Novemebr 29, 2012

EDITOR: Reviving the Two States solution?

In few hours the UN General Assembly will vote on the PA proposal to afford Palestine limited state status. In another context, this would be a useless measure – over the last five decades, Israel has done all it could to make such a solution impossible. If this vote was taken 40 years ago, it may have meant something. However, on the 65th anniversary of the UN fateful resolution 181, dividing Palestine, and almost a whole century after the Balfour declaration, it is right that the UN shall start undoing the great injustice of Resolution 181,  which enabled the Nakba and has been the source of Palestine’s woes. Israel, which has fought this new resolution tooth and nail, aided and abetted by its partner in war crimes the US,  has actually made the passage of the resolution a certainty by its criminal attack on Gaza in Mid November, hence achieving exactly the opposite of its intended effect. The fight against the passing of this Resolution by Israeli and US politicians, including the miserable Obama II, proves how out of touch with reality they all are. Even the war criminal Olmert, responsible for 1440 death in Gaza in January 2009, has seen fit to give his blessing to this Resolution, which should tell us exactly how unimportant it is in real terms. This Resolution has mainly a symbolic role, and as such, it will be passed today by a great majority. The main benefit will be Palestine status thus achieved, which will allow it to prosecute Israeli war crimes through the international bodies such as the ICC. This shall send a shiver down the spine of Israeli war criminals, such as Peres, Barak, Netanyahu, Olmert, Livni and Peretz, not to mention the vegetating Sharon, who is now beyond the reach of international justice. It will be interesting to see what use Palestine PA politicians will make of this new option.

In another development, it became known that Stevie Wonder has cancelled his concert in Los Angeles for the supporters of the IDF, responsible for too many war crimes to enumerate here.  How the supporter of ANC and the struggle against apartheid has found himself supporting the IDF is a question he can best answer… At least, he saw fit to cancel as the petitions started flying. BDS works OK, and we need to intensify it a hundred-fold!

Germany backtracks on Palestinian bid; Israeli official: ‘We lost Europe’: Haaretz

Hours before the UN General Assembly vote, Germany decides to abstain, instead of voting against; Netanyahu says the decision will not advance the establishment of a Palestinian state.

By  | Nov.29, 2012 | 12:20 PM |  10

Palestinians attend a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah

Palestinians attend a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah supporting the resolution that would change the Palestinian Authority’s U.N. observer status from “entity” to “non-member state,” Today. Photo by Reuters


Benjamin Netanyahu and Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in Jerusalem, September 9, 2012. Photo by Reuters

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian people are enjoying sweeping support in the lead up to Thursday night’s vote at the UN General Assembly over whether to upgrade the Palestinians’ standing to non-member observer status. By Thursday morning Israel time, that support had turned into a full-on landslide, as more European nations decided to alter their positions, essentially leaving Israel to fend for itself.

Early Thursday morning, just hours before the vote — scheduled to take place around 11:00 P.M. (Israel time) — Germany changed its mind, deciding to abstain from voting rather than opposing the Palestinian initiative, as Israel had assumed it would.

“The decision wasn’t taken lightly,” Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said. “Germany shares the goal for a Palestinian state. We have campaigned for this in many ways, but the recent decisive steps towards real statehood can only be the result of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians,” the German official said.

The UN General Assembly is expected to pass a historic resolution recognizing Palestine within the 1967 borders as a non-member observer state.

At least 150 countries are expected to vote in favor of the resolution. In opposing the resolution, Israel is likely to find itself isolated with the United States, Canada, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and possibly the Czech Republic – although sources at the Foreign Ministry said Germany’s decision would likely affect the Czech vote as well.

This, in effect, leaves Israel without any European country supporting it at the international forum. Officials in Israel said that Germany’s decision was influenced by Britain. “Britain’s dramatic reversal prompted the Germans to change their mind,” a Foreign Ministry official said. “We lost Europe. More than half of its countries will vote with the Palestinians, and the rest will abstain.”

Bulgaria and Romania, with whom Israel has held intensive discussions in the last day, have also backtracked on their positions, as both intend to abstain. Belgium, meanwhile announced Thursday morning that it will vote in favor of the Palestinians. Belgium’s foreign minister Didier Reynders said his UN envoy will stress that his country urges the renewal of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Speaking in Jerusalem hours before the vote, Prime Minister Netanyahu said the UN General Assembly’s recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state “will not change anything on the ground.” Netanyahu denounced the international community and said that, “No matter how many fingers are raised against us, there is no power in the world that can force Israel to compromise on its security.”

Netanyahu said the decision will not advance the establishment of a Palestinian state, but rather push it farther away. “Israel’s hand is outstretched in peace, but a Palestinian state will not be formed without recognition of Israel as the Jewish state,” the prime minister said.

“A Palestinian state will not rise without declaring an end to the conflict and without security arrangements that protect Israel’s citizens. None of these issues are mentioned in the UN General Assembly decision. These are just some of the reasons why we are rejecting the proposed resolution.”

Netanyahu added: “Peace can only be achieved through direct negotiations without preconditions between the parties, and not through unilateral decisions made at the UN. I suggest we not pay heed to the applause at the UN. I remember when Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza received international applause; we got applause and then rockets. Israel withdrew from Gaza and Iran went in. The same exact thing happened when we left Lebanon. As prime minister, I will not allow the growth of another Iranian terror base in Judea and Samaria – the heart of the country – just a kilometer outside of central Jerusalem.”

People gather in the southern West Bank city of Hebron on November 29, 2012.
People gather in the southern West Bank city of Hebron on November 29, 2012.AFP


Palestinians set to win statehood recognition in UN vote: Guardian

West Bank officials hope for more than 130 yes votes in 193-nation general assembly, despite US and Israeli opposition


Mahmoud Abbas and Ban Ki-moon

Mahmoud Abbas with the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, in New York. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images

The UN general assembly is set to implicitly recognise a sovereign state of Palestine on Thursday despite threats by the US and Israel to punish the Palestinian Authority by withholding much-needed funds for the West Bank government.

A resolution to change the Palestinian Authority’s UN observer status from “entity” to “non-member state,” like the Vatican, is expected to pass easily in the 193-nation general assembly. Israel, the US and a handful of other members plan to vote against what they see as a largely symbolic and counterproductive move by the Palestinians.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has led the campaign to win support for the resolution, and more than a dozen European governments have offered him their support.

The US state department said on Wednesday that the deputy secretary of state, Bill Burns, made a last-ditch effort to get Abbas to reconsider. The Palestinians gave no sign they were turning back.

Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, said on Wednesday that the US believed the Palestinian move was misguided and efforts should focus instead on reviving the stalled Middle East peace process. “The path to a two-state solution that fulfills the aspirations of the Palestinian people is through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not New York,” she said. “The only way to get a lasting solution is to commence direct negotiations.”

A state department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, reiterated US warnings that the move could lead to a reduction of economic support for the Palestinians. The Israelis have said they might take significant deductions out of monthly transfers of duties that Israel collects on the Palestinians’ behalf.

Granting Palestinians the title of “non-member observer state” falls short of full UN membership, something the Palestinians failed to achieve last year. But it would allow them access to the international criminal court and some other international bodies, should they choose to join them.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian Liberation Organisation official, told a news conference in Ramallah that “the Palestinians can’t be blackmailed all the time with money”.

“If Israel wants to destabilise the whole region, it can,” she said. “We are talking to the Arab world about their support, if Israel responds with financial measures, and the EU has indicated they will not stop their support to us.”

Peace talks have been stalled for two years, mainly over the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which have expanded despite being deemed illegal by most of the world. In their draft resolution, the Palestinians have pledged to relaunch the peace process immediately following the UN vote.

As there is little doubt about how the US will vote, the PA has been concentrating its efforts on lobbying wealthy European states, diplomats say. With strong support from the developing world that makes up the majority of UN members, the Palestinian resolution is virtually assured of securing more than the requisite simple majority.

Abbas has been trying to amass as many European votes in favour as possible. As of Wednesday afternoon, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland had all pledged to support the resolution. Britain said it was prepared to vote yes, but only if the Palestinians fulfilled certain conditions.

Diplomats said the Czech Republic was expected to vote against the move, although other Europeans might join it. Germany said it could not support the Palestinian resolution, but left open the question of whether it would abstain, like Estonia and Lithuania, or vote no with the Czechs.

Ashrawi said the positive responses from European states were encouraging and sent a message of hope to all Palestinians. “This constitutes a historical turning point and opportunity for the world to rectify a grave historical injustice that the Palestinians have undergone since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948,” she said.

A strong backing from European nations could make it awkward for Israel to implement harsh retaliatory measures. Diplomats say Israel wants to avoid antagonising Europe. But Israel’s reaction might not be so measured if the Palestinians seek ICC action against Israel on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity or other crimes the court would have jurisdiction over.

Israel also seems wary of weakening the western-backed Abbas, especially after the political boost rival Hamas received from recent solidarity visits to Gaza by senior officials from Egypt, Qatar and Tunisia. Hamas militants, who control Gaza and have had icy relations with the PA in the West Bank, unexpectedly offered Abbas their support this week.

One western diplomat said the Palestinian move was almost an insult to the US president, Barack Obama. “It’s not the best way to convince Mr Obama to have a more positive approach toward the peace process,” a western diplomat planning to vote for the Palestinian resolution said. “Three weeks after his election, it’s basically a slap in the face.”

On November 29 Israel should vote for two states: Haaretz

An Israel that opposes the UN resolution is an Israel that wants to strengthen Hamas and a return of terror.

By  | Nov.29, 2012 | 1:27 AM

The writer Amos Oz recalls that day, 65 years ago, in his novel “A Tale of Love and Darkness”: “On Saturday morning, they said, the General Assembly would convene at a place called Lake Success and there they would determine our fate. ‘Who is for life and who for destruction,’ said Mr. Abramski.”

Abramski was right. If he were alive today, he would have similar things to say about want will happen tonight in the UN General Assembly. Who is for life and who for destruction. If Israel was a wise and reasonable country, it would have to join the family of nations this evening, not including Micronesia, and vote proudly for the completion of the previous vote on November 29: two states for two peoples. And if there were a real peace camp in Israel, its members would flock en masse to the tiny rally being held in front of Independence Hall in Tel Aviv, where this State of Israel was declared.

But Israel, as usual, says no. First, hurling childish threats, with unparalleled chutzpah, bullying and condescension: we’ll punish the Palestinian Authority; we’ll hit it in its pocket; we’ll build 3,000 apartments in the settlements. And now, in a weaker voice, we’re “lowering our profile.” And no is still no.

When Israel says no, what does it mean? That the talk of two states is one big fraud; that it simply doesn’t want peace; that the world can go jump in a lake; that the Palestinians are forbidden to fight for their freedom, either with weapons or with diplomacy; no to Hamas and no to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. No, and no. Jerusalem’s thousand nos.

Israel will say no tonight, not just to the Palestinians, but to the whole world, except its patron, the United States, which will apparently humiliate itself again and draw even more hatred by voting automatically with Israel. Most Israelis will not even ask themselves how we reached the point at which the entire world really is against us; whether, perhaps, Israel has some part in it, to which voting against the resolution will only add.

“The automatic majority,” as Israel disparagingly calls the sane majority in the United Nations, will vote for recognition of Palestine as a nonmember state. Because that is the right and necessary step to take; Israeli propagandizing word play will not help. “A unilateral step,” Israel, in its temerity, calls it, while Israel builds more and more settlements in a step that is anything but multilateral. “A breach of the Oslo Accords,” Israel accuses, although Israel never met its obligation for the “third phase,” which was to have transferred most of the West Bank to Palestinian control 15 years ago.

An Israel that opposes the UN resolution is an Israel that wants to strengthen Hamas and a return of terror. There is no other way to explain its intransigence. But of all its baseless and foolish reasons for its opposition, one stands out: the danger that, after their change of status in the UN, the Palestinians will supposedly appeal to the International Criminal Court in The Hague regarding the war crime of moving the population of the occupying state into the occupied territories.

What exactly is Israel afraid of? After all, Retired Justice Edmond Levy will make it alright. In fact, he already has: the committee he headed has already determined that there is no occupation at all and the settlements are completely kosher. And so what is there to fear? Could it be that despite the acclaimed Levy report, there is something to worry about? After all, the International Criminal Court fights war crimes and is esteemed by the whole world. On the contrary, let Israel send retired Justice Levy to that court to present Israel’s justified and persuasive arguments.

Mr. Abramski is long dead. So is Mrs. Tosia Krochmal, the neighbor of the young Amos on Amos Street in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Kerem Avraham who, 65 years ago, brought the extension cord from the sewing machine in her husband’s doll hospital to the Lembergs’ house, so they could bring their heavy black radio out to their balcony, to hear the “voices of Lake Success.” This evening, no one will be listening to the radio. Israel will continue to bury its head in the sand, to disconnect from reality, to ignore the world, ignore justice and proclaim: No.

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