WHAT THE "MITCHELL COMMISSION REPORT" REALLY SAYS
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WHAT THE "MITCHELL COMMISSION REPORT" REALLY SAYS

May 23, 2001

MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 5/22: "Here's your lifeline Yasser, Nabil, Jabril, and all you Palestinian VIPs -- and you better grab it because it may be the last one you get".

"Stop your people from attacking Israelis and in one way or another force them to accept our 'peace process' as you yourself did years ago, or you will continue to sink and at some point, maybe soon, we won't be able to save you."

That's the real message Israel's American benefactor and savior is sending to Arafat and crowd through the good graces of the "Mitchell Commission Report"; accompanied by so much undeserved hoopla these past few days.

The Americans, the Europeans, and the Arab "client regimes", desperately want to salvage Yasser Arafat personally, along with the"Authority" he has been used to built and at least to some extent legitimize. After all they created it, financed, it, protected it, all these years. And most of all they know that in all likelihood any replacement for it will be far tougher, far less accommodating, far more unwilling to go along with the rump Palestinian quasi-mini-state under Israeli domination that the much abused "peace process" has all-along envisioned.

And sure enough Arafat and his entourage are grabbing onto the Mitchell Commission for dear life, even though it says nothing new and is tremendously tilted toward Israel's interests. With their own "Palestinian Authority" ship listing badly, threatening to capsize and drown everyone on board, they are desperate for any lifeline no matter how inadequate and costly to the Palestinian people,

The message from the Israelis is more complicated and delivered in even more convoluted ways. Bottom line though it's the same message that was drummed up with so many words, threats, and "enticements" during the weeks at Camp David.less than a year ago now. "Either control your people, do as we tell you, play ball with us on our terms, or our need for you is over and we will use military means to accomplish our goals and nobody is going to stop us." The Barak/Peres approach was more finessed, more "diplomatic", more chicanerous actually. The Sharon/Peres approach seeks to accomplish the same goals, but having failed to do so through diplomatic manipulations uses blunt and brutal military means coupled with a more explicit and demonstrable threat to finally dispense with the Arafat regime altogether.

Oh yes, the "settlements". Well, all the renewed talk of late about "freezing" settlements is one more grand subterfuge at this stage in history. First of all this settlement freezing jingoism has gone on, on and off, ever since Camp David I -- the Israelis making and breaking one promise after another year after year; always with American support or acquiescence. Second of all the Israelis have bitten off so much in the past few years of the "peace process" that they can now spend the next few years digesting what they have already begun to gobble up. They already have 144 settlements, some fairly large cities, a whole network of land confiscations, "by-pass roads", and administrative regulations that virtually assure them control of the entire area East of the River Jordan; with pockets of Palestinian "population centers", all divided from each other, all surrounded by the Israeli army and "settlements".

It's non other than "running like a madman" Shimon Peres who is tasked with getting the Mitchell Commission Report used to end the Intifada as this additional article about him from a few days ago details. And then yesterday's Independent article that follows is much more on target when it suggests that the Mitchell Report is actually a kind of "Green Light For Settlements" in disguise. This is especially the case as if need be the Israelis will do in the end what they have done so many times before, a limited "freeze" for a limited period of time while they catch there breadth and prepare to race forward the next chance they get. Plus of course, with the inevitable violence generated by the occupation itself the Israelis will use that as their excuse in the months ahead whenever they want to. And oh yes, let's not forget a few facts. Settlements expanded further during the years of the Barak government than during those of Netanyahu before him! And already, with Sharon in power just the past few months, 15 new settlements (currently being said to be "expansions" of existing settlements) have already sprung up like weeds.

PERES VOWS NO MORE LAND EXPROPRIATION

The U.S. Administration this week began an internal review of the report by the Mitchell Commission of Inquiry. President George Bush chaired a session of his National Security Council devoted to the international report on the violence in the territories.

By Aluf Benn

Diplomatic Correspondent

[Ha'aretz; 17 May] The U.S. Administration this week began an internal review of the report by the Mitchell Commission of Inquiry. President George Bush chaired a session of his National Security Council devoted to the international report on the violence in the territories.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell coordinated preliminary American reviews of the report, which calls for a settlement freeze, an end to Palestinian violence, a period of confidence building, and resumed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Israel rejects the settlement freeze portion of the report, as well as criticism of IDF force used against Palestinian demonstrations. Powell has said the report is an "excellent" basis for a new diplomatic initiative in the regin.

Sources in Jerusalem suggest the U.S. will not adopt the report in its entirety, and will seek a solution to what Israel regards as the most problematic issue - the call for a freeze on settlements, including any "natural growth" development.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians have formally accepted the Mitchell Report in its entirety - and insist that it be implemented as a package deal, without any changes.

In the discussions Powell held previous to yesterday's session of the NSC, two possible solutions were raised. The first was to adopt Foreign Minister Shimon Peres' formula, which says that no new land will be expropriated for settlement growth, and natural growth would be measured by demography, meaning births and marriages, rather than geography, meaning physical expansion.

The second option raised in Powell's discussions was a total settlement freeze for a set period of time, possibly three or six months, as a confidence building measure by Israel. But a source close to the U.S. administration said Washington would more likely choose the "Peres formula" because it is unlikely Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would accept any freeze and Washington is not interested in a confrontation with Sharon at this stage.

Israel opposes a settlement freeze, sticking to the government guidelines that explicitly state there will be no new settlements built but that "the ongoing current needs" of the settlements must be taken care of. According to the Israeli approach, the settlements can only be discussed in final status agreement talks.

The Administrations is considering stepping up its involvement in the peacemaking efforts with a visit by Powell to the region next week after his African tour. But inside the administration there is concern that a Powell visit at this stage may be wasting the ammunition of his prestige when the region is so troubled. Palestinian sources said yesterday that Powell will meet Arafat next week in Paris.

A second alternative is to send a lower-ranking official to the region. One possibility the former Senator and Northern Ireland mediator George Mitchell himself. He headed the international commission established by the Sharm el Sheikh Forum in October 2000, which originally convened to try to halt the violence in its early days.

But the Bush administration is wary of Mitchell, a Democrat and a close associate of former president Bill Clinton. Another possible envoy might be Edward Djerajian, the former American ambassador in Damascus and Tel Aviv, now a senior fellow at the Baker Institute at Rice University. But the former ambassador has already turned down a full time position as Powell's assistant on Near East affairs, and may not want to immerse himself in a job that holds out little chance of gratitude from anyone.

A third option is a reconvening of the Sharm forum - Israel, the PA, the U.S., the EU, the UN, Jordan and Egypt - but at a lower working level than the last time the forum met, in order to begin negotiations about implementation of the Mitchell Report. Mitchell denies settlements-terror equation Mitchell yesterday vehemently rejected accusations that the report made an equation between settlements and terrorism. In a letter to Abraham Foxman, head of the Bnai Brith Anti-Defamation League in Washington, Mitchell rejected Foxman's accusations, which echoed Israeli charges, that the Mitchell Report had equated Israeli settlements to terrorism, or even drew a link between them.

"We recommended more than 15 steps for the parties to take to rebuild confidence between them," wrote Mitchell. "But there is no mutual connection between our recommendations and we believe that the timing and arrangements of the steps should be determined by the parties."

Referring to Foxman and others' charges that the report draws a parallel between the settlements and terrorism, Mitchell, and former senator Warren Rodman, the other American on the international panel, wrote to Foxman that they "categorically reject any attempt to attribute to us an opinion we do not hold and does not appear in our report."

According to the two former senators, "the immediate goal must be a cessation of violence. Our recommendations call for the sides to reaffirm the existing agreements between them and ... unconditionally end the violence."

"Our view that the settlements are an obstacle to a solution to the conflict," say the two senators, has been part and parcel of successive U.S. administrations "for the past 25 years." Kofi Annan favors Mitchell UN Secretary General Kofi Annan yesterday wrote to President Bush calling on Washington to adopt the Mitchell Report, including the call for a freeze on settlements.

In his letter, Annan wrote that he appreciated the emphasis the report put on the need to cease all settlement activity, the call for a maximum effort to restrain the violence, as well as the report's emphasis on "the economic and social crisis" in which the Palestinians find themselves.

Annan called the Mitchell Report "fair and balanced" and called for "full implementation of the recommendations, which together with the Jordanian-Egyptian initiative could help build a bridge back to the negotiations for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East," based on UN Security Resolutions 242 and 338. Sharon to Europe Prime Minister Sharon is slated to go to Europe in the first week of June, his first European trip since taking office. He is schedule to meet first with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin on June 5, and from there go to Brussels to meet with the Belgian leadership, which takes up the rotating presidency of the European Union on July 1. His third stop is Paris where he will meet with President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.

The European swing comes at a time of mounting European criticism of Israeli policies regarding the Palestinians. On Monday, a session of senior EU and Israeli officials meet to discuss the current trade agreements between Israel and the EU. The Europeans want to implement the trade treaties only on products from inside the Green Line, meaning that products from the settlements would not benefit from tax and customers free status in the EU. Israel has promised to provide the EU with a list of products next month.

The Europeans want to step up their involvement in the region, with Xavier Solana, the EU's foreign policy czar due to submit a report at the end of the month on strengthening the EU's position in the Middle East.

Schroeder has promised Peres that Germany will guarantee the financing of construction of a power station and a desalination plant in Gaza, while France has stepped up its own involvement in the region after a brief period of disengagement following the Israeli elections in February. French Foreign Minister Hubert Vardine issued calls this week to both Palestinians and Israelis, telling the Palestinians that it's time for them to understand that "Israel's existence is clear and an inalienable right," and that they should "understood the unique Israeli fear and their deep need for security." He called on Israelis "to try to overcome the fear, and understand the despair and expectations of the Palestinians."

The current president of the EU, Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lind, yesterday used the EU's parliamentary podium to call on Israel to begin withdrawing from settlements, which she called "violations of international law and a serious obstacle to peace."

She said the EU is adopting the Mitchell Report and the Jordanian-Egyptian initiative, which both called for a full freeze on settlement activity. She also noted the Mitchell Report calls for an end to the IDF practice of using live ammunition to put down demonstrations.

She called on Israel to hand over taxes it collected from the Palestinians and has been withholding since the start of the Intifada, claiming that as money used for the PA payrolls, some of it would be going to security forces actively involved in the violence.

"Prime Minister Sharon was elected because of his promise to restore security. But the results are the exact opposite," she said. "The conflict intensifies, the military effort increases and Israel is demonstrating a willingness to enter Palestinians territories and attack Syrian targets in Lebanon. The security situation has simply deteriorated."

US PEACE PLAN CONDEMNED AS A 'GREEN LIGHT FOR SETTLEMENTS'

By Phil Reeves in Jerusalem and Mary Dejevsky in Washington

[The Independent - 22 May 2001]The Bush administration has called for an immediate ceasefire in the MiddleEast crisis, followed by a total ban on illegal Israeli settlement building.

The call yesterday by the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, came as heendorsed a blueprint for peace by a committee led by the former senator andNorthern Ireland mediator George Mitchell.

But the report, leaked to The Independent this month, had scarcely beenreleased before fears were being expressed that it would soon be overwhelmedby bloodshed. That was underscored within hours, as Israeli tanks andmachine guns repeatedly pounded the Arab village of Beit Jala outsideBethlehem after exchanges between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli soldiers.

Palestinian officials welcomed the American support for an all-outsettlement building ban - which Israel resists - but expressed concerns atthe US insistence that there should first be an end to the violence.

"Without a deadline for an all-out freeze, Israel could see this as a greenlight for more settlement building," a senior Palestinian source said.Israel seized on the Bush administration's declaration that an immediate endto violence must come first.

Israel blames the violence solely on the Palestinians - who have carried outrepeated mortar attacks, drive-by shootings and suicide bombings - althoughthe bulk of the more than 500 deaths in the last eight months has beencaused by the Israeli army.

Mr Powell said he was appointing a new team of trouble-shootersto help theIsraelis and Palestinians turn away from war.


May 2001


Magazine



FEISAL HUSSEINI - DEAD AT 60 IN KUWAIT
(May 31, 2001)
Feisal Husseini will be buried tomorrow in Jerusalem with great circumstance. However whatever else he was, and many think he was a good and committed man, he was a fairly simple man and he certainly was not a great man.

SHARON SHOULD SURRENDER TO HISTORY
(May 25, 2001)
Like many nation states born out of war, Israel must re-evaluate its past in order to move forward, argues Mark Mazower*

THE GAZA GHETTO/PRISON
(May 25, 2001)
The "Gaza Strip" is a huge ghetto; created of course by the Israelis. In a sense it is also the largest prison in the world as the great majority of those who reside in Gaza are unable to leave and return through any of the handful of Israeli army checkposts which control who comes and goes.

APARTHEID ISRAEL
(May 24, 2001)
"There is a huge gap between us (Jews) and our enemies -- not just in ability but in morality, culture, sanctity of life, and conscience. They are our neighbors here, but it seems as if at a distance of a few hundred meters away, there are people who do not belong to our continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy."

WATER WARS
(May 24, 2001)
In the end its not really the "settlements" that will determine which civilization will prosper in the once Holy Land now so fought over by the descendants of Abraham. Control and use of WATER is even more at the heart of the conflict between the two competing societies.

CONTINUE THE INTIFADA
(May 23, 2001)
It's a terrible deal for the Palestinians actually -- they expected to give up their very justifiable struggle against the occupier in exchange for another promise to "freeze settlements". Gee...it was just last year that Yasser Arafat was proclaiming ad infinitum that no matter what there would be a Palestinian State by the end of the year!

WHAT THE "MITCHELL COMMISSION REPORT" REALLY SAYS
(May 23, 2001)
"Here's your lifeline Yasser, Nabil, Jabril, and all you Palestinian VIPs -- and you better grab it because it may be the last one you get".

THE MITCHELL COMMISSION REPORT -- A LONG SORDID HISTORY
(May 22, 2001)
The big fix is on of course with the "Mitchell Commission Report". Other madmen desperately scampering from one TV studio to the next are "Ambassador" Dennis Ross, now back at the Israeli/Jewish lobby from whence he came, and of course Senator Mitchell, himself retired from the most pro-Israeli political body on the planet ...

ARAFAT AND THE WORLD FORCED TO DANCE TO SHARON'S WAR TUNES
(May 21, 2001)
The Israelis are pushing their lies, schemes, deceptions, and brutality more than ever these days. It's all designed of course to demoralize and confuse the Palestinians, to twist and torture them into submission.

BREAKING NEWS - RAJOUB HIT
(May 20, 2001)
Jibril Rajoub is a favorite of the CIA, the headquarters of which he has personally visited numerous times in recent years on his visits to Washington. His force is the main one trained by the CIA in order to keep the Arafat Regime in power ...

TRUE MARTYRDOM
(May 20, 2001)
Mahmoud Ahmed Marmash -- 21 and now departed -- never knew anything other than Israel's brutal military occupation. He never knew anything other than Arab "client regimes" and the Arafat "Authority". He never knew anything other than a savage Israeli army, fueled by an increasingly racist ideology, armed and financed by America.

ISRAEL - APARTHEID IN THE MIDDLE EAST
(May 20, 2001)
A little trip back in history's lane will result in all kinds of close connections between Israel and South Africa in the days of Apartheid. And during that trip one will discover that Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin were at the top of the list of those promoting those relations.

THE ARAB AMERICANS and their "CLIENT ORGANIZATIONS"
(May 19, 2001)
There are many desperate and depressed people out there these days, especially among Palestinians, their friends, and the Jewish left that is mortified to awaken to find itself with Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister, the hoped for salvation of the Oslo "Peace Process" destroyed, and one of their false prophets, Shimon Peres, at Sharon's side.

SUICIDE BOMB, ISRAELI AIR STRIKES CAUSE NEW CARNAGE
(May 18, 2001)
A suicide bombing followed by retaliatory Israeli air strikes killed 16 people and injured 200 on Friday in one of the bloodiest days since a Palestinian uprising erupted nearly eight months ago.

ISRAEL'S ARMY - A NEW, PERHAPS DANGERSOUS, FREEDOM
(May 18, 2001)
TRIGGER-HAPPY troops set loose? Questions about the response of Israeli soldiers facing Palestinian demonstrators are being asked, and not just by Palestinians. But suspicions about individual behaviour are less relevant than the clear fact that the army, given its head by Ariel Sharon, has made a deliberate decision ...

SEVEN KILLED, OVER 50 INJURED IN SUICIDE BOMB ATTACK
(May 18, 2001)
A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to the Hasharon shopping mall in the center of the coastal town of Netanya at around 11.30 A.M on Friday morning. Seven people were killed in the blast, one of them most likely the bomber himself.

ISRAELI ARMY ON THE RAMPAGE
(May 17, 2001)
The Israelis are more and more specifically targeting children, journalists, and Palestinians at all levels. The goal is to create such fear, such intimidation, such apprehension, that ...

MORE BLOOD AND MEMORIES FLOW ON "DISASTER DAY"
(May 16, 2001)
Yesterday was the 53rd anniversary of what the Israelis believe was the start of their independence and the Palestinians believe was the start of their ongoing and tortuous "disaster", the "nakba".

"SCHOLARS, INTELLECTUALS, EXPERTS BETRAY THEIR VOCATIONS..." - MER FLASHBACK
(May 15, 2001)
The recent orgy of 'activism' surrounding the new "Har Homa" settlement has given 'peace groups' and various Arab Americans groups something to do again.

THERE WERE WARNINGS THEN, THERE ARE WARNINGS NOW
(May 15, 2001)
It's 53 years now since Palestine was fractured, a Jewish State was born, the Palestinian refugee crisis created. There were warnings from both Arab and Jewish leaders what would result if a "Jewish State" were declared when the British withdrew from Palestine in 1948.

NO JUNITY, NO ALLIES, NO FUTURE
(May 14, 2001)
Let's get right to the bottom line here first. Those American Jews, and whoever else for that matter have been looking to what is called "JUNITY" (that's "Jewish Unity For a Just Peace" so they say) ...

AN AFFRONT TO CIVILISATION
(May 13, 2001)
I was on my way to Khan Yunis, a desperately poor Palestinian refugee town in the Gaza Strip, when we learned it was under heavy bombardment. Please, urged my Palestinian guides, could I postpone my visit to the next day?

IN MEMORY OF PROF. CHARLES BLACK
(May 12, 2001)
"Against hugh odds...they decline to submit, and instead go out on the streets and pick up stones. They are beaten without let or mercy. They are imprisoned under obscene conditions, after kangaroo trials, or no trials at all.

THREATENING WRITERS AND MORE ASSASSINATIONS
(May 12, 2001)
Of course what the Israelis are doing in so many areas to many classes of people is dastardly and deserves widespread condemnation. The first article details what the Israelis are doing to Palestinian writers who are citizens of Israel; the second to Palestinian activists who are struggling against Israel's occupation.

HASHEMITE COLLUSION AND REPRESSION
(May 11, 2001)
The Hashemite Regime of King Abdullah the Second is running more and more scared; and for good reason. After all, the collusion of this regime with the Israelis, going way back to the beginning of the conflict...

MAHMOUD DARWISH ON 53RD NAKBA ANNIVERSARY
(May 11, 2001)
Next Tuesday, 15 May, is the 53rd Anniversary of what the Palestinians call the Nakba, the "Disaster", and what the Israelis call their Independence. In a very unusual move some 250 Arab Professors and Intellectuals have issued a call for their own countries to finally join in a serious way the Palestinian struggle.

FROM HERZL TO SHARON - STEALTH DISPOSSESSION
(May 10, 2001)
"The removal of Arabs bodily from Palestine is part of the Zionist plan to 'spirit the penniless population across the frontier' by denying it employment... Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly."

THE POLITICAL PROSTITUTION OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN PALESTINE
(May 10, 2001)
We're talking here about political prostitution; for it too is an age-old profession and it too leads to many other vices.

THE POPE GOES VISITING
(May 9, 2001)
With the creation of a "Jewish State" in the Holy Land, in a sense a new era began twisting the modern-day concept of nationality back to one of ethnic and religious identification.

FROM HELL WITH LOVE
(May 8, 2001)
Ironically, in the early years of this ignoble "Peace Process", Dr. Sarraj himself -- a dignified psychiatrist and recipient of the Physician for Human Rights Award -- was arrested three times, tortured, and threatened with death...not by the Israelis but by the forces of the Arafat "Palestinian Authority".

ISRAELIS SEE THROUGH GLOSS OF LIFE AMID ORANGE GROVES
(May 7, 2001)
When the real estate sharks of California began to coax Americans to Los Angeles early in the last century, they stuck oranges on the trees to make the desert more alluring. The oranges are real enough in the groves on the hills around Jerusalem, but the hard selling is just the same.

WE ARE ACCUSED OF TERRORISM
(May 7, 2001)
The incomparable Nizar Qabbani was buried in Damascus earlier this week. "We Are Accused Of Terrorism" was one of his last poems first published a year ago; key excerpts from that poem follow.

GUNNING DOWN ISRAEL SHAMIR - Part II
(May 4, 2001)
Previously we outlined how the regimes-sponsored Arab American establishment, using the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) to try to control everyone as usual...

SHARON'S RISE TO THE PINNACLE OF POWER - HELPED BY THE ARABS THEMSELVES
(May 3, 2001)
Ariel Sharon's becoming Prime Minister of Israel didn't happen overnight. He pursued the job for a very long time and whatever one thinks of his person and policies he carried out a masterful political coup.

GUNNING DOWN ISRAEL SHAMIR
(May 3, 2001)
The worst thing that happened to the people of the Middle East in recent history was the imposition on them by the Western powers of the "Client Regimes" -- those who read MER regularly know what we are talking about...

ARAB REGIMES COWER AND BEG; ISRAELIS CONTINUE TO KILL AND DESTROY
(May 2, 2001)
Shimon Peres runs around the world, especially to the gullible American media, and especially to CNN and PBS, with soothing rhetorical jibberish while his Generals further demolish Palestinian homes making fools of those who believed in the "Oslo Peace Process" and its associated "agreements".

FORMER SHIN BET HEAD TALKS SOME SENSE IN PUBLIC....BUT WHY?
(May 2, 2001)
Motives are of course a very important aspect of life and politics...as is timing. And when it comes to someone who has been head of the Shin Bet, like Ami Ayalon, and who is saying these things now, at this particular crucial and sensitive time, there are good reasons to have many suspicions, and many questions, and many doubts.

EXTINGUISHING THE INTIFADA
(May 2, 2001)
A major effort is underway to somehow smother and snuff out the Intifada, one way or another. Those heading up the effort, in order of importance, are:

ARAFAT'S FIRST INTERVIEW SINCE THE INTIFADA BEGAN
(May 1, 2001)
Yasser Arafat often describes his struggle as a "long march" to the "spires and minarets" of Jerusalem, capital of his Palestinian state-to-be.




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