Monday, January 14, 2008

The Press Conference at the United Nations June, 2006

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The Press Conference at the United Nations June, 2006 (continued)

On Hamas, Israel-Palestine

Q: You spoke about terror. There is really terror everywhere at this moment especially in the Middle East. Do you think Hamas finally will survive? And the other question is that in the Middle East, one country threatens the other one by nuclear and other things. And at this moment, I wonder if you can tell us, the Quartet, that our act supposed to do something, is dead or what? The threat that you spoke about with the countries in the Middle East one after the other, and if the Quartet actually could do anything, is going to do anything finally, or just dead?

NC: Well, as far as Hamas is concerned, I mean my own feeling is that its policies, its announced policies are completely unacceptable. However, we should be honest enough to recognize that Hamas’ policies are more acceptable than those of the United States and Israel. We should be honest enough to recognize that.

So, just consider the three demands that are made on Hamas.

One demand is that they recognize Israel. Did the US and Israel recognize Palestine? No, of course not. In fact, they’ve completely refused for 30 years to respond to an overwhelming international consensus backed by the PLO, the Palestinian National Committee for two state settlement. They’ve rejected it. So they’re more extreme than Hamas.

The second demand is that they renounce violence. Do the US and Israel renounce violence? No. Read the newspapers. Of course they carry out violence as freely, as much as they like.

The third demand is that Hamas live up to international obligations. OK, the crucial one is the so-called Saudi Plan, the Arab League decision in 2002, to establish a two-state settlement with full normalization on the international border. The demand on Hamas, they accept that. In fact, referendum that’s coming along, it’s just a repetition of that, if it comes along. Did the US and Israel accept it? No! They flatly reject it.

And this is not just a rhetoric, they rejected in acts, which is a lot more important than rhetoric. The current annexation program --in a propaganda system here described as the “withdraw program”-- the current annexation program is a radical violation of those international agreements. Now, that one didn’t happen to have the force of law with the Arab League. But similar proposals have been coming to the Security Council and the General Assembly since 1976.

1976 is the first time when the resolution came to the Security Council, January 1976 initiated by Syria, backed by the other major Arab states, calling for two-state settlement on the international border incorporating the wording of UN 242 but adding a Palestinian state. Well, that’s not a Security Council resolution because the US vetoed it. OK? The US vetoed another one in 1980, a similar one. It’s been blocking General Assembly resolutions to the same effect ever since. Not only—there’s almost no break in this—it’s not only votes in rhetoric, again it’s also actions.

So, the settlement programs are all illegal. As I said, the World Court unanimously agreed they are in violation of international law and that any portion of separation wall that is built to defend this settlement is “ipso facto” illegal in the words of the US justice. But they’re developing that and that’s very serious. Take a look at the map of what they’re imposing, it’s very serious.

So, can the Quartet do anything? You know, if the US agrees. It’s like the UN. The Quartet can’t do anything unless the US agrees. What the US is now agreeing to is the Israeli annexation of the valuable parts of the territories, water resources, breaking them up and so on.

In fact Bush is the first president who officially authorized it. I mean it was going on anyway but it came official, official authorization under Bush. So, yes, as long as that proceeds, they can’t do anything.

Going back to Hamas, as I say I don’ t like their positions, but they’re more forthcoming and moderate than those of the United States and Israel. And it goes on.
Hamas has called for truce, in fact has been living up to a truce for the last year. And they’re calling, their position is calling for a long-term truce maybe an indefinite truce on the international border, which happens to be in accord with the overwhelming international consensus since 1976 for a political settlement on the international border with maybe minor and mutual modifications, which was the official US position until it departed from the rest of the world on this.

They’ve been calling for a truce on that border and once a truce is established, for further negotiations for permanent settlement. OK, it’s not an unreasonable position. I mean they continue to claim that the Palestinians have a historical right to the entire former Palestine. But so did Ehud Olmert. He says the Jews have a historic right to the entire land of Palestine and nothing can ever cause as to abandon that right. His foreign minister Tzipi Livni, comes from a sector of Israeli politics, far as the Likud as background. As far as I know, they have never abandoned their official position that Israel has the right to the both sides of the Jordan meaning two former Palestine and Jordan. Maybe they’ve abandoned but I’ve never seen it. So, if that is what they want to say, fine.

I think it would be plausible for Mexicans to say that they’re not abandoning their right to the roughly half of Mexico that was conquered by the United States in the US-Mexican War. Why should they abandon their right? Of course they’re not going to implement it, but if they want it to be part of their historical right, OK, say it. So, that part, I don’t think is very interesting.

The actual programs of Hamas, I think has a lot to object to, but the programs of the United States and Israel are much worse and furthermore they’re being implemented. And finally those are the ones we can do something about. I can’t do anything about what Hamas decides. I can do a lot or we should do a lot about what the major countries decide. So, fine, let’s try to shift US-Israeli policy towards the long-standing international consensus repeated in the Arab League proposals of 2002 accepted by the Palestinians back in December 1988 formally and continued right till today.

And there are serious proposals right on the table which are not perfect but a basis for settlement. The most well-known is the Geneva accord released in Geneva in December 2002. This was an informal but quite high level agreement between the Palestinian and Israeli negotiators with a detailed plan for how to reach a settlement based on the international border with mutual modifications. Not an unreasonable plan. A lot of support in both Israel and Palestine. Israel rejected it. The US simply dismissed it. And since the US dismissed it,--you take a look at US press coverage, they just ridiculed it. So Elaine Sciolino had a report in the New York Times about it, in which she… something like, these unelected people made a derisory report or something like that. Yeah, the reason is because the US dismissed it. Well, if the US dismisses it, nothing is going to happen.

Actually going back to the Road Map, if you take a look, try Google you’ll find it quickly. The Israeli government accepted the Road Map with 14 reservations. Take a look at the 14 reservations. I mean they eviscerated it. And the US backed them on that. So, Israel never accepted the Road Map. But the US backed it so therefore they go ahead and do what you want, the press doesn’t report it. But again, those are decisions and choices that can be made right here and should be.

What will happen to Hamas in the long run, I don’t know. I mean they have a lot of popular support undoubtedly, but there’s overwhelming popular support within the Palestinian territories for something like international consensus, two-state settlement on the international border of the kind that the PLO formally accepted in December 1988.

We might remember what happened then. The people who hold the clubs dislike history. For them, history is bunk, you know, it’s antiquated, boring, let’s go on. The people beaten by the clubs generally think that history is important. And it is. And the people who want to understand the world should be with the victims on this, yes, history is important. You can understand why the powerful want to kick it in the dust bin but we shouldn’t.

So, what happened when the Palestinian National Council accepted a two-state settlement, basically the international consensus, the overwhelming international consensus, in December 1988? Well, there was a coalition government in Israel, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir, a coalition government. They came out a few months later, I think it was in May, 1989, with an official statement in which they said there can be no “additional Palestinian state” between Israel and Jordan. The word “additional” means Jordan is a “Palestinian state,” so there can be no “additional Palestinian state” between them. And the fate of the territories will be settled in accord with the guidelines of the state of Israel. That was their official response to the Palestinian acceptance of the international consensus.

What did the US do? This is the Bush No1 administration. The Bush No.1 administration reacted by accepting it completely in what’s called the Baker Plan. The State Department’s Baker Plan, James Baker Plan of December 1989, which endorsed the Israeli government proposal completely.

The only reporting of this here that I get find was that they said, the State Department said there can be, there should be free elections. There should be free elections in Palestine with most of the educated sectors in jail and the elections should take place only within, the only topic that can come up in the elections is the Israeli plan. That’s what to be free elections. So, that shows interest in democracy promotion, there was a lot of applause to the Bush administration for promoting democracy. See if you can find something else.

I mean as I wrote it at that time, now and I’ll repeat it now. It’s as if someone were to propose that there can be no additional Jewish state in a former Palestine because there already is a Jewish state, namely New York City with a Jewish mayor, a lot of rich Jews, so on and so forth. I mean when somebody were to say that, we think it’s reversion to Nazism. But when we say it, it’s very forthcoming and shows our love of democracy and so on.