Saturday, 3 July 2010

Haneyya: We will not allow the return of security chaos

[ 03/07/2010 - 08:48 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- Palestinian premier Ismail Haneyya has said that his government would never allow the return of security chaos to the Gaza Strip, adding that the execution of convicted agents and criminals came to preserve the Palestinian society.

Haneyya, addressing a tribal conciliation in Gaza on Friday, said that his government was keen on maintaining social security, noting that it managed to solve numerous complicated cases including murder.

The premier asked all families to put an end to their differences through the courts and concerned parties.

Citizens in Gaza Strip are in need of security and stability after suffering a lot from the previous state of security mess that prevailed in previous years, Haneyya underlined.

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Israel Eyes Lebanon's Offshore Gas Reserves - Energy Hegemony


By RANNIE AMIRI, CounterPunch
“We are not obliged to state the limits of our State.”
– David Ben Gurion, 14 May 1948
In all regional disputes, big or small, Israel will invariably threaten or implement violence. It is the preferred method of conflict resolution. The recent discovery of natural gas reserves in Lebanese territorial waters, and Israel’s claim to them, is no exception.

It didn’t take long for Israeli infrastructure minister Uzi Landau to raise the prospect of war. That is, if Lebanon attempts to prevent his country from exercising full control over the field despite portions apparently falling within Lebanon’s exclusive economic zone.
“We will not hesitate to use our force and strength to protect not only the rule of law but the international maritime law,” he said. It was an absurd statement, of course, in light of the utter contempt Israel held for maritime law in the attack (in international waters) on the Turkish relief flotilla.

The Tamar natural gas field, 50 miles off Israel’s northern coast, is run by a consortium of American and Israeli companies, including U.S.-based Noble Energy. The latter announced that Tamar may contain up to 8.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and a second, Leviathan, 16 trillion. The deposits in these fields, both found in the last 18 months, are more than twice the size of Great Britain’s proven reserves.

Because Tamar appears to extend into Lebanese waters, and in full recognition of Israel’s history of stealing precious water resources from its neighbors, there have been urgent calls for Lebanon to ratify an energy bill. Last week, parliament speaker Nabih Berri indicated he would swiftly work to pass draft legislation to permit offshore oil and natural gas exploration before Israel claims the zone as its own and starts drilling.
“Israel is racing to make the situation a fait accompli and was quick to present itself as an oil emirate—ignoring the fact that, according to the maps, the deposit extends into Lebanese waters. Lebanon must take immediate action to defend its financial, political, economic and sovereign rights,” Berri said.

In an October statement, Norway-based Petroleum Geo-Services confirmed Lebanese waters contain potentially valuable deposits and may prove to be an “exciting new province for oil and gas.”

Despite the pending legislation, the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri has been criticized for acting too slowly. “The Israeli enemy has started exploring for oil while Lebanon has started exploring an energy law,” quipped one Hezbollah official.

In the latest spat between the two countries still technically at war, one can see how the situation might deteriorate. Indeed, Landau’s threat was one Prime Minister Netanyahu endorsed with his silence.
For Lebanon, the stakes are enormous; potential revenue from tapping into oil and gas reserves would help finance a staggering debt accounting for nearly 150 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
Will this be the cases belli Israel has been desperately seeking since the July 2006 Lebanon war ended in a humiliating draw?

The debate over which country’s claim is most sound is not meant to be adjudicated here. What can be said, however, is that Israel’s reflexive threat to use military force to solve this—or any—disagreement with its neighbors cannot be legitimized.

Israel’s history of instigating conflict and then waging war has led to the immeasurable loss of life, land and property. If the pretext to do so again will be control of natural gas reserves shared with Lebanon, the international community must unequivocally declare this an issue to be resolved by rule of law, not act of war.

Rannie Amiri is an independent Middle East commentator. He may be reached at: rbamiri [at] yahoo [dot] com.

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Hamas: Netanyahu wants to relieve Shalit-related pressure on him

[ 03/07/2010 - 08:30 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- The Hamas Movement on Friday condemned Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu's last remarks about the prisoner swap deal as an attempt to shirk his responsibility for obstructing the deal and to ease the pressure put on him by the Israeli community.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum denied that his Movement received a new proposal on the swap deal and described Netanyahu's declared intention to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners as aimed at pleasing the Israeli public opinion.

"Hamas has no objection to the resumption of swap deal talks where they left off, but it will never give up any of its previous conditions," spokesman Barhoum emphasized.

The spokesman, however, expressed his Movement's rejection of Netanyahu's talk about releasing a list of prisoners on condition that they should not stay in their homes in the West Bank.

Earlier, another senior Hamas official, Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil, told the PIC that his Movement had no information about new offers concerning the swap deal, but it would consider any serious proposals that could lead to the resumption of indirect talks in this regard.

Netanyahu on Thursday said in a televised speech addressed to the Israeli public that he was ready to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners from his jails and described his new offer as the price he was willing to pay for the release of soldier Gilad Shalit.

"The state of Israel is willing to pay a heavy price for the release of Gilad Shalit but we are not able to say it will be any price," he added.

Netanyahu made his announcement on Shalit to reduce mounting pressure from the Israeli public demanding his government to get Shalit released.

On Friday, thousands of Israelis participated for the sixth consecutive day in a massive protest to pressure the government to bring Shalit home at any price. About 10,000 Israelis reportedly marched towards Netanya city to attend a gathering in protest of the government's inactive attitude towards the deal.

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Wow, just Wow! The American state of New Jersey, you know the state where all that corruption went on, where 44 people were arrested including a gang of Rabbis selling human organs on the black market and money laundering to the tune of 1.5 million? Yeah, THAT New Jersey has, wait for it.............elected a new mayor, and wait for it...............he's a Muslim!! And he was elected in a predominately Jewish area:
link Democrat Mohammed Hameeduddin Is First For Bergen County; Residents Mostly Agree: 'He's American, Right?'

Voters in Teaneck have chosen the first Muslim mayor in Bergen County.

And while he said his religion wasn't a factor, it's still a major mark of tolerance for a place with a huge Jewish population.
sounds good so far, let's keep going:
"He seems to be somebody who is putting Teaneck first and not necessarily religion first, looking at what's good for the community, which is what he is supposed to do," resident Shari Baran added.
Good, now let's keep going...
Teaneck has 14 synagogues and lots of stores catering to the town's large Jewish population. And now they have a new mayor, Mohammed Hameeduddin, who is Muslim.

"What's wrong with that?" asked resident Art Ekelchik. "He's an American citizen. Isn't he? That's all that counts, right."
Ooops, starting to slip a wee bit there, with that "He's an American Citizen isn't he?" remark.......but let's keep going because I think we are about to head south:
An employee of a local kosher bakery said: "I'm not happy about it. I don't think it's right, but everyone has a chance to be whatever they want. But Muslims are against us Jews and I think it's horrible," Eddie Loeb said.
See? there's always an asshole, told you so!!

Posted by I4P Writers Group at 10:34 PM  
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On Israel's 'Right to Exist' and on Racism

Persons have absolute rights not to be occupied. (Lasse Shmidt)

By Denis G. Rancourt Source

Surely the Israeli government would agree that the right of a nation state to exist is a question of international law.

Under international law, no other country has ever demanded or been granted that another nation state be forced to officially recognize the claimant nation’s “right to exist”, under the threat of military reprisal no less.

But since this is an original and unresolved question of international law and since Israel has forcefully put it on the table, it is relevant to examine whether Israel is following established principles of international law, such as the Geneva Conventions for example, or foreign country assassinations and kidnappings, or international waters commando attacks of civilian ships, etc.

These specific questions of international law are not complicated. The laws and international treaties are written in clear language, and Israel’s actions are also clear. Global civil society (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Red Cross, etc.) and all independent international law experts that I have heard or read are unanimous in the answer.

Indeed, the absurd “right to exist” posturing of Israel deserves to be ridiculed.

Did Nazi Germany have a “right to exist”? Germany exists today and its criminal behaviour of the past has been stopped. It has no nuclear weapons and its security arises from its respect for international law and for its neighbours. Its internal security arises from respecting human rights. I wish the same for Israel. The right of return is a human right.

No country has the right to extort a statement of “right to exist” from any other country.

Every country has a right to its opinions and official positions about the legal and historic legitimacies of other states. What matters are actions and crimes and these matter in proportion to their magnitudes – the numbers matter, not the rhetoric.

No country has a recognized God-given or otherwise right to exist, only responsibilities under international law and moral responsibilities.

Persons have absolute rights not to be forcibly displaced, occupied, collectively punished by arbitrary sanctions, murdered, etc. – this includes Palestinians and Israelis, all persons. States are criminal states to the extent and to the degree that they violate persons’ rights – the numbers matter.

To compare home-built rocket attacks on desert land to military onslaughts on cities and national infrastructures is a grotesque charade to justify mass murder and collective punishment.

The numbers matter. The numbers result from a large power asymmetry and this asymmetry (in both power and suffering) is the FIRST reality of the illegal Palestinian occupation. A language that does not start with this reality is one which masks and condones state criminality.

Likewise, the religious fanaticism and racism of many Israelis does not matter. What matters are the physical crimes being committed (in the name of “security”) that must be stopped.

World powers and influential organizations and civil society need to become rhetoric and racism insensitive in order to clearly see and gauge the actual physical crimes and to stop them, as the surest way to security for all (and to reduce cultural racism).

Commentators, lobbyists and service intellectuals who emphasize the rhetoric and societal racism of the oppressed work for the oppressor. Let us not have a competition about which side is most racist. Criminal racism is not rhetoric or vehement emotional reaction or hate – it is killing brown people. Leave opinion racism alone. Stop criminal acts. Focus. The cart needs to be put back behind the horse.

Israel needs to be stopped, for the greater safety of the most people – including Israelis.

And the US and Canada need to be stopped in their support of Israel state crimes. The Israel lobby needs to be stopped for the same reasons, exposed and stopped, on campuses, in governments, everywhere.

Security first!

- Denis G. Rancourt was a tenured and full professor of physics at the University of Ottawa in Canada. He practiced several areas of science which were funded by a national agency and ran an internationally recognized laboratory. He published over 100 articles in leading scientific journals. He developed popular activism courses and was an outspoken critic of the university administration and a defender of student and Palestinian rights. He was fired for his dissidence in 2009 by a president who is a staunch supporter of Israeli policy. This article was contributed to

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'UNIFIL Should Realize that Going Beyond Limits Poses Concern'


The military maneuvers carried out by UNIFIL that sparked the anger of South Lebanon residents remain in the eyes of many Lebanese as "suspicious," especially after the statements made by UNIFIL sources and published in the media, holding the resident responsible of the "misunderstanding" that happened.

President Michel Sleiman personally took the charge of defending the residents, saying that they weren't used to witness military exercises carried out in the streets, between the houses, even from the Lebanese. Sleiman argued that no military exercises should be carried out within the villages because UNIFIL must defend Lebanon.

Yet, UNIFIL officials sought to justify the drills, claiming that they were aimed at testing the positions of the force to deploy its capabilities at any moment as European sources were quoted as saying that UNIFIL states started reconsidering the benefits of its mission in the South.

The European sources were quoted by Lebanese daily As-Safir as accusing the South residents of standing behind 25 stone-throwing incidents, wondering whether the southerners don't want the foreign forces on their land. While denying the fact that any movement carried by the UNIFIL needs a direct participation of the Lebanese Army, the sources claimed that the army is not fully coordinating with the international forces.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah called on the UNIFIL forces to commit to their mission as stipulated in the international resolution 1701, stressing that UNIFIL should realize that "going beyond limits" poses a concern to residents. "It would have been better that the UNIFIL did not create this tension with the people, especially after it planned to conduct its maneuvers in very unsuitable circumstances," Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem said.

Speaking to Lebanese daily As-Safir, Sheikh Qassem stressed that the UNIFIL should watch what it is doing, since its encroachments cause people worry, demolishing all trust elements between UNIFIL and the people.

For his part, Lebanese Army Commander General Jean Qahawaji stressed that "civil peace was a red line" and said the military was ready to confront any Israeli attack on Lebanon. "Our decision is clear. The army will interfere to prevent any sectarian or political strife and will not be lenient with problems that threaten national security, stability and civil peace," Qahwaji told As-Safir.

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German Parliament calls for an end to the blockade on the Gaza Strip

[ 02/07/2010 - 03:36 PM ]

BERLIN, (PIC)-- The German parliament has passed a cross-party motion calling for an end to the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip saying that the blockade was counter-productive.

"The living conditions of the civilian population of Gaza must be urgently improved," said the motion, adding that the blockade was counterproductive.

The motion was supported by all parties from the three party governing coalition to the opposition Social Democratic Party; and the Green Party.

International pressure on Tel Aviv increased following Israel's vicious May 31 attack on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza.

Nine Turkish activists were killed in the attack and more than 50 others were injured in the attack.

The petition has sparked the wrath of Germany's influential Central Council of Jews which actins as a diplomatic representative of the Zionist regime in Berlin.

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From Israel to Arizona, boycott racism!

Press Release, US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, 2 July 2010

The following press release was issued by the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) on 27 June 2010:

The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) endorses and supports the call for Boycott of Arizona on account of its manifestly racist laws, HB1070 and SB 2281.

SB1070 calls for police officers to require documentation from people to establish resident status. The law essentially requires police to engage in racial profiling and discrimination on the basis of appearance. SB 2281 outlaws the teaching of ethnic studies in Arizona schools. It builds a pretext for the censorship of books and suppression of historical texts which are perceived by the state as political literature.

USACBI calls attention to the similar plight of Palestinians in occupied Palestine. Analogous to Arizona's policies, Palestinian narratives are suppressed by the state of Israel, including a new piece of legislation outlawing the commemoration of al-Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948. Israel also requires identification papers of Palestinians in order to engage in routine and essential daily tasks. These ID cards, which not all Palestinians are granted, forces many Palestinians from the diaspora to be foreigners in their own land and often denies them entry into their own country or results in expulsion from it.

Palestinians, like many Mexicans and Mexican Americans, are forced to resist borders that were imposed on them by foreign powers. In this context we also call attention to stark similarities between Israel's Apartheid Wall and the US Apartheid Wall. Israel's Apartheid Wall confiscates Palestinian water and land for the sole benefit of illegal Israeli settlements, and strangles the lives and livelihoods of Palestinians.

The two walls have much in common -- not only because both are built on land that was occupied by conquest, that displace indigenous people, and that separate families, but also because these walls are built by the same colonial forces. The Israeli firm, Elbit Systems, played a leading role in the construction of both walls. Naomi Klein warned that the US Apartheid Wall (which the US, like Israel, calls a "fence") will have similar consequences to the one on Palestinian land:

"In April 2007, special immigration agents with the US Department of Homeland Security, working along the Mexican border, went through an intensive eight-day training course put on by the Golan Group. The Golan Group was founded by ex-Israeli Special Forces officers and boasts more than 3,500 employees in seven countries. 'Essentially we put an Israeli security spin on our procedures,' Thomas Pearson, the company's head of operations, explained of the training course, which covered everything from hand-to-hand combat to target practice to 'getting proactive with their SUV.' The Golan Group, now based in Florida but still marketing its Israeli advantage, also produces X-ray machines, metal detectors, and rifles. In addition to many governments and celebrities, its clients include ExxonMobil, Shell, Texaco, Levi's, Sony, Citigroup and Pizza Hut" (The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007, p 438).

The US wall will further segregate border communities, break families apart and increase the number of deaths on the border as migrant workers are pushed deeper into the desert.

Both walls protect imperial interests, not those of indigenous people whose rights are violated by these states and their structures. Like Israeli settlers, militia organizations like the Minute Men have found legitimacy for attacking economic refugees crossing the border. These armed, racist groups find their counterparts in groups of Israeli settlers shooting at Palestinian farmers attempting to access their own land, visit families, or travel between home and work.

USACBI expresses its solidarity with organizations that strive for equality and justice of oppressed indigenous peoples, particularly the move to boycott Arizona until it reverses these racist laws. We call on others to join us in the boycott of Arizona and to build divestment campaigns targeting companies like Elbit that profit from the oppression of indigenous people on stolen land whether in the US or Palestine. River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

“Israel’s” new master plan

Quietly, “Israel” is preparing the biggest illegal land grab in recent memory, all on Obama’s watch
by Khaled Amayreh, source

A few days before his scheduled visit to Washington on 7 July, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appears as deliberately thwarting American efforts to push forward indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

This week, an Israeli government body was set to approve “an unprecedented master plan” for an all-out expansion of Jewish settlements that would effectively — using the words of one Palestinian official — “decapitate” East Jerusalem’s Arab identity.

The plan would see the building of tens of thousands of Jewish-only apartments in East Jerusalem to be constructed on Arab owned land.

The Jerusalem Municipal Council, controlled by fanatical Jewish radicals advocating ethnic cleansing of non-Jews in the city, is trying to enforce the plan with a discernible green light from the government.

In essence, the plan would leave a zero room for future expansion of Arabs in Jerusalem, as virtually all remaining open space or “green areas” would be used for “Jewish development”.

The estimated 270,000 Arab East Jerusalemites are already confined to a mere 13 per cent of East Jerusalem while more than 85 per cent of the city has been seized by Jewish authorities since 1967, when Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank.

According to Palestinian officials, the plan — if carried out — constitutes a turning point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and will surely lead to an early and potentially violent collapse of the shaky and uncertain peace process.

“I don’t believe that the peace process will withstand the reported plan to expand Jewish settlement in Jerusalem. In fact, the main goal of that plan is to kill any remaining hope for peace,” said Ghassan Al-Khatib, a PA spokesman in Ramallah. “This is more than a provocation. It is actually a decapitation of the peace process.”

PA President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters in Ramallah on 29 June that, “We haven’t heard from Israel anything that would encourage us to continue negotiating.” “We will see what [US Peace Envoy George] Mitchell is carrying with him. If he has positive answers from the Israelis, then we might agree to switch to direct talks. But we have heard nothing from him that would encourage us to keep up the talks.”

Mitchell was due to arrive in Ramallah on Thursday 1 July, the latest Israeli settlement expansion schemes expected to top the agenda of talks with Abbas. Since taking up his position as envoy, Mitchell has visited the region 18 times without achieving any real progress.

Israel officials, including Netanyahu, have carefully refrained from elaborating on the plan. Their reticence appears motivated by the desire not to mar Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to Washington.

The Israeli media has reported that the Obama administration is frustrated with the slow pace of the peace process, particularly Israeli-PA proximity talks. Washington is urging both sides to switch to direct talks, though no evidence suggests that moving to direct talks would make any difference.

Netanyahu, too, has been demanding that the PA engage in direct talks. However, it is understood that this is posturing intended to give the false impression that the Palestinians are the ones impeding progress to peace. The Israeli premier may also be aiming to divert attention from the plans to radically expand Jewish settlements following the expiration in September of a largely disingenuous moratorium on settlement expansion adopted under US pressure early this year.

On the other hand, Netanyahu seems convinced that the Obama administration is largely a paper tiger and that the powerful Jewish American lobby will be able to defeat the president in any confrontation over Israel. Netanyahu’s calculations in this regard don’t seem out of touch with reality. A number of senators and congressmen from both parties have already censured the president for “exerting too much pressure on Israel.”

Illustrative of Israel’s excessive confidence, this week the Israeli government approved a plan to demolish 22 Arab homes in the Silwan neighbourhood in East Jerusalem. The wanton demolitions are part of a larger plan to destroy hundreds of Arab homes in the densely populated Arab neighbourhood. Israel says it wants to build a Talmudic park and other tourist attractions in the area, to make it more “attractive”.

Palestinians in East Jerusalem, already exasperated by unrelenting Israeli efforts to narrow their horizons are threatening an all-out uprising. “I think the Israelis are pushing us into a situation where we have nothing to lose,” said H Abu Saud, a long-time resident of the city. “Israel is pushing Jerusalemites to embrace violence. What would you do if you were facing systematic persecution on a daily basis?”
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Report: US warships stationed off Iranian coast

navyship Report: US warships stationed off Iranian coast

Sunday, June 27th, 2010 -- 4:22 pm

As unconfirmed reports of an imminent Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities pick up steam in the Middle Eastern media, a US-based strategic intelligence company has released a chart showing US naval carriers massing near Iranian waters.
The chart, published by Stratfor and obtained by the Zero Hedge financial blog, shows that over the last few weeks a naval carrier -- the USS Harry S Truman -- has been positioned in the north Indian Ocean, not far from the Strait of Hormuz, which leads into the Persian Gulf. The carrier joins the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, which was already located in the area. The chart is dated June 23, 2010.

Reports of mass movements of Israeli and US naval warships have been circulating through the media for weeks. On June 19, the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported that 12 US and Israeli warships were seen moving through the Suez Canal from the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.

And a report from the Associated Press published Saturday evening cited "unconfirmed" reports from Israeli and Iranian media that Saudi Arabia has allowed Israel to use its territory in preparation for an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.

"The allegation could not be independently confirmed, and the Saudis deny cooperating with the Israeli military," AP reported.

An article in the Gulf Daily News, largely dismissed by Western observers, did not mention any Saudi involvement but said Israel is preparing to attack Iranian targets from the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Georgia.

The claims that Israel may be preparing for an assault on Iranian nuclear facilities were strengthened this weekend by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who told reporters at the G8 summit in Canada that G8 leaders "believe absolutely" that Israel will "probably" strike Iran.

“Iran is not guaranteeing a peaceful production of nuclear power [so] the members of the G8 are worried and believe absolutely that Israel will probably react preemptively,” Berlusconi said, as quoted at Ha'aretz.
CIA director Leon Panetta said Sunday that Iran has enough enriched uranium to build two nuclear bombs. In an interview on ABC's This Week, Panetta also said he believed the recent spate of international and US sanctions against Iran will not convince the country to change course on its nuclear program.

"Will it deter them from their ambitions with regards to nuclear capability? Probably not," Panetta said.
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Israeli Official: PM-Obama Talks to Determine Region's Future


02/07/2010 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's senior advisor's, Yitzhak Molcho and Uzi Arad, are expected to leave for Cairo on Sunday for meetings with senior Egyptian officials ahead of Netanyahu's meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington next week.

"This time, the talks with President Obama on the Palestinian issue are more important than ever," a senior Israeli official in Tel Aviv said Friday morning. "They will determine the future of the process in the region."

Arad, the Israeli prime minister's national security advisor, and Molcho, Netanyahu's special emissary on Palestinian issues, are scheduled to meet with Egyptian Information Minister Omar Suleiman due to the great importance Israel sees in the Egyptian involvement in the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

Tel Aviv officials estimated that Netanyahu-Obama meeting on Tuesday would be important for the possibility of launching direct negotiations.

It is unclear whether Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak will accompany the prime minister on his trip to Washington.

Israel is looking into options to persuade Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, through Cairo, to launch direct talks. On another front, Egypt seeks to be involved in the Israeli moves in terms of easing the Gaza blockade.

State officials estimated that Abbas' decision on whether to launch direct talks would be based on the Israeli willingness to continue its settlement construction freeze after September 26.

Obama is interested in preventing an embarrassment in case the Palestinians accept the demand, but Israel resumes construction in the occupied West Bank at the same time. Netanyahu, on his part, will try to reach a solution which would not undermine the stability of his coalition.

Amos Gilad, head of the head of Israeli Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, visited Cairo recently. Molcho and Arad's visit is aimed at examining the situation after Cairo was briefed by Ramallah about the Abbas-Obama meeting.

Egypt has stressed the importance of returning Palestinian Authority representatives to the Gaza crossings – particularly the Rafah crossing, which has been opened for 29 days now following the flotilla affair. Another issue expected to be discussed is the Egyptian initiative to resume the activity of European Union monitors.

Concerning this issue, Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post reported Friday that the Israeli Defense Ministry has begun preparing for the possible transfer to the PA of responsibility for the crossings into the Gaza Strip.

It said that on Wednesday night, Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, met with Hussein al-Sheikh, the Palestinian Authority’s minister for civilian affairs. The two men decided to establish a number of joint Israeli-PA teams to coordinate work on two issues – the renovation of the Kerem Shalom crossing and international construction projects in the Strip.

The model under which Israel would transfer control over the crossings would likely involve an international mechanism like the European Union observers, who were stationed at the Rafah crossing from 2005 until 2007, before Hamas took control there. EUBAM Rafah (The European Union Border Assistance Mission at the Rafah Crossing Point) has since kept a smaller delegation (18 international members and 8 local staff, according to its Web site) on standby in Ashkelon, awaiting a political decision to redeploy the observers at one of the Gaza crossings.

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Friday, 2 July 2010

Shalit is a long way from home

By Sherine Tadros in Middle East on July 2nd, 2010

Photo by AFPDespite Israeli PM's offer to swap 1000 Palestinian prisoners for him, it is unlikey that Gilad Shalit would return home soon from Hamas captivity.

Thursday night’s speech was one of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s best performances yet. Standing at his podium, he addressed the public live, in Hebrew at prime time and just before the start of the weekend (to make sure good moods all round). His speech was watched by millions. The Shalit family and fellow protesters listened to the speech via loudspeakers mounted on cars as they continued their protest march. They waited for a hint their son Gilad – who’s been in captivity for four years – may be coming home. They were disappointed, but then again anything other than an announcement of a deal would have had the same effect.

Netanyahu meanwhile was in his element – explaining to the Israeli public how he’s doing the best for them, even if they can’t see it now. Daddy Bibi knows best, trust him. The PM, grandson of one of Zionism’s most renowned orators Nathan Milikovsky, comes from a long line of great talkers. On Thursday he delivered a difficult message, and made himself sound like a hero all at the same time.

But the PM didn’t choose to make this speech, he had to. Over the past six days the Shalit family have led thousands of protesters on a march from their home in the north to Jerusalem (the PM’s residence). They have sworn not to return home without their son, and through that pledge have captivated the sympathy and support of the nation (and crucially the media). In a country where everyone was a soldier, is a soldier or will be a soldier nothing is taken more seriously than the capture of one of their own. The marcher’s message is bring Shalit home at any price.

Last night Netanyahu made clear what Hamas is demanding is too expensive. Hamas has no incentive to bargain with its most (perhaps only) prized possession. That’s why Shalit is still a long way from home.

The Deal Breaker

The terms of the latest prisoner exchange deal, negotiated by German mediator Gerhard Konrad, was meant to be kept hush hush. That was one of Konrad’s demands and it’s a style that has served him well in the past. But between Hamas and Israel (and Twitter), there is no such thing as a secret in this part of the world. As such, Netanyahu’s release of the terms and Isrel’s position were hardly a surprise.

One thousand Palestinian prisoners for one Israeli soldier. More importantly, 450 so-called “heavyweight” prisoners, chosen by Hamas, is the demand.

The PM says these men and women are “ready to go” – but go where is the problem. Hamas wants them released to their homes in the West Bank, a move that would bolster the movement’s authority in the territory it all but gave up in 2007 when it took over the Gaza Strip. Israel won’t allow it, saying that if Hamas wants the release of the heavyweight prisoners they’ll have to be expelled outside the territories and Israel. This is a decision, they say, based on security concerns that the prisoners will commit more attacks against Israelis. But this is a price Israel (in fact Netanyahu himself) has paid in the past for the sake of releasing soldiers. Even the Egyptians have argued that Israel has the means to monitor these prisoners after release and stop them re-offending.

But it may be that Israel (and the Palestinian Authority for that matter) is more afraid of these men choosing non-violent/political form of resistance than returning to the violent kind. In the fractured and fragile political arena that exists in the West Bank, the entrance of certain Hamas heavyweights will change the rules of the game for everyone.

The Final Round

According to Hamas leader Mahmoud al Zahar, there have been 120 rounds of talks on a Shalit deal so far. The movement claims that along the way, two sets of Israeli establishments (under ex-PM Ehud Olmert and then Netanyahu) have spoiled deals - showing they are not really interested in an exchange. But Hamas is in no hurry to resolve this issue and is asking a right-wing government (in trouble internationally and domestically at the moment) to agree to difficult concessions.

For all their criticism, the Israeli public doesn’t blame Netanyahu for Shalit. He was taken on Olmert’s watch and so, whatever happens, he’ll be part of Olmert’s legacy. As such, Netanyahu has little to gain (beyond short term adulation from the family and their supporters) and much to lose from the prisoner trade that he laid out on Thursday.

For that reason, Shalit’s release can only come about as part of a larger deal involving the (actual not partial) lifting of the Gaza siege and perhaps even within the framework of an overall peace initiative. There has to be more at stake in this fight and more fighters need to enter the ring – namely the Americans who so far have insisted on separating the issue of Gaza and Shalit from a larger peace deal. Hamas and Israel will keep sparring, with their German referee in the middle, until someone decides its time for a knockout.

Hamas: don’t give in on Shalit


Falashback: From the "Palestinian" Bast*rd site:

One Year Ago: Friday, June 26, 2009

Is Hamas About to be Fooled, Again, by the Pharaoh? I am Almost Certain, the Answer is Yes!

[How can the Hamas fools fall for this? Egyptian "intelligence" is inseparable from the Mossad. Might as well give him directly to the Mossad and say that, "Hamas trusts the goodwill of the Mossad!" What fools!] , and his parents will be allowed to visit him. He will be returned to Israel after an agreement is reached regarding the list of Hamas detainees to be released that was previously submitted to the cabinet.

The European source said Shalit's transfer to Egypt was the first stage of the Egyptian-brokered agreement hammered out between Fatah, Hamas and other Palestinian factions,
in coordination with the U.S. and with Syria's support.

The deal would put the Gaza Strip under the leadership of a joint committee subordinate to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas......

Israel this week freed Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker and Hamas member Aziz Dweik after three years in prison.[I am sure that this was a part of the deal]....."

# posted by Tony : 8:00 PM

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Khudari: Facts on the ground belie occupation claims that the blockade was eased

[ 02/07/2010 - 11:18 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- The head of the Popular Campaign Against the Siege (PCAS), MP Jamal al-Khudari said that having a list of banned commodities means that the blockade is still in place and that any international acceptance of this means legitimising the blockade.

He added that all the Gaza Strip needs are humanitarian, including building materials and raw materials for factories to reverse the detrimental effects of four years of blockade that affected all aspects of life in the Gaza Strip including especially health and the economy.

He stressed, in a press release on Thursday, that the Israeli occupation is trying to continue to damage the Palestinian national economy by forcing it to remain a consumer economy and giving it no chance of recovery.

He added that all evidence on the ground points to the fact that the Israeli occupation has no intention of ending or even easing the blockade, and that any steps taken or statements made in this regard were to deceive the world public opinion after the Freedom Flotilla massacre.

The head of PCAS further warned the international community against taking at face value the Israeli occupation declarations that they introduced lists of banned commodities to show that the blockade has been eased, while facts on the ground say otherwise.

Khudari stressed that the blockade will be considered over only when four conditions are fulfilled, the opening of commercial crossings, the free flow of all commodities, a safe passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and sea passage to the Gaza Strip under European supervision.

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"Turkey Threatens to Ban Israeli Commercial Flights over Gaza Flotilla Row"

02/07/2010 Turkey has threatened to expand its de facto ban on Israeli military flights to commercial flights as well, Turkish newspaper Zaman reported Friday.

According to the report, the threat was made during a covert meeting between Israeli Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu – the first high-level contact since the deadly incident.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Toronto earlier this week that Turkey imposed the ban on military flights after the May 31 raid on a Turkish ship that was part of a six-vessel international aid flotilla, according to the state-run Anatolia news agency.

Meanwhile, Turkish newspaper Hürriyet reported Friday morning that Israel has signaled it may compensate and apologize to families of some of the casualties of its raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla.

“There will be a second meeting if the Israeli side takes a step toward (meeting) our demands,” a Turkish diplomatic source told the newspaper on Thursday. “We do not categorically dismiss meeting with Israeli officials at this level.”

According to the report, diplomatic sources said the meeting could provide a way out of the current situation, as ties between the two countries have been badly damaged by the May 31 raid, in which eight Turks and one American of Turkish descent were killed and dozens of people were injured, including soldiers attacked onboard the Mavi Marmara ship.

A Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman told reporters on Thursday that "Davutoglu reminded Ben-Eliezer of Turkey’s demands from Israel, including an apology, payment of compensation to families of those killed and wounded, an international inquiry and an end to the blockade of Gaza."

Diplomatic sources said no move to meet these demands would be made until after the Israeli commission tasked with investigating the incident issued its report to the government.

According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the two ministers discussed the current state of Turkish-Israeli relations and the future of the relationship, and Ben-Eliezer assured Davutoglu that Turkey’s demands would be conveyed to the Israeli government.

"The point our ties have reached is not one we are happy with. The meeting provided an opportunity to convey in person the steps we expect (to see taken) so that relations can be repaired. The reason why they requested this meeting might be to determine our expectations,” the spokesman said.

According to the report, diplomatic sources said Israel preferred to keep the Brussels meeting covert because of internal sensitivities. The talks were reportedly also kept secret from Turkey’s chief EU negotiator, Egemen Bağış, and Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker, who were both in Brussels with Davutoglu.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday expressed his anger for being left out of the loop regarding the meeting, while "sources in the Prime Minister's Office, including Defense Minister (Ehud) Barak, were involved." He slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wondering, "Is this is the political culture and proper management we want?"

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Israel: Strategic Ally or Liability?

12. Jun, 2010
By Stephen Sniegoski
The claim that Israel serves as a valuable ally for the United States is made by both pro-Zionists and much of the anti-war and anti-Zionist Left that is influenced by Noam Chomsky.

As a result of the Gaza flotilla massacre, which has caused a world-wide uproar against Israel, the value of Israel to the United States is being publicly questioned in more mainstream foreign policy forums.
Writing shortly before the massacre, the always astute Philip Giraldi critically analyzed the claim of Israel’s value to the United States in “The Strategic Ally Myth,” which focuses on a recent article by Israel Firster Mort Zuckerman entitled, “Israel Is a Key Ally and Deserves U.S. Support.”

Zuckerman is a real estate billionaire and editor-in-chief of U.S. News & World Report, and his article came out in that magazine. (He is also publisher/owner of the New York Daily News). Zuckerman’s writing for his own publications has credentialed him for other media outlets, and he regularly appears on MSNBC and The McLaughlin Group. Between 2001 and 2003, Zuckerman was the chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Giraldi underscores Zuckerman’s pro-Israel orientation: “Zuckerman is frequently spotted on the television talking head circuit where he dispenses analysis of international events that could have been crafted in Tel Aviv or Herzliya, where the Israeli intelligence service Mossad has its headquarters.” Zuckerman’s immense wealth and media influence exemplifies why Israel has been able to gain the reputation as a valuable ally to the United States.

Giraldi, however, points out that the United States is not technically an ally of Israel’s. Giraldi writes that “to be an ally requires an agreement in writing that spells out the conditions and reciprocity of the relationship. Israel has never been an ally of any country because it would force it to restrain its aggressive behavior, requiring consultation with its ally before attacking other nations. It is also unable to define its own borders, which have been expanding ever since it was founded in 1948. Without defined borders it is impossible to enter into an alliance because most alliances are established so that one country will come to the aid of another if it is attacked, which normally means having its territorial integrity violated. Since Israel intends to continue expanding its borders it cannot commit to an alliance with anyone and has, in fact, rebuffed several bids by Washington to enter into some kind of formal arrangement.”

Zuckerman maintains that there are no drawbacks to America’s support for Israel, explicitly denying the allegation that American support for Israel causes anti-American hostility in the Islamic countries. Instead, Zuckerman maintains that the Muslims “are fighting America because they see the whole West and its culture, values, and belief in democracy as antithetical to their own beliefs.” Giraldi correctly points out that this is ridiculous—a higher-IQ version of Bush’s “they hate us for our freedom.”

It would seem almost self-evident that support for the Arabs’ fundamental enemy would lead to the hostility of Arab states or, should a particular regime remain friendly to the United States, cause groups within the state to threaten its stability. During the Cold War, US/Israeli ties caused some Arab states to turn to the Soviet Union, especially since the Soviets were willing to provide them with weapons, which they could not obtain from the US because of the opposition from Israel and the Israel lobby. American support for Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur war led to the Arab oil embargo against the United States in 1973.

Obviously, it has induced the Islamic terrorism during the past decade, as Osama bin Laden has maintained. Certainly, the Gaza flotilla massacre has heightened Arab and Islamic animosity to the United States, which has been recognized even by mainstream media commentators. Because of the power of the Israel Lobby the United States cannot offer harsh criticism of Israel and must work to prevent any form of United Nations sanctions against it, thus complicating its relationship with the entire Arab/Islamic world. While it must be acknowledged that hostility to the United States has also been accentuated by its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the American military involvement has been caused in large part by the influence of the Israel lobby.

M. Shahid Alam points out in his excellent book, “Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism,” that much of the anti-Americanism in the Middle East was initially triggered by Israel. This anti-Americanism has in turn, enabled Israel to present itself as America’s only reliable friend in the Middle East. In essence, “Israel had manufactured the threats that would make it look like a strategic asset” (p. 218), writes Alam. “Without Israel,” Alam maintains, “there was little chance that any of the Arab regimes would turn away from their dependence on the West” (p. 171).

The realization that Israel is not really a strategic ally of the United States is now being expressed by individuals far more sympathetic to Israel than Alam. Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, for example, makes such a argument in his article, “Israel as a Strategic Liability.”

Cordesman served as national security assistant to the pro-Israel Senator John McCain, though he is considered a centrist. In denying that the United States supports Israel for strategic reasons, Cordesman writes that “the real motives behind America’s commitment to Israel are moral and ethical. They are a reaction to the horrors of the Holocaust, to the entire history of Western anti-Semitism, and to the United States’ failure to help German and European Jews during the period before it entered World War II. They are a product of the fact that Israel is a democracy that shares virtually all of the same values as the United States.”

I would simply point out that this belief in Israel’s moral superiority is not some objective notion that is determined by an objective weighing of all the evidence, but exists primarily in United States because of the power of the pro-Zionist media and political lobby. If somehow the wealth and power conditions of American Jews and Arab Americans were reversed, and all mainstream media information coming to the American public was filtered through a pro-Arab/Palestinian slant, it is inconceivable that America would support Israel over the Palestinians. It is hard to believe that someone as sharp as Cordesman does not recognize the power of the Israel lobby in American domestic politics, and he undoubtedly does, but he is also keen enough to know that people who openly express such a view do not hold cushy  positions in leading think tanks. However, so as not to go too far off track, the issue here is whether Israel is a strategic asset to the United States, not whether the US should support Israel for moral reasons, and concerning the issue at hand Cordesman comes down against the strategic asset argument.

Jim Lobe alludes to the career ramifications of speaking the truth regarding Israel when he quotes Stephen Walt, the co-author of the bombshell book, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” who states: “The fact that Cordesman would say this publicly is a sign that attitudes and discourse are changing . . . . Lots of people in the national security establishment—and especially the Pentagon and intelligence services—have understood that Israel wasn’t an asset, but nobody wanted to say so because they knew it might hurt their careers.”

Intriguingly, Lobe points out that head of the Mossad, Israel’s foremost spy agency, also recently made reference to Israel’s liability to the United States. Mossad chief Meir Dagan told members of the Israeli parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that “Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden.” In reality, it is highly questionable whether Israel has ever been a net asset to the United States.

Zuckerman tries to illustrate what assistance Israel provides the US—a good strategic location in the Middle East, a place to stockpile American weapons, and beneficial intelligence. Giraldi rebuts these alleged benefits, maintaining  that “the notion that Israel is some kind of strategic asset for the United States is nonsense, a complete fabrication.” He points out that the United States cannot utilize Israeli territory to project its power throughout the region.  “The US has numerous bases in Arab countries,” Giraldi notes, “but is not allowed to use any military base in Israel. Washington’s own carrier groups and other forces in place all over the Middle East, including the Red Sea, have capabilities that far exceed those of the Israel Defense Forces.” It should also be added, as John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt bring out in their book, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” (p. 56), that Israel does not help the United States in its key military objective in the Middle East: maintaining access to Gulf oil.

Giraldi points out that the stockpiles of US equipment in Israel are basically for Israel. “The supplies are, in fact, regularly looted by the Israelis, leaving largely unusable or picked over equipment for US forces if it should ever be needed.”

Regarding Zuckerman’s reference to the provision of “good intelligence,” Giraldi observes that “The intelligence provided by Israel that Zuckerman praises is generally fabricated and completely self serving, intended to shape a narrative about the Middle East that makes the Israelis look good and virtually everyone else look bad.” For some specific examples of actually misleading intelligence, it should be recalled that Israel was providing some of the spurious intelligence on Iraq’s alleged formidable WMD during the build-up to the 2003 US invasion (the Knesset investigated this issue) and, for the past decade, has been issuing alarmist warnings that Iran is on the verge of developing  nuclear weaponry. In short, the intelligence Israel provides to the United States is intended to induce it to take actions to advance Israel’s interests, which can run counter to the interests of the United States. 

The idea of Israel as a strategic asset is especially significant because, as mentioned earlier, it is expressed not only by Israel Firsters but also by Noam Chomsky and his epigones, and thus is a view that looms large in the anti-war camp. Stephen Zunes, a prominent member of the Chomsky group, even implies that Israel is but the passive instrument of American policymakers (See my article: Israel-lobby denial: The bankruptcy of the mainstream Left as illustrated by Stephen Zunes”). This approach, of course, provides psychological satisfaction to those on the left who want to believe in the ultimate evil of gentile capitalism and the perpetual victimization of Jews, but is counterproductive in actually dealing with the problem of American military intervention in the Middle East.  

Actually the case of billionaire Mort Zuckerman should serve as an example to undermine the Chomskyist interpretation. The Chomskyist position is based on the idea that overriding wealth determines American foreign policy; while not strictly Marxist, it has strong similarities to Marxism.  But, of course, pro-Zionist Mort Zuckerman is an individual of great wealth, and he would seem to have considerable clout in the media. And Zuckerman is far from being an aberration. A huge disproportion of the super-wealthy are Jewish. A recent analysis determined that at least 139 of the richest 400 Americans listed by Forbes are Jewish.

Since many wealthy Jews publicly promote Zionism, it stands to reason that their view should be able to shape American foreign policy especially in areas where their interest is far greater than that of other wealthy Americans. We are frequently told that the oil interests control American Middle East policy. But one would think that the combined wealth of super-wealthy pro-Zionists far exceeds the wealth of the oil barons with interests in Middle East oil.  A cursory look at the list of America’s 400 wealthiest individuals showed about 20 or so of the 400 were, at least, to some extent involved in oil/energy. Those specializing in Middle East oil would be somewhat fewer, I would think.

Actually these figures provide a rough view of how wealth shapes the American foreign policy. Pro-Zionist money can sway the area where its concern is the greatest and where that of the oil interests is less so—the Israel/Palestine issue. The issue of overall Middle East policy directly involving the flow of Gulf oil, however, would be of fundamental concern to the oil industry, as well as the wealthy as a whole, since the flow of oil affects the economies of the entire industrial world. Thus, with respect to the current question of whether the US should attack Iran, hardline Zionists would seem to identify fully with the interest of Israel to eliminate an enemy, no matter what the impact on the global economy. However, those wealthy individuals whose fundamental concerns involve oil and economic matters in general are fearful of the possible negative economic effects resulting from such an attack. This explains why the United States has not yet attacked Iran.

Cordesman, who eschews any mention of Zionist influence in the United States, maintains that while the United States will defend, and presumably ought to defend, Israel for moral reasons, it should not provide Israel a blank check. It did “not mean that the United States should extend support to an Israeli government when that government fails to credibly pursue peace with its neighbors.”  In short, Israel cannot simply do anything it wants and receive the support of the United States. “It is time Israel realized that it has obligations to the United States, as well as the United States to Israel, and that it become far more careful about the extent to which it tests the limits of U.S. patience and exploits the support of American Jews. This does not mean taking a single action that undercuts Israeli security, but it does mean realizing that Israel should show enough discretion to reflect the fact that it is a tertiary U.S. strategic interest in a complex and demanding world.” Cordesman seems to believe that Israel can alter its policies to establish much improved relations with the Palestinians and its neighboring countries so that American interests would not be harmed. In short, Cordesman does not say that Israel could become a strategic asset, but that, by following conciliatory policies towards its current enemies, it could become much less of a liability to the United States.

The problem with Cordesman’s position, however, is that the Israeli leadership, and the Zionist establishment in the United States, really believe that Israel has to do what it does to preserve the existence of Israel, i.e., the exclusivist Jewish state. As an exclusivist Jewish state, Israel is threatened by peaceful demographics as well as by terrorism and warfare. To stave off this danger, Israel will not allow for any significant Palestinian return to Israel or any viable Palestinian state, which is exactly what the Palestinians and the Arab and Islamic countries supporting them demand. In short, the positions of Israel and the Palestinians and their backers are antithetical. The United States cannot support Israel without antagonizing the Arab and Islamic states, and vice versa. Since it is widely recognized that friendly relations with the oil-producing Middle Eastern states are vital to U.S. national security, America’s unwavering backing of Israel can only harm its strategic interests.

Furthermore, unconditional support for Israel fuels terrorism against the United States, making American citizens less safe abroad and even on American soil. And, of course, such terrorism can lead America into wars that would not take place if the United States were not targeted.

Finally, automatic support for Israel completely undermines the United States’ advocacy of a world governed by international law, a goal which President Obama has addressed on a number of occasions. As Scott Wilson writes in the article, “Obama’s agenda, Israel’s ambitions often at odds,” in the “Washington Post” (June 5) : “Since its creation more than six decades ago, the state of Israel has been at times a vexing ally to the United States. But it poses a special challenge for President Obama, whose foreign policy emphasizes the importance of international rules and organizations that successive Israeli governments have clashed with and often ignored.”

As President Obama stated in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech: “I am convinced that adhering to standards, international standards, strengthens those who do, and isolates and weakens those who don’t.” Then, in an implicit swipe at the Bush administration, he continued: “Furthermore, America—in fact, no nation—can insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves.” This admonition could also apply to America’s tacit support for Israel’s policies.

America’s concern about international legality did not begin with Obama—Woodrow Wilson was a major proponent of the League of Nations and Franklin Roosevelt of the UN—even though America’s unwillingness to join the League of Nations resulted from its devotion to national sovereignty and opposition to permanent alliances that could force the country into unwanted wars. America’s continued support for international legality during the interwar period (while the US was outside the League of Nations) was especially illustrated by the involvement of American peace advocates and Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg in framing what became known as the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, which was a multilateral treaty outlawing war except for purpose of self-defense. It was signed by all major countries (eventually 62 signatories), except for Soviet Russia. Although sometimes ridiculed as a meaningless utopian gesture, the treaty served as the basis to judge the Nazi high command at Nuremberg in 1945-46, and was incorporated and expanded in the UN Charter.

America’s verbal support for international law is not based simply on morality, nor is does it represent high-sounding but empty rhetoric. As a wealthy, powerful nation the United States has a vested interest in maintaining the international status quo in the same way as the preservation of the status quo was sought by the victors of the Napoleonic Wars and World War I. (The Congress of Vienna, of course, was far more effective than the Paris Peace Conference in establishing a long-lasting peace.) International stability not only preserves America’s power position, but also provides the optimal environment for the international trade and investment that benefits the American economy.

Obviously, as Obama pointed out, when the United States seeks to use international agreements to restrain the actions of other countries, it cannot expect other countries to obey these rules if does not do so itself. And it acts in this manner when it ignores, or supports, Israel’s violations of international law and prevents UN-sponsored actions against Israel that would be undertaken if any other country in the world engaged in comparable activities.

In conclusion, it is apparent that Washington’s support for Israel interferes with a number of the United States’ basic international goals. It can only be said that Israel is a liability rather than an asset.

Stephen Sniegoski is the author of The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel.