Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Israel, the US, and the Arab peace plan

Israeli politicians should examine their own support 
for enemies of peace
The Daily Star, Lebanon: And how have Israeli officials treated the people who both violate international law and disdain Israel's own rules for the illegal colonization project? Well, by working furiously to expand their presence on occupied land: At no period since 1967 have the settlements multiplied so quickly and been subsidized so generously as they have since the Oslo peace process of the 1990s. A concerted effort has been made by successive Israeli governments to create a constituency -- now 500,000 strong -- that would fight peace to the bitter end, and it has succeeded. At least Hamas has a historical grievance; the settlers have nothing but a selective interpretation of scripture and the largess of Israel and its primary sponsor, the United States.

Gareth Porter, Asia Times: Until mid-2007, there was a serious political obstacle to a massive conventional war by Israel against Hamas in Gaza: the fact that Hamas had won free and fair elections for the Palestinian parliament and was still the leading faction in a fully legitimate government. But the George W. Bush administration helped Israel eliminate that obstacle, by deliberately provoking Hamas to seize power. That plan was aimed at getting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the democratically elected Hamas government...

Alvaro de Soto, then UN special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, wrote in his confidential End of Mission Report that the US 'clearly pushed for a confrontation between Fatah and Hamas...' He recalled that the 'US envoy' to a February 2, 2007 meeting of the Quartet in Washington had twice declared, 'How much I like this violence,' because 'it means that other Palestinians are resisting Hamas.' That US envoy was Rice...

The Bush administration had not only accomplished its goal of eliminating a Hamas-dominated government; it has also set up a new argument that could later be used to justify an all-out Israeli offensive in Gaza: that Hamas had mounted an 'illegal coup' in Gaza. That was the term that Rice used on January 2 in justifying the Israeli operations.

Der Spiegel Interview with Boutros Boutros-Ghali: The current decision-makers in Israel, who ordered this attack on Gaza, haven't thought about the future. That was a mistake of momentous consequence. The growing imbalance between Jews and Arabs in the area controlled by Israel is of decisive importance for the near future of the Jewish state. Already today, you can see that the Zionist idea of having a purely Jewish state is not going to work out... Emigration from Israel is already on the rise... But Israel's current leadership appears to be solely motivated by a concern for election tactics. Given the scale of the damage that has already been done, that is irresponsible...

Not much has changed in the United States since my term as secretary-general of the United Nations. The American public is not particularly interested in the Arab world, and the pressure exerted by the Jewish lobby is as strong as ever. However, it is unfortunately the case that Israel only responds to pressure if it is coming out of Washington... Events in Gaza have set us all back by years... To hope that the Europeans might play an effective role is just wishful thinking.

Working together, the Arabs put a good peace plan on the table that envisioned recognizing Israeli sovereignty within the pre-1967 borders in return for an independent Palestinian state within these borders. Israel made the mistake of ignoring this offer.