| Palestinian [Israeli-Arab] student explains why he heckled Obama in Jerusalem!

Arab Student Explains Why He Heckled Obama in Jerusalem ~ ROBERT MACKEY, NYT.

A 24-year-old Arab-Israeli student who interrupted President Obama’s speech in Jerusalem on Thursday explained his comments and why he made them in an interview with The Lede on Friday.

The heckler, Rabbea Eid, a political science student, said by telephone that he did not plan the outburst but was offended by Mr. Obama’s remarks, which seemed to rule out the solution that he favors: a single, binational state to be shared by Israelis and Palestinians:

I was listening to the speech of Obama and he said a lot of things that made me upset so I just stood up and shouted. He was talking about democracy and justice and at the same time he said he supports Israel as a Jewish country. So, from my perspective and that of a lot of people, Arab people, Palestinians who were in the building listening to the speech … the Arabs, the minority in Israel are also against a Jewish country because it’s not a democratic country. It’s against us, so how can Mr. Obama be democratic and in the same time support an ethnic country?


So I stood up and I told him, “President Obama, did you come to make peace or to support Israel and the Israeli occupation?” Then I asked him about this thing, “How can you be democratic and support a Jewish country?” And I asked him also, “Who killed Rachel Corrie?” The last question was, “Did you see the apartheid wall when you came from Ramallah?”


And then the security guys came and took me out, the Israeli security guys, and they told me that I’m arrested and they threatened me and they used, at first, a little bit of violence with me. But after that there was a journalist, from Fox News, I think, came out and followed me … She started taking my details and pictures, while I was stopped by the Israeli security guys … One of the security guys, I think the boss of them, told his team, “Deal with him easy. I don’t want to make a big story now. There is media so just let him go.” Then they walked me outside.

Rabbea Eid, an Arab-Israeli student, was removed by security after interrupting President Obama's speech in Jerusalem on Thursday.
Doug Mills/The New York TimesRabbea Eid, an Arab-Israeli student, was removed by security after interrupting President Obama’s speech in Jerusalem on Thursday.

Footage of Mr. Eid after he was removed from the hall by security was broadcast by Israel’s Channel 2.


Mr. Eid, an activist with the Balad Party, which represents Arab citizens of Israel, also said, “I don’t think Obama can solve the problem, because he’s as I see it, he’s part of the problem because he supports Israel and gives Israel weapons and money without saying they shouldn’t be killing the Palestinian people.”

He added:

I believe if he’s from a real democratic party, he should support a country for all its citizens and end the occupation, not to support a Jewish country and to support the Israeli army. He didn’t talk that much about the settlements. He talked about the violence from settlers but he didn’t say very clearly that something against settlements is that they are built on occupied land. He didn’t talk about the apartheid wall. And many things.


Most of his speech was to me, and to a lot of others, a Zionist speech. He talked about the historical Zionist story about the Jewish people, starting from 2,000 years ago till today and the right of the Jewish people to have their own country, but he didn’t say that there are millions of refugees, Palestinian refugees that were expelled in 1948, just before 65 years ago.


To me, I believe in one state for two people — one democratic state. There could be a special national thing for the Jewish or the Arab people, you know, but it could be one country. We need justice, you know. I actually don’t care what the name of this state is, but what I care is for there to be justice for two peoples in the state and to end this conflict.

Before hanging up, Mr. Eid said, “It is important for us that the American people know what is happening here, and to know that the money from their taxes is going for the weapons for Israel and different places.”


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| ‘Apartheid’ anger as Israel starts separate bus lines on West Bank!

‘Apartheid’ anger as Israel starts separate bus lines on West Bank ~ Sheera Frenkel, Tel AvivThe Times.

Israel was accused of “racist policies of segregation” yesterday as plans were unveiled for separate bus lines for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank.

Israel says the new bus lines, which will begin running this morning, are vital to alleviate overcrowding and address safety and security concerns.

At least one company will begin operating a Palestinian-only bus line that stops only at Arab West Bank communities and would be advertised only in Arabic through Palestinian media.Havat Gilad settlement in Israel’s West BankMany Palestinians rely on Israel’s transport system to get to work and provide for their families Times photographer, Peter Nicholls.

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| Criminal Israel: Still Committing Crimes without Punishment!

Israel Commits Crimes Without Punishment ~ Stephen Lendman.

Israel is a rogue state. It’s a serial abuser. It commits crimes without punishment. It tolerates no criticism.


Last May, it suspended contact with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). 


On April 30, Haaretz headlined “Israel joins UN list of states limiting human rights organizations,” saying:


Censure followed an earlier Ministerial Committee on Legislation approval to restrict foreign governments from funding NGOs. It should have been for crimes against humanity. Israel commits them daily.


It spurns fundamental rule of law principles. It rejects Fourth Geneva’s de jure applicability. It’s defied dozens of UN resolutions. It ignored the International Court of Justice’s 2004 condemnation of its Separation Wall.


It refused cooperation with the Goldstone Commission on Cast Lead. In 2012, it denied UN investigators entry to collect testimonies on its lawless settlements.


Since appointed UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Territories in March 2008, Israel prevented Richard Falk from entering Palestine. Rogue states operate that way. Israel is one of the worst.


January elections solidified fascist rule. Prime Minister Netanyahu is a world class thug. He heads Israel’s worst ever government. Bipartisan MKs are racist, hardline rogues. What little opposition exists is weak-kneed. 


Netanyahu exceeds the worst of Ariel Sharon and previous rogue leaders. He’s an embarrassment to democratic governance. He menaces Israelis and Palestinians alike. He threatens regional neighbors and humanity.


Official policies reflect state terror, apartheid, belligerence, violence, institutionalized racism, exploitation, occupation harshness, neoliberal rapaciousness, and war as an option of choice. 


Peace is a non-starter. Palestinians never had a legitimate partner and don’t now. Things go from bad to worse. Daily events explain. Israel terrorizes Palestinians with impunity.


Yesh Din defends Palestinian human rights. It exposes Israeli abuses. It champions long denied accountability.


On February 3, its report discussed Israeli unaccountability. It highlighted crimes without punishment. From 2009 – 2011, indictments followed 2.5% of IDF abuse investigations.


In 2012, Israel’s Military Police Criminal Investigation Division (MPCID) produced none. MPCID received 240 complaints. Seventy-eight investigations followed. Another 25 pertained to 2011 criminality.


Israel-style probes are whitewashes. Accountability virtually never follows. Palestinians are denied justice. They have no rights whatever. 


In the second half of January alone, Israeli security forces murdered six unarmed Palestinians. They did so with impunity.


Breaking the Silence (BTS) explains. Israeli combat veterans speak freely. They served since the start of the second Intifada. They refuse any longer to stay silent. 


They expose daily life in Occupied Palestine. Their testimonies bear witness to police state harshness. Daily crimes against humanity are committed with impunity.


BTS member Avner Gvaryahu spoke for others saying:


“I participated in dozens of operations, and after reading hundreds of eyewitness accounts that we have collected over the years at our organization, Breaking the Silence, the real, flexible rules of engagement have become apparent to me, allowing opening fire on unarmed civilians.” 


“More seriously, sometimes the fire is designed from the beginning to ‘create friction’ with the Palestinian population.”


“In effect, there is no distinction between a Palestinian who fires at us and a Palestinian who throws a rock at us, a stone thrower and a demonstrator or a demonstrator and someone who simply does not obey our orders or gets insolent.” 


“All of them are attempting to undermine our control and at the end of the day, everyone is an enemy.” 


“And if every Palestinian is an enemy, then every Palestinian is also a target.” 


“And there is nothing he can do to stop being a target in our view.”


“This assumption explains why over the past decade, orders have been given to open fire on civilians and rescue crews.” 


“There is no unit or area in the territories where such incidents have not occurred.”


“(T)he army systematically harms all the Palestinians and attempts to create a compliant society that can be easily controlled.” 


“When any Palestinian, without any connection to what he is doing, is the enemy who must be fought, then even a Palestinian demonstrating for equality and independence is as frightening as an armed Palestinian, if not more so.” 


“And that’s because unarmed resistance to the occupation poses a challenge to the security concept to which we have become accustomed.”


Director of Research, Lior Yavne, commented on Yesh Din’s findings, saying:


“The numerous defects in MPCID investigations of offenses against Palestinians, and in the Military Advocate General Corps’ supervision of the investigations, result in the closure of the vast majority of the files and a minimal number of indictments being served.” 


“This creates a feeling of lawlessness on the ground, which may be a central contributing factor in the rise in the number of killings over recent weeks.”


Unaccountability is official Israeli policy. Few Palestinian complaints are addressed. Probes conducted are whitewashed. Militarized occupation denies justice. Israeli rules of engagement assure it.


On January 24, Haaretz headlined “The real rules of engagement in the West Bank,” saying:


“Every soldier knows the protocol for opening fire, but the more powerful principle is that the enemy must be subdued.”


So-called enemies are Palestinians wanting to live free on their own land in their own country. Israel calls them terrorists. 


Occupied Palestine is a free-fire zone. No one’s sure from day to day who’ll live, die, be injured, arrested, or incarcerated in gulag hell.


Israeli soldiers are taught to be trigger-happy. Fire, ready, aim is policy. All Palestinians are suspects. 


Identifying “suspicious” figures involves yelling “Stop.”


Soldiers follow up in Hebrew and Arabic saying “Stop and identify yourself. Stop or I’ll shoot.” If they think Palestinians risk “human life,” they’re told to shoot to kill.


Protocol is policy. Soldiers do what they wish. It’s their word against victims and/or bystanders. Justice never prevails. The above BTS comments explain.


Israeli rules of engagement enforce occupation harshness. They reflect police state viciousness. Edward Said once described a “bloody impasse.”


Israel turned Palestine into an isolated prison. An entire population is subdued. It’s suffocating. It’s impoverished and brutalized. Victims are blamed for Israeli crimes. 


Every imaginable indignity and degradation afflicts them. A cycle of violence harms them. They’re terrorized for their faith, ethnicity and presence. Their redoubtable spirit is their only defense.


Oslo made things worse. Subsequent agreements hardened it. PA officials accepted what demanded rejection. Expect more concessions ahead.


Said deplored PA betrayal. He compared it to asking an “executioner if he wouldn’t mind sharpening his axe a little before having another go.”


Militarized occupation prevents peace, he said. It’s an “atrocity.” It’s a crime against humanity. It’s that and much more.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.  His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html


Visit his blog site at www.sjlendman.blogspot.com  and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.



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| More blood spilt in Gaza as peace bid gathers pace!

More blood spilt in Gaza as peace bid gathers pace ~ , The Nation.

GAZA CITY // At least 25 Palestinians were killed by Israeli attacks on Gaza yesterday as global efforts for a truce, led by Egypt, gathered pace.

In the sixth day of bloodshed, an Israeli missile killed a senior Islamic Jihad militant, Ramez Harb, in a strike on a Gaza City tower housing local and international media, the Israeli army and militants said.

Harb was a leader in the group’s military wing, the Al Quds Brigades, the group said. Islamic Jihad works with Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and said it believed Harb was the target for the strike.

While Israel and Hamas were far apart in demands to end the fighting that has killed more than 100 Palestinians and three Israelis, they said they were open to a diplomatic solution – and ready for escalation if it failed.

In an attack on the global response to the Israeli assault, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, said yesterday: “It is easy to condemn and denounce the assaults that are happening to the Palestinians, however the main problem is the arrogance of the occupation.”


Sheikh Abdullah said peace in the Middle East could not be achieved while that arrogance continued.

“The area cannot continue to be viewed with a double standard; one standard for Israel and another for the other countries in the area,” he said.

“What is clear to us is this status quo cannot be something that can be accepted by Arab and Muslim nations.”

Egypt was leading mediations for an end to the fighting in talks in Cairo. “I hope that by the end of the day we will receive a final signal of what can be achieved,” said an Egyptian official.

He said Israel and Hamas were looking for guarantees to ensure a long-term stop to hostilities and that Egypt’s aim was to stop the fighting and “find a direct way to lift the siege of Gaza”.

The leader of Hamas took a tough stance, rejecting Israel’s demands that the militant group stop its rocket fire and insisting that Israel meet Hamas’s demands for a lifting of the blockade of Gaza.

“We don’t accept Israeli conditions because it is the aggressor,” Khaled Mashaal said in Egypt. “We want a ceasefire along with meeting our demands.

“For this issue to be resolved it has to be solved from its roots and the best way is to end the occupation.”

An Israeli official said Israel hoped to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

“We prefer the diplomatic solution if it’s possible. If we see it’s not going to bear fruit we can escalate,” he said.

He said Israel did not want a “quick fix” that would result in renewed fighting months down the road. Instead, Israel wanted “international guarantees” that Hamas would not rearm or use Egypt’s neighbouring Sinai Peninsula for militant activity.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon is to meet Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas as part of the growing push for a Gaza war ceasefire, his spokesman said yesterday.

“The secretary general wishes to add his diplomatic weight to these efforts, which are considerable and extremely important,” the UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said in Cairo, where Mr Ban arrived yesterday. Hamas fighters have fired hundreds of rockets into Israel in the current round of fighting, including at least 75 yesterday, among them one that hit an empty school.

Twenty rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile battery, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Rockets landed in open areas of Beersheva, Ashdod and Asheklon. Schools in southern Israel have been closed since the start of the offensive on Wednesday.

At an Islamic conference in Istanbul yesterday, Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Israel a terrorist state and said he did not trust the UN because it lacked a Muslim voice. Some delegates at the conference burst into applause when he attacked Israel and accused the UN of bias. Mr Erdogan said also accused the West of ignoring the “sufferings of Muslims in Palestine, Syria and Myanmar because of lack of oil”, and said the UN was merely watching the killings in Syria. Inter-government ties between Turkey and Israel, once close military allies, have been strained since an Israeli raid killed Turks on a Gaza-bound aid ship in 2010.

On November 6, Islamist demonstrators cheered as a Turkish court began the trial of four Israeli officers accused in their absence of ordering the raid.

While Hamas is considered a terrorist group by Israel, the US and the European Union, Mr Erdogan’s government has cultivated diplomatic relations with the group.

Russia on yesterday accused the US of seeking to “filibuster” a UN security council statement on the crisis and said it could propose a full resolution on the conflict.

Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said one country on the 15-nation council indicated “quite transparently that they will not be prepared to go along with any reaction of the security council.”

Mr Churkin did not name the country but diplomats said the US was holding up a statement sought by Arab nations.

In a related development, a senior Lebanese security official said military experts has dismantled two Katyusha rockets aimed at Israel. They were found in south Lebanon.

The official said the rockets found yesterday near the village of Halta were placed about four kilometres away from the Lebanon-Israel border and were equipped with timers.

* With additional reporting by Reuters, Associated Press and Agence France-Presse


| Why Gaza must suffer again: Four guilty parties behind Israel’s attack!

Why Gaza must suffer again:

The four guilty parties behind Israel’s attackJonathan Cook.

Israeli Occupation Archive – 18 November 2012.

A short interview broadcast by CNN late last week featuring two participants – a Palestinian in Gaza and an Israeli within range of the rocket attacks – did not follow the usual script.

For once, a media outlet dropped its role as gatekeeper, there to mediate and therefore impair our understanding of what is taking place between Israel and the Palestinians, and inadvertently became a simple window on real events.

The usual aim of such “balance” interviews relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is twofold: to reassure the audience that both sides of the story are being presented fairly; and to dissipate potential outrage at the deaths of Palestinian civilians by giving equal time to the suffering of Israelis.

But the deeper function of such coverage in relation to Gaza, given the media’s assumption that Israeli bombs are simply a reaction to Hamas terror, is to redirect the audience’s anger exclusively towards Hamas. In this way, Hamas is made implicitly responsible for the suffering of both Israelis and Palestinians.

The dramatic conclusion to CNN’s interview appears, however, to have otherwise trumped normal journalistic considerations.

The pre-recorded interview via Skype opened with Mohammed Sulaiman in Gaza. From what looked like a cramped room, presumably serving as a bomb shelter, he spoke of how he was too afraid to step outside his home. Throughout the interview, we could hear the muffled sound of bombs exploding in the near-distance. Mohammed occasionally glanced nervously to his side.

The other interviewee, Nissim Nahoom, an Israeli official in Ashkelon, also spoke of his family’s terror, arguing that it was no different from that of Gazans. Except in one respect, he hastened to add: things were worse for Israelis because they had to live with the knowledge that Hamas rockets were intended to harm civilians, unlike the precision missiles and bombs Israel dropped on Gaza.

The interview returned to Mohammed. As he started to speak, the bombing grew much louder. He pressed on, saying he would not be silenced by what was taking place outside. The interviewer, Isha Sesay, interrupted – seemingly unsure of what she was hearing – to inquire about the noise.

Then, with an irony that Mohammed could not have appreciated as he spoke, he began to say he refused to be drawn into a comparison about whose suffering was worse when an enormous explosion threw him from his chair and severed the internet connection. Switching back to the studio, Sesay reassured viewers that Mohammed had not been hurt.

The bombs, however, spoke more eloquently than either Mohammed or Nissim.

If Mohammed had had more time, he might have been able to challenge Nissim’s point about Israelis’ greater fears as well as pointing to another important difference between his and his Israeli interlocutor’s respective plights.

The far greater accuracy of Israel’s weaponry in no way confers peace of mind. The fact is that a Palestinian civilian in Gaza is in far more danger of being killed or injured by one of Israel’s precision armaments than an Israeli is by one of the more primitive rockets being launched out of Gaza.

In Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s attack on Gaza in winter 2008-09, three Israelis were killed by rocket attacks, and six soldiers died in fighting. In Gaza, meanwhile, nearly 1,400 Palestinians were killed, of whom at least 1,000 were not involved in hostilities, according to the Israeli group B’Tselem. Many, if not most, of those civilians were killed by so-called precision bombs and missiles.

If Israelis like Nissim really believe they have to endure greater suffering because the Palestinians lack accurate weapons, then maybe they should start lobbying Washington to distribute its military hardware more equitably, so that the Palestinians can receive the same allocations of military aid and armaments as Israel.

Or alternatively, they could lobby their own government to allow Iran and Hizbullah to bring into Gaza more sophisticated technology than can currently be smuggled in via the tunnels.

The other difference is that, unlike Nissim and his family, most people in Gaza have nowhere else to flee. And the reason that they must live under the rain of bombs in one of the most densely populated areas on earth is because Israel – and to a lesser extent Egypt – has sealed the borders to create a prison for them.

Israel has denied Gaza a port, control of its airspace and the right of its inhabitants to move to the other Palestinian territory recognised by the Oslo accords, the West Bank. It is not, as Israel’s supporters allege, that Hamas is hiding among Palestinian civilians; rather, Israel has forced Palestinian civilians to live in a tiny strip of land that Israel turned into a war zone.

So who is chiefly to blame for the escalation that currently threatens the nearly two million inhabitants of Gaza? Though Hamas’ hands are not entirely clean, there are culprits far more responsible than the Palestinian militants.

First culprit: The state of Israel

The inciting cause of the latest confrontation between Israel and Hamas has little to do with the firing of rockets, whether by Hamas or the other Palestinian factions.

The conflict predates the rockets – and even the creation of Hamas – by decades. It is the legacy of Israel’s dispossession of Palestinians in 1948, forcing many of them from their homes in what is now Israel into the tiny Gaza Strip. That original injustice has been compounded by the occupation Israel has not only failed to end but has actually intensified in recent years with its relentless siege of the small strip of territory.

Israel has been progressively choking the life out of Gaza, destroying its economy, periodically wrecking its infrastructure, denying its inhabitants freedom of movement and leaving its population immiserated.

One only needs to look at the restrictions on Gazans’ access to their own sea. Here we are not considering their right to use their own coast to leave and enter their territory, simply their right to use their own waters to feed themselves. According to one provision of the Oslo accords, Gaza was given fishing rights up to 20 miles off its shore. Israel has slowly whittled that down to just three miles, with Israeli navy vessels firing on fishing boats even inside that paltry limit.

Palestinians in Gaza are entitled to struggle for their right to live and prosper. That struggle is a form of self-defence – not aggression – against occupation, oppression, colonialism and imperialism.

Second culprit: Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak

The Israeli prime minister and defence minister have taken a direct and personal hand, above and beyond Israel’s wider role in enforcing the occupation, in escalating the violence.

Israel and its supporters always make it their first priority when Israel launches a new war of aggression to obscure the timeline of events as a way to cloud responsibility. The media willingly regurgitates such efforts at misdirection.

In reality, Israel engineered a confrontation to provide the pretext for a “retaliatory” attack, just as it did four years earlier in Operation Cast Lead. Then Israel broke a six-month ceasefire agreed with Hamas by staging a raid into Gaza that killed six Hamas members.

This time, on 8 November, Israel achieved the same end by invading Gaza again, on this occasion following a two-week lull in tensions. A 13-year-old boy out playing football was killed by an Israeli bullet.

Tit-for-tat violence over the following days resulted in the injury of eight Israelis, including four soldiers, and the deaths of five Palestinian civilians, and the wounding of dozens more in Gaza.

On November 12, as part of efforts to calm things down, the Palestinian militant factions agreed a truce that held two days – until Israel broke it by assassinating Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari. The rockets out of Gaza that followed these various Israeli provocations have been misrepresented as the casus belli.

But if Netanyahu and Barak are responsible for creating the immediate pretext for an attack on Gaza, they are also criminally negligent for failing to pursue an opportunity to secure a much longer truce with Hamas.

We now know, thanks to Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, that in the period leading up to Jabari’s execution Egypt had been working to secure a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas. Jabari was apparently eager to agree to it.

Baskin, who was intimately involved in the talks, was a credible conduit between Israel and Hamas because he had played a key role last year in getting Jabari to sign off on a prisoner exchange that led to the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Baskin noted in the Haaretz newspaper that Jabari’s assassination “killed the possibility of achieving a truce and also the Egyptian mediators’ ability to function.”

The peace activist had already met Barak to alert him to the truce, but it seems the defence minister and Netanyahu had more pressing concerns than ending the tensions between Israel and Hamas.

What could have been more important than finding a mechanism for saving lives, on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides. Baskin offers a clue: “Those who made the decision must be judged by the voters, but to my regret they will get more votes because of this.”

It seems Israel’s general election, due in January, was uppermost in the minds of Netanyahu and Barak.

A lesson learnt by Israeli leaders over recent years, as Baskin notes, is that wars are vote-winners solely for the right wing. That should be clear to no one more than Netanyahu. He has twice before become prime minister on the back of wars waged by his more “moderate” political opponents as they faced elections.

Shimon Peres, a dove by no standard except a peculiar Israeli one, launched an attack on Lebanon, Operation Grapes of Wrath, that cost him the election in 1996. And centrists Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni again helped Netanyahu to victory by attacking Gaza in late 2008.

Israelis, it seems, prefer a leader who does not bother to wrap a velvet glove around his iron fist.

Netanyahu was already forging ahead in the polls before he minted Operation Pillar of Defence. But the electoral fortunes of Ehud Barak, sometimes described as Netanyahu’s political Siamese twin and a military mentor to Netanyahu from their commando days together, have been looking grim indeed.

Barak desperately needed a military rather than a political campaign to boost his standing and get his renegade Independence party across the electoral threshold and into the Israeli parliament. It seems Netanyahu, thinking he had little to lose himself from an operation in Gaza, may have been willing to oblige.

Third culprit: The Israeli army

Israel’s army has become addicted to two doctrines it calls the “deterrence principle” and its “qualitative military edge”. Both are fancy ways of saying that, like some mafia heavy, the Israeli army wants to be sure it alone can “whack” its enemies. Deterrence, in Israeli parlance, does not refer to a balance of fear but Israel’s exclusive right to use terror.

The amassing of rockets by Hamas, therefore, violates the Israeli army’s own sense of propriety, just as Hizbullah’s stockpiling does further north. Israel wants its neighbouring enemies to have no ability to resist its dictates.

Doubtless the army was only too ready to back Netanyahu and Barak’s electioneering if it also provided an opportunity to clean out some of Hamas’ rocket arsenal.

But there is another strategic reason why the Israeli army has been chomping at the bit to crack down on Hamas again.

Haaretz’s two chief military correspondents explained the logic of the army’s position last week, shortly after Israel killed Jabari. Theyreported: “For a long time now Israel has been pursuing a policy of containment in the Gaza Strip, limiting its response to the prolonged effort on the part of Hamas to dictate new rules of the game surrounding the fence, mainly in its attempt to prevent the entry of the IDF into the ‘perimeter,’ the strip of a few hundred meters wide to the west of the fence.”

In short, Hamas has angered Israeli commanders by refusing to sit quietly while the army treats large areas of Gaza as its playground and enters at will.

Israel has created what it terms a “buffer zone” inside the fence around Gaza, often up to a kilometre wide, that Palestinians cannot enter but the Israeli army can use as a gateway for launching its “incursions”. Remote-controlled guns mounted on Israeli watch-towers around Gaza can open fire on any Palestinian who is considered to have approached too close.

Three incidents shortly before Jabari’s extra-judicial execution illustrate the struggle for control over Gaza’s interior.

On November 4, the Israeli army shot dead a young Palestinian man inside Gaza as he was reported to have approached the fence. Palestinians say he was mentally unfit and that he could have been saved by medics had ambulances not been prevented from reaching him for several hours.

On November 8, as already noted, the Israeli army made an incursion into Gaza to attack Palestinian militants and in the process shot dead a boy playing football.

And on November 10, two days later, Palestinian fighters fired an anti-tank missile that destroyed a Jeep patrolling the perimeter fence around Gaza, wounding four soldiers.

As the Haaretz reporters note, Hamas appears to be trying to demonstrate that it has as much right to defend its side of the “border fence” as Israel does on the other side.

The army’s response to this display of native impertinence has been to inflict a savage form of collective punishment on Gaza to remind Hamas who is boss.

Fourth culprit: The White House

It is near-impossible to believe that Netanyahu decided to revive Israel’s policy of extra-judicial executions of Hamas leaders – and bystanders – without at least consulting the White House. Israel clearly also held off from beginning its escalation until after the US elections, restricting itself, as it did in Cast Lead, to the “downtime” in US politics between the elections and the presidential inauguration.

That was designed to avoid overly embarrassing the US president. A fair assumption must be that Barack Obama approved Israel’s operation in advance. Certainly he has provided unstinting backing since, despite the wildly optimistic scenarios painted by some analysts that he was likely to seek revenge on Netanyahu in his second term.

Also, it should be remembered that Israel’s belligerence towards Gaza, and the easing of domestic pressure on Israel to negotiate with Hamas or reach a ceasefire, has largely been made possible because Obama forced US taxpayers to massively subsidise Israel’s rocket interception system, Iron Dome, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Iron Dome is being used to shoot down rockets out of Gaza that might otherwise have landed in built-up areas of Israel. Israel and the White House have therefore been able to sell US munificence on the interception of rockets as a humanitarian gesture.

But the reality is that Iron Dome has swung Israel’s cost-benefit calculus sharply in favour of greater aggression because it is has increased Israel’s sense of impunity. Whatever Hamas’ ability to smuggle into Gaza more sophisticated weaponry, Israel believes it can neutralise that threat using interception systems.

Far from being a humanitarian measure, Iron Dome has simply served to ensure that Gaza will continue to suffer a far larger burden of deaths and injuries in confrontations with Israel and that such confrontations will continue to occur regularly.

Here are the four main culprits. They should be held responsible for the deaths of Palestinians and Israelis in the days and, if Israel expands its operation, weeks ahead.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books).


| Enough’s enough ~ bring on One Democratic State for all?

Peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians are at a standstill and have been for almost two years. The stated aim of those negotiations is what is known as the “two-state solution,” which means the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian state existing in peace alongside Israel.

But as hopes for an agreement diminish, Palestinians — and even some Israelis — are now talking about other solutions to the conflict. Among them, the so-called “one-state solution.”

Former Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei has been a point person in some of the most important negotiations on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We deal since Madrid with eight Israeli prime ministers,” he said, referring to the 1991 Madrid Conference to start a peace process involving Israel, the Palestinians and Arab states.

Palestinian State Not Viable?

So it caused something of a stir when Qurei wrote a piece calling for an end to the two-state solution. He wrote that it was dead in all but name, and that the time had come to explore other options.

NPR spoke with Qurei at his offices in Abu Dis, his hometown in the West Bank. He said the reality on the ground is that a viable Palestinian state is no longer possible.

“Any settlement that will not include East Jerusalem as capital of the state of Palestine, nobody will accept it,” he said. “And if you annex it, as the Israelis did now in advance, it means you cut the head of the state of Palestine.”

Israel claims all of Jerusalem; Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

So the one-state solution is being talked about increasingly in many circles.

This isn’t a new idea. It’s been around since the founding of Israel. But lately, it’s been gaining traction, at least among some Palestinian intellectuals.

In its broadest definition, the one-state solution would mean absorbing the West Bank and perhaps even the Gaza Strip and all of its Palestinian population into a greater Israel, where everyone would have equal rights.

“What, for me, the idea of one-state is about is … breaking apart the system of privilege that exists and being able to live as an equal,” says Diana Buttu, a former legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team. “That’s the kind of state that I’m looking for.”

Buttu is currently at Harvard, where she organized a conference on the one-state solution. She says equality under the law is the main aim of the one-state option.

“What we are talking about is a state which represents all of its citizens, where there isn’t preferential treatment given in laws or in policies to one’s religion,” she says, “where in fact the issue of one’s religion has practically no say in terms of what goes on in a person’s life.”

But the one-state solution is an idea that many Israelis view with dismay.

Israel was founded after the Holocaust as the homeland of the Jewish people. Absorbing millions of Palestinians would mean that eventually — because of birth rates — Israel would no longer be predominantly Jewish.

Reaction In Israel

That, Israelis say, will mean an end to the Jewish state.

But there are also those on the Israeli side who are calling for drastic action.

Yossi Beilin was the lead Israeli negotiator in the secret Oslo peace talks that produced an agreement in 1993; that deal was supposed to pave the way to an independent Palestinian state. This past week, he wrote an open letter advising that the Palestinian institutions the Oslo Accords put in place — namely the Palestinian Authority — should be dismantled.

“I think it is time to say enough is enough. The Oslo process has ended, and now what we have to do is to go toward a permanent solution, if possible,” he said on Al Jazeera. “If not, let us dissolve the institutions which were built and which perpetuate, actually, the interim agreement forever.”

Beilin says a radical step, like dismantling the Palestinian Authority, would force Israel into an agreement.

“If something like that happens, and the Palestinians are saying to … the Israelis, ‘OK, these are the keys. Take the responsibility, pay for our services’ … I think that something must move then,” he says.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is said to be considering the move, though many analysts consider it unlikely that the Palestinian Authority will be dissolved anytime soon. In fact, most observers here say the talk about alternatives to the two-state solution is just that — talk — and that nothing is going to change here in the near future.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Jerusalem Fund.

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