WATCH: Jeff Halper On Israel Arming Its Settlers In Anticipation Of Palestine Vote
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.
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 permanent borders would be the first line of discussions, and this would be hammered out within nine months’ time.
The nine-month time limitation is being tied to Israeli’s temporary settlement freeze — set to expire in nine months’ time. By mandating that permanent borders are established by the end of that moratorium, Israel will only be permitted to continue expansion within the areas that had been agreed upon by both parties.
The negotiations would be based upon the principles of ‘land swaps’ — something that had been prominent in previous peace negotiations. Israel would be permitted to keep some of their illegal settlements in exchange for lands on the Israeli side of the 1967 borders.
2. The remaining discussions would be devoted to the contentious issues of Jerusalem and of Palestinian ‘right of return’ to Israel proper. And these would be completed within what remains of the two-year time frame.
Common Dreams, sourcing Agence France Presse, reports:
To entice both sides to agree to the deal, Washington is preparing letters of guarantee.
The Palestinians will get a letter guaranteeing that the two-year deadline will be final, with no delay. “If no agreement is reached, the Palestinians will request U.S. backing for their demand to receive an area equal in size to the territory under Arab rule prior to 1967,” Maariv said.
The Israelis will receive a note ratifying a letter that former U.S. president George W. Bush wrote to then Israeli premier Ariel Sharon in 2004, in which he said that a final status agreement will be based on the principle of land swaps that will allow Israel to keep its major settlement blocs.
Arab diplomats in Cairo told AFP last week that U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration was drafting letters of guarantee, but did not provide details.
I’d be curious to know how this ‘guarantee’ ultimately determines ‘appropriate’ land swaps should the two sides remain at an impasse beyond the two-year deadline.
After all, if they can’t reach an agreement, then what exactly is the U.S. guaranteeing them? — That the U.S. government would arbitrarily decide on land swaps for both parties? If that’s the case, I doubt the Palestinians — knowing full well the U.S. is not a fair and ‘good faith’ mediator — would agree to that.
The U.S. might arbitrarily give Israel everything it wants (i.e. E. Jerusalem, and deny the Palestinians their lawful ‘right of return’), and in return just leave the Palestinians more waterless, contiguous, desert land to the already picked over bantustans upon which they currently reside. And Israel, knowing their Lobby can guarantee U.S. political complicity, might find it in their best interest to let the two-year deadline pass, so they can get exactly the terms they want — not accorded to them at present, under international law.
Sounds like a Trojan Horse to me — i.e. get the Palestinians to agree to an evasive ‘guarantee’ that will ultimately work in Israel’s favor.
Yahoo News is reporting that the Palestinians, unlike their Israeli counterparts, were left out of the loop on this Obama Administration proposal:
“We have not received, neither officially nor in any other form, a plan from the American administration to bring about peace in the region,” Nimr Hamad, an aide to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, told AFP.
“Israel is trying with these media leaks to pressure president Abbas to enter into negotiations without a complete halt to settlements across all the Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem.”
Stay tuned …
U.S. Press Corps Not Buying White House Spin On Israeli Intransigence
The Huffington Post is reporting that, in clear violation of both U.S. demands and international law:
The Jerusalem city government moved toward the construction of 900 additional housing units in a Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim for the capital of their future state.
This comes right after the Obama Administration recently softened its demands that Israel cease all settlement expansion in the occupied territories after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu essentially told Obama to ‘fuck off’. Palestinians interpreted this sudden shift in U.S. policy as proof that peace negotiations were dead.
When asked about Israel’s additional 900 housing units, Obama Spokesman Robert Gibbs responded:
“We are dismayed,” and he criticized the Israelis as making “it more difficult for our efforts (toward peacemaking) to succeed.”
Dismayed? More difficult for your efforts? Robert, you guys are beginning to look like Netanyahu’s lap dogs. Show some spine, already! Americans don’t like to see their leaders getting their noses rubbed in fecal matter, to then try and spin the residue, “it’s just chocolate. Yum!” It’s not gonna fly… you look weak and are embarrassing our country!
Members of the press corps aren’t backing down this time. They are pressing the State Department on their embarrassing failure to get Israel to cooperate on ending the settlement expansions, and on the Administration’s weak response to this latest news of Israeli intransigence. As transcribed from Mondoweiss:
QUESTION: How long is the U.S. going to continue to tolerate Israel’s violation of international law? I mean, soon it’s not even going to be possible – there’s not going to be any land left for the Palestinians to establish an independent state.
MR. KELLY: Well, again, this is a – we understand the Israeli point of view about Jerusalem. But we think that all sides right now, at this time when we’re expending such intense efforts to try and get the two sides to sit down, that we should refrain from these actions, like this decision to move forward on an approval process for more housing units in East Jerusalem.
QUESTION: But should U.S. inaction, or in response to Israel’s actions, then be interpreted as some sort of about-face in policy – the President turning his back on the promises he’s made to the Palestinians?
MR. KELLY: You’re – okay, you’re using language that I wouldn’t use. I mean, again, our focus is to get these negotiations started. We’re calling on both parties to refrain from actions, from – and from rhetoric that would impede this process. It’s a challenging time, and we just need to focus on what’s important here, and that’s –
The back and forth between Kelly and the reporters at the State Department continues here, at Mondoweiss. You gotta check it out. He’s got the video clip over there as well. This will absolutely get buried by the main stream media.
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