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16 November 2004 - MiddleEast.Org - MER is Free
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The latest US-Israeli-UK Time Buying Political Con Game

"Deception and lies have been a corner stone in Israeli policy, brought to a
new level of perfection since Oslo. While the world believed that Rabin
promised to eventually end the occupation and dismantle the settlements,
the number of Israeli settlers actually doubled during his rule. At the
same time that Barak declared he intends to dismantle the Golan Heights
settlements, in 1999, he actually poured money into their expansion. As
Sharon promised to dismantle at least the illegal settlement posts in the
West Bank, their number kept increasing. Still, none of this is ever
remembered. Each new lie is received with welcome cheers by the Israeli
peace camp, and by European governments. Since Oslo, every Israeli
government knows that all it takes, to ease diplomatic pressure, is to
come up with a new 'peace plan'."

"The Palestinians (in Gaza) will be imprisoned from all sides,
with no connection to the world, except through Israel."

MIDDLEEAST.ORG - MER - Washington - 16 November: How convenient, as well as perplexing, the new energized U.S.-Israeli scheme for dealing with the de-Arafatized Palestinians; the latest 'peace plan' in a long line of so many prior 'peace plans' going back now more than half a century.

It's actually 'Roadmap II' if you will. Arafat had been entombed only hours in fact when the American President and the British Prime Minister held a dramatic joint press conference to capture the headlines by announcing one more time another reenergized 'peace process' that will finally somehow somewhere lead to a 'Palestinian State' of some sort...maybe...if....

And indeed so much of the gullible, lazy, on-the-take corporate media just keeps on playing the same old stale tunes with the same old discredited singers, over and over, time after time.

A little perspective here. This latest escalation of the new U.S.-Israeli-U.K. 'peace plan' comes just after the International Court of Justice nearly unanimously ruled Israeli policies illegal, just as the 'international community' and most especially the new European Community has finally been talking about 'sanctions' against Israel, and just as the Israelis are busy killing off the last of the senior respected Palestinian leaders and finishing their Apartheid Wall.

And it all comes in tandem with Ariel Sharon's tongue-in-cheek insistance that something he calls a 'Gaza Withdrawal' will somehow lead to peace; even though the Palestinians are now divided up and literally imprisoned more than ever before, even as all the major and important Israeli settlements keep growing and expanding gobbling up still more of the remnants of what could have once been but no longer can be a real Palestinian State.

And yet, even with the personal history of Sharon on top of the long sordid history of Anglo-American 'Peace Plans' going back to the 1930s in fact, so many in the Western world including the U.N. Secretary-General are actually applauding Sharon, though in fact he be the same old crafty and bloody war criminal who after the historic 1982 massacres was never again supposed to hold any position of power in Israel.

Indeed how convenient this latest historical charade both politically and personally for Ariel Sharon, as well as for George Bush and Tony Blair, as well as for the imperialist neocons who now have American power firmly by the balls as never before. How convenient indeed for all the various cronies and false-flag organizations who have for so long now been swimming in this historical cespool 'peace process' sea of lies, deceptions and distortions -- from the far-right neo-racist types to the pseudo-left disingenuous 'Peace Now' charlatans.

Fortunately for us all however there remain individuals of both considerable expertise and integrity who can help cut through all the mind-boggling rhetorical and political smokescreens.

One near the top of the list is Professor Tanya Reinhart -- a true expert; a committed Israeli; a bold, courageous, extraordinarly insightful analyst; and an academic with an excellent track record.

Years ago when everyone was applauding the 'Oslo Peace Process' Reinhart was talking sense about its inevitable collapse; when Ehud Barak became Prime Minister with all singing his praises she immediately exposed his dark underside; when Clinton and Barak dragged Arafat to Camp David she explained what a grand deception the Israelis were attempting to perpetrate.

And now, as the plot to remake the Middle East in a 'new world order' Pax Americana/Israelica form escalates with ever greater twists and turns Professor Reinhart brilliantly helps explain what is really going on under the rock of all the slimy rhetoric coming not only from the Bush and Sharon and Blair governments but from so much of the semi-independent media which so sadly allows itself to be continually manipulated.

November 6, 2004

Sharon's Gaza Pullout: Not Gonna Happen!
Tanya Reinhart*

We gather here at difficult times, when it seems that the Palestinian cause
has been almost eliminated from the international agenda. The Western world is hailing the new "peace vision" of Sharon's disengagement plan. The day this plan passed in the Israeli Knesset (parliament) last week was hailed by Le Monde as a historical day. Who would pay attention to the two line news piece that on that same day, the Israeli army killed 16 Palestinians in Khan-Yunes?

It is pretty much known even in the West that Sharon's plan is not about
ending the occupation. With regard to the Gaza strip, the disengagement
plan published in the Israeli papers on Friday, April 16, specifies that
"Israel will supervise and guard the external envelope on land, will
maintain exclusive control in the air space of Gaza, and will continue to
conduct military activities in the sea space of the Gaza Strip". In other
words, the Palestinians will be imprisoned from all sides, with no
connection to the world, except through Israel.

Israel also reserves for itself the right to act militarily inside the Gaza strip. In return for this "concession", Israel would be permitted to complete the wall and to maintain the situation in the West Bank as is. The innovation in the Bush-Sharon agreement that approved this plan is that this is not a
proposal awaiting the approval of the Palestinian people. Now the
Palestinians are not even asked. It is Israel and the U.S. who are
determining the facts on the ground. Israel marks the land that it desires, and builds a wall on that route.

For those who oppose Israeli occupation, it is clear, then, that Sharon's
disengagement is just a plan for maintaining the occupation with more
international legitimacy.

However, there is one presupposition shared in all discussions of this plan - that in the process, Sharon also intends to dismantle the settlements of the Gaza strip, and return the land they are built on to the Palestinians. I should say that had I believed this might happen, I would have supported the plan. The Gaza settlements, together with their land reserves, security zones, Israeli-only roads, and the military array protecting them, occupy almost a third of the strip's land, which is one of the most densely populated areas of the world. Had thisland been returned to its owners, it would be a step forward. We should never forget that the Palestinian struggle is not only for their liberation, but for regaining their lands in the occupied territories - lands that Israel has been appropriating since 67. As long as the Palestinians manage to hold on to their land, under even the worst
occupation, they will eventually also gain their liberation. Without land,
what is at stake is not just their liberation, but their survival.

But what basis is there to believe that Sharon indeed plans to dismantle
settlements at some point? Certainly not the content of the resolution
passed by the Israeli Knesset on October 26 - the day that has been
depicted by Israeli and virtually all Western media as a "historical" day
with "dramatic" resolution. In fact, the Israeli parliament voted to
approve "the revised disengagement plan", which was previously approved in another "historical meeting" of the Israeli Cabinet, on June 6, 2004. So it is appropriate to check what was actually approved at that Cabinet meeting.

Ha'aretz' ceremonial headlines on June 7 declared "Disengagement on its
way". But here are the smaller letters in the body of the report:
"At the end of a dramatic cabinet meeting yesterday, the government passed Ariel Sharon's revised disengagement plan, by a vote of 14-7, but the decision does not allow for the dismantling of settlements and the prime
minister will have to go back to the cabinet when he actually wants to
begin the evacuation process. ...The decision on the evacuation of
settlements will be brought to the government at the end of a preparation
period... [that] would end next March 1" ( Aluf Benn, Gideon Alon, and
Nathan Guttmanm, Ha'aretz, June 7, 2004).

Elsewhere in that paper it is explained that "there was no approval of
actual evacuations... A second government discussion would be held in this
regard, 'taking into account the circumstances at the time' " (Aluf Benn,
Ha'aretz, June 7, 2004).

The only thing the Israeli government, followed now by the Israeli Knesset, have approved, then, is to have a discussion of the idea of dismantling Gaza settlements sometime next year. It was also decided that in the meanwhile, building and development in the Gaza settlements may continue: "The approved plan ensures 'support for the needs of daily life' in settlements slated for evacuation. Bans on construction permits and leasing of lands were also removed from the prime minister's proposal" (ibid). And indeed, on the ground, slots of land are still being leased (for ridiculously cheap prices) to Israelis who wish to settle in Gaza, and building permits are granted by a special committee appointed by the government in the same "dramatic" meting on June 6.(1)

Still, none of these facts were registered in public consciousness. The
actual content of the cabinet decision was reported only once - on that
same day - and then disappeared from the papers that keep recycling the
stories about its heroic significance. Precisely the same happened in the
present round. The fact that the Knesset has only voted to approve "the
amended disengagement plan" that contains no decision to dismantle
settlements was reported in the Israeli media:

Knesset members voting tonight on the disengagement plan have received a copy of the "amended disengagement law" the cabinet passed on June 6, plus appendices containing the principles of the plan and its implementation... According to the compromise negotiated at the time... the cabinet decision "contains nothing to evacuate settlements." To remove any doubt in this regard, the cabinet decision also states that "after the conclusion of preparatory work, the cabinet will reconvene to separately debate and decide whether or not to evacuate settlements, which settlements, and at what speed, in consideration of circumstances at that time. (Yuval Yoaz, Ha'aretz, Oct 26, 2004) But again, this information appeared only once or twice, buried underneath bold headlines that even compared Sharon to Churchill. This is how a myth is built.

Another test-case for how serious the evacuation intentions are is the
issue of compensations for the evacuated settlers. Since the cabinet's
decision in June, many of the Gaza settlers began inquiring, directly or
through hired lawyers, how and when they can be compensated. Behind the
noisy protest of the settlers' leadership, many are relieved to be able to
finally leave, and are just waiting for the compensations. Anybody intending seriously to evacuate them, would start by compensating first those who are ready to leave immediately, leaving only the ideological minority to be evacuated forcefully. Indeed, for five months, since the cabinet's decision in June, both the settlers and the Israeli public believe that this is about to happen any moment now. Again, a faith with no basis.

Special committees have worked with much publicity on every detail of the compensation plan. Many believe this was finally approved by the Knesset on November 4. Only in the small letters of what actually happened one can learn that the compensation law has passed only its preliminary first hearing (reading). In principle, the second and third hearing could take place within few weeks, but it was clarified in advance that the second reading will take place only after the government decides on actual evacuation, in March 2005, or later (Yosi Verter, Ha'aretz, Oct 8, 2004.) Till then, no one will be compensated. As Aluf Ben summarized this, "the Knesset will vote in the first reading of the Implementation of the Disengagement Plan Law, which authorizes the government to evacuate settlements and compensate those evacuated. Then there will be debates in the committees, and a second and third reading... and the law could be blocked at any stage" (Ha'aretz, Oct 27, 2004).

Outside Israel, the details of what was actually decided didn't even make
it into the news once, and all that is repeated over and over again in the
Western media is the propaganda produced by the Israeli political system -
headlines from which one could infer that the dismantling of settlements is
around the corner. Thus, the political debate around Sharon's plan
concentrates only around whether it is good enough. The possibility that
this is just another Israeli deceit does not even arise. And if you try to
bring it up, you are perceived as having landed from the moon, as has
happened to me in several European media interviews.

Deception and lies have been a corner stone in Israeli policy, brought to a
new level of perfection since Oslo. While the world believed that Rabin
promised to eventually end the occupation and dismantle the settlements,
the number of Israeli settlers actually doubled during his rule. At the
same time that Barak declared he intends to dismantle the Golan Heights
settlements, in 1999, he actually poured money into their expansion. As
Sharon promised to dismantle at least the illegal settlement posts in the
West Bank, their number kept increasing. Still, none of this is ever
remembered. Each new lie is received with welcome cheers by the Israeli
peace camp, and by European governments. Since Oslo, every Israeli
government knows that all it takes, to ease diplomatic pressure, is to come
up with a new "peace plan".

The ritual repeats itself with each new "plan" of this sort. The crucial
factor in convincing the world that this time "it is for real" is right
wing protest. Of course when the government comes up with a new scheme of deception, the right wing and settlers believe it as well. Rabin's deceit
has cost him his life. The same threats are now being directed at Sharon.
This is sufficient to convince the Israeli peace camp that Sharon is
determined to dismantle settlements. Even serious anti-occupation thinkers
write articles warning of the danger of "civil war" with the settlers
(forgetting that for this to be even remotely possible, someone should try
indeed to evacuate them first). The implication is almost unavoidable: In
view of this coming civil war, Sharon is our leader. We should all unite
behind him, against the dark forces in Israel.

Indeed, this massive Israeli propaganda works. Throughout the Western
world, Sharon is now depicted as a messenger of peace, because he has
declared that he is willing to evacuate some of the territories. All of a
sudden, Sharon is viewed as the sane center of Israel, withstanding right
wing pressure. The prevailing perception is that Israel is finally led by a
man of peace, with a respectable determination to carry out painful
concessions. And as long as this is the perspective, Sharon can do whatever
he wants. The Israeli army terrorizes the Gaza strip. dozens of
Palestinians are being killed, including children on their way to school,
houses are demolished and agricultural land destroyed. At the time of
operation "Defensive Shield" in the West Bank and Jenin refugee camp two years ago, there was substantial world protest. The last operation "Days of Penitence" in the Jabalia camp in the Gaza strip has hardly received any coverage.

Backed by the U.S., Sharon is realizing with frightening efficiency his long-standing vision of evicting the maximum number of Palestinians from their land. In the spirit of Orwell, it was even explained that one of the aims of "Days of Pertinence" is to "expand the security zones" around the Gaza settlements (namely to enlarge their lands, pushing more Palestinians out of these lands), in order to guarantee that when they are evacuated, it would not be "under fire". (Aluf Ben, Ha'aretz, Oct 4, 2004). But Europe looks the other way, reassured of Sharon's new vision of peace.

These are difficult days, when Orwell seems to pale, compared to the power
of present day propaganda, when it seems that the European governments are immovable in their support of Israel, no matter what crimes it commits; and the Palestinians are dying slowly, with their suffering not even being

But in such times, when governments are unwilling to impose
international law, the people of the world can still take matters in their

Largely unreported, there is a growing on-going joint struggle of
Palestinians, Israelis and internationals from the International Solidarity
Movement, who stand daily in front of the army and the settlers in the
Palestinian territories, in non-violent, peaceful protest, documenting the
crime, protecting as much of the land as they can, and slowing down
Sharon's massive work of destruction. For the first time in the history of
the occupation, we are seeing joint Israeli-Palestinian struggle. Along
with Israel of the army and the settlers, a new Israel-Palestine is forming.

The breathtaking scenery of the West Bank has been sliced up by the new
roads that the rulers have built for their own exclusive use. Beneath them
lie the old roads of the vanquished. There, on the lower level, is where
the other Israel-Palestine treads. For almost two years, Israeli youths
arrive in settlement buses and then make their way on foot and in
Palestinian taxis among the checkpoints. They trek between the villages in
groups or alone. Some sleep in the villages. Others will travel the same
route the next day to reach the demonstration. Everywhere they go they are greeted with blessings and beaming faces. "Tfaddalu," the children in the doorways say, as if they had never heard of stone-throwing.

All along the "seam line" in the West bank, along the root of the wall, the Palestinians have opened their hearts and their homes to the Israelis and internationals who come to support their non-violent resistance to the wall and the occupation robbing them of their land. These days, hundreds of Israelis are going almost daily to the West Bank to protect the Palestinian olive harvest from the settlers, who, protected by the Israeli army, try to
prevent the harvest.

What has brought young Israelis to stand with the Palestinians in front of
the army is the conviction that there is a basic line of justice that must
not be crossed, that there is a law that is higher than the army's laws of
closed military zones: there is international law, which forbids ethnic
cleansing, and there is the law of conscience. But what makes them return,
day after day, is the new covenant that has been struck between the peoples of this land, a pact of fraternity and friendship between Israelis and
Palestinians who love life, the land, the evening breeze. They know that it
is possible to live differently on this land.

This daily struggle is our hope. It has become possible with the help of
individuals from all over the world who come there to join the new form of
resistance. They are facing harassment. Many are being stopped and
deported, but they still keep coming. As long as more people come, even for a short time, as long as they are backed and supported by many others at home who could not join in yet, the struggle will go on, offering hope
where governments fail. (1). E.g.: " Yesterday, press photographers were invited in to take a picture of the first session of the committee to deal with the construction in the [Gaza] settlements, headed by PMO Director General Ilan Cohen. The committee is meant to examine the issue of construction and other development projects in settlements that are designated for evacuation. Cohen says Sharon told him 'not to compromise over security needs'. Gaza Regional Council Chairman Avner Shimoni won approval for 26 bullet-proofed buildings in Gush Katif. The new buildings are meant for residences, and school rooms are meant for Kfar Darom, Netzarim and Neveh Dekalim. So far, some 350 development projects have been submitted to the committee" (Aluf Benn and Nir Hason, Ha'aretz, July 27, 2004).

* Professor Reinhart teaches Linguistics at Tel Aviv University and the University of the Netherlands. This speech was delivered in Paris on 6 November at the Euro/Palestine concert.

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