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Video: Norman Finkelstein Exposes Benny Morris As Propagandist

by on Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 3:04 pm EDT in Middle East, World

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 all the major Human Rights groups) to make his case while Morris conversely interjects with filibusters and flimsy, unsubstantiated claims:

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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 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 …