On Israeli Settlement Freeze, Public Has Obama's Back

There have been hints in the press that the Obama Administration has been considering conditioning U.S. aid to Israel on a real freeze of Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank. There's a conventional wisdom that suggests that doing this would touch a "third rail of politics." But the conventional wisdom might not have been accurate; if it once was accurate, it might not be accurate any more.

WorldPublicOpinion.org has just released a poll showing that three-quarters of Americans oppose Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank. This number is up 23 points from 2002.

Even among respondents who say they sympathize with Israel more than the Palestinians, 64% say Israel should not build settlements in the West Bank.

Opposition to settlements is found among majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents. Those who followed the issue closely oppose settlement expansion by the same margin as those who don't.

Some may say: public opinion doesn't matter. What matters, they may say, is that the so-called "Israel Lobby" will effectively punish any politician who tries to shift U.S. policy towards Israel and the Palestinians.

But the Obama Administration has already proved that this isn't necessarily so.

The Los Angeles Timesreports:

The administration has asked Congress for minor changes in U.S. law that would permit aid to continue flowing to Palestinians in the event Hamas-backed officials become part of a unified Palestinian government.

Secretary of State Clinton defended the administration's position before Congress. She noted that

the United States supports and funds the Lebanese government, even though it includes members of Hezbollah, another militant group on the U.S. terrorist list.

Reps. Nita Lowey and Mark Kirk objected. But as the Jewish Telegraphic Agencynotes,

Significantly, however, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-Fla.), a pro-Israel stalwart, defended Clinton in a call organized by the National Jewish Democratic Council to mark the first 100 days of the Obama administration.

"The unity government itself will have embraced those principles," she said. "The most important priority for members of Congress is to support Israel and to move the peace process forward."

If the Obama Administration can shift U.S. policy towards engaging in some form with Hamas, then surely it can shift policy towards moving the U.S. from ineffective to effective implementation of its stated policy of opposition to Israeli settlement expansion, as it is virtually universally recognized that stopping Israeli settlement expansion is an absolutely necessary element of achieving a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict - just as it is virtually universally recognized that some form of engagement with Hamas will be necessary to achieve a two-state solution in the long run, and to get effective aid into Gaza in the short run.

Moreover, if the U.S. would get serious about stopping Israeli settlement expansion, it could help fundamentally alter the political dynamics in Israel. Israel's right-wing has grown accustomed to the notion that Israel can indefinitely go through the motions of a "peace process," while steadily expanding settlements in the West Bank in the hopes of making a Palestinian state impossible. If the U.S. puts an end to this game, it will empower the political forces in Israel who genuinely want a two-state solution - who, on this question, represent the majority of the Israeli population.

Tags: Barack Obama, Israel, israeli settlements, Palestinians, worldpublicopinion.org (all tags)

Comments

63 Comments

no surprise.

i don't think you'll find many that support israeli settlements.  great diary although i might take some exception to:

"Just as it is virtually universally recognized that some form of engagement with Hamas will be necessary to achieve a two-state solution in the long run"

other than that well done.

by canadian gal 2009-05-02 06:08PM | 0 recs
What do you mean by that?
Are you saying that it isn't universally recognized?
Or are you saying that Hamas should be not be engaged with to achieve a two-state solution?
by SocialDem 2009-05-02 10:35PM | 0 recs
both.

by canadian gal 2009-05-03 12:37PM | 0 recs
When HAMAS renounces violence

in the name of Allah, recognizes Israel's right to exist, THEN they can be engaged. This is as likely as hell freezing over.

by Lakrosse 2009-05-04 08:17AM | 0 recs
Re: When HAMAS renounces violence

The only way to render HAMAS irrelevant is to engage with them in a process of ending the occupation.  Your position ensures death, pain, and a continued spiral of violence and injustice.

by Strummerson 2009-05-04 08:20AM | 0 recs
How can Israel engage a group

with such doctrinaire beliefs? The reason Egypt is at peace with Israel right now is because they stopped the wars, and recognized Israel's right to exist. HAMAS has never stated any intention to do so. Their doctrine is basically an Islamic Mein Kampf. Chamberlain and Daladier saw how well trying to engage the Nazis worked out. one can only imagine trying to deal with them and the Jews, instead of just the fate of Czechoslovakia. I support the idea of an autonomy for Palestinians, but Israel is small enough, and HAMAS is violent. There is Gaza and the West Bank for them. No more, and no Jerusalem is Jewish.

by Lakrosse 2009-05-04 08:46AM | 0 recs
Re: How can Israel engage a group

1. Engage to defuse.  Only a political process will strengthen those who want peaceful coexistence.  Give HAMAS a seat at the table and their influence will begin to shrink.

2. Autonomy = Apartheid.  Immoral and unsustainable.

3. As for Jerusalem, have you actually been there?  It's a Jewish/Arab city.  A Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem is more in the interests of Israeli Jews than the continuation of conflict and the continued institutionally driven impoverishment of the Arab part of the city.  Calling East Jerusalem "Jewish" is ignorant, delusional, and violent.

by Strummerson 2009-05-04 09:12AM | 0 recs
Jerusalem is Jewish?

Stating "Jerusalem is Jewish" really disqualifies you from being taken seriously on the subject.

by mikeinsf 2009-05-04 10:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Public Has Obama's Back

The phrase, "this game," sums up the last 40 years of Israeli-US relations. And without question, perhaps through the work of Jimmy Carter, the Obama administration understands that Hamas, an organization that arose during the second Intifada (with the help of Israel to counteract the threat of compromise and peace being made by Arafat and the PLO) to resist Israel's military occupation, and the obvious colonization that was present from the beginning, is only Israel's latest red herring. Although one can see a shift of this role recently toward Iran, there is no question that all along it is nothing but a "game" to cover Israel's intent to colonize and annex all of original Palestine.

Great diary

by MainStreet 2009-05-02 06:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Public Has Obama's Back

Sorry, make that the "first Intifada," ca. 1987.

by MainStreet 2009-05-02 06:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Of possible related interest........

Israel's Settlements Devastating Two-State Solution

28 April. The Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) hosted a panel discussion on the topic of settlement expansion, inviting two experts to discuss the status of settlement expansion and its political implications. The speakers were Daniel Seidemann, the founder and legal advisor of Ir Amim, a non-profit dedicated to an equitable, stable and sustainable Jerusalem, and Hagit Efron, Director of Settlement Watch for Peace Now, an Isreali organization that calls for Palestinian self-determination and a return to pre-1967 borders.

The two speakers outlined the recent growth and current status of Israeli settlements, both inside Jerusalem and in the rest of the West Bank. To make a very long and disheartening story short, settlements have been growing and the government plans for continued growth. In the case former Prime Minister Olmert's administration, while in office and engaging in "peace talks," he allowed for the continued expansion, despite his rhetoric, and though insisting otherwise. Now, with newly elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this disconnect is gone. Instead, "what you see is what you get"--he has unabashedly insisted that settlements are imperative for the unity of the Jewish state, and has yet to fully commit to a two-state solution.

According to the two speakers, the repercussions of the continued settlement expansion are potentially devastating to any kind of sustainable peace in the area. The E-1 settlement--the area between the Ma'ale Adumim settlement and Jerusalem--is one of the most obvious examples of expansion that would sabotage any kind of legitimate final status plan.

http://www.alternativenews.org/english/1 892-ipcri-panel-on-settlement-expansion- if-current-settlement-trends-continue-th ey-will-devastate-two-state-solutionbut- analysts-remain-to-be-cautiously-optimis tic-for-the-future.html


by MainStreet 2009-05-02 07:59PM | 0 recs
Great diary

by SocialDem 2009-05-02 10:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Public Has Obama's Back

Results of the DKos poll are similar to those here at MyDD:

Poll
Israel Should Freeze Settlement Expansion in the West Bank?

Yes
93% 182 votes
No
6% 13 votes

195 votes

by MainStreet 2009-05-03 11:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Public Has Obama's Back

An interesting note from a DKos proIsrael blogger who agrees with the settlement freeze. Noted was a decease in the percentage who support the continuation of settlements, here at MyDD comprising only one voter.

Pro-Israel Jews oppose the settlements
Recommended by:arielle, Anorish, thebluecrayon

And indeed, the poll would seem to back that up -- though Jews are not broken out as a separate sample, note that even among those who say they sympathize more with Israel than Plaestine oppose the settlements by almost two thirds.  

Once again, a DKos poster uses the phrase "pro-Israel" to describe right-wing nationalist views that most of those who call themselves pro-Israel do not in fact share.  I myself oppose the settlements and the Occupation in part because they are bad for Israel -- morally, politically, and even militarily.

by Finck II on Fri May 01, 2009 at 06:35:27 PM PDT

One must assume here that there are right wing Likudnik or Zionist nationalists or religionists on liberal blogs, but they must constitute less than 10% of bloggers interested in the IP area. And presumably they are antiObama, even anti-liberal or progressive.

by MainStreet 2009-05-03 11:22AM | 0 recs
Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

However you should do some research on the political wing of Hamas and not just the extremists.

by SocialDem 2009-05-04 04:05AM | 0 recs
bah that was meant for CG

by SocialDem 2009-05-04 04:05AM | 0 recs
Re: bah that was meant for CG

CG's concerns about HAMAS are not unfounded.  But you are correct that the organization is more varied and complex than its loony 1988 Covenant.  Nonetheless, that is the document that lies at its basis and it's easy to dismiss it with informed skepticism when one remains at a distance.  In the end the most compelling reasons for engaging with HAMAS are two fold: their political position is a fact and one does not choose one's opponents (though in this case, Israel played a significant role in HAMAS's ascendance); and engaging with them to change the conditions that feed their ranks is the soundest strategy to marginalize and defeat them.  They will not disappear.  But the occupation and its brutality is their greatest asset.

by Strummerson 2009-05-04 04:40AM | 0 recs
Re: bah that was meant for CG

Well said. But as I have said many times before, Hamas is also one of Israel's greatest assets, even though it is hardly Hamas that propels the continuation of the occupation. That occupation as everyone knows continues for the sole purpose of Israel's colonialism of the Palestinian territories. As such, Hamas is little more than a red herring.

But what a meagre red herring it is. Only 20% of the Palestinian people in polls support Hamas and I would suggest that even a lesser proportion of Palestinians actually belong to Hamas as a religious group that provides social and medical services. In fact, only 25% of Palestinians living in Gaza are supporters of Hamas.

Hamas' charter is not much different from the PLO's in the 80s, but that too is often cited as a reason to demonize Hamas. I am not exactly sure what Israel wants Hamas to do: recognize Israel, while Israel kills more and more Palestinians while taking more and more of their lands?

Recent Israeli propaganda is becoming more and more transparent as just another Orwellian game. Perhaps that is why there is movement to use Iran as the next rationale to keep colonizing the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which is even more remote and Orwellian. What the hell does Iran have to do with house demolitions, confiscation of lands, targeted killings of Palestinian militants, and so on and so forth.

Got me.

by MainStreet 2009-05-04 05:37AM | 0 recs
Re: bah that was meant for CG

2 points of disagreement here.  The first is that HAMAS may only command the support of 20% of Palestinians in some polls, but it wields much larger political influence due to the last elections.  This happened in large part because of FATAH's corruption and mismanagement, even more than its diplomatic failures.  But, nonetheless it is a political fact.  Given that over 70% of Palestinians still support a just 2 state resolution, it seems clear that if Israel were to actually embrace that as its goal, the Palestinian electorate would not allow HAMAS hardliners to impede its accomplishment.  But this does not change the fact that at the moment, HAMAS's power exceeds the 20% figure.  It just means that it's in Israel's power to marginalize them in the future if they actually want to.

The second point is the your assertion of equivalence between the PLO Charter and HAMAS Covenant indicates to me that you haven't read them.  They are extremely different documents.  One is a secualr nationalist document calling for a bi-national democracy, the other calls for a theocratic republic.  One is conscientious about distinguishing between Zionism and Judaism, the other is inflected with unmistakable anti-Semitic delusions.  Either you haven't read them or you are exceedingly tone deaf to the significance of these differences.

Nonetheless, we are on the same page here about how to move forward and that the Bibi/Lieberman regime is committed to cynically and/or mistakenly using HAMAS as an excuse not to do so.

by Strummerson 2009-05-04 05:58AM | 0 recs
Re: bah that was meant for CG

Oh, please. Both charters called for dismantling Israel and driving it into the sea. The details beyond that are trivial, given that the Palestinians are basically secular, even though Arafat at one time called for Sharia law in Palestine, and that was after he took up residence in Gaza.

"In July 1968, at a meeting of the Palestine National Council (PNC) in Cairo, the original PLO covenant -- drafted when the PLO was formed in 1964 -- was amended. Both old and new articles [of the covenant] negated Israel's right to exist and included the principle of armed struggle in the liberation of Palestine. In Article 10 of the new document [1968 Charter], the fedayeen ['those who sacrifice themselves'] were named as the nucleus of the armed struggle. In resolutions adopted in the same period, the PNC suggested that Israel be replaced by a 'democratic, secular' state. As Palestinians themselves admitted, this was a euphemism for propaganda purposes to dismantle Israel and was intended to replace the admittedly ineffective slogan of 'driving the Jews into the sea.' Israel insisted that the covenant be disavowed or changed before it would even consider dealing with the PLO."

Hamas is a minority elected into power by a people as everyone understood that was tired of corruption. In the next "democratic" election in January, and I suppose that Israel and the US will determine what is democratic this time around again, Hamas members are not likely to win.

In the meantime, the conciliation talks in Cairo between Fatah and Hamas continue, and the US is apparently ready to accept a unity government.

by MainStreet 2009-05-04 06:18AM | 0 recs
Re: bah that was meant for CG

Oh, please?

I hesitate to dignify this with a response.  Nonetheless, the PLO charter does not call for driving anyone into the sea.  It calls for replacing Israel with a secular democratic republic that includes Jews.  It seeks to wipe out Zionism, not Judaism, a distinction you consistently bring up in your apologetics for Ahmadinejad.  The HAMAS Covenant, on the other hand, is rife with anti-Semitic myths and slurs.  It references the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and cherry-picked anti-Semitic statements from the Koran.  It's vision is unabashedly theocratic.  It's statements about the acceptable roles of women make Phyllis Schlafley look like Gloria Steinem.  There are other significant differences as well.  But I'm not gonna chew your food for you.  You can choose to be intellectually honest and responsible or not by actually reading these documents, instead of some uncited rehashing of the PLO Charter.  I'm not impressed with that quote at all.  If you still maintain that the differences are "trivial" after actually reading both documents, I acknowledge your right to interpret them as irresponsibly as you choose.

Here are the links if you want to do your homework:

http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/ plocov.asp
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/ hamas.asp

But on the larger issue we agree.  HAMAS is an obstacle to the two state solution only if Israel makes it one.  Whatever impediments HAMAS might try to throw up (and many in HAMAS will seek to do just that) can be obliterated by Israel moving directly to end the occupation as is in its own interests and the interests of justice.  I would expect HAMAS and Islamic Jihad to deploy suicide bombers in the process and even after the establishment of the Palestinian State, but real sovereignty and enfranchisement will turn the vast majority of Palestinians into partners in minimizing them.  More bombardment of Palestinian civilians, as we saw in Gaza, and the continuation of the blockade is the best way to promote them.  As such, we agree that the ball is squarely in Israel's court and the US must make it clear that it will not support and fund the continuation of the occupation.

by Strummerson 2009-05-04 07:34AM | 0 recs
Re: bah that was meant for CG

So, trivia aside and speculations about what Hamas, only one of several resistance groups in the Palestinian territories, will do, we agree. There must be two states...and all the Palestinians are asking for is 22% of their original country...at the end or this strife will just continue, and irritate the Obama administration, for the next eight years.

The Hamas red herring must be given up. And so must the other obstacles and banana peels Israel is laying down to avert peace.

by MainStreet 2009-05-04 08:36AM | 0 recs
trivia?

SO you choose not to do your homework.  Not surprising. Anyone else want to peruse the two documents I linked above and try to argue the differences between them are only trivial?

You are of course correct that HAMAS is "only one of several resistance groups in the Palestinian territories," just as Likud is only one party in the Knesset.  Why add any complexity to an analysis of political power and alignment?  What could that possibly add?  Except credibility and an informed perspective.

Apologize and equivocate as much as you want about HAMAS.  They are a force and a problematic one.  The difference between our positions is that you are committed to obscuring the problem while I think it needs to be faced responsibly.

Trivial differences indeed.

by Strummerson 2009-05-04 08:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Hamas is nothing more than a RED HERRING.

Hamas is nothing more than Israel's latest excuse for continuing the colonization. I said it many times before. In truth, however, because Netanyahu is now openly supporting the colonization of all of the Palestinian territories, he has switched RED HERRING priorities and is today depending on IRAN to perform that function.

Slay some other messenger, okay? What I am saying is fairly obvious to most.

by MainStreet 2009-05-04 09:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Hamas is nothing more than a RED HERRING.

Given what you try to impute to me below, out of the blue and as usual with no support, I'd recommend you not make yourself look more ridiculously hypocritical with another "slay the messenger" red herring accusation.  That's your modus, not mine.

And you still haven't read the documents.  Knowing what one is talking about often gets in the way of spewing rote ideology.  Facts are so troublesome.

by Strummerson 2009-05-04 09:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

maybe we will have to disagree.  but there is no need for me to research them - i am quite familiar with hamas.

in my mind the true tragedy for the average impoverished palestinian is that hamas is so intertwined its philosophy of hate with its humanitarian efforts on behalf of the palestinians, that it has undermined itself and betrayed those whom it seeks to assist.

capitalizing on depleted PLO coffers after the PLO's ill-fated support of hussein during the gulf war, hamas augmented its social service infrastructure by providing palestinians with essential human services that the PLO could no longer furnish.

in fact, 85% of hamas's budget is believed to finance its social service activities. many palestinians are drawn primarily or solely to hamas's humanitarian service rather than its political and military doctrines. however, the boundaries between hamas's humanitarian, political, social and military activities are blurred particularly since hamas leaders use mosques, kindergartens and youth clubs as forums for disseminating hatred and mobilizing support for violence against israel. with an estimated 20-40% support in the west bank, and 60-80% support in gaza - hamas also undermines itself with missile attacks to civilians, blocking of aid and overall counter-productive dogmas.

ironically though (or at least, here's hoping) , hamas has presented the PA with an opportunity that can only be seized by pursuing an israeli-palestinian reconciliation. sari nusseibah, a moderate palestinian leader noted after a suicide bomb attack on sbarro's restaurant that left 17 dead and over 40 injured:

"We're telling the Israelis that we want to kick you out: it's not that we want liberation, freedom and independence in the West Bank and Gaza, we want to kick you out of your home. And in order to make sure that the Israelis get the message, people go out to a disco or restaurant and blow themselves up. The whole thing is just crazy, ugly and totally counterproductive. The secret is to get Israelis to side with you. We have lost our allies."

the future of the PA as a credible governing body for a future palestinian state are both rooted in a frustration born of an organization (Hamas) that, if not dismantled and superceded, will undermine any possibility of such a state.

by canadian gal 2009-05-04 06:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

The tragedy for both Palestinians and Israeli's is that they are led by terrorist thugs. Hamas's poltical leadership, Sharon, Netanyahu, they are all cut from the same cloth.

However, There is no way forward to peace without including murderous rejectionists like Netanyahu and Hamas in the discussion.

by hankg 2009-05-04 07:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

you might be right as to the current quagmire.  but i sincerely believe that political and popular will from both groups can move to make these fringe groups irrelevant.

by canadian gal 2009-05-04 07:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

I think we are all interested in seeing HAMAS become irrelevant and the Likud's obstructions neutralized.  But the disagreement here pertains to process.  If we demand HAMAS revoke it's Covenant and formally accept political zionism (Israel as a sovereign Jewish State) as a pre-condition to negotiations, as both Bibi and Clinton have done at times in recent weeks, the process stops and the rejectionists on all sides are strengthened.  I'll be living in Jerusalem this summer with my family, including 2 kids under 6.  It's no small thing to demand engagement with an organization, many of whose leaders are sworn to kill you individually and as a culture.  I just do not see any other way to defeat HAMAS.  The way forward is to engage, freeze settlement, and move towards an imminent end to the occupation, negotiating land swaps and sharing of resources and security guarantees as prudently and equitably as possible.  The violence will continue either way.  But this is the best way to improve things in the near term.  Otherwise, there is a long, often violent, painful path that inevitably leads to some sort of bi-national confederation or one state solution.  These may be better in the long term.  But the process will prove even more painful.

I've recently been reading Once Upon A Country: A Palestinian Life by Sari Nusseibeh, his 2005 memoir.  It's one of the most compelling and sympathetic books and one of the most reasonable humanistic perspectives I've read.  I highly recommend it.  If you think we find HAMAS horrifying, it doesn't come close to the despair they provoke in Nusseibeh.

by Strummerson 2009-05-04 08:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

i made no suggestions as to process.  rather what i said is that hamas in its current form has created a double-bind for the palestinian peoples.

as to your description of the way forward - i agree.  but my point is rather that placing demands on a group before engaging requires political will from both populaces.  and i find it unlikely that both the palestinians (in both territories) feel comfortable in hamas representing its best interests in any kind of process and that israelis will feel comfortable in agreeing to major changes to the status quo with a group intent on its destruction.

by canadian gal 2009-05-04 08:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

It is conceivable that Hamas has learned from the prior experiences of deception that Arafat and now Abbas have undergone, even after they recognized Israel's right to exist. The point is that it did not matter one iota. Israel had no intention of stopping the occupation and the colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem that it entails.

And everyday, we read report after report of Palestinians being thrown off their lands for one reason or another.

People are just not that stupid to believe Israeli propaganda any more.

by MainStreet 2009-05-04 08:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

Why should Hamas revoke it's convenant before talks when Likud refuses to do the same? It's a double standard. The Israeli right can reject the peace process publicly, deny that the Palestinian have any national rights, continue illegal settlement expansion and murder Palestinians and it's only Hamas that is called to task for it's positions and obstructionism.

We need to apply the same standards to both sides. We would never fund Hamas terrorism and obstructionism (and we never should) but why do we continue to fund the Israeli governments anti-peace, obstructionist and illegal activities?

by hankg 2009-05-04 08:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

i neither support or particularly like likud - but your comparison is a bit outrageous.  one group states in its charter the destruction of its nemesis and the other does not.

but i do agree that the same standards need to be applied to both groups for sure.

by canadian gal 2009-05-04 09:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

The Likud official platform:

"The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river."

What is exactly the difference between advocating the destruction of a state and opposing one's formation by lethal, violent and military means? and that's just the Likud. There are other more extreme parties in the Israeli government that go beyond even what Hamas does vis a vis Israel and advocate not just for the denial of any Palestinian nationhood but for the complete ethnic cleansing of all Arabs west of the jordan.

You will hear many right wing apologists even on this blog claim that there is no such thing as a Palestinian people that they are really Jordanians and Egyptians living in land that should be Israeli.

Sharon murdered more civilians then all the Palestinian terrorists combined. He was called to task by the Israeli government for his role in the Sabra and Shatila massacre. The comparison is in no way outrageous.

by hankg 2009-05-04 10:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

again - not that i support the likud in any way - but one could make the argument that their charter at least in the quote you provided - only disputes geography rather than principle.

that said i do find another part of the likud charter more troubling and that it:

The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting.

therein lies the rub. the cessation of the building of settlements has got to be in the top 5 things that need to happen in the short-term for any path to peace.

by canadian gal 2009-05-04 10:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

"the cessation of the building of settlements has got to be in the top 5 things that need to happen in the short-term for any path to peace."

I'd put it at number 1.

by Strummerson 2009-05-04 10:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

well okay.  

but im not sure you're considering the political realities, namely that this will not happen under the current minority coalition. not that it would happen, but ill play along - bibi stops the settlements, goons and crazy go berserk - the govt falls,  period.

by canadian gal 2009-05-04 11:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

I am indeed considering political realities.  These realities indicate that Israel is continuing a trajectory that will lead to an unsustainable situation.  Two states is the only way for Israel to secure the future of political zionism.  That is political reality.  Michael Oren, the historian who was just appointed as Bibi's ambassador to the US, thus actually backs a unilateral removal of West Bank settlements.  Not that I think that is possible.  Political realities dictate a range of possibilities and likelihoods.  Right now, the Likud's goals fly in the face of political realities.  These same realities indicate that if the Israeli electorate does not realize that very soon, the likelihood of the state's survival in its current institutional form will narrow and disappear within a generation.  If I were a Palestinian, I would be organizing a drive mobilizing residents of the territories to apply for Israeli citizenship en masse to force the issue.

This response addresses your other recent comment below.  I must say that your invocations of "political reality" and the attendant implications that I am being unrealistic do not sit well with me.  In fact, I think these invocations are part of the problem.  Political zionists face obsolecence because of a refusal to face the very political realities I address here.  These are the political realities that led Rabin and Peres to wake up from the autonomy delusions and head to Oslo, and then Sharon and Olmert to found Kadima.  But they all proved either cowardly or corrupt or incompetent (or dead, in Rabin's case).  Israel must do more at this juncture because it can and it's in its own interest to do so.  It doesn't mean that it will.  But it must if it wants to survive.

What other way do you see forward?

by Strummerson 2009-05-04 11:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

i did not say that you were being unrealistic.  i said putting the settlements at number 1 is unrealistic.  and i do agree with you in principle in most of what you have written so i am unsure as to (your suggestion?) that i am refusing to address political realities.

as to your question, i think currently there is no way forward.  without a more stable and reasonable israeli government and an empowered partner to make peace with (abbas), obama has no one to reconcile.

as we discussed in the past, i do think that the israeli parliamentary system is v. broken and has opened up the opportunity for a ruling government that is inane, embarrassing and unreflective of the israeli majority to represent its populace.  until the stage is set for a more fruitful engagement this needs to be addressed.

by canadian gal 2009-05-04 11:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

The problem in saying that there is currently no way forward is that things are moving forward, just not any place Israel wants to go.  I think it's the job of all activists who want a peaceful resolution to hammer away on just that point.  The US and EU should also be frank about this, no matter who is in charge in Israel or the PA.  The occupation is simply not indefinitely sustainable.  That is the central salient fact.  The US should be clear it will not continue to finance it, particularly as it is not in American political and economic interests to do so.  Israel's connections with the EU and its first world markets are also increasingly at risk.  The argument must be made with increasing volume in terms of questions of security and sustainability.  Waiting for electoral reform or a new coalition is not an option.

Here's Bradley Burston's editorial about Oren:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1082 944.html

by Strummerson 2009-05-04 11:54AM | 0 recs
im shocked.

if you think that "the problem in saying that there is currently no way forward is that things are moving forward, just not any place Israel wants to go" is particularly helpful or true well then i guess i have no response to that.

i believe strongly that "electoral reform" is as much an impediment to peace as anything else as it weakens israeli political leadership thus making the political will for peace extremely difficult. netanyahu and lieberman no more represent its populace than harper represents canada's.

im also not sure who you are arguing with here.  ive told you i agree with you that the occupation must end.  but if you think that the current coalition will do anything other than be an epic failure before a new election, i disagree.

by canadian gal 2009-05-04 12:33PM | 0 recs
Re: im shocked.

I'm saying that reality is not static.  Settlement expansion continues apace and is accompanied by acts of repression that are contributing to more and more resentment.  Many believe that partition into two states has already been rendered impossible.  In the case that this is not already true, it continues to move in that direction.  Those are the political realities I am hammering away at, because Israel and its supporters (which I still am in some form) need to wake up.  The disagreement between us has to do with the question of waiting for responsible leadership on both sides.  It may be necessary, but it's not a luxury we have.  What happens if the two state solution passes its sell by date?

by Strummerson 2009-05-04 12:44PM | 0 recs
Re: im shocked.

It's a case of be careful what you wish for. The Israeli right wants a greater Israel that includes everything west of the Jordan. They want to make a Palestinian state impossible by carving up the West bank with Jewish settlements.

Well they may have their wish but they might not like the consequences. The 2 state solution becomes an impossible dream and instead you get a greater Israel where the majority of the population is Arab. How does the Zionist project survive a democratic state where Jews are the minority?

by hankg 2009-05-06 05:28AM | 0 recs
Re: im shocked.

Couldn't agree more.  My point exactly.  It doesn't and shouldn't.

The argument should not be "two states or permanent apartheid."  That's wrong and strategically flawed.  It's "two states or the end of political zionism."

by Strummerson 2009-05-06 05:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

The PLO has embraced the two state solution, as has the Arab League.  End the occupation in exchange for normalization with all states and regional integration.  If we move forward on that, HAMAS may continue to be a violent obstructor, and Iran's sponsorship almost guarantees that.  But then instead of Israel vs. HAMAS, we'll have Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq against Iran, Hizbullah, HAMAS, and Egypt's Islamicists with Syria and the morass that is Lebanon as wild cards.  I think agreement with Syria will also become reachable, based on the recent Seymour Hersh piece in the New Yorker.  That may help stabilize Lebanon and marginalize Hizbullah.  It's not an end game, but a much preferable alignment.  Including HAMAS as a participant in the initial stages of that re-aligning process is well worth dealing with those who want me dead.  It's the only way I see to contain and defuse them.

by Strummerson 2009-05-04 08:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

Said it before: supporters of Hamas comprise only 20% of the Palestinian population, a small minority. Stalling peace talks because a small minority disagrees with them is rediculous, but it is precisely the reason that Hamas is one of Israel's red herrings to avoid peace negotiations to attain two states.

Just happy that the Obama administration is not falling for it.

by MainStreet 2009-05-04 09:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

Said it before, HAMAS wields more power than that 20% number indicates.  It's dishonestly reductive to wave it around as if it tells the whole story.  But engaging with HAMAS, despite the ugliness of their theocratic, misogynist, anti-Semitic ideology is the only way to defeat them.  End the occupation to marginalize HAMAS and make life better for all involved.

by Strummerson 2009-05-04 09:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

what you're saying sounds great on paper - but how could it ever realistically work?  i mean, who would israel be negotiating and hammering out logistics with?

your suggested plan omits one key problem (which is my main point) - and that is, how do you - left or right israeli government - create political will in the population to engage hamas?

by canadian gal 2009-05-04 09:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

Abbas and his FATAH people will be the chief negotiators.  HAMAS will demand a seat at the table.  I simply suggest that their presence not be exploited to scuttle negotiations.  But the parameters of the two state solution have been on the table since the late '80s.  If their implementation is not acknowledged as the immediate goal, then nothing is going to produce agreement anyway.

But then we must raise awareness that this too constitutes a choice.  Formalized apartheid is not sustainable, morally, politically, or economically.  Israel wants into the EU and wants to continue US sponsorship.  Neither of these will be possible without either a two state solution that would preserve political zionism, a bi-national confederation of Jewish and Palestinian states, or a single state democracy.  Anything else is a delusion.

Check this EU sponsored study group's report:

http://www.palestinestrategygroup.ps/

None of the dynamics they discuss will change.  Political will in the Israeli electorate can only be created by leaders and activists who publicize them.

by Strummerson 2009-05-04 09:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

but in fact - you are applying a double standard in this.  

Political will in the Israeli electorate can only be created by leaders and activists who publicize them.

not that you are wrong - but why then is this not reversed with regard to hamas?  as to the link you provided - i got through the first paragraph and read enough.

we can go around and around and around it will not change the facts are what they are. until both the israelis and palestinians are as hank says above, are held to the same standards - i suspect that nothing will change.

here are, in my opinion, the main problems right now (in no particular order):

1. hamas & its dogma as a democratically elected govt

  1. likud and its coalition rancour
  2. the israeli political system and representation
  3. continued building of settlements
  4. lack of proper palestinian leadership structure
  5. political will
  6. lack of third-party neutrality
  7. corruption and manipulation of both countries leaders on this issue.

there's more of course - but these eight stand as major roadblocks to any change in the short-term.  as to the continued drum-beating of US aid to israel on progressive blogs, anyone that is serious about this issue knows that US aid to israel is as strategic to its own interests as anything else.  and speaking seriously and honestly - short of some seriously catastrophic event, is not going to waver. so to keep bringing it up seems like a perpetual distraction.

by canadian gal 2009-05-04 10:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

Look CG, even Likud supporters have given up Hamas and are moving on to Iran.

Why are they giving up Hamas? Because they are proving Hamas correct: Israel has no intention of establishing a Palestinian state and it is now open concerning the issue.

So Hamas it seems was wise in not recognizing Israel, falling for the old routine that got Arafat and Abbas in trouble, and I seriously doubt that it will until there is a Palestinian state. The only think you can say about Likud is that at least, unlike Labor and Kadima, it is honest and admits to the colonialism and its purpose.

by MainStreet 2009-05-04 10:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

It's not about double standards or abstract notions of fairness.  Israel has much more power and control.  It's political institutions, press, material security and civil society is more stable than that of the Palestinians.  Hence it has more latitude and ability to act.  Abbas is still the Re'is of the PA.  Anything that Israel does that appears as manifest progress toward Palestinian statehood strengthens his support and weakens HAMAS.

I don't know what you mean about the PSSG link.  It's goal is two states.  One of its members, Jibril Rajoub, has been an early and staunch supporter of peace with Israel.  It simply articulates the Palestinian ability to frustrate Likud's 'autonomy' games and delusions.  It's either two states or one, which might be federal or unitary.  It claims that two is better for Israelis.  I'm less convinced.  But it has more to offer than just the first paragraph.

But Israel has the greater ability to change the dynamic at present.  It must, therefore, take the initiative in doing so.  Unfortunately, Bibi's settler coalition is committed to maintaining the current trajectory, which will not benefit political zionism.

by Strummerson 2009-05-04 10:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

It's not about double standards or abstract notions of fairness.

oh - but it is. it shouldn't be since this is the path to nothing but debate, but the total and utter lack of anything resembling a roadmap in the past 9 years proves otherwise.

look - i agree, netanyahu and his coalition of goons are the last people that should be representing israel right now, but the same goes for hamas.

as to power and control, because israeli society has infrastructure that the palestinians do not does not make it have more control.  in fact - i would think that it has less control since its has no specific body to engage legally.

by canadian gal 2009-05-04 10:56AM | 0 recs
Yeah right

and maybe jesus will come back on a unicorn.  This Hamas boogeyman bullshit is such a transparent pretext.

by JJE 2009-05-04 10:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

Hamas this, Hamas that, as if Hamas were any different from the French resistance during WWII. Did you think that these French militants were talking about Germany's right to exist?

Take your red herring and..... It does little more than attempt to justify Israel's 40 year long occupation of the Palestinian people, a deprivation of freedom and self-determination, and the rationalization of the colonization of their lands. What the hell does Hamas have to do with Israel's colonialism of Palestinian lands? Nothing whatsoever. And it goes on and on. And that's why they continue to fight.

What do you expect people to do in this situation? I find your Hamas blurb nothing more than a justification of the occupation and colonization and even the killing of Palestinians who protest them. Anything to say about the Gaza Massacre?

by MainStreet 2009-05-04 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

"...as if Hamas were any different from the French resistance during WWII."

Noted.  You really don't give a hoot about credibility, do you?

by Strummerson 2009-05-04 08:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

Credibility?

Are you now claiming that the Palestinian territories, or as the UN refers to them, the OPT or the Occupied Palestinian Territories, are not occupied? And are you claiming, contrary to B'Tselem statistics, that Israeli forces don't kill 5-600 Palestinians every year, in pursuit of the occupation?

Correction: in 2006, Israel killed 600 Palestinians, most civilians as usual, in Gaza during the Summer Rains invasion, and then of course, it killed an extra 1,400 in Gaza last December and January, mostly civilians, including over 400 children, which would add these numbers.

The Palestinians are an militarily occupied people, and have been so for 40 years, so please don't ruin your own credibility by denying it.

by MainStreet 2009-05-04 08:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Well then I'll just agree to disagree.

Nope.  I am not claiming any of these things you are picking out of the air to insinuate are my positions.  Can you find anywhere I imply any of that?

Empty accusations and more frayed credibility.

YAWN.

by Strummerson 2009-05-04 08:59AM | 0 recs
comparing Jews to Nazis

is as sickening as they come. Israel has never occupied anything. There has never been a Palestine, just a, Turkish or British colony, which came under less pressure to withdraw than Israel. Could it be because Israel is Jewish? Well we do know the Mufti of Jerusalem conspired with Hitler to kill to the Jews who were living in the British colony. Are you Arab or something, that you have such a hatred for the Jews and their right to a homeland? Israel recognizes Palestinians right to exist, so where is the reciprocation? Its more like Israel is the French Resistance, and HAMAS, whose charter calls for a new Holocaust, is Nazi Germany. Or a better comparison: Israel is Britain, and HAMAS is the British Union of Fascists, plotting to overthrow democracy and launch an anti-Semitic autocracy, and their Partner Iran, is Nazi Germany.

by Lakrosse 2009-05-04 08:54AM | 0 recs
Re: comparing Jews to Nazis

"Israel has never occupied anything," you write. Funny man.

Why won't you admit that a Palestinean life is less than human. That's what you believe, right?

So killing less-than humans is acceptable to you. Perhaps Israel and we could commence the solution to this Palestinean problem.

by MAL Contends 2009-05-04 09:09AM | 0 recs
Re: comparing Jews to Nazis

Even Arik Sharon acknowledged the occupation at the end of his life.  He should know, as he was its architect.  Denying it is as crazy s it is immoral.  As a veteran of the IDF, I assure you that the administration of the West Bank indeed functions as a military occupation.  

But, sure, the earth is flat and the sun revolves around us...

by Strummerson 2009-05-04 09:15AM | 0 recs
Re: comparing Jews to Nazis

These GIYUS talking points just don't make the grade anymore and are even an embarrassment to strong Likud supporters.

You should be reassigned somewhere else.

by MainStreet 2009-05-04 10:34AM | 0 recs
Note on GIYUS.org

GIYUS.org is a worldwide online network supporting Israeli militarism [and dedicated to sullying the memory of Rachel Corrie, among other distasteful pursuits]. It is intended to intimidate bloggers and other writers and create an impression that a strong grassroots community exists in support of Israeli atrocities and state terror.

If you ever seen a piece in MyDD and Daily Kos, for example, that cites human rights data in criticizing Israeli foreign policy--a real no-no for this group--you will see an immediate response from GIYUS.org.

GIYUS.org members' comments are welcome here to promote their point of view, but actually responding to the points made in the piece would be a welcome change.
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by MAL Contends 2009-05-04 02:40PM | 0 recs

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