Tag Archives: middle-east

Rigging the Game Against Palestinians

Official Washingtons neocons are busy spinning the latest U.S. failure to negotiate an Israeli-Palestinian peace as an excuse to extend the Israeli occupation indefinitely by insisting that the Palestinians first pass some ever-receding test of quality self-governance, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.

By Paul R. Pillar

Now that Secretary of State John Kerrys attempt to breathe life into the diplomacy known as the Middle East peace process has been widely pronounced even by those who appropriately salute his efforts to be a failure, different quarters are chiming in with recommendations for what to do next about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some suggestions are helpful; others would only help to perpetuate the Israeli occupation and lack of an agreement, and may be tacitly intended to do just that.

The New York Times editorial board proposes that the United States, as a last act before ending this phase of its active diplomacy on the problem, post on the international bulletin board its own sense of what the principles of a final settlement ought to look like. This is probably worth doing, and it has the merit of reflecting the fact that the basic lines of a feasible two-state solution have been apparent for some time.

Jackson Diehl, deputy editorial page editor of the Washington Post.

Perhaps this would help to clarify who is resisting such a settlement and who is not. This has been tried before, however, most notably with the Clinton parameters, and it was insufficient to push the process over a finish line.

A couple of other limitations and uncertainties, revealed in the most recent diplomacy, would have to be overcome for such a U.S. declaration of principles to help. One concerns whether the Obama administration would be able and willing to backtrack on how, in its recent efforts to get some kind of preliminary agreement, it moved away from the consensus feasible settlement and adopted certain Israeli positions, such as regarding a continued troop presence in the Jordan River valley, that were bound to be unacceptable to any Palestinian leader.

The other uncertainty concerns the ability of one of the parties with the Israeli government demonstrating this skill in virtuoso form to use mixtures of procedural and substantive issues to put off any agreement even without explicitly rejecting U.S.-promulgated principles. The Netanyahu government has done this with its Jewish state demand and, more recently, with its reneging on a commitment to release Palestinian prisoners. The latter tactic resembles the familiar North Korean ploy of selling the same horse twice by making new demands for compensation in return for doing something it was already supposed to do anyway.

A different, but old and familiar, proposal that comes from those most sympathetic to an indefinite Israeli occupation has been voiced anew by Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post and Michael Singh of the Washington Institute for New East Policy. This notion is that a Palestinian state is not something to be created from above through negotiations but built up from below through a long process of developing Palestinian institutions.

The idea is that statehood is not a gift to be given to the Palestinians, but something they must earn by being good administrators. The appropriate role for the United States and other outsiders, according to this formulation, is to provide assistance and tutelage in being good administrators.

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Rigging the Game Against Palestinians

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No to NATO – Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) was founded in 1949, in the early years of the Cold War. Initially conceived as a defensive organisation, the founding members were Belgium, Canada,Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the UK and the USA. The Warsaw Pact was established in response in 1955, by the then Soviet Union and its allies. In the 1950s, Greece, Turkey and West Germany also joined NATO, followed by Spain in 1982.

At the end of the Cold War,the Warsaw Pact was dissolved,but NATO was not. Hopes of a peaceful new world order werenot realised. Rather than scaling back its global military presence,the US moved to fill the positions vacated by its previous rival. As the countries of eastern Europe embraced free market economics and multiparty democracy, the US movedrapidly to integrate them into its sphere of influence via NATO.This would prove to be an effective strategy, as witnessed by the support of those countries for the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The 1990s saw NATO developing its regional cooperation forums and inviting new members to join the alliance. In March 1999, Hungary,Poland and the Czech Republic were all admitted as full members. Ten days later they found themselves at war with their neighbour Yugoslavia, as part of NATO’s illegal bombing campaign. But developments at that time were not limited to NATO expansion. At NATO’s fiftieth anniversary conference in Washington in April 1999, a new ‘Strategic Concept’, was adopted. This moved beyond NATO’s previous defensive role to include ‘out of area’ in other words offensive operations,anywhere on the Eurasian landmass.

In March 2004, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania were admitted to NATO not only former Warsaw Pact members, but also former Soviet republics in the case of the Baltic states. In 2009, Albania and Croatia also became members. This scale of expansion has contributed to international tension as Russia sees itselfincreasingly surrounded by US and NATO bases, including in the Balkans, the Middle East and central Asia. Georgia, Macedonia,Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina arealso in various stages towards becoming members.

Out of area activity

Over the past decade, the US drive for global domination through military influence has become increasingly active, most notably in Afghanistan. NATO assumed control of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan in 2003, marking NATO’s first deployment outside Europe or North America. ISAF will transfer responsibility for the security of the country to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) by the end of 2014, which should signal the end of the NATO-led combat mission. However, NATO stated ina declaration following a summit in Chicago in May 2012 that it will establish a ‘new post-2014 mission of a different nature in Afghanistan’, thereby maintaining its influence in the region. Recently, NATO has also undertaken operations inLibya and the Horn of Africa.

Global reach?

NATO adopted a new Strategic Concept at its summit inPortugal in November 2010, entitled Active Engagement,Modern Defence. It recommitted to an interventionistmilitary agenda that set back the cause of peace and nuclear disarmament. This included an expansion of its area of work to counterterrorism, cyber-security, and theproliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons’.The summit also agreed to integrate the US missile defencesystem with a European theatre missile defence programmeunder the auspices of NATO. But concerns remain thatmissile defence will enable the US to attack another country without fear of retaliation. Following its summit in May 2012 in Chicago, NATO reaffirmed its determination to retain and develop the capabilities necessary to promoting security in the world. At this summit, NATO declared that it had taken successful steps towards establishing a missile defence system. It also announced developments in its air command and control system, as well as plans for improved and more integrated armed forces. There seems no doubt that there is a long term plan formaintaining and extending its global influence.

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No to NATO – Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

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The World Factbook – Central Intelligence Agency

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From the early 16th century through 1917, the area now known as the West Bank fell under Ottoman rule. Following World War I, the Allied powers (France, UK, Russia) allocated the area to the British Mandate of Palestine. After World War II, the UN passed a resolution to establish two states within the Mandate, and designated a territory including what is now known as the West Bank as part of the proposed Arab state. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War the area was captured by Transjordan (later renamed Jordan). Jordan annexed the West Bank in 1950. In June 1967, Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War. With the exception of East Jerusalem and the former Israeli-Jordanian border zone, the West Bank has remained under Israeli military control. Under a series of agreements signed between 1994 and 1999, Israel transferred to the Palestinian Authority (PA) security and civilian responsibility for many Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip. Negotiations to determine the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip stalled after the outbreak of an intifada in mid- 2000. In early 2003, the “Quartet” of the US, EU, UN, and Russia, presented a roadmap to a final peace settlement by 2005, calling for two states – Israel and a democratic Palestine. Following Palestinian leader Yasir ARAFAT’s death in late 2004 and the subsequent election of Mahmud ABBAS (head of the Fatah political party) as the PLO Executive Committee Chairman and PA president, Israel and the PA agreed to move the peace process forward. Israel in late 2005 unilaterally withdrew all of its settlers and soldiers and dismantled its military facilities in the Gaza Strip and redeployed its military from several West Bank settlements but continues to control maritime, airspace, and other access. In early 2006, the Islamic Resistance Movement, HAMAS, won the Palestinian Legislative Council election and took control of the PA government. Attempts to form a unity government failed, and violent clashes between Fatah and HAMAS supporters ensued, culminating in HAMAS’s violent seizure of all military and governmental institutions in the Gaza Strip. Fatah and HAMAS in early 2011 agreed to reunify the Gaza Strip and West Bank, but the factions have struggled to implement details on governance and security. The status quo remains with HAMAS in control of the Gaza Strip and the PA governing the West Bank. In late 2010, direct peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians collapsed. In November 2012, the UN General Assembly upgraded the Palestinian status at the UN to that of an observer “state.” The Israeli government and ABBAS returned to formal peace negotiations in July 2013.

Middle East, west of Jordan, east of Israel

32 00 N, 35 15 E

total: 5,860 sq km

land: 5,640 sq km

water: 220 sq km

note: includes West Bank, Latrun Salient, and the northwest quarter of the Dead Sea, but excludes Mt. Scopus; East Jerusalem and Jerusalem No Man’s Land are also included only as a means of depicting the entire area occupied by Israel in 1967

slightly smaller than Delaware

total: 404 km

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The World Factbook – Central Intelligence Agency

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West Bank travel guide – Wikitravel

For other places with the same name, see West Bank (disambiguation).

The West Bank is a Palestinian territory under Israeli occupation with areas of Palestinian Autonomous Control pockmarked with Israeli military/civilian settlements in the Middle East between Israel and Jordan, to the north of the Dead Sea. It forms the larger portion of the semi-autonomous Palestinian Territories (the smaller being the Gaza Strip). Depending on where one travels the area is controlled by Palestinian authorities, Israel, or even both. It has been under Israeli administration since 1967 with its future status uncertain and still to be resolved, between Israel and the PA.

It is known as the West Bank because it lies on the western bank of the Jordan River. This part of the world is steeped in biblical history and contains many sites of religious and archaeological significance.

About 2 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers reside in approximately 100 official and unofficial Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Within the political dispute between the Palestinians and Israelis there are at least two presentations of the West Bank:

In Israeli terms it is called the regions of Judea, Samaria, and Benjamin. Some Israelis see the West Bank territories as historically Jewish land and claim a biblical/historical birthright to resettle it by building settlements there. Israel is also building a huge concrete barrier and/or fence system partly within the West Bank, officially aimed at preventing the infiltration of Palestinians into Israel’s official pre-1967 borders and to isolate Jewish settlements from Palestinian populated areas.

This move has been deemed illegal under international law. Israel unofficially is accused by Palestinians as an unilateral Israeli attempt to draw the borders and annex Palestinian land. The barrier cuts off Palestinians from each other, vital farm lands, and most of all: physically separates West Bank Palestinians from the Palestinian districts of East Jerusalem and its holy sites.

The Palestinians and the PNA claim this region, in addition the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, as the territory of a future Palestinian state, the State of Palestine. There are 400,000 Jews and around 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank in addition to the 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza and another 208 thousand in Jerusalem (though there are also Arab-Israelis that live in Jerusalem) (Est. 2011). As of November 2012, Palestine is formally recognized as an independent state by the UN, still deemed under Israeli occupation until a final peace agreement between the two above parties.

Temperate; temperature and precipitation vary with altitude, warm to hot summers, cool to mild winters.

Mostly rugged dissected upland, very hilly and mountainous, heavy vegetation is very common in most places.

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West Bank travel guide – Wikitravel

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Running from war to create a new Palestinian narrative

Palestinians ran for peace in only the second Palestine Marathon on Friday. Kim Wilkinson, a Middle East academic, reports from Bethlehem on an event that makes a peaceful protest.

The travel agent explained to me that if there were any violencesuch as a bombing or a violent protestduring my time in Palestine that I would not be covered under insurance because this would be considered an act of war. This seemed a little extreme, but it is this perception of Palestine as

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Running from war to create a new Palestinian narrative

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Ed Miliband warns Israeli settlement expansion pose a 'mortal threat'

He spoke out after visiting the Khan al-Ahmar Bedouin camp on the West Bank where families, who are among 2,300 Palestinians in Area C, are facing forced displacement if Israeli settlements go ahead.

“If we are going to have a viable, democratic Palestinian state the more we see an expansion of settlements the more it becomes difficult to construct this state.”

The Labour leader, who has been accompanied on the trip by wife Justine, had a kickabout with football-loving children in the camp before meeting community leader Abu Khamis.

He is on the last leg of a three-day visit and will stay overnight in Ramallah, in central West Bank, tonight – the first leading British politician to be able to do so as a result of improved security conditions.

Mr Miliband has already held talks with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and will meet with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas before he leaves tomorrow.

His visit comes just one month after Prime Minister David Cameron’s Middle East trip where he pushed for the premiers to agree an outline deal.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has led international attempts to rekindle the peace process but the fragile negotiations again appear to be on the brink of complete collapse.

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Ed Miliband warns Israeli settlement expansion pose a 'mortal threat'

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Labour leader condemns Israeli settlements as wrong and illegal

The Labour leader is a supporter of a “homeland for the Jewish people” but has made clear he does not give blanket backing to the actions of the Israeli government.

Miliband, who is of Jewish descent but an atheist, made his strongest criticism yet during a visit to the Middle East, describing the policy as “wrong and illegal”.

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He spoke out after visiting the Khan al-Ahmar Bedouin camp on the West Bank where families are facing forced displacement if Israeli settlements go ahead.

The Labour leader said: “What I have seen today shows that the expansion of Israeli settlements on the Palestinian West Bank is not only wrong and illegal but represents a mortal threat to the two-state solution and to a successful outcome of the peace process.

“If we are going to have a viable, democratic Palestinian state the more we see an expansion of settlements the more it becomes difficult to construct this state.”

He is on the last leg of a three-day visit and stayed overnight in Ramallah, in central West Bank, last night – the first leading British politician to be able to do so as a result of improved security conditions.

Miliband has already held talks with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and will meet with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas before he leaves tomorrow.

His visit comes just one month after Prime Minister David Cameron’s Middle East trip where he pushed for the premiers to agree an outline deal.

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Labour leader condemns Israeli settlements as wrong and illegal

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Criminal Court a US/Israeli Red Line for Palestinians

Riyad H. Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the U.N., briefs journalists Apr. 2 on the signing of international treaties and conventions by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. (Credit: UN Photo/Mark Garten)UNITED NATIONS- When Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas decided to defy the United States and Israel over stalled peace negotiations, he formally indicated to the United Nations last week that Palestine will join 15 international conventions relating mostly to the protection of human rights and treaties governing conflicts and prisoners of war.

But he held back one of his key bargaining chips that Israel and the United States fear most: becoming a party to the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court (ICC) to punish war crimes and genocide and where Israelis could be docked.

Asked whether it was a wise move, Darryl Li, a post-doctoral research scholar at Columbia University, told IPS, I would call it a clever move, not necessarily a wise one.

Theres no question avoidance of ICC was deliberate, thats clearly a U.S.-Israeli red line, he said. So it makes sense as a way to prolong negotiations.

But since the current framework for negotiations wont yield just outcomes due to the Palestinians lack of leverage, I wouldnt call it wise, he declared.

And in a blog post for the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) last week, Li underlined the political double standards: Israel demands that Washington release the convicted spy Jonathan Pollard while the Palestinians are blamed for voluntarily shouldering obligations to respect human rights and the laws of war.

Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), said, It is disturbing that the Obama administration, which already has a record of resisting international accountability for Israeli rights abuses, would also oppose steps to adopt treaties requiring Palestinian authorities to uphold human rights.

He said the U.S. administration should press both the Palestinians and the Israelis to better abide by international human rights standards.

In a statement released Monday, HRW said Palestines adoption of human rights and laws-of-war treaties would not cause any change in Israels international legal obligations.

The U.S. government should support rather than oppose Palestinian actions to join international treaties that promote respect for human rights.

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Criminal Court a US/Israeli Red Line for Palestinians

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Israel cancels Palestinian prisoner release – Video

Israel cancels Palestinian prisoner release
The US Secretary of State John Kerry has said the Middle East peace process is at a critical moment with Israel cancelling a planned release of Palestinian. …


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Israel cancels Palestinian prisoner release – Video

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Kerry Urges Israel, Palestine to Lead | 3rd best version | EXTENDED AP TEST – Video

Kerry Urges Israel, Palestine to Lead | 3rd best version | EXTENDED AP TEST
US Secretary of State John Kerry pushes leaders to lead in the Middle East peace process during an overseas trip to Algeria. (April 3) TEST | 3rd best versio…

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Kerry Urges Israel, Palestine to Lead | 3rd best version | EXTENDED AP TEST – Video

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