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Home arrow Blog arrow September 2007 arrow September 12, 2007

September 12, 2007
WAWA Blog   September 12, 2007

It's NOT a conflict; its an OCCUPATION. And what I did to commemorate THAT DAY we call 9/11...




Today's blog begins with an email I received from Friends of Sabeel North America written by
Nadia Hijab, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies and co-director of its Washington office and Diana Buttu who is a political analyst.

I wrap it up with my FAX to President Bush, Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Ehud Olmert, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Tsipi Livni and Minister of Justice and Prof. Daniel Friedman, because ever since I met Vanunu in June 2005, I have been convinced I met a prophet.

A prophet does NOT necessarily foretell the future, but instead, points out impending danger and provokes us to remember God.



September 11, 2007
 
Institute for Palestine Studies
 
Policy Note No. 20


The Fall Meeting & the Trend to Focus on Aid Rather than Rights
 
By Nadia Hijab and Diana Buttu
 
The timing and substance of the international meeting called by US President George Bush in his 16 July 2007 speech on the Middle Eastmay end up focusing on aid at the expense of a political solution. This moves further away from the 1991 Madrid international conference and the bilateral Oslo 1993-2000 negotiations and reinforces the trend that was so visible at the 2005 London meeting. This approach has not worked before and is unlikely to work today.
 
The international meeting called for by US President Bush George Bush in his 16 July 2007 speech is expected to convene in November to "provide decisive support to Palestinian leaders working for peace;" review progress "toward building Palestinian institutions;" and "support further reform." The emphasis on internal Palestinian matters rather than the 40-year-long Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories dashes hopes for an end to that occupation. The still pending issue of who will participate has repercussions for Palestinian Authority (PA) relations with and support from the Arab world, and for a comprehensive resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Moreover, the meeting, if it takes place as planned, will be sandwiched between two donor conferences on Palestine, one slated for late September the other mooted for December.
 
Overall, the preparations for the November conference reinforce the sense that a permanent settlement of the conflict has been abandoned in favor of management of and aid to whatever slivers of territory Israel has left under PA control. Can this work? As policy makers prepare for the upcoming meeting, they would do well to review the international conferences and negotiations since Madrid and to ask why they failed to resolve the conflict.
 
Madrid: Negotiations about Land for Peace
 
In October 1991, partly to maintain Arab support for the US-led attack on Iraqi troops in Kuwait in January 1991, then US President George H. W. Bush convened the first international conference on Palestine. The conference, named after its host city, Madrid, marked a definitive turning point in diplomacy in the region. It brought Israel, Syria, Jordan, and the Palestinians together to achieve a "just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement ...  based on United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338."1  The process promoted negotiations as a means of attaining political rights.
 
However, in what was to become a hallmark of later Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, the Palestinians were forced to accept negotiations in two stages, the first to reach agreement on five-year "interim self-government arrangements," and the second to reach a final settlement based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 that would begin by the third year of the interim period. Permanent status political issues (refugees, borders, settlements, Jerusalem, water, and security) were put on hold. There was no mention of the Palestinian right to self-determination or of a sovereign state. In spite of Israeli promises to the US Administration, Israeli settlement building in the West Bank continued.
 
The Oslo Years: Negotiations as an End in Themselves
 
The Declaration of Principles (DOP) of 13 September 1993 launched the Oslo peace process. This narrowed participation to the Israelis, Palestinians, and the US, leaving out other actors to the detriment of the Palestinians, who were by far the weakest player at the table. Over the next six years, some 12 agreements were negotiated and signed which, taken together, run into hundreds of pages.2  The DOP also provided for an interim period, leaving negotiations on permanent status to "lead to the implementation Security Council resolutions 242 and 338." There was no reference to the Palestinian right to self-determination or to any of the other UN resolutions and international conventions applicable to the conflict.
 
As happened during the Madrid years, Israeli settlement building continued while the negotiations were dragged out. For example, permanent status negotiations which should have started in 1996 only started during 1999, keeping the core issues on hold for six years. Israel used this period to double the number of settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to over 400,000. The Palestinians' inability to prevent the loss of their land to Israeli settlements was a sign of the immense imbalance of power between the Israeli government and the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. The principle underpinning Resolution 242 - the "inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war" - remained unfulfilled as did other aspects of the signed agreements. Indeed, the later agreements of the Oslo period - the 1998 Wye Memorandum and the 1999 Sharm el-Sheikh memorandum - largely focused on ways to get prior agreements implemented.
 
The London Meeting: Leaving Politics Out
 
The international meeting convened in London on 1 March 2005 by the Quartet (US, European Union, Russia, and the UN) did not deal with the Palestinian political rights that lie at the heart of this conflict. It was attended by 25 nations but focused only on the Palestinians.3 

It sidestepped the task of dismantling Israel's occupation and dealt instead with Palestinian "governance, security and economic development." The participants aimed to "mobilize international assistance for the PA's efforts, particularly with reference to short-term priorities." There was only a mild reference to the complete lack of Palestinian sovereignty over land, borders, freedom of movement, or ability to protect people and property. The participants simply called for Israeli "cooperation" and "facilitation" and urged it to dismantle "the system of closures and other restrictions on the movement of people and goods."  The meeting was silent on the question of how this was to be achieved if Israel did not wish to cooperate. There was no commitment by the participants to fulfill their obligations as signatories to the Fourth Geneva Convention and hold Israel accountable for its actions in the occupied territories, including its illegal steps to change the character of and move its citizens to the territories, among others.
 
Bush's proposed November meeting echoes the approach of the London meeting, sidestepping the core political issues to focus on Palestinian institutions and "reform." This ignores the considerable evidence of the impossibility of sustaining political and economic institutions under conditions of occupation and without sovereignty.4  The US and Europe may hope that throwing money at the problem will keep the situation from boiling over, given the now desperate humanitarian needs in the territories. Yet this has been tried before with little success. Back in the 1980s, then US Secretary of State George Shultz promoted a policy of improving the Palestinians' "quality of life" that was soon overshadowed by the first Palestinian Intifada (uprising) in 1987.

Recent history tells us that treating the Palestinians as though they were the victims of a natural disaster who need cash handouts rather than a people with rights won't work. Unless international conferences and negotiations forcefully address and resolve the core political rights, the region will be doomed to a permanent state of conflict.
 

 
[1] US-Soviet letter of invitation of 18 October 1991, Journal of Palestine Studies Vol 21, No 2 (Winter 1992). For an insightful analysis of the negotiations see Camille Mansour, JPS Vol 22, No 3 (Spring 1993). For references to documents and articles on the Madrid process see the JPS Documents Index at http://www.palestine-studies.org/final/en/journals/jour_item.php?id=1
[2] See 25 January 2001 summary of the Oslo process by Nadia Hijab at the Brecht Forum http://www.brechtforum.org/highlights/limitations%20to%20the%20oslo%20accords.htm See the JPS document and subject indices for references to documents and articles on the Oslo process http://www.palestine-studies.org/final/en/journals/jour_item.php?id=1
[3] For statements at the London meeting see JPS Vol 34 No.4 (Summer 2005).
[4] This is very well set out in Aid, Diplomacy and Facts on the Ground: the Case of Palestine, by Michael Keating, Anne Le More and Robert Lowe, London, Chatham House Publishers, 2006.
[5] See Kathleen Christison's piece in JPS Vol 18 No.2 (Winter 1989).
 
Published by the Institute for Palestine Studies palestine-studies.org The Institute has produced authoritative studies on Palestinian affairs and the Arab-Israeli conflict since 1963. Its flagship Journal of Palestine Studies accounts for nearly 20% of all articles downloaded from Middle East publications carried by JSTOR, the leading US database of scholarly journals.Email contact
 


MY FAX of September 11, 2007 to:

 

Dear Prime Minister, Mr. Ehud Olmert,
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Tsipi Livni,
Minister of Justice,  Prof. Daniel Friedman,
President George W. Bush,


Today is 6 years after THAT DAY we Americans call 9/11 and upon reflecting on THAT DAY, I was inspired to write to you all. The times in the USA, have a changed and Americans are fed up with President Bush's Doctrine of Fear and are connecting the dots from the Occupation of Iraq to the Occupation of Palestine and are waking up to the fact that the world has tipped over heavy with artillery and WMD's.

If THAT DAY we call 9/11 taught we the people of America anything it is that our nuclear arsenal cannot provide safety or security against a few angry violent men. Iraq is teaching us that democracy cannot be had through the barrel of a gun or by occupying innocent ones.


But, my point in writing to you is to illuminate you to the fact that the ONLY way Vanunu can harm Israel is with Bad PR for " Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." -Article 19, UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

 

I should not have to remind you that, "On the day of the termination of the British mandate and on the strength of the United Nations General Assembly declare The State of Israel will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel: it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion it will guarantee freedom of religion [and] conscience and will be faithful to the Charter of the United Nations." - May 14, 1948. The Declaration of the establishment of Israel
 

Criticizing the American governments unjust policies is NOT unpatriotic, in fact it is most in keeping with what our Founding Fathers understood: "Soon after I had published the pamphlet "Common Sense" [on Feb. 14, 1776] in America, I saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revolution in the system of religion... The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion."-Tom Paine


Criticizing unjust Israeli government policy is not in the least anti-Semitic, but most in keeping with what the Hebrew prophets have always taught;

"From Moses to Jeremiah and Isaiah, the Prophets taught...that the Jewish claim on the land of Israel was totally contingent on the moral and spiritual life of the Jews who lived there, and that the land would, as the Torah tells us, 'vomit you out' if people did not live according to the highest moral vision of Torah. Over and over again, the Torah repeated its most frequently stated mitzvah: "When you enter your land, do not oppress the stranger; the other, the one who is an outsider of your society, the powerless one and then not only 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself' but also 'you shall love the other.'" [Rabbi Lerner, TIKKUN Magazine page 35, Sept/Oct, 2007]


"What does God require? He has told you o'man! Be just, be merciful, and walk humbly with your Lord." -Micah 6:8



I reiterate that the only way Vanunu can harm Israel is with bad PR and I add that this civilian journalist is determined to persist in that task.

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. ... Genius will not. ... Education will not. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."- President Calvin Coolidge

Being an Irish American dissident and story teller, I leave you with this:

Once upon a time, there was an old crone, who lived in a certain municipality with a particularly unjust Judge who cared nothing about people or God; only his own point of view mattered to him. But that old crone kept harping at him with her plea, "Grant me justice against my adversary!"

That old crone became such a royal PIA [pain in the ass] the unjust Judge finally muttered, "Even though I don't care about God or give a hoot about that old crone, she has become such a royal PIA, I will give into her, just to get her to leave me alone!" [Paraphrased from a parable Jesus told in Luke 18 1-5]

As Churchill said, "Never, never, never, never ever give up." I won't.

 And as the IDF say at the checkpoints to USA citizens: "Have a nice day."

 

Eileen Fleming,
Florida, USA
Reporter and Editor WAWA:
http://www.wearewideawake.org/
Author Keep Hope Alive and Memoirs of a Nice Irish American 'Girl's' Life in Occupied Territory
Producer "30 Minutes With Vanunu" which is freely streaming and downloaded daily by we the people all over the world.

 

WHITE HOUSE FAX: 1-202-456-2461
Mr. Ehud Olmert   Fax: 011-972-2-6513955,
Ms. Tsipi Livni, Minister of Foreign Affairs Fax: 011-972-2-5303704
Prof. Daniel Friedman, Minister of Justice Fax: 011-972-2-6287757






   
 
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