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December 2, 2012

EDITOR: So now starts the punishment!

Not only is the Israeli leadership criminally cruel and illegally aggressive towards the Palestinians, especially in Gaza, but is ready at a minute’s notice to take other illegal steps in order to punish their victims. Below you can read about another vindictive move – the illegal confiscation of PA funds, as a reaction to the UN vote, which has raised Israel’s ire beyond belief. The message is: “You don’t mess with us!” – especially not in the UN…Following closely on the heels of the decision to build 3000 illegal homes in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, this is piling more crimes on a very crowded record sheet. Israel will never forgive any Palestinian for trying to make the Two States solution work! It must never be a workable proposition – Israel has spent five decades making it impossible, yet the PA seems to not have noticed… In a report below, you can read the hypocritical position taken by Hilary Clinton of the US, the main guarantor of Israeli occupation and oppression of the Palestinians. The US has never done anything whatsoever to stop or reverse Israeli settlement activity.

So it seems that Hamas comes off as a much wiser agency of Palestinian politics, a fact widely recognised in the support it continues to garner. They both refuse to act as an agent of Israel’s security, the job done by Abbas, and dabble in corrupt deals with Israel and the US. The message sent to the Palestinians is clear: There is nothing to come out of dealing with Israel diplomatically. There is nothing to expect from the US, EU and the other partners in Israel’s crimes. The only support to be had is what you could do yourself, and that of the wider, civil society across the globe, whose support Palestine increasingly attracts. It is much better to act through BDS and resistance to the occupation, than to lunch with your oppressors – both morally, and politically, and it produces much more tangible results. This way, the Israeli crimes will produce their own punishment for Zionism, admittedly a long-term one. This means we all have to redouble our efforts to bring it about.

This also means that the Israeli society, not just its government, can be seen clearly to be the apartheid colonial society that it is. Israel is Jewish democracy – what researchers have called a herrenvolk democracy –  democracy of the master race – and hence its government is truly representative – it represents the Jewish majority within the state quite accurately – more than 90% of this ethnicity has supported the criminal bombing of Gaza, both in 2008/9 and earlier in November 2012. This gives the lie to the liberal supporters of Israel, who try to tell us that the real representatives of Israel are the triumvirate of Oz, Yehosua and Grossman, who are its cultural ambbassadors abroad. Indeed, they may be right this time, as the trio has kept quiet, joining the 90% of the Jewish population in its acquiescence and supine obedience of its military and political elite’s crimes. This does mean that this great majority of Israeli Jews share fully in the responsibility to the war crimes, and that the BDS campaign is more than justified – there is NO liberal, humane and law-abiding Israel to speak of, on the issue of Palestine and just peace.

Israel confiscates NIS 460 million in Palestinian Authority tax funds: Haaretz

The money, which Israel collects for the Palestinians, was slated to pay the salaries of PA officials; Netanyahu, Steinitz decide to use money to offset the PA’s debt to Israel’s Electric Corporation.

By  | Dec.02, 2012

Yuval Steinitz, left, and Benjamin Netanyahu

Yuval Steinitz, left, and Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo by GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz decided Sunday to confiscate the tax revenues that Israel collected for the Palestinian Authority during the month of November, and use it to offset the PA’s debt to Israel’s Electric Corporation.

The move comes in response to Thursday’s upgrade of Palestine at the United Nations to nonmember observer state, following a vote of 138 to 9. Following the upgrade, Israel announced on Friday that it intends on building 3,000 new homes in settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The confiscation of funds, which total NIS 460 million and are intended for the salaries of PA officials, comes after Israel warned of the move ahead of the UN vote. On November 11, Steinitz warned: “If the Palestinians continue to advance their unilateral move they should not expect bilateral cooperation. We will not collect their taxes for them and we will not transfer their tax revenues.”

However, as the Israeli government weighed the legal implications following last week’s UN General Assembly vote, it was not expected to rescind the economic accords that govern relations with the Palestinian Authority or do anything that would bring about its collapse.

In the weekly meeting on Sunday, Israel’s cabinet unanimously decided to reject the UN decision to upgrade Palestine’s status. In the decision, it was written that the West Bank is a “contested area” over which the “Jewish people have a natural right.”

Moreover, the cabinet decision also stated that the UNGA decision “will not serve as the basis to future negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and it cannot advance a peaceful solution.”

Netanyahu also compared the recent UN General Assembly decision to recognize Palestine as a nonmember state with observer status to the 1975 UNGA decision that equated Zionism with racism. During the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu read out the cabinet decision from 1975 in which then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said that in response to the UN decision, Israel will accelerate plans to settle in various parts of the country, as well as in West Bank settlements.

Ahead of the PA’s expected upgrade at the UN, Israeli officials had weighed a number of retaliatory steps, such as reconsidering the provisions of the Oslo Accords, including the 1994 Paris Protocol.

The protocol regulates economic ties between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, tasking the former with collecting taxes and customs duties on the latter’s behalf, amounting to around $100 million a month on goods imported into the Palestinian territories

Israel has previously frozen payments to the Palestinian government during times of heightened security and diplomatic tensions, provoking strong international criticism.

In 2011, Israel froze November’s transfer of October’s $100 million in tax funds to punish the Palestinians for their efforts to win UN recognition of their independence. The Israeli decision came after the Palestinians were accepted to the UN cultural agency UNESCO as part of a broader effort for admission as a full member state at the United Nations.

On November 30 that year, Israel announced that it would release the funds owed to the Palestinian Authority, ending a standoff that the Palestinians said had caused grave damage to their fragile economy.

The tax funds from customs duties and other fees are needed by the Palestinian government, the largest single employer in the Palestinian territories, to pay tens of thousands of workers, as well as security forces, which have won praise for their cooperation in halting militant attacks on Israelis.

The move followed heavy pressure from the United States, United Nations and Europe on Israel to free the money.

In response to UN vote, Israel to build 3,000 new homes in settlements: Haaretz

Netanyahu orders thousands of new housing units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank; controversial plans for new construction in the E1 area near Jerusalem will be advanced, contrary to commitments made to the Obama administration.

By  | Nov.30, 2012

A Palestinian works at a construction site in the Jewish West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim

A Palestinian works at a construction site in the Jewish West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem, Sunday, March, 13, 2011. Photo by AP

Israel plans to build some 3,000 new housing units in East Jerusalem and West Bank settlements in response to the Palestinians’ successful bid for recognition at the UN General Assembly this week, a senior diplomatic source told Haaretz on Friday.

According to the source, Israel also plans to advance long-frozen plans for the E1 area, which covers an area that links the city of Jerusalem with the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.

If built, the controversial plan would prevent territorial contiguity between the northern and southern West Bank, making it difficult for a future Palestinian state to function.

In the beginning of his term, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the Obama administration a commitment that Israel would not build in the area. Both of his predecessors, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, also promised the U.S. administration that Israel would not build in E1.

The source said Israel would advance building plans for another several thousand housing units in settlement blocs in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, while weighing additional measures.

He added that the construction would be carried out according to the map of Israel’s strategic interests.

In a historic session of the United Nations in New York Thursday, exactly 65 years after passing the Partition Plan for Palestine, the General Assembly voted by a huge majority to recognize Palestine within the 1967 borders as a non-member state with observer status in the organization. Some 138 countries voted in favor of the resolution, 41 abstained and 9 voted against: Canada, Czech Republic, Israel, U.S., Panama, The Marshall Islands, Palau, Nauru, and Micronesia.

Following the vote, U.S. UN envoy Susan Rice said the resolution does not establish Palestine as state, that it prejudges the outcome of negotiations, and ignores questions of security.

Disappearing Palestine: the statistics

Clinton and Hague attack Israel decision to build new settlements: Observer

US and UK react to Binyamin Netanyahu’s approval of plans for 3,000 new homes on occupied territory in the West Bank

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sp

Hillary Clinton said Israeli plans to build new settlements on occupied territory would ‘set back the cause of a negotiated peace’. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and British foreign secretary,William Hague, have launched attacks on an Israeli decision to build fresh settlements on occupied territory in the West Bank.

The Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu‘s decision to approve the construction of 3,000 new homes is widely seen as a response to theUnited Nations vote earlier this week that recognised a Palestinian bid to be a “non-member observer state”.

The US, with Israel, strongly opposed that move, while Britain abstained in the vote. But now both countries have criticised the Israeli settlement decision, saying it hurts the chances of a two-state solution and the search for peace in the troubled region.

“Let me reiterate that this administration, like previous administrations, has been very clear with Israel that these activities set back the cause of a negotiated peace,” Clinton said, in remarks delivered at the Saban Center think tank in Washington on Friday.

Hague said he was “extremely concerned” at the plans, which have been reported in the Israeli press as including a four-square-mile area just east of Jerusalem that is seen as vital to keeping open a viable land corridor between the city and any future Palestinian state.

Hague asked Israel to reverse the decision and said the prospect of a successful two solution was receding. “Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and undermine trust between the parties,” he said in comments Saturday. “If implemented, these plans would alter the situation on the ground on a scale that makes the two-state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, increasingly difficult to achieve.”

Hague added: “They would undermine Israel’s international reputation and create doubts about its stated commitment to achieving peace with the Palestinians.”

Israel had strongly opposed the Palestinian bid for improved recognition at the UN, saying that the tactic was a blow for peace negotiations. It had secured strong and vocal support from the US, its traditional ally, and a handful of other nations, but was unable to derail the move which was celebrated wildly on the streets of the West Bank.

Palestinian politicians reacted to the new settlement decision with dismay. “This would be the last nail in the coffin of the peace process,” the Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, told Sky News.

The firm US and British line on the Israeli decision is unlikely to mark any real shift in allegiances or policy. Clinton backed up her criticism of Israel with another strong admonition of the Palestinians and said that they had acted wrongly and unilaterally in gaining improved recognition at the UN.

“Palestinian leaders need to ask themselves what unilateral action can really accomplish for their people. President [Mahmoud] Abbas took a step in the wrong direction this week, to say the least. We opposed his resolution,” Clinton said.

The fresh spat over settlements comes at a time when all sides appear to regard the prospect of a peace settlement in the region as a distant dream. Any future Palestinian state remains deeply divided between the more moderate and secular rule of Abbas in the West Bank and the militant Islamic group Hamas, which governs in the tiny and isolated Gaza Strip.

In Friday’s address, the US secretary of state said Hamas had “condemned those it rules to violence and misery” and now faced a choice.

“Hamas knows what it needs to do. If it wishes to reunite the Palestinians and join the international community it must reject violence, honor past agreements with Israel and recognize Israel’s right to exist,” Clinton said, adding: “America has showed that it is willing to work with Islamists who reject violence and work towards real democracy, but we will never work with terrorists.”

Despite the criticism over settlement building, Clinton reiterated American support for its traditional Middle East ally.

“Americans honor Israel as a homeland dreamed of for generations and finally achieved by pioneering men and women in my lifetime,” she said. “What threatens Israel threatens America. What strengthens Israel strengthens us.”

Israel agreed to freeze settlement construction under the Roadmap For Peace plan in 2002. But it has failed to comply with that commitment despite repeated and widespread international condemnation.

Fresh trouble continues to break out in Gaza, after Hamas and Israel spent eight days trading rocket and missile fire earlier this month.

That conflict ended with an Egyptian-brokered truce but there have been repeated flare-ups since. On Saturday a Palestinian who was shot and wounded by Israeli troops on Friday, while protesting at the Gaza Strip boundary fence, died in hospital. Five others were also wounded in the incident.

EDITOR: Even Olmert cannot accept the stupidity of Israel’s actions…

He may be corrupt politician and a war criminal criminal (remember the carnage in Gaza in 2008/9?…) but he is not as stupid to buy the Israeli story. In that, he seems more intelligent than most of the Israeli population, including its famous ‘elites’. He at least knows that Abbas represents the Israeli interests better than Netanyahu…

Olmert: Settlement construction in Area E-1 is ‘slap in the face’ of Obama: Haaretz

Former PM says Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is the best partner Israel has had for peace, yet failed to accept the ‘most far-reaching and daring plan ever proposed.’

By  | Dec.02, 2012

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and former prime minister Ehud Olmert

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Photo by Natasha Mozgovaya

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert criticized Saturday the decision to go forward with construction plans in Area E-1, which connects Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim, describing it as a “slap in the face” of U.S. President Barack Obama.

Speaking at the Saban Forum 2012 at the Willard InterContinental in Washington D.C., Olmert said Israel must avoid taking measures that prevent a two-state solution, and that “declaring 3,000 building units is the worst slap in the face of a U.S. president” who supports the Jewish state.

On Friday, the forum of nine senior cabinet ministers approved initial retaliatory measures to the UN General Assembly’s vote to upgradePalestine’s status to non-member observer state in the body. The forum, from which Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor were absent, decided to go forward with construction plans in Area E-1, which connects Ma’aleh Adumim to Jerusalem.

Four thousand new homes are planned for the new settlement, to be called Mevasseret Adumim. The project was halted early on in the design approval process a few years ago, despite pressure on Netanyahu from settlers. There is still a long way to go before the bulldozers move in, but the ministers’ decision starts the ball rolling.

The forum also approved the immediate start of the construction to 3,000 homes in East Jerusalem and in settlement blocs in the West Bank, primarily in Ariel, Efrat and Ma’aleh Adumim. A senior Israeli foreign-policy figure said the construction will proceed in accordance with Israel’s strategic interest.

Olmert said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) was a genuine partner for peace unlike former Palestinian president Yasser Arafat. But despite praising Abbas as the “best partner we have had,” Olmert said the Palestinians have “failed every opportunity” for reaching a peace agreement with Israel.

“I gave a map to Abu Mazen, and he said he needs to do fine tuning with map experts,” recalled Olmert. “The fact is that the Palestinians rejected the most far-reaching and daring plan ever proposed to them. They should have answered right away, but he failed to do it. In a matter of three months we could have concluded the deal.”

“The deal doesn’t have to be perfect, but has to be signed by Palestinian representative elected in Democratic elections recognized by an international community,” he said. “I don’t need Abu Mazen or anyone else to recognize Israel as Jewish state – if it has defined borders it will automatically be a Jewish state and will be recognized by the whole world as such.”

Despite criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for giving the go-ahead to planning and construction in Area E-1, Olmert commended him on the recent eight-day Operation Pillar of Defense in the Gaza Strip. Olmert said that he “entirely supported” the prime minister’s decision to assassinate Ahmed Jabari.

SUNDAY, 02 DECEMBER 2012  MICHEL WARSCHAWSKI, ALTERNATIVE INFORMATION CENTER (AIC)

If, as Netanyahu said, UN recognition of Palestine has no practical effect, we need to take measures that would render this virtual recognition a tangible reality. These measures must be Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). Real international sanctions would cause Netanyahu to eat his words in a jiffy and give formal recognition of the Palestinian state a tangible reality. However, this requires a powerful citizen mobilization to force the hand of Holland, Merkel and others to stop their hypocritical policy, by which with one hand they give the Palestinians recognition, and the other they enhance EU relations with Israel.

 

bds

 

BDS can bridge the virtual with reality (Illustration: Solidarity) 

“Let’s not make a big deal, this resolution has no practical effect” stated Benjamin Netanyahu after the overwhelming vote of the United Nations General Assembly to recognise Palestine as a “non-member state.” No big deal, perhaps, but can we be indifferent to the fact that Israel once again finds itself isolated, with only the United States, Canada and the Czech Republic voting with Israel against the resolution? I forgot: the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru and Palau also supported the Israeli position.

Highly significant was the European position. Led by France (for once we can acknowledge François Hollande and Laurent Fabius), Spain, Italy, Greece, Sweden and Belgium voted in favour of the recognition and Germany, Britain, Bulgaria and Romania, which had initially announced they would vote against the admission, finally abstained. “We lost Europe” a senior official of Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry stated immediately following the vote.

Israel has never been so isolated in the international arena. Israel’s colonial arrogance and bloody atrocities of its far-right government has even managed to push away states that not so long ago were considered friends of the Jewish state.

That said, it is good to dampen the enthusiasm of President Abbas. The Israeli prime minister was not entirely wrong when he stated that the resolution has no practical effect. Did not these same European states vote in favour of the recent enhancement of relations between the European Union and the State of Israel?

Recognition of Palestine as non-member state remains about the virtual. Yet in the  occupied Palestinian territory which has now been recognized as a state, what is real is the centrally planned and methodically implemented colonial plans that Israel created long ago. In this process of colonization, the frontier between Israel and the West Bank (the so-called Green Line) is a small little piece of land, leaving less space for the state that the UN has recognised.

If, as Netanyahu said, recognition has no practical effect, we need to take measures that would render this virtual recognition a tangible reality. These measures must be  Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). Real international sanctions would cause Netanyahu to eat his words in a jiffy and give formal recognition of the Palestinian state a tangible reality. However, this requires a powerful citizen mobilization to force the hand of Holland, Merkel and others to stop their hypocritical policy, by which with one hand they give the Palestinians recognition, and the other they enhance EU relations with Israel.

Following UN vote on Palestine, Israel may now find itself at The Hague: Haaretz

Since 1967, Israel has attempted to cement its occupation of the territories while evading international culpability. The Palestinians’ successful statehood bid may change that, but it is far from a sure thing.

By  | Dec.02, 2012 | 3:31 PM |  6

Abbas addresses the UN

PA President Mahmoud Abbas addressing the UN General Assembly in New York, November 29, 2012.Photo by Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to build more housing units in the settlements, coming hot on the heels of the United Nations General Assembly’s declaration of Palestine as a non-member observer state, could put Israel on a collision course with the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Following the UN’s decision last Thursday, Palestine may contact the court’s prosecutor once again, asking for a hearing on the crimes that are being committed in its territory. The court’s prosecutor may well rule that in light of Palestine’s recognition as a state, the court has authority to hear the case.

If Palestine should complain to the court, Article 8(2)(b)(viii) of the court’s statute may be at the center of the case. This article states, in part: “The transfer, directly or indirectly, by an occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” is a war crime.

This statute is the continuation of a rule in the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel’s past claims that the rule did not apply in the territories may be rejected: The International Court of Justice, also in The Hague, settles legal disputes between countries and gives advisory opinions. When this court gave its advisory opinion over the separation barrier, it ruled that contrary to Israel’s position, the Fourth Geneva Convention applied in the territories, including the prohibition against building settlements in occupied territory. This ruling has even greater force now that Palestine has been recognized as a state.

Israel’s claim that the provision applies only to the forced transfer of a population from an occupying country to the occupied territories, and not to a voluntary move, is likely to be rejected both in light of Israel’s large investment in the settlements and the active establishment of new settlements, and also because the court’s statute includes the phrase “direct or indirect” in its prohibition against such a transfer.

It should be noted that the crime being discussed is the “transfer,” not the “move” of those moving. The ones to be accused are not the settlers themselves, but those responsible for building the settlements. Some believe that the prosecutor and the court will not want to deal with the matter because it does not involve grave war crimes such as the killing of civilians. However, the clause was included in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court over Israel’s objections, with full awareness, and the court cannot ignore it.

It is also possible that the prosecutor and the court will opine that the settlements, no less than the killing of civilians, are at the heart of the occupation regime, the dispossession, the discrimination and the negation of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, and that the case therefore deserves to be heard. It is also a relatively easy case from a legal perspective: In cases of complaints against the killing of civilians, complicated questions may arise regarding the interpretation of the principles of complementarity and proportionality.

According to the principle of complementarity, the court will not hear the case if the relevant country has carried out a genuine investigation of its own. Israel may claim that it has done so.

According to the principle of proportionality, if civilians were killed during an attack on a legitimate military target, it is a crime only if the killing of the civilians was not proportional to the anticipated military advantage. Israel may claim it meets that principle.

As far as the settlements are concerned, the principle of complementarity is not relevant, and no questions of proportionality can be raised. Incidentally, Israel’s High Court of Justice has never ruled on the question of the settlements’ legality.

The Levy Committee’s report on the outposts’ legality, which was published in July 2012, stated that if there were any truth to the approach that the territories were occupied according to the definitions of international law, and the Geneva Convention’s provisions forbidding the settlements applied to them, the committee would have to rule that it could recommend no way to legalize the status of the outposts. Rather, the committee would have to recommend that the outposts be removed.

Instead, the committee chose to rule that Israel was not a “military occupier” of the territories at all. The government was hesitant to adopt this conclusion, which would have been tantamount to defying the entire world, and has maintained its stance that the territories were occupied for some purposes, while arguing that the prohibition against settlements did not apply. Even as far back as 1967, Israel had sought to gain the authority over the territories that an army has over occupied territory, while denying the prohibition of building settlements on such territory.

The recent idea to partially adopt the Levy Committee’s report – legalizing the outposts, without stating that there is no occupation – will only make Israel’s position seem that much more absurd.

From the conclusion that there is no occupation, it must follow that the settlements are indeed illegal under international law.

It will take many stages, together with legal and political decisions, for the International Criminal Court to find Israeli leaders guilty of this crime, and there are many reasons to believe that the political circumstances will keep that from happening. The Palestinians may also not be interested in recognizing the court’s authority for fear that they, too, will be accused of war crimes against Israel, such as firing rockets at civilians.

On the other hand, Israel’s isolation to the point where only nine countries out of the UN’s 193 member states voted in its favor last week shows this scenario is now far from being science fiction.

EDITOR: Apartheid in action – see for yourself

Like in segregated USA, Palestinians are now not allowed onto Israeli buses. The next stage – they will not be allowed to sit on park benches. We know what follows! This item is only for the deluded, who think Israel is democracy. All other can avoid the pain of watching this disgusting evidence to the daily existence of apartheid.

Apartheid in action: YouTube


 

Mahmoud Abbas’ real “accomplishment” was not the UN vote on Palestine: Al Jazeera English

 By Ali Abunimah
The Palestinian president has accomplished more for Israel than he has for Palestine.

Early last month, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas seemingly renounced any claim to a right of return [AP]
A day after the UN voted to admit “Palestine” as a non-member state, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly praised the Palestinian Authority (PA) led by Mahmoud Abbas for its collaboration with the Israeli occupation army.Speaking at a Zionist think tank in Washington on Friday, Clinton defended the PA from criticism by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. According to Ha’aretz Clinton said, “With very little money, and no natural resources, they [the PA] have accomplished quite a bit, building a security force that works every single day with the IDF (Israel Defence Forces). They have entrepreneurial successes. They are nationalistic – but largely secular. Israel should support them.”This is the same “IDF” that just a few days ago was massacring entire Palestinian families in Gaza and shooting dead West Bank Palestinians who dared to protest those crimes.

And during and after its latest attack on Gaza, the same Israeli army embarked on a rampage of arrests in the West Bank, detaining hundreds of people for expressing their views. In light of Clinton’s comments, it is legitimate to ask how much the PA participated in these acts of rage and vengeance by Israel for its failure in Gaza.

Clinton could have added that daily collaboration with the occupation was not the only notable “accomplishment” of the Abbas-led US-backed PA. For years, the PA has been equipped and trained under US supervision to act as an auxiliary for Israeli occupation forces to suppress any and all forms of Palestinian resistance, to beat and suppress Palestinians expressing their views and to arrest and harrass journalists who dare to criticise it.

This is exactly the kind of repressive client regime the United States has always supported in Arab countries, and why Clinton commended the PA to her Israeli partner.

Inside Story
Palestine: The meaning of a status upgrade

A shameful record

The Abbas PA’s record of collaboration with Israel, against the interests of the Palestinian people is long, shameful and well documented. It includes plotting secretly with Israel, the US and the former Mubarak regime in Egypt to overthrow the elected Hamas-led Palestinian Authority after 2006,colluding with Israel to bury the Goldstone report into Israel’s war crimes in Gaza in 2008-2009, begging Israel not to release Palestinian prisoners so as not to give credit to Hamas, and more recently Abbas’ public renunciation of the Palestinian right of return, a reflection of his longstanding position in negotiations.

These harsh realities should bring into focus the misguided celebrations over the UN vote, which as I explained on Al Jazeera is at best no more significant than winning an international football match, and at worst, as Joseph Massad argued in The Guardianratifies a racist status quo.

Bait and switch

Quite a few people nonetheless tried to market the UN vote as a great victory, answering scepticism about it by saying it would give Palestinians access to the International Criminal Court (ICC), to hold Israeli war criminals accountable. Can anyone seriously believe that the Abbas-led PA that has done all this, and which Clinton praises for its close collaboration with the the occupation army, will do anything to bring Israeli war criminals to justice?

Already, the bait-and-switch has happened. Just a day after the UN vote, Abbas poured cold water on any such hope. “We now have the right to appeal the ICC, but we are not going to do it now and will not do it except in the case of Israeli aggression,” Abbas told reporters. While Palestinians in Gaza still mourn, and those in the West Bank struggle to retain their land as Israel and its settlers steal it, the ostensible Palestinian leader sees no Israeli “aggression”.

A hollow strategy

The emptiness of the UN vote could not have been more clearly illustrated than by what has happened – or not happened – since.

On Thursday, the UN General Assembly voted to admit “Palestine” as a non-member state. On Friday, Israel announced its intention to build thousands more settler housing units on the territory of this supposed state. What now will be the international response in the wake of the UN vote?

Other than ritual condemnations, will there be real, specific action – including sanctions – by the 138 countries that voted for “Palestine” to force Israel to halt, and begin to reverse its illegal colonisation of the 1967 occupied territories? Sadly, that is unlikely, an indication that the UN vote was nothing more than a hollow gesture and a substitute for effective action to halt Israel’s crimes.

It is also a reminder that there is no “two-state solution”. There is one geopolitical entity in historic Palestine. Israel must not be allowed to continue to entrench its apartheid, racist and colonial rule throughout that land.

What ought to give us hope are not more empty gestures at the UN, but the growing Palestinian-led grassroots solidarity movement, pushing to hold Israel accountable. This movement scored a significant milestone this week when international music legend Stevie Wonder pulled out of a benefit gig for the Israeli army after an activist campaign.

Actions like this by prominent cultural figures indicate that the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, modelled on the one that helped end apartheid in South Africa, is gaining strength and legitimacy. It is a movement based not on trading Palestinian rights for a West Bank mini-state under a dictatorial US-backed regime, but on restoring the rights of all Palestinians everywhere.

Ali Abunimah is author of One Country, A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. He is a co-founder of the online publication The Electronic Intifada and a policy adviser with Al-Shabaka.

Follow on Twitter him at: @AliAbunimah

 

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