Thursday, October 15, 2009

Israel says no fresh peace talks unless Gaza report is dropped.

The Israelis, who under Netanyahu have made it perfectly clear that they have no desire for peace with the Palestinians, are now claiming that there can be no peace process as long as the Goldstone report - which states that Israel committed war crimes during it's recent attacks on Gaza - is even up for consideration by the United Nations.

'Our argument is that as long as the Goldstone report is on the table and everywhere they are quoting it and supporting it - also states that are considered our friends - we cannot make progress in the peace process,' Israel's ambassador to the UN Gabriella Shalev said.

'We will not sit at the table and will not talk with bodies and people who accuse us of war crimes. That is simply unacceptable,' she said in an interview with Israel Radio.


Shalev called the report 'distorted' and 'one-sided,' reiterating Israel's argument that the fact-finding committee headed by South African judge Richard Goldstone included members who had expressed advance judgements against Israel and that it was established by a Human Rights Council hostile to it.

The argument that the report is "one sided" is a curious one, as it was the Israelis who refused to contribute to Goldstone's investigation, so they sort of made that inevitable.

Shalev continued:

Now was not a 'comfortable time' to revive negotiations, as half the Palestinian areas continued to be controlled by the radical Islamist Hamas movement, Shalev said.

'So if they expect us to renew the peace process and to freeze settlements, we expect the international community to enable us to take risks (for peace) and not deny us - as this report does - our right to self-defence.'

I can't be the only person who is beginning to find Israel's position on this tedious in the extreme.

Firstly, there has been no indication up until now that Israel has any intention of entering into peace talks, with Israel’s hawkish Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman going as far as to state that anyone expecting peace between the two sides was "delusional".

So, it's a bit much for Israel now to be pretending that the only thing preventing them taking part in peace talks is the threat of prosecution for war crimes. They don't want peace talks. Period.

They are now demanding that the UN shelve Goldstone's report whilst pretending that this might lead to peace talks. But it won't.

Just as with their expansion of the illegal settlements they will simply find another reason not to take part in the talks because they have never wanted these talks in the first place.

The Israelis have tried everything, including blackmailing the Palestinians and threatening to kill off a crucial West Bank economic project in an attempt to make this UN report simply go away.

Shalom Kital, an aide to defence minister Ehud Barak, said today that Israel will not release a share of the radio spectrum that has long been sought by the Palestinian Authority to enable the launch of a second mobile telecommunications company unless the PA drops its efforts to put Israeli soldiers and officers in the dock over the Israeli operation.

“It’s a condition. We are saying to the Palestinians that ‘if you want a normal life and are trying to embark on a new way, you must stop your incitement,” Mr. Kital said. “We are helping the Palestinian economy but one thing we ask them is to stop with these embarrassing charges.”

It is quite clear that the Israelis are enraged at what they see as UN interference with their right to treat the Palestinians in any way which they choose, as long as they can claim that they are doing so in self defence.

And the Israelis are further enraged that many of her allies, including the United States, Britain and France , are all saying that Israel should launch "credible" investigations into the allegations that war crimes were committed during her attack on Gaza.

So, I can understand why the Israelis feel that their back is to the wall here. However, they are pushing their luck when they state that they can't take part in peace talks as long as this report hangs over their head. Because they have made it abundantly clear that they were never interested in these talks in the first place.

Indeed, this report is the excuse Netanyahu has been looking for to abandon any pretence that he wanted to meet Obama halfway.

Obama can do one of two things. He can concede to Netanyahu and have him agree to peace talks, which he knows Netanyahu is entering into in bad faith, or he can increase the pressure on Netanyahu, by threatening to further isolate the Israelis, whilst keeping the Goldstone report hovering over Netanyahu's head.

If he does the latter Netanyahu will still come to the talks in bad faith, but he will at least do so in a position of weakness which might make him more open to compromise.

What Obama should not do, although I suspect he will, is give in to this blatant Israeli grandstanding.

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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

• It must have been an unenviable challenge for the Israel Foreign Ministry to endeavor to try to discredit the report of the eminent South African Jurist, Judge Goldstone, who has an impeccable record in the field of human and civil rights, both at home and abroad. The first insuperable problem was that he is not only a recognized authority on international human rights legislation and convention, but he is Jewish! So the standard allegation of anti-Semitism, was impossible. They could not attack his professional record, which was impeccable. So what action could be taken in damage limitation?
• The matter has suddenly become urgent. If the world fully accepts the report, then Israel is branded a human rights violator and a perpetrator of war crime. The international community has been shocked at the allegations of gratuitous killing of hundreds of innocent children and over a hundred women in three weeks of unchecked violence, together with the destruction of Gaza's infrastructure including 'houses, factories, wells, schools, hospitals, police stations and other public buildings'.
• The Report alleges 'an overall and continuing policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population, and a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed at the civilian population.' That, the Report states, 'could lead a competent court to find that the crime of persecution, a crime against humanity, has been commited.'
• The Israeli Government is in deep trouble as the allegations become more widely known, because there are few who now believe its denials and fewer still, its continuing propaganda. And there is a palpable sense of shock as the evidence unfolds as to what transpired in those three weeks of state-sponsored killing and destruction, under the pretext of self-defense.

colindale

Kel said...

I agree. And it's astonishing that Shalev should cite the fact that even friends and allies are encouraging Israel to launch a credible investigation as if this is proof of how unreasonable other people are being.

The report also states that Israel "deliberately killed civilians" and that Israel had launched “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorise a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself and to force upon it an ever-increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability”.

As you say, the usual Israeli talking points about "self defence" simply don't wash when one reads what the report actually said.

edwin sanchez said...

It is not Israel has done nothing to bring peace. They have had peace with Egypt and Jordan for years now.

Kel said...

Yes, but they have never argued that Egypt and Jordan should be part of Israel have they? But there are many, including Netanyahu, who have argued that Judea and Samaria actually belong to Israel.