1967 borders

Netanyahu Spurns Peace

Calling for Palestinian capitulation, not peace and liberation, Netanyahu delivered a litany of lies, fabrications, misstatements, and half-truths to AIPAC members on May 23, saying:

— “Israel is unjustly accused of not wanting peace with the Palestinians. Nothing could be further from the truth.” In fact, he once called the peace process “a waste of time,” governing accordingly to avoid it.

— Peace “can only come through….mutual trust,” he said, adding that he envisions “peace in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state.” In fact, they’re preconditions solely for them, no other states with which Israel has diplomatic relations, including peace treaty terms with Egypt and Jordan.

— “Israel stands ready to make compromises necessary for peace.” In fact, Israel never had a peace camp. For decades, efforts were stillborn, obstructing it, perpetuating conflict, and denying Palestinians a sovereign independent state or a viable one-state solution for all its people.

— “(O)ne thing I will never compromise is our security.”

In fact, claimed existential “security” threats are bogus, a red herring, mischaracterizing Israel as vulnerable, surrounded by hostile Arab states. Nuclear armed, it’s a regional superpower, unthreatened since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Addressing Congress on May 24, he repeated the same canards, including saying he’s ready to “make painful compromises (for) peace,” while remaining obstructionist against it, a viable Palestinian state, Jerusalem as its capital, Hamas/Fatah unity, and the inviolable right of return.

In response, New York Times writers Helene Cooper and Ethan Bronner headlined, “Netanyahu Gives No Ground in Congress Speech,” saying:

“….Palestinians will not get a right of return to Israel…. Jerusalem will never again be divided,” and Israel’s 1967 borders aren’t defensible. New ones must incorporate expanding settlements, an IDF presence along the Jordan River, and Palestinians confined to isolated cantons in ghetto communities or worthless scrubland, an offer no responsible leader will accept.

Moreover, he demanded abandonment of Palestinian unity as a precondition for negotiations, saying Hamas rejects Israel’s right to exist. In fact, it accepts it in return for a viable Palestinian state within 1967 borders, 22% of historic Palestine, a major concession Israel rejects, wanting all valued parts of Judea and Samaria.

No matter. Congress treated him like visiting royalty, Cooper and Bronner saying he got “so many standing ovations that at times it appeared that the lawmakers were listening to his speech standing up.”

Rejecting Netanyahu’s Obstructionism

In response, Mahmoud Abbas said he offered “nothing we can build on.” In fact, he “traveled far from peace,” subverting it by dictating terms, remaining obstructionist like all Israeli leaders.

A May 25 Haaretz editorial was just as harsh, headling “Netanyahu wasted his chance to present a vision for peace,” saying:

Instead of new ideas, a constructive vision, and genuine willingness to negotiate equitably, “we were witness to the same old messages,” dictating terms, offering nothing substantive in return.

He ignored all essentials for peace, including “leav(ing) a decisive majority of West Bank territory in the hands of the Palestinians.” As a result, he’s “leading Israel and the Palestinians into a new round of violence, along with Israel’s isolation” at a time of Arab spring uprisings. “The time has come for….Israel(is) who seek peace to be heard. Israel deserves a different leader.”

Like America, in fact, most Israel parties differ little on core issues, including Likud, Kadima, Labor, Yisrael Beiteinu, and Shas, endorsing hardline militancy and neoliberal toughness, offering no concessions for equity and peace.

On May 24, an Al Jazeera editorial said “leading Democrats and Republicans….support(ed) Netanyahu in his tricks to justify the continuation of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, as well as his incitement against Arabs and Muslims.”

“His speech was a blueprint (on) how (to) defend Israel in refusing to end the occupation, oppression, and subjugation of the Palestinian people. The focus on the Jewishness of the Zionist state has been the new ploy to block any peaceful resolution.” Palestinians reject it as should everyone for equal rights and peace.

If anyone doubts “how Israeli leaders control the US government,” watch congressional and other pro-Israeli groups’ fealty to Israel, subverting any chance for justice.

Haaretz writer Gideon Levy headlined, “Netanyahu’s speech to Congress shows America will buy anything,” saying:

“It was an address with no destination, filled with lies on top of lies and illusions heaped on illusions.” Rarely do foreign leaders address Congress. Perhaps none ever presented “such a pile of propaganda and prevarication, such hypocrisy and sanctimony” as Netanyahu to repeated standing ovations, a bipartisan hallelujah chorus loving it. If most Americans did also, “we’re in big trouble,” said Levy.

Imagine, Netanyahu praises Israeli democracy when he’s hammered it with mortal blows. His coalition Knesset partners passed racist, fascist laws, vilifying anyone not Jewish, denying their basic rights, including treating Israeli Arabs as existential threats when, in fact, they’re citizens like all Jews.

Palestinian Authority (PA) spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said:

“What Netanyahu said does not lead to peace. Peace for us means a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. We will not accept any Israeli presence inside the Palestinian state, particularly on the River Jordan. (P)eace should be based on international resolutions and negotiations, and not by putting preconditions and more obstacles in the way of the peace process.”

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said his speech “makes the continuation of negotiations with the Zionist entity….wrong and pointless.”

The Israeli peace bloc Gush Shalom also reacted critically, saying:

His speech was “composed of dozens of gimmicks and empty cliches, talk of peace which he does not intend to conclude and of a fictional Palestinian state which he has no intention of seeing become reality. (Instead, he intends) to continue occupation rule over millions of people by (brute) force, against their will,” perpetuating decades-long harshness.

Praise from Hardline Israeli-Firsters

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) “praised (Netanyahu) for making clear to the US Congress and the world (about) Hamas’ call for the worldwide murder of every Jew and his reiteration that Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian Authority (PA)/Hamas unity government nor return to the perilous 1949 armistice lines.”

Its statement echoed Netanyahu’s lies and racist condemnation of an entire people for their faith and ethnicity.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also applauded Netanyahu’s “commitment to negotiating a lasting peace with the Palestinians,” adding:

“He made a powerful case for Israel’s unique relationship with the US as the only democracy and stable American ally in a turbulent region,” as well as highlighting “Israel’s need for security.”

Commentary magazine’s Jonathan Tobin called his speech “a triumph….eloquent and brilliant (laying) out Israel’s desire for peace,” when, in fact, it spurned it since 1948.

A Final Comment

Instead of embracing peace, Netanyahu spurns it. In his book, “The End of the Peace Process,” Edward Said said:

“(N)o negotiations are better than endless concessions that simply prolong the Israeli occupation. Israel is certainly pleased that it can take the credit for having made peace, and at the same time continue the occupation with Palestinian consent.”

Peace, in fact, depends on evenhanded give and take, resolving divergent issues equitably for both sides. It can’t solely be on Israeli terms, demanding capitulation, leaving Palestinians isolated in a wasteland of destruction and human misery, enduring appalling indignities for their faith, ethnicity and presence.

As a result, their liberating struggle continues for:

— ending occupation;

— a government of their own choosing;

— sovereign independence within 1967 borders, 22% of historic Palestine with mutually agreed on land swaps to assure it;

— Jerusalem as its capital;

— the inviolable right of return; and

— full recognition as a UN member state with all rights and privileges.

On November 15, 1988, the Palestine National Council (PNC) proclaimed an independent Palestinian state. According to the 1925 Palestine Citizenship Order in Council, Palestinians, their children and grandchildren are automatically citizens, including refugees.

Provisionally, Washington recognizes Palestinian independence. Under UN Charter Article 80(1), its position can’t be reversed by vetoing SC resolutions, calling for its UN admission. Doing so is illegal, subject to SC action under the Charter’s Chapter VI, despite Obama telling AIPAC that no UN vote “will ever create an independent Palestinian state.”

The Security Council, in fact, recommends admissions. The General Assembly affirms them by a two-thirds majority. In December 1988, it did so, granting Palestine all member rights except to vote. PA leaders will seek it in September. Washington and Israel object, spurning peace, reconciliation, and potential challenges to their dominance. No longer can that agenda be tolerated.

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Obama’s Middle East Hypocrisy – 1967 border

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Since taking office in January 2009, Obama broke every major campaign promise, including relevant ones to his May 19 Middle East speech; namely:

— “hope;”

— “change;”

— peace;

— democratic values;

— closing Guantanamo in one year;

— ending torture, illegal spying, and detention without trial;

— “a new era of openness;”

— willingness to meet individually with Iranian, Syrian, Venezuelan, Cuban, and North Korean leaders;

— supporting Israeli and Palestinian efforts to “fulfill their national goals: two states living side by side in peace and security;” and

— on Afghanistan saying (October 27, 2007): “I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this (and the Iraq) war(s). You can take that to the bank,” and by implication not begin new ones.

Instead, his rhetoric belied his policy, spurning democracy, civil liberties, human rights, and rule of law principles. He doubled down George Bush with:

— imperial Iraq and Afghan wars;

— two others against Pakistan and Libya;

— another allied with Israel against Palestine;

— regional support for subservient despots; as well as

— anti-populist proxy wars in Somalia, Central Africa, Yemen, Bahrain, Haiti, Honduras, Colombia, and at home against Muslims, Latino immigrants, and working Americans.

Make no mistake. People across the Middle East aren’t fooled, unlike many Americans no matter how many times they’re betrayed.

Ahead of his speech on May 18, Washington Post writer Scott Wilson headlined, “Obama faces pressure from allies on eve of speech Thursday on Middle East policy,” saying:

US allies want more decisive action “on several volatile issues in the Middle East and North Africa, including the armed rebellion in Libya, the uprising in Syria, and the moribund peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.”

On May 19, New York Times writer Michael Shear headlined, “Obama’s Middle East Speech Has Many American Audiences,” saying:

He aimed at a domestic and global audience, trying “to construct a cohesive narrative for American voters about his administration’s (unsuccessful) efforts in the region,” notably:

— the stalled peace process;

— continuing Bush-era policies; and

— failure to address Arab uprisings constructively.

As a result, Obama’s Middle East speech was “designed to be the first in a series of rhetorical opportunities for the president,” ahead of a Friday Netanyahu meeting in Washington.

Then over the weekend, he’ll address the annual AIPAC conference, affirming his unwavering support for Israel, expressed Thursday saying:

“As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values. Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums,” adding:

“Israel must be able to defend itself – by itself – against any threat (with) robust enough (efforts) to prevent a resurgence of terrorism; to stop the infiltration of weapons; and to provide effective border security.”

In fact, Israel is a global menace, nuclear-armed with other super-weapons ready and able to use them. Terrorizing Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese, it’s belligerent on the slightest pretext or none at all.

As a result, it threatens world peace and security because US administrations partnered in its militarism, repression, and other high crimes for decades, a testimony to the Israeli Lobby’s power in America.

Commenting on his speech, New York Times writers Steven Myers and Mark Landler headlined, “Obama Sees ’67 Borders as Starting Point for Peace Deal,” saying:

Obama “declared that the prevailing borders before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war – adjusted to some degree to account for Israeli settlements in the West Bank – should be the basis of a deal.”

In fact, that notion has been on the table for years, based on isolating Palestinians in cantonized bantustans situated on worthless scrubland with few or no resources – a proposal no legitimate leader would accept.

Notably, Haaretz reported that “Obama has granted Netanyahu a major diplomatic victory” by leaving undefined the size or locations of a Palestinian state. It also quoted Netanyahu saying:

“Israel appreciates President Obama’s commitment to peace,” adding that he expects Obama to refrain from demanding Israel withdraw to “indefensible (1967 borders) which will leave a large population of Israel in Judea and Samaria and outside Israel’s borders.”

Moreover, core Israel/Palestinian issues remain to be negotiated, no matter that Washington and Israel spurn diplomacy and concessions.

As a result, Palestine is still occupied. Gaza remains isolated under siege, its legitimate government vilified as a terrorist organization. Moreover, the peace process was stillborn from inception, what journalist Henry Siegman once called “the most spectacular deception in modern” times.

Obama’s speech dripped with hypocrisy, another example of policy belying rhetoric, exposing America’s longstanding alliance with Israel for regional dominance. Saying “(i)t will be the policy of the US to support reform throughout the region” is code language for business as usual.

Adding that “(w)e face a historic opportunity (to) show that America values the dignity of a street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator” ignores a belligerent policy, as well as disdain for human rights and civil liberties. It also conceals a determination to divide, conquer, colonize, exploit and control the entire region, giving no quarter to populist aspirations anywhere, including in America, let alone Israel, Palestine, Egypt, or elsewhere in the region.

Important also is that if America had a legitimate regional policy, Obama wouldn’t have to make speeches affirming one.

Post/911, in fact, it was easier than ever for America to declare war on Islam, abroad and at home – a policy no different under Obama than Bush. Empty rhetoric changes nothing.

Around 1.5 billion Muslims want change, peace and the basic respect they deserve. They’re sick and tired of Western dominance, colonization, exploitation, and oppression, supportive of homegrown dictatorships.

On June 4, 2009, Obama addressed Muslims in Cairo, “seek(ing) a new beginning….based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, or need be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”

It was hypocritical boilerplate. He decried the “killing of innocent men, women, and children,” yet US forces slaughter them daily in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya. In addition, America supplies Israel with billions of dollars and the latest weapons and technology to commit slow-motion genocide against millions of Palestinians, deny their legitimate self-determination, and right of their refugees to return home as international law demands.

Moreover, America is a serial aggressor and human rights abuser. High-sounding rhetoric changes nothing. Yet Obama claimed America “did not go (to Afghanistan) by choice, we went of necessity….we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there….Iraq was a war of choice (but) I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein.”

“Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future – and leave Iraq to Iraqis. I have made it clear to the Iraqi people that we pursue no bases, and no claim on their territory or resources. Iraq’s sovereignty is its own.”

In fact, secret provisions in the Pentagon’s 2008 Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) indicate otherwise. They flagrantly violate Iraqi sovereignty, authorizing permanent US bases, camps, and prisons. Moreover, they immunize US forces, civilian security, and private contractors from criminal prosecution. They assure Iraqi “democracy” is illusory.

Afghanistan’s occupation is similar. Officials in both countries have no say over US operations, including incursions into other countries. They require Washington’s approval before concluding any agreements with other countries. Their leaders and key ministries are US-controlled.

Moreover, no timeline is stipulated for America’s withdrawal beyond disingenuous rhetoric affirming it, returning sovereign power to Iraqis and Afghans. Instead, occupation is permanent. America came to stay, allied with proxy security forces to maintain hardline control.

Since Cairo 2009, Obama’s declared support for democracy, peace, human rights, mutual understanding, and social justice brought none to the region where Washington backs its most ruthless tyrants.

His “unbreakable” bond with Israel ignored Palestinians six decade ordeal and 44-year occupation. He said nothing earlier or now about Cast Lead slaughter, besieged Gaza, land theft, home demolitions, mass arrests, torture, targeted assassinations, legitimate Palestinian self-determination, and the right of diaspora refugees to return.

In Cairo, he came, saw, spoke, made empty gestures, no clear promises, and followed it with more of the same yesterday, concealing America’s intention to exploit this resource-rich part of the world.

Unlike easily fooled Americans, Arabs have no illusions. They’ve heard it all before, this time responding with popular uprisings for change they know only they can achieve by staying resolutely committed for it.

So far, it’s nowhere in sight, but maybe, just maybe this time is different. In the fullness of time, we’ll know.

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