Israel will surround the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas until he accepts the Israeli terms and recognises Israel as a Jewish state, Israel’s top negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said yesterday.
Livni told Israel’s Channel 10 that Israel will not release Palestinian prisoners who committed violent acts against Israeli citizens. “Israel will not release Palestinian prisoners with blood on their hands,” Livni said.
Livni claimed that several Arab countries have told Israel they will not transfer funds to Abbas pointing out that she had visited friendly Arab countries 11 times in the past 50 days.
“The city of Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Israel and the Arab and Islamic countries do not object to that,” Livni claimed.
An Israeli minister threatened on Wednesday to annex further territory in the occupied West Bank in retaliation for renewed Palestinian action to join United Nations agencies and international treaties.
“If they are now threatening (to go to UN institutions), they must know something simple: they will pay a heavy price,” Tourism Minister Uzi Landau told public radio.
Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday said he had begun steps to join several UN agencies, abandoning a pledge to freeze such action for the duration of peace talks – which end in just four weeks.
Abbas announced a request to join “15 UN agencies and international treaties.”
“The demands (for membership) will be sent immediately” to the relevant agencies, he said.
The documents Abbas signed, officials said, included the Geneva Conventions – the key text of international law on the conduct of war and occupation.
Palestinians hope it will give them a stronger basis to appeal to the International Criminal Court and eventually lodge formal complaints against Israel for its continued occupation of lands seized in the 1967 war that they want for their state.
“This is not a move against America, or any other party – it is our right, and we agreed to suspend it for nine months,” Abbas said of the decision.
Hamas, the Gaza Strip’s ruling party, welcomed the move by Abbas,
The Palestinians had repeatedly warned that they could resume their action through international courts and the UN over Israel’s settlement expansion on occupied territory in the West Bank and in annexed east Jerusalem.
“One of the possible measures will be Israel applying sovereignty over areas which will clearly be part of the State of Israel in any future solution,” said Landau, a member of the hardline Yisrael Beitenu faction.
Landau’s remarks were referring to areas of the West Bank populated by Jewish settlers which Israel hopes to retain in any future peace deal.
Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.
An Israeli government official, who would not be named, said Abbas’s announcement had thrown everything up in the air.
“Is this Israel’s partner? Is this a partner for peace?” he asked.
“Everything has changed now, is there even a deal now? We don’t know,” he said, referring to the proposal which was being discussed with Kerry.
Israel could also hurt the Palestinians economically by acting “to block financial aid to them,” the minister added.
Abbas made his announcement just hours after Israel reissued tenders for hundreds of settler homes in east Jerusalem, as Washington was working around the clock to resolve a major dispute over Palestinian prisoners.
Israeli NGO Ir Amim described the tenders as “a poke in the eye of both the Palestinians and the Americans,” army radio said.
And Hagit Ofran, from Israeli’s Peace Now NGO, accused the housing ministry of “trying to forcefully undermine the peace process… and John Kerry’s efforts to promote it.”
Israel refused to free a fourth and final group of 26 veteran Palestinian prisoners on Saturday, which would have completed an agreement that had brought the sides back to the table.
On Monday, the Palestinian Authority gave Kerry a 24-hour deadline to come up with a solution to the prisoner row, warning that failure to do so would see them turning to UN bodies to press their claims for statehood.
“America must compel Israel now to follow through on its agreement to release the fourth group of prisoners. We will be watching these efforts and hope they don’t fail,” Palestinian Prisoners Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqe said.
“But our position is clear: we want the release of the fourth group according to the agreement, and without that we won’t accept any other obligations or conditions,” he said.
The standoff came soon after US Secretary of State John Kerry left Israel on Tuesday after a lightning visit.
He had been due to fly back to the region on Wednesday for talks in Ramallah with Abbas but he cancelled his visit following the Palestinian leader’s announcement, while attempting to remain optimistic.
“It is completely premature tonight to draw… any final judgement about today’s events and where things are,” he said in Brussels.
“My team is on the ground meeting with the parties even tonight,” he said. “We urge both parties to show restraint.”
US efforts have been focused recently on getting the parties to agree an extension to the end of the year.
A US proposal to continue talks was to include a limited “freeze” on settlement construction, with Israel adopting “a policy of restraint with (West Bank) government tenders” but would not include annexed east Jerusalem.
Sources close to the negotiations had said Washington was also mulling a proposal to free Jonathan Pollard, who was arrested in Washington in 1985 and sentenced to life in prison for spying on America on Israel’s behalf.
But White House Jay Carney said before the Tuesday afternoon developments that President Barack Obama had not made any decision on Pollard.
Separately, a spokesman for the US Justice Department said Pollard had waived his right to attend a meeting of a parole board that could have re-examined his ongoing detention.
(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)
The Palestinian leadership is demanding that Israel freezes its settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories as a condition for extending the negotiations.
Maan News Agency quoted on Tuesday the Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative, Mustafa Barghouti, as saying that the Palestinian leadership has demanded for Israel to freeze its settlement activities, including government tenders to construct settlements, in order to extend the negotiations. The leadership has also decided to seek recognition for the State of Palestine from United Nations organisations if Israel does not release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners as previously agreed.
Barghouti, who attended the Palestinian leadership meeting on Monday to discuss the recent development in the peace process, added that the Palestinians plan to send a delegation of five people to discuss with Hamas ways to end the split with Al-Fatah and reach national reconciliation.
The meeting brought together Al-Fatah movement’s Central Committee, the PLO Executive Committee and the secretaries-general of the Palestinian factions in Ramallah.
Barghouti said the Palestinian leadership will resume its meeting on Tuesday to further discuss the latest developments in the peace process and the results of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel has refused to release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners unless the Palestinian Authority agrees to extend the negotiations for another year unconditionally.
Kerry had cancelled his scheduled meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday in Ramallah to meet instead with the Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and the head of the Palestinian intelligence service General Majed Faraj in Jerusalem; however, the meeting results were not disclosed to the public.
Diplomatic sources claimed that Kerry cancelled his meeting with Abbas in Ramallah because his first meeting with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exceeded its scheduled time, running nearly five hours.
By Stuart Littlewood | September 15, 2009
“The Israel Project”, a US media advocacy group, has produced a revised training manual to help the worldwide Zionist movement win the propaganda war, keep their ill-gotten territorial gains and persuade international audiences to accept that their crimes are necessary and conform to “shared values” between Israel and the civilized West.
It’s a clever document.
The manual teaches how to justify the slaughter, the ethnic cleansing, the land-grabbing, the cruelty and the blatant disregard for international law and UN resolutions, and make it all smell sweeter with a liberal squirt of the aerosol of persuasive language. It is designed to hoodwink us ignorant and gullible Americans and Europeans into believing that we actually share values with the racist regime in Israel and that its abominable behaviour is therefore deserving of our support.
Israel is hoping for a public relations massacre. The other side – the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization – don’t take communications seriously and have neglected to correct Israeli distortion. They are happy, it seems, for Israel’s one-sided definitions to prevail, which of course makes the task for Israel so much easier. This latest propaganda offensive is potentially the “coup de grace” to finish off the tormented Palestinians. See it here.
And the manual will no doubt serve as a communications primer for the army of cyber-scribblers that Israel’s Ministry of Dirty Tricks is recruiting to spread Zionism’s poison across the internet.
This quote at the beginning sets the tone: “Remember, it’s not what you say that counts. It’s what people hear.”
Top priority: demonize Hamas
The manual’s numerous messages are aimed at the mass of “persuadables”, primarily in America but also in the UK. The strategy from the start is to isolate the democratically-elected Hamas and to rob the resistance movement and the Palestinian population of their human rights.
- “Clearly differentiate between the Palestinian people and Hamas. There is an immediate and clear distinction between the empathy Americans feel for the Palestinians and the scorn they direct at Palestinian leadership. Hamas is a terrorist organization – Americans get that already. But if it sounds like you are attacking the Palestinian people (even though they elected Hamas) rather than their leadership, you will lose public support. Right now, many Americans sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians, and that sympathy will increase if you fail to differentiate the people from their leaders.”
The plight of the Palestinians under Israel’s heel was an international concern long before Hamas appeared on the scene.
But this is familiar ground. We scorned George Bush and Tony Blair and had to differentiate between them and their respective peoples. We now have to do the same with Barack Obama and Gordon Brown. We are tired of having to make that same differentiation between the Israeli people and the dreadful leaders they produce.
- “ISRAEL’S RIGHT TO DEFENSIBLE BORDERS: With more than three years of violent history since Israel’s agreement to withdraw from Gaza and portions of the West Bank [sic], Americans have had time to take stock of the situation and form opinions. The big picture: they believe that Hamas’s leadership of Gaza has made Israel and the region less safe, while some are more receptive to what they perceive as a moderate approach in the West Bank by Mahmoud Abbas. Based on these experiences, they are willing to grant Israel more leeway in resisting calls to give more land for more peace.”
Here we clearly see the motive for demonizing Hamas – Israel wants more leeway to continue its land-grabs and other criminal activities.
- “If… If… If… Then”: Put the burden on Hamas to make the first move for peace by using If’s (and don’t forget to finish with a hard then to show Israel is a willing peace partner). “If Hamas reforms… If Hamas recognize our right to exist… If Hamas renounces terrorism… If Hamas supports international peace agreements… then we are willing to make peace today.”
How one-sided and daft can you get? Substitute Israel for Hamas.
Words that work
The manual sets out numerous examples of “words that work” – supposedly.
- “We know that the Palestinians deserve leaders who will care about the well being of their people, and who do not simply take hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance from America and Europe, put them in Swiss bank accounts, and use them to support terror instead of peace.”
No mention here of the billions of tax dollars Israel takes from the US and spends on munitions to obliterate and vaporize its neighbours.
- “Peace can only be made with adversaries who want to make peace with you. Terrorist organizations like Iran-backed Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad are, by definition, opposed to peaceful co-existence, and determined to prevent reconciliation. I ask you, how do you negotiate with those who want you dead?”
Hamas and Hezbollah are only regarded as terrorists by the White House and Tel Aviv and by US-Israeli stooges and flag-wavers in Westminster and elsewhere.
In Executive Order 13224 – “BLOCKING PROPERTY AND PROHIBITING TRANSACTIONS WITH PERSONS WHO COMMIT, THREATEN TO COMMIT, OR SUPPORT TERRORISM” – Bush used this definition: “The term “terrorism” means an activity that –
(i) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure; and
(ii) appears to be intended —
(A) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(B) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(C) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping, or hostage-taking.”
It describes the antics of the US and Israel perfectly.
- “There is NEVER, EVER, any justification for the deliberate slaughter of innocent women and children. NEVER… there is one fundamental principle that all peoples from all parts of the globe will agree on: civilized people do not target innocent women and children for death.”
Quite so. Where does that leave Israel, which recently killed 320 children in Gaza and 773 civilians, including 109 women? From 2000 (the start of the second Intifada – the Palestinian urising against the Israeli occupation) up to the end of last year Israel had slaughtered 4,936 Palestinians in their homeland, including 952 children, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. In the same period Palestinians killed 490 Israelis in Israel including only 84 children. So, Israel’s kill-rate is at least 10 to 1, and rising since the blitzkrieg on Gaza.
Iran-backed or US-backed – take your pick
- “Use humility. ‘I know that in trying to defend its children and citizens from terrorists that Israel has accidentally hurt innocent people. I know it, and I’m sorry for it. But what can Israel do to defend itself? If America had given up land for peace – and that land had been used for launching rockets at America, what would America do? Israel was attacked with thousands of rockets from Iran-backed Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. What should Israel have done to protect her children?’”
Palestinians too have a right to defend themselves. Hamas was the popular choice of Palestinians at the last election and is entitled under international law to take up arms against an illegal occupier and invader. If it is supported by Iran, so what? Israel is extravagantly funded and supplied by the US. Here’s part of their begging-bowl “Military Aid Speech”:
- “Israel makes the request for military assistance out of self-defense. As a democracy, they have the right and the responsibility to protect our borders. As a democracy, they have the right and the responsibility to protect their citizens.
- “Israel does not ask for US troops to protect itself. It does not ask for a single American soldier to protect its borders. It only asks for the funds for them to protect themselves. They need the equipment so that their own troops can ensure the safety of their civilian population through this gathering conflict with the enemies of democracy.
- “They didn’t ask to have our nation built in range of Iranian missiles. They didn’t ask that their nation be a focal point for religious extremists who have declared war on the West and on democracy.
- “But they are, and they need your help.”
And here’s the rationale behind it:
- “Americans fundamentally believe that a democracy has a right to protect its people and its borders. And while Americans don’t want to increase foreign aid in a time of significant budgetary deficits and painful spending cuts, there is one and only one argument that will work for Israel (in four easy steps):
(1) As a democracy, Israel has the right and the responsibility to defend its borders and protect its people.
(2) Terrorist groups, including Iran-backed Hezbollah and Hamas, continue to pose a direct threat to Israeli security and have repeatedly taken innocent Israeli lives.
(3) Israel is America’s one and only true ally in the region. In these particularly unstable and dangerous times, Israel should not be forced to go it alone.
(4) With America’s financial assistance, Israel can defend its borders, protect its people, and provide invaluable assistance to the American effort against the war against terrorism.”
It’s evident that Americans don’t believe in democracy enough to allow Palestinian democracy to flourish.
- “When the terror ends, Israel will no longer need to have challenging checkpoints to inspect goods and people. When the terror ends we will no longer need a security fence.”
There are no rockets coming out of the West Bank, so why is the security fence still there – and still being built? Why are the occupation troops still there? Why are hundreds of checkpoints still there? Why is Israel still stealing land, demolishing Palestinian homes and building settlements there?
- “Remind people – again and again – that Israel wants peace.
Reason One: If Americans see no hope for peace – if they only see a continuation of a 2,000-year-long episode of “Family Feud” – Americans will not want their government to spend tax dollars or their president’s clout on helping Israel.
Reason Two: The speaker that is perceived as being most for PEACE will win the debate. Every time someone makes the plea for peace, the reaction is positive. If you want to regain the public relations advantage, peace should be at the core of whatever message you wish to convey.”
Israel has never met its peace agreement obligations. It doesn’t want peace – every action is directed at keeping the conflict going until the Israelis have stolen enough land and established enough ‘facts on the ground’ – Jews-only settlements, highways, disconnected Palestinian bantustans – to enable them to redraw the map to suit their expansionist agenda and make the occupation PERMANENT.
Gaza in a vice
- “Israel made painful sacrifices and took a risk to give peace a chance. They voluntarily removed over 9,000 settlers from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, abandoning homes, schools, businesses and places of worship in the hopes of renewing the peace process. Despite making an overture for peace by withdrawing from Gaza, Israel continues to face terrorist attacks, including rocket attacks and drive-by shootings of innocent Israelis. Israel knows that for a lasting peace, they must be free from terrorism and live with defensible borders.”
Israel never left. It still occupies Gazan airspace, coastal waters and airwaves, and controls all borders except Rafah where it nevertheless exerts a veto. Israel has Gaza in a vice, which is crushing the tiny enclave’s economy, starving its 1.5 million citizens and creating a huge humanitarian crisis in an attempt to bring the elected government to its knees.
- “Draw direct parallels between Israel and America – including the need to defend against terrorism… The more you focus on the similarities between Israel and America, the more likely you are to win the support of those who are neutral. Indeed, Israel is an important American ally in the war against terrorism, and faces many of the same challenges as America in protecting their citizens.”
Note how Israel’s strategy is almost totally dependent on the false idea that they are victims of terror and Western nations need to huddle together with Israel for mutual protection. Fortunately, level-headed people are beginning to realize who the terrorists really are.
It must be blindingly obvious by now that allowing parallels to be drawn between Israel and America only serves to increase the world’s hatred of America. US citizens need to wake up to this, and British citizens should avoid falling into the same trap.
Inject with “core values” and repeat over and over again…
- “The language of Israel is the language of America: ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, ‘security’, and ‘peace’. These four words are at the core of the American political, economic, social and cultural systems, and they should be repeated as often as possible because they resonate with virtually every American.”
If so fluent in this language, why doesn’t Israel acknowledge its neighbours’ rights to democracy, freedom, security and peace and end their military oppression?
- “A simple rule of thumb is that once you get to the point of repeating the same message over and over again so many times that you think you might get sick – that is just about the time the public will wake up and say ‘Hey – this person just might be saying something interesting to me!’ But don’t confuse messages with facts…”
Never let facts get in the way of a good message!
- “How can the current Palestinian leadership honestly say it will pursue peace when previous leaders rejected an offer to create a Palestinian state just a few short years ago and now refuse to live up to their responsibilities as outlined in the Road Map?”
This must be a reference to Ehud Barak’s so-called “generous offer”, another of the myths Israelis love to peddle. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip, seized by Israel in 1967 and occupied ever since, comprise just 22 per cent of pre-partition Palestine. When the Palestinians signed the Oslo Agreement in 1993 they agreed to accept the 22 per cent and to recognize Israel within “Green Line” borders (i.e. the 1949 armistice line established after the Arab-Israeli war). Conceding 78 per cent of the land that was originally theirs was an astonishing compromise on the part of the Palestinians.
But it wasn’t enough for greedy Barak. His “generous offer” required the inclusion of 69 Israeli settlements within the 22 per cent remnant. It was plain to see on the map that these settlement blocs created impossible borders and already severely disrupted Palestinian life in the West Bank. Barak also demanded the Palestinian territories be placed under “temporary Israeli control”, meaning Israeli military and administrative control indefinitely. The “generous offer” also gave Israel control over all the border crossings of the new Palestinian state. What nation in the world would accept that? The unacceptable reality of Barak’s offer, contained in the map, was hidden by propaganda spin.
Later, at Taba, Barak produced a revised map but withdrew it after his election defeat. Don’t take my word for it – the facts are well documented and explained by organizations such as Israel’s Gush Shalom.
- “Why is the world so silent about the written, vocal, stated aims of Hamas?”
And why is the world so silent about the written, stated aims of the racist regime and its political parties? Read their manifestos.
- “Successful communications is not about being able to recite every fact from the long history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is about pointing out a few core principles of shared values – such as democracy and freedom – and repeating them over and over again… You need to start with empathy for both sides, remind your audience that Israel wants peace and then repeat the messages of democracy, freedom, and peace over and over again… we need to repeat the message, on average, 10 times to be effective.”
Is democracy a shared value? Israel is an ethnocracy not a democracy. Is freedom a shared value? The world is still waiting for Israel to allow the Palestinians their freedom.
- “The situation in the Middle East may be complicated, but all parties should adopt a simple approach: peace first, political boundaries second.”
Renounce resistance while still under Israel’s jackboot? The correct approach is for the international community to insist first that Israel complies with international law and the many UN resolutions it has contemptuously ignored. The boundaries are already defined. Whatever issues remain to be decided, Palestinians should not have to negotiate under occupation or duress.
Rockets, bombs and atrocities: the language of peace
- “Bottom line: What will happen if we fail to get the world to care about the fact that Israeli parents in southern Israel need to literally dodge rockets when they drive their children to kindergarten in the morning? What will happen if the world allows Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, to get nuclear weapons? What will Israel do if bad press causes American citizens to ask [their] government to turn its back on Israel? Why do I care so much about the success of your communications efforts? I care because I never want our children to live through what my family and yours lived through in the Holocaust.”
Only one in 500 makeshift Qassam rockets causes a fatality, small beer compared to the devastation and carnage resulting from Israel’s state-of-the-art rocketry targeted on Gaza. How does it look when Palestinians are forced to pay the price for the Holocaust? And how much does Israel care about the Palestinian holocaust it has caused?
The manual then gives a long glossary of terms. Here’s a sample:
- “Deliberately firing rockets into civilian communities”: Combine terrorist motive with civilian visuals and you have the perfect illustration of what Israel faced in Gaza and Lebanon. Especially with regard to rocket attacks but useful for any kind of terrorist attack, deliberate is the right word to use to call out the intent behind the attacks. This is far more powerful than describing the attacks as “random”.
Israelis know all about bombarding civilian targets. And they are careful not to mention that Sderot, until recently the only Israeli township within range of Gazan rockets, is built on the ruins of an ethnically cleansed Palestinian village whose inhabitants were forced from their homes by Jewish terrorists.
- “Economic Diplomacy”: This is a much more embracing and popular term than the current lexicon of “sanctions”. It has appeal across the political spectrum: the tough economic approach appeals to Republicans, and the diplomacy component satisfies Democrats.
We can all play this game. Israel is now beginning to suffer “economic diplomacy” in the form of worldwide boycotts.
- “Economic Prosperity”: Whenever Israel talks about the “economic prosperity” of the Palestinians, it puts Israel in the most positive light possible. After all, who can disagree?
What sort of prosperity is it when nothing can be imported or exported without Israel’s approval and fisherman can’t even put to sea in their own waters without having their boats shot up by the Israeli navy?
- “Human to Human”: “We know that the average Palestinian and the average Israeli want to come together and make peace. They want to live in peace. Israeli leaders have come together with Arab leaders to make peace in the past. But how do you make peace with Hamas and Hezbollah?”
Simple. You get off their land and stay off. There can be no peace under occupation. You have to be very stupid not to understand that.
- “Humanize Rockets”: Paint a vivid picture of what life is like in Israeli communities that are vulnerable to attack. Yes, cite the number of rocket attacks that have occurred. But immediately follow that up with what it is like to make the nightly trek to the bomb shelter.
Would Israel care to tell the world how many bombs, rockets and shells (including the illegal and prohibited variety) its US-supplied F-16s, tanks, armed drones and navy gunboats have poured into the densely-packed humanity that is Gaza?
Still more advice…
- “Living together, side by side”. This is the best way to describe the ultimate vision of a two-state solution without using the phrase.
Sounds cute but is worn out. Who would want to live alongside bigots and extremists who have made your life a misery for 61 years?
- “When talking about a Palestinian partner, it is essential to distinguish between Hamas and everyone else. Only the most anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian American expects Israel to negotiate with Hamas, so you have to be clear that you are seeking a ‘moderate Palestinian partner’.”
Where are the moderate Israeli partners?
- “The fight is over IDEOLOGY – not land; terror, not territory. Thus, you must avoid using Israel’s religious claims to land as a reason why Israel should not give up land. Such claims only make Israel look extremist to people who are not religious Christians or Jews.”
If the fight isn’t about land, why did Israel steal it at gunpoint? And why won’t they give it back when told to by the UN?
- “Think PRO-PALESTINIAN. While I have spoken about Israeli casualties, I want to recognize those Palestinians that have been killed or wounded, because they are suffering as well. I particularly want to reach out to Palestinian mothers who have lost their children. No parent should have to bury their child.”
Israel won’t even allow cement into Gaza to build the graves.
- “And so I say to my Palestinian colleagues … you can stop the bloodshed. You can stop the suicide bombings and rocket attacks. If you really want to, you can put an end to this cycle of violence. If you won’t do it for our children, do it for your children.”
Effective Israeli sound bite. Speechless.
- “I want to see a future where the Palestinians govern themselves. Israel does not want to govern a single Palestinian. Not one. We want them to govern themselves. We want them to have complete self-determination.”
Is that why Israel tried to snuff out Palestine’s democracy – and the people’s right to self-determination – immediately after the 2006 elections?
- “The big picture approach is this: You must isolate Hamas as:
– A critical cause of the delay in achieving a two-state solution
– The biggest source of harm to the Palestinian people, and
– The reason why Israel must defend its people from living in terror.
Read from the Hamas Charter. Now, here’s how to attack Hamas: indict them with their own indoctrination materials. Yes, people know Hamas is a terrorist organization – but they don’t know just how terrifying Hamas can be. The absolute best way to heighten their awareness is to read from the Hamas Charter itself. Don’t just “quote” from it. Read it. Out loud. Again and again. Hand it out to everyone.”
At last Israel makes a good point. After three years of “government” Hamas must be mad to persist with its ill-advised charter. They have been severely tested. They have matured. They have earned credibility in many eyes. Israel’s behaviour makes Hamas look good. But all that will count for nothing if they don’t rewrite their charter as a matter of urgency.
Regev’s pearls of wisdom. But how safe is the region under the threat of Israel’s nukes?
- “It’s not just Israel who refuses to speak to Hamas. It’s the whole international community… Most of the democratic world refuses to have a relationship with Hamas because Hamas has refused to meet the most minimal benchmarks of international behaviour.” – Mark Regev
Isn’t that a little cheeky, Mr Regev, coming from a regime widely condemned for war crimes, piracy and mega-lawlessness?
- “It was the former UN secretary-general, Kofi Anan, that put four benchmarks on the table. And he said, speaking for the international community…
That if Hamas reforms itself …
If Hamas recognizes my country’s right to live in freedom…
If Hamas renounces terrorism against innocent civilians…
If Hamas supports international agreements that are being signed and agreed to concerning the peace process… then the door is open. But unfortunately – tragically – Hamas has failed to meet even one of those four benchmarks. And that’s why today Hamas is isolated internationally. Even the United Nations refuses to speak to Hamas. – Mark Regev
Which of those benchmarks has Israel met, Mr Regev?
- “Israel is very concerned about the Iranian nuclear programme. And for good reason. Iran’s president openly talks about wiping Israel off the map. We see them racing ahead on nuclear enrichment so they can have enough fissile material to build a bomb. We see them working on their ballistic missiles. We only saw, last week, shooting a rocket to launch a so-called satellite into outer space and so forth. The Iranian nuclear programme is a threat, not just to my country, but to the entire region. And it’s incumbent upon us all to do what needs to be done to keep from proliferating.” – Mark Regev
Why is Israel the only state in the region not to have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Mr Regev? Are we all supposed to believe that Israel’s 200 (or is it 400?) nuclear warheads pose no threat? Would you also like to comment on why Israel hasn’t signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and why it has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, similarly the Chemical Weapons Convention? What proof do you have of Iran’s nuclear weapons plans?
And why do you persist in misquoting Mr Ahmadinejad?
The Holy City is not up for grabs
- “The toughest issue to communicate will be the final resolution of Jerusalem. Americans overwhelmingly want Israel to be in charge of the religious holy sites and are frankly afraid of the consequences should Israel turn over control to the Palestinians. Consider:
– 71 per cent of Americans trust Israel most to protect the holy sites in Jerusalem, compared to 6.1 per cent who trust the Palestinian authority most. 8.5 per cent per cent trust neither.
– 54 per cent of Americans believe that ‘Jerusalem must remain united under Israeli sovereignty’ while just 23.9 per cent believe that ‘Jerusalem should be divided into Israeli controlled and Palestinian controlled areas’.
Given the choice between the two, Americans of all political and demographic stripes trust Israel to protect and have sovereignty over Jerusalem.”
Israel is in control right now and prevents Muslims and Christians from outside the city visiting the holy places. No way can Israel be trusted. The UN’s partition plan decreed that Jerusalem should become a ”corpus separatum” under international management. It is unlikely that the UN would wish to see its resolutions torn up or international law rewritten for Israel’s sole benefit, regardless of America’s misinformed opinion.
Get the name-calling right
I’ll close with the following extract:
- “Many on the left see an ‘Israel vs. Palestinian’ crisis where Israel is Goliath and the Palestinians are David. It is critical that they understand that this is an Arab-Israeli crisis and that the force undermining peace is Iran and their proxies Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. You must not call Hamas just Hamas. Call them what they are: Iran-backed Hamas. Indeed, when they know that Iran is behind Hamas and Hezbollah, they are much more supportive of Israel.”
By the same token we must call the racist regime what it is – US-backed Israel.
Iran’s support for Hamas is difficult to quantify and probably less than we think. More funding has probably come from Sunni Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In any case, it is peanuts compared to America’s support for Israel.
Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and was founded in 1987 during the first Intifada. Hezbollah came into being in 1982 in response to US-backed Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. So, the territorial ambitions of US-backed Israel provoked the rise of both. Israel’s problem is entirely self-inflicted and shouldn’t concern the rest of us.
Hamas’s election manifesto in 2006 called for maintaining the armed struggle against US-backed Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, which seems a perfectly valid aim.
Our obligation to respect and promote human rights
The Israel Project’s training manual is an unpleasant piece of work. It runs to 116 pages and I have only scratched the surface. It recycles many of the discredited techniques used by the advertising industry before standards of honesty, decency and truthfulness were brought in to protect the public.
And it serves to undermine with clever words the inalienable rights pledged by the UN and the world’s civilized nations to all peoples, including the Palestinians.
When you have to stoop this low you simply don’t have a case.
The Palestinian side urgently needs to strip away the deception and re-frame the Holy Land situation in truthful language. And it needs to debunk this Zionist handbook. If the PA and the PLO won’t do it, who will?
Everyone should bear in mind the following, written nearly 61 years ago:
“Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.”
It would seem that Israel has not read or understood the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which all nations signed up to. Attempts to wipe out the rights of people who happen to be in the way of the Zionist vision of a “Greater Israel” deserve no support whatever.
US Desperate to keep Futile Peace Process Show on the Road a Little Longer
For the first time since the US launched the Middle East peace talks last summer, the Palestinian leadership may be sensing it has a tiny bit of leverage.
Barack Obama met the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Washington last week in what Palestinian officials called a “candid and difficult” meeting. The US president hoped to dissuade Abbas from walking away when the original negotiations’ timetable ends in a month.
The US president and his secretary of state, John Kerry, want their much-delayed “framework agreement” to provide the pretext for spinning out the stalled talks for another year. The US outline for peace is now likely to amount to little more than a set of vague, possibly unwritten principles that both sides can assent to.
The last thing the US president needs is for the negotiations to collapse, after Kerry has repeatedly stressed that finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is imperative.
The US political cycle means Obama’s Democratic party is heading this autumn into the Congressional mid-term elections. A humiliating failure in the peace process would add to perceptions of him as a weak leader in the Middle East, following what has been widely presented as his folding in confrontations with Syria and Iran.
Renewed clashes between Israel and the Palestinians in the international arena would also deepen US diplomatic troubles at a time when Washington needs to conserve its energies for continuing negotiations with Iran and dealing with the fallout from its conflict with Russia over Crimea.
Obama therefore seems committed to keeping the peace process show on the road for a while longer, however aware he is of the ultimate futility of the exercise.
In this regard, US interests overlap with those of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel has been the chief beneficiary of the past eight months: diplomatic pressure has largely lifted; Israeli officials have announced an orgy of settlement building in return for releasing a few dozen Palestinian prisoners; and the White House has gradually shifted ground even further towards Israel’s hardline positions.
The Palestinians, on the other hand, have nothing to show for their participation, and have lost much of the diplomatic momentum gained earlier by winning upgraded status at the United Nations. They have also had to put on hold moves to join dozens of international forums, as well as the threat to bring Israel up on war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court.
Abbas is under mounting pressure at home to put an end to the charade, with four Palestinian factions warning last week that the Kerry plan would be the equivalent of national “suicide”. For this reason, the White House is now focused on preventing Abbas from quitting next month – and that requires a major concession from Israel.
The Palestinians are said to be pushing hard for Israel’s agreement to halt settlement building and free senior prisoners, most notably Marwan Barghouti, who looks the most likely successor to Abbas as Palestinian leader.
Some kind of short-term settlement freeze – though deeply unpopular with Netanyahu’s supporters – may be possible, given the Israeli right’s triumph in advancing settlement-building of late. Abbas reportedly presented Obama with “a very ugly map” of more than 10,000 settler homes Israel has unveiled since the talks began.
Setting Barghouti free, as well as Ahmad Saadat, whose PLO faction assassinated the far-right tourism minister, Rehavam Zeevi, in 2001, would be an even harder pill for the Israeli government to swallow. Cabinet ministers are already threatening a mutiny over the final round of prisoner releases, due at the end of the week. But Israeli reports on Sunday suggested Washington might consider releasing Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, possibly in return for Israel freeing more Palestinians, to keep the talks going.
Simmering tensions between the US and Israel, however, are suggestive of the intense pressure being exerted by the White House behind the scenes.
Those strains exploded into view again last week when Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s defence minister, used a speech to lambast Washington’s foreign policy as “feeble”. In a similar vein, he infuriated the White House in January by labelling Kerry “obsessive” and “messianic” in pursuing the peace process. But unlike the earlier incident, Washington has refused to let the matter drop, angrily demanding an explicit apology.
The pressure from the White House, however, is not chiefly intended to force concessions from Israel on an agreement. After all, the Israeli parliament approved this month the so-called referendum bill, seen by the right as an insurance policy. It gives the Israeli public, raised on the idea of Jerusalem as Israel’s exclusive and “eternal capital”, a vote on whether to share it with the Palestinians.
Washington’s goal is more modest: a few more months of quiet. But even on this reckoning, given Netanyahu’s intransigence, the talks are going to implode sooner or later. What then?
Obama and Kerry have set out a convincing scenario that in the longer term Israel will find itself shunned by the world. The Palestinian leadership will advance its cause at the UN, while conversely grassroots movements inside and outside Palestine will begin clamouring for a single state guaranteeing equality between Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Israel’s vehement and aggressive opposition on both fronts will only serve to damage its image – and its relations with the US.
An unexpected voice backing the one-state solution emerged last week when Tareq Abbas, the Palestinian president’s 48-year-old son, told the New York Times that a struggle for equal rights in a single state would be the “easier, peaceful way”.
Bolstering Washington’s argument that such pressures cannot be held in check forever, a poll this month of US public opinion revealed a startling finding. Despite a US political climate committed to a two-state solution, nearly two-thirds of Americans back a single democratic state for Jews and Palestinians should a Palestinian state prove unfeasible. That view is shared by more than half of Israel’s supporters in the US.
That would constitute a paradigm shift, a moment of reckoning that draws nearer by the day as the peace process again splutters into irrelevance.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas waged an unprecedented attack on Wednesday against ousted Fatah member Mohammed Dahlan, accusing him of assassinating several key Palestinian figures, including the late President Yasser Arafat.
Official Palestinian TV broadcast a recorded speech by Abbas to the Fatah Revolutionary Council meeting in Ramallah, in which he claimed that an investigation conducted by Azzam Al-Ahmad, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, “revealed that Dahlan gave orders to murder six Palestinian figures: Mohammed Abu Shaaban, Asaad Saftawi, Hisham Makki, Khalil Ezzabin, Naim Abu Saif and Khalid Mahmood Shehdah”.
The Palestinian president added that: “the real question now is who killed Yasser Arafat? Although this is not direct proof, it is evidence that deserves to be investigated. Who delivered the poison to kill Yasser Arafat?”
Abbas devoted more than half of his two-hour-long speech to talk about Dahlan, who was believed to be Abbas’s rival before the Fatah movement dismissed him. He accused Dahlan of organising public demonstrations against Arafat, saying that he only apologised later on to cover up for his possible involvement in the late president’s assassination.
Dahlan, who fled in 2011 to the United Arab Emirates where he currently resides, was unavailable to comment on the accusations.
Following Abbas’s remarks, the Hamas-led government in Gaza called for the Palestinians to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the president’s accusations against Dahlan, including his involvement in the assassination of Sheikh Salah Shehadeh, the co-founder of the military wing of the Islamic Resistance movement Hamas 12 years ago.
Abbas also accused Dahlan of assassinating Sheikh Shehadeh on 22 July 2002, when the Israeli air force bombed his house in the Daraj neighbourhood of Gaza City with a ton of explosives, killing him, his wife, daughter and escort Zaher Nassar, as well as ten neighbours, and wounding dozens while a large number of houses in the area were destroyed.
The media adviser to the Palestinian prime minister in Gaza, Taher Al-Nono, issued a statement published by Quds Press insisting that a national investigation into the Palestinian Authority’s security services, including those officials who have been involved in security coordination with Israel, has to be conducted to prosecute anybody involved in committing crimes against the Palestinian people. Al-Nono pointed out that President Abbas’s accusations against Dahlan regarding his involvement in the assassination of Shehadeh are serious, adding that their timing is also dangerous.
Al-Nono explained that: “If the accusations are true, and they are more likely to be true, then what forced Abbas to remain silent all this time? Abbas commissioned Dahlan back then for senior leadership posts and ministerial positions, where he served as Minister of Security Affairs and was a top security official under Abbas’s presidency. Why did Abbas give him these positions while he was fully aware of his betrayals and subservience to Israel?”
He continued: “Did Abbas remember this information suddenly after all these years have passed to announce it to the public only now? How can we be sure that Abbas did not know Dahlan or any other security coordination leaders were involved in the killing of Palestinian leaders?”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he did not commit to freezing settlement construction during his meeting with US President Barack Obama and that he will reject any agreement with the Palestinians that does not meet Israel’s security needs.
Israel Radio quoted Netanyahu on Friday, on his way back to Israel, telling Israeli journalists that he considered extending the negotiating period between the Israelis and Palestinians in US Secretary of State John Kerry’s framework agreement unlikely to make a difference for the Israeli coalition government, as most of its members reject the idea of establishing a Palestinian state.
He added that he will reject any agreement with the Palestinians that “does not meet Israel’s needs and poses a threat to its security, even if there are attempts to impose such an agreement on Israel.”
Netanyahu refused the possibility of unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank territories if the negotiations fail, stating that he does not prefer this possibility and that “the unilateral withdrawals (from south Lebanon and the Gaza Strip) have not justified themselves nor did they provide security stability for Israel”.
Netanyahu returned to Israel today following his visit to the US which started on Sunday in which he met with Obama in the White House and gave a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on Tuesday.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced, while receiving a delegation from the Israeli left-wing party Meretz a few days ago, that he is not opposed to extending the negotiations period, but demands that settlement construction is suspended and prisoners are released.
The US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro asserted that the Israeli-Palestinian peace deal currently being negotiated by US Secretary of State of John Kerry will include recognition of Israel as “the nation state of the Jewish people”,The Times of Israel reported on Friday.
Citing an interview Shapiro conducted with Israel Radio on Friday morning, The Times of Israel quoted him as saying, “It’s too early to know what compromises and concessions both sides will make. But we do believe… that Israel deserves recognition as a Jewish state. That has always been US policy — that Israel is a Jewish state and should remain a Jewish state. That will be one of the elements of the framework we’re working on.”
“I assume that under the framework that we’re currently preparing, that we’ll see that recognition of Israel and a Jewish state, as the nation state of the Jewish people, will appear in the framework,” he added.
“And in the end, we’ll need to know that this is the end of the conflict, and that’s one way of verifying that… that everyone in the region and all of [Israel’s] neighbors will accept that there is a nation state of the Jewish people here, in the Jewish homeland.”
Shapiro’s comments come a day after US Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas held more than two hours of “constructive” talks on Israeli-Palestinian peace on Thursday, their second session in as many days.
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resumed on July 29 after a nearly three-year break. At the time, Kerry said, “Our objective will be to achieve a final status agreement over the course of the next nine months.”
As that deadline has approached, US officials appear to have scaled back their ambitions, saying they are trying to forge a “framework for negotiations” as a first step though they still hope to hammer out a full agreement by April 29.
Israel’s demand on recognition of its Jewishness is a recent addition to its list of final-status issues to be resolved with the Palestinians in a negotiated settlement, and the ultra right-wing government has rapidly forced it to the top of agenda, making it all but a precondition for entering talks.
Palestinians have refused to recognize of Israel as a “Jewish state” because it would ultimately signify the end of the right of return for Palestinian refugees who were ethnically cleansed by Zionist forces in 1948, as well as offer legitimacy to the discrimination of the remaining non-Jewish population within the 1948 borders.
Yet again, we hear that President Mahmoud Abbas has more or less conceded the lawful right for Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. Last year he told Israelis that although he would like to visit his birthplace in Safed, which is now in Israel, he did not expect to live there. Now he has told a group of Israelis visiting Ramallah that he has no wish to “drown the Jewish character” of Israel with returning refugees. This is an astonishing thing for him to say because its implications are so serious.
For a start, let us make it clear that the right to return is an individual right so it is not within the Palestinian Authority leader’s power to concede it on behalf of anyone other than himself. It may be that he was well aware of that when he signalled his own reluctance to return to Safed but his latest statement is worrying for the millions of refugees festering in squalid UN-run camps around the region.
One journalist said that Abbas’s comments “seemed to signal a significant concession on the so-called right of return – the Palestinian demand that several million descendants of 700,000 refugees expelled during Israel’s 1948 war of independence be allowed to go back to their homes.” For the benefit of the Daily Telegraph’s Robert Tait, it should be remembered that the right to return is not a “Palestinian demand”, it is enshrined in UN General Assembly Resolution 194 dated 11 December 1948: “… refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date…” Israel’s membership in the UN was conditional inter alia on it implementing this resolution, something which, of course, it has never done.
Israel’s unilateral “Declaration of Independence” of 1948 is clear that it was established as “the Jewish State in Palestine”. Among other things, the founding document insists that Israel “will loyally uphold the principles of the United Nations Charter”, among which is a commitment to implement resolutions; Israel has ignored more UN resolutions than it has ever implemented.
This “Jewish State” was recognised implicitly by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in 1993 when the former “terrorist” group came in from the cold and recognised Israel’s “right to exist”. That being the case, it must be asked why Benjamin Netanyahu is insisting on Palestinian recognition of the “Jewish character” of Israel as a pre-condition for a peace agreement.
Experience shows that Israel is an expansionist state; it has never declared its borders and has grown exponentially ever since it was created. Indeed, even by then it had morphed itself from the “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine mentioned in the infamous Balfour Declaration of 1917 to a “Jewish State” by 1948. The land it occupied by the 1949 armistice was greater in area than the allocation of the UN Partition Plan of 1947; this was increased yet again when Israel launched the Six-Day War in 1967 and occupied all of historic Palestine. While not occupying the Gaza Strip physically since 2005, Israel controls its borders, territorial waters and air space; it is an occupation legally and in all but name. As the “negotiations” (a euphemism for Palestinian concessions) drag on for 20 years and counting, Israel creates more facts on the ground, grabbing ever more land for its illegal settlements, settler-only roads, military zones and “nature reserves”. I think that it is fair to say that Israel’s leaders have no intention whatsoever of giving up any land upon which Jews are now living as they push to create “Eretz Israel”, the Greater Israel that is Zionism’s dream.
Recognition of the “Jewish character” of Israel will give it the green light to complete the ethnic cleansing started in 1948, with the 20 per cent of non-Jewish Israeli citizens being “transferred” to the rump statelet of Palestine that may or may not come into being; ideally, from a Zionist perspective, the transfer won’t end there and life will be made so miserable for Palestinians in the West Bank that they will cross into what many Israelis already call the state of Palestine; the rest of us know this as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. This is the “alternative homeland” scenario dreaded by Palestinians who have no wish to leave their historic homeland.
Israel will cite “security” concerns in order to get its way, though, and willing dupes like US Secretary of State John Kerry, ever-ready to do the pro-Israel Lobby’s bidding, will put pressure on the Palestinian Authority to concede even more than it has already. This includes agreement to a strong Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley, so that an “independent state of Palestine” will be nothing of the sort; it will have an army of occupation on its territory from Day One.
Once Israel is cleared of the “demographic time-bomb” of its Palestinian citizens it can claim, with hand on heart, that it is indeed both Jewish and democratic in nature. Fear of being an obvious apartheid state with a democratic façade is genuine; Jewish students in America are already being coached about how to defend the case for declaring a Jewish state while basically disenfranchising 1-in-5 of Israel’s citizens and implementing a raft of discriminatory laws.
That is why Mahmoud Abbas needs to wake from his stupor and understand that while he is free to give up his own right of return, he has no right whatsoever to concede that right for all Palestinian refugees. Israel and its Western backers will, of course, continue to ignore the UN resolutions in any case and so won’t mind that the legal niceties are chewed up and spat out as long as what Israel wants, Israel gets. But that will never produce a just and lasting peace in the region. Maybe that doesn’t bother the military-industrial complex upon which Israel is so reliant; it certainly won’t bother the neoconservatives running America. Their plans for the Middle East don’t include a state of Palestine; they want to see US-Israeli hegemony at any cost.
More than anything else, Abbas’s ill-advised statements demonstrate the ridiculous nature of the whole peace process, which is producing neither peace nor much of a process at the moment. The one-state solution is being talked about in all sorts of circles these days, as more and more people realise and accept that two-states are a non-starter. If the message can get through to Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies in Ramallah on board the Palestinian Authority gravy train, maybe peace will have a chance after all.
GAZA — Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri strongly denounced de facto president Mahmoud Abbas for his recent press remarks to a US newspaper and said that the views he expressed pose a threat to Palestinian cause and only represent himself.
Spokesman Abu Zuhri stated that the ideas that were voiced by Abbas in press remarks to the New York Times newspaper do not reflect the national consensus which rejects the negotiations and any solution against Palestinian rights and constants.
Abbas told the New York Times on Monday that he refuses demands made constantly by Palestinian parties to join some UN bodies or go to the international criminal court, adding that he wants to exhaust his negotiation with the Israelis before making any such move.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he would be willing to allow a US-led NATO force to patrol a Palestinian state for an indefinite amount of time, adding that the Israeli army and settlements could remain for five years rather than three years as he had told the Americans before.
Abbas also said the Palestinian state would be demilitarized and have only a police force and the NATO force, affirming that he would not allow the return of the armed struggle in the Palestinian state.
He called recognizing Israel as a Jewish state out of the question and said he would agree on extending the nine-month negotiations, which started in July last year, if progress was made.