MID-EAST REALITIES © - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 4/06: This little game has gone on quite literally for decades now. The Israelis twist and turn, delay and obfuscate, but all the while push forward. The Americans say one thing and do another, and when the going gets hot they provide a little criticism of Israel for the Arab media but reserve the important things that really matter for ongoing and escalating cooperation with the Israelis.
The long and the short of it all is that Israel could not have built the settlements and could not have pursued the false "Peace Process" without the ongoing help and support of the Americans all along the way. Furthermore, it is the Palestinians themselves, in the guise of the Arafat "Authority", which repeatedly signed agreements with the Israelis that not only did not prevent more settlements from being created but which in fact partially legitimized them. And then of course those despicable Arab "client regimes" -- especially those in Cairo, Amman, and Riyadh -- they too know what is going on, they too look the other way, they too repeatedly have made excuses for what the Americans have done and let the Israelis get away with outrageous policies without even putting up any serious resistance.
So, the cycle repeats itself. The Israelis built, "thicken", "natural growth"...always pushing forward knowing their strategy and their goal. The Americans twist and turn in public; but always behind the scenes make Israel stronger and not only tolerate but facilitate Israeli policies. Meanwhile, the Arab regimes become more and more co-opted, more and more despised, more and more repressive. In the end the Americans know the Arabs can be bought easily and cheap, the Israelis are relentless and domestically powerful, and that Washington has a little game to play with the media, especially the primative and controlled Arab media.
By the way, about that "shooting incident" yesterday at the top Palestinian "security" people after they met in Tel Aviv with their Israeli counterparts and the CIA... It's pretty suspicious what happened. With these very top PA guys working so closely now for so long with both the Israelis and the CIA, and with the Israelis busy assassinating and pushing under other Palestinians, especially those who could pose a threat to the Arafat regime, it's quite possible this was all a carefully crafted deception. The Israelis can tell their own people they are being tough. Arafat's crowd who meet with the Israelis and the CIA can pretend they are themselves worried and themselves being targeted. The CIA can take credit for having orchestrated one more little deception -- in such a lengthy list over so many years -- this one aimed to keep the increasingly discredited PA in power. And all the while the whole gang of them -- the Israelis the CIA and top PA persons -- combine their efforts to ride themselves of other Palestinians who themselves want to get rid of Arafat and set up a new non-CIA-approved Palestinian leadership. There's a lot of current circumstantial and past historical evidence that this may in fact be the actual situation. But of course its impossible to know for sure; such matters are most highly classified on all sides of the barriers.
JERUSALEM (Reuters - 5 April) - Israel said on Thursday it would auction West Bank land for the building of 700 more houses for Jewish settlers, an action likely to infuriate Palestinians and further hamper peace moves.
The Construction and Housing Ministry said it had published land tenders for building 496 homes in Maale Adumim near Jerusalem and 212 homes in Alfei Menashe near Nablus.
They were the first tenders published since the coming to power a month ago of right-wing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, long a champion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
In a statement, Housing Minister Natan Sharansky said events had shown "how important it is to lend a hand to and strengthen" Jews of the West Bank and Gaza.
Some 200,000 Jews live in 145 West Bank and Gaza settlements scattered among more than three million Palestinians.
The announcement came hours after Sweden, which holds the rotating European Union presidency, condemned Israeli policy, saying: "All settlement activities are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to peace."
Mahmoud Abbas, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's ruling Executive Committee, said on Wednesday that settlements were at the core of a six-month-old Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.
Palestinians say settlements strengthen Israel's 34-year-old occupation and have divided the West Bank and Gaza into cantons.
Palestinian gunmen have targeted settlements and settlers in the uprising. At least 368 Palestinians, 71 Israelis -- many of them settlers -- and 13 Israeli Arabs have been killed.
Last month, a committee of Israel's Jerusalem municipality announced plans for building nearly 3,000 more Jewish homes at the Har Homa settlement on a hill known in Arabic as Jabal Abu Ghneim. But those plans face a long approval process.
Reacting to Sharansky's announcement, Israel's leading peace movement Peace Now demanded a freeze on settlement expansion.
"The timing of this publication raises the suspicion of intent to sabotage any chance of that cease-fire being achieved," Moria Shlomot, Peace Now director, said in a statement.
The tenders, which had been on hold for a number of years, would respond to "natural growth," Sharansky insisted, echoing the policy of right-wing Israeli governments over the years.
Palestinians say their uprising was triggered by a high-profile visit Sharon made as opposition leader last September to a Jerusalem site holy to Jews and Muslims.
In a statement on Thursday, Sharon said he had ordered Israeli security branches to find a way to enable members of all faiths to ascend the site revered by Jews as the ancient Temple Mount and by Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary.
Israel's High Court of Justice on Thursday ruled against a bid by the ultra-nationalist Temple Mount Faithful group to ascend the site during next week's Jewish Passover festival.
WASHINGTON, April 5 (AFP) - The United States fired a rare double-barreled shot of criticism at Israel on Thursday, blasting plans for new settlements in the Palestinian territories and protesting an incident in which Israeli soldiers opened fire on a convoy of Palestinian officials.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher called the shooting, which occurred as the Palestinians were returning to Gaza after US-facilitated security talks with Israeli officials, "a very serious incident."
On hearing of it, Secretary of State Colin Powell immediately telephoned both Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to urge restraint, Boucher told reporters.
"We wanted to ensure that escalation would not ensue," Boucher told reporters, adding that Washington understood Sharon and Arafat had also spoken directly to each other after the incident.
Boucher then read the riot act to Israel, spelling out in terse and blunt detail what the United States expected from the Jewish state, particularly after Washington had worked hard to arrange the security talks, the first since Sharon took office last month.
"Israel does have a responsibility to provide the safety and security of Palestinian officials traveling to and from security meetings," he said.
"Prior to this meeting, we had been assured by Israeli officials that this would be the case," Boucher added, using language diplomats reserve for expressing extreme frustration.
He said that details of the incident were still unclear although a senior State Department official said the shooting had occurred within earshot of US embassy employees who had shuttled the Palestinians to the meeting from Gaza.
"Our guys had just dropped them off and were heading back when the shooting broke out," the official said. Sharon told Powell the shooting had not been deliberate and that he would be conducting an investigation, Boucher said.
Israel has admitted firing on the convoy late Wednesday just after it entered the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing with Israel, following a meeting of security chiefs aimed at quelling months of deadly unrest.
However, Israeli officials say it was a response to fire from one of the escorting vehicles on an army post. The Palestinians are pressing the United States to take "harsh" action against Israel for the incident which they term a premeditated ambush.
Washington had helped arrange the security meeting which was the first since Sharon took office a month ago and follows a fierce upsurge in violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Despite the incident, Boucher said Washington would continue to assist with the security talks.
"What we see as the useful role that we can play by our engagement is to facilitate their direct bilateral discussions," he said.
Meanwhile, Boucher also slammed Israel's plans for the new settlements "provocative" and running directly opposite to moves Washington believes are helpful to peace and stability in the region.
"Continuing settlement activity by Israel does risk further inflaming an already volatile situation in the region," he said. "This is provocative and we have consistently encouraged both sides to refrain from provocative acts."
Earlier, the Israeli housing ministry published tenders for 708 homes for Jewish settlers in the West Bank, drawing an immediate outcry from Palestinians and left-wing Israelis.
Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said the tenders were part of an Israeli "policy of aggression." The settlements, which are illegal under international law, have been at the flashpoint of the six-month Palestinian intifada or uprising that has killed almost 470 people, most of them Palestinians.
WASHINGTON (April 6) - The US yesterday described the shooting at a convoy of Palestinian security officials at the Erez crossing point into Gaza as a "very serious incident" and urged Israel to conduct a thorough investigation.
It also called Israel's plans to build 700 more homes in two settlements "provocative" and asked Jerusalem to refrain from unilateral moves that could further inflame an already tense situation.
Secretary of State Colin Powell immediately telephoned Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat upon hearing that troops had fired early yesterday morning at the convoy transporting Palestinian officials who had just entered into Gaza after a security cooperation meeting with Israelis moderated by US Embassy.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Powell wanted to find out what happened and to "make sure an escalation would not ensue."
Boucher said Sharon and Arafat also spoke following the incident.
"The firing at the convoy last night we see as a very serious incident," Boucher said. "Israel does have a responsibility to provide for the security and safety of Palestinian officials traveling to and from the security meetings. Prior to these meetings we had been assured by Israeli officials that this would be the case."
He added, however, that the circumstances of the incident were murky and that Sharon had promised Powell he would look into what happened. "We hope there will be a thorough investigation of the incident, so that these kinds of incidents can be prevented in the future," Boucher said.
US frustration with the incident caused the State Department to urge Israeli officials to publicly demand restraint, presumably from soldiers on patrol. Whereas last week President George W. Bush called specifically on Arafat to issue a call in Arabic to his people to stop the violence, Boucher said yesterday that "public statements from both sides should highlight the need for utmost restraint to prevent a deterioration of the situation on the ground."
The US hopes the three-way meeting of security officials will usher in a resumption of bilateral Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation. The US sees such coordination as key to ending the violence.
Boucher described the four-hour meeting as a "useful and positive exchange," but would not say if anything concrete had emerged.
Regarding the announcement by Israel that it would issue tenders for the
construction of a total of 700 homes Ma'aleh Adumim and Alfei Menashe,
Boucher said: "Continued settlement activity in Israel does risk further
inflaming an already volatile situation in the region. This is provocative
and we have consistently encouraged both sides to refrain from provocative