“Everyone in the system today is driving one agenda: promoting settlements over the green line” says a colleague of Uri Ariel, settler leader, who has just been given the housing ministry – the key to the door of more settlements, no home-building by Palestinians and an open insult to Palestinians, the EU, the UN and Barack Obama on his visit.
The EU has two voices on Israel and Palestine The quiet voice discreetly makes preferential trade deals with Israel. The louder, political one – including the EU consuls in the West Bank and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton – is angry that Israel has rejected all diplomatic means to establish a Palestinian state. Israel wants to sell its goods, without labelling settlement products, to a market it treats with contempt.
An unnamed source in the Israeli government has told the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth that Angela Merkel, or the German Chancellor’s office, is to withhold payments to Holocaust survivors until Israel stops building settlements in the West Bank. It is not said whether this would apply to all survivors or just those living in Israel. The reputed action is attributed to a German official who wishes to damage Israeli-German relations. Story unconfirmed.
Strategically, should those who want a negotiated peace stand fast by the position that settlements are the major obstacle to negotiations, or should they consider Hillel Halkin’s argument that settlers could live within a Palestinian state – although it is up to the Palestinians to decide.
Although Col. Arieli argues that settlements need not prevent a 2-state solution (link in post) a report from Peace Now (3) says the hectic building under Netanyahu is a deliberate block to an independent Palestine. 1, Netanyahu pledges not to make any settlers leave W.Bank. 2, an overview from Reuters.
In his ‘Expert View’ Col. Arieli , an executive member of the Council for Peace and Security, argues that the settlements in the West Bank are sufficiently separate and inhabited by Israelis with no ideological motivation to stay, that they could be excised under any peace agreement; those near the border with Israel could be incorporated into Israel under a 1:1 land swap deal. Thus in his view they do no constitute an insuperable barrier to a negotiated two-state solution.
Even the US’s UN ambassador has described Israel’s latest settlement expansion – which includes a new city in the West Bank – as ‘provocative.’ Even Tony Blair has supported the more forthright criticisms of the new encroachments on Palestinian living space. As Netanyahu has chosen Israeli expansion over negotiations, the EU, UN. Quartet and USA are left without a policy.
Using Netanyahu’s statement of building new settlements in E1 and elsewhere as a benchmark, MJ Rosenberg takes the silence of Congress, Jewish leadership and the Obama administration as damning evidence. If they actually cared about Israel and MidEast peace they would have spoken. They don’t.
Gershon Baskin explores what steps Europeans might take to put their words of disapproval into action. He thinks this would make Europe more influential in Israel ( although as most Israelis associate Europe with antisemitism it is unlikely to be a favourable influence). UPDATE: Lieberman invokes Holocaust.
“Revenge time” tweets Ha’aretz editor Aluf Benn; the Palestinians are being punished because Obama failed to make European countries vote with Israel at the UNGA session. Reports of Israel’s reactions from Al-Monitor, Mondoweiss and Ynet news.
The announcement by Israel’s Housing Ministry of tenders for new settler homes in East Jerusalem was quickly condemned by Lady Ashton, the UK, France and Germany. The EU, like the USA, is committed to negotiations for 2 states which settlement building makes impossible.
22 NGOs, Christian and secular, have taken up what EU institutions have flunked: a campaign to press the EC and EU members to practise their policies on the illegality of Israel’s settlements and what they produce. CAABU media release plus excerpt from the report Trading Away Peace.
If you read only the swath of news and commentary on Richard Falk’s report to the UN last week on human rights in the oPt you might think he was being arraigned as a moral pariah. Read the speech of this brave and knowledgeable man for yourself and decide why the fuss was about him as the messenger rather than the situation he analyses and documents.
In an address to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, Special Rapporteur Richard Falk spoke of the many companies now making use of the favourable (for them) conditions of production in the settlements. He called for these companies to be boycotted. None of the many bodies attacking him noted the laws and agreements which, Mr.Falk pointed out, the companies were violating.
Harriet Sherwood sketches out the illegal building of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – and President Obama’s inability to make this a sticking point in US/Israeli relations. Second, Hagit Ofren deplores the plan to build a military academy on top of the Mount of Olives, a site of religious importance in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Avi Shlaim, Oxford professor of international relations, distinguished ‘new historian’ of Israel, and JfJfP signatory tells MEMO that Netanyahu has to deny Palestinians a political existence in order to insist he has no partner for peace. He also says the UK has an Israel lobby but it’s more hidden than in the USA and British Jews are more divided over speaking out against Israeli policies.
One lot of Israeli citizens is to be expelled from its village in the Negev to make way for another lot of Israeli citizens. The first is made up of Bedouin who cannot get building permits and whose village is to be demollshed. It will be replaced by a new-build settlement for Jews. Adalah’s appeal against the decision by the National Council of Planning and Building was rejected. Reports from Ynet and Adalah.
We have posted many judgments on the Levy report, which was delivered to Netanyahu by his hand-picked committee last July. Here Iain Scobbie takes apart the Levy Commission’s legal ‘reasoning’ finding nothing substantial or forensic in their thinking. An expert on international law, Professor Scobbie wrote this opinion for the European Journal of International Law blog.
In ths provocative essay published in the Jewish Chronicle, Dimi Reider takes up the argument of Yehouda Shenhav that if it is accepted that Jews as well as Palestinians have equal rights to live and move freely in Gaza, Israel and the West Bank the stagnation of thought and politics coud be broken. Crucially, equal rights must end Jewish privilege and brutality, and break the Masada delusion of fortress safety.
The integration of American and Israeli military and technological systems, the enforcement of the status quo in Israel, the rules and walls separating Jews and Arabs — these are not news. We post this take on these features of the US/Israel alliance because it comes from Netanyahu’s refusenik nephew who went to prison for his beliefs before going to study in the USA. He is now at Cambridge University, UK.