Will new Israeli settlements be a deal breaker for a two-state solution?

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | NOVEMBER 5, 2012

Who would have thought that an abandoned territory in the outskirts of a population center could turn into an obstacle for peace. The thing is, when war is profitable — it always is — and the profiteers keep their eyes on the cash prize, anything can be a deal breaker in a peace negotiation. This is the case of the conflict between Israeli leadership and Palestine.

The terrorist government of Israel has shown it has no intention of pursuing a solution to the war it now wages against mostly unarmed Arabs on the Gaza Strip, West Bank and pretty much everywhere else in the Middle East. In retaliation for the successful acceptance of Palestine as an Observer member state of the UN Security Council, Benjamin Netanyahu not only withheld tax money from the Palestinians, but also mandated that new settlements be built on the E-1 zone.

E-1 is mostly a wasteland overlooking the Dead Sea,  but in political terms it is a treasure for Israel because by ordering the construction of settlements on E-1 the government of Israel will maintain alive the conflict with Palestine while it plays possum and acts as the victim of aggression. But Israel’s allies have had it already and even some European nations which have traditionally thrown their support behind Israel are now out of patience. The equation has changed variables as the European Parliament voted almost unanimously to support Palestine as a UN Observer member state, which raised even more tensions between Israel and European countries.

Because E-1 is a proposed colony of Israel and because Netanyahu strongly pledged to speed up the construction of new settlements on that area, some Western chancelleries declared that this action might be the final nail in the coffin of the two-state solution, which should result in the creation of a Palestinian state living next to Israel. Because of its strategic location, if Israel ends building in E-1, the West Bank would split almost in two, making it impossible to have a contiguous future Palestinian State.

Israel announced that it has begun preliminary work to build in this area now, although plans have existed for decades. The Israelis have deliberately pronounced the word taboo, “E-1”. Apart from announcing the construction of 3,000 new housing units in occupied territory, the Israeli government touched another sensitive nerve in the political arena, making it clear to the world that it does not recognize the Palestinians as an Observer state at the UN.

E-1 is reached by road from Jerusalem to Jericho. A detour leads to a long slope, ending at the top of one of the classic cobblestone West Bank hills. An Israeli police station is right at the top of the mount. It is the only building in an area that otherwise is ready for development.

The road uphill, which has up to three lanes, is riddled with roundabouts that lead nowhere, but new streets will certainly originate as soon as the official order to build is given. There are street lights, electricity and running water. Everything is in place. Next to the police station, there is a small gazebo with an explanatory panel signed by several Israeli parliament members, who visited the area three years ago. The panels cite part of a biblical text that promises to build the settlements. “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”

E-1 has an area of 12 square kilometers, most of them privately owned by Palestinians. In addition to some geostrategic issues, urbanization will force the expulsion of 11,000 Bedouin people who barely survive in the semi-desert enclave in Ir Amim. From E-1 it is possible to see East Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and up to Jordan. Opposite, it is possible to see Maale Adumim, one of the largest West Bank settlements that is home to about 40,000 Israelis and that would be the population center charge of hosting the controversial expansion of municipal limits. The development of E-1 is one of the great ambitions of the mayor of Maale Adumim, a member of the Likud government, who intends to take the settlements to the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Amir Chesin has lived in Maale Adumim for almost 30 years, but he does not agree with the Israeli plans to extend the settlements. He says that most Israeli people are excited about the expansion of the settlements and that many of them are becoming extreme right wingers. That is why he is actively looking to move elsewhere.

Israeli government sources explained that the idea to build in E-1 is nothing new. That is a project that dates back to the nineties, the time of then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and the idea is still the same as then. Since the idea was born 20 years ago, settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have continued to grow, to form a cordon around the Holy City.

The Israeli government has also decided to accelerate the plan to build 1,700 housing units in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in East Jerusalem, according to the newspaper Haaretz, this move comes in response to the UN vote. The planning and building committee of the city will examine the plan in two weeks time.

The Real Agenda encourages the sharing of its original content ONLY through the tools provided at the bottom of every article. Please DON’T copy articles from The Real Agenda and redistribute by email or post to the web.

A new World: United States and Israel irrelevant at the UN

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | NOVEMBER 30, 2012

We are entering into a new world order and amazingly the US and Israel are becoming more irrelevant. The latest example is the voting that took place yesterday at the United Nations where the General Assembly approved the inclusion of Palestine as an observer member. Despite the strong opposition from the United States and Israel, a large majority of member nations supported the Palestinian Authority’s request to be accepted as an Observer State member.

The Palestinian president said at the UN that the recent vote is a “birth certificate to the reality of the state of Palestine ” Now, Palestine enjoys the same status of the Vatican.

The vote showed that the world is in favor of the recognition of Palestine as an independent state. A total of 138 countries, including Spain, voted in favor, for only 9 against, with the U.S. and Israel at the head of the opposition. Meanwhile 41 other member states abstained.

Hours earlier, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke out against the vote. He described the initiative as an error from Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority. “Nothing can replace direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine.” Obama forgot to say that direct talks were already held and Israel rejected every single option on the table that would allow the existence of two sovereign states that could live side by side in peace.

Obama and his team have worked hard diplomatically during these last days to try to convince the Palestinians to back off. Obama himself, shortly after his re-election on November 6, called on Abbas to reconsider the situation. He asked for a margin of time to promote a new round of negotiations, since the previous one has been frozen for two years.

Abbas rejected the proposal and went ahead with his project. “We are here because we believe in peace,” he said from the podium of the General Assembly. “In the last days (referring to the conflict in Gaza last week) we’ve seen the desperate need for peace. We did not come to add more complications, but we seek to bring this new life into the negotiations,” he said.

But the Israeli ambassador, Ron Prosor, said that it is the Palestinians that interfere with conversations. “They prefer to come to New York than to travel to Jerusalem,” he said. “There is no UN resolution that can break the bonds of the Israeli people to the land of Israel.”

At the conclusion of the vote, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, described the resolution as unfortunate and counterproductive, “that is why we voted against.” And she insisted on Obama’s call to direct negotiation. “Do not fall into further provocations,” she said. Despite Rice’s  descriptions, the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said that the resolution of the Assembly was very useful. “This is a call for negotiations,” he said. “I think the Palestinians have the right to live in their independent state. I think the Israelis have the right to live in peace and security with its neighbors. ”

For its part, the Spanish delegation said that “if there had been progress in the negotiations, the outcome of this vote would have been different.”

“Palestine comes today to the General Assembly because it believes in peace for its people, which as proven in recent days, it is desperately needed,” Abbas said in his speech before the voting in favor of the proposed resolution was carried out.

“Your support for our efforts today will give you a reason to hope for a nation besieged by a racist and colonialist occupation,” he added. The president said that the Palestinian people will not accept anything less than “an independent State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, on the territory occupied in 1967 to live in peace and security with Israel.”

In the meantime, the Israeli ambassador to the UN said that the vote “will not advance peace and will not change the situation on the ground because the Palestinian Authority does not control Gaza, 40 percent of the territory you want to control, and which is now in the hands of Hamas, a group listed in terrorist organizations,” the ambassador added. He forgot to mention, however, that it was Israel itself the one that strongly contributed to the creation of Hamas, just as the United States did with al-Qaeda in the 1970’s.

The Real Agenda encourages the sharing of its original content ONLY through the tools provided at the bottom of every article. Please DON’T copy articles from The Real Agenda and redistribute by email or post to the web.

U.N. will vote for Palestinian, Israeli States based on 1967 Borders

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | NOVEMBER 29, 2012

The resolution that, in all likelihood, will be approved Thursday by the United Nations General Assembly, includes a recognition of the right of Palestinians to a state on the 1967 borders. According to the draft that was circulated in the hours before the vote, it would be the same territory that was suggested in previous peace negotiations with Israel that found no support from the Jewish representatives. This time however, the nation led by Benjamin Netanyahu may not have many options to pick from. Despite the fact the country is in a delicate diplomatic situation while its people await the next election, its government seems less receptive than ever to talk.

The UN vote will certainly be a moral victory for the Palestinian Authority. His representative in this international organization, Riyad Mansour, has predicted that the resolution to be introduced Thursday and that is sponsored by about 60 countries, will get overwhelming support. “I think most of the nations vote with us because there is an international consensus on the two-state solution,” said.

The Palestinians believe that they have at least 150 votes of the 193 member countries of the General Assembly, which would raise immediately the level of its representation of observant entity to “non-member State observer”, the same status awarded to the Vatican. “Without prejudice”, as stated in the draft resolution, “acquired rights, privileges and role of the Organization for the Liberation of Palestine and the representative of the Palestinian people.”

Unlike the Security Council no one has the right to veto in the General Assembly, so that whatever is decided, will be adopted immediately. The resolution also “reaffirms the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and independence in their State of Palestine on the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967” and expressed “the urgent need to revive and accelerate the peace process in the Middle East” in order to “reach a lasting peace agreement, fair and balanced between Palestinians and Israelis to resolve major issues such as Palestinian refugees, Jerusalem, settlements, borders, security and water.”

In addition, a strengthening of the Palestinian position should also serve to foster the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, weakened in recent months by the resurgence of radical competitor, Hamas. The problem is to know how far this success, with all the resonance that will have today, can make a difference starting tomorrow. The United States, the indispensable partner of any negotiation process, has shown its opposition to the recognition of Palestine as an Observer State.

Obama will certainly not remain quiet as Israeli – Palestinian relations deteriorate after the resolution is approved — if it’s approved — The same situation will take place within the U.S., where Congress seems to be ready to freeze financial aid to the Palestinians.

From the perspective of the U.S. administration, this vote is an exercise in exhibitionism where Palestinians indulge to demonstrate the wide international support available to them, whilst the Europeans are satisfied with their open support for Palestine. Last week, the European Parliament publicly expressed its support for a State of Palestine, with Spain and France being the most outspoken nations in favor of a two-state solution. Only Germany has shown its opposition to the negotiation that includes the conditions as they were in 1967.

The absolute best thing that can come out of this day is a new sense of urgency to help expedite Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the only way in which the Palestinians may have a state. Nothing indicates, for now, that such negotiation will happen, but today’s vote, if it favors the Palestinian cause, will be the starting point to draw the conditions for a territorial framework during future negotiations. In a sense, the vote will help clarify the most difficult points that previous meetings haven’t been able to clear up. For the first time since its creation, the U.N. may actually do something that favors, at least at first, the peace process in the Middle East, after pretty much originating and promoting the conflict that has existed in modern times. A good question to ask, though is, Chi Bono? Who benefits?

It is likely that Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will use the vote for a Palestinian State based on the conditions of 1967 as a tool to cheat his people. Most likely he will use it as an example of Arab radicalism and will try to turn it into a threat for the Israeli people. The fact that there is a vacuum in world leadership at this moment, could cause two different outcomes. First, the vote in the U.N. could become more relevant than expected, and for the first time a significant group of nations may exercise their will to end a conflict that is thousands of years old. The Israeli leadership may decide to isolate itself from any negotiations despite the growing support for a two-state solution. Second, there may be hope to resolve the conflict if Israel is shaken up by the upcoming elections, if the people of Israel send a clear message to Benjamin Netanyahu, if they make it clear that everyone is sick and tired of having to run underground whenever terrorist leaders on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides decide to bomb each other just to show their muscle.

The Real Agenda encourages the sharing of its original content ONLY through the tools provided at the bottom of every article. Please DON’T copy articles from The Real Agenda and redistribute by email or post to the web.

Terrorist Israeli state threatens to decapitate Palestinian government

Foreign Affairs Minister says Israel will attack Palestine if the UN accepts its request to become an observer member state.

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | NOVEMBER 14, 2012

The Israeli threats are gaining intensity as the date approaches for the UN to decide if it recognizes Palestine as a non-member observer state. The Palestinian diplomatic initiative has strong opposition from Israel and the United States, who fear that if this initiative moves towards, Palestine may soon be recognized as a  state in its own right.

If the November 29th General Assembly of the UN grant Gaza and the West Bank a status similar to the Vatican, the doors would be left open for multilateral agencies, including Justice International to open.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Wednesday that a document had been issued that instructs Israeli ambassadors to communicate their respective capitals about Israel’s intention: “if the Palestinians go ahead with their project of recognition, Israel would dismantle the Palestinian Authority and overthrow its president, Mahmoud Abbas.”

“If the Palestinian proposal is accepted by the UN General Assembly, in our view this would be breaking the rules and cause an extreme response from us,” Lieberman said Wednesday during a visit to Ariel, one of the settlements located in Palestinian territories.

Lieberman’s threats, although serious, have not been officially confirmed by Israel. The country hasn’t talked about any reprisals that it will take if the vote favors the Palestinian membership. However, some of the measures being considered are the freezing of the transfer of taxes from Israel to Palestinian coffers, the expansion of settlements and the restriction of movement for Palestinian politicians.

Washington has not specified what the next steps will be after President Barack Obama called his Palestinian counterpart last Sunday and asked him to postpone the diplomatic initiative. “This is not about someone telling us that we should not go to the UN, but what we get in exchange for not doing it,” said Palestinian leader Mohamed Stayyeh, to reporters.

The Palestinians have calculated that a large majority of at least 130 votes in the General Assembly will vote in favor of their request. Among Europeans there is not a consensus position and the total is expected to be split. More than two years of negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis are stalled. The lack of proposals on the table and the relentless expansion of settlements has encouraged Palestinians to seek new ways to progress on its way to the creation of a Palestinian state based on the format from 1967.

The idea however is that this goal is reached through direct negotiations between the parties, who must decide on the thorniest issues, including border demarcation, the future of Palestinian refugees and Jerusalem. The Palestinians accuse Israel of not wanting to sit down and negotiate. And the Palestinians have refused to sit at the negotiating table until Israel ceases constructing settlements. More than half a million Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which are part of the territory of Palestine.

The Real Agenda encourages the sharing of its original content ONLY through the tools provided at the bottom of every article. Please DON’T copy articles from The Real Agenda and redistribute by email or post to the web.

No Human Rights Hearing for Palestinians

The International Criminal Court Refused to hear a case where Palestinians’s human rights were violated by the Israeli military because according to the ICC, Palestine is not a recognized state.

RUSSIA TODAY | APRIL 4, 2012

The ICC has refused Palestine’s bid for an investigation into the Israeli military offensive on the Gaza strip on the basis that Palestine is not a recognized state. Human rights groups have strongly criticized the move, while Israel has praised it.

A prosecutor from the International Criminal Court said the investigation would get the go ahead only if the UN or its Security Council recognizes Palestine as a state.

“I need Palestine recognized as a state because I am not the prosecutor of the world; I am the prosecutor of the countries who accept my jurisdiction. I need a country accepting me and then I investigate the crimes,” Luis Moreno-Ocampo told Al Arabiya on Monday.

Israel welcomed the announcement, the Israeli Foreign Minister saying in a statement that “Israel made it clear in the first place that the ICC has no jurisdiction in this matter.”

The Israeli military incursion into Gaza began in winter of 2008, when their forces entered Gaza with the aim of stopping rocket fire into Israel. Palestinian forces continued with their rocket bombardment in return for what they described as Israeli “massacres”.

The war came to an end in January 2009 when Israel declared a ceasefire, Hamas followed suit 12 hours afterwards.

The conflict is estimated to have claimed between 1,166 and 1,417 Palestinian lives.

Read Full Article →