Monday, June 08, 2009

"Assessing the Role of US Foreign Policy, Israeli Security, & Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories"part-4

Transcribed by Scott Senn

"Assessing the Role of US Foreign Policy, Israeli Security, & Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories"part-4

7 April 2009 Madison, WI

Part 4

So, for example, Prime Minister Olmert of Israel came to the United States in May 2006 and gave an address to a joint session of Congress, where he received a rousing ovation for saying that the historic rights of the Jewish people to the land of Israel are beyond question. Huge applause. What did he mean by "the land of Israel"? Well, you know, traditonally that's kept pretty vague. But his background is in the Likud party which is now considered the more "moderate" element of the governing coalition. And they have a charter. Their charter calls for Israel to control both sides of the Jordan [River]. In other words, everything in the Palestinian mandate and the state of Jordan. And they have recently somewhat moderated that position: In 1999 they restated their charter, and it calls for Israel to dominate – rule everything from the Jordan to the sea. That's the historic "land of Israel". And then it says, everything that "dominates the Jordan Valley". That's pretty vague. I mean, of course it includes everything on the Palestinian side; but it could be interpreted – and they may mean it – as whatever is of value on the other side. But anyway, at the very least, the most sympathetic reading, [is] everything from the Jordan to the sea: all of Palestine. And there Israel has the "right" to settle anywhere, because it's "the land of Israel"; you know, "God said so; it's the land of Israel; we can settle anywhere." And in that territory there cannot be any Palestinian self-determination. Okay, that's the official charter from 1999 of the "moderate" element of the ruling coalition. (You know, everybody talks about the Hamas charter, which nobody has paid the slightest attention to except in propaganda. But try to find a reference to the 1999 charter of the "moderate" element of the ruling coalition.) Well, that's the plan. And in the May 2006, Olmert spelled it out. The plan is what he called "convergence": that means Israel takes over everything within the so-called Separation Wall – actually, an annexation wall. That includes more than half of the water supplies of the region and a good part of the arable land. It takes over the Jordan Valley; that's about a third of Palestine. That traps what's left. And it takes over salients that run through the remaining area: one to the east of Jerusalem, going through the town of Ma'ale Adumim which was settled and colonized and built during the Clinton years in order to bisect the West Bank, effectively. And then, a couple of other salients farther north which break up what's left. And then, you know, random checkpoints all over the place, to make life impossible for whoever remains and to lead to the kinds of medical conditions that you can read about.

Well, he gave up that position. And, again, rousing applause. He gave up that position as too moderate a year later and moved to what you might call "convergence plus", fundamentally the same idea, but more extensive. And, again, those are not words. They are being implemented constantly. So last year, 2008, there was a sixty percent increase in housing starts in the areas that the US and Israel intend for Israel to annex. That compares with housing starts in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, inside Israel, where housing starts dropped considerably. And a vast increase is planned. The current plans are to double settlers in the Occupied Territories. That's according to an assessment by Peace Now, which monitors settlement. You can read it in the US press a little while ago. So that's happeneing. And it happens every day, you know.

Right now, in fact, there's an Israeli effort to remove Palestinians from a traditional – an old Palestinian area right in the center of East Jerusalem, throw them out, replace them by Jewish settlers – religious Jewish settlers. ([There's] all kind of pretexts which aren't worth talking about.) There was a very sharp condemnation of that by the European Union, because, again, that almost eliminates the possibility – or at least makes it much harder to achieve anything like a meaningful settlment. And there was also an admonition by Hillary Clinton: she said it was "unhelpful". The Israeli leadership, no doubt, quaked in their boots when they got this, you know, thirty lashes from a piece of macaroni or something like that. And that's pretty typical. I mean, the US regularly says, "It's unhelpful to do what we're paying you to do and what we're giving you the military, and economic, and ideological support to do." Well, that continues with no change.

Incidentally, all of this is in violation of Security Council orders, going back to December 1968, which at that time the US supported, because – remember – then the US was part of the world. So it voted for those resolutions which barred any Israeli actions in Jerusalem. But that's "past history". And of course it's against international law. And there's never been the slightest doubt about that. In 1967, the Israeli government was informed by its highest legal authorities: the very distinguished international lawyer Theodor Meron (its main legal advisor), and the Justice Minister. They were advised that any movement of population into the Occupied Territories is in gross violation of the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law: the Geneva Conventions. And that was understood. Moshe Dayan, who was the Defense Minister and in charge of the Occupied Territories, agreed that it was illegal. But he said there's nothing new in that. "The situation today" – he described it sort of poetically: he said, "the situation today resembles the complex relationship between a Bedouin man and a girl he kidnaps against her will…." He said, "You Palestinians, as a nation, don't want us today, but we'll change your attitude by forcing our presence on you." You will "live like dogs, and whoever will leave, will leave," while we take what we want. So, okay, it's illegal; but that's the way the world works: the powerful do what they want. The World Court ruled on this a couple of years ago and – again, unanimously, including the US justice – declared that any transfer – that the Geneva Conventions apply to the Occupied Territories – any transfer of population is illegal, all settlements are illegal. Well, that's international law; but international law has no enforcement mechanism. If the powerful want to disregard it, they disregard it. It's not the only case. In fact, the US is a leader in disregarding international law when it doesn't like it. And as long as the population of the United States accepts that, you know, nothing's going to stop it.

continuing to part 5


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