Posts tagged ‘Gaza’

09/26/2011

Palestine: Abbas Seeks Statehood In UN

Although the UN should grant the Palestinian application for statehood, submitted by President Abbas on Sep. 23, 2011, it will most certainly be vetoed in the Security Council by the U.S., because this is what the Israeli Lobby wants.

Abbas nevertheless made a plea to the UN, by reminding the world the Palestinians have been the victims of injustice since 1948. Although the Palestinians want a comprehensive peace, the last round of negotiations in 2010 broke down within weeks, because Israel disregards UN Resolutions, rejects international law, and continues to settle in parts of occupied Palestine.

Abbas reminded the UN that the late Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Liberation Organization signed a statement of principle with Israel, in Oslo and at the White House in 1993, but after 18 years, no Palestinian State has yet been created, despite an international consensus for a two-state solution.

Abbas said the absence of an agreement is because Israel systematically confiscates land and constructs settlements along the West Bank and East Jerusalem, while refusing to allow the Palestinians to build. Israel erected an annexation Wall through the West Bank, which separates Palestinian communities. They made Gaza a virtual prison, by imposing a blockade around it. They engaged in ethnic cleansing, by deporting Palestine’s elected representatives, and have allowed Jewish settlers to engage in acts of violence against Arabs without consequence.

It has been difficult for the Palestinians, said Abbas, who was personally forced from his home in 1948, with just the cloths on his back, and the things he could carry. Palestinians eventually realized they could never obtain an absolute justice regarding the historical injustice imposed upon them. They instead adopted a path to relative justice. They made major concessions by agreeing to compromise for only 22% of historical Palestine.

Abbas said the Palestinians have repeatedly tried to negotiate with Israel, but it is now futile. After 63 years of suffering, Abbas said, enough is enough, and business as usual cannot continue. Although Abbas said peaceful resistance will continue, as long as the occupation remains, the Palestinians are willing to return to the table, if Israel stops creating new settlements in Palestine.

Abbas said the Palestinians are entitled to an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as their capital. They want a release all political prisoners. They want refugees dealt with in accordance with UN Res 194. In exchange, they will renounce violence and reject terrorism in all forms, including state terrorism, and they will agree not to delegitimize Israel.

Abbas asked the UN: Are you going to permit the world’s last occupation to go on forever? Are you going to allow Israel to remain above the law, and let them continue to reject UN Resolutions, and the rulings of the International Court of Justice?

Abbas said it is time for the Palestinian Spring and for the Palestinians to gain independence. Accordingly, Abbas exercised the right of the Palestinian to self-determination and submitted an application for full membership to the Assembly, which he asked the UN to grant immediately, based on the June 4, 1967 borders.

09/23/2011

Palestinian Statehood In United Nations

The UN currently has 194 independent member states. Although the Palestinian Territory is not now an independent sovereign, the United Nations has the power to recognize them, and to make them a UN member. Palestine’s request for statehood would give them rights, and the ability to make claims in international courts. It would allow them to enter into treaties with other countries, and would make them subject to international obligations.

The criteria for statehood were set forth in the Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States (1933). A state must have: 1) a permanent population; 2) a defined territory; 3) a government; and 4) a capacity to enter into relations with others.

As to population, although Antarctica has temporary visitors, it has no permanent population, and is the best example of a land that cannot become a state. The Vatican cannot become a state, since no one was born there, and it has no permanent residents. Western Sahara, with roving nomads, also fails in this regard.

Since Palestine has had a permanent population for over a thousand years, it clearly meets the first criteria for statehood.

A state must have a defined territory. Not all places with defined territories are independent states. Taiwan is a well-defined island that acts like a free state, but it is part of China. French-speaking Quebec has borders, but it is a Canadian province.

In the case of Palestine, their territories include at least the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. Other lands occupied since 1967 may also be claimed. Although the boundaries with Israel are now disputed, that is no bar to statehood, and the second test is met.

A state must have a government, as every nation must speak with one voice. If Somalia had to re-apply for statehood today, they would have a problem, because they are governed by warlords, and not by a central government.

Palestine has long had elected governmental bodies in the West Bank and Gaza. Despite Israel’s disapproval of the freely-elected Hamas Party in Gaza, Palestine satisfies the third element.

A state must have the capacity to enter into relations with other nations. Palestine certainly has the ability to do this, and it therefore meets the fourth element of statehood.

The people of the occupied Palestinian territories have a right to self-determination under the UN Charter and the United Nations should proceed to recognize a Palestinian State.

09/22/2011

Palestine: Shot Down By Israeli Lobby

Although an independent Palestinian State should be recognized, it is not going to happen, because the U.S. has veto power in the United Nations, and the Israeli Lobby controls American foreign policy, as outlined in the book: The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (2007), by John Mearsheimer and Stephan Walt.

Palestine, 95% Arab in 1893, had been occupied by Palestinians for 1,300 continuous years. After WWI, European Jews started migrating to Palestine, and eventually created a state by removing Palestinians. The UN partitioned Palestine into Arab and Jewish areas in 1947, triggering a Civil War (1947-48), followed by an Arab-Israeli War (1948-49). Jewish forces drove 700,000 Palestinians out at that time, and barred them from returning.

Under President Eisenhower, U.S. foreign policy took a middle course in the 1950s, as Israeli requests to buy military equipment were denied. In the Suez War (1956), Israel was persuaded to return to their borders, when the U.S. threatened to cut off aid.

A major shift in U.S. foreign policy occurred after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, when the U.S. first started favoring Israel. In 1967, another 100,000 to 250,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes, as Israel started occupying the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza. 3.8 million Palestinians fell under Israeli rule. Although the Israeli Army withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it became a virtual prison, as the Jewish state controls their air, sea, and land access.

Israel came under worldwide criticism for their brutal behavior in the occupied territories. Although Congress legally barred Israel from using U.S. aid to build settlements, new roads and villages were constructed in Palestine, as Israel erected a Wall through it.

The issue now is whether Israel and the U.S. will finally recognize a Palestinian State, along the pre-1967 borders? The short answer is no. The reason is the Israeli Lobby controls the U.S. Congress.

The Lobby first of all shapes public discourse in the U.S. media. They help sympathetic journalists get jobs, and make sure Israel is portrayed favorably. The mainstream media is biased in favor of Israel. They permit no Arab view, or open discussions as to Israel.

The Lobby effectively determines who will mount successful campaigns for Congress, by funneling money to their campaigns through a network of 75 organizations, and no less than 51 pro-Israeli Political Action Committees (PACs). PAC money is essential, since elections are expensive. Money rolls in to those with the pro-Israel label. Candidates must state an unconditional support for Israel to receive funds. They receive in-depth briefings on Israel, are told what words to use, and what opinions to give.

The Lobby punishes politicians who do not support their agenda. No aspiring candidate publically criticizes Israel. Democrats and Republicans alike fear the Lobby. Congress does what they want, as they keep track of voting. Office holders who do not agree are defeated. Those who wish to reduce Israeli aid are called anti-Israel. Jimmy Carter, who did more for Israeli than any other President, said it is political suicide to even mildly criticize Israel. Carter’s book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, critical of Israel, received full page attacks. It happened to Carter; no one is safe.

The Lobby influences who receives appointed jobs. People critical of Israel do not get foreign policy positions. They make sure Israel is not attacked on Capitol Hill. No critic of Israel is ever heard in Committee. Arab viewpoints are banned.

The Lobby tries to convince Americans that U.S. and Israeli interests are the same. They claim their fight against terrorism is our fight. They want Israel to be treated like a 51st state. They force Congress to pass resolutions favorable to Israel. One said: “the U.S. and Israel are now engaged in a common struggle against terrorism.” It passed in the House 352-21 and the Senate 94-2. When votes are taken to reaffirm support for Israel, almost all members of Congress vote as the Lobby directs.

The Lobby sees to it Israel receives billions in economic aid annually, even though they are not poor. They have been the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid since 1976. They receive lump sum transfers, and do not have to account for how they spend it. Israeli bonds receive favorable treatment under U.S. law.

The Lobby maintains Israel’s dominant military power in the Mideast. The U.S. 6th Fleet is used for the benefit of Israel. Israel receives access to U.S. reconnaissance and intelligence. They receive tanks, planes, and other military hardware. The Lobby favors a hawkish unilateral exercise of U.S. power. They want to maintain a U.S. presence in the Mideast, in places like Iraq. They want large numbers of U.S.  troops permanently stationed there.

The Lobby controls the U.S. veto power in the United Nations. Between 1972 and 2006, the U.S. vetoed 42 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel.

The Lobby does not want an independent Palestinian state, as they prefer occupation to peace. Anyone favoring a Palestinian state is denounced for betraying Israel. Israel indefinitely removed the idea of a Palestinian state from their agenda.

But change is possible: 1) Those who understand the history of Palestine must educate Americans; 2) The U.S. must establish public financing of federal elections to remove money from the system; 3) The U.S. must deal with the Palestinian issue, because terrorism is related to American support for Israel; 4) Israel must be treated like any other country; 5) If they refuse to settle the Palestinian issue, U.S. economic and military aid must be cut; 6) Israel must dismantle their settlements, end the occupation in the Palestinian territories, and create a Palestinian state.

09/21/2011

Palestine: Queen Noor’s Jordanian View

Queen Noor, born in the U.S. in 1951 and educated at Princeton, married the late King Hussein of Jordan in 1977, at age 26, and after his death, she commented on Palestine in her book, Queen Noor, Leap of Faith, Memoirs of an Unexpected Life (2003).

The Queen noted Palestinians have lived in Palestine for thousands of years. When Britain seized Palestine in WWI, Sir Arthur Balfour promised to create a home there for the Jews of Europe. Although Balfour stated: “nothing shall be done that may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities of Palestine,” the late King Hussein of Jordan called the Balfour Declaration (1917), “the root cause of all of the bitterness and frustration in our Arab world today.”

After WWII, the West alone determined the fate of Palestine, since much of the world was under colonial rule. UN Res. 181 (1947) partitioned Palestine into Arab and Jewish areas, triggering a civil war, because the Jews received 55% of the land, even though they had just 33% of the population. After Israel declared independence in 1948, their forces went house to house to drive the Palestinians out. Roughly 800,000 Palestinians were forcibly uprooted, as Israel took 78% of the land originally assigned to the Arabs. Palestinians fled to Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Homeless Palestinians lived in caves and makeshift tents, during the winter of 1948-49.

As the Israeli Air Force launched another Arab-Israeli War with a surprise attack against the Arab states in 1967, Jerusalem and the West Bank were occupied. Israel solidified their control of all of Palestine, as another 400,000 Palestinians became refugees. UN Res. 242 criticized Israel saying no land can be acquired by aggression, and ordered a “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” Israel responded by naively suggesting the Palestinians be absorbed by Arab states.

Israel then destroyed Palestinian villages in the Jordan River Valley and built their own settlements, in violation of the Geneva Conventions and international law. By 1991, 100,000 Jews had settled in the occupied territories and 127,000 in East Jerusalem. Prime Minister Netanyahu lifted a ban on Jewish settlements in the 1990s, approved of more homes in the Jordan Valley, and stopped withdrawing troops from Hebron, where 130,000 Palestinians lived. He created a ring of settlements around Arab East Jerusalem, and precipitated another crisis by approving thousands of additional housing units on 425 acres of expropriated Palestinian land, between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The UN Assembly again found Israel had violated international law.

Although the Palestinians are entitled to a return of the occupied territories and to an independent state, Israel continues to resist. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed back in 1985 already to recognize Israel’s right to exist, if they would only accept Res. 242, which requires a withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders. For years however, neither Israel nor the U.S. would even negotiate. The two sides did not sit down together until 1991, when the PLO and Israel agreed to some things in Oslo, but failed to address refugees, settlements, security, and borders. They subsequently signed a Wye Memorandum in 1994, but did not resolve issues as to refugees, Jerusalem, and a Palestinian State.

Over the years, Queen Noor called President Carter one of the most knowledgeable and balanced voices on the region’s search for peace, but said the U.S. as a whole has a fundamental lack of understanding of the Middle East, and is unpopular in the Arab world, because of an unflinching support for Israel. Americans are blind, because the U.S. media only broadcasts the Israeli perspective. The Israeli Lobby exerts tremendous power in the U.S., which explains why Congress passes resolutions favorable to Israel. While the U.S. pays lip service to UN resolutions demanding an end to the settlements, they do nothing about it. While almost all UN members routinely vote against Israel, the U.S. is usually one of the only two votes in opposition.

It is time to recognize a Palestinian State. Nothing new is required as the UN could enforce UN Res. 181, which in 1947 partitioned British-ruled Palestine into Jewish and Arab states.

09/19/2011

Palestinian State: Listen To Jimmy Carter

Since the question of a Palestinian State is heading to the UN this week, now is a good time to review the contents of former President Jimmy Carter’s book, Palestine Peace, Not Apartheid, (2006), which is the source of the information in this article.

The Turkish Ottoman Empire controlled Palestine for 402 years, from 1516 through 1918. Only 30,000 Jews lived there as of 1880. In WWI, former British Prime Minister Balfour issued the Balfour Declaration (1917), promising Palestine for the Jews, if Turkey surrendered. Following Turkey’s defeat, the League of Nations gave Britain a mandate in 1922 to govern Palestine, a territory that spanned from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. As Jews from Europe moved into Palestine, their numbers grew to 150,000 by 1930, and increased another 608,000 by 1945.

Following WWII, the United Nations partitioned Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish areas in 1947, over Palestinian objection. The Arabs received only 45% of the territory, as the Jews were given 55%. Jerusalem was internationalized. Jewish groups, such as Irgun, then intensified their terrorist acts against the British, forcing them to withdraw from Palestine in 1948.

Once Britain had vacated Palestine, Israel declared independence, triggering an Arab-Israeli War (1948), in which 420 Palestinian villages were destroyed, and 700,000 Palestinians were driven out of their homes. Under a 1949 Armistice, new borders, accepted by the UN, increased Israel to 77% of what was formerly Palestine.

In 1967, Israel started another Arab-Israel War, by launching pre-emptive strikes against Jordan, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. As Israel occupied Gaza, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and other areas, they forced even more Palestinians from their homes. UN Res. 242 (1967) labeled Israel’s taking of land by force a violation of international law, and ordered a withdrawal from the occupied territories. UN Res. 465 later instructed Israel to dismantle all settlements erected in the occupied areas, since 1967. When the right-wing Likud Party came to power in Israel in 1980, the construction of settlements on Arab lands simply escalated.

Although Israel finally withdrew from Gaza in 2005, to this day, they tightly control it, by denying any access by land, sea, or air.

Israel also built a Wall through the West Bank which surrounds Bethlehem and other Palestinians cities, and separates Arabs from each other. The demolition of Palestinian homes in the process violated international law, as the 4th Geneva Convention forbids an occupying power from deporting civilians. The International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 the Wall was illegal, and ordered Israel to remove it, but Israel ignored the judges, and instead declared the Wall in 2006 to be the new Israeli-West Bank border.

The U.S. must resolve the Palestinian question, since it is a major source of anti-Americanism. Although official U.S. policy labels Israeli settlements in Palestine illegal, Israel’s friends in the media keep Americans unaware of the situation. Few Americans know that the U.S. stands alone in supporting Israel, and that the U.S. is widely condemned for supplying weapons. Carter correctly said the U.S. has squandered international prestige and goodwill, and intensified global anti-American terrorism, by unofficially condoning Israeli confiscation of Palestinian territories.

The U.S. has various forms of leverage over Israel to make them compromise. The U.S.: 1) supplies their weapons; 2) allows Israel to control economic aid to Palestine; and 3) has used the UN veto over 40 times to block resolutions critical of Israel.

Israel argues the Palestinians refuse to recognize their right to exist, but the truth is Arab states acknowledge a permanent Israel, and most Palestinians accept the reality they will never be erased from the map. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) said in 1988 they would accept UN Resolutions recognizing Israel within the pre-1967 borders, and they again in a 1993 letter unequivocally recognized that Israel had a right to exist.

Israel must now comply with international law, stop colonizing Palestine, dismantle settlements, and recognize a Palestinian state. Although Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu promised never to exchange land for peace, Israel’s borders must return to those used from 1949 through 1967, and the Jewish state must once share the City of Jerusalem with the Palestinians.

05/26/2011

Israel’s Netanyahu Offers Little Hope

If I was a Palestinian, this is what I would have heard, as Israeli Prime Minister Ben Netanyahu addressed the U.S. Congress.

He said Israel will not vacate the occupied territories by returning to the 1967 lines. “The border will be different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967.”

He said certain occupied areas will be annexed by Israel. “650,000 Israelis, who live beyond the 1967 lines, reside in neighborhoods and suburbs of Jerusalem and Greater Tel Aviv. These areas, as well as other places of critical and national importance, will be incorporated into the final borders of Israel.”

He told the Palestinian refugees, who had been driven from their homes, that there will be no right to return, and they will have to reside somewhere other than within Israel itself. “The Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside the borders of Israel.”

He told the Palestinians, and the entire Islamic faith, the City of Jerusalem will never again be divided between Jews and Muslims, as it once was. “Jerusalem must never again be divided. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel.”

He told the people of Gaza, Israel will never work with their elected leaders, people they chose in free, fair, and open elections.

He told the UN, a body to which Israel owes its very existence, and an organization that includes every nation on earth, that Israel will not accept a UN remedy. “The Palestinian attempt to impose a settlement through the UN will not bring peace.”

As he stated his uncompromising positions, he acknowledged it “would be difficult for the Palestinians,” and then also said, we must “find a way to forge a lasting peace with the Palestinians.”

To his credit, Netanyahu said: “The Palestinians…should enjoy a national life of dignity as a free, viable and independent people in their own state…I publically committed to a solution of two states for two peoples: A Palestinian state, alongside the Jewish state.”

Although he said “I am willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historic peace,” and later repeated: “I will be prepared to make a far reaching compromise,” the part of the speech he left out was what, if any, compromises he would actually make.

The problem with Netanyahu, and the Orthodox Likud Party, is their reliance on the Old Testament, instead of the UN Charter, and modern international law. He resorted to the Bible: “in Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers…This is the land of our forefathers, the land of Israel…Abraham…No distortion of history can deny the four thousand year-old bond, between the Jewish people and the Jewish land.”

Netanyahu’s 4,000-year claim to the occupied territories, based on who was there first, has no basis. Even if Abraham had led the Jews to Canaan in 1900 BC, the Canaanites were already there, since they arrived in 3000 BC. Today, the land would belong to the Arab descendants of Canaanites, who were there 5,000 years ago. Oh, by the way, if we are going to start using this type of logic, then Florida belongs to the Seminoles, the Iroquois own New York, and Texas has to be turned over to the Apache Indians.

Netanyahu failed to mention in his speech that after the Jewish Kingdom was established (1006 BC), many others subsequently conquered and occupied the area, including the Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Muslim Arabs (since 7th Century), and Turks (1516-1918). The modern Jewish state, which is what we are talking about, did not come into existence until 1948.

Israel needs a new leader who has his head is in the 21st Century, and who respects the rule of international law. Once they find such a person, only then may there be a hope for a real and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace.

05/25/2011

Palestinian State Must Be Contiguous

To create a lasting peace for Israel, any new Palestinian state must be established as a single territorial unit, meaning the borders must be contiguous. The two parts of Palestine (Gaza and West Bank) must have land-based link, which must be clearly included in any “land swaps” that will define the ultimate borders.

The Palestinian Corridor should be from Beit Hanoun, in the Gaza Strip (northeast), to Dura, in the West Bank (southwest). It should include a high-speed rail link, with no stops in between, so Israel will have no security reason to stop or interrupt service. The corridor should include a 2-lane highway on each side of railway.

The world has previously made the mistake of physically dividing peoples and nations, in situations that have led to war.

Britain made a mistake when they created Pakistan, by locating the western part on one side of India, and the eastern half, 900 miles away, on the other side (1947). The distance between the two parts made Pakistan unmanageable, and caused East Pakistan to secede. Although an independent state of Bangladesh emerged, it was not until after Britain’s error first took the lives of millions in the Pakistan Civil War and Indo-Pakistan War (1971).

The allies made a mistake after WWI (1919), when they separated East Prussia from the rest of Germany, and transferred to Poland some German-speaking territories, near the Danzig Corridor. The lack of a sovereign connection between the two parts of Germany gave hardliners like Hitler a platform, upon which to rationalize an invasion of Poland in WWII, in which millions died.

The allies again made an error after WWII (1945), when they divided Berlin, located entirely in the Soviet Zone, into four sectors, occupied by the U.S., Britain, France, and Russia (1945). The only way the U.S., Britain or France could access their parts of Berlin, was to travel through the Russian Sector. When the Soviets cut off the highway to Berlin (1948), war was narrowly avoided, as the U.S. landed one supply plane with food every minute, for 318 days straight, to finally break the blockade.

It would be a mistake to create a new Palestinian state with Gaza and the West Bank physically separated by Israel. To prevent future roadblocks and conflict, any peace agreement must make the two parts contiguous, by creating a permanent and irrevocable easement between them, known as the Palestinian Corridor.

05/24/2011

Arab-Israeli 1967 War In Review

The 1967 Arab-Israeli War started as Israel launched a surprise attack against Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. Israel swept through the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula, and on to the Suez Canal, where they broke a blockade by Egypt, in the Gulf of Aqaba, and at the Port of Elath. Following the war, Israel occupied the Sinai (Egypt), the Golan Heights (Syria), East Jerusalem, and the West Bank (Jordan). Up to 250,000 Palestinians became refugees.

Israel was censured by the UN Assembly (99-0, 20 abstentions). The UN Security Council found the taking of land by force illegal, and ordered a “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict” (Res. 242, 1967). The U.S. also asked Israel to withdraw, and barred the use of U.S. economic aid in the occupied areas. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded by Yasir Arafat to resist Israel.

Israel ignored the UN, the U.S., the PLO, and international law, and started re-settling Jewish families in Arab Jerusalem, known as the Old City. The UN warned against changing the legal status of Jerusalem by conquest (Res. 252, 1968). They reminded Israel it is illegal under international law to expropriate land, or forcibly remove civilians (Res. 298, 1971). In a 14-0 vote, the Security Council directed Israel to return occupied East Jerusalem (1971).

Israel instead defiantly proceeded with 44 new settlements in the occupied territories, all started since 1967. 15 were in the Golan Heights, 15 in the West Bank, and 14 in Sinai and Gaza (1972).

Things changed in 1972 following a bombing raid, when the U.S. vetoed a Security Council Resolution censuring Israel. Since then, the U.S. vetoed another 40 odd resolutions critical of Israel. This explains why the Arabs and Muslims dislike U.S. foreign policy.

The Arabs tried to take back the occupied territories in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, but failed, mainly because Israel had superior firepower, supplied by the U.S. The UN nevertheless continued to demand an Israeli withdrawal (Res. 344, 1973).

In 1978, Israeli Prime Minister Begin proved a withdrawal to the 1967 borders could be accomplished. During the Egyptian-Israeli peace process, Egyptian leader Sadat insisted on an Israel withdraw from the occupied Sinai. After Prime Minister Begin, Sadat, and President Carter, signed the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty (1979), Israeli soldiers and civilians withdrew, and peace has existed along the Sinai border ever since.

But the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Golan Heights, and Jerusalem, remained occupied. The UN criticized settlements in the occupied areas, saying they violated the rights of civilians, under the Geneva Convention (Res. 446, 452, 1979, Res. 465, 1980).

When Israeli law was imposed upon Syrians in the occupied Golan Heights, the UN declared the act null and void, citing the Geneva Convention (Res 497, 1981).

In 1985, Arafat said the PLO would accept the Jewish state’s right to exist, if Israel would withdraw to the 1967 borders. The UN again called for a withdrawal, but Israel refused (Res. 592, 1986).

The UN deplored the killing of Palestinians in Jerusalem, and other occupied areas, in violation of the Geneva Convention (Res. 605, 1987). They also ordered Israel to stop deporting Palestinians (Res. 636, 641, ’89; Res. 694, ’91; Res. 726, 799, ‘92).

Another break came in 1994, when Israeli Prime Minister Rabin proved peace was possible, as he and President Clinton reached a agreement with Jordan (1994). After Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli extremist (1995), Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud Party came to power, and the peace process stalled, as Netanyahu lifted a ban on new settlements (1996).

Israel later built a Wall in and around occupied Jerusalem, which the International Court of Justice said was a de facto annexation, in violation civilian rights, under the Geneva Conventions. (2004).

When Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it appeared that more progress was being made, but peace didn’t really have a chance, since Israel closed off all land, sea, or air access to the Gaza Strip, and denied Palestinians of a right to exist with their own leaders.

When President Obama suggested a withdrawal to the 1967 border in the West Bank, Netanyahu rudely lectured him, saying the 1967 line is indefensible. The truth is the current border is indefensible, as it has led to nothing but conflict for 44 years. Netanyahu’s fear-based approach will never work. Once the Palestinians no longer have a reason to be angry about an illegal occupation, only then may Israel enjoy peace and security. Since Netanyahu is unwilling to use the 1967 line, it’s time for a new Israeli leader, preferably one who listens more, and lectures less.

04/13/2011

Gaza and Israel: What’s It All About?

The news again reported that Israeli aircraft and tanks pounded the Gaza Strip in response to a Palestinian rocket attack on an Israeli bus. Although we have heard this kind of news for the past 63 years, many still have no idea why the Israelis and Palestinians have been fighting each other for so long.

The Gaza Strip and Israel both occupy an area in the Mideast that was previously known as Palestine. It was ruled for 400 years by the Turkish Ottoman Empire (1518-1918). In WWI, as the Turks were about to surrender, former British Prime Minister Balfour issued the Balfour Declaration, in which he promised to give the Jewish people a national homeland in Palestine, even though the overwhelming majority of people living there were Arabs (1917).

After Turkey surrendered, the League of Nations gave Britain a mandate to govern Palestine (1920). The English in turn gave the Jews of Europe permission to settle among the Arabs of Palestine. As the percentage of Jews in Palestine rose from 11% in 1922 to 29% in 1939, opposition from the Arab Muslims grew.

After WWII, upon the disclosure of the atrocities against the Jews in Europe, momentum developed for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. The UN partitioned the British mandate in Palestine into two areas, one Jewish, and one Arab (1947). The Palestinians however rejected it, and a civil war began (1947-48).

As the British were about to leave Palestine, Israel declared independence, and triggered the 1st Arab-Israeli War (1948-49). The Arab countries around Palestine tried to stop the creation of Israel, but failed. Israel seized land that had been assigned to the Arabs and made refugees out of 700,000 Palestinians. Following the 1949 Armistice, the UN recognized Israel as a nation-state, but many Arabs refused to acknowledge the new country. After another Arab-Israeli War (1967), Israel built settlements in Gaza and the West Bank, in violation of several UN Resolutions.

Progress was made later as self-rule was granted in Gaza (1993) and Israel transferred some control to the Palestinian National Authority (1994). Although Israel later re-entered Gaza during an Intifada (1999-00), they withdrew again when Mahmud Abbas was elected Palestinian Authority president (2005).

Israel however continued to confine the Palestinians of Gaza by maintaining strict controls over their maritime, air, and land borders. One major complaint today is that the 1.5 million Palestinians of Gaza are effectively prisoners in their own land. The border controls have made their economy desperate at times, which explains why the Palestinians continue to lash out at Israel.

Another complaint is the refusal of Israel to let the Palestinians choose their own leaders, without consequence. When elections were held in 2006, Hamas won, but Israel refused to accept the outcome, even though the process was free, fair and democratic.

Over the last 40 years, the UN Security Council has not acted to correct the situation, because the Israeli lobby controls the U.S. Congress, through campaign contributions supplied by special interest groups. The U.S. vetoed 42 UN Resolutions critical of Israel since 1972, and there is little hope the U.S.-Israeli arrangement will change any time soon. Even the 911 attacks, which were the direct result of the unconditional U.S. support for Israel, did not wake up the American public.

So the violence in the Middle East continues. Disproportionate air and ground attacks are made in response to occasional rocket fire from Gaza, and nothing ever changes. Hopefully, someday, the people in the Mideast themselves will see that the tactics of the past have not worked, and that they need a new approach.