Tuesday, 13 July 2010

'Israel is US offshore base in Mideast'

Tue, 13 Jul 2010 09:20:38 GMT
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

Jennifer Loewenstein, an Associate Director of Middle East Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin, believes that the US policy towards Israel has not changed during Obama's term in office.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his recent meeting with US President Barack Obama shows their alliance hasn't frayed. He describes his visit to Washington as positive and productive.

The Israeli premier says Obama's policy toward Israel is the same as his predecessors.

Loewenstein believes that Obama is following the lead of previous US leaders in supporting Tel Aviv to make it an offshore US base in the Middle East.

The Wisconsin University professor stresses that bringing peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has never been the US's agenda.

The following is a transcript of Press TV's interview with Jennifer Loewenstein:

Press TV: The basic support that the US provided Israel, including military aid and nuclear cooperation, has increased during Obama's term in office. How much of a perception was there to begin with regarding the US-Israeli alliance faltering?

Jennifer Loewenstein: Interestingly, there was a fairly widespread perception that there was a growing goal between the American government and the Israeli government and the American-Israeli policies and as we are seeing Netanyahu is basically correct.

The Obama administration is not straying significantly from the policies of his predecessors and it is surprising to me that there has been so much news to the contrary.

Press TV: As analysts have put it, Obama's tactical public rapprochement with Netanyahu comes from his realization that the public path he has followed with regards to Israel has not worked. What does this spell out for the US commitment to the peace process?

Jennifer Loewenstein: I do not think there is a peace process. I do not think there has been a peace process for some 43 years. I think one of the most frustrating aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in this country is that, so much of it is contrived by the media and by politicians and pundits.

If you actually trace American and Israeli historical records on peace in the Middle East, what you will find is that there is a history of rejectionism emanating from discussions about the way to move forward for a Palestinian state, for example, and that the key point is in rejecting an all-inclusive and comprehensive settlement that has been all along the United Sates and Israel.

Israel has no intention of creating a viable single-unit Palestinian state. It has never had any serious intention of creating such a state and the United Sates has supported this all along. If it had not been supporting Israel, it would not have had a record of foreign and economic aid to Israel that tops any other country in the world.

The United States essentially supports Israeli policies and it does so because Israel functions as a kind of forward guard or an offshore US military base in the Middle East that is stable and reliable and that is where further United States foreign policy goes.

Press TV: Netanyahu walks away with full support from the US administration, congress and senate. At the same time, Israel has approved and issued permits for more settlement construction, Gaza still remains under lockdown and it (Israel) continues to build an illegal separation barrier, etc. With such unequivocal backing from the US, how does this effect Israel's position in any negotiations with the Palestinians in the future?

Jennifer Loewenstein: It does not really affect them in terms of there being any change. What we are going to see is simply more of the same and in other words, (there is) no progress whatsoever. If there is ever a Palestinian state created it will be a Palestinian state only in word. I would put it in quotation marks: “ We will never see a viable Palestinian state created and the United States and Israel will work arm-in-arm and hand-in-hand together in furthering US hegemony in the Middle East and beyond in central Asia and their policies all coincide with what Israel's long-term policy goals are which is regional domination.”

Basically, I do not see Obama as having backed down to Netanyahu as many other people have seen it. I think that may have been some motto of public relations ever to portray this. What I do see is that Obama is trying to look tough on the one hand, but on the other hand carry forward the exact same policy positions that had been held by Bush, Clinton, Bush the first, Ragan, Carter and before them. It is the same policy and there has not been any significant change.

Press TV: Looking at the facts on the ground, and not just political rhetoric, how much of a "change" has Obama brought to the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is the most pressing concern of the Middle East and the entire world at present?

Jennifer Loewenstein: He has worsened it significantly. Because first of all there was a lot of hype in the media about a settlement freeze and paper after paper and national papers such as the New York Times, Washington Post started reporting stories on how President Obama is trying to insist upon a settlement freeze. This becomes the talk of the day on this particular issue.

A Settlement freeze is nothing. Freeze on the settlements in the West Bank will make absolutely no difference in the status quo of what has been going on in Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If we want to make progress in this area, there has to be a dismantling of the settlements and not a freeze on construction. The settlements are expanding everyday. The Israelis have found plenty of loopholes and ways around certain alleged guidelines that the Americans established and are not that concerned about.

Settlement construction increased by 50 percent after the Oslo Cord. After the big peace accord signed in 1993 by Yaser Arafat, Isaac Robin and Bill Clinton in which people from all three groups believed that the end of this awful conflict was in sight. In fact, it got worse from that time. Settlements in the region doubled. Aid to the region increased. The economic situation in the territories worsened because of policies of closure and curfew. So fewer and fewer Gazans and fewer and fewer people from the West Bank were able to count on regular employment in Israel and they used to be Israel's cheap labor. Now Israel has to rely on guest workers to do the works of the Palestinians because Palestinians are no longer allowed to work in Israel. The Gazans are certainly not there. A tiny number of people from the West Bank are. Most West-Bank Palestinians who work for Israel, ironically, work for construction of the settlements and that is a serious problem, when we understand that there is the settlements that maintains the occupation.


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