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Home arrow Blog arrow June 2009 arrow June 1, 2009

June 1, 2009
June 1, 2009: The week that was: The week a' coming 

On June 4, 2009, President Obama will speak on the world stage from Egypt hoping "to use the occasion to deliver a broader message about how the United States can change for the better its relationship with the Muslim world."

He began last week, at the State Department, when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced in front of Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, that the Obama administration, "wants to see a stop to settlements -- not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions [the administration has communicated its position] very clearly, not only to the Israelis, but to the Palestinians and others, and we intend to press that point."

Netanyahu responded with remarks released by his office, "We will not build new settlements. But it is not fair not to provide a solution to natural growth."

Under international law, every one of the 120 Jewish only colonies-spun as 'neighborhoods'- are illegal and there are currently 300,000 Israeli colonists who inhabit them.

The day before last week's Netanyahu/Obama meeting, Israel announced the building of a new settlement; Maskiot, in the Jordan Valley, which is the first new settlement to be officially established in 26 years.

An Israeli settlement freeze is the first step required to prove that America can be an honest broker for peace –through justice-and that will reinvigorate negotiations that will lead to diffusing many other regional problems.

Israeli officials are also now complaining that they are now willing to meet with Abbas unconditionally, but the Palestinians are setting the preconditions. Palestinian officials stated Abbas would not meet with Netanyahu to begin peace discussions until there is a halt on all settlement growth and Israel acknowledges the right of the Palestinian's to have their own state.

Georgetown University Middle East expert Daniel Byman stated, "Over the past 15 years, settlements have gone from being seen in Washington as an irritant, to the dominant issue." He pointed out key figures in the Obama administration; George Mitchell, who headed the Mitchell Commission, and recommended a halt to settlements and national security advisor Gen. Jim Jones, are in agreement that the settlements are a major obstacle to a peace settlement that will hold.
 
The good news is that members of Congress are coming to understand that America's national security interest and Israel's require an end to the conflict-and that requires addressing all obstacles and righting all injustices. Momentum for Obama's position is building led by high profile Jewish American Congressional members, such as Representative's Gary Ackerman, Robert Wexler, and Howard Berman, who are all well-informed on foreign policy and comprehend that peace in the Holy Land is essential to American national interest as well as the only way for Israel to ever be secure.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that he was extremely impressed with the Obama administration's resolve after his private meeting with Obama at the White House which was followed by an expanded meeting in the Oval Office with Obama, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, Clinton, and other U.S. officials.

Obama said in a joint press conference with Abbas that, "We are a stalwart ally of Israel and it is in our interests to assure that Israel is safe and secure. It is our belief that the best way to achieve that is to create the conditions on the ground and set the stage for a Palestinian state as well. And so what I told Prime Minister Netanyahu was that each party has obligations under the road map. On the Israeli side those obligations include stopping settlements. They include making sure that there is a viable potential Palestinian state.
 
"On the Palestinian side it's going to be important and necessary to continue to take the security steps on the West Bank that President Abbas has already begun to take, working with General Dayton. We've seen great progress in terms of security in the West Bank.  Those security steps need to continue because Israel has to have some confidence that security in the West Bank is in place in order for us to advance this process."
 
 
Obama has insisted, "The absence of peace between Palestinians and Israelis is an impediment to a whole host of other areas of increased cooperation…I want to see progress made, and we will work very aggressively to achieve it…I believe that many Israelis share the same view that time is of the essence, and we can't continue with the drift. We need to get this thing back on track…I think it's important not to assume the worst but to assume the best. Obviously, Prime Minister Netanyahu has to work these issues in his own government."

Obviously both leaders have much work to do, for as Jeff Halper, American Israeli, Mid East commentator and founder and coordinator of Israeli Committee Against house Demolitions, wrote on May 25, 2009:

"Although the Obama Administration may truly desire viable two-state solution and even understands all Israel’s tricks, it is also clear that without significant pressure it cannot be achieved. And here is where the real problem arises. Israel’s trump card has always been Congress, where it enjoys virtually unanimous bi-partisan support. And Obama’s own Democratic Party, which received almost 80% of the Jewish vote in 2008, has always been far more “pro-Israel” than the Republicans. It may well be that Obama and Mitchell will try to take American policy in a new and more assertive direction and the leaders of his own party will balk, fearful of not being re-elected."-NETANYAHU CHOOSES WAREHOUSING


Religious Zionists, fundamentalists and the ideological right believe that Israel should stretch from the Jordan to the Mediterranean and include the West Bank, which they refer to as Judaea and Samaria and consider "liberated" by the 1967 Six Day War, for many politicians thought grabbing territory would improve Israel's bargaining position in future peace talks.

Theodor Meron, the legal adviser to the Israeli foreign ministry immediately after the Six Day War advised that the building of settlements would be illegal under international law because it contravened various conventions prohibiting the settling of civilians on occupied territory. "Meron, who went on to become one of the world's most eminent international jurists, has never wavered from that view. The US has been somewhat equivocal over the years about the legal position. But the large majority of Western countries (including Britain), the UN, and the International Court of Justice, which restated its view in a 2004 advisory opinion on the military's separation barrier, say that settlements are illegal, whether in the West Bank or East Jerusalem. And the 2003 Road Map, with the backing of the US, called for a total freeze on settlement construction. Israel's government and judiciary, however have never accepted that view." [Donald Macintyre, The Independent, May 29, 2009]


In 1971, Ariel Sharon bragged to Winston Churchill III: "We'll make a pastrami sandwich of them. We'll insert a strip of Jewish settlement, right across the West Bank, so that in 25 years time, neither the United Nations, nor the United States, nobody, will be able to tear it apart."

The outposts, which Israel now agrees to dismantle, are even blatantly illegal according to Israeli law, and they were all aided by various government departments who provided electricity and water to the squatters who established mobile home parks on high ridges close to existing settlements as their way to claim more land for future development. The settlements created many facts on the ground-such as apartheid roadways-roads that Palestinians are forbidden to drive upon and a military infrastructure and wall which have effectively carved the West Bank into separate cantons/Bantustans, preventing the indigenous people access to their land, resources, families and holy sites.

However, citizen actions are increasing as residents, Israelis and internationals persist to nonviolently demonstrate against the route of the wall in agricultural villages, such as Bil'in and Ni’lin, where weekly demonstrations against the route of the construction of The Wall, began in 2004, when the International Court of Justice deemed it illegal and demanded it be removed where ever it did not follow the Green Line. The demonstrators have no issue if Israel wants to build a wall on Israeli property, the people rise up in order to shine the light on Israel stealing the indigenous people's property to erect a wall that denies them access to their resources, jobs, families and holy sites.

The conflict became personal for the USA on March 13, 2003, when Rachel Corrie, an altruistic young America stood up and was run over by Israeli forces who then demolished a pharmacists home in Gaza with a USA made Caterpillar bulldozer. Israel investigated and exonerated their own forces; the USA Congress has done nothing at all.

On March 13, 2009, Tristan Anderson, an altruistic young America, was critically injured by Israeli forces who shot a large hole in the right part of his forehead with a tear gas canister, causing severe damage to his right eye and the need to remove part of the right frontal lobe of his brain which had been shattered by bone fragments.

Tristan was shot because he had taken a stand against the route of the construction of the wall that cuts through the village of Ni’lin that is making way for even more settlers to move in. Tristan was shot with a "Ruger rifle and a high velocity tear gas canister. The gas canister does not make a noise when fired or emit a smoke tail and has a propeller to accelerate the weapon mid-air. A combination of the canister’s high velocity and silence is extremely dangerous and it has caused numerous injuries." [1]

The bullet can only be heard by a low sweeping noise in the air as it passes. The low caliber allows the bullet to easily enter the body and cause internal bleeding. The bullet can enter a body from approximately 50 meters.

"In 2001, Maj.-Gen. Menachem Finkelstein, then judge advocate general, ordered that use of the Ruger rifle be stopped. The decision followed the killing of several children in the Gaza Strip by Ruger-rifle fire, and an order by OC Central Command to cease using the rifle, which was given after finding that soldiers often used it without justification against demonstrators. On 27 December 2001, Ha’aretz quoted a senior military official as saying that “the mistake was that the Ruger came to be seen as a means to disperse demonstrators, contrary to its original designation as a weapon like any other.”- B’tselem

"The Israeli army has also begun to use a more dangerous high velocity teargas projectile, labelled “40 mm bullet, special/long range” in Hebrew. The canister is black, heavy (130 grams without the propeller) and can reach more than 400 meters due to a propelling device. The gas-canister explodes only after it hits the ground. No tail of gas or audible cue makes this canister more likely to cause injuries, as demonstrators cannot anticipate when it is being used. Additionally, acceleration from the propeller and weight of this canister cause a greater impact when hitting a demonstrator. Use of this high velocity tear-gas projectile has caused the critical injury of Tristan Anderson." [Ibid]

If the United States is serious about halting the illegal Israel settlements, money remains the currency with the loudest voice.

"The Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs will likely "mark-up" President Obama's FY2010 budget request, which includes $2.775 billion in military aid to Israel. This request for an increase in military aid to Israel comes despite the fact that Israel consistently misuses U.S. weapons in violation of the Arms Export Control and Foreign Assistance Acts.  However, over 150,000 Americans for justice and peace have sent letters to Congress letting them know that we oppose this budget request and want to see an end to the military occupation of Palestine. We also demand that any aid to Israel be conditioned on Israel achieving stated U.S. policy goals. To sign and send that letter too, please click:

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/641/t/2439/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=27254


As President Obama flies out of Egypt, this reporter makes her way to Gaza and onto Nil'in, embedded with altruistic Americans connected with CODE PINK, who have been invited by the United Nations (UNRWA) to visit schools, hospitals and to work with Gazans to build an International Friendship Playground.

Learn More:

 http://codepinkalert.org/article.php?id=4820

 

 

 

1. http://palsolidarity.org/2009/01/4699

2. http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/641/t/2439/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=27254
   
 
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