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Home arrow Blog arrow June 2007 arrow June 28, 2007

June 28, 2007

"Our governments have failed us. Unless we, the people worldwide, can mobilize grassroots opposition to the Israeli-US-European Occupation, a new apartheid regime, in the Holy Land no less, will soon emerge before our very eyes. Its only when the people lead that our “leaders” will even contemplate doing the right thing."-Jeff Halper 

American Israeli, Jeff Halper the founder and coordinator of Israeli Committe Against House Demolitions/ICAHD and Israeli Uri Avnery, a former Knesset Member, both write with words sharper than a two-edged sword and their most recent articles are today's offerings.

When I met Jeff for the first time in Jerusalem in 2005, he blew my mind and then he made me laugh out loud:

"Israel is a not a democracy but is an Ethnocracy, meaning a country run and controlled by a national group with some democratic elements but set up with Jews in control and structured to keep them in control...Do you know why Israel does not want to become America’s 51st state? Because then they would only have two senators!"

Uri Avnery, is now a full time peace activist with Gush Shalom, and Gush Shalom's primary goal is to influence Israeli public opinion and lead it towards peace and reconciliation with the Palestinian people, by working to END THE OCCUPATION.

I have not yet met Uri Avnery, but I hope to track him down while I am in Jerusalem in July, because it is USA public opinion I seek to sway regarding ENDING THE OCCUPATION of Palestine, and maybe he can give me a clue as to what I can do. 
 
Avnery's a
rticle "Saving President Abbas" is followed by Jeff Halper's "KEEPING ON A STEADY COURSE TO APARTHEID"

In clean up position is the link to learn MORE ABOUT THE APARTHEID POLICIES OF ISRAEL by Americans for Middle East Understanding...

Saving President Abbas
Uri Avnery
 
23/06/07

EHUD OLMERT is the opposite of Midas, King of Phrygia. Everything the king touched turned into gold, according to Greek legend. Everything Olmert touches turns into lead. And that is no legend.
 

Now he is touching Mahmoud Abbas. He lauds him to high heaven. He promises to "strengthen" him. He is about to meet him.

If I might offer some advice to Abbas, I would call out to him: Run! Run for your precious life! One touch of Olmert's hand will seal your fate!

CAN ABBAS be saved? I don't know. Some of my Palestinian friends are in despair.

They grew up in Fatah, and Fatah is their home. They are secularists. They are nationalists. They definitely do not want a fanatical Islamic regime in their homeland.

But in the present conflict, their heart is with Hamas. Their mind is split. And that is not surprising.

They hear the words of President Bush, of Olmert and of the whole babbling choir of Israeli politicians and pundits. And they draw the inescapable conclusion: the Americans and the Israelis are working hard to turn Abbas into an agent of the occupation and the Fatah movement into a militia of the occupier.

Every word now emanating from Washington and Jerusalem confirms this suspicion. Every word widens the gap between the Palestinian street and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. The new "Emergency Government" in Ramallah is headed by a person who received 2% of the votes at the last elections, when the list of Abbas himself was soundly beaten by Hamas, not only in Gaza but in the West Bank, too.

No "easing the restrictions" and no "economic steps" will help. Not the return of the Palestinian tax money that was embezzled by the Israeli government. Not the flow of European and American aid. As early as 80 years ago, Vladimir Jabotinsky, the most extreme Zionist, made fun of the Zionist leaders who tried to buy off the Palestinian people by offering economic inducements. A people cannot be bought.

IF ABBAS can be saved at all, it is in one way only: by the immediate start of rapid and practical negotiations for achieving a peace settlement, with the declared aim of setting up a Palestinian state in all the occupied territories, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Nothing less.

But that is exactly what the government of Israel is not prepared to do. Not Olmert. Not Tzipi Livni. Not Ehud Barak.

If they had been ready to do this, they or their predecessors would have done so long ago. Barak could have arranged it with Yasser Arafat at Camp David. Ariel Sharon could have agreed it with Abbas, after Abbas was elected president with a huge majority. Olmert could have settled it with Abbas after Sharon left the scene. He could have done it with the unity Government that was set up under Saudi auspices.

They didn't. Not because they were fools and not because they were weak. They did not do it simply because their aim was the exact opposite: annexation of a large part of the West Bank and the enlargement of the settlements. That's why they did everything to weaken Abbas, who was designated by the Americans as the "partner for peace". In the eyes of Sharon and his successors, Abbas was more dangerous than Hamas, which was defined by the Americans as a "terrorist organization".

IT IS impossible to understand the latest developments without going back to the "separation plan".

This week, some sensational disclosures were published in Israel. They confirm the suspicions that we had from the start: that the "separation" was nothing but a ploy, part of a program with a hidden agenda.

Sharon had a master plan with three main elements: (a) turning the Gaza Strip into a separate and isolated entity, led by Hamas, (b) turning the West Bank into an archipelago of isolated cantons led by Fatah, and (c) leaving both territories under the domination of the Israeli military.

This would explain Sharon's insistence on a "unilateral" withdrawal. On the face of it, it seems illogical. Why not speak in advance with the Palestinian Authority? Why not ensure the orderly transfer of power to Mahmoud Abbas? Why not transfer to the Authority all the settlements intact, with their buildings and greenhouses? Why not open wide all the border crossings? Indeed, why not enable the Palestinians to open the Gaza airport and build the Gaza sea port?

If the aim had been to achieve a peace settlement, all this would have happened. But since the complete opposite was done, it can be assumed that Sharon wanted things to work out roughly as they did: the collapse of the Authority in Gaza, the take-over of the Strip by Hamas, the split between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

For this end, he cut Gaza off from any land, sea and air contact with the world, kept the border passages closed almost continuously and turned Gaza into the "largest prison in the world". The supply of food, medicines, water and electricity is completely dependent on the goodwill of Israel, as is the operation of the border crossing to Egypt (with the help of a European monitoring unit controlled by the Israeli army), all imports and exports, and even the registration of inhabitants.

IT MUST be clear: this is not a new policy. The cutting off of the Gaza strip from the West Bank has for many years been a military and political objective of Israeli governments.

Article IV of the 1993 Oslo Declaration of Principles states unequivocally: "The two sides view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit, whose integrity will be preserved during the interim period." Without this, Arafat would not have accepted the agreement.

Later on, Shimon Peres invented the slogan "Gaza First". The Palestinians adamantly refused. In the end, the Israeli government gave in and in 1994 signed the "Agreement Concerning the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area". The foothold thus given to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank was to ensure the unity of the two territories.

In the same agreement, Israel undertook to open a "safe passage" between the Strip and the West Bank. And not only one, but four, which were marked on a map appended to the agreement. Immediately afterwards, road signs with the Arab inscription "to Gaza" were set up along West Bank roads.

But during the 13 years that have passed since then, the passage has not been opened even for one day. When Ehud Barak settled his frame in the Prime Minister's chair, he fantasized about building the world's longest bridge between the Gaza strip and the West Bank (about 40 km). Like many others of Barak's brilliant flashes, this one died before birth and the passage remained hermetically closed.

The Israeli government has undertaken again and again to fulfill this commitment, and recently gave Condoleezza Rice personally a specific and detailed pledge. Nothing happened.

Why? Why did our government take the risk of a manifest, clear-cut, unambiguous and continuous violation of such an important obligation? Why did they go so far as to spit in the eye of a friend like the good Condoleezza?

There is only one possible answer: the cutting off of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank is a major strategic aim of the government and the army, an important step in the historic effort to break the Palestinian resistance to occupation and annexation.

This week, it seemed that this aim had been achieved.

The official operation to "strengthen" Abbas is a part of this design. In Jerusalem, some feel that their dreams are coming true: the West Bank separated from the Gaza strip, divided into several enclaves cut off from each other and from the world, much like the Bantustans in South Africa in bygone times. Ramallah as the capital of Palestine, designed to make the Palestinians forget about Jerusalem. Abbas receiving arms and reinforcements in order to destroy Hamas in the West Bank. The Israeli army dominating the areas between the towns, and operating at will in the towns, too. The settlements growing without hindrance, the Jordan valley completely cut off from the rest of the West Bank, the Wall continuing to extend and gobble up more Palestinian land, and the Government's promise to dismantle the settlement "outposts" remaining a long forgotten joke.

President Bush is satisfied with "the spread of democracy" in the Palestinian areas, and the US military subsidy to Israel is growing from year to year.

FROM THE point of view of Olmert, that is an ideal situation. Will it hold?

The answer is an unqualified NO!

Like all the actions of Bush and Olmert, as well as of their predecessors, it is based on contempt for the Arabs. This contempt has proven itself many times as a recipe for disaster.

The Israeli media, which have turned themselves into propaganda organs for Mahmoud Abbas and Mohammed Dahlan, are already gleefully describing how the hungry inhabitants of Gaza will look with green envy at the well-fed, flourishing inhabitants of the West Bank. They are going to rebel against the Hamas leadership, so that a Quisling in the service of Israel can be installed there. The people in the West Bank, growing fat on European and American aid money, will be happy to be rid of Gaza and its troubles.

That is pure fantasy. It is much more probable that the anger of the Gaza people will turn against the Israeli prison wardens who are starving them. And the people of the West Bank will not forsake their compatriots languishing in Gaza.

No Palestinian will agree to the separation of Gaza from the West Bank. A party that agreed to that would be shunned by the Palestinian public, and a leadership that accepted such a situation would be eliminated.

Israeli policy is torn between two conflicting desires: on the one side, to prevent the events in the Gaza Strip repeating themselves in the West Bank, where a Hamas takeover would be immensely more dangerous, and on the other side, to prevent Abbas from succeeding to such an extent that the Americans would oblige Olmert to negotiate seriously with him. As usual, the government is holding the stick by its two ends.

At present, all Olmert's actions are endangering Abbas. His embrace is a bear's embrace, and his kiss is the kiss of death.
 
http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1182631140/


KEEPING ON A STEADY COURSE TO APARTHEID
Jeff Halper
June 25, 2007


For all the attention and hysteria the latest events in Gaza have generated since the Hamas “takeover,” for Israel they represent nothing but a minor blip in its inexorable drive towards its own unilateral “solution:” apartheid. Israel’s end-game, explicit and unruffled by the recent turmoil on the ground, is clear. It is laid out in detail in the Convergence Plan” Olmert presented to a joint session of the American Congress in May, 2006, based on Sharon’s plan of “cantonization.” With minor adjustments, it constitutes the plan Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is quietly advancing with the help of Condoleezza Rice, and it is accepted in its entirety by Ehud Barak, the newly-elected leader of the Labor Party, who played a key role in its formulation. The Israeli plan for apartheid is as follows:

(1) Creating a truncated Palestinian “state” comprised of four disconnected cantons, three in the West Bank and Gaza. By annexing its major settlement blocs defined by the Wall, Israel thereby expands onto 85% of the country, leaving the Palestinians confined to impoverished enclaves on the remaining 15% of the land. In such a “two-state solution” Israel would control the borders, external and internal Palestinian movement, the “Greater” Jerusalem area, all the water resources, the air space, the communications sphere and even the Palestinian state’s foreign policy. Such a Bantustan would have no genuine sovereignty or viable economy – but would have to accept all the traumatized and impoverished Palestinian refugees.

(2) If this fails, primarily because Israel cannot find the quisling Palestinian leader who would sign off on a Bantustan, Plan B – the Livni-Rice plan – calls for the unilateral declaration by the US of a “provisional” Palestinian state with no fixed borders, no meaningful sovereignty and no viable economy, squeezed between the Wall, Israel’s eastern “demographic” border incorporating the settlement blocs, and the Jordan Valley, Israel’s eastern “security” border. The Palestinians would thus be left in the limbo of a “provisional” state indefinitely – or until they agree to a Bantustan – all in conformity to the parameters of the “Road Map.”

Period. Regardless of the “peace initiative” of the moment – the Road Map, the Saudi initiative, the summit at Sharm el-sheikh, the appointment of a Middle East envoy – all these plans will have to conform to one of these alternatives or be doomed to irrelevance.

What happens in Gaza, then (tellingly nicknamed “Hamastan,” the Palestinian cantons of the West Bank now dubbed “Fatahland”), is therefore irrelevant to Israel, since Gaza represents nothing more than a tiny part of the tiny Palestinian Bantustan (about 8%). Whether Gaza would have been “quieted” after the Israeli disengagement as Sharon had planned, exporting cheap labor into Israel and perhaps enjoying limited economic growth, whether it was merely isolated and impoverished due to US and Israeli sanctions after the Hamas election victory or whether, as happened, it explodes, nothing will hamper Israel’s ceaseless process of consolidating its hold on the West Bank. Sooner or later, in the Israeli-American plan, Gaza will fall into place.

Not only are the Palestinians irrelevant, in Israel’s view, but the Hamas “takeover” is actually a positive development, since it furthers the apartheid process. A key reason why Palestinians voted for Hamas was the perception that it would resist pressures to accept a Bantustan better than the weak, vacillating Fatah movement, which was seen as little more than Israel’s policeman in the Territories. Israel, the US and a complicit Europe is thus seen as trying to isolate precisely those who truly resist the Occupation while “strengthening” Abbas and the “moderates” – “moderate” defined as those willing to pacify the Palestinians without securing their fundamental right to a sovereign and viable state of their own. The American-sponsored program of arming Fatah against its own people, complete with “lending” them an American general (Dayton), only confirms these suspicions, especially if they make Abbas dependent upon outside forces for his survival.

Israel and the US are doing in microcosm in Palestine what the US is doing throughout the Muslim world, forcing the Palestinians to choose between two unacceptable options: either the prospects of an apartheid regime which is all the “moderates” can deliver or continued resistance to occupation and apartheid under Hamas at the price of international isolation and an unwanted process of Islamization. Where are the true liberators who can deliver a viable Palestinian state while recognizing – though standing up to – Israel? Where are the progressive leaders who represent the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people? Where are the “strong” leaders that Bush claims are lacking on the Palestinian side? Either dead, the victims of a 30-year campaign on the part of Israel to eliminate any effective Palestinian leader, or languishing in refugee camps or in exile, or in prison. If Marwan Bargouti and the prisoners of all the factions who produced the Prisoners’ Document, the only viable peace plan that has any chance of success, were free and allowed to lead their people, the Israel/Palestine conflict could be resolved tomorrow.

What is lacking, of course, is good faith. The will among governments to stand up for Palestinian rights and against Israeli apartheid is totally lacking. The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz (21.6.07) noted the cynicism underlying the recent Olmert-Bush meeting. “Olmert reached an understanding with…Bush during his visit to Washington that it is necessary to support Abbas,” a senior political source in Jerusalem said. “The decision to aid Abbas was made despite skepticism about his chances for success, in view of past experience. Olmert and Bush agreed they must not allow the impression that Abbas failed because Israel or the U.S. failed him.”

Israel is not going to bolster Abbas – unless he becomes the collaborator Israel is looking for, which he won’t. Olmert has already announced that there will be no final status negotiations in the foreseeable future. So neither the Saudi Inititative nor the Sharm meeting will lead to genuine negotiations. The US, with its moribund Road Map, will not facilitate the establishment of a viable Palestinian state and Europe will not act independently to do so, even in its own interest. The Palestinians, for their part, are powerless to achieve a viable state on their own and will continue to be beaten and blamed for their own incarceration and resistance.

Our governments have failed us. Unless we, the people worldwide, can mobilize grassroots opposition to the Israeli-US-European Occupation, a new apartheid regime,in the Holy Land no less, will soon emerge before our very eyes. Its only when the people lead that our “leaders” will even contemplate doing the right thing.


(Jeff Halper is the Coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and a candidate, with the Palestinian peace activist Ghassan Andoni, for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. He can be reached at )

http://www.icahd.org/eng/articles.asp?menu=6&submenu=2&article=373


LEARN MORE ABOUT THE APARTHEID POLICIES OF ISRAEL courtesy of Americans for Middle East Understanding:

http://www.ameu.org


   
 
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