US denounces Israeli demolitions

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.

Tags: Hillary Clinton, ICAHD, Israel, Palestine (all tags)

Comments

22 Comments

Can a tie-in to US aid be far

behind.

And, for the record, I fully favor imposing human rights strings not only on Israel's aid, but also on Egypt's.

by Geekesque 2009-03-04 09:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Can a tie-in to US aid be far

How about Saudi Arabia, where women aren't even eligible for drivers' licenses?

by Strummerson 2009-03-04 12:09PM | 0 recs
That's what energy independence

is about.

by Geekesque 2009-03-05 04:52AM | 0 recs
Re: That's what energy independence

I don't think energy independence is primarily about human rights; and I think we can't wait for alternative energy breakthroughs to start taking women's rights seriously.

by Strummerson 2009-03-05 05:58AM | 0 recs
Stop importing foreign oil, and we stop

sending the $$ that prop up the Saudi entity.

by Geekesque 2009-03-05 08:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Stop importing foreign oil, and we stop

My point is that I don't think the rhetoric of energy independence, towards which we are not as of yet making significant strides, is motivated by a concern for womens'/human rights.  Thus that's NOT what energy independence "is all about."  

It's about economics and to a lesser degree about not participating economically in a society that features members who fund militant Wahhabi groups like al Qaeda.  

by Strummerson 2009-03-05 09:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Can a tie-in to US aid be far

Don't disagree.

But the human rights this diary is talking about is the right to have your property protected, not to having your home bulldozed to make way for someone else's home.

by MainStreet 2009-03-05 06:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Can a tie-in to US aid be far

Sure.  I didn't mean to pull the thread off course.  The drivers' license issue is emblematic of a whole host of ways the position of women in Saudi Arabia is degraded.  I was simply responding to the other poster who brought up Egypt.  I detest games that raise other issues as more pressing in order to deflect attention from another issue.

Clearly I agree with you about how pressing it is to stop these demolitions.  The depressing thing is that we are so far down the rabbit hole.  Stopping demolitions is progress toward stopping the confiscation of lands, which is progress toward political enfranchisement and control over natural resources and development of economic infrastructure.  

No wonder Bibi wants to leapfrog over everything else and jump to the end of that line.  He almost sounds rational when he points out that economic development was crucial to breakthroughs on Northern Ireland.  But he doesn't want breakthroughs, just some delusional and/or cynical fantasy of passification.

by Strummerson 2009-03-05 09:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Can a tie-in to US aid be far

And no one can't see the reality behind Bibi's proposals. But I can't believe he understands where he is taking this conflict by attempting to fill bellies. I'm certain that the Palestinians would appreciate some alleviation of the suffering, but they are not fool enough to substitute temporary gratification for freedom.

Bibi knows what Apartheid means. Hard to believe he was raised in America.

by MainStreet 2009-03-05 09:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Can a tie-in to US aid be far

I can't help thinking this is tied to his conservative economic vision.  I think he might actually believe that the combination of military force and economic aid (in the guise of 'development', which is not necessarily the same thing) can stabilize things to the point that Palestinians will function again as a large pool of cheap laborers to exploit, as they did in the early '80s.  Bibi's political and economic perspectives are positively reaganesque.  He's stuck in a conceptual and morally degraded time warp.  I hope Hillary used the word 'bullshit' several times when they spoke privately.

The only quasi-positive thing I can see as a remote possibility at this point is if Barak bolts Labor to be Bibi's Minister of Offense.  Labor might then merge with Meretz and the left will begin to rebuild.  I'm not optimistic.  But it's all I've got today.

And to re-iterate, thought I disagree with your evaluation of HAMAS, I agree with you that they must be a part of the process anyway.

by Strummerson 2009-03-05 09:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Can a tie-in to US aid be far

Bibi=Reagan.

As Minister of Finance, Bibi doubled the value of the Israeli stock market in one year. In the meantime, as happened and is happening here in the US, it increased the number of Israelis living under the poverty line, and increased income and wealth inequality.

How wonderful.

Hamas, as I said before, is just a red herring being used to stiffle peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Only 25% of Gaza citizens are supporters of Hamas, and most of those are just average people, families, and even children. 2% of Hamas supporters are formally militants, as reported by Hamas itself. So 75% of those killed in Gaza were not Hamas civilians at all, I would guess.

When Israel recognizes the right of Palestine to exist and for the Palestinians to have their own sovereign state (not a group of bantustans), then Hamas will come around. The Palestinians were fooled once before when Arafat recognized Israel. Why be a fool? Israel obviously intends to take even more land in the Palestinian territories than it controls today, estimated to be 42%. And if as Bibi says, the Palestinians can't have the Jordan Valley, what's left?

I'm not a fool either.

by MainStreet 2009-03-05 01:02PM | 0 recs
Re: Can a tie-in to US aid be far

The differences between FATAH and HAMAS are cultural and ideological.  Though I strongly support engagement with HAMAS, your refusal to recognize the vast differences between these organizations mystifies me.

I am skeptical about the basis for your confidence that HAMAS "will come around."  But I also do not think that it matters.  They must be part of the process.  If that process produces a result acceptable to the majority of Palestinians, then either they will accept it or they will lose support.  And if not, that's a problem for a different day.  In the mean time, there is a grave and protracted crisis that must be confronted for everyone's sake.

by Strummerson 2009-03-05 01:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Can a tie-in to US aid be far

HAMAS means the Islamic Resistance Movement. Resistance to what? If you can't respond to that question, you have not been paying attention.

In my own estimation, Hamas is Israel's most overused red herring, and were ployed into helping Israel achieve its own colonial goals. First, was Israel's funding and support of Hamas in the late 80s when Arafat and the PLO began talking recognition of Israel and the two state solution. That was dangerous, and a competitive organization was needed, and that role was given to Hamas. After 9/11, Hamas played an even greater role in Israel most anbitious propaganda effort yet, to cast itself as a victim of terrorism, and Hamas, although only one of several groups engaged in suicide bombings, fit the bill. When Fatah decided it was advantageous to become compliant and relinquish fighting the occupation/colonization, who was left to help Israel avoid peace initiatives, which were coming one after the other from the Arab League, Iran, and US politicians like Bush?

People weren't born yesterday. I know Hamas and I know Israel.

by MainStreet 2009-03-05 02:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Can a tie-in to US aid be far

You know everything.  The rest of us aren't paying attention and know nothing.  Maybe if I run my brain through some sort of compressor I can attain something like the reductive clarity and simplicity that you display.  It would be nice if all these complex realities would melt into hyper-rationalist equations.  I wonder if every other organization in the world can be fully understood solely through their acronym as well.

Red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring red herring

Here is a question for you:  Why do you feel the need to respond to me like some prickish broken record?  And one more, given that you claim to "know Israel," do you know any Hebrew and have you ever lived there for a significant duration?

by Strummerson 2009-03-05 03:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Can a tie-in to US aid be far

Stop reading US newspapers. They merely repeat Israeli hasbara, the propaganda lines that Israel hopes will somehow continue to fool Americans, their number one supporter, into believing that Israel is for peace, but that peace is being undermined by the Palestinians, no the terrorists.

Recently, if you haven't heard, Peace Now reported that permission to build another 73,000 homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem was approved.

Maybe you're just not getting it, can't see what is going on before your eyes. Eyes wide shut, as the saying goes. So I apparently know more than you do, my eyes are open, and whether you read the propaganda in English or Hebrew, it all adds up to the same, propaganda, and less of what we would call knowledge or the reality.

by MainStreet 2009-03-05 03:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Can a tie-in to US aid be far

Just what is it you are disagreeing with me about?  What is this grievous error and ignorance you are imputing to me?

Let's see, we agree that Israel's settlement activity has been the single greatest obstacle to a peaceful resolution.  We agree that settlement must be frozen, blockades must be lifted, aid must be delivered, demolitions must cease, and a process leading to full political and economic enfranchisement for Palestinians must proceed apace.  We agree that the Israeli leadership is impeding all of these goals.  We agree that HAMAS must be engaged for any real progress.

You keep berating me with facts (like Peace Now's report of 73,000 new buildings in the territories) that I know, and given our exchanges it would be reasonable to assume I know.  

The major points we disagree upon relate to our respective understandings of the political psychology and sociology of these cultures that underlie this conflict.  I sincerely hope the negotiators, or those in a position to negotiate and maneuver in other ways, understand them differently from you and more fully than I do.  

It's simply not credible to anyone other than a propaganda spouting ideologue that any person or group can be understood simply according to what they oppose in the immediate sense, but what they want to accomplish in the long term.

Look MS, if you want me to continue to engage with you here, which you may not and that's certainly your prerogative, knock of the presumption of superior knowledge and your authoritarian directives.  It's patently ridiculous on your part to claim to know Israel when you clearly have spent no time there and don't know either of its primary languages.  Come on, if someone told you they knew France, but had never lived there and spoke no French, would you find them credible in the least?  It's a ridiculous claim.  And the implication that everything written in Hebrew can be designated hasbara or propaganda is completely untenable and patently absurd.  For your information, I happen to know the handiwork of HAMAS and of the IDF up close and personal.  It's not a function of the US newspapers or your caricatured view of sinister Zionist disinformation.

We agree regarding the major obstacles and regarding most of what needs to happen to move forward.  One would think then that you'd engage me with a modicum of respect and an assumption of understanding instead of all this ridiculous condescension that seems to position me as some straw man you can inveigh against.  It's not just offensive.  It's stupid.

by Strummerson 2009-03-05 04:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Can a tie-in to US aid be far

By full "enfranchisement," do you mean a sovereign Palestinian state on 22% of original Palestine? And in concert with that possibility, do you support the evacuation of Israeli settlers and settlements to make way for that possibility? Do you disagree with Netanyahu and believe that the Jordan Valley must be given up?

Just a few points relating to a peace agreement that do not come through in your statements.

by MainStreet 2009-03-06 02:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Can a tie-in to US aid be far

I support one of three options:

1. A two state solution that accords Palestinians a fully viable and fully sovereign state that is acceptable to them.  The percentages of land are less important a priori than Palestinian acceptance.  They will determine what is acceptable.  Certainly this will require evacuation of settlements.  Whether this conforms exactly to pre-1967 borders or involves land swaps that fully compensate is not up to you or to me.  I am also not opposed to areas of pre-1967 Israel being joined to this Palestinian State, but contra-Lieberman this must only occur if sought by Palestinian communities and the government of the Palestinian State.  The must not be imposed by the Israeli side.  Ultimately, down the road, I think it important for there to be an avenue for Jews to live in Palestine just as Palestinians live in Israel.  But that development must be deferred.  For now, either the Saudi/Arab League proposal, or a version that includes territorial emendations that trade land on a 1/1 ratio and nothing less seems like the best possible, if still highly improbable resolution.  Contra Bibi, and for that matter the Labor Party's antiquated Allon Plan, which some who call themselves leftists still use as a template, the Jordan River valley will almost necessarily be under full control and integrally incorporated in the Palestinian State.

Why you are even asking me about agreeing with Bibi about anything shows the degree to which you have not been paying attention.

2. Failing the above, I would support a single state solution.  In that case it must be fully democratic and secular with a constitution that enfranchises all citizens equally and protects minorities so that enfranchisement and self-determination is not dependent upon quantitative demographic superiority.

3. OR, a confederation of Israel and Palestine under a bi-national federal government.  Swiss style cantons or something like that.

Of these 3 possibilities, the first is only slightly more likely.  My preference would be something like 2 or 3, but they require even more of a sea change on both sides.  Regardless, unlike you I take HAMAS's vision of an Islamic theocratic republic on the entire territory of mandatory Palestine as their sincere long-term goal.  I think a negotiated settlement with them as major players is necessary and also likely to produce the conditions to thwart that goal down the road.

But the fact that you are quizzing me like this and with these particular questions displays just how little attention you actually pay to the diaries of others or for that matter their responses to your posts.  Pay a little attention and stop assuming someone holds a particular position just so you can use them as soap boxes.    

by Strummerson 2009-03-06 03:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Can a tie-in to US aid be far

One state is not acceptable to Israel. Cantons is just a code word for bantustans and it is not acceptable to the Palestinians.

Only two states is viable, especially since there is no left wing left in Israel that could support the democratic options you suggest. "Arabs" are what Palestinians are known as in Israel, and there are already 20 laws upheld by Israel courts which support the Jim Crow segregation of Arabs and Jews that they imply.

And yes there must be a land for land swap lest Palestine be nothing more than the obvious scatterings of enclaves that already exists.

Israelis living in Palestine, as Palestinians living in Israel, is an ideal outcome of a two state solution, but it is possible given that Bishop Tutu is alive and willing to bring mutual respect and forgiveness to these peoples.

Whatelse could a liberal civil and human rights activist ask for?

by MainStreet 2009-03-06 06:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Can a tie-in to US aid be far

PS: It is okay for people on a blog to debate these issues, since they are not likely to have any effect. Words are cheap and easily come by. Action is what we should be lauding to get the US to push Israel to give up its Zionist nationalist goal of annexing the Palesinian territories.

History does not flow backwards.

by MainStreet 2009-03-06 06:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Can a tie-in to US aid be far

Again, you lecture me with conventional wisdom.  Sari Nusseibah actually argues that the two state solution is a necessary interim step towards some sort of confederated bi-national entity.  But cantons is not code for bantustans at all, particularly if they exist under a bi-national federal entity.  But, I agree that both this and the one state solution hame more currency with intellectuals than with politicians and electorates at this point.  Thus, I stated up fron that they require an even bigger sea change than the 2 state path, which looks dubious at the moment but is slightly more plausible.  

Your confidence that Desmond Tutu is personally key to reconciliation seems naive.  His initiative in SA may provide a model.  But I doubt he'd play a major role.

This debate needs to engage both what is plausible and what is necessary/optimal.  These are not necessary identical.

What is your position on 1948 refugees?

by Strummerson 2009-03-06 07:24AM | 0 recs
Re: US denounces Israeli demolitions

Strummerson: your posts are now unreadable because they lie under the right hand strip. Try responding to this post, and I will get back to you.

by MainStreet 2009-03-06 01:02PM | 0 recs

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