Posts Tagged ‘President Abbas’

The Guardian’s Misleading Editorial

November 20, 2014

 Nasir Khan, November 20, 2014

The Guardian’s editorial on 18 November 2014 (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/18/guardian-view-on-jerusalem-killings) deals with the violent killing of four Israeli worshippers at a synagogue in a Jerusalem neighbourhood on Tuesday 18th November 2014. On hearing the news the PA President Mahmud Abbas condemned this act of violence by two Palestinians, who were immediately killed by the Israeli police. The American rulers and media condemned these brutal killings vociferously. But as far as I am concerned I have always condemned and opposed any acts of violence against anyone because all bloodshed is wrong, unacceptable and indefensible no matter who the perpetrators of such crimes are, Israelis, Palestinians or someone else.

In the last two short paragraphs of the editorial, the editor raised some  fair questions about the policies of the Netanyahu government. But the editor’s portrayal of the gory acts in the first three paragraphs is much flawed and misleading. If the writer has some inkling of the forces that created Israel, not as espoused by the hasbara, but by historians of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict then he would have seen and wrote about them otherwise.

However, it is quite common to see amateur journalists who can easily skip facts to push a story on their readers. But we expect an editorial of the Guardian to present facts in a sober and judicious manner to help readers to understand the issues involved. Melodramatic and emotive language used here hides the facts more than it enlightens. All acts of violence, killings, desecration or provocation in a place of worship are reprehensible. We all readily agree on this. What the two killers did at Bar Nof synagogue was a crime.

At the same time we should also keep in mind what the Israeli authorities and righting Jews have been doing for quite some time at Al-Aqsa Mosque are also crimes and incessant provocations. In fact, the Israeli state and Zionist provocateurs bear the full responsibility for their criminal actions surrounding at Al-Aqsa Mosque for the last few weeks while such provocations by Israeli leaders have a long history. No wonder if such actions lead to their anticipated or unexpected fallout. The killings at the synagogue and the desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque are not isolated incidents; they are interrelated. Obviously, it does not suit hasbara to admit any such connection.

The editor writes, “Attacks like this were precisely what the creation of the state of Israel was meant to prevent. Israel was to be the one place in the world where Jews could pray in peace and safety. Synagogues in London, Paris or New York have grown used to having a security presence on the door. Now there are calls for the same precaution to be taken in Israel, a bleak thought for a country established to be a safe haven.” Here the whole narrative becomes untenable in the light of history. The state of Israel was not created, as the editor asserts, to provide a country to Jews where they could pray in “peace and safety”.

The British imperialists laid the foundations for such a state in 1914 many years before the Nazis under Hitler gained political power in Germany. After the Balfour Declaration in 1917, the plans for the expropriation of the Palestinian people of their land were in place. During the inter-war period, the growing Jewish migration to Palestine and subsequently at the end of the Second World War, the Zionist terrorist organisations in Palestine lost no time to force the British as the mandatory (colonial) power to run back to the British isles. Now the Zionists were in full control. This was the creation of Israel and the start of the process of the Zionist colonisation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

What started in 1948 is still going on. The West Bank has gradually been devoured by Israeli settlements and in East Jerusalem the pace of settlements has increased. Whereas the Gaza strip remains a virtual concentration camp. After the 51-day Israeli war on Gaza, the Zionists have devastated Gaza from which it may take years to recover. Moreover, it is Israel that tells PA President what to do or not to do. Living under Israeli occupation, he has few options. He is a nominal figure operating under a colonial power. As a result he conforms to Tel Aviv’s edicts.

Obviously, the creation of Israel was not to provide a safe place of worship to the Jewish believers. In fact, there was no restriction on Jews going to their synagogues. That was so in Europe, Asia and America. The present-day safety measures in the synagogues of London, Paris or New York, as the editor erroneously explains, are not due to any inherent hatred against the Jews but rather due to the genocidal policies of the state of Israel and its brutal oppression of the Palestinians.

The editor pushes his/her line of thinking even further and along the same lines as before and comes up with an explanation that many observers may find amusing: “By attacking men as they pray – not, it is worth stressing. In the occupied West Bank or in annexed East Jerusalem but inside the boundaries of pre-1967 Israel proper – . . .” No one from Israeli ruling class has ever defined where Israel’s borders and boundaries lie or would lie. To have done so would have meant to forego the Zionist objective of creating Greater Israel. Consequently, the easiest thing to do was better served by keeping the question of ‘Israel’s borders’ a matter in the grey zone, where nothing was definite and all was subject to change as the chances arose.

‘Declare Independence of Palestine Now’

November 11, 2009

 

Nasir Khan’s  Note:  The betrayal and isolation of the Palestinian people has run its full course. The imbecile Arab regimes  (in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan,  etc.,)  more in the nature of prehistoric shapeless oddities, have failed to support meaningfully the cause of the  occupied, oppressed and brutalized fellow Arabs of  Palestine. Instead,  they have furthered the U.S. imperialism’s  geopolitical interests in the Middle East so that the United States  controls the Middle East and it  remains the prime  guarantor of the continued support to their corrupt and decadent dynastic rule and their antidemocratic system.

The present leadership of the Palestinian people is divided; the myopic PA President Abbas has been dancing to the tunes of Tel Aviv and Washington for long. A growing number of the  suffering people of Palestine regard him a traitor and puppet of the U.S. and the Israeli Zionists.

The talk of peace and peace negotiations under  various U.S. administrations served only Zionist expansion and further colonization of the occupied Palestine. If President  Obama had any intention to stop Israel’s ever-increasing expropriation of the Palestinian land then he has failed miserably. Obviously,  Secretary of State  Clinton, Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli lobby struck at his intentions and nullified him. It leaves no doubt about who control American  foreign policy.

Where can the Palestinians go from here? The question of establishing a viable independent state is in the doldrums. The occupied land has been eaten up by Israel. That leaves the possibility of one-state solution the only alternative for the Israelis and the Palestinians.

But if Israel turns its back on its previous history of colonization and expropriation, accepts the UN resolutions and reverts to the pre-1967 borders by vacating all its illegal settlements then the two-state solution has a chance to materialize. But this is more of a long shot in the  dark.

Mr Yesh Prabhu’s advocacy of declaring an independent state by Palestinians can be instrumental in breaking the present impasse. At least, the Palestinians will not lose anything. On the contrary, it can take the matters out of the hands of Washington and Tel Aviv and this  may create a new momentum. But one major  hurdle remains: the divided Palestinian leadership of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. If Abbas disappears then even worse traitors like Mohammad Dahlan  may be waiting for a complete sell-out to Washington and Tel Aviv.

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Declare Independence of Palestine Now

Yesh Prabhu, A Sane Voice For Peace Blog, Nov. 10, 2009

It is now abundantly clear that the stalled negotiation for peace in the Middle East is now dead.

During Secretary of State Clinton’s recent short sojourn through the region, in her joint press conference with Mr. Netanyahu in Jerusalem, she effusively praised Netanyahu’s intransigence regarding Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank. The peace process died when she bizarrely described as “unprecedented” Mr. Netanyahu’s paltry concession to slow down the feverish tempo of building illegal housing units in the occupied territories. Even though she hastily tried to back-track, the damage to the peace process had been done. It was as if she had given the peace process a death blow. The Palestinian negotiators were deeply shocked. Did not President Obama, and even Mrs. Clinton herself, say only a month ago that the Israeli settlements in the occupied land were illegitimate? It dawned on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that the peace process was dead, and so he announced that he will be resigning from his position soon. He had threatened to resign a couple of times on previous occasions, of course, but this time it seems that he means to carry out his threat.

Continues >>

Pressure mounts on Abbas to quit

October 6, 2009

Al Jazeera, Oct 6, 2009

Many Palestinians have protested against the delay in endorsing the Goldstone report [AFP]

A senior member of Hamas has demanded that the Palestinian president resign for supporting the postponement of a UN vote which could have led to the prosecution of Israel for war crimes during its campaign in Gaza.

Mahmoud al-Zahar told Al Jazeera that Mahmoud Abbas was guilty of “a very big crime against the Palestinian people” over the Palestinian Authority’s support to defer endorsing the report, which was highly critical of Israel’s conduct during the Gaza war.

Continues >>

Wide condemnation over UN Gaza report delay

October 5, 2009
Middle East Online, Oct 5, 2009


Haniya: the decision ‘trades in the blood of the children of Gaza’


Hamas, 16 Palestinian human rights groups, others slam postponing action on Goldstone’s report.

GAZA CITY – The prime minister of the democratically elected Hamas government in Gaza on Sunday slammed as “reckless and irresponsible” the decision by the UN Human Rights Council to postpone consideration of a damning report into the Gaza war.

Ismail Haniya blamed the Palestinian Authority for the decision to delay a vote on the report by the former international war crimes prosecutor Richard Goldstone.

The report accused both Israel and Palestinian resistance of committing war crimes during the three-week conflict at the turn of the year.

The report reserved its harshest criticism for Israel.

Goldstone had recommended sending the report to the UN Security Council and to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, if Israel and Palestinians fail to conduct independent investigations as called for by the report.

“The decision taken by Ramallah to withdraw the Goldstone report was reckless and irresponsible,” Haniya said, referring to the West Bank government of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen).

He added that the decision “trades in the blood of the children of Gaza.”

Hamas has led a chorus of criticism of the decision taken on Friday in the UN Human Rights Council.

On Saturday, 16 Palestinian human rights groups slammed the delay, saying in a joint statement that it “denies the Palestinian people’s right to an effective judicial remedy and the equal protection of the law.”

“It represents the triumph of politics over human rights. It is an insult to all victims and a rejection of their rights,” the groups said.

The decision was widely seen as the result of intense pressure from Washington which, along with Israel, had criticised the report.

“Abu Mazen (Abbas) was himself responsible for this decision,” a senior member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) said.

“He was under pressure from many states, especially the United States and Britain,” the official added on condition of anonymity.

The decision drew criticism from within the ranks of Abbas’s Fatah party.

Also on Saturday, the Palestinian economy minister Bassem Khuri, an independent, resigned in protest of the decision taken on the report, according to a senior official.

Israel had threatened not take steps towards peace if Goldstone Gaza report passes to UN Security Council.

“The adoption of what is called the Goldstone report would deal a fatal blow to the peace process,” hardline Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

“Israel will not be able to take further steps and further risks towards peace if the report is adopted,” Netanyahu said.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon warned that the Palestinian Authority’s support for the report could hamper future negotiations on the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

“They were the ones that instigated the report and that are calling for measures. We would expect them to cease this altogether, not just because there is no basis for it but also because this is the most unfriendly act if we want to deal together on the most difficult issues,” Ayalon told reporters.

“Any action taken on this report would have a detrimental effect on the peace process, if not deal it a fatal blow… The Palestinians cannot try to talk peace and attack us at the same time,” he said.

Some 1,400 Palestinians — mainly civilians, including hundreds of children — were killed by Israel during the war, which came to an end on January 18 when both sides declared unilateral ceasefires.

The United States, which recently joined the 47-member Council after remaining on the sidelines for years, had opposed endorsement of the report.

In its decision on Friday, which was endorsed by several Arab and Muslim states which had previously expressed support for the report, the 49-member UN council postponed the vote to March next year.

A Syrian foreign ministry official expressed “surprise” at the PA decision, and accused it of obstructing “Arab, Muslim and international efforts that rallied to take the necessary steps to implement the report’s recommendations.”

In Cairo, Arab League chief Amr Mussa told reporters he was “disturbed” by the delay, and added in veiled criticism of the PA that “there was no consultation” with the league before it agreed to support the delay.

An Arab League diplomat said the Palestinian Authority of making “concessions for free to Israel without getting anything in return.”

In Lebanon, Hezbollah said in a statement that the vote delay was “a response to an American demand, with the complicity of some Arabs.”

Abbas reacted to the criticism by forming a committee to investigate the circumstances that led to the delay, the official Palestinian news agency Wafa quoted a senior Palestinian official as saying.

Israel frees Hamas MP after more than three years

Israel on Sunday released a Hamas MP who had been held in prison for more than three years, Palestinian and Israeli officials said.

MP Raed al-Amla returned to his home village of Qabalan south of the West Bank city of Nablus after ending a 41-month sentence in Israel prison, said Yaron Zamir, a prison service spokesman.

Amla was one of dozens of Hamas lawmakers arrested by Israel across the West Bank after Hamas and other Gaza resistance seized Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in a cross-border raid in June 2006. Shalit remains in captivity to this day.

According to Palestinian officials, 25 MPs are still held in Israeli prisons, including 22 from the democratically elected Hamas movement, two from the Fatah movement as well as the leader of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Palestinian teen wounded by Israeli fire in Gaza

A Palestinian teenager was critically wounded on Sunday by Israeli fire in the north of the Gaza Strip, medics said.

Ashraf Abu Suleiman, 16, was wounded by live gunfire near the border fence close to the town of Beit Lahiya, they said, without providing further details on what he was doing there.

The Israeli army had no immediate comment.

The Charade of Not Talking to Hamas

March 3, 2009

by Robert Dreyfuss | The Nation, March 2, 2009

Looming over Hillary Clinton’s foray into the Middle East are two extremist movements that aren’t likely to be persuaded to support Clinton’s vision of a two-state solution. The first is Hamas, which runs Gaza, and the second is the Netanyahu-Lieberman bloc in Israel, which is preparing to take over the Israeli government.

In Egypt yesterday, Clinton reaffirmed America’s pledge to give $900 million in aid to the West Bank and Gaza. One-third of that will go to Gaza, and she made it clear that all of the aid will be funneled through the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas, so it won’t end up in the “wrong hands”:

We will work with our Palestinian partners, President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, to address critical humanitarian, budgetary, security, and infrastructure needs. We have worked with the Palestinian Authority to install safeguards that will ensure that our funding is only used where, and for whom, it is intended, and does not end up in the wrong hands.

She added that the United States will “vigorously pursue a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

In all, the conference of aid donors for Gaza is planning to assemble a $3 billion package for Gaza, the equivalent of $2,000 for each of the 1.5 million Gaza residents. Since most of the cash will be funneled through the PA, it’s clear the Abbas and Fayyad will gain patronage points. But Israel still maintains its blockade of Gaza, preventing key items — such as building materials, like cement — from reaching rebuilding projects.

Egypt is mediating between Israel and Hamas in search of a workable arrangement, but a deal will be hostage to the Netanyahu regime, which has pledged to destroy Hamas.

Egypt is also taking the lead in trying to reconcile Hamas, Fatah, and other elements of the Palestinian national movement. Were they to succeed, it would confront the Obama administration with a quandary: will Obama send hundreds of millions of dollars to the Palestinians if, indeed, those with the “wrong hands” are part of the equation? The Palestinian dialogue will start in earnest in Cairo on March 10, involving Hamas, Fatah, and several smaller factions, including left-leaning ones and Islamic Jihad. They’ve created five committees aimed at “forming a national unity government, reforming the Palestine Liberation Organization, rebuilding the security apparatus, preparing for presidential and legislative elections, and the committee of reconciliation.”

Theoretically, it ought to be easy to finesse the problem, diplomatically, for the United States. So far, Washington has said it won’t talk to Hamas unless the group halts violence and accepts Israel’s right to exist. If Hamas does indeed reunite with Fatah in the PA, the United States can use that as an excuse to halt aid, or it can pretend to look the other way and continue the aid on the theory that the PA itself is engaged in two-state talks with Israel.

In fact, Israel is already talking to Hamas, through Egypt’s mediation efforts, and if the Hamas-Fatah talks succeed — with Egypt’s help — Hamas will be at the table there, too. Not talking to Hamas is quickly becoming a charade.

Robert Dreyfuss, a Nation contributing editor, is an investigative journalist in Alexandria, Virginia, specializing in politics and national security. He is the author of Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam and is a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone, The American Prospect, and Mother Jones.

Chomsky: Neither The US Nor Israel Is A “Genuine Party To Peace.”

January 31, 2009


By Noam Chomsky | Information Clearing House, Jan 28, 2009

Barack Obama is recognized to be a person of acute intelligence, a legal scholar, careful with his choice of words. He deserves to be taken seriously – both what he says, and what he omits. Particularly significant is his first substantive statement on foreign affairs, on January 22, at the State Department, when introducing George Mitchell to serve as his special envoy for Middle East peace.

Mitchell is to focus his attention on the Israel-Palestine problem, in the wake of the recent US-Israeli invasion of Gaza. During the murderous assault, Obama remained silent apart from a few platitudes, because, he said, there is only one president – a fact that did not silence him on many other issues. His campaign did, however, repeat his statement that “if missiles were falling where my two daughters sleep, I would do everything in order to stop that.” He was referring to Israeli children, not the hundreds of Palestinian children being butchered by US arms, about whom he could not speak, because there was only one president.

On January 22, however, the one president was Barack Obama, so he could speak freely about these matters – avoiding, however, the attack on Gaza, which had, conveniently, been called off just before the inauguration.

Obama’s talk emphasized his commitment to a peaceful settlement. He left its contours vague, apart from one specific proposal: “the Arab peace initiative,” Obama said, “contains constructive elements that could help advance these efforts. Now is the time for Arab states to act on the initiative’s promise by supporting the Palestinian government under President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, taking steps towards normalizing relations with Israel, and by standing up to extremism that threatens us all.”

Obama is not directly falsifying the Arab League proposal, but the carefully framed deceit is instructive.

The Arab League peace proposal does indeed call for normalization of relations with Israel – in the context – repeat, in the context of a two-state settlement in terms of the longstanding international consensus, which the US and Israel have blocked for over 30 years, in international isolation, and still do. The core of the Arab League proposal, as Obama and his Mideast advisers know very well, is its call for a peaceful political settlement in these terms, which are well-known, and recognized to be the only basis for the peaceful settlement to which Obama professes to be committed. The omission of that crucial fact can hardly be accidental, and signals clearly that Obama envisions no departure from US rejectionism. His call for the Arab states to act on a corollary to their proposal, while the US ignores even the existence of its central content, which is the precondition for the corollary, surpasses cynicism.

The most significant acts to undermine a peaceful settlement are the daily US-backed actions in the occupied territories, all recognized to be criminal: taking over valuable land and resources and constructing what the leading architect of the plan, Ariel Sharon, called “Bantustans” for Palestinians – an unfair comparison because the Bantustans were far more viable than the fragments left to Palestinians under Sharon’s conception, now being realized. But the US and Israel even continue to oppose a political settlement in words, most recently in December 2008, when the US and Israel (and a few Pacific islands) voted against a UN resolution supporting “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination” (passed 173 to 5, US-Israel opposed, with evasive pretexts).

Obama had not one word to say about the settlement and infrastructure developments in the West Bank, and the complex measures to control Palestinian existence, designed to undermine the prospects for a peaceful two-state settlement. His silence is a grim refutation of his oratorical flourishes about how “I will sustain an active commitment to seek two states living side by side in peace and security.”

Also unmentioned is Israel’s use of US arms in Gaza, in violation not only of international but also US law. Or Washington’s shipment of new arms to Israel right at the peak of the US-Israeli attack, surely not unknown to Obama’s Middle East advisers.

Obama was firm, however, that smuggling of arms to Gaza must be stopped. He endorses the agreement of Condoleeza Rice and Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni that the Egyptian-Gaza border must be closed – a remarkable exercise of imperial arrogance, as the Financial Times observed: “as they stood in Washington congratulating each other, both officials seemed oblivious to the fact that they were making a deal about an illegal trade on someone else’s border – Egypt in this case. The next day, an Egyptian official described the memorandum as `fictional’.” Egypt’s objections were ignored.

Returning to Obama’s reference to the “constructive” Arab League proposal, as the wording indicates, Obama persists in restricting support to the defeated party in the January 2006 election, the only free election in the Arab world, to which the US and Israel reacted, instantly and overtly, by severely punishing Palestinians for opposing the will of the masters. A minor technicality is that Abbas’s term ran out on January 9, and that Fayyad was appointed without confirmation by the Palestinian parliament (many of them kidnapped and in Israeli prisons). Ha’aretz describes Fayyad as “a strange bird in Palestinian politics. On the one hand, he is the Palestinian politician most esteemed by Israel and the West. However, on the other hand, he has no electoral power whatsoever in Gaza or the West Bank.” The report also notes Fayyad’s “close relationship with the Israeli establishment,” notably his friendship with Sharon’s extremist adviser Dov Weiglass. Though lacking popular support, he is regarded as competent and honest, not the norm in the US-backed political sectors.

Obama’s insistence that only Abbas and Fayyad exist conforms to the consistent Western contempt for democracy unless it is under control.

Obama provided the usual reasons for ignoring the elected government led by Hamas. “To be a genuine party to peace,” Obama declared, “the quartet [US, EU, Russia, UN] has made it clear that Hamas must meet clear conditions: recognize Israel’s right to exist; renounce violence; and abide by past agreements.” Unmentioned, also as usual, is the inconvenient fact that the US and Israel firmly reject all three conditions. In international isolation, they bar a two-state settlement including a Palestinian state; they of course do not renounce violence; and they reject the quartet’s central proposal, the “road map.” Israel formally accepted it, but with 14 reservations that effectively eliminate its contents (tacitly backed by the US). It is the great merit of Jimmy Carter’s Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, to have brought these facts to public attention for the first time – and in the mainstream, the only time.

It follows, by elementary reasoning, that neither the US nor Israel is a “genuine party to peace.” But that cannot be. It is not even a phrase in the English language.

It is perhaps unfair to criticize Obama for this further exercise of cynicism, because it is close to universal, unlike his scrupulous evisceration of the core component of the Arab League proposal, which is his own novel contribution.

Also near universal are the standard references to Hamas: a terrorist organization, dedicated to the destruction of Israel (or maybe all Jews). Omitted are the inconvenient facts that the US-Israel are not only dedicated to the destruction of any viable Palestinian state, but are steadily implementing those policies. Or that unlike the two rejectionist states, Hamas has called for a two-state settlement in terms of the international consensus: publicly, repeatedly, explicitly.

Obama began his remarks by saying: “Let me be clear: America is committed to Israel’s security. And we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself against legitimate threats.”

There was nothing about the right of Palestinians to defend themselves against far more extreme threats, such as those occurring daily, with US support, in the occupied territories. But that again is the norm.

Also normal is the enunciation of the principle that Israel has the right to defend itself. That is correct, but vacuous: so does everyone. But in the context the cliche is worse than vacuous: it is more cynical deceit.

The issue is not whether Israel has the right to defend itself, like everyone else, but whether it has the right to do so by force. No one, including Obama, believes that states enjoy a general right to defend themselves by force: it is first necessary to demonstrate that there are no peaceful alternatives that can be tried. In this case, there surely are.

A narrow alternative would be for Israel to abide by a cease-fire, for example, the cease-fire proposed by Hamas political leader Khaled Mishal a few days before Israel launched its attack on December 27. Mishal called for restoring the 2005 agreement. That agreement called for an end to violence and uninterrupted opening of the borders, along with an Israeli guarantee that goods and people could move freely between the two parts of occupied Palestine, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The agreement was rejected by the US and Israel a few months later, after the free election of January 2006 turned out “the wrong way.” There are many other highly relevant cases.

The broader and more significant alternative would be for the US and Israel to abandon their extreme rejectionism, and join the rest of the world – including the Arab states and Hamas – in supporting a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus. It should be noted that in the past 30 years there has been one departure from US-Israeli rejectionism: the negotiations at Taba in January 2001, which appeared to be close to a peaceful resolution when Israel prematurely called them off. It would not, then, be outlandish for Obama to agree to join the world, even within the framework of US policy, if he were interested in doing so.

In short, Obama’s forceful reiteration of Israel’s right to defend itself is another exercise of cynical deceit – though, it must be admitted, not unique to him, but virtually universal.

The deceit is particularly striking in this case because the occasion was the appointment of Mitchell as special envoy. Mitchell’s primary achievement was his leading role in the peaceful settlement in northern Ireland. It called for an end to IRA terror and British violence. Implicit is the recognition that while Britain had the right to defend itself from terror, it had no right to do so by force, because there was a peaceful alternative: recognition of the legitimate grievances of the Irish Catholic community that were the roots of IRA terror. When Britain adopted that sensible course, the terror ended. The implications for Mitchell’s mission with regard to Israel-Palestine are so obvious that they need not be spelled out. And omission of them is, again, a striking indication of the commitment of the Obama administration to traditional US rejectionism and opposition to peace, except on its extremist terms.

Obama also praised Jordan for its “constructive role in training Palestinian security forces and nurturing its relations with Israel” – which contrasts strikingly with US-Israeli refusal to deal with the freely elected government of Palestine, while savagely punishing Palestinians for electing it with pretexts which, as noted, do not withstand a moment’s scrutiny. It is true that Jordan joined the US in arming and training Palestinian security forces, so that they could violently suppress any manifestation of support for the miserable victims of US-Israeli assault in Gaza, also arresting supporters of Hamas and the prominent journalist Khaled Amayreh, while organizing their own demonstrations in support of Abbas and Fatah, in which most participants “were civil servants and school children who were instructed by the PA to attend the rally,” according to the Jerusalem Post. Our kind of democracy.

Obama made one further substantive comment: “As part of a lasting cease-fire, Gaza’s border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce, with an appropriate monitoring regime…” He did not, of course, mention that the US-Israel had rejected much the same agreement after the January 2006 election, and that Israel had never observed similar subsequent agreements on borders.

Also missing is any reaction to Israel’s announcement that it rejected the cease-fire agreement, so that the prospects for it to be “lasting” are not auspicious. As reported at once in the press, “Israeli Cabinet Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who takes part in security deliberations, told Army Radio on Thursday that Israel wouldn’t let border crossings with Gaza reopen without a deal to free [Gilad] Schalit” (AP, Jan 22); ‘Israel to keep Gaza crossings closed…An official said the government planned to use the issue to bargain for the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held by the Islamist group since 2006 (Financial Times, Jan. 23); “Earlier this week, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that progress on Corporal Shalit’s release would be a precondition to opening up the border crossings that have been mostly closed since Hamas wrested control of Gaza from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in 2007” (Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 23); “an Israeli official said there would be tough conditions for any lifting of the blockade, which he linked with the release of Gilad Shalit” (FT, Jan. 23); among many others.

Shalit’s capture is a prominent issue in the West, another indication of Hamas’s criminality. Whatever one thinks about it, it is uncontroversial that capture of a soldier of an attacking army is far less of a crime than kidnapping of civilians, exactly what Israeli forces did the day before the capture of Shalit, invading Gaza city and kidnapping two brothers, then spiriting them across the border where they disappeared into Israel’s prison complex. Unlike the much lesser case of Shalit, that crime was virtually unreported and has been forgotten, along with Israel’s regular practice for decades of kidnapping civilians in Lebanon and on the high seas and dispatching them to Israeli prisons, often held for many years as hostages. But the capture of Shalit bars a cease-fire.

Obama’s State Department talk about the Middle East continued with “the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan… the central front in our enduring struggle against terrorism and extremism.” A few hours later, US planes attacked a remote village in Afghanistan, intending to kill a Taliban commander. “Village elders, though, told provincial officials there were no Taliban in the area, which they described as a hamlet populated mainly by shepherds. Women and children were among the 22 dead, they said, according to Hamididan Abdul Rahmzai, the head of the provincial council” (LA Times, Jan. 24).

Afghan president Karzai’s first message to Obama after he was elected in November was a plea to end the bombing of Afghan civilians, reiterated a few hours before Obama was sworn in. This was considered as significant as Karzai’s call for a timetable for departure of US and other foreign forces. The rich and powerful have their “responsibilities.” Among them, the New York Times reported, is to “provide security” in southern Afghanistan, where “the insurgency is homegrown and self-sustaining.” All familiar. From Pravda in the 1980s, for example.

Hamas says Abbas must step aside

October 7, 2008
Al Jazeera, Oct 7, 2008

Hamas says Ahmed Bahar will succeed Abbas next year if the president fails to call fresh elections [AFP]

The Palestinian group Hamas that governs Gaza says it will stop recognising Mahmoud Abbas as the Palestinian president in three months.

Hamas, citing a Palestinian law, said one of its own leaders must fill the top post after Abbas’s tenure officially expires on January 8.

The announcement came after Hamas legislators voted on a resolution in Gaza City on Monday, a move seen as at attempt to step up pressure on Abbas and his Fatah party ahead of talks brokered by Egypt over a power-sharing deal between the rival camps.

A Fatah member said the vote was simply “an attempt to sabotage the Egyptian effort to reconcile the Palestinian division”.

The Basic Law, a forerunner to a Palestinian constitution, says that both president and parliament are elected to four-year terms.

Legal loophole

But a loophole in the law, which Fatah is relying on, suggests that Abbas’s term could be extended another year if it were deemed to be in the “national interest”.

Hamas says Abbas’s tenure as Palestinian president ends on January 8 [EPA]

Abbas was elected president in January 2006 but a year later Hamas defeated his movement by a landslide in parliamentary elections in Gaza.Neither Hamas nor Fatah appear keen to share power in governing the Gaza Strip, which has been under Hamas control following a violent takeover in June last year, leaving Abbas with only nominal control of the occupied West Bank.

During Monday’s vote, Hamas threatened to install Ahmed Bahar, the deputy parliamentary speaker, as Abbas’s temporary successor if Abbas fails to announce a new presidential election by Wednesday.

Shalit talks

Meanwhile, Khaled Mashaal, the exiled Hamas political leader, said talks with Israel over the possible release of an Israeli soldier have stalled and blamed Israeli negotiators for continuing to rehash previously-agreed issues.

He was quoted in Le Figaro newspaper on Monday blaming “a lack of reliability of Israeli negotiators” in discussions pertaining to Sergeant Gilad Shalit who was captured two years ago.


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