US denounces Israeli demolitions
by MainStreet, Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 09:27:28 AM EST
Al Jazeera, the highly respected Arab media newspaper, which now has an English version, reported this news on Hillary Clinton's trip to Israel. Contrary to any notions that Hillary would mollify previous statements about the inevitability of two states, she continued the attack on Israel's human rights abuses.
What could be next? This statement came at a time when Israel just reported a plan to massively increase the building of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Israel Committee Against House Demolition, founded by the peace activist and former Israeli professor, Jeff Halper, has documented the demolition of over 18,000 Palestinian homes since 1948, and has attempted to stop the continuing destruction of homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
What did Hillary say this time around?
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has criticised Israel's plans to demolish dozens of Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem, describing the move as "unhelpful". In a news conference with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, in Ramallah, Clinton said the demolition showed that Israel was not committed to its obligations towards the "road map" peace plan. "It is an issue that we intend to raise with the government of Israel and the government at the municipal level in Jerusalem," she said on Wednesday.
The US secretary of state also reaffirmed what she called the Obama administration's "vigorous engagement" in the Middle Eastern peace process, but added: "The US supports the Palestinian Authority as the only legitimate government of the Palestinian people. In the end, it is up to the parties themselves to make peace."
Abbas, who heads the Fatah movement, said he would remain engaged in the ongoing talks with the rival political faction Hamas in Egypt to achieve a viable Palestinian government. "We have reiterated ... our determination to achieve the peace process according to the international legal road map, the two states solution and our full commitment to achieving this process," Abbas said.
In the meantime, due to the lack of any progress made through the Olmert government and the election of the right wing Likud party (Netanyahu) into power, Fatah has been engaging in reconciliation talks with Hamas in Egypt. Who can blame them?
And what might seem to be positive change for most people, Palestinian critics of Hillary Clinton's trip into the Middle East made clear as well that her statements lacked substance, were noncommittal, said nothing about continuing settlement building, and excluded Hamas from negotiations at a time when Fatah was working toward a united Palestinian front that included the participation of Hamas.
But change is not made through big steps, even though we are seeing a dramatic change in US foreign policy in the region. But it is coming in dribbles that hopefully will eventually add up to peace. Two states remains the US position, take it or leave it.