finished writing this editorial and was about to post it when news
broke this morning of yet another Israeli war crime, one that will not
likely be reported as such in the American mainstream press.
The pace of Israel's illegal settlement expansion has accelerated in
recent years. Israel stepped on the accelerator yet again with
what Peace Now
calls "the largest Israeli appropriation of West Bank land in 30
years." Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank announced
the takeover of almost 1000 acres belonging to five Palestinian
villages between the Etzion settlement bloc and Jerusalem.
You can read the story in Al Jazeera, Guardian UK
and Haaretz (Haaretz requires registration.)
According to The International Criminal Court's founding charter, the 1998 Rome statute (pdf - under War Crimes 2b (viii),
describes as a war crime "the transfer, directly or
indirectly, by the occupying power of parts of its own civilian
population into the territory it occupies."
If anyone requires more proof that Israel is not interested in seriously
moving forward with a peace process, this is it. Fresh off its latest
war on Gaza that resulted in international condemnation
from EU leaders to even President Obama for Israel's
wanton slaughter of Gazan civilians and deliberate destruction of
Gaza's civilian infrastructure, Israel responds with its biggest
illegal land grab in three decades.
All American administrations are on record as being opposed to
Israeli settlement building but words amount to empty rhetoric as the
U.S. refuses to leverage its annual 3 billion dollars of economic and
military aid to pressure Israel. It's a joke for the U.S.
to discuss a two state solution when the West Bank and East Jerusalem
continue to be swallowed by Israel on a daily basis.
After 51 days of human carnage in Gaza an open ended cease-fire was
reached August 26 to apparently end Israel's third war on Gaza in the
past six years.
As always the biggest losers are civilians especially children.
In Gaza approximately 2150 people were killed, most of them
civilians, including more than 500 children which would equate to
88,000 American children in the name of self-defense. At
least 11,000 people were injured including 3000 children of whom
1000 have injuries that have paralyzed them. 1800 children are
more than 17,000 homes were destroyed or badly damaged. Around a
third of Gaza's 1.8 million people have been displaced. Gaza's
civilian infrastructure has been destroyed. Reconstruction
could take up to 10 years, say analysts.
On the Israeli side 64 soldiers died along with six civilians including
one child. Hundreds of families relocated from homes near the Gaza
border to safer areas further north.
(Majority of the above statistics and cease fire terms below from Guardian UK article: Gaza ceasefire: Israel and Palestinians agree to halt weeks of fighting)
What did this war on Gaza achieve?
The terms of this open ended cease fire appear to be almost identical
to what was agreed to at the end of the previous Israeli assault in Nov
2012. Israel has reportedly agreed to allow humanitarian
aid and construction materials to enter Gaza, and
will extend the permitted fishing zone to six miles from 3 miles off the coast of Gaza.
The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt is supposed to be opened although Haaretz
reports Egypt does not intend to fully open its border crossing into Gaza at Rafah.
the root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Israeli
occupation of the West Bank and Gaza since 1967, especially the inhuman
blockade of Gaza since 2006 have not been addressed. Until
have basic human rights and freedoms that all people are
entitled, a sustainable peace will not happen.
As Nathan Thrall
said in his op-ed piece in the N.Y. Times How the West Chose War in Gaza
is pursuing a return to the status quo ante, when Gaza had electricity
for barely eight hours a day, water was undrinkable, sewage was dumped
in the sea, fuel shortages caused sanitation plants to shut down and
waste sometimes floated in the streets.”
That was before the 50 days of hell.
There is agreement to have the more difficult issues deferred for
further talks in a few weeks. Specific demands include a seaport and
airport in Gaza, construction of which were permitted under the 1993
Oslo accords. Talks will also need to address Israel's insistence
on the disarmament of militant groups and the return of the remains of
two of its soldiers killed in the fighting.
Rabbi Henry Siegman who's father was one of the key leaders of the
European Zionist movement, is president of the U.S./Middle East Project
and former long time executive director of the American Jewish
Congress. In his Politico
article "Israel provoked this War
," he points out this
latest war was triggered by Israel’s determination to destroy the
Palestinian unity government that was formed in early June by Fatah and
Israel was isolated in this desperate goal as the U.S. and the
E.U. backed the unity government and the unity government was committed
to honoring all of the conditions imposed by the international
community for recognition of its legitimacy.
Apparently Netanyahu's biggest fear is a unified Palestinian entity.
Therefore he manipulated the murder of the three young Israeli settlers
as a way to whip up domestic and international support for the invasion
of Gaza thinking he'd crush Hamas, Hamas would lose support within Gaza
and the unity government would be stillborn.
Fatah supported Hamas throughout the Israeli assault and the unity
government is very much alive. Hamas may be weakened but it
arguably enjoys more support in Gaza now than before the war due to its
resistance against one of the world's most lethal military machines.
Netanyahu's domestic approval rating which was 82% when the ground
invasion began in mid July, plummeted to 38% (source - channel 2 Israel)
the day before the cease fire was announced and is likely even
The next date to look out for is September 15.
According to the Haaretz
article Palestinians threaten to turn to ICC if date not set for return to 1967 lines
Palestinians plan to turn to the United Nations Security Council on
September 15 to demand a deadline be set for Israel's withdrawal to
1967 borders, according to senior Fatah official Nabil Shaath.
If the Security Council rejects the initiative, the Palestinians would open their war
crimes case against Israel at the International Criminal Court.
The Arab League will meet in Cairo September 7-9 to discuss providing
Abbas with an Arab umbrella of support. Abbas is already backed in
principle by Saudi Arabia and Egypt.