A Bribe Too Good to Refuse
When all else fails, offer money, or in this case weapons for peace (a clear oxymoron) via for a three month settlement construction moratorium in name only. In fact, new building is unimpeded, Obama’s offer a facade to hide reality on the ground. More on the deal below.
Last December, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the moratorium, saying he hoped it would launch meaningful peace talks. They’re entirely fraudulent ones, a grand illusion even Netanyahu once called "a waste of time."
Decades of Israeli/Palestinian/US relations prove nothing from Washington or Tel Aviv can be trusted, their word never their bond.
On November 13, PeaceNow.org said since late October, the end Netanyahu’s moratorium, "settlers (began) build(ing) 1,629 housing units, and even (dug) foundations for 1,116 of them. (Work began) in 63 settlements, 46 of them east of the Separation (Wall) and 17 on (its) western side."
Moreover, throughout 2009, "according to the Israeli CBS (Central Bureau of Statistics) data," work began on 1,888 units. It continued virtually unabated during the moratorium, and goes on steadily every day.
In addition, whatever Washington/Tel Aviv deal is stuck, East Jerusalem is off the table, a November 13 AFP report saying "Israel plans to (sell) 3,000 new Jewish homes in Jerusalem next year, including in Arab areas," according to a municipality official.
On November 9, Netanyahu’s office, in fact, said:
"Jerusalem isn’t a settlement – Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Israel has never put any sort of limits on construction in Jerusalem, where some 800,000 people reside, and didn’t do so during the 10-month settlement ‘freeze’ in the West Bank either….Israel does not see any connection between the peace process and the building and planning policy in Jerusalem, which hasn’t changed for 40 years. Every Israeli government in the past 40 years has built in all parts of the city."
East Jerusalem is also the Palestinian capital, a right no PA leader will relinquish. Moreover, honest observers see no connection between the "peace process" and peace. Negotiations have been still born from inception, a charade assuring no peace because neither Washington nor Israel will tolerate it. It’s one of many unspoken dirty secrets, explaining why conflict and repressive occupation have raged unabated for decades.
Obama’s Offer – F-35s for Peace
In fact, 20 F-35s (America’s most advanced fighter jet) will be added to an existing Israeli order under a $2.75 billion contract. On November 10, Haaretz’s Amos Harel called a deal too good to refuse, along with:
"other gifts the US administration is willing to offer to Israel in exchange for three months of construction freeze in the settlements…."
It makes Harel think "someone has gone mad." Nonetheless, a "political and ideological headache for Netanyahu" may be too enticing to turn down. He suspects "much broader and substantive issues" are involved, including on the Iranian question.
According to an unnamed senior Israeli defense source, "The Americans have put forth an excellent proposal," a gift. "It will be a big mistake not to take it….If we do not implement this deal, we will suffer in terms of defense." Israeli weapons, in fact, are for offense, not defense. No nation anywhere threatens it. Claiming so is duplicitous fear-mongering, the last refuge of belligerents.
Reportedly, Israel also took delivery of the first batch of 1,000 new US 250-pound GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs (SDBs), F-15s, F-16s, and F-35s able to carry them. They’re extremely powerful, able to penetrate eight feet of concrete, an ideal weapon against underground targets.
Waiting for Netanyahu
On November 10, Haaretz headlined, " Netanyahu awaiting written offer from Obama on settlement freeze," saying:
Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said "We still do not have a final proposal in writing that can be discussed in depth." Netanyahu’s communications advisor, Nir Nefetz, said he and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reached "understandings on the matter," but formulating a written proposal will take time.
On November 14, New York Times writers Ethan Bronner and Mark Landler headlined, "A 90-Day Bet on Mideast Talks," saying:
"The vote by Mr. Netanyahu’s cabinet on (Obama’s) proposal is expected to be very close but (it’s) likely to pass by at least one vote, analysts said. Likewise, while the Palestinians have objected partly because the proposed construction freeze does not include East Jerusalem which they want as the capital of their future state, that is not considered an issue likely to dissuade them from rejoining the talks."
New York Times and other major media writers are clueless on East Jerusalem. Palestinians don’t want it as their future capital. It’s non-negotiably theirs now, what neither The Times or other Western media will acknowledge, showing one-sided support for Israel.
A Final Comment
Another illusory construction halt is bad enough, especially by avoiding the real issue – an unconditional ban on new building as a starting point for negotiations. Worse still is the sham peace process when conflict rages daily. Numerous reports explain why.
On November 13, Israeli forces raided Bil’in village for the fifth time almost in as many days, invading homes late at night, randomly shooting, using concussion grenades, reigning terror on peaceful civilians, a process repeated regularly throughout the Territories.
On November 14, B’Tselem said Israel’s Separation Wall is strangling al-Walajah village in southwest Jerusalem, half of it stolen for a settlement. The Wall, in fact, surrounds the village, causing enormous damage, and isolating it from the city and West Bank, an act of war by other means.
Another report said Saffa Palestinians are prohibited from farming. Five international activists were arrested trying to escort residents to their land, accused of entering a closed military zone. One was beaten and injured. Israel has earmarked Saffa for annexation, another belligerent act.
Two other reports said extremist settlers destroyed trees in Surif and burned olive trees near Nablus. A third headlined, "Military Repression of Non-Violent Demonstration in Nabi Salih as the Army Lays Siege to the Village," saying:
Israeli soldiers closed all roads and "negligently used dangerous high-velocity tear-gas projectiles," able to cause serious injuries or death. Similar attacks occur regularly throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem as well as frequent Gaza incursions by land against civilians, including farmers; sea against fishermen; and air against neighborhoods, communities, and other non-military targets.
A This Week in Silwan headline reported "clashes, raids, arrests, and demolition orders," its residents regularly attacked. Another cited Israeli troops raiding and looting a house and commercial property belonging to a Palestinian resident. One more reported Israeli artillery and navy randomly shelling parts of Gaza and raiding Hebron homes and a mosque, arresting three. Eleven others were arrested in Jenin, Nablus, Bethlehem, and Hebron raids.
Assaults, incursions, air attacks, home invasions, demolitions, land seizures, targeted killings, crop destruction, arrests, torture, and other abuses happen regularly, the daily reality putting a lie to the sham peace talks, whether or not they resume.
* Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon.