Captured Palestinians at risk after Israeli rabbis call
Sat, 12 Dec 2009 19:21:51 GMT
Shalit was captured in a cross-border raid three years ago. Israeli rabbis have ruled that all Palestinian prisoners should be killed on the spot if captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is killed by the Hamas movement.
"If Gilad Shalit, heaven forbid, is executed or not returned in peace, prisoners will be executed immediately," ruled the court of the Rightist reestablished rabbinical body Sandhedrin organization.
The rabbis even suggested that Israel must capture top Palestinian figures, "including ministers, prime ministers, and anyone associated with the enemy's leadership," as part of the effort to bring Shalit home.
Shalit was captured in a cross border operation by Palestinian fighters in 2006. Hamas is demanding the release of 1,000 Palestinians imprisoned in Israel in exchange for his release.
No deal has yet been reached between Hamas and Tel Aviv. Israeli rabbis have played a role in blocking the exchange deal.
"In order to avoid collapse that would entail, heaven forbid, another holocaust, the Shalit deal must be blocked even at the cost of his life, while, on the other hand, any effort must be taken to rescue him immediately through using the lives of murderous terrorists we have in our hands as hostages," according to the rabbis.
OIC condemns desecration of West Bank mosque
Sun, 13 Dec 2009 09:45:23 GMT
Vandals torched a mosque in the West Bank on Friday.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference has strongly condemned the profanation of a mosque by Israel extremists in the West Bank.
"The profanation of the mosque and the torching of Koran copies found in it, and the spraying of racist graffiti slogans on the mosque's walls against Islam and Muslims represent a blatant aggression against the sanctity of sacred places," OIC secretary general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said in a statement on Saturday.
On Friday, hardline Jewish settlers burned the mosque in the northern West Bank village of Yasuf.
The incident "confirms the urgent need for the international community to intervene in order to compel Israel to put an end to its aggressions and comply with the stipulations of international law and the Geneva Convention," AFP quoted Ihsanoglu as saying in the statement.
Hezbollah rules out war with Israel
Sun, 13 Dec 2009 14:09:26 GMT
Hezbollah deputy leader sheikh Naim Qassem has ruled out a war with Israel, but says the movement is fully ready to repel any assault by the regime on the country.
"We have an interest in adhering to resolution 1701, since it certainly preserves the achievements of the resistance [Hezbollah], and of Lebanon's forces," he told the Lebanese daily Al-Akbar on Sunday.
UN Security Council resolution 1701 ended the 33-day Israeli war against the movement in southern Lebanon in the summer of 2006.
The deputy leader however warned Israel of a strong response should the regime wage a war against Lebanon "even tomorrow".
Qassem also dismissed accusations about rocket attacks on Israel from southern Lebanon".
In the latest incident, two rockets hit the Western Galilee area in northern Israel early in September.
Israel immediately fired 12 to 15 shells towards the sources that were firing the rockets. Tel Aviv holds the Lebanese government responsible for the attacks.
Israel allocates millions of dollars to settlements
Sun, 13 Dec 2009 17:37:49 GMT
Netanyahu claims the newly-designated national priority areas does not signify a permanent stance on the future of these areas.
The Israeli cabinet has approved a proposal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allocate millions of dollars in extra funds to "national priority zones" in the West Bank.
The cabinet voted on Sunday to approve the proposal to include settlements in the list of communities designated as national priority zones, which entitles them to credits worth $41 million, AFP reported.
In its vote, the cabinet also decided to create a commission that will decide within 30 days on whether to include other communities inside Israel in the priority list, said an Israeli official.
The move, which came just weeks after Israel imposed a ten-month moratorium on new buildings in the West Bank settlements, defies a call by Palestinians for a complete halt on settlements considered by the International community as illegal.
Netanyahu, however, claimed the plan to change Israel's map of national priority areas does not signify a permanent stance on the future of these areas.
"We will determine the future of settlements only within the framework of a permanent agreement [with Palestinians]," he said, according to Army Radio.
Israel has repeatedly been called to halt the construction of illegal settlements including the so-called "natural growth" in existing settlements in the West Bank.
Tel Aviv, however, claimed that it is not constructing 'new' settlements but only building new units in the existing settlements.
Hamas celebrates its 22nd birthday
Mon, 14 Dec 2009 11:19:39 GMT
Palestinian children wear Hamas headbands before a rally in Gaza City December 14, 2009to mark the 22nd anniversary of the Hamas movement's establishment.
Thousands of people are attending a massive rally in Gaza to mark the 22nd anniversary of establishment of the Palestinian Hamas movement.
In a statement, Hamas reiterated that it will continue to fight for an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.
The movement also promised to liberate all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails.
The statement underlined that Hamas is ready for national unity and reconciliation with all Palestinian groups.
It also called on all Islamic and Arab states to support the Palestinian cause and try to bring what it called Israeli criminals to justice.
Livni cancels UK trip on arrest fears
Mon, 14 Dec 2009 17:34:34 GMT
Livni reportedly canceled her participation in a Jewish conference in London after a British court issued a warrant for her arrest.
Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni has reportedly canceled her trip to London over threats of a possible war crimes lawsuit against her in Britain.
Based on a report published by Israeli daily Haaretz, the former foreign minister canceled her participation in a Jewish conference in London after a British court issued a warrant for her arrest.
"Scotland Yard advised the organizers of the Jewish National Fund conference in northwest London that the former foreign minister had canceled her scheduled address to the assembly over threats of a possible lawsuit by pro-Palestinian groups", the report said.
The warrant was issued for "war crimes" when she was foreign minister during Israel's December 2007-January 2008 offensive which left over 1,350 Palestinians dead in the Gaza Strip.
Livni's office however denied the report, saying in a statement that her trip was canceled two weeks ago due to a scheduling conflict.
Israel's envoy to London, Ron Prosor, has also claimed that he had conferred with officials in the British Ministry of Justice and that they denied such reports.
Prosor said the officials have not been informed about any criminal complaint or arrest warrant against the Israeli former foreign minister.
Earlier in September, a British court deferred until further notice an appeal by local pro-Palestinian groups to issue an arrest warrant against visiting Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
The group filed a request with the Westminster Magistrates Court to issue the warrant over Israel's war crimes in the Gaza Strip.
Israel continues arresting and imprisoning Palestinian children.
Israeli soldiers detained two Palestinian youths in an industrial area located near the Erez Crossing, west of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, but later released one.
The soldiers illegally penetrated approximately 350 meters into northern Gaza while Palestinian workers were trying to remove the rubble of the industrial area that was shelled by the army during last winter's assault on Gaza.
They detained Mahmoud Jamil al-Yaziji, 16, and Mohammad Hatim al-Kafarna, 17.
Al-Kafarna was released several hours later, while al-Yaziji was moved to the al-Majdal prison and is currently under interrogation, a lawyer working with the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights said on Monday.
The lawyer added that the Israeli District Court has extended al-Yaziji's remand until December 18.
The Al-Mezan Center also criticized Israel for continuing to commit human rights violations against the residents of the Gaza Strip and called on the Zionist regime to release all detained children.
Ban laments lack of progress on Gaza crisis
Tue, 15 Dec 2009 02:05:05 GMT
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he regrets that no progress has been made to solve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
The situation in Gaza, and particularly the suffering of the Palestinian people, is a great concern for him almost one year after the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, Ban told reporters at a monthly press conference at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday.
He said he has been “working hard” with the Israeli leadership, but he added, “It is regrettable that we have not made much progress.”
Ban stated that he has urged the international community, particularly the Quartet — the United Nations, the European Union, Russia, and the United States — to do more to bring the stalled Middle East peace process back on track.
“This should be one of my top priorities,” Ban said, adding that he will continue to press the Israeli government to agree to protect hospitals, schools, and the sanitation facilities badly needed by the civilians of Gaza.
Ban also said he has been trying to convince the Israeli government to pay $11 million in compensation for the UN premises destroyed in the three-week war on Gaza.
The Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, which ran from December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009, killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, many of them women and children.
Chomsky says Israel, 'US military base'
Thu, 10 Dec 2009 07:11:44 GMT
Noam Chomsky talks to Press TV during a phone interview
Renowned American sociopolitical analyst Noam Chomsky says Israel functions as Washington's main weapons storage base in the Middle East.
"Israel is essentially a US military base, the US positions weapons there, that's a very close military and intelligence tie," the Jewish academic told Press TV on Wednesday while explaining the complexity of relations between Washington and Tel Aviv.
Commenting on the weapons that Israel received from the US before launching its 2007-2008 offensive in the Gaza Strip, Chomsky said that the exchange of weapons between the two sides was not surprising.
"[Israel] is receiving weapons constantly. In fact, weapons were sent during the invasion of Gaza. They tried to send them, they were supposed to send them from Greece, and Greece refused to ship them," he said.
"When pentagon was asked about this, they responded (I think correctly) that the weapons were not being sent for the Gaza invasion which was underway with the US weapons of course; rather, the US was positioning weapons in Israel," he added.
The professor, who was taking part in an interview with Press TV after delivering a speech at Boston University, said that although Israel had influence over the US foreign policy, it still had to act within the boundaries of what Washington allowed.
"Take for example Israeli threats against Iran or US threats for that matter, in which if anybody cares it is a violation of the UN charter,” said Chomsky.
"Last summer in 2008, right in the middle of the presidential election… Israeli lobbyists tried very hard to push through a resolution in congress calling for a blockade on Iran which essentially would have been an act of war.
"They were rounding up quite lot of senators… and all of a sudden the effort terminated, presumably what happened is the White House… wanted to have a word with them, so they pulled back, that happens over and over, Israel can not go beyond what the US permits," he added.
During his address at Boston University, the recognized professor also warned of the threat that the US and Israel posed to the world and said people may have more to fear from the two than those that Washington tries to associate with terrorism.
"[The US and Israel] consistently and regularly… resort to force and the threat of force… carry out aggression regularly and repeatedly… invade other countries, occupy other countries, [and] invoke terror and violence," he said.
Chomsky also pointed out that the US government and its media had spread exaggerated reports about Iran's nuclear program.
"There has been a massive propaganda campaign that demonizes Iran, that portrays it as a major threat to world peace that has been going on for the past three years," he said.
U.S.A. Condemns Attack on Yassouf Mosque Date : 12/12/2009 Time : 17:35
WASHINGTON, December 12, 2009 (WAFA)- The U.S.A condemned Saturday the Friday attack on a mosque in the West Bank village of Yassouf south of Nablus.
WAFA received from the American Consulate General in Jerusalem the U.S. press statement on the attack on the Yassouf Mosque. It reads as follows: “The United States condemns the attack on the mosque in Yasuf in the strongest terms and calls for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.”
Extremist settlers burst at the dawn of Friday into the mosque and burned prayer carpets and a book stand with Muslim holy texts, and left graffiti on the floor reading, 'Price tag - greetings from Effi'. Effi is a Hebrew name. Then the vandals escaped, while the Israeli Occupation Forces have done little to protect Palestinian civilians from the settlers.
Palestinian Christians call on Westerners to reject Zionism
12.12.09 - 22:41
Israeli settlers burn Quran in attack on mosque. Hundreds of Jewish settlers angry at reduced settlement building burned pages of Islam's holy book in an attack on a West Bank mosque as Palestinian Christians called for sanctions on "evil" Israel and rejected Christian Zionism.
Burned pages of the Quran lay scattered on the mosque's torched carpet as Israelis from the settlement of Tappuah spray painted in large Hebrew letters "Get ready to pay the price," a statement referring to a recent government decision to curb settlement building, only in the West Bank and for only 10 months.
Security forces used teargas to disperse hundreds of furious settlers in the West Bank city of Yasuf, where hardline settlers call for a "price tag" policy under which they target Palestinians in retaliation for any Israeli government measure they see as threatening Jewish settlements.
Settler attacks on Palestinians is a common occurrence and last week a house and three vehicles were set on fire in another northern West Bank village. The owner of the house told police he saw three Jewish settlers start the fires.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak sharply denounced the attack.
"This is an extreme act meant to harm the government's attempts to advance the process for Israel's future," his office quoted him as saying.
Meanwhile in the West Bank city of Bethlehem Christians from all denominations called for international sanctions on Israel for its "evil" occupation and urged Western Christians to reject Zionism.
"The aggression against the Palestinian people which is the Israeli occupation, is an evil that must be resisted. It is an evil and a sin that must be resisted and removed," the Palestinains Ma'an news agency quoted a released document as stating.
"Primary responsibility for this rests with the Palestinians themselves suffering occupation. Christian love invites us to resist it," the document added.
The group, who call themselves the Palestine Kairos Initiative, modeled after black South Africa's 1985 Kairos Document, called on the international community to begin "a system of economic sanctions and boycott to be applied against Israel," and to "engage in divestment and in an economic and commercial boycott of everything produced by the occupation."
"These advocacy campaigns must be carried out with courage, openly sincerely proclaiming that their object is not revenge but rather to put an end to the existing evil, liberating both the perpetrators and the victims of injustice."
Faith in God
The group also specifically addressed Chrisitians living in the west who support Zionism and slammed them for "trying to attach a biblical and theological legitimacy to the infringement of our rights." Their interpretation of scripture has "become a menace to our very existence. ... The 'good news' in the Gospel itself has become 'a harbinger of death' for us."
The group said misinterpretations of the holy scriptures was threatening the Palestinian people's existence.
"Those who use the Bible to threaten our existence as Christian and Muslim Palestinians, we renew our faith in God because we know that the word of God can not be the source of our destruction."
"We call on these theologians to deepen their reflection on the Word of God and to rectify their interpretations so that they might see in the Word of God a source of life for all peoples."
According to Ma'an the Palestine Kairos Initiative was first proposed in Jordan leading religious figures from all denominations, including Lutherians, Greek Orthodox and Baptists.
"After sitting and theologically reflecting on the situation, the injustice of the situation, we came up with this document," Kairos spokesman Ranjan Solomon told Ma'an. "Palestinians perceive this as a moment of truth."
08.12.09 - 22:14
Ending the occupation and discrimination against Arab citizens within its borders will alter our perception of whether Israel began as an imperfect democracy or a false one.
Gershom Gorenberg | December 4, 2009
Infant mortality among Arab citizens of Israel is two and a half times higher than it is among Jewish citizens. One out of two Israeli Arab college graduates is out of work. Arabs make up 6 percent of the civil service, though they are over 15 percent of the country's citizens. National testing shows Arab fifth- and eighth-graders trailing Jewish pupils in math, science, and English, and the gap is widening. That's not surprising, since Arabs suffer much more poverty, and the national education system spends considerably more per Jewish child than per Arab child.
This a just a selection from the last few weeks' news reports on the ethnic gap in Israel -- not that inequality is big news. The most clichéd phrase in Israeli political discourse is that the country is a "Jewish and democratic state." The phrase is overused precisely because of the tension between the two adjectives, because of the majority's insecurity over whether both can be achieved at the same time. (The minority generally presumes it can't.)
The standard line of the country's boosters is that it's the only democracy in the Middle East. The most concise criticism is that it is an "ethnocracy," as Israeli political geographer Oren Yiftachel argues in his 2006 book of that name. An ethnocracy, he explains, is a regime promoting "the expansion of the dominant group in contested territory … while maintaining a democratic façade." Looking at this debate in light of two new books by Israeli scholars and of a faded and remarkable document that I've just read in the Israel State Archives, it seems both sides could be right.
The document is from late April 1948, a few weeks before Israeli independence. It's the blueprint for the administration of the Jewish state, detailed down to the location of regional health offices and the budget for day-care centers to be opened in large Arab villages. An Emergency Committee of top Zionist political leaders produced the plan, according to the unpublished doctoral dissertation of Israeli political scientist Jonathan Fine. (Fine's dissertation on the transition from colonial rule to independence is what led me to the blueprint.) The committee had begun work the previous October, after a U.N. panel recommended dividing British-ruled Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. In the territory assigned to them, Jews were only a slight majority. Partition didn't turn out that way, of course. . Most of the Arabs residents fled or were expelled from what became Israel. Among those who say the exodus was premeditated ethnic cleansing, one argument is that Zionist leaders had to know that a Jewish state with such a large Arab minority wasn't viable.
What's striking about the Emergency Committee's blueprint is that it assumes that Israel will include that large Arab minority. The planned Education Ministry, for instance, is expected to take responsibility for schools in the "248 Arab villages" that would be in the Jewish state according to the U.N. partition. Likewise, the ministry would be responsible for Arab schools in Tiberias, Safed, and Beit She'an -- towns whose Arab populations left during the war. Various branches of the civil service would have Jewish directors with Arab deputies.
So how did Jews expect to have self-determination -- political control as an ethnic collective -- in a country where they barely formed a majority? The leadership may have expected Jewish immigration to create a more solid majority. An October 1947 cable from the Zionist movement's "foreign minister," Moshe Shertok, suggests that he hoped that many Arab residents of the Jewish state would opt for citizenship in the Arab state. Israel, that is, would provide their schools and health care -- but they wouldn't be part of the electorate. It would be a relatively soft ethnocracy.
In early May of 1948, as fighting intensified, , Shertok described the growing Arab exodus as "quite unprecedented and unforeseen." By June, as Israel's first foreign minister, he was pushing for a policy of not letting refugees return. At times he argued that stable peace could not be reached if Israel had a large, potentially hostile national minority. At times, his argument was more visceral. "Had anyone risen among us and said that one day we should expel all of them -- that would have been madness," he said in a Cabinet meeting (as quoted by Benny Morris in his book 1948. But after the fact, the exodus was "one of those revolutionary changes" that could not be reversed. "The aggressive enemy brought this about and the blood is on his head," he said, adding that abandoned land and houses were the "spoils of war." In September 1948, the Cabinet decided to bar a return until a formal peace treaty. In practical terms, that was the decision that made the exodus permanent.
After the war, the 156,000 Arabs remaining in Israel were about 15 percent of the population. They became Israeli citizens, with the right to vote and be elected. But most Arab towns and villages remained under restrictive military government. "The Israeli authorities viewed the Arab population as hostile and potentially seditious," as Hillel Cohen writes in Good Arabs: The Israeli Security Agencies and the Israeli Arabs, 1948-1967, an Israeli best seller that has just come out in English. Cohen's title is ironic. It refers to the web of collaborators and informers that security agencies built among the Arab minority. The network's purpose, Cohen writes, was not only to uncover hostile groups and agents of enemy countries. It was also to control political life down to the village level and to "reshape Arab consciousness and identity," divorcing Arab citizens from Palestinian nationalism.
Using previously classified documents, Cohen charts in fascinating and disturbing detail how collaboration shaped life among Israeli Arabs. Pro-regime Arabs tried to keep wedding singers from performing communist and Arab nationalist songs. Teachers in Arab-language schools were hired or fired based on political loyalties. "Naturally, this affected the quality of teaching," especially since educated Arabs were more likely to have Arab nationalist leanings, Cohen writes. The military government over Israeli Arabs was dissolved in 1966. The Arab parties set up as satellites of Jewish ones have vanished. Arab citizens now vote mainly for parties that outspokenly demand their rights. "State supervision of political speech has lessened" but not disappeared, Cohen writes. Yet alongside (frustratingly slow) progress within Israel, a far more blatantly ethnocratic regime has developed in the territories that Israel conquered in 1967. Israel's democratically elected governments rise and crumble based on their position on the occupation.
So is Israel a democracy or an ethnocracy? A direction for an answer comes out of philosopher Avishai Margalit's brief, provocative new work, On Compromise and Rotten Compromises. Margalit, I should note, spends little space explicitly discussing Israel. He addresses a universal question: At what point does a political compromise become morally indefensible? The brief answer is that "rotten compromises" are taboo, meaning agreements that "establish or maintain an inhuman regime, a regime of cruelty and humiliation … a regime that does not treat humans as humans."
The Munich agreement is one of Margalit's test cases. Another is the compromise on slavery struck by the framers of the U.S. Constitution, which allowed slavery to continue, permitted the continued import of slaves for 20 years, and required the extradition of fugitive slaves. To create a union, Northern delegates to the constitutional convention sacrificed black people to ongoing cruelty and humiliation. It's possible, he notes, that the framers believed that slavery was economically unsustainable and would wither away. They couldn't know that the invention of the cotton gin would make the slave economy flourish. Nonetheless, "my tentative answer is that the Constitution was based on a rotten compromise," Margalit writes.
Here is the problem: The newborn United States was "a settling ethnocracy," to use Yiftachel's term. It enslaved black people and steadily pushed Native Americans from their land. Yet it was also a revolutionary experiment in democracy that inspired revolutionaries elsewhere. It seems that a polity can be born as both a democracy and an ethnocracy, its politics built forever after around the contradiction between the two.
And we base our judgment of which side of a country's character is the fundamental one on what happens later -- just as the meaning of a novel's first chapter changes with each successive chapter one reads. Judged in March 1857, after the Dred Scott decision, the United States looked like a country created as an ethnocracy with a democratic false front. Judged on Nov. 5, 2008, it looked like a fundamentally democratic nation. As much as history helps us make sense of the present, the present constantly alters the meaning of the past.
Israel has become more democratic and more ethnocratic since its birth. Its democracy is sometimes seen as a model by Palestinians seeking their own independence. Whether it ends the occupation and discrimination against Arab citizens within its borders will alter our perception of whether the nation began as an imperfect democracy or a false one. Today's political battles, strangely enough, will determine not only its future but also its past.
05.12.09 - 20:32
The peace process in Palestine is a total wreck. Every proposal has been torn to shreds by Israel by simply continuing to build new settlements on lands that would belong to a sovereign Palestine in any two-state solution.
President Barack Obama would do well to realise that, in consequence, his credibility is also undermined gravely and not in that region alone, either.
In his much-acclaimed speech at Cairo on June 4, 2009 the president declared: ‘The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace,’ adding peremptorily, ‘it is time for these settlements to stop’.
They did not. As The Economist noted on Nov 28, Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, ‘defied him and still, staggeringly, won praise from Hillary Clinton’, the secretary of state, known for strong pro-Israeli sympathies., During a visit to Israel she praised Netanyahu’s commitment to peace.
In a speech on June 14 Netanyahu offered to acknowledge the hypothetical existence of an eventual Palestinian state on the explicit understanding that it exercised no control over its airspace and had no means of defending itself against aggression; in short, a Bantustan.
On settlements he resorted to a dishonest quibble. ‘Illegal’ ones would not be built but the ‘legal’ ones would continue to expand according to their national rates of growth.
There are about 120 official Israeli settlements in the occupied territories of the West Bank besides ‘unofficial’ ones estimated from 80 to 100. In international law both are illegal and are in breach of Article 47 of the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as the UN’s charter.
The settlers number more than half a million. The US is privy to this breach as Tony Judt of New York University points out: ‘Were Israel not the leading beneficiary of American foreign aid — averaging $2.8bn a year from 2003 to 2007, and scheduled to reach $3.1bn by 2013 — houses in West Bank settlements would not be so cheap: often less than half the price of equivalent homes in Israel proper.
‘Many of the people who move to these houses don’t even think of themselves as settlers. Newly arrived from Russia and elsewhere, they simply take up the offer of subsidised accommodation, move into the occupied areas and become the grateful clients of their political patrons.’
Netanyahu offered a deceptive compromise — a mere 10-month freeze that, however, exempts Jerusalem, schools and synagogues and allows Israel to complete as many as 3,000 housing units already under construction.
Even some Israelis are astonished at Obama’s supineness in the face of Israel’s continued defiance. The noted Israeli columnist, Gideon Levy, wrote recently: ‘Before no other country in the planet does the United States kneel and plead like this. In other trouble spots, America takes a different tone. It bombs Afghanistan, invades Iraq and threatens sanctions against Iran and North Korea. Did anyone in Washington consider begging Saddam Hussein to withdraw from occupied territory in Kuwait?’
President Obama is surrounded by Israel’s supporters, most notably Dennis Ross, who was Clinton’s peace envoy. As Obama was speaking at Cairo, ‘senior Israeli officials’ in Jerusalem leaked to The New York Times a secret understanding with his predecessor, George W. Bush, giving ‘unambiguous permission’ to build within the boundaries of certain settlement blocks so long as no new land was expropriated.
It was on the basis of this understanding that Israel accepted the ‘road map’ for a two-state solution and withdrew from Gaza in 2005. In his infamous letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dated April 14, 2004 Bush wrote: ‘In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centres, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.’
Palestinians were expected to submit to a fait accompli. Rather belatedly, on Nov 5, 2009 Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), admitted the collapse of the peace process and announced his resolve to step down as the PLO’s leader and not to seek a second term as the PA’s head. He has allowed himself to be used to crush Hamas in Gaza.
Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza was not designed to accelerate the peace process but to extinguish it. His friend and confidant Dov Weisglass revealed in the Israeli daily Haaretz on Oct 8, 2004 that Sharon and he had persuaded Bush to accept a plan which spelt the complete cantonisation of the West Bank under Israel’s control.
To remove all doubt, he explained that the Gaza withdrawal ‘is actually formaldehyde’, the liquid in which dead bodies are preserved. ‘Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda.’
Prime ministers will come and go in Tel Aviv and presidents will change guard in the US. This plan will be pursued by Israel and condoned by the US, under cover of rhetoric varying from the florid to the soaring.
Meanwhile, the situation within Israel continues to change. Arabs now make up around 22 per cent of the population of Israel. The total number of Palestinians living in Israel and in the occupied lands is larger than the Jewish population. They are unlikely to acquiesce in their fate for long.
Pal'n stabs Israeli settler southern Bethlehem, flees the scene
Jerusalem-PalPress-Israelis sources said that a Palestinian stabbed a 22-year old Israeli settler near Etzion southern the West Bank city of Bethlehem yesterday.
The sources added that the woman is a resident of "Karni Shamron" settlement sustained light to moderate wounds and has been transferred to hospital for medical treatment , pointing out that the stabber fled teh scene.
Israel's military set up a number of checkpoints around the southern West Bank settlement bloc in search for the Palestinian.
Eye witnesses said that the injured was waiting at a bus station in Etzion when the Palestinian stabbed her at her lower back and fled away.