Gideon Levy writes: Gaza is dying, slowly. Elsewhere, its suffering matters to no one. No one in Washington, or Brussels, or Jerusalem, or Cairo nor even in Ramallah. Incredibly, there is evidently almost no one who cares that two million people are abandoned to the dark at night and to the sweltering heat of the summer days, with nowhere to run and no shred of hope. Nothing.
One of the biggest experiments involving human subjects ever conducted anywhere is currently taking place right before our eyes, and the world is silent. This experiment on human beings, unsanctioned by any of the international scientific institutions whose oversight is required by the Helsinki Declaration, seeks to examine the human behaviour of no fewer than two million human beings in situations of extreme stress and deprivation. Read on here
Miko Peled tells it as it is. To Trump’s surprise it is Netanhayu who doesn’t want the US Embassy moved to Jerusalem.
Presumably Trump inviting Abbas to Washington so suddenly has to do with the Israeli leader’s plans to survive in what will be an increasingly dangerous post-Mosul, post-Raqqa Middle East.
Allison Deger writes
In two days time, there will likely be some clarity over President Donald Trump’s ever-evolving stance on Israeli settlements, and whether or not he will pursue moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
After exchanges of mutual admiration, over social media, in relation to Israel’s wall as a harbinger of the U.S. policy with Mexico, Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are due to meet in person tomorrow for the first time since inauguration. They are expected to discuss the future of U.S.-Israel relations, and key points that could dash Palestinian aspirations for statehood. Read full article here
The resolution “… demands Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem…[which activity has] no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”
There are up to 196 illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land, in addition to hundreds of settler outposts. These settlements host up to 600,000 Jewish settlers, who were moved there in violation of international law and, in particular, the Fourth Geneva Convention.
In respect of resolution 2334, four of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and all 10 of the current non-permanent members voted in favour of the motion: China, France, Russia, UK, Angola, Egypt, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal, Spain, Ukraine, Uruguay and Venezuela. Although Egypt originally withdrew the proposed resolution which it was championing because of pressure from Israel, it eventually voted in favour, after being castigated by Malaysia, New Zealand, Senegal and Venezuela, who decided to take up the baton. Egypt’s potential moment in the sun was eclipsed. So in the end, 14 out of 15 voted for the resolution.
The wording of the US abstention, however, made it sound very much like a yes vote: Samantha Power said: “The United States has been sending a message that the settlements must stop privately and publicly for nearly five decades… One cannot simultaneously champion expanding Israeli settlements and champion a viable two state solution that would end the conflict. One had to make a choice between settlements and separation”. This sends a powerful message to Israel from the international community ahead of Trump’s typically harebrained approach to the two-stage solution at the heart of international law on the matter.
The resolution has been called toothless, and yet unlike General Assembly resolutions, UNSC resolutions are actually not advisory but mandatory. It is only because Israel will violate with impunity because of the traditional lack of American and European political will in the face of the Israel lobby that such a resolution becomes ‘toothless’. We have seen this with Israel’s total disregard for Resolution 242.
Nevertheless, this departure will put any future Trump Israeli policy, which is widely expected to be strongly biased in favour of Israel, in the position of being “rogue” in the context of international law. The importance of this factor in the long term should not be underestimated, and the assembled council members expressed their unanimous backing of Palestinian rights by applauding after the resolution was passed.
— NZ Mission to the UN (@NZUN) December 23, 2016
This one action by Obama before his leaving office is a prompt for a reassessment of his foreign policy.
Although Syria is a disaster, one could interpret Obama leaving a void there for Russia, Turkey and Iran to take over, as a good thing in the long-term. Indeed Obama would seem to have bucked an inheritance here. Inderjeet Parmar’s considered thesis is that it was the liberal international policy of the Democratic Party’s establishment that had decided on a course of régime change in Syria prior to 2009 and Obama’s election. Furthermore, it was Hillary Clinton in her role as Secretary of State, who deliberately tripped up the prospects for the Syrian National Council to take a political rather than military course in 2012. Hers was a plan for a war by proxy with her Saudi allies.
The Iran deal with Obama steered though the US legislative against determined efforts by Israel, thus avoiding war with Iran was clearly a positive step.
However, Obama support for the Sarkozy-Cameron idiocy in Libya was hugely destructive, although one might say that this might once again have been as a result of the undue influence of Hillary Clinton.
Another negative is the focus on and then the surge in Afghanistan – Obama’s war of choice.
In respect of Iraq, many in the US believe that the US military should have stayed to stop the sectarianism and the rise of ISIS, and that Obama’s withdrawal was a mistake. However, such a view contravenes the fact that in the first place the American and British militaries fostered the sectarian policies currently tearing the region apart, during their invasion, to further their own ends.
One could conclude in a negative sense that Obama’s wish to disengage from the Middle East, against the wishes of his establishment, was a good thing in the long term. Once the Iraq War was over, the Middle East changed completely and no amount of tinkering by a continued occupation force would have made any difference – and quite likely would have only exacerbated the situation. The decision to leave Iraq was right. The damage was done.
All in all, however, despite the positive glosses, one has to conclude that Obama was a weak president who felt hemmed in not only by the Washington bureaucracy, but also by the Clintonite establishment in his own party. This became terribly clear when he turned out to not be a fair and just enough person to stand against the demonisation of Sanders during the electoral process, which led to Trump’s win. If one is to take Obama’s legacy article in the Atlantic Magazine as a guide to his personality, it gives us a sense of sour grapes and a tendency to blame others for his mistakes. On this basis, could we say that Obama’s non-veto at this historic UNSC meeting was essentially an act of personal revenge over Netanhayu’s constant humiliations, rather than an act of statesmanship?
What should make us lean towards answering that question in the affirmative, is the fact that this was the only UNSC resolution calling on Israel to respect international law that Obama has ever refused to veto. Under George W. Bush, six similar resolutions were allowed through. Under H.W. Bush, nine resolutions critical of Israel were allowed through.
At the same time, Obama awarded Israel with its largest military aid package ever — signing a memorandum of understanding in September that would give it $38 billion over 10 years. This was supposed to be a payment in exchange for Israel accepting the Iran nuclear deal.
As Trump comes into power and takes a firmly anti-Palestinian stand, a much clearer, less duplicitous political environment will reign under American conservatives than ever did under the liberal internationalists of the Democratic Party establishment. The Palestinian people will be able, if not forced, to make better choices, especially about their leadership, and in this they will be supported by the whole world, except for America, whose star is in decline.
Philip Weiss writes
I can’t remember the last time I’ve cried in a synagogue, but last night was truly extraordinary: a suburban New York temple hosted a Palestinian leader making the argument for one democratic state between the river and the sea. And the Jewish audience did not contest his description of human rights atrocities.
And his Jewish hosts thanked him for opening their eyes to new ideas. If there is a glimmer of hope that the American Jewish community can be redeemed from a tragic course, and that the peoples of Israel and Palestine can be freed from a blind alleyway of history, there it was last night, at Temple Israel in New Rochelle.
Read full article here
“We welcome the statement’s shattering of the taboo against boycotting Israeli entities that are complicit in—at least selective—violations of Palestinian human rights”, wrote Angela Y. Davis, Chandler Davis, Richard A. Falk, Rashid Khalidi, and Alice Rothchild, et al. in the New York Review of Books
Daud Abdulla writes
Campaigning has barely started but the planned Palestinian local elections are already turning into a farce. Intimidation, physical attacks and the detention of candidates in municipalities across the West Bank have given rise to questions about the real purpose of the exercise. One view gaining currency is that they are intended to prepare the way for parliamentary and presidential elections in the occupied territories.
Events on the ground show that both the ruling Fatah movement and the Israeli establishment are fearful of the possible results of any and all elections. If anything was learnt from other experiences it is that opinion polls can be misleading. No matter how much they may indicate a party’s popularity, nothing is guaranteed until the final votes are counted.
More frightening for Fatah, there is also the grim reminder of recent student elections in the West Bank, which resulted in dramatic victories for Hamas. In April, the Islamists won 25 of the 51 seats in Bir Zeit University elections where about 75 per cent of the students voted.
It is true that university polls represent only a section of society and as such cannot be regarded as an accurate reflection of public opinion. They can, nevertheless, point to societal trends.
In order to avoid a humiliating defeat like that suffered at Bir Zeit – or even in the 2006 parliamentary elections – Fatah, with Israel’s assistance, is now lashing out at opposition candidates, especially those connected to Hamas. Notable examples of intimidation include a recorded threat against Abdullah Yasin in Tulkarm; calls from Palestinian Authority (PA) intelligence agents to an independent candidate, Khalid Abu Al Baha, who was forced to withdraw; and threats to Rashad Sawan and Muhammad Ali Sawan from Immatain village in the Qalqilya Governorate. In the town of Anabta, the candidate for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was also threatened and forced to withdraw from a joint list alongside Hamas.
Perhaps the most bizarre aspect of this unfolding electoral farce are the threats meted out to scores of candidates who are supposed to be associated with Fatah, among them Yahya Shawer and Judy Abu Sinineh in Hebron. Their only transgression, as it were, is that they decided to campaign on other than the official Fatah list.
One only needs to scratch the surface, therefore, to find the answers to this scandalous train of events, which are being passed off as free elections. At first glance it may seem that this is a straight fight between Hamas and Fatah, but it isn’t. Muhammad Dahlan, the disgraced former Fatah operative, still has support within the movement, although its senior officials, especially those close to Mahmoud Abbas, would have us believe that he is yesterday’s man. This is certainly not the case.
For a start, it is believed widely that his security and intelligence background has seen Dahlan emerge as the favoured candidate of Egypt and Israel (and, by extension, the West) to succeed Mahmoud Abbas. In recent days, Jordan has thrown its weight behind an Egyptian initiative to reconcile Dahlan and Abbas, his former boss.
While the ultimate objective is to install the mercurial Dahlan as head of Fatah, the PLO and the PA, his regional backers, Israel included, are fully aware that this coronation must be seen as legitimate and credible, however outlandish it may actually be. Hence, the farce of local elections that are expected to clear the way for even more absurd parliamentary and presidential elections.
If there is one certainty about the Palestinian electorate it is its unpredictability. No one knows how voters will react to this travesty. It is precisely for this reason that the Israeli occupation authorities have stepped up their witch-hunt against journalists in the West Bank.
Since the beginning of this year, Israel has closed six media organisations in the occupied territories, all on the pretext of “incitement”, confirming thereby the impossibility of having a free press and real democracy under military occupation. The latest victim is Al-Sanabel radio station, which broadcasts from Dura village in Hebron.
All told, time has evidently run out for Abbas. He has, it seems, very little choice on the issue of reconciliation, let alone about who will succeed him. After more than a decade at the helm of Fatah, the PLO and the PA he still has no deputy or identifiable successor. In this regard, though, he is by means unique; such a state of affairs is part of the official Arab pathology. Regional autocrats rule as if their time will never come to an end. Indeed, like the medieval kings of Europe they rule as if it is their “divine right”.
They are mistaken to do so; everything comes to an end, even Israel’s illegal military occupation. Not even farcical Palestinian elections, municipal or otherwise, will delay this eventuality. They will be far from free and fair and should be cancelled.
Read original article here