Obama: Israeli Settlements "Have To Be Stopped"

Two cheers for President Obama.

President Obama, at the press conference yesterday with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu:

Now, Israel is going to have to take some difficult steps as well, and I shared with the Prime Minister the fact that under the roadmap and under Annapolis that there's a clear understanding that we have to make progress on settlements.  Settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward.

In calling for an end to Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank, President Obama is restating longstanding U.S. policy. However, under the Bush Administration, U.S. officials tended to use weak formulations like referring to the settlements as "an obstacle to peace" rather saying explicitly that they should stop. And the statements tended to come from folks like Secretary of State Rice, rather than from the President himself. By making the statement in his press conference with Netanyahu, President Obama underscored the policy.

However, what really matters is giving teeth to the policy. There can scarcely be any reasonable doubt that if the Obama Administration really wants to, it can stop Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank. The U.S. has a great deal of leverage over the Israeli government. The question is whether the Obama Administration will use that leverage.

For example, earlier this month, President Obama sent his FY2010 budget request to Congress and, as expected, included in it $2.775 billion in military aid for Israel, an increase of $225 million from this year's budget.

This presents the perfect opportunity for the Obama Administration to "put its money where its mouth is." The Obama Administration could, for example, support conditioning the increase in U.S. military aid on Israeli compliance with a settlement freeze. No-one could plausibly claim that conditioning the increase on compliance with a settlement freeze would "endanger Israel" in any way - even if Israel did not comply with the settlement freeze, and did not receive the increase in military aid as a result, that would leave Israel receiving exactly as much U.S. military aid as it receives now.  

But such a move would make clear that the Obama Administration is serious.

Without a settlement freeze, there can be no progress on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If President Obama truly wants to see an agreement establishing an independent Palestinian state achieved during his first term in office, now is the time to match words with deeds.

Tags: Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu, foreign policy, Israel, israeli settlements, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Obama Administration, palestinian territories, Palestinians (all tags)

Comments

55 Comments

Re: Settlements "Have To Be Stopped"

Thanks for the diary about a critical issue, which must be faced if there is ever to be peace.

In your face Mr. Obama is what I felt that Israel's announcement of a new settlement on the very day of the first meeting of Barak Obama and Bibi Netanyahu in Washington. This is no small matter nor coincidental, because it was obviously known by Netanyahu, who may in fact have arranged it or at least put his stamp of approval on the settlement expansion. It was clearly a swipe at the President Obama akin to the arrogance Netanyahu projected at his first meeting with Bill Clinton after his first election as prime minister of Israel. Clinton was miffed, but apparently accepted the put-down. Will Obama do the same?

The significance of this move by Netanyahu is obvious? Many news outlets reported that, after the Monday meeting, Obama "was unable to secure any commitments on the two-state solution and on ending construction of settlements in the West Bank:"

From the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, yesterday, this story about the new settlement:

Israel begins new settlement, despite U.S. opposition

by MainStreet 2009-05-19 05:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Settlements "Have To Be Stopped"

This report in Al Jeezera this morning:

US calls for a two-state solution "fell on deaf ears", the Palestinians' chief negotiator with Israel has said.

Speaking to Al Jazeera on Tuesday, the day after the first official meeting between Barack Obama, the US president, and Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, Saeb Erekat indicated that Palestinians had low expectations of the outcome.

In their talks in Washington, Obama told Netanyahu to stop expanding Jewish settlements and grasp the "historic opportunity" to make peace with the Palestinians.

"We appreciate very much what Mr Obama said ... [But] I'm sure this fell on deaf ears. Mr Netanyahu will continue to be in a state of denial," Erekat told Al Jazeera.

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middle east/2009/05/200951973745705990.html

There is every reason for Palestinians to be skeptical of reaching peace under a Likud administration. On the other hand, what did Labor or Kadima ever do to advance this cause, except to continue a deception? Zionism not peace tempers Israeli policy. Israel's treatment of the Palestinians cause enmity, and that enmity is used to justify that treatment. Look at Gaza.

by MainStreet 2009-05-19 06:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Settlements "Have To Be Stopped"

The importance of settlements and their removal was seen back in 2005, when Ehud Barak, the prime minister of Israel during the 2000 Camp david/Taba peace negotiations blew the lid off the sham of the "generous offer." What Barak states about half way through this interview is that he was unable to remove ("disengage") even a single settlement, that not even his own party, Labor, would have endorsed it.

Still, even this morning on the Diane Rhem Show, I heard the sham repeated as if it were the truth and not just Israeli propaganda by proIsraeli guests.

by MainStreet 2009-05-19 08:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Settlements "Have To Be Stopped"

Daily Kos tallies on the idea that settlements have to be stopped.

Poll: 92% said yes (275 voters).

Recommendations: 51 members.

Comments: 297.

Tips: 83.

These are pretty good numbers for Daily Kos on an IP diary.

by MainStreet 2009-05-19 08:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Israeli Settlements

If they don't we should take care of it ourselves.   Bomb the settlements into rubble.

Why not?  

Our national security is at stake.

by RichardFlatts 2009-05-19 10:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Israeli Settlements

Is this serious or are you being polemical?

by Strummerson 2009-05-19 10:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Israeli Settlements

The only thing this post succeeded in doing was raising Strummerson's hair. You can do better than this or are you a right wing plant?

by MainStreet 2009-05-19 11:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Israeli Settlements

Actually, it didn't raise my hair in the least.  It was an simple question meant to gauge the seriousness of the comment and commenter.  

But if you are suggesting I do not support bombing settlements, you are correct.  Does that make me an apologist for the occupation, a Likudnik, or your new slander that I am "pumping Zionist propaganda"?

by Strummerson 2009-05-19 11:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Israeli Settlements

I am reminded of Richard Nixon by your comment: "I'm not a crook." Well, I'm not a slanderer. How in the world could anyone come up with such a notion. I'm looking up slander now and will be back.

I'm back.

From the Free Dictionary:

1. Law Oral communication of false statements injurious to a person's reputation.
2. A false and malicious statement or report about someone.

I'm not a lawyer. The problem with definition to is the "and," since I have never made false and malicious statements at the same time, and have never made malicious statements at all, about anyone.

I therefore reject your conclusion, unless our interactions are being reported in the NYT, which is unlikely.

by MainStreet 2009-05-19 12:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Israeli Settlements

My contention accords with definition 2.

"2. A false and malicious statement or report about someone."

When looking up a word in a dictionary, one will find a list of different definitions, generally related, as few words are limited to a single meaning or usage.

When you state that I "pump Zionist propaganda," or engage in "apologetics for the occupation," or when you associate me with Likud, you make a "false and malicious statement or report about someone."

We both want the occupation to end.  We are both committed to urgent diplomatic progress toward a two state solution as the best possible development for the Middle East, America's interests, and the cause of international human rights.  Why engage in these slanders just because we disagree over particulars?  Do I accuse you of supporting anti-Semitic Islamic fundamentalism because I disagree with your estimation of HAMAS's intentions and political power?  If I did, I would also be a slanderer.  Why can't you disagree with me in a civil manner?  Why not try to actually understand my comments as practically everyone else who reads them does before you launch these "false and malicious statements."  And make no mistake, they are false, they are malicious, and they represent an attempt to affect my reputation.  

by Strummerson 2009-05-19 12:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Israeli Settlements

Additionally, as I understand your objection is that there is no malicious intention, why else make statements about me that you admit by implication are indeed false?  They are false, but not malicious?  Given that they generally appear as ad hominem nonsequiturs, without supportable evidence, you are accusing me of things you know may at least possibly be false.  Why do this if not maliciously.

But regardless, you indeed make "false statements injurious to [my] reputation," whether maliciously or not.

The point is, people are sick of it and so am I.  The interactions between us are harming the debate on this topic you claim to be so committed to.  People just don't want to be bothered.  You claim to support dialogue, but you tolerate no disagreements.  I'll not simply toe the line you want me to.  I'll not simply fold and run away as you have chased off others you disagree with (CG, for one).  I'll not fail to respond when I think your perspective flawed and/or unproductive.  But why can't we be civil?

by Strummerson 2009-05-19 01:33PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Israeli Settlements

Bhaaa. CG just never said anything that one could disagree with. She merely detested diaries about the IP conflict, and wanted them stopped, even calling me antiSemitic, or appealing to the administration, by name.

And you supported her on every occasion.

I've seen this kind of thing before: it is called slaying the messenger. If you cannot take disagreement, or interpret disagreement as slander, then a blog is not the place to hang out.

by MainStreet 2009-05-19 04:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Israeli Settlements

Honestly, it's sometimes difficult to sift through the accusations you both are making against each other to discern the points you actually disagree about, which don't seem to amount to all that much, really.

This is unfortunate because you both seem well informed and thoughtful, not to mention passionate, advocates for your respective positions.  The discussion, however, remains informative and lively and generally worth the effort and I thank you both for your efforts.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-05-19 05:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Israeli Settlements

I agree. However, I have never been interested in these deviations from content, when disagreement somehow gets turned into accusations that one is demeaning the poster, instead of just disagreeing with or applying a different interpretation to content.

But that seems to be the road Strummerson and CG have taken. I personally have no interest in this kind of thing, which I associate with slaying the messenger tactics.

by MainStreet 2009-05-19 08:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Israeli Settlements

If this is how you truly feel, then please voice your disagreements without recourse to malicious and false accusations that aim at reputation as opposed to content.

Can you do that?

by Strummerson 2009-05-19 08:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Israeli Settlements

Shaun,

Your points are well taken.  I will try to do my part to change the tone.  Thanks for the intervention.  One thing that would help me avoid these unproductive back-and-forths with MS would be a little support when he distorts my positions and engages in ad hominem accusations.  I'll try to let more of them go and trust that others can recognize what is happening.  I'll also try to reign in my snark and digs, as you requested.

by Strummerson 2009-05-20 10:54AM | 0 recs
MOJO'ed...

...for unilateral action working toward peace and dialogue (even on a small scale).

If some other people and nations could take a lesson from this, we'd all be better off.

by RecoveringRepublican 2009-05-20 11:40AM | 0 recs
i wish you the best of luck.

really i do - but im out. even though most here seem to bypass these diaries anyway, sadly though - i'm afraid that on some level the libel (and stalking) has been successful.

from my own perspective - the one-sided justifications of violence and political maneuverings are about all i can take. not that this is exclusive to this site, rather the co-opting of the palestinian cause by many on the left seems shrouded in this hypocrisy.

say for instance if i started to quote daniel pipes as an authority on this matter and justify the killing of palestinian civilians as a merely a means to an end. wouldn't be v. progressive huh? yet - the opposite is constantly done by some - leading to the logical conclusion that some believe that killing is fine as long as it is the side they're rooting for.  

just recently the quoting of finkelstein as an authority, claims that hamas attacks on civilians are just retaliating to occupation or being an apologist for ahmadinejad doesn't seem like a fruitful place in which to continue a dialogue nor based on any kind of reality outside of the blogosphere.

good luck to you strummerson - i don't agree with you on some things, but i know at least that you are an honest broker.

by canadian gal 2009-05-20 12:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Israeli Settlements

It's your call, but I have been otherwise heartily enjoying the discussion over the last few weeks and it often helps to have a loyal opposition to really dig into the issues.  In the long run it can be an asset to your case.  And I found during the primaries that clean, well-placed shots were more effective than accusations and/or rants, generally.

The depth and detail of your discussions with other posters has certaily advanced my understanding of the respective arguments and I would welcome an ongoing commentary from you as events unfold.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-05-20 01:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: Israeli Settlements

That's all you have to say in response to my request for civility?

Sad.

If you are going to accuse me of supporting anyone's efforts to stop I/P diaries, calling you anti-Semitic, or appealing to the administration to silence you, please back it up.  Otherwise, it's just another...yes, you got it...slander.  It's a pretty poor way of trying to "slay the messenger," which I guess you only take issue with if the messenger is you.

Shaun is right.  This is stupid and counter-productive.  I ask you once more to join me in expressing disagreement without these kinds of unhelpful and unethical accusations.

by Strummerson 2009-05-19 06:21PM | 0 recs
Obama and the Likud

Obama and Netanyahu agree on almost nothing (other then the fact that the security of Israel is non-negotiable). I'm not sure how Obama is going to overcome that.

I'd say after a process of engagement and discussion he should just  say to the Israeli government: either grant the Palestinians full citizenship or accept the Arab peace plan minus the right of return. You can't have the Palestinian's land without the Palestinians. So choose: a Jewish state within the borders of Israel or a larger state where you may wind up a minority. You can't have your cake and eat it to and jeopardize US security while you continue the fantasy that you can.

We cannot dictate Israeli policy or actions but we can decide our own policy and what is in our interests. If the Israeli's are hell bent on continuing the policies of Bush Cheney and destroying their own future we are not obligated to follow them over the cliff and pay for the ride.

If Obama prepares the ground right and frames it properly with the American public he will have their support. Is Israel ready to go it alone without the US? AIPAC is already in full panic mode.

by hankg 2009-05-19 02:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama and the Likud

Well said:

I'd say after a process of engagement and discussion he should just  say to the Israeli government: either grant the Palestinians full citizenship or accept the Arab peace plan minus the right of return. You can't have the Palestinian's land without the Palestinians.

This is what we should be arguing with all who oppose a two state arrangement.  The land swaps should be 1/1, based around the 1967 borders.  But no 92% or 94% of the West Bank.  Some compromise will need to be reached with regard to refugees, but let's face it, 3 million Palestinians who were displaced in 1948 and their descendants are not going to demand citizenship in Israel the minute a Palestinian State is declared.  Of course, the agreement should include full normalization and mutual recognition (already in the draft), of course the US should offer active help in guaranteeing security for a significant term.

It's that or full citizenship.  That's the argument we should be making.  Two States or One State.  But statelessness is no longer tolerable, nor are these ambiguous situations Likud thinks might fly.

It's not just Obama who should be making this argument.  We should bring it up everywhere this topic comes up.

by Strummerson 2009-05-19 02:27PM | 0 recs
I agree with that

Minus all the tough guy 'take it or leave it' stuff. This isn't an action film.

Of course the devil is in the details, like the Arab plan still has 'right of return' in its text. And then there is the small matter of who is the Palestinian government? Is there anyone to even manage a newly created state.

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?c id=1242212416346&pagename=JPost%2FJP Article%2FShowFull


Abbas swears in Hamas-free PA gov't
Ignoring warnings from Hamas and his own Fatah faction, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas swore in a new government headed by current Prime Minister Salaam Fayad on Tuesday.

...

In addition, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestinian People's (Communist) Party said they had turned down an offer to join the government.

Hamas officials said that Abbas's move was tantamount to a "death certificate" for Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation talks aimed at reaching agreement on the formation of a Palestinian unity government.

RELATED
Mashaal reportedly fires deputy Hamas leader
Fatah, on the other hand, said it decided to boycott the new Fayad government because its representatives had not been consulted beforehand.

Is Abbas a 'dead man walking' within Palestine. Does he represent Palestinians. Def not in Gaza, but what about within the West Bank...

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?c id=1242212413812&pagename=JPost%2FJP Article%2FShowFull

Delivering the annual Shin Bet briefing to the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Diskin warned that there was a good chance that the situation could become more dire if Hamas emerges victorious in a West Bank election.

So even if Netanyahu woke up tomorrow fully committed to a Palestinian state, the Palestinians may not even have a unified government to declare statehood.

by oc 2009-05-19 03:18PM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

Maybe not but tugging Israel in the direction of an equitable and permanent settlement can only help encourage solidarity among Palestinians under 'moderate' leadership.  That's part of the challenge of facilitating these negotiations.

Or to put it another way, hard-line Israeli positions encourage radicalism among their opponents, a phenomenon they well understand.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-05-19 04:45PM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

Or to put it another way, hard-line Israeli positions encourage radicalism among their opponents, a phenomenon they well understand.

Agree and this is true as well...

Palestininian radicalism encourages hard-line Israeli positions, a phenomenon they well understand.

It's a two way street and they feed each other.

by oc 2009-05-19 09:08PM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

Fair point and it seems clear that the US policy is to encourage moderation from both protagonists.  My guess, however, is that the Palestinians are prepared to deal, at the moment, Hamas' rhetoric notwithstanding.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-05-19 11:45PM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

The Palestinians are less prepared to deal with peace. They have no government. We can say what we want about Netanyahu and the Likud, but they are recognised as the legitmate government in Israel by the people and the other parties. If Bibi turns the corner to support a two state solution, Israel is there to welcome it.

Fatah and Abbas are not ready. Abbas says the right words, but he does not represent Palestinians, no matter how much the international community wants that to be the case. I wish it were the case. There is no Palestinian government today. It is in shambles and Abbas is an empty suit.

When Hamas claims that Abbas is a leader which foreign governments recognise, but does not represent Palestinians, they speak the truth. Did you see the article regarding the new Fatah government. If elections were held today, Hamas stands a strong chance of winning the West Bank. Your comment places an asterik around Hamas like they don't matter. They do. Sad, but true.

by oc 2009-05-20 07:26AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

There are two problems with this position.  It fails to take into account that the development of national institutions and civil society often require the freedom and opportunities that accompany statehood.  The second is that Israel bears enormous culpability in the underdevelopment of these aspects of Palestinian society.  

Since 1967, Israel has actively worked to frustrate such development.  I recommend Sari Nusseibeh's memoir, Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life (2008) for some perspective on how this has looked to someone close to the process and who has been a consistent moderate seeking coexistence with Israel.  It's not that Israel has been any more or less egregious in this regard than other occupying powers in history.  Occupiers always inhibit the full functionality of civil institutions as part of maintaining control over the population and inhibiting its aspirations for self-determination.  

Need I remind you that in the wake of Israel's independence, a battle ensued between the emergent IDF, dominated by Haganah commanders and troops and a ship called the Altalena bearing arms designated by Begin for the former members of Etzel?  Begin was on the boat and Rabin was the commander on the shore.

No emergent state in history has exhibited full institutional functionality prior to its independence.  These always go hand in hand.  I agree it's not easy.  But there is much that can be done to assist the stabilization of Palestinian institutions.  The blockade in Gaza and the construction of the wall bother produce hardships that make institutional development even more difficult.

by Strummerson 2009-05-20 07:46AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

Well, those are the cards we have been dealt so it's play on or fold.  It seems to me the opportunities granted the Palestinians to 'have a government' have been circumscribed by those who oppose them, which hasn't helped.  As for Hamas, I was dismissing their rhetoric, not their significance.  They have a long way to climb down and by all indications it's a journey they have already begun.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-05-20 01:54PM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

It is for the Palestinians to work out their government. There is no guarantee that Palestine will have a government that the Israeli's approve of or that Israel will have a government the Palestinians approve of. Israel has a peace treaty with Egypt and Jordan and neither is a western style democracy nor is any love lost between either state and Israel but they all recognize that peace is preferable to the alternative.

The Palestinians may have their hands full with extremist groups but Israel will be no better off internally. The fanatics in the settler movement already murdered one Israeli Prime Minister. They would be ready for a civil war if the government gave up the west bank.

I'm sure if Obama were to draw a line in the sand (and I don't know that he ever will) that the iron fist would be hidden inside a plush velvet glove. He is not given to chest thumping and macho rhetoric. Obama is a consummate politician and can be ruthless while looking to all the world like a choir boy. Those who have underestimated him have all regretted it.

by hankg 2009-05-19 08:00PM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

I wasn't commenting on the type of government that is formed by the Palestinians. I agree that nations choose their own govenmental bodies. I was commenting that the Palestinians may have no gov't at all, which is required for a peace process and a declaration of statehood.

The quote I left out was the opinion that if elections were held today, Hamas could win, leaving Fatah and, more importantly, Abbas out in the cold.

So in the meantime we have Abbas creating a BS government which does not have the backing of the Palestinians and he is meeting with Obama? What is the purpose of proping up Abbas any longer.

I'm not asking anyone to get excited about Hamas, just stating Abbas may be damaged goods.

by oc 2009-05-19 08:47PM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

The problem is we demanded democratic elections in Gaza and when Hamas won we tried to engineer a coup d'etat. If Hamas get's elected then we negotiate with Hamas, if the Likud gets elected we deal with Likud. You can't demand democracy and then try and undue the results of the election by embargo, violence and military action.

The israeli's have done everything they can to destroy Palestinian civil society and the infrastructure and institutions of Palestinian government. Abbas has produced nothing but more of the same from Israel. So no surprise that the Palestinians will have a mountain to climb to form some kind of functioning government. But they have the right to do it without Israeli interference and free of Israeli occupation.

by hankg 2009-05-20 03:17AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

This is where I agree with you 100%. I want honest Palestinian elections. I can't stand Hamas, but if that's who the people want then that's their choice. If Hamas is it, it is better to deal with reality and make smart decisions based on that, then deal with a fantasy which is Fatah and Abbas. Peace can not be achieved with the Abbas illusion, he does not exist. Until that is recognized by the int'l community, Obama and Israel, all they are doing is negotiating with a ghost.

But where I disagree is that the Palestinians need a gov't for a peace plan to work. Not after one has been negotiated. Negotiating with Abbas will not produce any positive outcome becasue too many Palestinians will refuse to recognise the deal.

Remember a Palestinian state does unto itself bring peace and happiness to Palestinians. If it has no legitmacy within Palestine that could lead to an ugly civil war.

by oc 2009-05-20 07:35AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

Hamas and Fatah lived side by side in Palestine without difficulty, until Israel and the US decided to nullify the last "democratic" election, and create the basis for a civil war, that the US funded and armed.

On what conceivable basis can you make the determination that the Palestinian government is unable to govern. Except that their economy is torn to shreds by Israeli occupation and colonization going on, the Palestinians can rule themselves.

by MainStreet 2009-05-20 08:01AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

Though I agree that Israel's destabilization of conditions has contributed greatly, in part by opening opportunities for abuses, FATAH and HAMAS have been opposed, often violently since long before the 2006 elections.  I don't know what your claim to the contrary is based on at all.  But recently things have gotten worse.

Hamas should end its attacks on political opponents and suspected collaborators in Gaza, which have killed at least 32 Palestinians and maimed several dozen more during and since the recent Israeli military offensive, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Human Rights Watch called on Hamas authorities in Gaza to hold those responsible accountable.

The 26-page report, "Under Cover of War: Hamas Political Violence in Gaza," documents a pattern since late December 2008 of arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, maimings by shooting, and extrajudicial executions by alleged members of Hamas security forces. The report is based on interviews with victims and witnesses in Gaza and case reports by Palestinian human rights groups.

The spate of attacks began during Israel's military operation, from December 27, 2008, to January 18, 2009, including the summary execution of 18 men in Gaza, most of them suspected collaborators with Israel.It has continued in the three months since, with 14 more killings, at least four of them of people in detention.

"During Israel's attack on Gaza, Hamas moved violently against its political opponents and those deemed collaborators with Israeli forces," said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division. "The unlawful arrests, torture, and killings in detention continued even after the fighting stopped, mocking Hamas's claims to uphold the law."

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/04/20/ga za-hamas-should-end-killings-torture

Now, I purposely included reference to the context of Israel's brutal attack on Gaza.  Nonetheless, it seems odd to me not to hold HAMAS accountable for exploiting this period for more brutality against FATAH activists and citizens who do not toe their line.

Refusal to hold HAMAS morally accountable seems weird and ultimately condescending.  They are not children.  They have choices.  Your view of Israeli political society occasionally displays nuance.  There are peace activists as well as "colonizers."  Why should Palestinian society not be as varied?  Does it lack sophistication and complexity in your eyes?  It doesn't in mine.

by Strummerson 2009-05-20 08:30AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

On what conceivable basis can you make the determination that the Palestinian government is unable to govern.

On the fact that Abbas is non-democratic ruler who just declared a gov't w/o elections in an established democracy. Regardless of the history this is the reality 'on the ground' as Obama put it.

However, I am not stating that Palestinians can not govern themselves. What I am stating is that there should be a election to govern allow them to govern themselves. Instead the international community supports the shell of Abbas. Are you for Palestinian elections? Are you for Palestinian self determination? I am, this is why I reject Abbas.

by oc 2009-05-20 08:31AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

Right of return is not only a UN mandated requirement ala UN Resolution 194, but no Palestinian government would leave 5 million Palestinians living in refugee camps all over the Middle East in the lurch. They were created afterall with an illegal act on the part of Israel: the ethnic cleansing of 1948, which is commemorated yearly as the Nakba.

What do you think they should do? They are Palestinians, not Lebonese or Jordanians or Iraqis or whatever.

The refugees will have to be worked into any peace deal made with Israel or there will just be no deal.

Hamas is still just an Israeli red herring, but I really think they are being replaced by Iran in that role. The Hamas leadership has already agreed to the two state solution close to the Arab League proposal. It is Israel which has not agreed to it, preferring to continue the military occupation and colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel at this point will accept any reason to avoid peace negotiations.

by MainStreet 2009-05-19 08:22PM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

"The Hamas leadership has already agreed to the two state solution close to the Arab League proposal."

This is false.  HAMAS will sign on to a Palestinian State but only a 10 year ceasefire they may or may not renew.  The Arab League proposal offers full and permanent normalization.

This is a crucial difference.

by Strummerson 2009-05-19 08:32PM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

That's not what I read in a NYT article by an author who interviewed Meshal in Syria. As a matter of fact, Hamas will not control the state of Palestine but the elected Palestinian government will.

As for Hamas control of Gaza now, that will change with the next election. Only 20% of Palestinians are supporters of Hamas, and only 25% of the Palestinians living Gaza support Hamas.

But it is still a reason to invoke Hamas as an excuse to continue the colonization.

Anyone know what Hamas might have to do with the colonization of the Palestinian territories? If Hamas never existed, Israel would still be expanding settlements and continuing to take Palestinian lands.

by MainStreet 2009-05-20 03:41AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

Thanks for repeating your standard talking points.  It's always helpful to restate a position whole cloth as opposed to simply addressing the point that someone raises.

Now I will repeat my standard response:

I agree that Israel uses HAMAS as an excuse not to move forward diplomatically.  I think this is particularly problematic, given that only an end to the occupation will begin to marginalize those elements within HAMAS who don't want peace and are committed to thwarting it.  On this issue, Bibi is both cynical and stupid.

HAMAS received 42.9% in the last legislative election.  I have no idea, and neither do you, what they will receive in the next one.  But two factors will work against them.  FATAH fighting its own corruption and Israel becoming credible on ending the occupation.

In the mean time, to address the point at hand, I'd be interested if you could find any statement from Meshal that embraces a two state solution as a final and permanent resolution to the conflict.  Absent that, we have a major disagreement.  You apparently do not believe that the difference between full and permanent normalization on the one hand and a 10 year hudna or ceasefire on the other represents a significant difference.  I think it a crucial one.  If all the Saudi/Arab League proposal offered was a 10 year cessation of active hostilities, no one in the international community would be talking about it.

Please verify that Meshal or another central HAMAS figure has expressed a willingness to embrace two states and full normalization as a permanent solution.  I would be thrilled if they did so.  Otherwise, I will continue to point out that a truce or limited duration is not the same thing as a peace treaty and that this is as damning a qualification to HAMAS's "acceptance" of a two state solution as Israeli lip service that insist on a demilitarized Palestinian state and/or refuses the Palestinian claim to a capital in east Jerusalem.  None of these constitutes adequate acceptance of two states.

If you can't produce the link, I will keep pointing that out.

by Strummerson 2009-05-20 04:47AM | 0 recs
Correction and clarification

In the 2006 PA legislative elections, the HAMAS "List of Change and Reform" received 44.45% of the vote.

Full results may be read here:

http://www.elections.ps/pdf/Final_Result s_PLC_Summary_Lists_Seats_2_En.pdf

As for the difference between a truce/ceasefire and a permanent resolution in the form of a peace treaty, the former in Arabic is a hudna and the latter is a sulha.  They are quite different in status.  Meshal has only used the former terms.  If he begins to use the latter, it will be a highly positive development for all involved.  FATAH and the Arab League states use the latter.

by Strummerson 2009-05-20 05:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Correction and clarification

Israel has not even begun to commit to a two state solution, and its continuing colonizing actions suggest that it has no intention to do so, it is now Hamas' willingness to only sue for a ten year truce that is troublesome.

I get such a kick out of Israel's use of Hamas as the reason it continues bulldozing Palestinian homes in Jerusalem, expands settlements in regions of the West Bank that are needed by any Palestinian state, and even announces the building of a new settlement in the Jordan Valley on the very day Netanyahu began his meeting with Obama.

And people claim that it is Hamas that does not want peace.

Give us a break here. People are no stupid to see that Hamas has absolutely nothing to do with Israeli colonialism. And as Israel refuses to stop it, it is evident that the impediment to peace is not Hamas but Israel.

It is also my impression that the leaders of Hamas are not stupid. Even though it did, why should it recognize Israel or agree to a Palestinian state on the 67 borders, when Israel's actions betray unpeaceful intents. Afterall, didn't they watch Arafat and then Abbas get screwed, even after both of them recognized Israel?

by MainStreet 2009-05-20 05:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Correction and clarification

I invite you to agree or disagree with what I actually wrote.

by Strummerson 2009-05-20 05:33AM | 0 recs
Still waiting

for a link to HAMAS's acceptance of a two state solution as a permanent resolution to the conflict and a final status.

Have you found it yet?

No more baiting and switching.  You claimed to have read this.  I think it would be an enormously positive development.  Can you find it?

by Strummerson 2009-05-20 03:21PM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

I meant only two factors will potentially undermine HAMAS at the polls.  I have no particular confidence that FATAH will clean up its act or that Israel will become credible on two states.

by Strummerson 2009-05-20 04:48AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

Hankg tossed out the 'minus right of return' to start of this thread. Obama has asked that this be removed from the Saudi peace plan via his meeting with King Abdullah. Right of return is a non starter. There is no reason why Isreal should except it. A State of Palestine only comes with a Jewish Democratic state of Israel next to it. Right of return kills the 'Jewish Democratic' part of Israel. If you are locked into all the demands of the Saudi peace plan or bust, then it will be bust. But, you have no say, so...

My comment regarding Hamas was not about security, it was to emphasise that Hamas is growing in strength and Abbas is not. Who is at the table, today, that can represent the Palestinians for peace talks and the declaration of statehood. Obama hinted at that yesterday at his press conference.

Don't get upset about it, just recognise it as one of the potential obstacles going forward.

by oc 2009-05-19 09:02PM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

If Israel wants a credible partner to deal with for a full and viable two state solution and who would defeat HAMAS at the polls running away, all it has to do is release Marwan Barghouti from prison.  

Peres claimed he would sign a presidential pardon in order to facilitate this if he was elected president.  But he has failed to make good since he was installed in that office.

by Strummerson 2009-05-19 09:19PM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

If the release of Marwan Barghouti is the best hope to gain a credible partner for the peace process then the obstacles are great.

by oc 2009-05-19 09:38PM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

The obstacles are great indeed.  His imprisonment is one of them.

by Strummerson 2009-05-20 03:12AM | 0 recs
We'll see

ultimately, if Israel keeps doing what it's doing, it may not have a choice whether it is able to keep its Jewish "Democratic" character.

by JJE 2009-05-20 05:46AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

It's not about what is fair or just. I'm sure the Arabs feel the very creation of Israel was unjust and unfair but Israel is a now a thriving functioning society and it's not going to do anything that will threaten it's survival. Israel needs to give up all settlements and live within it's borders and the Palestinians need to do the same in regards to the right of returning to Israel.

You can't have a Jewish state without a Palestinian one and you can't have a Palestinian state without a Jewish one. Giving up all the settlements would bring Israel to the brink of civil war and giving up the right of return will be a bitter pill for the Palestinians. But there is no other way to have 2 states. Palestinians who want to live in Palestine will have a Palestinian state to return to and Israeli settlers will have a Jewish one to return to. That's not going to be what they want but it's better then the alternative.

by hankg 2009-05-20 06:11AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

That was Kissinger's proposal. The two states concept is already there, waiting for the proper politicians to enact it.

Jews will go to Israel; Palestinians or Arabs will go to Palestine. I do not know the demographics very well, but that would put Jews in 78% of original Palestine, and Palestinians in 22%. Still, the right or return is there in UN Resolution 194, which may have the effect of international law, and it must be respect. Polls taken of the 5 million Palestinian refugees still living in camps around the Middle East suggest that only 10% would elect to return their original homes or the homes of their ancestors. That's not many. I also suspect that a good number of Israeli Arabs, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, will opt to live in Palestine. I won't go into the reasons.

by MainStreet 2009-05-20 06:40AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

"I also suspect that a good number of Israeli Arabs, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship, will opt to live in Palestine."

I suspect your suspicions are wrong.  Most are attached to families and communities and benefit from a slightly more liberal/westernized culture as well as a higher standard of living.  The struggle for full equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel may become more difficult, not less in the event of a two state solution.  This is why Jeff Halper is interested in a hypothetical arrangement that detaches residency from citizenship.  Some Jewish settlers would have residency rights in a Palestinian jurisdiction but citizenship in an Israeli entity; Palestinians who choose could maintain residency rights in an Israeli jurisdiction but elect citizenship in Palestine.

by Strummerson 2009-05-20 07:03AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

That's a nogo situation. Whose laws would prevail: those of the residency or those of the citizenship?

by MainStreet 2009-05-20 08:06AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree with that

I admire your ability to conclusively determine the feasibility of Halper's proposal without evaluate the conceptual parameters he lays out.  It must save you a great deal of time and energy.

I am open to exploring this idea, but must actually consider his arguments before I decide whether there is any realistically productive concepts to offer.  My burden, I guess.  I need to consider things closely and critically before I accept or reject them.

My guess is that if a two state solution is implemented, the vast majority of Palestinian citizens of Israel will stay put and the vast majority of Jews in the territories will be relocated back inside Israel proper.  Maybe things will evolve from there.

by Strummerson 2009-05-20 08:20AM | 0 recs

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