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