Showing posts with label Netanyahu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Netanyahu. Show all posts

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Taking the Real Measure of Netanyahu, An Arab Woman Speaks Up

There's a new name being given to Benjamin Netanyahu's newest illegal settlement crime.  It's being called the "Doomsday Settlement," a term coined by the Israeli founder of Terrestrial Jerusalem, Daniel Seidemann.

Nicola Nasser, an Arab journalist based in the West Bank, or at least what remains of it after years of Israeli predations, warns that this settlement is unlike all of the others.

The international outcry is not against the Israeli policy of settlements on Palestinian occupied land per se, but against this one particular settlement, known as East One (E-1), and Netanyahu's answer to the overwhelming recent recognition of Palestine as a non-member state by the UN General Assembly.

On the ground, the site of some 4.6 square miles (12 square kilometers) on the easternmost edge of eastern Jerusalem will close the only link between the north and south of the West Bank. Therefore it would sever the territory from East Jerusalem, the prospective capital of the State of Palestine, thus undermining any viable and contiguous Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 and turning the recognition of the UN General Assembly on November 29, 2012, as merely a Palestinian achievement on paper. 

...The international community's inaction could not but vindicate the expected Palestinian reaction. President Mahmoud Abbas late on December 4 chaired a Palestinian leadership meeting in Ramallah, attended for the first time by the representatives of the rival Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements. They decided to ask the UN Security Council to adopt a binding resolution obliging Israel to stop all settlement activities in the occupied State of Palestine, concluding that Israel "is forcing us to go to the International Criminal Court".

Netanyahu's defiance and the Palestinian leadership's decision will both put the credibility of all the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to an historic test: They either decide to act on their own words or their inaction will inevitably leave the Palestinians with the only option of defending their very existence by all the means available to them.

For Palestinians, to be or not to be has become an existential issue that can no longer be entrusted to the international community.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

40-Years of Peace Tossed in the Garbage

Apparently forty years of peace has been too much of a good thing for Benjamin Netanyahu.  Israel has enjoyed peace with its Arab neighbours since 1973.

Don’t blame yourself if you didn’t realize that the Middle East has enjoyed four decades of peace. But that is precisely what has transpired between Israel and Arab states since the Yom Kippur War of 1973. In its first twenty-five years of independence, Israel was characterized by multi-state war with intermittent bouts of unsuccessful diplomacy. Six Arab armies invaded Israel in 1948; Israel fought four Arab armies in June 1967; twelve Arab armies participated in the 1973 war. In the forty years since, Israel has fought no wars against an Arab state, and its history has been characterized by frequently successful diplomacy with intermittent bouts of terrorism and asymmetric war against non-state actors.

Conditions on the ground in the M.E. are in transition.   American hegemony is in decline.   China is poised to fill the vacuum.  Beijing is far more interested in Arab oil than in Jaffa oranges. It is also looking for opportunities to push back against America's new military pivot into China's backyard.

France is ready to open diplomatic relations with Palestine.  Netanyahu's bully boy tactics and arrogance may just get other nations to follow suit.  What then?   Nations with diplomatic relations can just as easily enter into all sorts of treaties including mutual defence and military assistance pacts.

What does Israel do if a mixed Chinese-Russian naval fleet begins escorting flotillas of ships into Gaza?   Is Netanyahu mad enough to fire on Chinese and Russian warships?

It might not be a bad idea for Palestine, the West Bank and Gaza, to be turned into an occupied territory only, this time, with benevolent occupiers.   A multi-national occupation to restore Palestine to its pre-1967 borders and maintaining a suitable demilitarized zone alone the Palestine-Israel border. 

As Israeli civilians are in Palestine unlawfully, they wouldn't be expelled but, instead, relocated to pre-1967 Israel along with all the Israeli troops who have been positioned inside Palestine to protect them.  Jerusalem would again be partitioned until the parties were ready to consider making it an open city.

Yes, Palestine needs to remain occupied for Israel's sake and for its own.  That may mean a foreign presence for a full generation or more to allow the bad blood between Israeli and Palestinian to drain out.   Anyone nearing retirement age knows that generational change can do amazing things.   It's why we old geezers are always griping and moaning about how things were so much better "in our day."

Wouldn't this sort of neutral but muscular foreign occupation be infinitely better, for Israeli and Palestinian alike, than the scourge-tactics of the Israeli occupiers or, worse, the prospect of another succession of Arab-Israeli wars?

Monday, December 03, 2012

Germany Shines a Light on the Harp of Darkness

When it came right down to it, Germany balked at voting "no" on Palestinian recognition in the UN General Assembly and, instead, merely abstained.   Netanyahu was not amused.

What transpired between Angie Merkel and Benny Netanyahu may shed some useful light on how Israel interacts with allies, like Canada, expecting them to do its bidding.

It was one of the most unpleasant conversations that Christoph Heusgen had ever been required to have with Jaakov Amidror. On Wednesday evening, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's foreign policy adviser told his Israeli counterpart that Germany would abstain in the following day's vote at the United Nations General Assembly on whether to grant the Palestinians the status of a "non-member observer state." Merkel's government had just decided, he said. 

Amidror made it clear what he thought about the Germans' decision. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government had been expecting Berlin to show its customary support for Israel by voting "no." The Israelis viewed [the German] announcement as an affront

Germany's stance on this issue shows just how deeply frustrated its government is with the Netanyahu government's policies. The UN vote was a defeat for Israel. In the end, 138 of the 193 UN member states supported the Palestinians' petition, including France and 13 other European Union member states. Germany's abstention weighed particularly heavy because it meant that Canada and the United States were the only major Western nations to vote on Israeli's side.

 ...In mid-November, Merkel was still of the opinion in internal deliberations that the Palestinians should be prevented from taking unilateral steps. Indeed, this was the reason her government cited when justifying its vote against the Palestinians' bid to become a full member of UNESCO, the United Nations' cultural organization, in late October 2011.

But in the end, the Israeli government's tactical maneuvering prompted Merkel to back away from this hard line. When it became apparent that a series of EU member states would support the Palestinians' bid for observer-state status, the Israelis asked Germany to push all of its fellow EU states to abstain. Up until that point, Netanyahu had pressured Merkel's government to gather as many "no" votes as possible within the EU.

[As the vote neared] the question was how the Germans should act. From the Israeli perspective, the answer was clear: Berlin would simply vote "no." But German officials had a different take on things. Merkel was upset that the Israelis were treating Germany's vote like a bargaining chip.

The chancellor was particularly annoyed because Netanyahu had shown himself completely unwilling to make concessions. On several occasions, Merkel had urged him to at least make a gesture on the issue of settlement construction in order to send out a signal to the Palestinians. Doing so would have made it easier for Merkel to campaign for the Israeli position. But Netanyahu stubbornly ignored her wish.

So Angie Merkel, unlike Stevie Harper, wasn't willing to be Benny Netanyahu's bitch.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Netanyahu Steps In His Own Mess

Benjamin Netanyahu, with a looming date with Israeli voters, is doing his best to portray himself as the victor in Israel's 8-day, Operation Pillar of Defence but, in the minds of many Israelis, he's actually the loser.  Der Spiegel reports that a good many people, inside Israel and elsewhere, see the winners as Hamas and Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi.

"...the Israeli press is not joining Netanyahu in praising Netanyahu. To be sure, most analysts agree that the current ceasefire bringing the Israeli Gaza operation "Pillar of Defense" to a halt is a positive development due to the return of calm to southern Israel. But in the Israeli press, Netanyahu's name was not among the victors listed on Thursday morning. Rather, leading commentators in the country agree that the primary beneficiaries from the week-long clash are the Hamas leadership and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who negotiated the truce.

"A member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi's summertime election had led to significant distrust in the West. Now, writes Anshel Pfeffer in the influential Israeli daily Haaretz, the crisis has propelled Mursi into the role of an important regional statesman. The proof: As the ceasefire was being finalized this week, US President Barack Obama telephoned with Morsi multiple times.
"Pfeffer emphasized that even Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman saw it necessary to thank Morsi for his role in bringing about a truce. Given Lieberman's hard-line stance, such a move counts as a mini-sensation in Israel. After all, the Israeli foreign minister is hardly a fan of Egypt or Hamas, having in the past called for the bombardment of the Aswan Dam and demanded that the Gaza Strip be treated as the Russians do Chechnya.

"Hamas too has managed to extract minor victories from the conflict, according to analysts. For one, the Islamist leaders of the Gaza Strip inserted a clause in the ceasefire agreement which calls for at least a partial lifting of the blockade Israel imposed on the Palestinian area after Hamas came to power in 2006. Furthermore, the fact that the Hamas leadership didn't collapse in the face of heavy bombardment, along with the fact that their rockets continued to rain down on Israel throughout the conflict, has been interpreted as a success.

"But even more important for the Islamists, according to Haaretz, is that their rockets were able to hit both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. And they were able to position themselves as a negotiating partner for the Israeli leadership, guaranteeing them a role as an actor in the Middle East for at least the immediate future.

"...Simon Shiffer, the veteran writer for Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, writes that Hamas has now become the most influential Palestinian power because Netanyahu has undertaken negotiations with them while ignoring the Palestinian Authority and its President Mahmoud Abbas."

All of which raises the question of how much damage Netanyahu has done to his and Israel's influence in Washington.   After all, Bibi did everything but stuff ballot boxes for Mitt Romney and yet utterly failed to deliver the American Jewish vote to the Republicans.  Now his second act was a complete blunder in Gaza.  Anyone think America is keen to support Netanyahu attacking Iran?

Thursday, November 08, 2012

How Israel Misread America

In today's Haaretz, Rabbi Eric Yoffie considers how Israel got everything so wrong and what its leaders must do to make peace with the White House.

Americans are resolutely centrist. Israel’s politics may be veering right, but America’s are not. Despite difficult economic conditions and high unemployment, America reelected a centrist president who speaks the language of moderation, compromise, and social justice.
...The hysterical, Obama-hating Jewish conservatives were wrong about everything. They said that Jews could be convinced to shift their votes to Republicans; they couldn’t. They said that Obama was an Israel-hating radical; he isn’t. They said that a Jewish alignment with the Republican Party was the only way to protect Jewish interests; it’s not.

Note to these conservatives: The Democratic Party has won four of the last six presidential elections, and has won the popular vote in five out of six.
...Conservative, white Evangelicals are less important than they once were. Americans voters showed little interest in opposition to gay marriage and abortion—the social issues that largely define these Evangelicals. In fact, the voters approved of gay marriage in several states and punished candidates who expressed radical views on abortion.

...Foreign policy remains far down on the priority list for American voters, despite claims to the contrary by neo-conservative leaders. Foreign policy was virtually absent from voter consciousness for most of the campaign. Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer have argued that it would have been a huge advantage for Romney if he had been more aggressive in raising the Libya/Benghazi issue, but there is no evidence to support this assertion. The simple fact is that when it comes to foreign policy right now, Americans don’t much care. 

...the bad news is that personal relationships matter as well, and it is hardly a secret to anyone that the Obama-Netanyahu relationship lacks the respect, openness and affection that previous presidents have had with Israel’s leaders. With an Iranian bomb looming, for this situation to continue is nothing less than a disaster for Israel.

And the key is for the Israel’s prime minister to take the initiative in repairing the relationship. This is not a question, as some commentators have suggested, of Obama and Netanyahu “learning to live with each other.” The election is over. The newly-elected president of the world’s most powerful country is the senior partner; Israel’s prime minister is the junior partner. Mr. Netanyahu needs to act accordingly and do what is necessary to build personal trust with the president of the Jewish state’s most important ally. And he needs to do so now.

It's hard to recall a small country so dependent on a large benefactor getting something like this so wrong.   Netanyahu, who did everything but stuff ballot boxes for Romney, has shown himself to be an inept bully who played his hand recklessly and came away with empty pockets.  Bibi may pay dearly if he doesn't go, cap in hand, to seek forgiveness from the president he so thoroughly disrespected.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Whither Israel?

Benjamin Netanyahu did everything shy of stuffing ballot boxes for Mitch Romney.  He gambled, and lost.  Now Benny will have to wait to see what his odious efforts have earned him.

Israel awoke to the news it faced what many see as a political and diplomatic relationship in need of rehabilitation.

The close relationship of the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, with US casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who devoted millions to Mr Romney, was noted by the Obama administration, Eytan Gilboa of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies said.

''This is not a good development … to see Democrat perceptions that the Israeli Prime Minister is actively intervening in the US election,'' Professor Gilboa said.

Criticisms of Mr Netanyahu were quick to emerge. ''The Prime Minister hurt Israel with his arrogant and incomprehensible involvement on the side of Mitt Romney,'' Shlomo Molla, an MP for the opposition Kadima party, told the Jerusalem Post.

The Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat said Palestinians hoped Mr Obama would work to end Israel's occupation and realise the establishment of a Palestinian state on 1967 borders ''living side-by-side in peace with the State of Israel''.

Payback's a completely deserved bitch, Benny.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Third Man in America's Presidential Election

You might have thought the contest was between Obama and Romney.  Wrong.   It's actually between Obama, on one side, and Romney and Israeli thug Benjamin Netanyahu on the other.

Netanyahu has abjectly failed at pressuring Obama into attacking Iran.   Romney, it seems, doesn't share Obama's qualms and is therefore Netanyahu's BFF.   It's a high stakes gambit but, if Obama wins, it could rewrite America's relationship with Israel.

Israel’s blow-hard right-wing prime minister, the US-raised zionist Benjamin Netanyahu, openly trying to topple Obama, has propelled Israel directly into US politics, and has also been trying to push the US into a  war against Iran,  and he’s been doing all this in a manner so clumsy and overt that he may have fundamentally undermined the long-standing “special relationship” between the US and Israel.

As the long-respected American newspaper of American Jewish opinion, the Jewish Daily Forward, editorialized a few days ago:
It’s difficult to recall a time when an Israeli prime minister has inserted himself into a presidential election campaign in the way that Benjamin Netanyahu has. It’s even harder to recall a time when a trusted ally openly urged the American president to undertake a questionable, unpopular and highly risky war. We sure hope Netanyahu knows what he’s doing, because the stakes for him — and for the two nations he professes to care about the most — could not be higher.
The editorial goes on to note:
He may be overplaying his hand. Americans are deeply wary of another military involvement in the Muslim world. Most Americans oppose a military strike against Iran. Most even oppose coming to Israel’s aid should it be attacked by Iran. A recent poll by the nonpartisan Chicago Council on Global Affairs posed this hypothetical situation: Israel attacks Iran, Iran retaliates and and the two nations go to war. Only “38 percent say the United States should bring its military forces into the war on the side of Israel. A majority (59%) says it should not,” the poll showed.
 ...Obama and the Democrats, increasingly dependent upon the votes of Latinos and African Americans, younger people, women and left-leaning people of all races, are recognizing that slavish support of Israel, and particularly for an Israeli desire to launch a disastrous war against Iran, are not positions that are likely to win national elections. Polls show that the American people are tired of endless wars in the Middle East, as the Daily Forward editorial correctly notes. They are also troubled when they hear American politicians say that Israel’s policies are America’s policies.

...If Obama, as looks increasingly likely, manages to win re-election while continuing to resist Prime Minister Netanyahu’s blistering criticism and blustering calls for war, the longtime unseemly grip of AIPAC on US Middle East policy will likely be broken, and with it will go the influence of the neocons who have been pushing relentlessly for American imperial domination of the Middle East.  Once a presidential candidate successfully stands up to AIPAC and to Israeli political threats and succeeds in nonetheless winning election, the lobby’s power to threaten and intimidate dissolves.

But Bibi may have a lot of hard work ahead of him.   Recent polls
show Obama with a substantial and apparently growing lead over Romney with American Jewish voters.

According to the polling data culled between July 1 and September 10, 70 percent of registered Jewish voters planned to vote for President Obama. Only 25 percent of voters said they were planning to vote for Mitt Romney, with 5 percent undecided.
These results indicate a decline from earlier this spring, when 64 percent of registered Jewish voters said they would vote for Obama and 29 percent said they would support his Republican contender.

...The rise in Jewish support for Obama, seems to indicate that American Jews are less concerned with Israel than might be thought. Accusations that Romney has been making, such as accusing Obama of "throwing allies like Israel under the bus," and failing to deal with Iran's nuclear program, don't seem to be helping garner Jewish support for the Republican candidate.

With numbers like this, Netanyahu's gambit acquires an air of fear and desperation.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Canada's Deputy Prime Minister Praises Steve Harper, Sort Of

Steve's biggest fan, Israel's Benny Netanyahu, has sung praises of Canada's p.m. for severing diplomatic ties with Iran.   Canada said it acted because Iran was a terrorist state supporting Assad in Syria.  Apparently Netanyahu didn't get the right script.  He says we ditched Iran because of nuclear weapons - that don't exist.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Sarkozy to Obama, Netanyahu is a "Liar"

An unguarded moment.  They didn't think anyone could hear.  That was when French president Nicholas Sarkozy turned to Barack Obama and said exactly what he thinks of Benjamin Netanyahu, "I can't stand him any more, he's a liar."  To which Obama replied, "You may be sick of him, but me, I have to deal with him every day."

Western reporters held the story for a couple of days but it came out in Israel.

Netanyahu a liar?   Really?   That's about as controversial as claiming the sun rises in the east in the morning.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The End of the Road for the Palestinians

Less than a week from now Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to become the next leader of Israel. Judging by his pre-vote bombast, Netanyahu may just complete the settler takeover of the West Bank that progressed so rampantly during the Bush years. From The Guardian:

Under Netanyahu, leader of the Likud party, Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are likely to grow more rapidly, putting Israel at odds with the new US administration.

In a speech, Netanyahu said that rather than peace talks with the Palestinians about giving up territory, he favoured economic development – a plan of "economic peace". He has stopped short of endorsing a two-state solution that would see the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

It is a stance that is likely to draw criticism from Washington, particularly from new Middle East envoy George Mitchell, who wrote a report in 2001 explicitly calling for a halt to all settlement growth. Since then the Jewish settler population has increased significantly until today it stands at nearly 500,000 settlers in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Netanyahu has said he will not be bound by current prime minister Ehud Olmert's commitment to withdraw from some West Bank settlements and from large parts of the occupied territory as a whole. "I will not keep Olmert's commitments to withdraw and I won't evacuate settlements," Netanyahu was quoted as saying last week in the Ha'aretz newspaper. " Those understandings are invalid and unimportant."

Netanyahu presents a direct challenge to the Obama administration, one that could lead to a showdown. America alone has the means to compel Israel to comply with international law and end the illegal occupation of the West Bank. It's a challenge that grows harder by the day and unless the Israeli government is really allowing this expansion with any genuine willingness to force settler relocation to Israeli territory, Obama may have to engage Netanyahu in a test of will not previously experienced by Israeli leaders.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Next Up, Netanyahu!

If you thought Olmert was bad, firing millions of cluster munitions into Lebanon or laying waste to the Palestinians in Gaza, just wait for the return of Benny Netanyahu on February 10.

Benny's a little bit like Cheney on crystal meth. Confident that he'll be Israel's next prime minister come February 10th, Netanyahu isn't wasting any time saying stuff like Hamas must "be removed" from Gaza and that Israel can't tolerate an "Iranian base" next to its cities.

Bouncing Benny, who's never met a Palestinian he wouldn't like to bomb, is going to bring a brand new dimension to Israeli-Arab/Persian relations in the Middle East. From The Telegraph:

Mr Netanyahu pointed to intelligence estimates that Iran would be able to develop a nuclear weapon in two years and predicted that Tehran would use Hamas to attack Israel. “If Iran has nuclear weapons then a forward base like 'Hamastan’ in Gaza becomes 10 times more dangerous. They openly proclaim their intention of using these weapons against us,” he said.

I hope Barack Obama has a good, hefty pair of boots because he's going to have to be putting them squarely up a few asses in Tel Aviv pretty soon if he doesn't want to see the Middle East in flames.