Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Palestinian Statehood

Bi-Weekly Report (#21) on the Middle East and Lebanon (May 9, 2009)

The US Administration keeps flopping between the policy of a peace treaty (Israel/ Syria) first, or a Palestinian homeland in the Near East. 

So far, the US Administration has changed priority more than once in a single month and the US delegates are cruising the regions for a hint and a suggestion while carrying all kinds of tentative projects. 

The energumen Israeli foreign affairs minister, investigated for criminal activities by the Israeli police, is visiting a few European States to confirm his opposition for a Palestinian State. 

Thus, the US is pleasuring Israel by shifting its priority to (Israel/Syria) peace treaty first.

Anyone of these projects to take off there need to satisfy conditions of a few powerful regional powers.  This is no longer a State to State treaty but a regional status of dignity that no usurper is to enjoy advantages by military forces.

For Syria there are Iran and Turkey that should cooperate fully and sign their agreements. 

Iran would First pressure the US, to handle the nuclear arm policy equitably, since Israel owns one too many nuclear arms; since the sixties’, and Second, that the treaty preserves unconditionally the sovereignty of Syria in the Golan Heights.

Turkey would insists that France drops her veto to a potential attachment of Turkey to the European Union. Otherwise, why Turkey would go at such length and effort to get re-immersed in regional quagmires?  (It is Not probable that Turkey would desist from expanding its political strategy, even if promised integrated to EU)

The other condition of Turkey is that Muslim Syria is not pressured into “losing face” and thus, exacerbates the sense of humiliation and desperation that the Arab World has been subjugated to for centuries.

One policy that the US Administration has decided on and is executing with the support of the Pakistani army and government is to defeating the military power of the Taliban style ideology in northern Pakistan. 

Pakistan is the main source of instability in order to re-arrange the Greater Middle East stability

I hope that the Barack Administration has already extended its military policy in Pakistan into including the social and economic stability and viability of the Pakistani State.  Pakistan is worth heavy investment in money and time until the Taliban (Wahhabi sect) ideology prevalent in Saudi Kingdom is contained and controlled.

For the Palestinian homestate to take off there are Egypt and Saudi Kingdom to be satisfied, assuming that Syria has signed a peace treaty with Israel (Not a chance in the foreseeable future)

Egypt would First insist that its enjoys the status of the most preferred nation in Gaza, kind of practical mandate if not diplomatically; and

Second, that Israel relinquishes any kinds of controls in the Palestinian State that Egypt might be denied, and

Third, (during the Mubarak dictatorship) that Hamas is not to be the most powerful faction in the Palestinian government and Parliament: Mubarak understands that the “Muslim Brotherhood” party in Egypt has more legitimacy among the population than his regime.

Saudi Kingdom would insists that the clerics to the Mosques that it invested in building or maintaining in Palestine be hired by the Wahhabi sect and answering directly to the “fatwas” emanating from the Capital Riad.

The President of Lebanon, Michel Suleiman, has declared yesterday that after the Parliamentary election in June 7 the Dawha agreement will have been satisfied and the Taef Constitution will be applied: The winning coalition in the parliament will govern and the losers will oppose. 

The leader General Michel Aoun of the Tayyar al Horr (Change and Reform Party), and currently the dominant “Christian” representative in the parliament, has been promoting the advent of the Third Republic to replace the governing system imposed on Lebanon since 1993 during the Syrian mandate and after the withdrawal of the Syrian troops in 2005. 

The polls favor the opposition (Tayyar, Hezbollah, and Shia Amal of Nabih Berri) to gain 65 deputies out of 120. 

Michel Aoun has decided to run in the district of Jezzine (a Christian enclave) with his list of 3 candidates when all the attempts for an agreement with Berri failed. 

Berri is the Chairman of the Parliament and the leader of the Shia Amal Party that represented the Shia during the civil war but was supplanted by Hezbollah. 

Berri understands that his weight and standing in the political structure are solely based on heading the parliament and all his machinations are to securing this post that he chaired for over 20 years now.

Regardless of the winning coalition, the Taif Agreement will be re-applied in its entirety with various success and time span.

For example, a second confessional Parliament of the 19 official religious sects will be formed so that the popular Parliament will be elected devoid of sectarianism and hopefully according to a new law based on relative percentages (nisbia) and not on majority.

If the Tayyar returns with additional gains into the Parliament then the application of Taef Constitution will accelerate with modification after substantial lapse of time such as providing the President of Republic additional leverage and imposing time constraint on the government (mainly the Prime Minister) to ratifying decision as it is imposed on the President.

In case the Tayyar loses then a dangerous cycle await Lebanon with end results of sharing power not on the basis of 50/50 between the Muslim sects and the Christian sects, but on the basis of three major sects, the Shia (the most populous), the Sunni, and a combination of the Maronite and Christian Orthodox.

Lebanon is a precarious State depending on many foreign interests in the Middle East and not specifically for the sake of Lebanon.   

In any case, a stable Lebanon is connected with a stable Syria that is satisfied with Lebanon’s foreign administration of relations. The fundamental interests of Syria cannot be circumvented and supersede the USA if Lebanon is to enjoy security and stability.

All 130 countries that now recognize Palestinian statehood

Sweden announced that it will recognize the state of Palestine, becoming the first member of the European Union to do so. 

Stefan Lofven became the prime minister of a new center-left government this month and used his inaugural address to parliament to say that a “two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence. Sweden will therefore recognize the state of Palestine.”

October 4, 2014

Currently, more than 130 countries officially recognize Palestine:

Tap image to zoom

That is significantly up from about 90 that did so in 1988, when the Palestinian National Council unilaterally declared independence based upon a two-state solution:

Tap image to zoom

Sweden’s move follows the UN General Assembly’s recognition of the sovereign state of Palestine as a non-member observer state in 2012.

(The Palestinians presented 122 countries as recognizing them (pdf) when they made their bid.)

The rest of the EU has yet to recognize Palestine in the aftermath of the vote, though some European countries like Hungary and Poland have recognized the Palestinians and did so before joining the EU.

The next country to consider the issue?

The UK, which will vote on recognition of Palestine after the parliament’s summer recess ends on Oct. 13th.

Vote Yes, and sent an email to your British deputy.

No full sovereignty darling Abbass, and you knew it, and Obama also told you to bug off…

Israel’s insistence on ongoing security precautions in the West Bank does not constitute an insurmountable obstacle to Palestinian statehood and sovereignty, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told The Times of Israel.

But it was always clear, from the start of negotiations, she added, that due to Israel’s security needs a Palestinian state would not enjoy “full and complete sovereignty.”

In an interview ahead of Rosh Hashanah, Livni, who led Israel’s negotiating team in this year’s failed negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, said the collapse of the peace process was deeply disappointing, but that it was “not too late” to restart talks. (The full interview appears here.)

“Always, from the first day of the negotiations, it was clear that any agreement (on Palestinian statehood) would not include full and complete sovereignty,” the Hatnua party leader said.

“We are speaking in terms of a sovereign Palestinian state, but it’s clear that the sovereign Palestinian state must accept limitations. Certainly demilitarization. By the way, that’s also what we’re demanding now for Gaza. Limitations and arrangements that will ensure, in the long term, that no threat is created of the kind we have been witnessing.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, she went on, had accepted the need for a demilitarized Palestinian state, “though there’s an argument about what demilitarization entails… That’s why you negotiate. This all has operational expression on the ground: How is it overseen? Who’s at the border crossings? Who deploys along the border?”

Then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni with Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, September, 2008 (photo credit: AP Photo /Keystone/Alessandro della Valle)

Then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni with Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, September, 2008 (photo credit: AP Photo /Keystone/Alessandro della Valle)

Livni was clarifying Israel’s position in the wake of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declarations this summer about the imperative to maintain Israeli security oversight in the West Bank under any agreement with the PA.

“Germany also took upon itself military restrictions after World War II. To this day, there’s a British military base in Cyprus. Sinai is demilitarized in accordance with the Israel-Egypt peace agreement,” Livni said. “Therefore the idea that there is a necessary contradiction between Israel’s security and Palestinian sovereignty is incorrect. They get the state and, by virtue of their independence, they take upon themselves certain limitations. One goes with the other.”

The justice minister also revealed details of what she said was an initiative agreed upon with the Palestinians to foster a “culture of peace” on both sides — a bid to change the tone and content of media, religious leaders’ statements, education, and more — in order to create a climate that would encourage compromise. “We had an agreed text,” she said. “Had we extended the talks (last spring), I think we were going to implement (the initiative) during the extended negotiations.”

Speaking days before Abbas was set to address the UN General Assembly, with an anticipated demand that Israel be required to set a timetable for withdrawing from the West Bank, Livni criticized the PA leader for turning to the UN rather than continuing peace negotiations with Israel.

Abbas had taken the easier route of going to the UN and forgoing negotiations, she charged, “because in negotiations you have to pay a price and concede things, whereas when you go to the UN, you can get everything you want.” (Apparently, Israel feels no obligations to concede anything)

“But it won’t give you a state,” she warned. “There’s no state via the UN.” (Why? Because of the US perpetual veto?)

She also said she was sorry the US had chosen not make public the framework document it drew up “which provided answers on all the core issues” of dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.

“It was very fair. It gave expression to both sides… We wanted to advance the negotiations on that basis. Israel essentially accepted this framework,” she said, while Abbas did not. “I have grievances with him — over how the negotiations ended, over his turning to the UN, his joining up with Hamas, in the Palestinian unity government.” (All along, Israel claimed that Abbas cannot deliver because the Palestinians had no unified government. Now, it is not possible simply because they united)

Livni expressed profound concern that the anti-Israel public opinion in the Arab world was also spreading to Europe, and partially blamed the settlement enterprise.

“The problem is that what we’ve seen in the Arab world — where public opinion is anti-Israel and it is very hard for the leaderships to deal with — is also happening now in Europe,” she said. “I have discussions with world leaders. It’s very hard for them. They say, ‘We understand why you have to hit Hamas. We’re with you. But the issue of the settlements renders Israel incomprehensible and shorn of credibility when it says it wants peace.’”

“In the eyes of Europe, the European street,” she went on, “the settlement enterprise is a kind of old-style colonialism. Not self-defense, which would be acceptable.

“That mix is not good for Israel,” she stressed. “I seek to ensure that we retain the legitimacy to defend ourselves against those extremist terrorist forces. And Israel’s policy as regards what it wants in these areas (of peacemaking and settlements) is not clear. And ultimately that harms Israel’s security.”

She said that she does not share the ideology “that believes we need to stay in all of the Land of Israel.” And “to the best of my knowledge,” she added, “the prime minister does not share that ideology.”

Regarding international attitudes to Israel over this summer’s conflict with Hamas, the justice minister said, “I don’t expect the world not to judge us. It should judge us — but on the same basis as it judges itself or any democracy. Fatalities on the Palestinian side are accidental, after we have made every effort to prevent them. By contrast, the terrorists are deliberately aiming at civilians. And I expect the world to make that distinction.” (How in denial!)

Unfortunately, she went on, “as time passes since the establishment of Israel, what was taken for granted in 1948 is no longer taken for granted. We see ourselves, satellite view, as a tiny state surrounded by enemies. The world looks from the Google Earth perspective, and sees a soldier with his weapon and a Palestinian boy or girl. And that viewpoint is deepening. It is a skewed picture of the conflict. The sorrow over seeing civilians killed, a sorrow that I share, skews the judicial perspective of the reality.”

Note: Abbass did visit Obama and he turned his suggestion down for a Palestinian State. Abbass addressed the UN and demanded a timetable for a Palestinian State. It is not in Israel ideology to give Palestinians any kinds of recognition: They still insist on calling them “Arabs“.

Sunday, June 7, 2009 Election Day in Lebanon

I got up at 4 a.m. on Sunday June 7, 2009; it is Election Day for the Parliament in Lebanon.

I wrote and published the post “I have a position: I am voting today”.

As my parents were ready we drove around 8:15 to one of the three election centers in the town of Beit-Chabab. Our center was located in the previous private school that the municipality has purchased five years ago and didn’t move in yet.

This is the first time in Lebanon that election is done in one day: Parliamentary elections were performed in two successive Sundays until the last election proved that parties with heavier financial muscles could regroup, focus, and swing elections to their advantages by chastising parties that didn’t stick to the alliance terms in the previous Election Sunday.

I was shocked by the long line that did not move. The army was positioned outside the perimeter and the internal security forces within the enclosed place.

You had first to exhibit your ID to enter the only entrance/exit “door”.  You wait for a security officer to call on a range of numbers corresponding to your family civil record.   The elder people were given priority and my parents voted within half an hour.

The urn assigned to my category was very slow in processing voters. I sat and ate a loaf of “mankoush bi zaatar” that one party was distributing. I asked my parents to hitchhike home.  I waited for an hour and a half and the line never budged. I lost any hope for my turn to come in the morning.

I returned home hoping to come back after lunch for the line to get moving.  Those who arrived at 7 a.m. made it nicely. My brother-in-law, a retired military officer, voted for the first time as well as one of his eligible daughters.

I returned at 1:30 after lunch to the voting urns and had to wait another hour before I managed to vote.  There were too many voters for the reduced number of urns (kalam ektira3). Citizens complained that they lined up as if they were receiving rations “i3asha/e7ssan”.

General Michel Aoun of the Tayyar Party has warned a couple of months ago on the strong possibility of this problem and had suggested that election be resumed on two successive days.

The opposition claimed that the slow process was intentional to discourage their voters from exercising patience.  Apparently, the slow processing of voter lines is due mainly, in addition to the first reason, to the decrease in numbers of urns because of shortage in personnel.

By law, any voter within the enclosed voting area was eligible to vote after 7 p.m.  Dozens of election monitoring groups from around the world were gathered in Lebanon to take notes of the proceedings; the groups of ex-US President Jimmy Carter, the European Union, and the Arab League were present weeks before that well “observed” and critical day.

News are that over 100 thousands Lebanese immigrants flew in to participate in the election process.

Monday Morning, June 8, 2009

I got up at 4 a.m. and watched TV for any crumbs of news on the election results and removed to my study to read.  Official results will not be in before noon but I got a good idea of the trend.

Our neighborhood and the districts of Metn and Kesrouan are very calm and not because people are not up.  The government coalition parties that usually are the loudest and the most trouble makers have lost the election in these two districts.

Unofficial results indicate that the government allies received a majority of 67 deputies to 57 for the opposition.

Actually, the results were already known before midnight.  The minister of the interior Ziad Baroud had announced previously not to expect any official results before late afternoon.

My contention is that, in addition to waiting for formal arrival of evidences, the minister of the interior was asked to delay official results for 18 hours.  The purpose of that delay is first, to permit negotiations for swapping deputies from losers to winners as the implicit entente of the Doha agreement demanded, so that the main leaders represented there will re-enter Parliament and second, so that the difference between opposition and government coalition deputies would not exceed more than 5 deputies.

The opposition coalition major defeats were in the districts of Batroun, Koura, Zahle, and Ashrafieh (Beirut 1).  The government coalition lost Baabda and Zgharta districts.

The main leaders on both sides are winners; Saad Hariri, Michel Aoun, Walid Jumblatt, and Hezbollah.

Thus, any government has to be formed of the three major blocks representing the three main religious sects (Maronite, Shiaa, and Sunni) with practically even power politically in the parliament.

Basically, the Tayyar of Michel Aoun has increased the number of its deputies from 20 to over 27; the Tayyar gained the leader Suleiman Frangieh of Zgharta and lost Skaf of Zahle.

Michel Aoun strengthened his unchallenged Maronite leadership in Mount Lebanon (the district of Jubail, Kesrouan, Metn, Baabda, and Jezzine). The block of General Michel Aoun represents two third of the Maronite deputies and 50% of the Christian deputies and an overwhelming popular support in all Lebanon.

Hezbollah gained the strategic district of Baabda because it is an extension to its headquarters in south Beirut (Dahiyat).

Consequently, the resistance had secured internal political backing of all Mount Lebanon to the southern borders. Obviously, Hezbollah prevails militarily and Lebanon policy of defense cannot circumvent Hezbollah’s concerns for its internal security.

Saad Hariri emerged as the unchallenged leader of the Sunni sect in Beirut, Saida, North Lebanon, and the central Bekaa Valley.  Fouad Siniora PM got a seat in Saida.

The main losers are the President of the Republic, Michel Suleiman, because the opposition coalition badly defeated the President’s implicit list of candidates in the district of Jubail.

The Maronite Patriarch lost because he can no longer claim any political weight in Mount Lebanon since he publicly supported the parties challenging Michel Aoun.  Thus, Michel Aoun is practically the political leader of the Maronite sect according to Lebanon’s caste system.

One fact stands out in this tough election: it is my contention that the sacerdotal caste of the Christian Greek Orthodox did its best to challenge Michel Aoun as the pre-eminent representative of all the Christians in Lebanon.

The Greek Orthodox clergy played politics big time by defeating the Tayyar in Koura, Betroun, and Ashrafieh.  I am not worried about this positioning at this phase because the Greek Orthodox citizens are the staunchest Lebanese patriots against our main enemy Israel: Most of the secular and national founders of political parties were Greek Orthodox. 

Michel Aoun will have to temper his zeal and negotiate with this Christian sect as an equal.  In any event, Saad Hariri will owe the Christian Orthodox big time for the next four years otherwise he is doomed to lose the majority in next Parliamentary election.

The Christian Armenians could swing victory only in the Metn district because they failed in Ashrafieh and Zahle to make any difference facing the outnumbered Sunni voters.

Actually, the 4,000 Sunni voters in Koura reversed a sure win for the opposition to a defeat by less than one thousand votes.

The opposition lost the district of Zahle because the government had transferred the registration of over 25 thousands of Sunnis to Zahle in preparation for this election. This election was an exacerbation of Sunni confessional rallying cry as the other religious sects were distancing from confessional rhetoric.  Saudi Kingdom monarchy is deeply immersed in an ugly and dirty confessional battle.

Monday Evening

Ziad Baroud returned partial official results of 15 out of 26 districts (kada2) by noon and a full declaration by 6 p.m.

The trick that there were discussions going on for swapping deputies did not take off in Lebanon’s archaic confessional political system.  For example, I considered that at least two losing traditional deputies in Zahle would be declared winners in return for two traditional losers in the Metn District.  Lebanon election experienced high turn out averaging over 60%.

Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah delivered a speech by 8:30 p.m. He reminded the citizens of the lies of the government coalition leaders who used scare tactics claiming that the resistance would use its military power to affect election procedures and results.

In any case, if the new political power sharing is to take off then any discussion of Hezbollah military reality should be restricted to the special conference table on defense strategies.

Iran is having its Presidential election on June 12, 2009.

The candidates Ahmadinejad and Moussawi faced off in a television debate.  Moussawi suckered to the public opinion of the western nations’ demands: he is speaking as a foreign affairs minister and not a candidate to win the presidency.

The attitude of appeasing the western public opinions is considered very disgusting in Iran and not the characteristic of a vast “Empire”.

The largest, widest, and lengthiest military exercise conducted by Israel for 5 days and which started on May 31 faltered and was a failure. 

The Israeli citizens did not respond as expected and went on to their daily routine as if nothing is happening, regardless of the loud and frequent siren alarms.

Those five days were a holiday and not of any serious exigencies.  The Israelis on the Lebanese borders were the least concerned.  The message was clear and louder than the siren alarms “Governments of Israel, we want peace.  We no longer believe than security should take priority over peace treaty.  For 61 years you have driven us hard to countless pre-emptive and expansionist wars. Enough is enough.  We paid dearly for mindless and losing priorities and we want your policy to do the right thing.  We want peace, period”

President Barack Obama has to deliver something tangible in the Middle East and very soon, and not six months from now as he is planning.

Periods of sweet talking with nothing tangible in return are gone.  The Palestinian Statehood is due now!  The return of the Golan Heights to Syria is due now!  Direct negotiations with Palestinian Hamas and Lebanon Hezbollah are due now!  Stabilizing Pakistan is due now!  The return of the Shebaa Farms and the Hills of Kfar Shouba to Lebanon is due now!

A specific schedule for the return of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon to Palestine is due now!

Why my urgency to resolving decades of roadblocks in the Middle East?

Simple: the Middle East has been steadily catching on to extremist confessional attitudes as the absolution of Israel’s horrors and genocides has been the trademark of the western nations.

Lebanon is catching on quickly to isolationist confessional extremism and if Lebanon is no longer a viable experiment for democracy, then the USA and Europe will have no one to blame but themselves for laxity in executing and enforcing what is the right thing to do in this region.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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