The Balfour Declaration of 1917 launched what amounts to a hundred years of war against the Palestinians. This war had a unique nature – it was formally sanctioned and authorized by the great powers of the day at different times during this century, and via different fora, such as the League of Nations and the United Nations, but it was mainly waged by other actors. A much distorted and maligned feature of this long war has been the Palestinians’ continuing resistance, against heavy odds, to what amounts to one of the last ongoing attempts at colonial subjugation in the modern world.
[T]here was also “straight talk” among US military and intelligence officials about the comparative strength of Israeli as opposed to Palestinian and Arab forces, the first of which they regarded as superior from the vantage point of training and equipment. US officials concluded that Israel had become the number two power in the Middle East after Turkey, and could be useful in contributing to US strategy in the Middle East.
[I]n order to understand Israel’s behavior as a state in relation to the Palestinians, we must see Israel as a settler-colonial project. It is a continuation of late nineteenth century colonization. And its main feature lies in wanting to expel rather than exploit the native population. In contrast to South Africa, for example, where black labor was crucial for state building, expulsion in Israel was key to state formation. For the Israeli state, Palestinians are basically dispensable.
The March visit of the Israeli PM to Washington has aroused rapid opposition among Israel’s supporters in Congress as well as Democratic Party activists. At issue is the matter of protocol, not to say, principle. But there is something else afoot, namely, the realization that Netanyahu’s action risks alienating a political base that is increasingly skeptical of Israeli claims, including those about Iran’s nuclear arms that were exposed as false by Israel’s Intelligence agency. Then there was the PM’s analogy between his leadership of Israel in 2015 and that of David Ben-Gurion in 1948, that was rapidly written off by Israeli critics. At bottom, however, is the threat of blowing open the taboo on plain talk about Washington’s relations with Israel, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Netanyahu has abandoned Israel’s traditional strategy of accommodating American presidential pretence of managing an Israeli–Palestinian ‘peace process’ aimed at a ‘two state solution’. Whereas more cautious Israeli leaders kept up the charade and made sure that the sham process would go on and on but lead nowhere, Netanyahu brazenly burst the hot-air balloon in the face of the exasperated secretary of state John Kerry.
Amid all the horrors unfolding in the latest Israeli offensive in Gaza, Israel’s goal is simple: quiet-for-quiet, a return to the norm. For the West Bank, the norm is that Israel continues its illegal construction of settlements and infrastructure so that it can integrate into Israel whatever might be of value, meanwhile consigning Palestinians to unviable cantons and subjecting them to repression and violence. For Gaza, the norm is a miserable existence under a cruel and destructive siege that Israel administers to permit bare survival but nothing more.
Noam Chomsky: Israel’s Actions in Palestine are “Much Worse Than Apartheid” in South Africa.
Noam Chomsky’s interview on Democracy-Now (7 Aug 2014). A detailed discussion covering Israel’s attack on Gaza, the role of the US, changing public opinion in the US, BDS and the South Africa comparison, Palestinian violent vs. non-violent response to the Occupation, global reactions, and more.
There are two parts of the Arab world that remain effectively colonies: Western Sahara … and of course Palestine, where negotiations are underway conforming to the two essential US-Israeli preconditions: that there be no barrier to expansion of the illegal settlements, and that the negotiations be run by the US, which is a participant in the conflict (on the side of Israel) and has been blocking the overwhelming international consensus on a diplomatic settlement since 1976, when it vetoed a Security Council resolution calling for its basic terms, with rare and temporary exceptions.
[I]t is assumed almost universally that there are two options for cis-Jordan: either two states — Palestinian and Jewish-democratic — or one state “from the sea to the river.” Israeli commentators express concern about the “demographic problem”: too many Palestinians in a Jewish state. Many Palestinians and their advocates support the “one state solution,” anticipating a civil rights, anti-Apartheid struggle that will lead to secular democracy… The analysis is almost universal, but crucially flawed. There is a third option, namely, the option that Israel is pursuing with constant US support. And this third option is the only realistic alternative to the two-state settlement that is backed by an overwhelming international consensus.
At the fringes, some observers reject the shared [US] assumptions, bringing up the historical record: for example, the fact that “for nearly seven decades” the United States has led the world in aggression and subversion — overthrowing elected governments and imposing vicious dictatorships, supporting horrendous crimes, undermining international agreements and leaving trails of blood, destruction and misery.
The negotiations provide a cover for Israel’s takeover of the territories it wishes to control and should spare the United States some further embarrassment at the UN.
One prevailing assumption is that there are two options: either a two-state settlement will be reached, or there will be a “shift to a nearly inevitable outcome of the one remaining reality — a state ‘from the sea to the river’.” … There is a third option, the most realistic one: Israel will carry forward its current policies with full U.S. economic, military, and diplomatic support, sprinkled with some mild phrases of disapproval.
It may not have reached the level of fevered expectation unleashed by that famous handshake between Israeli and Palestinian leaders on the White House lawn in 1993, but the sense of hope inspired by the long-awaited revival of peace talks is both tangible and deeply misplaced.
Noam Chomsky covers the upcoming Israel-Palestine ‘peace talks’ and the history of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations; settlements, the Occupation and the ‘One-State’ and ‘Two-State’ solutions; US strategic control of the Middle East; Syria and Egypt; the ‘Iran threat’; Edward Snowden, and much more.
Watch US secretary of state John Kerry assuming the mantle of our lord: just as JC resurrected Lazarus, JK is about to revive the dead-as-a-doornail talks between the Israeli government and the captive so-called Palestinian ‘Authority’. Though, unlike old Lazarus, this corpse will talk and talk and talk … but will not walk.
Since it all began just after 1967, when Israel seized the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza following the Arab-Israeli war, this country has been committed to settlement expansion – knowing that such a policy would eviscerate the prospects of an independent Palestinian state, but doing it anyway. Indeed, Israel’s settlements grew most during the Oslo peace process that began in 1993.
Marwan Barghouti: “I call for a strategy that is based on referring to the United Nations to achieve full membership in the UN and all other international agencies, so as to be able to sign pacts and agreements, refer to the International Criminal Court, cooperate with the international community to isolate and boycott Israel, impose sanctions on it to withdraw to the 1967 borders, in addition to imposing economic, security, administrative, negotiating and political blockades.”
Former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami: “Israel’s line was busy, or there was no one on the Israeli side to pick up the phone.”
Israel’s increasing integration into European competitions, despite its refusal to revive peace talks with the Palestinians, respect human rights and halt illegal settlement, is, according to critics, contrary to sporting values and should be met with international opposition of the kind faced by apartheid South Africa.
Tony Blair stepped down as British prime minister in 2007 and immediately assumed the position of representative to the Quartet, the international body overseeing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Against the background of mounting criticism at home over his role in the 2003 Iraq War, this profile examines the record of Blair’s activities in the Middle East over the past five years. The picture that emerges is one of rapid self-enrichment through murky consultancies and opaque business deals with Middle East dictators, and an official role (formally dedicated to Palestinian state-building) whose main results appear to be an unhappy Palestinian Authority and the perpetuation of the status quo.
US diplomats: “Before talking about extermination, and before allowing either the Masada or the Samson complex to progress to obsession, the Israelis might usefully examine their own position and that of the Arabs… All reports we have heard and read from Egypt and Syria lead us to believe that those two countries strongly yearn for peace and that they would like to devote their energies to reconstruction of their countries.”
Unfortunately for Abbas, Obama used his remarks in Ramallah to insist the Palestinians enter direct negotiations without preconditions, not even the settlement freeze he himself had urged. At the same time, he insisted on preconditions for the Palestinians, who “must recognise that Israel will be a Jewish state”, effectively condemning the Palestinian citizens of Israel to perpetual second-class citizenship. His conversion has doubtless encouraged Israel’s most annexationist government to date to carry on with legislation to define itself as the national state of the Jewish people.
The unspoken message of Obama’s visit is that the Netanyahu government is free to pursue its hardline agenda with little danger of anything more than symbolic protest from Washington.
Mustafa Barghouthi: “The main goal of Obama’s visit … is to listen… We Palestinians have been listening for too long. This passivity on Obama’s part is unacceptable and dangerous at a time when the two state solution is under risk.”