A group of right-wing Israeli legislators submitted a letter to the Israeli Prime Minister on Monday stating that in response to the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral bid for statehood at the United Nations, Israel must retaliate by fully annexing all West Bank settlements as part of the state of Israel. The call comes just as the Israeli Jerusalem municipality prepares to approve 1,100 new settlement units on Palestinian land in the settlement of Gilo, near Bethlehem.
The plan to move ahead with new settlement construction in Gilo received preliminary approval by the Israeli Jerusalem municipality, and was submitted to the Jewish National Fund, which owns 90% of the land in Israel, for a 60-day public comment period, after which it is expected to receive final approval, and new construction will begin.
In the midst of protests over high housing prices in Israel, Israeli authorities have sought to construct new units in illegal West Bank settlements and encourage young people to move there — in violation of international law and past signed agreements.
Indeed, Interior Minister Eli Yishai issued a directive that 20% of the new units constructed in Israeli settlements should be set aside for young couples.
The right-wing Israeli legislators who submitted a letter to the Prime Minister on Monday made a far-reaching recommendation that the Israeli government officially annex over half of the West Bank, which was occupied by Israeli forces in 1967 but remains Palestinian Territory. This annexation would leave Palestinians with just 13% of their original land, split into discontiguous islands, or reservations, much like the Native American reservations where people were forced to live after European colonizers took over their land.
In their letter, the legislators wrote, “The international damage that Israel could suffer in the wake of the UN vote is significantly smaller than that it would suffer if it doesn’t follow up on the principle you set a decade ago – ‘If they give, they’ll get; if they don’t give, they get nothing.” This last part was a reference to the Palestinian Authority and the Camp David Accords of 2000, during which the Israeli negotiators attempted to force the Palestinians to give up their internationally-recognized rights, including the right to freedom of movement, the right of return for refugees, and the right to live in a defensible state with clearly-defined borders.
The Israeli legislators, mainly from the right-wing Kadima party, called on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to also cut off the aid money to Palestinians, which comes from international donors, but has to pass through Israeli hands for taxation, to accelerate the construction of new settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, to prevent all Palestinian construction in the West Bank, and to cancel the ‘VIP’ cards of Palestinian officials which allows them easier access through the over 500 internal checkpoints run by the Israeli army in every part of the West Bank.
Mainstream media published hundreds of articles on the Palestinian Authority’s UN statehood bid from the point coverage began in earnest in the summer to the day of Abbas’ historic speech in the UN. Despite the dozens of headlines that pronounced the planned actions and opinions of “Palestinians,” few articles mentioned that Mahmoud Abbas is not a popularly elected leader, nor that elections have been indefinitely postponed. It’s ironic that such headlines almost always centered around the desires, opinions and agency of only one Palestinian—Mahmoud Abbas.
The New York Times, for example, published dozens of articles on the issue during this period, but only one presented opinions from within the West Bank. It appeared less than a week before Abbas’ announced request would take place at the UN [it should be noted that a recent poll finds 84% support from Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza].
The article, however, stayed away from issues of legitimacy, neither noting nor asking its interlocutors about the legitimacy of the Abbas government. Not surprisingly, this was balanced out by an article about paranoid, antagonistic, and heavily armed Israeli settlers a few days later. The article, typical of the work of Ethan Bronner, casts the universally-accepted fact of the illegality of the settlements as a matter of “geopolitics”, and thus positions the putative statehood as an issue that affects indigenous Palestinians and Israelis equally. The Washington Post was alone in publishing a story on Gazans and the UN bid a few days before Abbas arrived in New York [Rana Baker provides this roundtable discussion by young Gazans in her EI blog].
The wide spectrum of Palestinian civil society voices, academics and policy analysts was also largely absent from coverage in media of record. While there were at least a half-dozen op-eds in the The New York Times on the subject of the UN bid, none featured opinions from Palestine-based organizations, or from organizations representing the Palestinian Diaspora. The Times’ editorial board seemed to think that one Palestinian voice, that of Abbas, was enough, along with a member of the Saudi Royal family.
It wasn’t that alternate voices from Palestine were hard to find, even for the Ramallah-centric Western press. Mustafa Barghouti, the leading opposition party leader in the West Bank, was part of a town hall meeting of independent political parties in Beit Jala in mid-September that attracted various high-profile Palestinian leaders and pundits—the event seemed uninteresting to the area desks of mainstream media. This is in keeping with the almost total media blackout on independent political parties in Palestine that has existed since the dawn of the Oslo process. Al Haq, a near-legendary legal advocacy organization is based in Ramallah and had argued the case of Palestinian nationality before the International Criminal Court a year earlier, but it was nowhere to be found in articles or opinion pages of media of record—despite the fact that the organization wrote a legal opinion on the UN bid [you can also find them on Twitter].
Israeli-friendly experts were welcome, as always: The New York Times consulted the AIPAC-affiliated Washington Institute on Near East Policy and then the former AIPAC head, Martin Indyk, in an impressive feat of overkill in the same article. The increasingly paranoid Benny Morris got a turn in Newsweek [September 19, 2011], complaining that the bid was only a symptom of the vast new existential threat that Israel faced, including the “major problem” of Israel’s “Arab minority”. The Washington Post even had an op-ed from a former state department official, who used the platform to sadistically imagine all sorts of punishments the US could visit on the Palestinian people if the UN bid went ahead.
The disinterest in Palestinian voices makes perfect sense when viewed through the prism of the US-managed peace process. The Palestinian Authority, after all, does not exist to represent Palestinians. Rather, it’s a fait acompli that the Palestinian Authority is a junior partner in the US and Israeli plan for creating a final Israeli map that includes the desirable portions of the West Bank and Gaza. When searching for opinions about any Palestinian Authority act, the opinion of the Palestinian people, its advocates and its civil society are of little consequence to reporters.
JERUSALEM – Israeli police Sunday raided the National Hotel in East Jerusalem and arrested its manager, Mohammad Qarain, because his hotel held a conference on Palestinian curricula, according to witnesses.
A reinforced Israeli force of police, border police and intelligence raided the National Hotel and arrested its manager for not complying with the decision preventing holding the Palestinian curricula conference, which was called for by the civil committee to preserve the Palestinian curricula, witnesses said.
Jerusalem institutions along with the civil committee to preserve the Palestinian curricula called for this important meeting, to discuss ways to deal with and respond to the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem to distort the Palestinian curricula, which is taught in different Jerusalem schools.
On page one of today’s NYT Carlotta Gall writes a long story on Pakistanis Tied to 2007 Border Ambush on Americans.
During spring 2007 and after some clashes over a border post between Afghan and Pakistani troops near the town of Teri Mangal a meeting took place with Afghan, Pakistani and U.S. officials to find a solution.
When the Afghans and U.S. officials left a tribal soldier from the Pakistani Frontier Corps opened fire on them and killed a U.S. Army Major. It was one of the frequent green on blue/blue on green incidents by a rogue soldier.
What is astonishing about today’s NYT piece is that there is nothing new in it. Zero, nada, zilch. It is just a warmed up mixture of well known facts mixed with quotes from some Afghan officials who blame Pakistan.
The whole story was already reported back in 2007:
The US serviceman died Monday in the north-western town of Teri Mangal as military officials from Pakistan, Afghanistan and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were fired upon after a trilateral meeting.An ISAF statement said that following the meeting, an individual reported to be wearing a Pakistan Frontier Corps uniform, ‘in a heinous and despicable act, fired as an assassin, into the group that had come with peaceful aims.’
The ISAF ‘expects a full investigation of this incident by the Pakistani military’, the statement said.
Administration officials in the Kurram Agency, where Teri Mangal is located, told Pakistan’s Daily Times that the gunmen was a Pakistani trooper who was deployed for security.
‘He shouted Allah-u-Akbar (God is great) and opened fire as he saw Americans,’ an official told the newspaper on condition of anonymity. He was then shot dead in an exchange of fire with US forces.
The man came from the Bhittani tribe that inhabits areas flanking Pakistan’s South Waziristan region, which has a long record of militancy, the official said.
Today’s NYT piece asserts all along that there was something nefarious about the incident or something kept hidden by the Pakistanis.
Only down the 35th of 36 paragraphs, which hardly anyone will read, is it quoting high ranking U.S. officers who say there was nothing like that:
Both Generals Helmly and McNeill accept as plausible that a lone member of the Frontier Corps, whether connected to the militants or pressured by them, was responsible, but they also said it was possible that a larger group of soldiers was acting in concert. The two generals said there was no evidence that senior Pakistani officials had planned the attack.
So what please is the purpose of this piece but anti-Pakistani propaganda?
A four year old story of a tribal soldier who turned against some Americans rewarmed with some quotes but without any new facts. Why is this news on page one of the NYT? Who decided to re-issue this story? What is its function if not to prepare the public for the coming war on Pakistan?
British peace campaigners have furiously reacted to a documentaries series of Apache attack helicopters killing Afghan civilians being shown to the UK troops to boost morale.
The footage entitled ‘Kill TV nights’ is designed to desensitize to death the troops on the frontline as describe by Andrew Burgin from Stop the War Coalition, The Independent on Sunday reported.
Burgin compared the television documentary to the desensitization to death of US troops in the final stages of the Vietnam War.
“The fact that British soldiers are reduced to watching what are effectively snuff movies shows the complete failure of the project in Afghanistan. It’s nothing to do with democracy, but a failure of war that is trickling down and resulting in a mental degradation among ground troops”, Burgin said.
“Afghanistan is a dreadful situation and it is no better than it was a decade ago”, he added.
The footage shows ground troops at the British headquarters in Helmand province, Camp Bastion, gathered for a get-together, which is said to be aimed at boosting morale among troops.
It shows an Apache helicopter commander admitting possible errors of judgement and warning colleagues not to disclose what they have seen, said the report.
“This is not for discussion with anybody else; keep it quiet about what you see up here,” the commander says in the film. “It’s not because we’ve done anything wrong. But we might have done.”
In one clip an Afghan woman is targeted after a radio dialogue between pilots refers to her as a “snake with tits”, according to the report.
Another clip from a recent “Kill TV” night shows the cross-hair of an Apache helicopter taking aim at an insurgent. WOII Farmer gives a running commentary: “OK, so he’s walking along… then thinks… I’m gonna go off and get my 70 vessel [sic] virgins ’cause daylight’s coming quite quick.”
As the missile hits the target and kills the person, he says “Goodnight princess”, adding “this is where you see he’s actually had the clothes ripped off him by the blast”.
He defends the decision to celebrate the deaths of Afghans. “People look at it and say you know… young lads are laughing at the enemy being killed,” he says.
“Well, I don’t know if the Taliban do something similar but I’m sure they rejoice when they kill one of us.”
Later in the film, he is defiant about the moral consequences of war: “We’re out there do to a job.
We’re not there to tickle the Taliban, we’re out there to hurt them because they have no qualms about hurting us.
“Of the engagements that I’ve taken part in… I have absolutely no dramas with it. None at all. I don’t really care whether they think it’s a fair fight. If they’re [the Taliban] gonna pick up a weapon and take us on, then best of luck to them.”
The footage is included in a three-part series, entitled “Fighting on the Frontline”, which starts on Channel 4 on Sunday night.