Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Yasser Arafat

How Israel bypassed the signed Oslo Accord as if it didn’t ever existed?

By Jonathan Cook September 13, 2018

There will be no anniversary celebrations this week to mark the signing of the Oslo Accords in Washington 25 years ago. It is a silver jubilee for which there will be no street parties, no commemorative mugs, no specially minted coins.

Oslo never died. It is still doing today exactly what it was set up to do

Diana Buttu, Palestinian lawyer and former Palestinian Authority PA adviser

Palestinians have all but ignored the landmark anniversary, while Israel’s commemoration has amounted to little more than a handful of doleful articles in the Israeli press about what went wrong.

The most significant event has been a documentary, The Oslo Diaries, aired on Israeli TV and scheduled for broadcast in the US this week. It charts the events surrounding the creation of the peace accords, signed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Washington on 13 September 1993 (And Clinton?).

The euphoria generated by the Norwegian-initiated peace process a quarter of a century ago now seems wildly misplaced to most observers. The promised, phased withdrawals by Israel from the occupied Palestinian territories got stuck at an early stage.

And the powers of the Palestinian Authority, a Palestinian government-in-waiting that came out of Oslo, never rose above managing healthcare and collecting garbage in densely populated Palestinian areas, while coordinating with Israel on security matters.

All the current efforts to draw lessons from these developments have reached the same conclusion: that Oslo was a missed opportunity for peace, that the accords were never properly implemented, and that the negotiations were killed off by Palestinian and Israeli extremists (Mostly Israel since Arafat was in total control of the Palestinian Liberation Organization).

Occupation reorganised

But analysts Middle East Eye has spoken to take a very different view.

“It is wrong to think of Oslo being derailed, or trying to identify the moment the Oslo process died,” says Diana Buttu, a Palestinian lawyer and former adviser to the Palestinian Authority. “Oslo never died. It is still doing today exactly what it was set up to do.”

Michel Warschawski, an Israeli peace activist who developed strong ties with Palestinian leaders in the Oslo years, concurred.

“I , and pretty much everyone else I knew at that time , was taken in by the hype that the occupation was about to end. But in reality, Oslo was about re-organising the occupation, not ending it. It created a new division of labour.

Palestine, Israel and the Oslo Accords: What you need to know

“Rabin didn’t care much about whether the Palestinians got some indicators of sovereignty – a flag and maybe even a seat at the United Nations.

“But Israel was determined to continue controlling the borders, the Palestinians’ resources, the Palestinian economy. Oslo changed the division of labour by sub-contracting the hard part of Israel’s security to the Palestinians themselves.”

The accords were signed in the immediate aftermath of several years of a Palestinian uprising in the occupied territories – the First Intifada – that had proved costly to Israel, both in terms of casualties and treasure.

(Actually, that was the second intifada. the first one occurred in 1935 during the British mandated period and lasted 3 years. England had to dispatch 100,000 troops to quell this mass civil disobedience. The Palestinians wanted municipal elections and England refused them this right on account that the Jews were minority, about 20%)

Under Oslo, Palestinian security forces patrolled the streets of Palestinian cities, overseen by and in close coordination with the Israeli military. The tab, meanwhile, was picked up by Europe and Washington.

In an interview with the Haaretz newspaper last week, Joel Singer, the Israeli government lawyer who helped to draft the accords, conceded as much. Rabin, he said, “thought it would enhance [Israeli] security to have the Palestinians as the ones fighting Hamas”.

That way, as Rabin once observed, the occupation would no longer be accountable to the “bleeding hearts” of the Israeli supreme court and Israel’s active human rights community.

Less than statehood

The widespread assumption that Oslo would lead to a Palestinian state was also mistaken, Buttu says.

She notes that nowhere in the accords was there mention of the occupation, a Palestinian state, or freedom for the Palestinians. And no action was specified against Israel’s illegal settlements – the chief obstacle to Palestinian statehood.

Instead, the stated goal of the Oslo process was implementation of two outstanding United Nations resolutions – 242 and 338. The first concerned the withdrawal of the Israeli army from “territories” occupied in the 1967 war, while the second urged negotiations leading to a “just and durable peace”.

“I spoke to both Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas [his successor as Palestinian president] about this,” said Buttu. “Their view was that clearer language, on Palestinian statehood and independence, would never have got past Rabin’s coalition.

“So Arafat treated resolutions 242 and 338 as code words. The Palestinian leadership referred to Oslo as a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’. Their approach was beyond naïve; it was reckless. They behaved like amateurs.”

Asad Ghanem, a politics professor at Haifa University and expert on Palestinian nationalism, said the Palestinian leadership was aware from the outset that Israel was not offering real statehood.

“In his memoirs, Ahmed Qurei [one of the key architects of Oslo on the Palestinian side] admitted his shock when he started meetings with the Israeli team,” says Ghanem.

“Uri Savir [Israel’s chief negotiator] said outright that Israel did not favour a Palestinian state, and that something less was being offered. The Israelis’ attitude was ‘Take it or leave it’.

Sympathy with settlers

All the analysts agreed that a lack of good faith on Israel’s part was starkly evident from the start, especially over the issue of the settlements.

Noticeably, rather than halt or reverse the expansion of the settlements during the supposed five-year transition period, Oslo allowed the settler population to grow at a dramatically accelerated rate.

The near-doubling of settler numbers in the West Bank and Gaza to 200,000 by the late 1990s was explained by Alan Baker, a legal adviser to Israel’s foreign ministry after 1996 and a settler himself, in an interview in 2003.

Most of the settlements were portrayed to the Israeli public as Israeli “blocs”, outside the control of the newly created PA.

With the signing of the accords, Baker said, “we are no longer an occupying power, but we are instead present in the territories with their [the Palestinians’] consent and subject to the outcome of negotiations.”

Recent interviews with settler leaders by Haaretz hint too at the ideological sympathy between Rabin’s supposedly leftist government and the settler movement.

Settlers demonstrate in November 1993 against Oslo (AFP)

Israel Harel, who then headed the Yesha Council, the settlers’ governing body, described Rabin as “very accessible”. He pointed out that Zeev Hever, another settler leader, sat with Israeli military planners as they created an “Oslo map”, carving up the West Bank into various areas of control.

Referring to settlements that most had assumed would be dismantled under the accords, Harel noted: “When [Hever] was accused [by other settlers] of cooperating, he would say he saved us from disaster. They [the Israeli army] marked areas that could have isolated settlements and made them disappear.”

Israel’s Oslo lawyer, Joel Singer, confirmed the Israeli leadership’s reluctance to address the issue of the settlements.

“We fought with the Palestinians, on Rabin and [Shimon] Peres’ orders, against a [settlement] freeze,” he told Haaretz. “It was a serious mistake to permit the settlements to continue to race ahead.”

Rabin’s refusal to act

Neve Gordon, a politics professor at Ben Gurion University in Israel’s south, says the critical test of Rabin’s will to tackle the settlements came less than a year into the Oslo process. It was then that Baruch Goldstein, a settler, killed and wounded more than 150 Palestinians at worship in the Palestinian city of Hebron.

“That gave Rabin the chance to remove the 400 extremist settlers who were embedded in the centre of Hebron,” Gordon told MEE. “But he didn’t act. He let them stay.”

Palestinians carry the bodies of dead worshippers killed by Baruch Goldstein in Hebron (AFP)

The lack of response from Israel fuelled a campaign of Hamas “revenge” suicide bombings that in turn were used by Israel to justify a refusal to withdraw from more of the occupied territories.

Warschawski says Rabin could have dismantled the settlements if he had acted quickly. “The settlers were in disarray in the early stages of Oslo, but he didn’t move against them.”

After Rabin’s assassination in late 1995, his successor Shimon Peres, also widely identified as an architect of the Oslo process, changed tactics, according to Warschawski. “Peres preferred to emphasise internal reconciliation [between Israelis], rather than reconciliation with the Palestinians. After that, the religious narrative of the extremist settlers came to dominate.”

That would lead a few months later to the electoral triumph of the right under Benjamin Netanyahu.

The demographic differential

Although Netanyahu campaigned vociferously against the Oslo Accords, they proved perfect for his kind of rejectionist politics, says Gordon.

Under cover of vague promises about Palestinian statehood, “Israel was able to bolster the settlement project,” in Gordon’s view. “The statistics show that, when there are negotiations, the demographic growth of the settler population in the West Bank increases. The settlements get rapidly bigger. And when there is an intifada, they slow down.

“So Oslo was ideal for Israel’s colonial project.”

It was not only that, under the pressure of Oslo, religious settlers ran to “grab the hilltops”, as a famous army general and later prime minister, Ariel Sharon, put it. Gordon pointed to a strategy by the government of recruiting a new type of settler during the initial Oslo years.

In the early 1990s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Sharon and others had tried to locate Russian-speaking new immigrants in large settlements like Ariel, in the central West Bank. “The problem was that many of the Russians had only one child,” says Gordon.

Israel was able to bolster the settlement project… Oslo was ideal for Israel’s colonial project

– Neve Gordon, politics professor at Ben Gurion University

So instead, Israel began moving the ultra-Orthodox into the occupied territories. These fundamentalist religious Jews, Israel’s poorest community, typically have seven or eight children. They were desperate for housing solutions, noted Gordon, and the government readily provided incentives to lure them into two new ultra-Orthodox settlements, Modiin Ilit and Beitar Illit.

“After that, Israel didn’t need to recruit lots of new settlers,” Gordon says. “It just needed to buy time with the Oslo process and the settler population would grow of its own accord.

“The ultra-Orthodox became Israel’s chief demographic weapon. In the West Bank, Jewish settlers have on average two more children than Palestinians – that demographic differential has an enormous impact over time.”

Palestinian dependency

Buttu pointed to another indicator of how Israel never intended the Oslo Accords to lead to a Palestinian state. Shortly before Oslo, from 1991 onwards, Israel introduced much more severe restrictions on movement, including an increasingly sophisticated permit system.

“Movement from Gaza to the West Bank became possible only in essential cases,” she says. “It stopped being a right.”

That process, Ghanem noted, has been entrenched over the past quarter century, and ultimately led to a complete physical and ideological separation between Gaza and the West Bank, now ruled respectively by Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah.

Gordon observed that Oslo’s economic arrangements, governed by the 1995 Paris Protocol, stripped the Palestinians of financial autonomy too.

“The Palestinians did not get their own currency, they had to use the Israeli shekel. And a customs union made the Palestinians a dependent market for Israeli goods and empowered Israel to collect import duties on behalf of the PA. Refusing to transfer that money was a stick Israel has regularly wielded against the Palestinians.”

According to the analysts, those Palestinian leaders like Arafat who were allowed by the Oslo process to return from exile in Tunisia – sometimes referred to as the “outsiders” – were completely ignorant of the situation on the ground.

On 12 September 1993, Yasser Arafat leaves Tunis for Oslo signing ceremony in Washington, DC (AFP)

Gordon, who was at that time head of Israel’s branch of Physicians for Human Rights, recalled meeting young Palestinian-Americans and Canadians in Cairo to discuss the coming health arrangements the PA would be responsible for.

“They were bright and well-educated, but they were clueless about what was happening on the ground. They had no idea what demands to make of Israel,” he says.

“Israel, on the other hand, had experts who knew the situation intimately.”

Warschawski has similar recollections. He took a senior Palestinian recently arrived from Tunis on a tour of the settlements. The official sat in his car in stunned silence for the whole journey.

“They knew the numbers but they had no idea how deeply entrenched the settlements were, how integrated they were into Israeli society,” he says. “It was then that they started to understand the logic of the settlements for the first time, and appreciate what Israel’s real intentions were.”

Lured into a trap

Warschawski noted that the only person in his circle who rejected the hype around the Oslo Accords from the very beginning was Matti Peled, a general turned peace activist who knew Rabin well.

“When we met for discussions about the Oslo Accords, Matti laughed at us. He said there would be no Oslo, there would be no process that would lead to peace.”

They couldn’t move forward towards statehood because Israel blocked their way. But equally, they couldn’t back away from the peace process either

– Asad Ghanem, politics professor at Haifa University

Ghanem says the Palestinian leadership eventually realised that they had been lured into a trap.

“They couldn’t move forward towards statehood, because Israel blocked their way,” he says. “But equally, they couldn’t back away from the peace process either. They didn’t dare dismantle the PA, and so Israel came to control Palestinian politics.

“If Abbas leaves, someone else will take over the PA and its role will continue.”

Why did the Palestinian leadership enter the Oslo process without taking greater precautions?

According to Buttu, Arafat had reasons to feel insecure about being outside Palestine, along with other PLO leaders living in exile in Tunisia, in ways that he hoped Oslo would solve.

“He wanted a foot back in Palestine,” she says. “He felt very threatened by the ‘inside’ leadership, even though they were loyal to him. The First Intifada had shown they could lead an uprising and mobilise the people without him.

“He also craved international recognition and legitimacy.”

Trench warfare

According to Gordon, Arafat believed he would eventually be able to win concessions from Israel.

“He viewed it as trench warfare. Once he was in historic Palestine, he would move forward trench by trench.”

Warschawski noted that Arafat and other Palestinian leaders had told him they believed they would have significant leverage over Israel.

“Their view was that Israel would end the occupation in exchange for normalisation with the Arab world. Arafat saw himself as the bridge that would provide the recognition Israel wanted. His attitude was that Rabin would have to kiss his hand in return for such an important achievement.

“He was wrong.”

Yasser Arafat and Yitzahk Rabin shake hands for the first time at the Oslo signing ceremony on 13 September 1993 (AFP)

Gordon pointed to the early Oslo discourse about an economic dividend, in which it was assumed that peace would open up trade for Israel with the Arab world while turning Gaza into the Singapore of the Middle East.

The “peace dividend”, however, was challenged by an equally appealing “war dividend”.

“Even before 9/11, Israel’s expertise in the realms of security and technology proved profitable. Israel realised there was lots of money to be made in fighting terror.”

In fact, Israel managed to take advantage of both the peace and war dividends.

Thanks to Oslo, Israel became normalised in the region, while paradoxically the Palestinians found themselves transformed into the foreign object

– Diana Buttu, Palestinian lawyer and former PA adviser

Buttu noted that more than 30 countries, including Morocco and Oman, developed diplomatic or economic relations with Israel as a result of the Oslo Accords. The Arab states relented on their boycott and anti-normalisation policies, and major foreign corporations no longer feared being penalised by the Arab world for trading with Israel.

“Israel’s peace treaty with Jordan [in 1994] could never have happened without Oslo,” she says.

“Instead of clear denunciations of the occupation, the Palestinians were saddled with the language of negotiations and compromises for peace.

“The Palestinians became a charity case, seeking handouts from the Arab world so that the PA could help with the maintenance of the occupation rather than leading the resistance.

“Thanks to Oslo, Israel became normalised in the region, while paradoxically the Palestinians found themselves transformed into the foreign object.”

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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Many evidences: Israel attempted and assassinated a few US ambassadors

New book gives credence to US ambassador John Gunther Dean claim

“Israel tried to assassinate me in 1980” when ambassador to Lebanon during civil war

Middle East  

 

John Gunther Dean, now 92, and a former American ambassador to five countries, has long maintained that Israel was behind his attempted assassination on August 28, 1980, in a suburb of Beirut, which was attributed to a right-wing Lebanese group (Christian militia factions).

(That was before Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 and entered its Capital Beirut, and forced the PLO to vacate Lebanon)

Dean and his wife and daughter and son-in-law were in a motorcade and narrowly escaped serious injury.

Dean said that he was targeted because he was doing something regarded as antithetical to Israel’s interest: consulting with the Palestine Liberation Organization and its head, Yasser Arafat, at a time when such contacts were the third rail in US politics. He was also outspokenly critical of Israeli attacks on Lebanon.

(Israel made it a policy to frequently pre-empt wars on Southern Lebanon and killing civilians. No less than 7 such wars. The latest was in June 2006, which lasted 33 days, and Hezbollah defeated it. Since then, Israel is wary of attempting such attacks)

A new book offers backing to Dean’s claim.

But while that book has been highly-publicized, the question of whether Israel attacked our ambassador has gotten no attention in the press. That is not a surprise; for Dean has asserted that the case itself was never thoroughly investigated by the U.S. government.

Let’s begin this story where I first heard about it, from historian Remi Brulin’s twitter thread on May 30:

“On August 28, 1980, the three-car motorcade of John Gunther Dean, the American Ambassador to Lebanon, was attacked on the motorway by several assailants armed with automatic rifles as well as light anti-tank weapons or LAWs. The ambassador and his wife escaped unscathed.

“This attack is in RAND’s ‘terrorism’ database. Entry states that ‘responsibility for attack was later claimed by the Front for the Liberation of Lebanon from Foreigners, a shadowy right-wing group.’ Various media outlets at the time reported on FLLF taking credit for the attack…

“Over the years Ambassador Dean has repeatedly argued that Israel was behind the August 1980 attempt on his life.

In an interview for the Oral History Project in September 2000, he explained how the Lebanese Intelligence services had managed to retrieve the empty canisters of two of the light anti-tank weapons (LAWs) that had been used during the attack on his motorcade and, during raiding a house by the intersection where the assault had taken place, found 8 more. Dean collected the numbers on the 10 missiles and sent them to Washington to be traced.

“Three weeks (and one angry phone call) later, the US Ambassador finally learned ‘where the light anti-tank weapons came from, where they were shipped to, on what date, who paid for them, and when they got to their destination.’

The LAWs had been manufactured in the US and ‘were sold and shipped to Israel in 1974.’

In this interview, Dean further states that he “did find out a great deal about this incident’ over the following years, and calls this assassination attempt ‘one of the more unsavory episodes in our Middle Eastern history’ and ends by noting that ‘our Ambassador to Israel, Sam Lewis, took up this matter with the Israeli authorities.’

“Dean concludes: ‘I know as surely as I know anything that Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, was somehow involved in the attack. Undoubtedly using a proxy, our ally Israel had tried to kill me.’ [Haaretz covered Dean’s claim, made in his 2009 autobiography; so did The Nation]

“All of this has been known for years, although it is very rarely discussed in the US media. When discussed, Dean’s assertions/accusations are dismissed as conspiracy theories.

“In January however, a book was published that appears to reinforce the plausibility of Dean’s position.

The book is Ronen Bergman’s Rise and Kill First. It has received rave reviews in the US press, and its author has been interviewed countless times since the book was published. The book focuses on Israeli ‘targeted assassinations’ and it contains one truly remarkable revelation.

“In 1979, (Rafael] Eitan and Meir Dagan) both brass in the Israel Defense Forces] created the Front for the Liberation of Lebanon from Foreigners, and ran that fictitious group from 1979 to 1983. In 1981 and 1982, Ariel Sharon used that Front to conduct a series of indiscriminate car bombings that killed hundreds of civilians.

“The objective of this massive ‘terrorist’ car bombing campaign was to ‘sow chaos’ amongst the Palestinian & Lebanese civilian population” and, in 1981-82, to provoke the PLO into resorting to ‘terrorism,’ thus providing Israel with an excuse to invade Lebanon.

“The FLLF operation is described in great details in Bergman’s book. His account is based solely on first hand accounts from Israeli officials involved in the operation or who were aware of it at the time.

It is also described in detail in my article here [in Mondoweiss in May: The remarkable disappearing act of Israel’s car-bombing campaign in Lebanon or: What we (do not) talk about when we talk about ‘terrorism’].

“As I show in this article, not a SINGLE review of Bergman’s book in the US media has mentioned the FLLF operation. Nor has it been mentioned in a SINGLE of the countless interviews he has given on the topic over the last few months.

The US media has thus been fully silent about the fact that Israeli officials directed a major & fully indiscriminate car bombing campaign that killed 100s of civilians in Lebanon. This silence also means that the US media has failed to notice the possible implications of this revelation about the Dean case.

“Bergman himself does not mention the assassination attempt against Dean. But we know that the FLLF took credit for this attack at the time. That Dean’s own investigation pointed to Israel & to its Lebanese proxies. And we now know that the FLLF was CREATED and RUN by Israel.

“None of this is absolutely conclusive. Nonetheless, this topic might warrant investigation from US journalists (who might also want to write about the FLLF car bombing campaign, ie about Israeli officials resorting to ‘terrorism.’”

Brulin subsequently added this important comment:

Bergman does note on several occasions in his book that he is not allowed to write and talk about a lot of the operations that his sources talked to him about. I wonder if this FLLF operation vs Dean is one of those.

Let us add some details and context.

Dean was born to a Jewish family in Germany in 1926 and escaped the Holocaust to the United States in 1938, later graduating from a Kansas City high school.

It goes without saying that being ambassador to five countries, Cambodia, Denmark, Lebanon, Thailand and India, is a stellar career in foreign service.

I reached out to Dean and did not hear from him, but in his oral history, the ambassador says that the attack was a “horrible experience” that scarred his daughter.

The road at that stretch was wide and a Mercedes car was parked below a small hill overlooking the road. As we turned, our convoy took 21 rifle bullets and two grenades anti-tank fired against the car I was in.

My wife threw herself on top of me and said: “Get your head down” because I was trying to look out and was stunned by the “fireworks”. When you have these light anti-tank weapons (LAWs) explode, there are a lot of sparks and explosions.

two LAWs fired at my car bounced off the rear of the car. I also noticed that on the window of my armored car there were some shots all very well centered where I was sitting, but they had not penetrated because the plastic windows were bullet-proof.

In his autobiography Danger Zones,Dean says he urged the State Department to investigate, but: “No matter how hard I tried, I could not get a straight answer from the State Department about what the U.S. had discovered in its investigations… I was simply told to resume my duties as ambassador. That was not so easy when I learned what the Lebanese intelligence agency found out [using the numbers on the weapons].”

Dean says he was clearly understood to be an enemy of Israel because on repeated occasions he had publicly condemned Israel’s attacks on Lebanon’s borders and air space, a stance the State Department usually did not take.

Scurrilous attacks on me in the Israeli Knesset and the Israeli press just prior to the assassination attempt indicate that the Israeli authorities were unhappy with the activist role I played in Lebanon, defending Lebanese sovereignty and maintaining an active relationship with the PLO–the very policies I was given to pursue by the president of the United States.

The venomous talk in the Israeli Knesset by the right-wing parties portrayed me as a tool of the Palestinians. Because I was willing, even eager, to talk with all the factions in Lebanon’s civil war, I was suspected of being anti-Israel.

Dean said he had a “close working relationship” with the PLO– including calling on Yasser Arafat to help broker the release of 13 of 66 American hostages held by Iranians in Tehran in November 1979, those 13 being the women and African-Americans. “On a number of occasions the PLO helped me to get Americans released… American authorities considered the PLO a valid interlocutor for discussing ways of finding a nonmilitary solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

At that time, the PLO was verboten in official policy circles.

Andrew Young was forced to resign as Jimmy Carter’s ambassador to the U.N. in 1979 after the Israelis leaked the fact that he had met with a representative of the PLO.

In 1977, Ted Koppel and Marvin Kalb wrote a thriller that turned on a US official having a super-secret meeting with a fictitious Palestinian group, and it leaking and the official being charged with betraying Israel.

In 1976, the dissident Jewish peace group Breira came apart after Wolf Blitzer, who was at the time also working for the Israel lobby group AIPAC, reported in the Jerusalem Post that Breira members had met with PLO officials.

Dean had a reputation for being free-thinking in Washington circles.

In 1988, when Dean was ambassador to India, Pakistani President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq died in Pakistan when his plane was sabotaged. Dean maintained that Israel was behind the assassination because it did not want Pakistan to obtain nuclear weapons, which it was then developing.

Dean speculation was based in part on the fact that pro-Israel congressmen (Stephen Solarz and Tom Lantos) had visited him in New Delhi and pressed him to support Israel’s ally India over Pakistan and to seek to thwart Pakistan’s path toward nukes.

“The more I pushed for answers, the more officials from the Reagan administration pushed back,” he wrote. Within a year, Dean, 63, retired amid official questions about his sanity under “strain.”

The department’s first thought was to send me to an asylum.” Instead he was sent to Switzerland for “recuperation,” he writes in his autobiography. “This was the kind of technique that the Stalinist regime used to silence its critics in the Soviet Union.”

Ronen Bergman’s new book on the Israeli assassination and terrorism campaign contains no reference to the John Gunther Dean attack. I asked him via a twitter message why he had left it out, noting that his revelation about Israeli security officials establishing the Front for the Liberation of Lebanon from Foreigners gives credence to Dean’s claim. He did not respond.

The Israeli investigative reporter is now working for the New York Times, and lately reported in the Times on the killing of a Syrian rocket scientist in a car bomb attack in northwestern Syria on the night of August 4, evidently by Israel.

P.S. The US government has had a miserable record of investigating known Israeli attacks on Americanson the USS Liberty in 1967 and Rachel Corrie in 2003.

Maintaining an autonomous foreign policy comes with the steepest of prices: Case of Syria in last 4 decades

Syria during the reign of late Hafiz Assad undertook a consistent strategy to master the autonomy in its foreign policies, against all odds.

Before Hafez Assad military coup in 1972, Syria witnessed a succession of coups.

The people in Damascus knew that a coup is being prepared when the Saudis left the country: The monarchy in Saudi Arabia was the financial deep pocket for every military coup.

It is documented that the first monarch Ibn Saud wrote in his testament to his descendants:

1. Egypt is the head of the Arab World. Decapitate Egypt.

2. Syria is the heart of the Arab World: Plunge a dagger in this heart

3. Syria must never link with Iraq.

Obey these orders and the monarchy will survive and strive. (Yemen was still under British dominion)

Hafez was able to sustain this strategy after the death of the Arab Leader Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1970,  whom no Arabic leader could circumvent without terrible repercussions to his regime.

In order for an autonomous Syria to bear fruit, it was necessary and indispensable to focus on the moot flank which was Lebanon: Lebanon was the main hub for all kinds of undercover foreign machinations to destabilize the Middle-East.

After the death of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Lebanon was wide open to the preparation of all kinds of foreign plans to wreck havoc in the Orient.

By 1972, the Palestinian Organization Fateh of Yasser Arafat was the powerbroker in Lebanese politics and matched the Lebanese army military might. Fateh was ousted from Jordan and they settled in the Arkoub region in south Lebanon before they moved their headquarters to Beirut.

Arafat feared Hafez most and he did his best to find a balance between satisfying Hafez dictate and keep the flow of financial and political supports from Saudi Arabia, Iraq of Saddam and Egypt.

All the political manoeuvring of Hafez to firmly bring Arafat under his wing failed. Hafez then created a parallel military Palestinian wing (The thunderstorm) under the umbrella of Fateh (Al Sa3ikat) and used this branch to squeeze Arafat for political concessions.

It is related that most of the Palestinian heavy weapons were stashed in Sa3ikat warehouses, and that is why Arafat could not kill the emerging civil war in Lebanon swiftly and in its bud.

Direct interference in Lebanon was becoming an urgent matter and the USA provided the Green Light to Hafez to control Lebanon for over 3 decades.

The funny part is that Hafez never asked any financial aid or support from the successive US governments in order to maintain his autonomy.

In order to safeguard Syria from foreign interventions, particularly military wars that he is not prepared for, Hafez obliged the Turkish government to hand over the Kurdish/Turkish resistance leader Abdullah Ocalan. He managed not to let the US get involve in Syria internal affairs and negotiate better term for the distribution of the Euphrates River.

The successor of Hafiz, his son Bashar opted to try an alternative policy of openness to the western nations since 2001. The globalization process was very tempting to allow many close relatives to the family of Assad to monopolize many State institutions and trafficking.

Soon the Syrian regime was under heavy pressures from the USA and France to support their foreign policies.

During Hafiz, Syria played skilfully the political navigation of regional game of influences between the rising Khomeini Iranian Islamic State and the neighboring Arabic States.

Thus, Hafiz allowed that Hezbollah remains the main resistance force in Lebanon against the Israeli occupier while sustaining the standing political power of Nabih Berry (current Parliament chief), leader of the Shi3a AMAL militia.

When the western powers, backed by Turkey, decided to destabilize Syria, Iran was already firmly implanted in Syria and Lebanon and had managed to organize and finance a powerful resistance movement in south Lebanon and in the Bekaa valley.

It is thanks to Iran and Hezbollah, backed by Russia and China, that the regime in Syria was able to withstand the onslaught of the civil war for the 5th year.

The irony is Israel failed to take advantage politically in this period.

Instead of opening political negotiations, Israel kept opting for pre-emptive wars in Lebanon and Gaza and failed miserably, while the resistance forces increased its firepower and political standing.

A Palestine State? Lost in 1993 as Israel was convinced that all was swallowed up and done with

Robert Martin posted on FB:

By 1993 the Israel government knew for certain a Palestine State could not be established in the West Bank.

The settlements were there, billions were invested. The entire Jordan river valley was settled with villages, there were major cities (exclusively for Jews) already built in the West Bank, the entire Jerusalem was taken over by Israel.

There was no place any more for a Palestinian state to be established, and that is when Israel said OK, we will begin negotiations.

(Israel was under heavy pressure to negotiate a kind of a “peace” with the Arab world after the “Liberation of Kuwait” from the troops of Saddam Hussein. A peace conference was decided to resume, and Israel wanted to deal with the Palestinians alone as the weaker party)

They allowed Arafat to come; misleading him into thinking that they were really intending to make peace and basically forced him to sign an agreement that would complete his surrender..

Yasser Arafat was willing to give up almost 80% of his homeland and the right for the Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland and be compensated, all for the sake of peace, what he wouldn’t go beyond was 20% , he wouldn’t give up Gaza and the West Bank, that he couldn’t do.

They wanted him to sign a surrender agreement and he wouldn’t.

Its not the Palestinians that are not willing to make concessions, its Israel that is incapable of making concessions , because concessions on the land are impossible from a Zionist perspective, the whole name of the game is taking the land and making it ours and this exactly the process that took place.

From Miko Peled “The Generals SonHumanity for Palestine Robert Martin Fighting for humanity Australians for Palestine Advocacy Group ‪#‎FreePalestine

Note: Arafat was NO fool by any stretch of the imagination and he knew how to hold on power and be connected with all Arab leaders.

By 1993, Arafat was vegetating in Tunisia. The Palestinian resistance fighters were kicked out of Lebanon in 1982 (by Sharon when he entered Beirut),  and from Jordan in 1969 (by King Hussein), and Arafat had no cards left to put any pressure on anyone.

By 1993, Arafat had lost any hope that he could rely on any Arab State to practically and strongly back the Palestinian cause.

By 1993, Arafat was cornered and ha little choice but to grab on the bait that Israel PM Rabin was dangling to him.

Arafat was no fool and he knew that Israel was no fool in asking to negotiate a “peaceful settlement” with the PLO.

For Arafat, if external actions were almost impossible to carry out, at least he could change his tactics by getting active from the inside, on any piece of land within Palestine.

Israel PM Sharon didn’t even want to negotiate with Arafat as Rabin had decided.

Sharon ignited the Second Palestinian Intifada in 2001 that Arafat didn’t want by invading the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Sharon reacted savagely to the Oslo agreement, and publicly claimed that Rabin should be assassinated, and his wishes were satisfied as a body guard of Rabin did the job (the first political assassination in Israel) and Sharon snatched the power in Israel.

Sharon placed Arafat in de-facto house arrest in Ramallah and then assassinated him in 2005.

Sharon withdrew the Israeli settlement from Gaza, claiming that Gaza was never part of Biblical Israel, but part of Egypt.

Sharon build the Wall of Shame separating Israel from the West Bank.

Arafat took a calculated gamble, but circumstances turned not in his favor:

1. Bush Jr. was voted in as president by a ludicrous margin and

2. Sharon was steadfast in cancelling out any previous agreement with Arafat.

3. And the Arab States were cowed after the US invaded Iraq in 2003.

4. Sharon wanted to tear Iraq apart because Iraq was the main powerhouse in the Levant, in population, wealth, education… and not on the border with Israel to invade at Israel pleasure. And the US was fooled to believe that controlling oil production and distribution cannot be done without land military presence in Iraq.

Biographies of a few existential nemesis to Palestinian people: Late Ben Gurion, Golda Meir and Arial Sharon (Part 1)

The Palestinian people were aware of the danger of Zionist settlement in Palestine since 1920, but they were railroaded with the peace rhetoric of the Zionist leaders, and waited for the next calamity to befall them.

In 1931, the Palestinian undertook a civil disobedience campaign against the British mandated power for denying them democratic elections, even in their towns and cities. This first Intifada lasted 3 years and England had to dispatch 100,000 troops to quell this mass uprising.

Nazi Germany learned and documented the horror torture techniques and methods adopted in Palestine by the British forces.

1. Golda Mabovitch Meyerson Meir was 5 when the Kiev pogrom broke out in 1902. Her elder sister Sheyna was already a Zionist and instilled this idea of the Promised Land (Palestine) in Golda.

At the age of 8, the family immigrated to the USA and settled in Milwaukee simply because the father Moshe got a job as carpenter in that city. Bluma is the mother.

She married Morris Meyerson who found work as calligraphist for shop signs and banners: He had hobbies in classical music, theater and literature.

In 1921, Golda dragged Morris with her to Palestine and started their adventure in the kibbutz Merhavia.  Why Golda re-immigrated to Palestine? She claimed that the Jewish philosopher during Jesus period had said:

“If I don’t agree with myself, who will do it?

If I only agree with myself, who am I?

If not now, then when?”

Golda moved to Jerusalem and had a son and a daughter before she joined the Histadrout located in Tel Aviv. Morris was forced to relocate again, against his wishes and the children were taken care of by nannies and Golda’s parents.

In Jerusalem, Golda used to purchase her goods from Palestinian shops and paid in coupons (Histadrout coupons?).

Once, a Palestinian fruit seller declined the coupons on the ground that it is becoming a huge pain to substitute them to real money, and that he had to pay commission to change them. Golda behaved as westerners usually do by leaving the coupons and moving on with the goods. The seller was unphased and chased her down the street and had the Palestinians and the British police block her advance.

The Jews in Palestine had a steady supporter of their “cause” by Major Orde Wingate, in charge of training only 500 Jews to be sent on missions of blowing bridges, setting explosives and disabling communication lines of the advancing German troops in Libya and Egypt.

Actually, Wingate trained far more than 500 soldiers, interpreting the order of training in batches of 500 since the British soldiers will be unable to recognize the particular Jews in training.

The Palestinian people were forbidden to be trained for fighting or of carrying arms.

In 1946, the British in Cyprus set up refugee camps for the Jews arriving from Europe. Golda was dispatched by Ben Gurion to strike a deal with Sir Stuart Ross. And Golda was able to repatriate all the kids less than one year old with their families, on the ground that the babies would die during the winter.

In Nov. 29, 1047, the UN voted to establishing two States for the Palestinians and the Jews.

Unfortunately, the declaration gave the minority Jews (less than 40%) over 56% of the land.

And the Palestinians refused this unfair deal and started a campaign of harassment.

The deal also promised the evacuation of the British troops within 6 months and the two sides prepared for armed uprising.

Ben Gurion needed $25 million to war preparation and Golda demanded a vote on who should go to the US in order to amass such a sum of money from the Jews. The members in the meeting voted for Golda instead of Ben Gurion. Her campaign in most US cities generated over $50 million, a sum that shifted the balance in weapons quality.

Golda was appointed Labor minister for a decade and then Ben Gurion appointed her minister of Foreign Affairs as Moshe Sharret decided to leave his ministry in order to lead the Labor Party. Ben Gurion asked Golda to change her name to the Hebew “Meir” (the illuminated) for her new assignment.

Prime minister Eshkol asked her to lead the Labor Party in 1967. When Eshkol suddenly died in 1969, the Knesset elected Golda as prime Minister.

During the 1973 war, Golda called her ambassador Simha Dinitz in Washington DC and ordered him to demand an immediate aerial bridge for all kinds of weapons which allowed Israel to re-occupy the Syrian Golan Heights and the Sinai.

Golda was re-elected for another term of 4 years, but her cancer forced her to resign and died at the age of 78.

2. Ariel Scheinermann Sharon “Arik” (The Lion)

Born in 1928 from parents (Samuel and Vera) who immigrated from Eastern Europe  and settled in a kibbutz in the Galilee valley called Sharon.

Vera had the ambition of becoming a physician but worked the land and the farm instead.  She lived to be 98 and died in 1988. Every evening at 6 pm, Ariel would call her and she never forgot to remind her son “Never trust the word of the Arab”, meaning the Palestinian. That was the advice that the Palestinians should have known “Never trust the word of the Jews in Palestine

Sharon joined the Haganah at the age of 14 and he became famous in Israel by the age of 25 following his savage campaigns against the Palestinians civilians and frequent massacres on villages.

He was nominated commander of the 890th battalion in 1953 and his violent and unstable character denied him any chance to become Army chief. He settled on political positions such as Minister of Defense during Lebanon invasion of 1982 and then Prime Minister in 2001.

He ordered the evacuation of the few Jewish settlements in Gaza in 2005.

Sharon married Margalit (Gali) who died in 1962 from a car accident.He also lost his son Gour in 1967 at the age of 11. He has two sons from Lily: Omri and Gilad.

He married her sister Lily who died of cancer in 2000 at the age of 63.

It was Lily who incited Sharon to purchase the ranch The Sycamores (400 hectares) in 1973 by the Negev.

Yasser Arafat sent Sharon a telegram of condolence knowing how much Lily meant to Ariel. In response, when Arafat died from poison in Nov. 2004, Sharon watched the burial ceremony on TV and commented to his son Gilad “A normal people would not waste an entire day participating in the mourning of this Dog

Mind you that Ariel Sharon is a Rabid Dog and war criminal who planned and executed the massacres in the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Chatila in 1982. There were no Palestinian fighters since they were evacuated by sea from Beirut a couple of moths previously. Over 3,000 civilians, mostly babies, women and elderly were slaughtered for three nights and two days.

Ariel Sharon had said: “I dedicated my life to extend the existence of Israel for another 30 years. Neither me, my sons or my grandsons will ever witness peace

Sharon died on Jan.4, 2014 after remaining in coma since 2005. For a stature of 1.70 m, Sharon weighted 147 kilos when he was wracked by a second hemorrhagic brain attack.

3. The worst nemesis to the Palestinian people was David Ben Gurion. He lead the Labor Party and instituted the Haganah and planned for a decade the genocide on selected Palestinian villages and towns: The plans were executed after he declared the independence of Israel in 1948.  The purpose was to frighten the Palestinians to vacate their towns and occupy strategic locations during the two wars for “Independence”

In May 1939, four months before WWII, England “White Paper” was read in the presence of David Ben Gurion during a meeting in the Histadrout. It stated:

1. It is not in England current policy to establish a Jewish State in Palestine.

2. As of today, the Jews will only retain 5% of the land in Palestine.

3. Immigration of Jews will be restricted to 15,000 a year for the coming 5 years.

4. Afterwards, no Jews will be permitted to immigrate without the prior agreement with the “Arabic” authorities.

Ben Gurion said in the meeting: “We will fight the White Paper as if Hitler didn’t exist. And we will fight Hitler as if the White Paper didn’t exist

Consequently, the Haganah (the armed faction of the Zionists) was to resume the immigration under the nose of the British navy.

Ben Gurion remained Prime Minister until he got too old to govern.

In hindsight: “What could have happened if Beshir Gemayel was not assassinated in 1982?”

Beshir Gemayel was assassinated on Sept. 14, 1982 along with scores of other people who came to the meeting in Achrafieh.  Beshir was elected President of Lebanon under the bayonets of the Israeli army that occupied the Capital Beirut. He was to officially take on his duties the next day as President.

On April 13, 1975, the civil war started in Lebanon and lasted 18 years: It was a Palm Sunday. This year Palm Sunday was on April 13, and even the people in the second largest city of Tripoli celebrated in the streets, after 20 street battles last year.

This coincidence got me into thinking:

“what could have happened if Beshir Gemayel was not assassinated in September 14, 1982, a single day before the official ceremony inducting him as President of the Republic of Lebanon?”

What if he governed for at least a year before being assassinated?

Probably:

1. Israel would not have entered West Beirut and sacked the city and stole all kinds of documents and artifacts…

2. The genocide in the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Chatila might Not have taken place

3. Israel would have retreated to the 40 km “buffer zone” in the south, far quicker than it did, after the fighters of the Palestinian Resistance Movement (PLO) were evacuated from Lebanon.

4. The massacres in the Chouf province between the Christians and the Druze would not have happened (Samir Geaja and his militias The Lebanese Forces entered the Chouf at the instigation of Israel)

4. The massacres in East Saida between the Christians and the Sunnis would have been spared (Samir Geaja militias entered the Saida province at the instigation of Israel)

5. The thousands of new Christian refugees to the Christian canton would not have fled their towns and villages, at least not in such a hurry

6. The division of Lebanon into sectarian cantons would have been slower in the formation

7. The regular army would have assisted the UN forces in the south and the militias associated with Israel would have been disbanded.

8. A “peace treaty” with Israel would have been ratified with better terms than what was written during Amine Gemayel tenure, and which failed to be ratified any way.

9. The Syrian troops would have stayed in the Bekaa Valley and refrained from approaching Beirut.

10. The sieges and massacres perpetrated against the Palestinian camps by the Amal militias of Nabih Berry (instigated by Syria) would have been delayed, at least.

11. The civil war would have taken another turn and saved Lebanon further deeper chasm among the sectarian forces

12. The Druze militias of Walid Jumblat would not have invested Mazra3a in Beirut with their tanks

13. Amine Gemayel would not have been elected president and the Lebanese currency would not have devalued quickly to 1,500 times less

14. The second largest city of Tripoli would not have turned extremist Islamist, and the secular parties of the Communists and Syrian National Social would have retained stronger presence in that city

15. Yasser Arafat might not have returned to Tripoli and re-armed the Palestinian camps and cause thousands to be killed during two months of siege.

16. And most likely, Samir Geaja would not have ended up leader of the Lebanese Forces militia and left trails of calamities for the Christian population everywhere he got engaged militarily

In hindsight, which governments or political organizations were behind the planning of the assassination of Bashir Gemayel? Israel, Syria, the Palestinian Resistance, any of the Lebanese resistance factions…

Mind you that Islamic Iran was engaged in a protracted war with Iraq of Saddam Hussein that lasted 9 long years of savage fighting.  The cease fire for that war was decided by Ayatolla Khomeini as he learned that he had a few months to live: He decided to extend a survival breathing space for his Islamic regime that was on the verge of collapse.

Question: Would Hezbollah be created?

Yes.

1. Hezbollah would have been instituted simply because the question of Palestine opens the door wide to Islamist Iran to tamper with our internal affairs. The peace treaty would have been an excellent excuse to rally the Shiaa around Iran positions.

2. The frequent tampering of Israel in South Lebanon would have inevitably alienated the Shiaa against the Israeli occupiers.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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