Saturday, September 12

Sand in the Eyes

The US under President Obama has demanded a freeze in building settlements in the occupied West Bank. This was done in order to create an atmosphere for peace negotiations and the building of confidence between Israel and the Palestinians.

One must bear in mind that if there is no settlement freeze it means that Israel desires to continue the occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands. Nobody builds houses with the intention of demolishing them afterwards.

However, Israel's Government decided that it would authorize the construction of hundreds of new housing units in West Bank settlements before the building freeze of six to nine months takes place, if at all.

Surely the right wing government of Israel is behaving in an irresponsible manner. Netanyahu is not interested in settlement freezes as his priority is to please the Feiglins and Bogey Ya'alons in his party in the hope of preventing his coalition from splitting.

It seems as if the Netanyahu government is throwing sand in the eyes of the world. The US has convinced the Arab world that in exchange for a settlement freeze they would offer confidence-building measures to Israel such as opening of trade offices; overfly rights of Israeli planes heading for Asia and even the encouraging of tourism between Israel and the Arab states. Surely these steps should be considered a price worth paying rather than building settlements in the occupied West Bank for marginal right wing gains detrimental to Israel's peace interests and its standing in the world.

If is obvious that if Israel does not abide by Obama's insistence on a settlement freeze, Israel's relationship with the US will suffer.

According to a Haaretz report (7th Sept 2009), the US has said that many Arab states have pledged to make gestures to Israel, including normalization, if there is a settlement freeze.

The continued building and expansion of settlements in the West Bank will illustrate that Israel intends to remain an occupying power in the West Bank. Ehud Barak, Israel's Defense Minister, has signed permits to construct 500 new houses in West Bank settlements and will issue more permits following that. It is clear that Israel is involved in a race against time. Netanyahu knows that the more they can build on Palestinian land, the less they will return for the establishment of a future Palestinian state.

Many West Bank settlements were approved while under construction. In fact they were in existence before approval.Ehud Barak, the Defense Minister, is no less to blame for this situation. His Labor Party is part of the right wing coalition and a senior participant in right wing settler motivated decisions on land grabs from the Palestinians.

Benjamin Netanyahu made the decision on illegal housing units to be built on six settlements. The intention is to keep these settlements even after a future agreement with the Palestinians is reached.

This will strengthen the extremists such as Hamas and weaken the Fatah controlled Palestinians Authority in the West Bank. It will further illustrate that Israel is not interested in negotiations for a peace agreement and thus play into their hands.

According to a survey conducted by the Palestinian Center for Survey and Policy Research found that support for President Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah over Hamas and its leader, Ismail Haniyeh is growing in both the West Bank and Gaza. It will be a great pity if this trend is halted because of Israel's illegal settlement policies.

It is difficult to understand the logic behind the desire not to freeze settlements in the West Bank. Israel has much to gain in world stature if it performs these simple gestures to show its willingness to end the conflict and move towards the creation of a Palestinian state.

Israel's rulers are not interested in freezing settlements or ceasing to establish new settlements. They will pay superficial lip service to it while at the same time the business of prolonging the occupation will go on unabated. Surely this illustrates a policy of deception!

After more lives will be lost in another intifada for the sake of selling out to the illegal settlers (many of whom are religious fanatic zealots), it may be left to future generations of both Israelis and Palestinians to sort out the mess.

Israel's current leadership wants peace while at the same time carrying on the building of settlements at the cost of usurping Palestinian lands. This is unacceptable and immoral!

Throwing sand in the eyes of the US and the EU is going to lower Israel's status and credibility in the world. A settlement freeze will be given approval for world consumption while in practice it will not occur.

The message of the building permits

The government of Israel
Is full of
Tricksters and swindlers
Who do not dream
Of making peace –

That is the clear message
To all those in the world
Who still entertained
Any doubts.

The 450 building permits
Will not, of course,
Satisfy the settlers
Who have never enough.

Gush Shalom

Ad in Haaretz, Sep. 11, 2009


Maria Jelicoe said...

The slit eyed view of "sand in the eyes" is asinine and immature It will remain so as long as 1 billion Arabs and their supporters cannot make room for 5 million Jews, many of whom have barely escaped extermination in European death camps.

Anonymous said...

The only immature act here is the belief that Jews are the only ones who escaped extermination in Europe. That and the fact that it is still manipulated to excuse and justify the extermination of the Native Palestinian people. Why must the Palestinians pay the price for what happened in Europe? Again plenty has happened, on both sides, since the creation of the state to further this conversation past the Nazi's. Beginning with the immoral and unconscionable thought that one group of people deserve to live over another.