Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein: U.S. policy to Israel, Palestine must change
Dr. Jill Stein, the prospective Green Party presidential nominee, just released a policy statement regarding Israel / Palestine on her website (which follows below).
For those who have longed to hear a U.S. Presidential candidate bravely step up with a Middle East policy platform grounded in international law, human rights, and equality and justice for ALL, her statement will not disappoint:
United States policy regarding Israel and Palestine must be revised to make international law, peace and human rights for all people, no matter their religion or nationality, the central priorities. While the U.S. government sometimes voices support for this principle in name, in practice U.S policy towards Palestine and Israel has violated this principle more often than not.
In particular, the United States has encouraged the worst tendencies of the Israeli government as it pursues policies of occupation, apartheid, assassination, illegal settlements, blockades, building of nuclear bombs, indefinite detention, collective punishment, and defiance of international law. Instead of allying with the courageous proponents of peace within Israel and Palestine, our government has rewarded consistent abusers of human rights. There is no peace or justice or democracy at the end of such a path. We must reset U.S. policy regarding Israel and Palestine, as part of a broader revision of U.S. policy towards the Middle East.
On taking office, I will put all parties on notice – including the Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority, and the Hamas administration in Gaza – that future U.S. support will depend on respect for human rights and compliance with international law. All three administrations will also be held responsible for preventing attacks by non-state actors on civilians or military personnel of any nationality. The parties will be given 60 days to each demonstrate unilateral material progress towards these ends.
Material progress will be understood to include but not be limited to an end to the discriminatory apartheid policies within the state of Israel, the removal of the Separation Wall, a ban on assassination, movement toward denuclearization, the release of all political prisoners and journalists from Israeli and Palestinian prisons, disarmament of non-state militias, and recognition of the right of self-determination for both Israelis and Palestinians.
Failure by any party to demonstrate sufficient material progress will result in the end of U.S. military and economic aid to that party. Should the end of U.S. aid fail to cause a party to redirect its policies and to take steps resulting in sufficient material progress within an additional 60 days, I will direct my State Department to initiate diplomacy intended to isolate and pressure the offending party, including the use of economic sanctions and targeted boycott. In this way, U.S. policy will begin to become consistent with its practices regarding other violators of human rights and international law in the region.
Consistency in U.S. policy regarding human rights and international law will begin, but not end, with Palestine and Israel. I will apply this same approach to other nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen, among others. I will also ensure that the United States begins to honor its obligations to protect human rights, and will expect that the world community will hold us to the same account we hold others.
Finally, as President I will put the full weight of the United States behind the establishment of a Palestine and Israel Truth and Reconciliation Commission as the vehicle for shifting from an era of human rights violations to one based on trust and bringing all parties together to seek solutions. Any stakeholder who enters into this process must pledge to work for a solution that respects the rights of all involved. This will bring America’s Middle East policy into alignment with American values. I understand that in the end, a dedicated commitment to justice will further American interests in the region much better than the current policies of supporting abuses and violence by one side against the other. And I believe that this is in the best interests of all people living in Israel and Palestine.
Reporters’ Questions On Gaza-Bound Flotilla Stump US State Dept Spokesperson
Friday’s daily press briefing at the US State Department (see video below) pretty much exemplifies the Obama Administration’s inability to articulate a logical justification for their support of Israel’s illegal Gaza blockade, or for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent hat-tip to Israeli threats against thirty-six US citizens who plan to set sail on a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying $370k worth of humanitarian aid.
Clinton was asked about the flotilla’s American passengers at a news conference this week in the Philippines, to which she replied:
“We think that it’s not helpful for there to be flotillas that try to provoke action by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves.”
As Clinton surely knows, the flotilla intends to sail only within international waters (not Israeli waters), thereby making any Israeli action against them a violation of International law — an act of piracy. She also knows full well that the passengers aboard the flotilla are humanitarian activists (including an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor). So to put forward the notion that their presence in international waters would necessitate Israel’s right to “defend itself” is downright deceitful and, frankly, an act of betrayal against her own countrymen/women.
Just three days ago, the State Department revised its 10-month old travel advisory to Israel, the W. Bank, and Gaza:
U.S. citizens are advised against traveling to Gaza by any means, including via sea. Previous attempts to enter Gaza by sea have been stopped by Israeli naval vessels and resulted in the injury, death, arrest, and deportation of U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens participating in any effort to reach Gaza by sea should understand that they may face arrest, prosecution, and deportation by the Government of Israel. … On May 31, 2010, nine people were killed, including one U.S. citizen, in such an attempt. The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem are not able to provide consular assistance in Gaza or on the high seas or coastal waters.
You would think by this travel advisory that the State Dept. was describing a country hostile to the United States of America — one with whom the US has no leverage to ensure its compliance with international law, as it impacts US citizens abroad. What you wouldn’t guess is that the State Department is warning American citizens that they might be harmed or even murdered by its ‘greatest’ ally, who will incidentally be receiving over $30 billion in US military aid over the next decade.
Should Israel injure, murder or arrest any American citizen — as the State Dept. advisory warns it might — for exercising his/her lawful right to sail upon international waters, or for attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to a people being choked to death by Israel’s unlawful blockade, Israel would clearly be in violation of international law. And yet, the Obama Administration refuses to acknowledged this fact. On the contrary, the Administration appears to be preempting any possible Israeli attacks against US citizens by casting THEM as the “lawbreakers” who have somehow “asked for it”.
So it was thrilling to watch yesterday’s State Dept. briefing, as reporters boldly took Spokesperson Victoria Nuland to task on this issue. They bombarded her with questions ranging from: Clinton’s recent statements, to the Obama Administration’s obligation to protect US citizens, to international law as it applies to both the Gaza blockade and to the flotilla’s right to sail in international waters.
Unable to defend the Administration’s recent statements (including ones made in her own name), Nuland sidesteps dozens of straight-forward questions and claims to be ignorant of international law.
WATCH (Note: Gaza Flotilla discussion begins at 1:35 and ends at 14:35):
The full transcript of the press briefing can be found HERE.
Obama’s Veto of UN Resolution On Settlements Harms His Own Standing in World
The Arab world has long suffered as a direct consequence of misguided U.S. policies in the Middle East. From propping up their brutal dictators, to funding and granting immunity to Israel as it colonizes Palestinian lands and bombs its neighbors with impunity, the U.S. has underwritten most of what is wrong in the region.
Until recently, the voices on the Arab streets have largely been muzzled by their oppressive (U.S. supported) regimes. But all that is finally changing. The people have had enough. They want a voice. They have taken to the streets, and are demanding their inalienable rights: freedom from repression.
First came the protests in Tunisia, and that quickly spread to Egypt. Like wildfire, the protests and demonstrations soon moved on to Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Oman, Algeria, etc.
One could argue that the seeds were sown when President Obama made his famous 2009 Cairo speech to the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims. In it, he asked for a new beginning between the U.S. and the Muslim world — one “based on mutual respect.”
On promoting democracy in the Muslim world, Obama stated:
I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.
There is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments – provided they govern with respect for all their people.
This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they are out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. No matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.
He stated, “America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs.”
He said of Israel’s colonization of Palestine:
… Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.
Though generally well received, the speech provoked a large degree of skepticism from much of the Arab world. Like Americans at home, they wanted to believe Obama was an authentic ‘change agent’, but as everyone knows, the status quo is the status quo for good reason. Powerful entrenched interests work 24/7 to massage ‘change agents’ into ‘status quo’ agents.
The Muslim world wondered if this new U.S. President, with an Arab-sounding name, would be true to his words. Would he apply pressure to their oppressive rulers to implement democratic reforms? Would he take the necessary political risks in the United States (See: Israel Lobby) to force Israel to end its colonization, and to forge peace with the Palestinians?
As far as promoting democracy, WikiLeaks cables revealed that the Obama Administration did next to nothing to press Mubarak to end his brutal policies and adopt democratic reforms.
Even after Egyptians took to the streets, the Obama Administration cautiously waffled around — never really taking a strong position until the smoke had all but cleared, and they knew definitively that the protesters would prevail.
To further undermine U.S. commitment to democratic change, once it became clear that Mubarak was finished, the Administration brazenly tried to insert Mubarak-equivalent (and alleged torturer) Omar Suleiman to take the reigns.
The so called ‘peace process’ between Israelis and Palestinians has been a much more transparent failure for the Obama administration, due in part because the U.S. is supposed to have more leverage over the Israelis — showering them with billions in aid and holding veto power over UN condemnations against their actions.
But what has forever been etched into the world consciousness is a disturbing image of the United States playing a subservient role to Israeli interests.
First the Netanyahu government outwardly defied the Obama Administration, by refusing to extend a 10-month partial ‘moratorium’ on its illegal settlement expansions in the West Bank, which brought the ‘peace process’ to a screeching halt.
The humiliated U.S. President undermined his own standing further by cowering back to the Israelis with an unbelievable display of servility. Obama offered them $3B — in addition to the $3.5 billion in annual aid — and pledged to grant them preemptive immunity for 1 year against any prospective UN Security Council resolutions (regardless of what Israel might do).
All this, for merely extending the partial moratorium — only in the West Bank — for an additional 90 days. And Israel refused.
Robert Fisk of The Independent rightly castigated Obama as an ‘appeaser’:
In any other country, the current American bribe to Israel, and the latter’s reluctance to accept it, in return for even a temporary end to the theft of somebody else’s property would be regarded as preposterous. Three billion dollars’ worth of fighter bombers in return for a temporary freeze in West Bank colonisation for a mere 90 days? Not including East Jerusalem – so goodbye to the last chance of the east of the holy city for a Palestinian capital – and, if Benjamin Netanyahu so wishes, a rip-roaring continuation of settlement on Arab land. In the ordinary sane world in which we think we live, there is only one word for Barack Obama’s offer: appeasement. Usually, our lords and masters use that word with disdain and disgust.
Anyone who panders to injustice by one people against another people is called an appeaser. Anyone who prefers peace at any price, let alone a $3bn bribe to the guilty party – is an appeaser. Anyone who will not risk the consequences of standing up for international morality against territorial greed is an appeaser … Yet that is precisely what Obama has done in his pathetic, unbelievable effort to plead with Netanyahu for just 90 days of submission to international law. Obama is an appeaser. […]
After the U.S. proved itself to be powerless in forcing Israel to cease stealing Palestinian land, the Palestinians naturally concluded that the United States would never do what was necessary to force Israel to recognize a Palestinian state. So they turned to the United Nations Security Council and asked for a resolution that does little more than recognize international law (as it already exists) — condemning Israel’s illegal settlement building.
The language in the UN Security Council resolution is ironically the official US stated policy on the matter, and so the Muslim world watched with interest to see if Obama would do as he promised them, and “align [his] policies with those who pursue peace”.
Obama — because Israelis rejected his unprecedented $3B offer — had essentially laid the political groundwork to allow this resolution to pass. This was Obama’s grand moment to show some fortitude. He offered the Israelis the world, for almost nothing in return, and they swiftly rejected it. Here was Obama’s moment to make good on his promise that the United States indeed sought a more just and equitable future for the Muslim world — one based on mutual respect …
HE VETOED IT!
By doing so, President Obama has squandered any remaining credibility he might have had as a champion for democracy, human rights, and international law. And he has reaffirmed to the world that the United States is not now, nor ever has been, a fair and honest broker for middle east peace.
WATCH as Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, struggles to justify the U.S. veto to Al Jazeera:
EU Releases Official Statement On Middle East Peace
I’ve taken the liberty to highlight just a few interesting points: The [EU Foreign Affairs] Council adopted the following conclusions: 1. “The EU believes that urgent progress is needed towards a two state solution to the IsraeliPalestinian conflict. We want to see the State of Israel and a sovereign, independent, democratic, contiguous and viable State […]
Video: Norman Finkelstein Exposes Benny Morris As Propagandist
Here’s a heated debate on Russian Television (h/t Mondoweiss) between Norman Finkelstein and Israel’s ‘famed historian’, Benny Morris. Finkelstein, as always, displays an impressive command of the facts, leaving Morris looking frazzled for much of the debate. On Gaza, for instance, Finkelstein cites the details of the Goldstone Report (details which had been cross-corroborated by […]
U.S. Pushing Mideast Peace Deal ‘Guaranteed’ To Be Completed in 2 Years
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 […]
Israel’s Dahiya Doctrine Undermines Its ‘Collateral Damage’ Claims In Gaza
It’s been a full year since Israel unleashed ‘Operation Cast Lead’ against the people of Gaza, leaving 1,400 dead (mostly civilians). Israel and Egypt continue to blockade the 1.5 million inhabitants confined within the war-torn ghetto, restricting the flow of food, fuel, and other essential items, and thus making reconstruction and recovery virtually impossible. The […]
Max Blumenthal Attended Pro-Israel Rally In NYC Celebrating Gaza Attack
Max Blumenthal attended a Pro-Israel rally in New York City in celebration of the annihilation of Gaza (Operation Cast Lead). He interviewed many of the rally attendees to get their perspective on what had just happened. He reran this video on his blog today, under the title: ‘Gaza, Never Forget’ in memory of the Gaza […]
War Crimes Catch Up With Israeli Officials: They Can No Longer Visit The UK
Ha’aretz is now confirming that the United Kingdom had in fact issued a warrant for former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s arrest — for alleged war crimes committed during Israel’s Gaza offensive, called ‘Operation Cast Lead’: British sources reported late Monday that though a British court had issued an arrest warrant for Livni over war […]
Goldstone To U.S. Congress: Your Resolution Condemning Gaza Investigation Is Rife With Factual Errors
Steven Rosen, former director of foreign-policy issues at AIPAC — the right-winged Israel Lobby powerhouse — once told Jeffrey Goldberg: “You see this napkin?” he said. “In twenty-four hours, we could have the signatures of seventy senators on this napkin.” Well apparently, a ‘dirty napkin’ — of sorts — was passed around this week in […]