Monday, August 03, 2009

Netanyahu's short sightedness.



Netanyahu continues to defy Obama's demand that Israeli illegal settlements cease with actions that appear to be becoming more provocative by the day:

Israeli forces have evicted the Hanoun and al-Ghawe families from their homes.

At around 5:30 in the morning, Israeli police arrived at the Hannoun family home and broke into the house through the windows. They forcefully removed Maher Hanoun, his wife Nadia and their 3 children. The police violently separated the family from the international and Israeli solidarity activists that were staying in the home. Police then arrested the international and Israeli solidarity activists that were staying with the family. Similarly, Israeli police came into the al-Ghawe family home at 5:30am and removed the family and internationals staying in the home.

Settlers arrived with a truck and began to move the al-Gwahe Hannoun family possessions out of their home. Everyone outside of the house was forced across the street, away from the house.

According to eyewitnesses, Israeli forces beat a Palestinian male who was trying to intervene when police were yelling at an elderly Palestinian woman. Additionally, media personnel were pushed around by police when they were trying to get close to the evicted Sheikh Jarrah homes.

Amongst those arrested are at least 7 international activists and 1 Israeli activist. They are scheduled to be brought to court in Jerusalem at 11am.

Maher Hannoun, Palestinian resident of Sheikh Jarrah:

"Despite condemnation from the international community about the evictions of my neighborhood, Sheikh Jarrah, the Israeli government continues to pursue the ethnic cleansing of East Jerusalem. My family were refugees from 1948 and now we have become refugees again. We were forced out of homes to make way for settlers, contrary to international law. The legal case that residents presented in court included an Ottoman-era document which discounts the settler associations claim of ownership over Sheikh Jarrah land and homes. But the unjust policies of Israel to judaize East Jerusalem render our legal proof of ownership irrelevant."
These families have lived in Sheikh Jarrah since 1956 but an Israeli court ruled that the homes belonged to Israeli settlers.

This incident takes place at a time when Obama is demanding that Israel stop settlement activity in East Jerusalem and the Occupied Territories.

Robert Serry, the U.N. special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, called the evictions "totally unacceptable", noting that international mediators recently appealed to Israel to stop "provocative actions" in East Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asserting a biblical claim to Jerusalem, has said Jews have a right to live anywhere in the city. Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a state they hope to create in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
We are told this:
Police said they were acting on eviction orders issued by an Israeli court, which upheld a settler organisation's land ownership claim based on 19th-century documents.
So, presumably, the settler organisation is making the claim that - prior to 1948 - these homes belonged to relatives of the settlers. But the Israeli government's official position has always been that they - for very obvious reasons - are utterly opposed to the concept of the right to return. Are they now arguing that it is acceptable for Israeli's to avail themselves of the right to return but not for Palestinians to do so?

That's what's illogical about the recent court decision; it undermines a policy which is actually in Israel's interests. And they are establishing legally a precedent here that it will be problematic to deny in the future.

Somewhere down the line this incident is going to be held up as an example of the fact that the Israeli's do believe in the right to return. Certainly where it applies to Israeli's.

This is short sighted in the extreme. And that's before Netanyahu counts the cost of such a public slap to Obama's policy.

UPDATE:

It's so rare that I find myself in agreement with Tom Friedman that I had to read this again to make sure I hadn't missed something. Yes, he repeats the tiresome nonsense about Ahmadinejad and "wiping Israel off the map", but lets not split hairs, his larger point is correct.

Here’s what Israelis need to understand: President Obama is not some outlier when it comes to Israel. His call for a settlements freeze reflects attitudes that have been building in America for a long time. For the last 40 years, a succession of Israeli governments has misled, manipulated or persuaded na├»ve U.S. presidents that since Israel was negotiating to give up significant territory, there was no need to fight over “insignificant” settlements on some territory. Behind this charade, Israeli settlers bit off more and more of the West Bank, creating a huge moral, security and economic burden for Israel and its friends.

As Bradley Burston, a columnist for Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, put it last week: “The settlement movement has cost Israel some $100 billion. ... The double standard which for decades has favored settlers with inexpensive housing, heavily subsidized social services, and blind-eye building permits has long been accompanied by a kid-gloves approach regarding settler violence against Palestinians and their property. ... Settlers and settlement planners have covertly bent and distorted zoning procedures, military directives, and government decrees in order to boost settlement, block Palestinian construction, agriculture, and access to employment, and effectively neutralize measures intended to foster Israeli-Palestinian peace progress.”

For years, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the pro-Israel lobby, rather than urging Israel to halt this corrosive process, used their influence to mindlessly protect Israel from U.S. pressure on this issue and to dissuade American officials and diplomats from speaking out against settlements. Everyone in Washington knows this, and a lot of people — people who care about Israel — are sick of it.

The Times’s Jerusalem bureau chief, Ethan Bronner, captured the we-are-untouchable arrogance of the settlers last week when he quoted Rabbi Yigael Shandorfi, leader of a religious academy at the settlement of Nahliel, calling Mr. Obama in a speech “that Arab they call a president.”

So if Mr. Obama has bluntly pressed for a settlements freeze, he is, in fact, reflecting a broad sentiment in Congress, the Pentagon and among many Americans, Jews included.
I've been blogging for a mere three years and it used to be that American progressives and I agreed on everything - apart from the Israel-Palestine conflict. In just three years I have watched a sea change take place. The American left lost patience with Israel somewhere between the invasion of Lebanon and the last insane and immoral intervention into Gaza.

Israel has now blown it big time. Three years ago Obama wouldn't have got away with the stance he is now taking. Three years on, it's Israel and Netanyahu who need to understand that the terrain has changed.

2 comments:

nunya said...

The first time I saw maps of of Israeli/Palestinian territories and how they have changed since 1948 I was appalled. It was after September 11, 2001 and the book has since been withdrawn from library circulation. Hmmmm.

Kel said...

I wonder why? Frightened perhaps that people might make some connection between the two? Because that would never do.