Tag Archives: settlements

US Tells Netanyahu To Speak Honestly On Sunday

Even before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened his mouth on Sunday for his expected speech on the future of Israel and Palestinian leaders, the Obama administration said what he intends to say is not sufficient in terms of moving the Middle East towards peace. Netanyahu supposedly told envoy George Mitchell that he would not be able to express the ideas desired by Obama about moving quickly to work with Palestinians about establishing an independent state. He refuses to halt further housing on the West Bank and he refuses to accept the concept of an independent Palestine. Netanyahu is caught in the trap of having created a government in which right wing fanatics hold important positions. If he accepts the American position it might lead to the collapse of his government.

There are moments in history when a leader has to speak the truth to his nation. There are moments in history when a leader has to be prepared to lose power if the end result is saving his nation from disaster. This is one of those moments for Benjamin Netanyahu.

No Settlement On Settlements In Israel

The focus on most observers this week is on attempts by President Obama to persuade Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree on the concept of a two state solution to the dispute with Palestinians. Israel leader Ariel Sharon worked out an agreement with George Bush under which the United States would ignore Israel accelerated construction of housing in major West Bank settlements, particularly around Jerusalem. President Obama is now trapped in a dilemma– is the cost of getting Netanyahu to the table for serious discussions about an independent Palestinian state, allowing Israel to maintain its settlements on the West Bank? Of course, no Palestinian government could reach an agreement that allowed the extent of Israel settlements to remain in place.

Most probably any final agreement will have to allow some residue of settlements although Palestinians will demand their share of Jerusalem and some acceptance of return of refugees. One can only wonder if Barack Obama knows what he has gotten into by becoming president and attempting to negotiate the swirling waters of the Middle East.

Israel Blames Hamas For Gaza Troubles

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, called on world leaders to take action against Hamas for creating turmoil in Gaza. “As we speak, Israel citizens are being attacked by Hamas. Israel can not stand idly by while its citizens are being attacked. When Israel is attacked, it must respond. No nation asks Israel to stand idly by while its citizens are attacked, but Livni ignores attacks by Israel West Bank settlers on Palestinians who are trying to harvest their crops or restrictions which economically damage the ability of Palestinians to carry out their work. David Miliband, foreign secretary, called on both sides to seek peace in Gaza but also asked Israel to cease expanding West Bank settlements.

Many European nations want pressure to be exerted on West Bank settlements in order to remove a barrier to peace in the Middle East. In a speech earlier this month, Miliband expressed his concerns: “Settlement activity is illegal, it also makes a Palestinian state more difficult to achieve.”

Israel Newspaper Blasts West Bank Settlements

The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported more than one-third of the 122 West Bank settlements were built on land confiscated from private Palestinian owners on security grounds, including some ereced after the Israel Supreme Court outlawed such seizures thee decades ago. Settlement critics maintain international law only allows seizure of occupied territory to meet military needs. In 1979, the Supreme Court declared illegal the proces of seizing private property on grounds of military security and then turning the land over to settlers.

Haaretz maintains the data “proves that systematic land theft for the purpose of establishing settlements was carried out via a fictitious and completely illegal use of the term military necessity.” The Haaretz article confirms claims by Peace Now that about one-third of the land on which settlements stand was seized from private Palestinian owners. The Israel Defense Ministry refuses to release such information on ground it might “damage the state’s security.” In other words, the Defense Ministry doesn’t want the world to know how they violated their own and international law.

The people of Israel can be proud one of their own newspapers revealed the story of land seizure. It proves once again that Israel is a democratic society. Unfortunately, many democratic societies have leaders who are guilty of undemocratic actions.

Perhaps, as part of a peace settlement with Palestinians, the one-third of land seized can be returned to Palestinians and they should be allowed to obtain housing that sits on their own land.

End Settlement Expansion Declares President Abbas

Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas told a donors conference that Israel must make significant changes in West Bank settlements if there is to be a chance for peace. “I’ll be eager to implement all our commitments,” he claimed,”under the road map and I expect the Israel side to do the same comprehensively, and without excuses by them. I expect them to stop all settlement activities without exception.” The strong words reflected the increasing feeling among Palestinian authorities that something must be done to have specific accomplishments as soon as possible. Many economists believe the Palestinian economy needs an end to restrictions in order to get farm production back to prior levels and to ensure that people are working, not being idle. Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livnia emphasized to the group that creation of a “Palestinian state is in Israel’s interest.”

The continued economic depression among Palestinians does not benefit either side in the conflict. Idleness only encourages people to spend their time listening to voices of discord. A healthy and vibrant Palestinian economy only stands to benefit the chances for peace. Donors have promised over a billion dollars of aid including over $500 million from the United States.

Hope For Success At Israel-Arab Meeting

A report in Al-Ahram indicates there is a possibility for success at the upcoming meeting between Israel and Arab nations. America has backed down and agreed to allow Syria’s participation. Heshem Youssef, of the Arab League believes there can be success if prior to the meeting both sides have agreed upon an agenda. He feels if Israel would announce a moratorium on further West Bank settlements, cease any additions to the Wall, lift the siege on Gaza, and release some political prisoners it would create a positive climate for success.

The demands of the Arab League are fairly mild, particularly since there is no reference to the refugee question which previously has been a hindrance in negotiations. If Israel, in return, requested an end to rocket attacks from Gaza and control over suicide bombers, the potential for a successful resolution of the conflict would be possible. To resolve conflicts, all sides must believe at least some of their demands are being met. Hopefully, if the Palestinian issues could be resolved, it would provide the basis for Syria and Israel to resolve the Golan Heights issue and ensure Arab forces would control Hizbullah in Lebanon.