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The US And The Palestinian/Israeli Issue

 

By Ron Forthofer 

28 August, 2014
Countercurrents.org

Many Americans may think this foreign policy issue doesn’t concern them. If they think about this issue at all, many say that it’s not our business and we should just let them fight it out. However the US has been deeply involved in this conflict since before Israel declared its existence.

A Strong and Accurate Warning

For example, in 1947 before the Partition Plan for Palestine was approved by the UN General Assembly, Loy Henderson, director of the State Department’s Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs, warned : ” The UNSCOP [U.N. Special Committee on Palestine] Majority Plan is not only unworkable; if adopted, it would guarantee that the Palestine problem would be permanent and still more complicated in the future.”

Henderson added: “The proposals contained in the UNSCOP plan … are in definite contravention to various principles laid down in the [U.N.] Charter as well as to principles on which American concepts of Government are based.

“These proposals, for instance, ignore such principles as self-determination and majority rule. They recognize the principle of a theocratic racial state and even go so far in several instances as to discriminate on grounds of religion and race against persons outside of Palestine.”

Despite the strong opposition to the Palestine Partition Plan coming from the State Department, especially from Secretary of State General George Marshall, President Truman put the US firmly behind the Plan. More than just supporting the Plan, the US pressured other countries to vote for the Plan. It is unlikely that the Plan would have passed without the US pressure.

Domestic politics likely played a role in Truman’s decision. Truman himself once said: “I’m sorry, gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism. I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.”

US Enabling of Israel

According to the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, the US has provided Israel with almost $234 billion in inflation adjusted termsfrom 1948 until the end of 2013. Most of that aid has come since 1970.

In addition, the US has vetoed 42 Security Council resolutions, usually related to Israeli violations of human rights and international law, often violations of the 1949 Geneva Conventions on the treatment of people living under occupation. In addition to these vetoes, the US has also threatened casting vetos of a number of resolutions if they were raised, thus stopping the projected resolution dead in its tracks. These vetoes allow Israel to act with impunity in its violations of international humanitarian laws. Therefore Israel sees no reason to change its behavior.

Following the Israeli attack on Egypt in 1967, the US has been the primary supplier of advanced weaponary to Israel. However, by continuing to arm Israel today, the US violates its own laws , in particular, the Arms Export Control Act (Public Law 90-829), that prohibits its weapons being used against civilians. The provision of security aid to Israel also violates terms of the US Foreign Assistance Act (Public Law 87-195) that prohibits aid to countries with a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights However, it is extremely unlikely that Congress will stop arming Israel, despite blatant Israeli violations of these US laws.

The US attack on Iraq in 2003 and the US support of Israel, partly driven by domestic political considerations, contribute to the negative views people around the world hold about the US. For example, a 2013 poll showed the US is viewed as the greatest threat to world peace.

Israeli Attacks on Gaza — US Complicity

After Israel’s brutal attack and massacre against Gaza in 2008/09, Israeli author and poet Yitzhak Laor wrote : “We’ve been here before. It’s a ritual. Every two or three years, our military mounts another bloody expedition. The enemy is always smaller, weaker; our military is always larger, technologically more sophisticated, prepared for full-scale war against a full-scale army. But Iran is too scary, and even the relatively small Hizbullah gave us a hard time. That leaves the Palestinians….”

“The extent of the cruelty, the lack of shame and the refusal of self-restraint are striking, both in anthropological terms and historically. The worldwide Jewish support for this vandal offensive makes one wonder if this isn’t the moment Zionism is taking over the Jewish people.

But the real issue is that since 1991, and even more since the Oslo agreements in 1993, Israel has played on the idea that it really is trading land for peace, while the truth is very different. Israel has not given up the territories, but cantonised and blockaded them. The new strategy is to confine the Palestinians: they do not belong in our space, they are to remain out of sight, packed into their townships and camps, or swelling our prisons. This project now has the support of most of the Israeli press and academics.”

“Israel doesn’t want a Palestinian state alongside it. It is willing to prove this with hundreds of dead and thousands of disabled, in a single ‘operation’. The message is always the same: leave or remain in subjugation, under our military dictatorship. We are a democracy. We have decided democratically that you will live like dogs.”

Demonstrating Laor’s point, there were four major Israeli attacks on Gaza since 2006. The numbers killed in these attacks reflect the fact that Israel, with one of the strongest militaries in the world, attacked an essentially defenseless Palestinian population. Approximately 400 Palestinians and 7 Israelis were killed in Israel’s 2006 attack; approximately 1400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed in Israel’s 2008/09 massacre; in the 2012 attack, about 170 Palestinians and 6 Israelis were killed; and now in 2014 over 2100 Palestinians and 64 Israeli soldiers and four civilians were killed.

In each situation, there was an Israeli provocation, a Palestinian response, and then a major Israeli attack. The article by Israeli journalist Larry Derfner provides an example of the Israeli provocation in this latest attack. Noura Erakat, a Palestine-American attorney, also has a good online article on “The Nation” website that debunks much of the Israeli propaganda about Hamas and Gaza.

These articles provide information sorely lacking in the US mainstream media. The US mainstream media, through its one-sided reporting, are complicit in the Israeli war crimes, joining with the US political leaders who provide the political coverage for these Israel crimes. A key failure of the US mainstream media is its omission of the fact that there were almost no rocket attacks after the 2012 ceasefire was established until this summer. During these 18 months, Israel did not lift its siege, and the Palestinians continued to live under unbearable conditions. Clearly the rocket fire could be stopped through negotiations instead of resorting to massacres.

Palestinians in the West Bank, already suffering under a cruel Israeli occupation, see that things can be much worse for them. Does Gaza provide a glimpse of the future for the Palestinians in the West Bank?

Hamas

Israeli supporters target Hamas in an effort to avoid addressing Israel’s horrible war crimes, particularly the killing of Palestinian civilians and children. In addition, they don’t want to have to address Israel’s inhuman siege of Gaza or the occupation of Palestinian land. This siege is particularly cruel and is causing a slow death for Palestinians. Hamas has made the easing/lifting of this siege as a key requirement to have a lasting ceasefire. If the siege is not lifted, primitive rockets are likely to continue being fired from Gaza into Israel and Israel will likely bomb Gaza again. As a result, Gaza will be made even more unlivable.

These Israeli supporters also ignore the fact that Hamas leaders have indicated a willingness to accept a two-state solution if the Palestinian people vote for it. In addition, numerous Israeli military, security and political officials have called for talking to Hamas. For example, in 2007 retired Major General Shlomo Gazita former chief of military intelligence, called the three pre-conditions for dialogue with Hamas insisted upon by Israel and its Western allies ‘ridiculous, or an excuse not to negotiate.’ He added: “Why are we not negotiating with [Syrian President] Assad? Because we know the price and we aren’t willing to pay. The same goes for the Palestinians.”

Conclusion

It is possible that if the US had really been an honest broker of peace negotiations, a just peace could have broken out decades ago. Clearly US positions supporting Israel’s violations of humanitarian laws has played a extremely negative role, helping to keep this crisis alive.

If there is to be a lasting ceasefire in Gaza, the US, the EU or the UN must pressure Israel to honor ceasefire agreements as well as human rights agreements and international law. Otherwise Gaza will quickly become totally unlivable, and Israel, with backing from the US and the EU, will have created 1.8 million Palestinians refugees who have no place to go. Israel and the US will be primarily responsible for this ethnic cleansing of Gaza. What happened to the idea of ‘never again’?

Ron Forthofer, Ph.D. is a retired professor of biostatistics and formerly a candidate for Congress and for governor of Colorado for the Green Party. I have worked for peace and social justice with the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center for over 20 years.

Palestinian Ambassador to SA: We want Israeli envoy expelled

Shoks Mnisi Mzolo – Cii News | 28 August 2014/02 Dhul Qa’dah 1435

In almost two months, Israeli Defence Force killed 2,100 Palestinians. With the ceasefire now in place, the world – and especially residents of Gaza – are relieved that Israel’s Ramadaan terror attacks, targeted a civilians, are over. Sadly, Israel will, once again, not be held to account for its atrocities. As the Ramadhan massacre come to an end, not after causing tens of thousands of families to flee and inflicting psychological scars, Israel still can’t explain why it killed scores of civilians (including 500 children). Where is the United Nations?

The genocidal atrocities, apart from the continued occupation and subjugation of Palestine, is the reason the world, has in the past few weeks, taken to the streets to denounce Tel Aviv’s terror that has left turned the open-air prison that Gaza is into a killing field where not a one place (including schools, hospitals, mosques, churches) is safe. Ordinary people across the world, including South Africa, have urged their governments to isolate the Zionist regime.

At a public meeting in Johannesburg, and addressed by Dr Mads Gilbert, to raise awareness about the plight of the people of Gaza, Pro-Palestinian locals reiterated their call to have the Israeli ambassador Arthur Lenk expelled. A day later, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa echoed President Jacob Zuma’s comments that South Africa would not send Lenk packing. Brazil and Argentina expelled Israeli diplomats weeks ago, before the death toll breached 1000.

As for South Africa, asked whether Palestine has asked Pretoria to not expel the Israeli ambassador, Palestine ambassador Abdel Hafiz Nofal that this was untrue. Far from it, the people of Palestine would appreciate Pretoria’s move to send the Tel Aviv man home, Nofal said but insisted the decision was up to South Africa, and that Ramallah would not interfere. “I believe that it is your role as the South African community… to do that, not the Palestinian embassy,” Nofal told Sabahul Khair this morning.

“Finally, my brother, after 57 days of Israeli aggression and its attack on Gaza we’ve reached the ceasefire,” said Nofal, as the IDF ceases its terrorist attacks on Gaza, in an interview with Cii. “We hope it would be long-lasting.”

Some of Palestine’s conditions for the implementation of the ceasefire, in another month, is for Israel to never repeat its assaults or terrorist attacks on Gaza and that all six crossing points between the occupying state and the besieged territory would open. This also applies to Egypt which has, since the advent of the coup state after the ousting of the democratically-elected Mohammed Morsi in 2013, closed the Rafah crossing and pretty much making it impossible for the residents of Gaza to move in and out of the blockaded region.

“The emergency aid from the international community should start from Day 1 to help our people, our brothers and sisters in Gaza. To the international community, there’s an appeal to have a meeting very soon (likely to be around) September 25 in Cairo. (It’s) a donors’ meeting to rebuild Gaza again,” the Palestinian ambassador said.

Another meeting, he explained, is meant will be set up to discuss the release of Palestinian freedom fighters, including Marwan Ibrahim Barghouti – incarcerated in 2002. Palestinian activists languishing in Israeli prisoners have routinely resorted to hunger strike but that, and pressure from the global community, achieved nothing.

“It’s time to go to the new era. The new era will be a new round of negotiations (with the mediation) of the international community,” Nofal said. The aim of the talks would be to get Tel Aviv to recognise the right of the Palestinians or “Arabs in Israel”, as Zionists refer to the oppressed population, to exist. That task will be hard given that for some in the occupying regime, no less Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the subjugated and oppressed Palestinians don’t even exist as a people. This harks back to the early days of political Zionism when so many were displaced and exiled.

The world, still shocked at the genocidal atrocities committed by Israel, directed at the subjugated Palestinians purely because of their ethnicity, is watching. The less optimistic see the entire episode as yet another charade to delay the political liberation of the Palestinian people. Shall Israel, backed by Washington, prove them right this time?

Gift of the Giver’s Gaza mission hits an Egyptian roadblock

Egypt roadblock

Cii News | 29 August 2014/03 Dhul Qa’dah 1435

“I’ve gotten so many calls from the Palestinians, I don’t even know who they are, and how they got my number but they are all saying, ‘We’re waiting, we’re waiting. We need the medical teams, we need the supplies, when are you coming?’ I don’t know who they are, and where they are calling from but they all have the same message. It’s like they are starved to see people,” says Gift of the Givers’ Chairperson, Dr Imtiaz Sooliman.

But the medical team of 10 and their leader have hit a roadblock in Egypt. After 9 on Wednesday night, Dr Sooliman received a call from the Egyptian Ambassador to South Africa telling him not to go to the Rafah border yet as their names are not there yet and that it takes 48 hours to clear.

“I asked what 48 hours, the names were given on Friday – five days ago – it’s now 96 hours. What 48 hours are you referring to? He said it has to be done through the Egyptian government directly. It isn’t sorted out.”

Last week DIRCO, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation received a letter from Egypt granting them an approval number. Under this approval a plane was given authority to land and its cargo of an ambulance, medical equipment and medical supplies was permitted to enter Rafah. Ten people were also allowed provided their names were given. And they had been. On Friday, August 22. Acknowledgement had been made by Egypt that the names had been received.

“On Monday DIRCO sent you another note saying we want feedback on the list of names that is going to be at the Rafah border. From Monday it’s already more than 48 hours. And on Tuesday morning I was at DIRCO and they called you directly in my presence to ask you if our names were going to be at the Rafah border. He avoided all this and said I should speak to the South African embassy in Cairo and let them call International Relations.”

This morning the South African embassy says Egypt says it had only received the list of names on Wednesday despite acknowledging receipt of it last week.  “Now I want to know whether they are stalling us, whether they are delaying us, whether they are obstructing us or whether they want to deny us entry,” says Sooliman.

A Malaysian delegation of 18 people who were given written permission to go through the border was stopped at Rafah. Their supplies had been given the nod but all 18 were sent back. A Kuwaiti and Omani team were also reportedly stopped with supplies. They were also told their supplies could go through but the people had to turn back. With all the governmental support, department of IR, this means nothing and isn’t respected by the Egyptian authorities.

“Is it only lip service that you are telling people that the border is open and you are delaying the people from going through. We checked inside Palestine, they said not a single item has come through that border since it has been opened. And they were speaking specifically about medical supplies. They say nothing has changed on the ground.”

Despite the setback, Sooliman says there has been slow progress. All their applications since July 25 have been acknowledged.

Added to this, their cargo plane had landed in Egypt but had to take off again because of a delay with landing permission. The private company plane had arranged its own permit and as they were crossing Egypt air space they were told landing permission had been withdrawn. After landing in Sudan, there was intervention from DIRCO and the plane was given permission to fly out.

But the driver picking up the good’s name has to be submitted to intelligence services to be cleared 10 hours in advance. This information was given to them of the plane’s second landing. Since the plane had another mission and couldn’t wait for 10 hours. It flew to Macedonia. The cargo has been cleared and is in storage.

“There is a lot of uncertainty. If they turn it all down, that creates a diplomatic incident. That is something they have got to decide what they want to do. But I think they will eventually allow it because they need to allow goods to go through that border. They may try to hold us back for a day or two but I’m not saying all is deliberate.”

Meanwhile immense medical work is required in Gaza. The Palestinians are waiting but Sooliman says this is not new to him. He has experienced similar problems before.

“It’s something we have to deal with and I have to keep telling my team this is the game we have to play but at the end of the day there is Allah SWT. If He wants it to go through no army in the world is going to stop it. And if Allah SWT doesn’t want it to go through, all the 6.2 billion people together are not going to make it go through. As the Palestinians say after every message they send out, Hasbunallahi wa ni’mal wakeel – Allah (alone) is sufficient for us (Qur’an 3:173).”


 

 

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