Posts Tagged ‘Jewish settlements’

Who is Killing Whom? Pounding Gaza

March 24, 2010

Sonja Karkar, Counterpunch, March 23, 2010

One man dead in Israel and the whole world knows.  He actually was not Israeli, but an unfortunate immigrant worker from Thailand.  We have been told who killed him too: not by name, but by some shadowy nom de guerre, used by jihadist groups some claim to be loosely affiliated with al-Qaeda in Iraq and elsewhere. The unknown group in Gaza, Ansar al-Sunna, claimed responsibility for the rocket fired into Israel that caused the man’s death by shrapnel.

The Hamas government has had its own problems with such groups, which have challenged its rule in Gaza. But, that is neither here nor there for Israel.

Israel has already said that its response will be strong.  And sure enough, Israeli bombers have pounded the southern-most part of Gaza, so far killing and wounding some fourteen Palestinian civilians including children, three of them critically.

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Israeli settlements ‘end two-state hopes’

November 5, 2009
Al Jazeera, Nov. 5, 2009
Erekat said the settlement stalemate made the one-state solution a viable alternative [AFP]

Palestinians may have to abandon the goal of an independent state if Israel continues to expand Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, the chief Palestinian negotiator has said.

Speaking to reporters in Ramallah on Wednesday, Saab Erekat said it may be time for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to “tell his people the truth, that with the continuation of settlement activities, the two-state solution is no longer an option”.

Israel has rejected the idea of a de facto annexation of the occupied West Bank, incorporating the Palestinians as citizens, as a “demographic timebomb” that would make Jews the minority.

Citing a 2003 peace “road map”, Abbas has made a cessation of Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank a precondition for resuming statehood talks with Israel.

In video

Palestinian anger over settlements
Is a two-state solution viable?

On Wednesday Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, called again for a complete freeze in Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank.Clinton called the settlements illegitimate after talks with Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, in Cairo.

“We do not accept the legitimacy of settlement activity and we have a very firm belief that ending all settlement activity, current and future, would be preferable,” Clinton said.

“Getting into final status negotiations will allow us to bring an end to settlement activity.”

‘Unprecedented offer’

Erekat said Clinton – who had earlier praised as “unprecedented” Netanyahu’s August offer to temporarily limit construction of West Bank settlements – was only opening the door to more settlements in the next two years.

in depth
Netanyahu outmanoeuvres Obama?
Netanyahu ‘speaks like a conqueror’
Wanted: Middle East statesmen
Settlements strain US-Israel ties
US Jews and Israelis split on Obama
Arab media judge Mitchell tour
Q&A: Jewish settlements

The alternative left for Palestinians is to “refocus their attention on the one-state solution where Muslims, Christians and Jews can live as equals”, Erekat said.

“It is very serious. This is the moment of truth for us.”

Erekat said Netanyahu’s concept of a separate Palestinian state alongside Israel with limited powers of sovereignty, and his uncompromising position on the future of Jerusalem were tantamount to dictating the terms of peace negotiations.

Netanyahu, Erekat said, had told the Palestinian president “that Jerusalem will be the eternal and united capital of Israel, that refugees won’t be discussed, that our state will be demilitarised, that we have to recognise the Jewish state, that it’s not going to be the 1967 borders, that the skies will be under his control”.

“This is dictation and not negotiations,” he said.

Netanyahu and Abbas last met in New York in September in a handshake meeting arranged by Barack Obama, the US president.

Palestinians seek to establish the West Bank and Gaza as the territory of a Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, based on borders set before Israel captured land from Jordan and Egypt in its 1967 six-day war.

“Anything short of that is a non-option for us,” Erekat said.

No freeze

While Netanyahu’s stated plan would place a freeze on new settlements in the occupied West Bank, no Israeli restrictions would be placed on 3,000 buildings already under construction.

Hillary Clinton reaffirms the US position on the ‘illegitimacy’ of settlements to Al Jazeera

Furthermore, no restrictions will be placed on settlement projects in East Jerusalem.”If the Israelis believe they want to partition the West Bank with us, this is a no-go. This is a non-starter,” Erekat said, in reference to Israeli control of West Bank settlements, adjacent land, and the territory’s eastern Jordan Valley border.

Clinton reaffirmed in Cairo on Wednesday that Washington does not accept the legitimacy of the Israeli settlements. But she added, in another nudge to Palestinians to talk with Israel: “Getting into final status negotiations will allow us to bring an end to settlement activity.”

Erekat said Palestinians had “made a mistake” in the past by agreeing to negotiate with Israel without insisting on a settlement halt, and they were not about to repeat that error.

Clinton had earlier attempted to clarify her remarks on Washington’s view of Netanyahu’s plan.

“It is not what we would want and it is nowhere near enough – but I think that when you keep your eye on what we want to achieve, it is a better place to be than the alternative, which is unrestrained,” she told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

Israel’s settlement building programme is illegal under international law and several United Nations Security Council resolutions have called for it to stop.

But Israel has repeatedly ignored all international calls for it to halt the construction.

Obama team loses face on Israeli settlements

November 3, 2009

Middle East Online, Nov. 3, 2009

Severely humiliated by hardline Netanyahu

Analysts: Obama needs fresh plan to restart Arab-Israeli peace talks after humiliating failure.

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration must devise a fresh plan to restart Arab-Israeli peace talks after losing face with a backtracking on its demands for a full Jewish settlement freeze, analysts said Monday.

President Barack Obama’s team has disappointed many Palestinians and other Arabs who long for it to fulfill both its initial tough stance on settlements and a broader pledge to improve ties with the Muslim world, they said.

During a Middle East tour, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sought Monday to reassure Arabs after angering them with her weekend praise of hardline Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer to restrict illegal settlements as “unprecedented.”

The chief US diplomat insisted her administration still opposed settlements as strongly as before.

Disputing her claim is Aaron David Miller, who served as adviser on Middle East peacemaking in previous US administrations.

“Netanyahu … outmaneuvered us,” Miller said.

The “paradox,” he argued, is that an administration which began with a tough policy toward the Israelis and a “sensitive” one toward the Palestinians has now shifted the onus to the Palestinians.

All Jewish settlements are illegal under international law because they are built on Arab land (mainly Palestinian), illegally occupied by Israel.

Around illegal 200,000 Jewish settlers are estimated to have moved into the dozen or so Israeli settlements in Palestinian East Jerusalem.

There are about 300,000 more illegal Jewish settlers currently living in settlements the Palestinian West Bank.

The settlers adhere to radical ideologies and are extremely violent to almost-defenceless Palestinians.

Unlike settlements, Miller said, borders, the status of the disputed holy city of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees and security for Israel are the core issues.

“They (the Obama team) need to do some fundamental rethinking about what their overall objective is and how they are going to achieve it,” Miller said.

Amjad Atallah, a former legal adviser to the Abbas-led Palestinian Authority, said the US shift on settlements has only weakened Abbas further and made him more reluctant than ever to enter peace talks with Israel.

“They (Palestinians) argue that if the United States was not prepared to back up what it said on settlements, why would it be prepared to back up what it might say on borders?” Atallah said.

The members of the US administration, believing in their powers of “moral persuasion,” were caught off guard, said the analyst with the New America Foundation.

“They thought once it got into permanent status negotiations, things would go relatively quickly. What they didn’t count on was the Israeli government’s intransigence,” he added.

Now that that has happened, “how do we go about re-establishing our street cred and what’s our strategy going forward?” he asked.

The administration now needs, Atallah said, to devise a diplomatic strategy that matches the “high-minded principled recognition” that the Arab-Israeli conflict is a central threat to US national security interests.

Instead, the United States is pursuing “a business-as-usual negotiating strategy” that can only ultimately lead to a worsening situation and even violence, he warned.

Obama, in failing to deliver on settlements, seems to have reinforced the Arab narrative that the “Americans are all in the pockets of the Zionists,” according to Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“It’s not going to be easy, but we need to find some way to change topic,” Clawson said when asked about how the US can revive talks.

Abbas to Clinton: No peace talks without settlement freeze

November 1, 2009

The Sunday Morning Herald, November 1, 2009

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the Palestinians would not agree to re-launch peace talks with Israel without a complete freeze of Jewish settlements.

Abbas rejected the request from Clinton because a deal reached between US Middle East envoy George Mitchell and Israel ‘‘does not include a complete freeze of settlement activities,’’ Erakat said.

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Why Israel will thwart Obama on settlements

August 26, 2009

For the Jewish state, the settlements are eminently sensible and their growth is almost certain to continue, either openly or stealthily.

By Walter Rodgers | The Christian Science Monitor

from the August 25, 2009 edition

The idea that the Obama administration can advance the Middle East peace process by having Israel freeze its construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank stretches credulity.

Does any serious observer of the region believe that Israel’s appetite for land – owned and occupied for generations by Palestinians – is going to abate?

The Israeli land grab has continued for four decades, in defiance of international law and most US presidents. US Middle East envoy George Mitchell has been trying to secure a halt, but his efforts follow a well-worn path that typically ends in charade.

Just weeks ago, the Israeli government evicted two extended Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem, clearing the way for more houses for Jews in traditionally Palestinian neighborhoods.

Israeli settlements have become a kind of concrete kudzu to Palestinians. The Fatah party recently renewed its commitment to resisting them, holding that “the Palestinians have the right to resist the Israeli occupation by all possible means.”

But for the Jewish state, the settlements are eminently sensible and their growth is almost certain to continue, either openly or stealthily. As Interior Minister Eli Yishai put it Aug. 10, expanding settlements near Jerusalem is vital for “security, national interests, and is just and necessary.”

Every new Jewish apartment complex enlarges and deepens the Jewish footprint on occupied land. The California-style townhouses atop the hills of ancient Samaria and Judea are seen as security buffers for an Israeli island in a hostile Islamic sea. Israel’s feeling of vulnerability is intensified by the growing Arab population already within its borders.

The settlements have become affordable suburbs for Israelis otherwise priced out of the metropolitan markets. More than 300,000 Jewish settlers now call the West Bank home.

Further, religious and ultrareligious Jewish settlers insist they have divinely bestowed title to the land. Few passages in the Bible are more frightening to Arabs than Deuteronomy 11:24:

“Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be.”

Palestinian Arabs are too weak to legally or militarily challenge the Jewish state’s internal expansion. An Israeli court recently ruled that Israel can now confiscate land belonging to Palestinians who once resided in an area but are now refugees pending final settlement.

Having lived in Jerusalem for five years during the salad days of the peace process in the 1990s, I watched settlement builders nibble away at what were once Palestinian homes, villages, and pastures.

From Jerusalem southward, the construction of the Har Homa settlement crabs outward to the doorsteps of Palestinian Bethlehem. From the air, these settlements appear a terrestrial octopus, extending out to ultimately link up with the more militant Jewish settlements farther south in Hebron, another city with a large Palestinian majority.

Settlement building resembles military flanking and encirclement maneuvers, isolating Palestinian population centers. In Jerusalem, there are at least half a dozen Arab neighborhoods, including the Mount of Olives, threatened by Israel’s voracious hunger for land. Quoted in the newspaper Haaretz, Sarah Kreimer of Ir Amim, a group specializing in Israeli-Palestinian relations, says, “In each of these places, plans are being advanced for construction whose ultimate purpose is to disconnect the Old City from Palestinian Jerusalem.”

Israelis have brilliantly created a sense of inevitability to all this. Yet, the moral difficulties of moving indigenous peoples off the land by subterfuge or force are obvious. When in the past I’ve raised the ethical implications of these land appropriations, Israelis have dismissed me, saying, “Hey, you Americans did it to the Indians.”

American presidents have often quietly nudged Israel to freeze the settlements, but their actual leverage has been minimal. Israelis have elected both doves and hawks as prime minister, but virtually all Israeli governments supported settlement expansion in varying degrees.

Jewish political clout in America ought not be underestimated. A former chairman of the American Israel Political Action Committee once boasted to me, “We got [Sen.] Chuck Percy [an Illinois Republican who was narrowly defeated in 1984] when he crossed us on the Palestinians.” President Obama will face a similar threat at election time if he defies Israel’s expansionist instincts.

US presidents have so frequently pledged unshakable support for Israel that it’s created the illusion that US and Israeli interests are identical. It might be useful for Mr. Obama and his Middle East team to publicly point to serious differences with Israel when they arise. If the US can have public disagreements with its allies, including Britain, why should Israel be exempted from what could be a healthy debate?

Jewish settlement construction may temporarily downshift into neutral. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton may hail “a building freeze.” But if the past is prologue, the first time Obama is distracted by another domestic or international crisis, and Washington isn’t looking, the Israeli bulldozers will be back at work.

Walter Rodgers served as the CNN bureau chief in Jerusalem for 5-1/2 years. He writes a biweekly column for the Monitor’s weekly edition.

Israel uses Hitler picture to sell its settlement expansion

July 25, 2009

Foreign minister orders diplomats to circulate photo ahead of discussions with President Obama’s envoy

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem | The Independent/UK, July 25, 2009

As the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem at the outbreak of the Second World War, Mohammad Amin al-Husayni was a powerful Nazi sympathiser  - and an assassination target for the Allies.

As the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem at the outbreak of the Second World War, Mohammad Amin al-Husayni was a powerful Nazi sympathiser – and an assassination target for the Allies.

Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s foreign minister, has triggered fresh controversy by urging diplomats abroad to use a 1941 photograph of a Palestinian religious leader meeting Hitler to counter protests against a planned Jewish settlement in Arab East Jerusalem.

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What Kind of Two-State Solution?

June 15, 2009
Agence Global, June 15, 2009
by Immanuel Wallerstein,   Commentary No. 259, J

Now that President Obama has put his weight so openly and publicly behind the concept of a two-state “solution” for the Israel-Palestine controversy/struggle, such a “solution” may well be achieved in the coming years. The reason is simple. Stated abstractly, such a solution has overwhelming support in world political opinion. Polls show a majority of Jewish Israelis favor it, as do a majority of Jews elsewhere in the world. Support among Arab leaders is strong and wide. Even Hamas indicates it is willing to accept the concept of two states on the basis of an indefinite “truce” in the struggle. Some “truces” in the modern world have lasted four centuries. And more recently, there has been “truces” on the Korean peninsula and in Kashmir for more than a half-century. Some “truces” seem pretty permanent.

What seems to be left out of the discussion these days is what does the expression “two states” mean? Quite diverse definitions exist. We should remember that the last real negotiations, those between Yasir Arafat and Ehud Barak in 2000, foundered at the last minute at Taba over diverse definitions.

What are the issues in these contrary definitions? There are at least six different issues which the mere slogan of “two states” hides. The first issue is the definition of sovereignty. The Palestinians of course think that sovereign means sovereign – a state with the same powers as any other sovereign state. Even those Israeli political leaders who have accepted the terminology of two states have been thinking of a limited version of sovereignty. For example, what kind of military apparatus would such the Palestinian state have? Would it control completely overflight permissions? Would it have unlimited control of its borders?

The second issue is of course the borders of such a state. Both the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Hamas feel that accepting the 1967 borders is already an enormous concession on their part. They certainly do not expect to obtain anything less. But such borders of course do not include the post-1967 Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories, nor east Jerusalem. Tiny adjustments in these borders might be acceptable. But tiny means truly tiny.

The third issue is  internal democracy  in Israel. Will non-Jewish Israelis continue to have fewer rights than Jewish Israelis? This is a central and very little discussed question.

The fourth issue is whether the two states will be defined as secular states or religious states. Will the Palestinian state be a Muslim state? Will Israel continue to be a Jewish state?

The fifth issue is the so-called right of return. Israel was founded on the unlimited right of return of any Jew who wishes to come to Israel. The Arabs who fled from Israel (or were forced out) demand a right of return. This has been the knottiest issue in the entire historic debate. It is a question of both demography and land. The Palestinians might accept a merely symbolic gesture on this question, if all other issues were resolved in ways they considered appropriate.

Finally, of course, there is the question of what would happen with the existing Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories. It is conceivable that the Palestinians might say that some of them could remain where they are. But it seems hardly likely that the settlers would agree to stay in a Palestinian state, or would willingly accept evacuation to Israel.

Now what has Obama done? He has taken a strong position on two questions the present ultra-right Israeli government refuses to accept: no further expansion of any kind of the existing settlements and a commitment to a two-state solution. This is unquestionably positive and courageous in the context of U.S. internal politics.

However, it risks being dangerous in terms of any real solution. For consider the following possibility. Under severe twisting of the arm of Israeli Prime Minister Netanhayu by Obama, Netanyahu concedes both points, and reshuffles his cabinet in the light of this shift in position. Will he then not turn around and say to Obama that now the Palestinians must make comparable concessions? But he would not really be talking about “controlling violence” by the Palestinian Authority – the usual Israeli governmental mantra. He will mean concessions on all the issues I have listed above – on none of which any Palestinian leadership can today make any significant further concession.

Obama’s courageous gestures will then turn out to be a mode of distraction from the real underlying issues.

Obama’s Cairo speech

June 15, 2009

Dr Mahathir Mohamad,, June 15, 2009

Finally Obama, the black President of the United States has made his much awaited speech  outlining his views and policies on Islam, the Muslims and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a carefully crafted speech and certainly it is different from those of George W. Bush or even other US Presidents.

2. The arrogance and the preachings are out but two things American still stand out, and that is the United States is a world super power and that American loyalty to Israel is undiminished. Other things can change but not these two.

3. Hamas is asked to give up terrorism because like the struggles of the blacks of America and South Africa, violence achieves nothing. This is not quite true, at least with other national struggles for freedom and justice. The white Americans themselves fought a war against the British and another war to prevent the break-up of the United States.

4. Elsewhere the struggles for freedom and justice e.g. the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution just to name two, all involve violence.

5. It is not the Palestinians who choose violence. It was the Jews who violently seized Palestinian land, massacred the Arabs and expelled them from their country. With no one prepared to restrain the Jews, the beleaguered Palestinians had to resort to violence. The world, the United Nations, even fellow Muslims have deserted them.

6. I am against violence but when Israel seized more Palestinian land, build settlements, impose military rule, divide the Palestinians with high walls, barred the Palestinians from using roads built by the Israelis on Palestinian territory, denied the Palestinian right to a homeland, denied the right of return of the expelled Palestinian while upholding the rights of return of Jews who for centuries had been citizens of other countries, labelled Palestinians as terrorists while exonerating the Israelis for the massive attacks on Gaza and other places, left the Palestinians helpless when attacked by the Western-armed Israeli Military Forces, incarcerated thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails, unnecessarily provoke the Palestinians by Sharon’s visit to Jerusalem and many, many more assaults and provocations, is it any wonder that the Palestinians resorted to violence?

7. And now they are asked to stop violence to respect agreements. But what about the Israelis? Shouldn’t they be told to stop their massive violence; shouldn’t they be told to respect agreements and all the UN resolutions, such as those against their setting up settlements on Palestinian soil, the occupation of land beyond the UN set boundaries for Israel?


Netanyahu: Israel will still build on Jewish settlements

May 25, 2009

Israeli prime minister ignores Obama’s calls and says ‘natural growth’ on West Bank and in Jerusalem will continue

The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said today that his country would continue to build in Jewish settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank, despite calls from the US administration for a halt.

Netanyahu’s comments came less than a week after he met President Barack Obama in Washington, where he was told that the US wanted to see a stop to settlement expansion.

“We do not intend to build any new settlements, but it wouldn’t be fair to ban construction to meet the needs of natural growth or for there to be an outright construction ban,” Netanyahu said.

“Natural growth” is the term Israel uses for expansion to accommodate population growth inside the boundaries of existing settlements. However, the 2003 US road map for peace explicitly calls for a freeze to all settlement activity, including natural growth.

Nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Settlements on occupied land are widely regarded as illegal under international law.

The issue of settlement outposts – the most remote settlements that are not even authorised by Israel – was debated in the Israeli cabinet today. Ehud Barak, the defence minister, said 22 settlement outposts, out of a total of about 100, would be taken down either by dialogue or by force. However, after police tried to demolish one outpost near Ramallah last week, settlers simply returned within hours and began rebuilding.

“The 22 … have to be dealt with now in a responsible, appropriate manner, first of all exhausting all efforts at dialogue, and if that proves impossible, then unilaterally, using force if necessary,” Barak said before the cabinet meeting. He and other Israeli officials have made similar promises in recent years but the outposts remain.

Many in Netanyahu’s government are deeply opposed to any steps against the settlers. “Outposts do not have to be dismantled now,” said the interior minister, Eli Yishai. “There is rampant illegal construction on the part of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. If we go for enforcement, then enforcement has to be unified, just and equitable.”

Chronicle of a Suicide Foretold: The Case of Israel

January 17, 2009
Immanuel Wallerstein, Commentary No. 249, Jan. 15, 2009

The state of Israel proclaimed its independence at midnight on May 15, 1948. The United Nations had voted to establish two states in what had been Palestine under British rule. The city of Jerusalem was supposed to be an international zone under U.N. jurisdiction. The U.N. resolution had wide support, and specifically that of the United States and the Soviet Union. The Arab states all voted against it.

In the sixty years of its existence, the state of Israel has depended for its survival and expansion on an overall strategy that combined three elements: macho militarism, geopolitical alliances, and public relations. The macho militarism (what current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert calls the “iron fist”) was made possible by the nationalist fervor of Jewish Israelis, and eventually (although not initially) by the very strong support of Jewish communities elsewhere in the world.

Geopolitically, Israel first forged an alliance with the Soviet Union (which was brief but crucial), then with France (which lasted a longer time and allowed Israel to become a nuclear power), and finally (and most importantly) with the United States. These allies, who were also patrons, offered most importantly military support through the provision of weapons. But they also offered diplomatic/political support, and in the case of the United States considerable economic support.

The public relations was aimed at obtaining sympathetic support from a wide swath of world public opinion, based in the early years on a portrait of Israel as a pioneering David against a retrograde Goliath, and in the last forty years on guilt and compassion over the massive Nazi extermination of European Jewry during the Second World War.

All these elements of Israeli strategy worked well from 1948 to the 1980s. Indeed, they were increasingly more effective. But somewhere in the 1980s, the use of each of the three tactics began to be counterproductive. Israel has now entered into a phase of the precipitate decline of its strategy. It may be too late for Israel to pursue any alternative strategy, in which case it will have committed geopolitical suicide. Let us trace how the three elements in the strategy interacted, first during the successful upward swing, then during the slow decline of Israel’s power.

For the first twenty-five years of its existence, Israel engaged in four wars with Arab states. The first was the 1948-1949 war to establish the Jewish state. The Israeli declaration of an independent state was not matched by a Palestinian declaration to establish a state. Rather, a number of Arab governments declared war on Israel. Israel was initially in military difficulty. However, the Israeli military were far better trained than those of the Arab countries, with the exception of Transjordan. And, crucially, they obtained arms from Czechoslovakia, acting as the agent of the Soviet Union.

By the time of the truce in 1949, the discipline of the Israeli forces combined with the Czech arms enabled the Israelis to win considerable territory not included in the partition proposals of the United Nations, including west Jerusalem. The other areas were incorporated by the surrounding Arab states. A large number of Palestinian Arabs left or were forced to leave areas under the control of the Israelis and became refugees in neighboring Arab countries, where their descendants still largely live today. The land they had owned was taken by Jewish Israelis.

The Soviet Union soon dropped Israel. This was probably primarily because its leaders quickly became afraid of the impact of the creation of the state on the attitudes of Soviet Jewry, who seemed overly enthusiastic and hence potentially subversive from Stalin’s point of view. Israel in turn dropped any sympathy for the socialist camp in the Cold War, and made clear its fervent desire to be considered a full-fledged member of the Western world, politically and culturally.

France at this time was faced with national liberation movements in its three North African colonies, and saw in Israel a useful ally. This was especially true after the Algerians launched their war of independence in 1954. France began to help Israel arm itself. In particular, France, which was developing its own nuclear weapons (against U.S. wishes), helped Israel do the same. In 1956, Israel joined France and Great Britain in a war against Egypt. Unfortunately for Israel, this war was launched against U.S. opposition, and the United States forced all three powers to end it.

After Algeria became independent in 1962, France lost interest in the Israeli connection, which now interfered with its attempts to renew closer relations with the three now independent North African states. It was at this point that the United States and Israel turned to each other to forge close links. In 1967, war broke out again between Egypt and Israel, and other Arab states joined Egypt. In this so-called Six Day War, the United States for the first time gave military weapons to Israel.

The 1967 Israeli victory changed the basic situation in many respects. Israel had won the war handily, occupying all those parts of the British mandate of Palestine that it had occupied before, plus Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Syria’s Golan Heights. Juridically, there was now a state of Israel plus Israel’s occupied territories. Israel began a policy of establishing

Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.

The Israeli victory transformed the attitude of world Jewry, which now overcame whatever reservations it had had about the creation of the state of Israel. They took great pride in its accomplishments and began to undertake major political campaigns in the United States and western Europe to secure political support for Israel. The image of a pioneering Israel with emphasis on the virtues of the kibbutz was abandoned in favor of an emphasis on the Holocaust as the basic justification for world support of Israel.

In 1973, the Arab states sought to redress the military situation in the so-called Yom Kippur war. This time again, Israel won the war, with U.S. arms support. The 1973 war marked the end of the central role of the Arab states. Israel could continue to try to get recognition from Arab states, and it did succeed eventually with both Egypt and Jordan, but it was now too late for this to be a way to secure Israel’s existence.

As of this point, there emerged a serious Palestinian Arab political movement, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was now the key opponent of Israel, the one with whom Israel needed to come to terms. For a long time, Israel refused to deal with the PLO and its leader Yasser Arafat, preferring the iron fist. And at first, it was militarily successful.

The limits of the iron fist policy were made evident by the first intifada, a spontaneous uprising of Palestinian Arabs inside the occupied territories, which began in 1987 and lasted six years. The basic achievement of the intifada was twofold. It forced the Israelis and the United States to talk to the PLO, a long process that led to the so-called Oslo Accords of 1993, which provided for the creation of the Palestinian Authority in part of the occupied territories.

The Oslo Accords in the long run were geopolitically less important than the impact of the intifada on world public opinion. For the first time, the David-Goliath image began to be inverted. For the first time, there began to be serious support in the Western world for the so-called two-state solution. For the first time, there began to be serious criticism of Israel’s iron fist and its practices vis-à-vis the Arab Palestinians. Had Israel been serious about a two-state solution based on the so-called Green Line – the line of division at the end of the 1948-1949 war – it probably would have achieved a settlement.

Israel however was always one step behind. When it could have negotiated with Nasser, it wouldn’t. When it could have negotiated with Arafat, it wouldn’t. When Arafat died and was succeeded by the ineffectual Mahmoud Abbas, the more militant Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006. Israel refused to talk to Hamas.

Now, Israel has invaded Gaza, seeking to destroy Hamas. If it succeeds, what organization will come next? If, as is more probable, it fails to destroy Hamas, is a two-state solution now possible? Both Palestinian and world public opinion is moving towards the one-state solution. And this is of course the end of the Zionist project.

The three-element strategy of Israel is decomposing. The iron fist no longer succeeds, much as it didn’t for George Bush in Iraq. Will the United States link remain firm? I doubt it. And will world public opinion continue to look sympathetically on Israel? It seems not. Can Israel now switch to an alternative strategy, of negotiating with the militant representatives of the Arab Palestinians, as an integral constituent of the Middle East, and not as an outpost of Europe? It seems quite late for that, quite possibly too late. Hence, the chronicle of a suicide foretold.

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