Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Akiva Eldar

Only one thing will make Israel stop brutalizing Palestinians

On August 26, Israel and the Palestinian Authority both accepted a cease-fire agreement after a 50-day Israeli assault on Gaza that left 2,100 Palestinians dead, 11,000 injured and vast landscapes of destruction behind.

The agreement calls for an end to military action by Israel and Hamas as well as an easing of the Israeli siege that has strangled Gaza for many years.

As long as the United States provides the necessary military, economic, diplomatic and ideological support for Israel’s illegal occupation and siege nothing will change.

 Noam Chomsky Posted in News  this October 5, 2014
Gaza in rubble after Israeli onslaught

Israel’s ‘mowing the lawn’ in its Operation Protective Edge.  50-day onslaught in Gaza, July/August 2014

The most recent of a series of cease-fire agreements reached after each of Israel’s periodic escalations of its unremitting assault on Gaza has not changed since the 2005 agreement, that Israel refused to apply.

Since November 2005 the terms of these agreements have remained essentially the same.

The regular pattern is for Israel to disregard whatever agreement is in place, while Hamas observes it—as Israel has conceded—until a sharp increase in Israeli violence elicits a Hamas response, followed by even fiercer brutality.

These escalations are called “mowing the lawn” in Israeli parlance.

The most recent was more accurately described as “removing the topsoil” by a senior US military officer, quoted in Al Jazeera America.

The first of this series was the Agreement on Movement and Access between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in November 2005.

It called for:

1. a crossing between Gaza and Egypt at Rafah for the export of goods and the transit of people;

2.  crossings between Israel and Gaza for goods and people;

3. the reduction of obstacles to movement within the West Bank;

4.  bus and truck convoys between the West Bank and Gaza;

5. the building of a seaport in Gaza; and

6. the reopening of the airport in Gaza that Israeli bombing had demolished.

That agreement was reached shortly after Israel withdrew its settlers and military forces from Gaza. The motive for the disengagement was explained by Dov Weisglass, a confidant of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was in charge of negotiating and implementing it.

“The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process,” Weisglass told Haaretz.

“And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a [US] presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress.”

“The disengagement is actually formaldehyde,” Weisglass added. “It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.”

This pattern has continued to the present: through Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009 to Pillar of Defense in 2012 to this summer’s Protective Edge, the most extreme exercise in mowing the lawn—so far.

For more than 20 years, Israel has been committed to separating Gaza from the West Bank in violation of the Oslo Accords it signed in 1993, which declare Gaza and the West Bank to be an inseparable territorial unity.

A look at a map explains the rationale.

Separated from Gaza, any West Bank enclaves left to Palestinians have no access to the outside world. They are contained by two hostile powers, Israel and Jordan, both close US allies—and contrary to illusions, the US is very far from a neutral “honest broker.”

Furthermore, Israel has been systematically taking over the Jordan Valley, driving out Palestinians, establishing settlements, sinking wells and otherwise ensuring that the region—about one-third of the West Bank, with much of its arable land—will ultimately be integrated into Israel along with the other regions being taken over.

The remaining Palestinian cantons will be completely imprisoned.

Unification with Gaza would interfere with these plans, which trace back to the early days of the occupation and have had steady support from the major Israeli political blocs.

Israel might feel that its takeover of Palestinian territory in the West Bank has proceeded so far that there is little to fear from some limited form of autonomy for the enclaves that remain to Palestinians.

There is also some truth to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s observation: “Many elements in the region understand today that, in the struggle in which they are threatened, Israel is not an enemy but a partner.” Presumably he was alluding to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates.

Israel’s leading diplomatic correspondent Akiva Eldar adds, however, that “all those ‘many elements in the region’ also understand that there is no brave and comprehensive diplomatic move on the horizon without an agreement on the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders and a just, agreed-upon solution to the refugee problem.”

That is not on Israel’s agenda, he points out, and is in fact in direct conflict with the 1999 electoral program of the governing Likud coalition, never rescinded, which “flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan River.”

Some knowledgeable Israeli commentators, notably columnist Danny Rubinstein, believe that Israel is poised to reverse course and relax its stranglehold on Gaza.

We’ll see.

The record of these past years suggests otherwise and the first signs are not auspicious.

As Operation Protective Edge ended, Israel announced its largest appropriation of West Bank land in 30 years, almost 1,000 acres.

It is commonly claimed on all sides that, if the two-state settlement is dead as a result of Israel’s takeover of Palestinian lands, then the outcome will be one state west of the Jordan.

Some Palestinians welcome this outcome, anticipating that they can then engage in a fight for equal rights modeled on the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.

Many Israeli commentators warn that the resulting “demographic problem” of more Arab than Jewish births and diminishing Jewish immigration will undermine their hope for a “democratic Jewish state.”

But these widespread beliefs are dubious.

The realistic alternative to a two-state settlement is that Israel will continue to carry forward the plans it has been implementing for years: taking over whatever is of value to it in the West Bank, while avoiding Palestinian population concentrations and removing Palestinians from the areas that it is absorbing.

That should avoid the dreaded “demographic problem.”

The areas being taken over include a vastly expanded Greater Jerusalem, the area within the illegal separation wall, corridors cutting through the regions to the east and probably the Jordan Valley.

Gaza will likely remain under its usual harsh siege, separated from the West Bank.

And the Syrian Golan Heights—like Jerusalem, annexed in violation of Security Council orders—will quietly become part of Greater Israel.

In the meantime, West Bank Palestinians will be contained in unviable cantons, with special accommodation for elites in standard neocolonial style.

For a century, the Zionist colonization of Palestine has proceeded primarily on the pragmatic principle of the quiet establishment of facts on the ground, which the world was to ultimately come to accept.

This principle has been a highly successful policy.

There is every reason to expect it to persist as long as the United States provides the necessary military, economic, diplomatic and ideological support.

For those concerned with the rights of the brutalized Palestinians, there can be no higher priority than working to change US policies, not an idle dream by any means.

Source: In These Times

Noam Chomsky: The Real Reason Israel “Mows the Lawn” in Gaza

Like other states, Israel pleads “security” as justification for its aggressive preemptive wars and violent actions on Gaza, and on Lebanon.
But knowledgeable Israelis know better.

On August 26th, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) both accepted a ceasefire agreement after a 50-day Israeli assault on Gaza that left 2,100 Palestinians dead, 11, 000 injured, destroyed hospitals and schools, and vast landscapes of destruction behind.

The agreement calls for an end to military action by both Israel and Hamas, as well as an easing of the Israeli siege that has strangled Gaza for many years.

This is, however, just the most recent of a series of ceasefire agreements reached after each of Israel’s periodic escalations of its unremitting assault on Gaza.

Throughout this period, the terms of these agreements remain essentially the same.

The regular pattern is for Israel to disregard whatever agreement is in place, while Hamas observes it — as Israel has officially recognized — until a sharp increase in Israeli violence elicits a Hamas response, followed by even fiercer brutality.

These escalations, which amount to shooting fish in a pond, are called “mowing the lawn” in Israeli parlance.

The most recent was more accurately described as “removing the topsoil” by a senior U.S. military officer, appalled by the practices of the self-described “most moral army in the world.”

The first of this series was the Agreement on Movement and Access Between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in November 2005.

It called for “a crossing between Gaza and Egypt at Rafah for the export of goods and the transit of people, continuous operation of crossings between Israel and Gaza for the import/export of goods, and the transit of people, reduction of obstacles to movement within the West Bank, bus and truck convoys between the West Bank and Gaza, the building of a seaport in Gaza, [and the] re-opening of the airport in Gaza” that Israeli bombing had demolished.

That agreement was reached shortly after Israel withdrew its settlers and military forces from Gaza.  The motive for the disengagement was explained by Dov Weissglass, a confidant of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who was in charge of negotiating and implementing it.

The significance of the disengagement plan in Gaza is the freezing of the peace process,” Weissglass informed the Israeli press. “And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders, and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a [U.S.] presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress.” True enough. (While Bush Jr. was committing genocide in Iraq and using all the weapons banned by the UN))

“The disengagement is actually formaldehyde,” Weissglass added. “It supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.

Israeli hawks also recognized that instead of investing substantial resources in maintaining a few thousand settlers in illegal communities in devastated Gaza, it made more sense to transfer them to illegal subsidized communities in areas of the West Bank that Israel intended to keep.

The disengagement was depicted as a noble effort to pursue peace, but the reality was quite different.

Israel never relinquished control of Gaza and is, accordingly, recognized as the occupying power by the United Nations, the U.S., and other states (Israel apart, of course).

In their comprehensive history of Israeli settlement in the occupied territories, Israeli scholars Idith Zertal and Akiva Eldar describe what actually happened when that country disengaged: the ruined territory was not released “for even a single day from Israel’s military grip or from the price of the occupation that the inhabitants pay every day.”

After the disengagement, “Israel left behind scorched earth, devastated services, and people with neither a present nor a future.  The settlements were destroyed in an ungenerous move by an unenlightened occupier, which in fact continues to control the territory and kill and harass its inhabitants by means of its formidable military might.”

Note: (So what is this reason? Prevent any unity government among Palestinian factions? Keep the world community busy with “how to reconstruct Gaza” instead of deciding on a Palestinian State?)

Slow and steady transfer policies of Palestinians in Israel: To where again?

Over the past several weeks the veil has fallen off almost completely on the firm decision of Israel to completely transfer Palestinians in the occupied territories. If you want to understand what’s really going on, here are a few things you need to read.

Stephen M. Walt published in Foreign Policy this July 12, 2012 under “What’s going on in Israel?“:

“One of the more enduring myths in the perennial debate on the Israel-Palestine conflict is the claim that:

1.  Israel has always been interested in a fair and just peace,

2. and that the only thing standing in the way of a deal is the Palestinians’ commitment to Israel’s destruction.

This notion has been endlessly recycled by Israeli diplomats and by Israel’s defenders in the United States and elsewhere.

Fair-minded analysts of the conflict have long known that this pernicious narrative was bogus. They knew that:

1.  Former Yitzhak Rabin PM (who signed the Oslo Accords) never favored creating a viable Palestinian State (indeed, he explicitly said that a future Palestinian entity would be “less than a state.”)

2. The Palestinians’ errors notwithstanding, they also understood that former Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offers at Camp David in 2000 — though more generous than his predecessors’ — still fell well short of a genuine two-State deal.

But the idea that Israel sought peace above all else but lacked a genuine “partner for peace” has remained an enduring “explanation” for Oslo’s failure.

Over the past several weeks, however, the veil has fallen off almost completely. If you want to understand what’s really going on, here are a few things you need to read.

Start with Akiva Eldar’s cover article in The National Interest, entitled “Israel’s New Politics and the Fate of Palestine.” Eldar is the chief political columnist for the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, and his article provides a succinct account for why the two-State vision is at best on life support and is unlikely to be resuscitated. Money quotation:

“The Palestinian leadership, as far back as 1988, made a strategic decision favoring the two-state solution, presented in the Algiers declaration of the Palestinian National Council. The Arab League, for its part, voted in favor of a peace initiative that would recognize the state of Israel and set the terms for a comprehensive Middle East settlement.

Meanwhile, various bodies of the international community reasserted partition of the land as their formal policy. But Israel, which signed the Oslo accords nearly two decades ago, has been moving in a different direction.”

Eldar goes on to describe in detail the demographic and political trends that have made the two-State solution an increasingly remote prospect, undermining Israeli democracy in the process and leading to a deepening policy of “separation.”

Eldar avoids the politically loaded term apartheid, but here is how he describes the current reality:

“To exercise control over the land without giving up its Jewish identity, Israel has embraced various policies of “separation”. Israel has separate legal systems for traditional Israeli territory and for the territory it occupies:

1. Israel divides those who reside in occupied lands based on ethnic identity;

2.  it has retained control over occupied lands but evaded responsibility for the people living there;

3. and it has created a conceptual distinction between its democratic principles and its actual practices in the occupied territories.

These separations have allowed Israel to manage the occupation for 45 years while maintaining its identity and international status. No other state in the twenty-first century has been able to get away with this, but it works for Israel, which has little incentive to change it.”

It works, of course, because the Israel lobby makes it virtually impossible for U.S. leaders to put any meaningful pressure on Israel to change its behavior, much of which is now antithetical to core American values. (This is another bogus argument: It is the US policies which encourage apartheid system in Israel…and denying a homeland for the Palestinians…since 1967)

To grasp what Eldar is talking about, check out former Netanyahu aide Michael Freund’s June 20 column from the Jerusalem Post, entitled “Kiss the Green Line Goodbye.” 

Unlike Eldar’s requiem for the end of the two-state vision, Freund’s column is a proud declaration that the settlement project has succeeded in making “greater Israel” a permanent reality.

Freund wrote:  “…The Green Line (the 1967 borders) is dead and buried. . . it is no longer of any relevance, politically or otherwise. You had better get used to Judea and Samaria because the Jewish people are here to stay.” This is not a wild-eyed assertion by some extremist settler, by the way, but a revealing glimpse at an increasingly mainstream view.

To see the on-the-ground consequences of these developments:

1. Check out Nir Hasson’s piece on how residents of East Jerusalem (illegally annexed by Israel following the 1967 war) face increasingly erratic water supplies.

2. And give a listen or a read to NPR reporter Lourdes Garcia-Navarro’s report on how home demolitions in East Jerusalem have increased dramatically over the past year, with about 1100 people — half of them children — displaced.

Israeli officials claim that this is merely an appropriate response to “illegal” construction, but as a recent U.N. report documents, over 90% of Palestinian applications for building permits are denied, even as Israel continues to build housing settlements for Jews in various east Jerusalem neighborhoods.

What is going on is slow-motion ethnic cleansing. Instead of driving Palestinians out by force — as was done in 1948 and 1967 — the goal is simply to make life increasingly untenable over time, so that they will gradually leave their ancestral homelands of their own accord.

Finally, make sure you read up on the recent Levy Commission report — excerpted here. (A good place to start is Matt Duss’s summary here.)

This commission, appointed by Netanyahu PM, has concluded that:

1.  Israel’s presence in the West Bank isn’t really an “occupation,” so the 4th Geneva Convention regarding protection of the local population doesn’t apply.

2. It sees no legal barrier to Israel transferring as many of its citizens as it wants into the territory,

3.  and it therefore recommends that the government retroactively authorize dozens of illegal settlements.

Never mind that no other country in the world — including the United States — agrees with this dubious legal interpretation, and neither does the United Nations or any other recognized juridical body outside Israel.

Needless to say, anyone who has visited the West Bank and seen the “matrix of control” imposed there will quickly understand that the Commission’s members were smoking something, and even a staunch defender of Israel like Jeffrey Goldberg had problems with the commission’s Alice-in-Wonderland line of argument.

A wide array of commentators (including the New York Times editorial board and former U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer) have already denounced these claims, albeit in a typically qualified fashion. The Times’ expresses the hope that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will “drive U.S. concerns home” when she visits Israel this month. As if that’s going to do any good at this point.

The veil slipped a long time ago, and now it has been torn away almost completely. But once you grasp what’s really happening here, you have to completely rethink your views about who the real friends of Israel are and who are the ones threatening its future.

Israel’s true friends may or may not be emotionally committed to it, but they are the ones who understand that the settlement enterprise has been a disaster and that only concerted and principled action by the United States, the EU, and others can avert this future train wreck.

Israel’s true friends are the ones who understand that it is Israel’s actions in Lebanon, in Gaza, in the West Bank, in Dubai, in Iran, etc. that are slowly squandering the legitimacy and support it once enjoyed, including support within the diaspora.

When Israel ends up tied with North Korea (!) in a 2012 BBC survey on which countries have the “most negative” global influence (and ahead of only Iran and Pakistan), you know there’s a problem.

Israel’s true friends are also among those who fear that Israel’s conduct and the smear tactics employed by some of its defenders have no place in American political life, and might eventually cost it the support it has long enjoyed here in the United States.

By contrast, Israel’s loudest defenders (and those in the middle who are cowed by them) are the ones whose short-sighted focus has allowed the occupation to persist and deepen over time. Their unthinking loyalty has helped squander genuine opportunities for peace, empowered extremists on both sides, and prolonged a long and bitter conflict.

The question to ask is simple: Where do they think this is headed?

And the same principle applies to American interests and U.S. policy.

Given the current “special relationship” between the U.S. and Israel, America’s standing in the region and in the world is inevitably tarnished as long as Israel persists on the course described in the articles cited above.

This situation forces U.S. leaders to adopt contorted and hypocritical positions on human rights, non-proliferation, democracy promotion, and the legitimacy of military force.

It makes U.S. leaders look impotent whenever they repeatedly term Israel’s actions “regrettable” or an “obstacle to peace” but then do nothing about them.

It forces US politicians of both parties to devote an inordinate amount of attention to one small country, to the neglect of many others.

Worst of all, U.S. policy ends up undermining the reasonable people in Israel and the Arab world — including moderate Palestinians — those who are genuinely interested in a peaceful solution and to coexistence among the people of the region.

Instead, we unwittingly aid the various extremists who gain power from the prolonged stalemate and the sowing of hatred. This bipartisan practice may not be the most dysfunctional policy in the history of U.S. foreign policy, but it’s got to be damned close.

Note: And why Israel thinks that this is an ideal period to execute its long dream of vacating the “Land of Israel” from goyim?

1. Israel is spreading this bogus assumption that all the Arab people who deposed their dictator regimes will be focusing on their internal instabilities and seeking financial resources to keep the little people satisfied…As if there are no direct interrelationship between the difficulties of the Arab people and the creation of the State of Israel…

2. That as long as Saudi Arabia has classified Iran as the main enemy and care less about the Palestinian problems, then there could be no major roadblocks into vacating the land from the goyim…As if Saudi Arabia ever cared about the Palestinian problem…

3. That for the last two years, the Obama administration has relegated Palestine to the bottom of the list of Hot Issues to tend to…

4. That even if Obama is re-elected President, he will be impotent to exercise any pressures on Israel because the Senate and Congress are in the hands of the Republicans…


adonis49

adonis49

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