Israel respond to its largest benefactor — who provides it with $3 billion annually in foreign aid?  Israel astonishingly refuses the offer.  Why?  Because in the spirit of Zionism-run-amok, Israel is determined to steal all of the Palestinian’s land, and will allow NOTHING to get in its way.

What Frum intentionally fails to mention is that the so-called ‘settlement freeze’ that Israel agreed to for a period of ten months — which strategically ended just before the 2010 US Midterm Elections — excluded East Jerusalem, an area that the international community recognizes as Palestinian territory.

What Frum fails to mention is that Peace Now, at eight months into the so called 10 month ‘settlement freeze’, reported that the moratorium on settlement expansion never actually occurred.  The Israelis plowed right along with their illegal settlements:

The Main Findings:

  • At least 600 housing units have started to be built during the freeze, in over 60 different settlements.
  • At least 492 of those housing units are in direct violation of the law of the freeze.
  • During an average year (when there is no freeze) approximately 1,130 housing units start to be built in 8 months in the settlements. The new construction starts during the moratorium constitute approximately half of the normal construction pace in the settlements.
  • Some 2,000 housing units are currently under construction in the settlements, most of them started before the freeze was announced in November 2009.

This means that on the ground, there is almost no freeze or even a visible slowdown, despite the fact that legal construction starts have been frozen for 8 months. It also means that the Government of Israel is not enforcing the moratorium.

Frum states the following on the likelihood of a US veto over any UN Security Council Resolution which might acknowledge a Palestinian state along the internationally recognized 1967 borders:

Such a [UN] vote is not very likely to happen. The United States could and would veto it. (On Wednesday night, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to urge President Obama to veto any such UN move. The vote was unanimous. And that was the outgoing Democratic-majority House.)

He uses the term “Unanimous” to describe the vote taken by the US House of Representatives in making his point that the US Congress is firmly committed to pressuring the Obama Administration to veto any such UN Resolution.

I would recommend that Mr. Frum read this article which gives a behind-the-scenes look at how that AIPAC-sponsored resolution was passed.  It shows how this so-called “unanimous vote” amounts to ten Representatives who voted on a bill that was rushed to the floor late at night, for fear it might not pass.

He then lies that the Palestinians have never acknowledged the state of Israel:

The UN approach may never achieve anything. It may leave the Palestinian people stuck in a frustrating status quo. But anything is better than a deal that would require a Palestinian leader to acknowledge the permanence of Israel. Back in 2000, Yasser Arafat told Bill Clinton that signing a treaty with Israel would cost Arafat his life. Abbas seems to have reached the same conclusion.

What Frum fails to mention is that in 1992, Arafat and the PLO DID acknowledge Israel’s right to exist in peace, and accepted a two-state solution.  The Palestinians to this day STILL recognize Israel’s right to exist, despite the fact Israel refuses to remain bound by its internationally recognized borders.

Israel continues to this day, to steal Palestinian land (as if Palestinians don’t exist), and ethnically cleanses Palestinians from East Jerusalem.  And yet, not a mention about any of this from Frum.

The audacity that such a prominent voice — who unfortunately is just one of many in our media establishment that seem to monopolize all middle east discussions with a dishonest pro-Likud narrative — would sign his name to such a blatant distortion of the facts, goes to the heart of why this country remains impudent in bringing peace to the Middle East.

The World Moves To Action: ‘Israel Must End Its Illegal Occupation!’

by on Saturday, December 11, 2010 at 12:06 pm EDT in Middle East, Politics, World

After having cringed through the most recent installment of the Middle East Peace ‘negotiations’, where the Netanyahu government publicly ‘castrated’ US President Barack Obama, the rest of the world appears to have had enough.

Incoming US Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), recently promised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he and his fellow Republicans would unite against his own country’s President and vital national security interests, to stand firm with Israel.  This appears to have rattled the Obama Administration, who has all but thrown in the towel.  This week the State Department announced it was giving up on pressing Israel to slow down its illegal settlement expansion.

The US has proven itself, once again, powerless to apply an iota of pressure to its greatest foreign aid recipient, even when a peace agreement is essential to its own national strategic interests:

In recent months Barack Obama has said that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was a “vital national security interest of the United States”. His vice-president, Joe Biden, has confronted Netanyahu in private and told the Israeli leader that Israel’s policies are endangering US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Senior figures in the American military, including General David Petraeus who has commanded US forces in both wars, have identified Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian land as an obstacle to resolving those conflicts.

Former President Bill Clinton recently stated that a Middle East Peace Agreement would “take about half the impetus in the whole world — not just the region, the whole world — for terror away.”  He said, “It would have more impact by far than anything else that could be done”.

The first to react to the failure of the US peace initiative were South American countries, including Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.  They announced they now formally recognize a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders.  Israel fears that Mexico, Ecuador and El Salvador are about to follow suit.  None of these countries were amongst the more than 100 countries to already recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.

It is now being reported that 26 former European leaders (who held power within the last ten years) sent a strong-worded letter last Monday to each of the governments of the 27 member states and to EU institutions, calling on the EU to punish Israel for its illegal occupation.  The EU Observer, which read the letter, reports it recommends the following:

Israel “like any other state” should be made to feel “the consequences” and face “a price tag” for breaking international law by building thousands of new Jewish homes on Palestinian land. […]

… That the EU: “Will not recognize any changes to the June 1967 boundaries, and clarify that a Palestinian state should be in sovereign control over territory equivalent to 100 percent of the territory occupied in 1967, including its capital in East Jerusalem.”

It also asks ministers to set an ultimatum of April 2011 for Israel to fall into line or see the Union seek an end to the existing US-led peace talks format in favour of a UN solution.

[In addition, The EU] should:

  • officially link its informal freeze on an upgrade in EU-Israel diplomatic relations to a settlement freeze;
  • block imports of products made in settlements but labeled as made in Israel;
  • make Israel pay the lion’s share of aid to Palestine;
  • send a high-level delegation to East Jerusalem to back Palestinian claims;
  • and reclassify EU support for Palestine as “nation building” instead of “institution building.”

The signatories of the letter include:

Former German chancellor Helmut Schmid, former German president Richard von Weizsacker, one-time Spanish leader Felipe Gonzales, ex-EU commission president and Italian PM Romano Prodi and the UK’s former EU commissioner Chris Patten.

It also represents the first time that the forerunner of EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, Javier Solana, has come out of the wings to challenge the newcomer.

Apparently, it’s become evident to the world that the US is NOT a fair and honest broker in this conflict.  And despite its ‘superpower’ status, its billions of taxpayer dollars in annual foreign aid to Israel, and its long history of vetoing UN Security Council Resolutions against Israel, due to domestic political forces (Read: the Israel lobby), the US is powerless to apply pressure to Israel in ways that would even benefit its own stated strategic interests.

UPDATE (Dec. 14, 2010):

It appears the EU Foreign Affairs Council decided to ignore the letter by the 26 former European leaders cited above.  They just released their Official Statement on the Middle East Peace Process.

Breaking News: U.S. Threatens Aid To Israel In Pursuit Of Peace Deal

by on Friday, January 8, 2010 at 11:03 pm EDT in Middle East, Politics, World

In speaking with PBS on the eve of his visit to the Middle East, U.S. special envoy George J. Mitchell delivered an unveiled threat to Israel: George Mitchell threatened that his country would freeze its aid to Israel if the Jewish state failed to advance peace talks with the Palestinians and a two-state solution. Mitchell […]

U.S. Pushing Mideast Peace Deal ‘Guaranteed’ To Be Completed in 2 Years

by on Monday, January 4, 2010 at 2:46 pm EDT in Middle East, World

Several news sources are reporting that the US Administration is about to propose a new Middle East peace initiative whereby Israel and the Palestinians would resume final status talks — suspended since Operation Cast Lead (Israel’s military excursion into Gaza) last year.  The proposal would be based on the following parameters: 1. The issue of […]

Ha’aretz: E.U. Presidency Document Calls For Division Of Jerusalem & Return To 1967 Borders

by on Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 5:34 pm EDT in Middle East, World

The pressure continues to mount on the far-right Likudnik government in Israel.  Ha’aretz has just obtained a copy of a document, drafted by the European Union Presidency, which effectively backs a unilateral Palestinian declaration of statehood, based on the 1967 borders.  The document follows: The world is clearly getting sick and tired of Netanyahu’s refusal […]