Here is the rub. Mr Netanyahu already has a stranglehold on the politics of his potential peace partners. He can easily manipulate the fortunes of the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on the two biggest tests he faces: the peace process overseen by the international community, and reconciliation talks with the rival Palestinian faction Hamas.
According to local press, the Israeli leadership has been “climbing down from the tree” this week with a distinct change in tone from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding attacking Iran. The change in mood is said to be linked to rising tensions with the Obama administration and new rumors that Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has changed his mind and is no longer supporting a unilateral attack by Israel.
Under international law, Israel’s rule in the West Bank and Gaza is considered “belligerent occupation” and, therefore, its actions must be justified by military necessity only. If there is no occupation, Israel has no military grounds to hold on to the territories. In that case, it must either return the land to the Palestinians, and move out the settlers, or defy international law by annexing the territories, as it did earlier with East Jerusalem, and establish a state of Greater Israel.
Palestinians in areas of the West Bank under Israeli control live with settler neighbours who beat and shoot them, set alight fields, poison wells, kill livestock and steal crops. These acts of terror have begun to spread elsewhere: homes, cars, cemeteries, mosques and churches are now targets in East Jerusalem and Israel too. Earlier this month a school and several cars were vandalised in Neve Shalom, the only genuinely mixed Jewish-Arab community in Israel.
The rift in Israel between the political leadership’s push for an attack on Iran, and the security establishment’s opposition widened in recent weeks. Three new voices spoke out on the question of Iran in the Israeli press, throwing doubt into the motivation of those who push for an attack, namely Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Lia Tarachansky spoke to Ha’aretz journalist Gideon Levy and Major General Shlomo Gazit, the former head of Army intelligence.
[The newly-created coalition] gives Netanyahu time to entrench moves towards authoritarianism. Netanyahu has been behind a series of measures to weaken the media, human rights groups, and the courts. At the moment his government is defying a series of Supreme Court rulings to dismantle several small Jewish settlements on Palestinian land that are illegal even under Israeli law. An uninterrupted 18 months will allow him to further undermine these rival centres of power. One of the promises he and Mofaz made yesterday was to overhaul the system of government. Netanyahu now has enough MPs to overturn even the most sacrosanct of Israel’s Basic Laws.
Human Rights Council votes to dispatch a fact-finding mission to investigate the effects of Israel’s settlements on Palestinians; Netanyahu calls council ‘hypocritical’ and out of touch with reality.
White House tells Sunday Times Obama pressed Netanyahu to postpone Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities until after November, adding president ‘might visit Israel in summer’
Having trapped themselves in a death struggle with Palestinians that they cannot acknowledge or untangle, Israelis have psychologically displaced the source of their anxiety onto a more distant target: Iran. An Iranian nuclear bomb would not be a happy development for Israel. Neither was Pakistan’s, nor indeed North Korea’s. The notion that it represents a new Holocaust is overstated, and the belief that the source of Israel’s existential woes can be eliminated with an airstrike is mistaken. But Iran makes an appealing enemy for Israelis because, unlike the Palestinians, it can be fitted into a familiar ideological trope from the Jewish national playbook: the eliminationist anti-Semite.
Yitzhak Laor: “This bill truly intends to create a democracy for Jews only. If it were passed, no Arab – whether resident of the territories or Israeli citizen – would have access to the law.”
On Friday, Dec 9, 2011 thousands of Israelis marched through Tel Aviv for international human rights day. While Israelis are subject to Israeli civil law, Palestinians are subject to a set of military orders. Order 101 effectively bans political protest of more than 10 people.
A split has developed between Israeli security establishment and Netanyahu. November saw endless speculation about a potential Israeli attack on Iran. At the end of October an Israeli journalist published at article revealing that, against the advice of all Israeli security and intelligence agency heads, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak were deliberating attacking Iran. Perhaps as early as this winter.
Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama are pissed off at [Netanyahu] because he’s not as good a liar as his predecessors in the PM’s Office. They’re angry because he doesn’t bother to cover up the gap between the words and the bulldozers. It makes it harder for them to conceal the falsehood in US and European policy. A policy which supposedly seeks peace in the region and a state for the Palestinians; in practice, one that collaborates with Israel’s aim to impose a capitulation arrangement on the Palestinians.
Former deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh on the danger of an Iranian bomb: “Most Israelis would prefer not to live here; most Jews would prefer not to come here with families, and Israelis who can live abroad will… I am afraid Ahmadinejad will be able to kill the Zionist dream without pushing a button. That’s why we must prevent this regime from obtaining nuclear capability at all costs.”
Netanyahu’s UN speech includes a strange statement: “The settlements are a result of the conflict”. The blurring of cause and effect is a constant feature of dominant Israeli rhetoric… And when he says, correctly, that the conflict began before a single settlement was established in the West Bank, he implicitly refers to the fact that, all along, the conflict’ core was the clash between a settler movement (Zionism) and the original inhabitants.
With no hope of statehood, Palestinians will have to devise their own new strategy for coping with the reality of an apartheid system in which the Jewish settlers become their permanent neighbours. Trapped in a single state ruled over by their occupiers, Palestinians are likely to draw on the experience of their cousins inside Israel. Israel’s Arab community has been struggling with marginalisation and subordination within a Jewish state for decades. They have responded with a vocal campaign for equality that has antagonised the Jewish majority and resulted in a wave of anti-Arab legislation.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said Israel will release 1,027 prisoners in two stages. Within a week, 450 will be swapped for Shalit and the rest will be freed two months later. Twenty-seven women are among those on the release roster.
[Netanyahu's] propaganda was sweet as honey dripping from his lips. It improves from speech to speech. But the prime minister promised that this time he would feed us the truth, not another campaign speech. A test of this promise seems apposite.
Israelis and Palestinians express skepticism of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ UN move, while protests are taking place throughout the West Bank, facing Israel’s technology solution to anti-Occupation resistance: tear gas and a crowd dispersal weapon called “The Scream” which produces a high-pitch sound, disorienting and temporarily deafening the demonstrators.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised that in his speech at the UN on Friday, he will “tell the truth”. This is no trivial matter when it involves a politician who invented an encounter with British soldiers that happened before he was born… The following lines are an attempt to formulate Netanyahu’s truth ahead of one more speech of a lifetime.
Following last week’s terror attack in which eight Israelis died on the Southern border with Egypt, the Israeli air force escalated its bombardment of Gaza. On Saturday, despite predictions that the cycle of violence would dissolve the rising social protest movement in Israel, thousands poured onto the streets and chanted “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.”
A retired journalist who covered the intelligence beat, and with extensive senior intelligence sources, reports to Richard Silverstein that Israel is planning to attack Iran before the September UN meeting at which Palestinian statehood will be discussed and possibly approved.
Activists say Israel is responsible for ‘attempted murder’ for allegedly sabotaging propeller shaft of an Irish ship, forcing it to pull out of the voyage.
IOA Editor: Clearly, the implication is that Israel has every right to stop the Freedom Flotilla, and to do so by any means it chooses. What next?
According to [Israeli] government sources, the army doesn’t have any evidence that the flotilla activists are planning violent resistance, yet it publicly accuses them of conspiring to murder soldiers.
The right wing considers recognition of the reality created in 1949 to be the chief enemy of Zionism. The dynamic of a conquering nationalism can never recognize that any situation created at any given time is final.
IOA Editor: Written from an Israeli-centered perspective, Sternhell focuses on the extreme “right” Zionism (Netanyahu, Yaalon, et al), correctly pointing out its dangerous and unstoppable nature. Unfortunately, he lets “mainstream” Zionism (not the subject of this article) go scot-free. In fact, much of what he says about “right wing” Zionism applies equally to “mainstream” Zionism. Perhaps the grass is greener when one conjures up the dream-images of what Zionism-Lite could/should have been. However, for the Palestinians, the harsh reality of dispossession and ethnic-cleansing of the past 100+ years was managed and carried out mostly by “mainstream” Zionism: some 77 years (about 40 years pre-statehood, followed by 37 of the past 63 years of Israeli statehood, including the 1967 war and subsequent occupation and settlement). Therefore, this article is important for the understanding of Zionism, both “right” and “mainstream,” not for the implied, and very limited, differences between them.
Is there a democratic country in the world where there are unrecognized villages? In Israel there are. Is there a country in the world where there are laws that allow for admissions committees to prevent citizens from living in certain communities? In Israel there are. Is there a country with a true democracy where a bill like the Nakba Law can be passed or where citizenship can be revoked, including citizenship of tens of thousands of Palestinians from East Jerusalem? Is there a democratic state that rules over another people as Israel does over the Palestinians?
Despite tensions in Washington during PM’s visit, Israelis generally don’t believe Obama is hostile to Israel or that US-Israel relations have been harmed, indicating that the public seems to be turning a deaf ear to analysts who criticized Netanyahu’s address to Congress.
Rae Abileah, a Jewish-American activist of Israeli descent with the peace group CodePink, disrupted Netanyahu’s speech. Standing in the congressional gallery, she yelled, “No more occupation! Stop Israel war crimes! Equal rights for Palestinians! Occupation is indefensible!” As she screamed, members in the audience tackled her to the ground, and undercover security forces later dragged her outside. She was taken to George Washington University Hospital where she was treated for neck and shoulder injuries. At the hospital, police arrested Abileah and charged her with disorderly conduct for disrupting Congress.
Netanyahu … is determined to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state by any and all means. That did not start with the present government – it is an aim deeply embedded in Zionist ideology and practice. The founders of the movement set the course, David Ben-Gurion acted to implement it in 1948, in collusion with King Abdallah of Jordan. Netanyahu is just adding his bit.
European diplomats have confirmed that such a message was conveyed several days ago. One diplomat said his country did not receive a serious response when asked what unilateral steps Israel might take. Another diplomat … said in light of the current deadlock in negotiations, international recognition of Palestinian statehood appeared unavoidable in September.
IOA Editor: The Israeli government is clearly concerned about the diplomatic front turning against it. But what could it do, “unilaterally,” that hasn’t been done in the past 43 years? Bomb? Annex? Re-Occupy?
Yossi Alpher: “At this point it’s all spin designed to fend off pressures… The object of the exercise is to gain a day, or a week, or a month, before having to come up with some sort of new spin.”
A crisis erupted between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. During a telephone call this week, Merkel told Netanyahu that he had disappointed her and had done nothing to advance peace.
Mubarak is taking his cues for impudence from the far rightwing government of Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu, which began the Middle Eastern custom of humiliating President Barack Obama with impunity… Israel was founded on the primal sin of expelling hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in what is now Israel, and then conniving at keeping them stateless, helpless and weak ever after… The policy of the United States has been for the most part to accommodate this Israeli policy and to collaborate in the maltreatment of the Palestinians.
[Labor's] demise, however, should not be lamented. It has been in terminal decline for decades. What its disappearance may do is free up the political landscape for a real left to emerge in Israel, one less tied to the onerous legacy of Labor Zionism and prepared to collaborate creatively with the Palestinian national movements. That is an outcome not considered in Netanyahu’s scheming.
IOA Editor: As we said on these pages a few days ago, History doesn’t repeat itself, it simply continues…
In the final analysis, whether Barak stays in the Netanyahu government as the head of Labor, or as the head of a newly-created “Independent” section, or altogether retires from politics matters not. With Barak or without him, with Labor or without it, with Kadima or without it, the Israeli government — whether Netanyahu’s, Barak’s, Livni’s, or others’ — will continue its mission full force: the colonization of Palestine and the slow replacement of one people by another…
The Foreign Press Association in Israel is threatening to boycott briefings held by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if security procedures are not changed immediately.
IOA Editor: Israel’s Shin-Bet security service has gone berserk – along with most of the country’s parliament, “Defense” (Occupation) Department, the national Police Department, and so many other public agencies and social sectors.