Mid-East Realitieswww.middleeast.org

4 July 2006

News, Views, & Analysis Governments, Lobbies, & the
Corporate Media Don't Want You To Know


US Policies in Iraq, in Palestine, and throughout much
of the world in fact, betray the professed message and the
core principles of
the 4th of July, American Independence Day.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert,
"wants the Palestinians to understand that the landlord has gone crazy."

MER - MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 4 July: The unspoken truth is the Israelis don't really want a way out of the current crisis, regardless of all their screaming and bombing/killing. It is in fact a crisis of their making and one they are now exploiting to pursue their real policies, which are never the ones they actually talk about and hardly ever the ones the corporate international media in the US so complicitly reports.

The Israelis have in fact for some time now done everything they could to enrage and provoke the Palestinians -- everything just short of enraging and provoking the world community to do something about their increasingly apartheid-like military occupation of some three million Palestinians. The too-late too-little proclamation by the Swiss yesterday that the Israelis are 'violating international law' is of course true; but it will have no real impact or resonnance for neither the Swiss nor the Europeans, nor the shamefully cowering U.N. for that matter, are going to do anything about it.

There is no situation in the world like the one in occupied Palestine; and Gaza is in effect the world's largest open-air quasi-self-administered prison.

What the Israelis are really manuevering for is the excuse to take down the now Hamas-led 'Palestinian Authority' they created and in the process to kill-off/imprison/demoralize this generation of Palestinian leadership as they have done to the past.

Even more the Israelis was to further inflame the region and provoke some kind of response so they can then ignite a larger regional conflagration in which they can try to take down the regimes in Iran and Syria, as well as Hezbollah (Lebanon) and Hamas (Palestine). They are determined, along with the American neocons/evangelicals, to pursue their Machiavellian schemes to control the region in tandem to varying degrees with the US/UK/EU. It is the long-ago proclaimed crusading 'New World Order'...just no longer with that particular term out front.

As for the Israelis having "gone crazy", actually these are not our words, they are those of the beleaguered Israeli Prime Minister, successor to long-time war criminal still-in-coma Ariel Sharon -- see the stories that follow for the requisite insights.

And as for the realities of the situation with the Palestinians... It is in fact the Israelis who hold thousands of Palestinian prisoners in their jails and dungeons; and they who torture and kill quite literally daily. The Palestinians on the other hand hold one Israeli soldier who had been tasked to patrol/control the Gaza Ghetto/Prison.

Furthermore, the Israelis have for so long lashed out at how the Palestinians target 'innocent civilians' -- of course aware that the vast power differences and the military occupation itself often give the Palestinians little choice other than submission. In this case, however, when the Palestinians quite daringly and courageously target the Israeli military occupying them the Israelis go even more berserk.

And so...when it comes to the crisis in Israel/Palestine on this 4th of July...certainly don't look to American politicians or to the US media. The ranks of both are so tragically filled with cowering, ignorant, and oh-so self-righteous 'patriotic' rantings.

Indeed, the Israeli media in which all three of the stories that follow were published in the past two days is far more aware and far more honest than the Americans.

Remember as well though that it is American guns and money, the American Pentagon and CIA, that make all the Israelis do now and in the past possible.

And thus realize on this 4th of July 'Independence Day' that the US and its fireworks-cheering citizens are undeniably complicitous in the craziness and the madness, in the vast number of deaths, and in the ongoing series of war crimes (see the third article below) that are being perpetrated throughout the Middle East on this day. And on every day.

MER - MiddleEast.Org

The landlord's craziness
By Akiva Eldar

Ha'aretz, 3 July: Even during the crazy days of the World Cup, the world does not sit in the bleachers when a country cuts off the electricity to hundreds of thousands of civilians, sends its planes to threaten the leaders of a foreign country, arrests ministers and bombs the office of the prime minister of a neighboring country. How is it that when the Israeli government behaves like a country that has lost all control, the United States makes do with a routine recommendation for the two sides "to exercise restraint"? Why is the European Union silent when the prime minister says he is conducting an insane policy? Shimon Schiffer wrote on Friday in the daily Yedioth Ahronoth that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an internal discussion that he "wants the Palestinians to understand that the landlord has gone crazy."

To make it easier to answer these questions, another two should be added. The first: Would Olmert let himself "go crazy" if Shaul Mofaz had remained in the Defense Ministry, Limor Livnat in the Education Ministry and Benny Alon in the Ministry of Science and Technology? The second: How long would it have taken for Amir Peretz as opposition leader to submit a motion of no-confidence in a government that is punishing all of the Gaza Strip because Gilad Shalit was taken captive? (Does anyone remember the names of the two soldiers who were killed? Was anyone called to account for the failure?) Who would have been the first speaker in the protest demonstration in Rabin Square? Yuli Tamir, one of the founders of Peace Now, or Ophir Pines, one of the supporters of the Geneva initiative?

Peretz and his colleagues claim that were they not sitting in the government, the situation would be far worse. Operation Defensive Shield taught us that the opposite is the case. The Labor Party served as a defensive shield for deeds that a purely right-wing government did not permit itself to do, for fear of the reaction of the international community. Then defense minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer did the dirty work of eliminating the Fatah government, and foreign minister Shimon Peres marketed the "there is no partner" policy in the world's capitals. When the main "left-wing party" carries out the destructive policies of the landlord, it is difficult to criticize and to restrain the government.

When it comes to relations with the Palestinians as well, the damage caused by Labor in the government is far greater than its usefulness. A year ago Labor granted its favors free of charge to prime minister Ariel Sharon, and allowed him to throw the key of the Gaza Strip into the hands of Hamas. Now the neighbors are learning that among the Israelis there is no difference between right and left, between Peretz and Mofaz. Everyone understands only the language of force. And at home - what moral validity will there be from now on to a protest of the Labor Party against a government that cuts off the electricity off hundreds of thousands of people? What political value will there be to its criticism of the policy of "verifying the killing" of the Palestinian partner?

Sharon sent his critics back to the declarations of his predecessor, Labor prime minister Ehud Barak, who stated that there is no Palestinian partner. The next prime minister from the right will send them to search in the archives for the story of Peretz's adventures in the summer of 2006. Here, he will say, your man of peace himself discovered that what one sees from here - from the war desk - one doesn't see from there - from the opposition benches. According to the last survey by Dr. Mina Tzemah, Peretz's functioning during the most recent crisis is shortening his path back to those benches. Most of the public - 62 percent - gave him a failing grade. The extent of support for the Labor Party is no higher than 15 Knesset seats.

Twenty years have passed since Labor representatives in a national unity government last presented an alternative to the policies of the right. That was in the mid-1980s, when the leader of the party, Shimon Peres, led the way to the London agreement and dismantled the partnership with the Likud after Yitzhak Shamir caused the initiative to fail. Peres' move began a process that ended in October 1991 at the Madrid conference. From there Yitzhak Rabin arrived at the Oslo Accords, which were supposed to release Israel from the occupation and gradually transfer power to a Palestinian government.

Thirteen years later, Rabin's heirs are participating in the perpetuation of the occupation and the destruction of a Palestinian government. Everything, let us not forget, for the sake of the "convergence plan." Is there any need to add - may it rest in peace?

Bordering on chaos

By Haaretz Editorial

Efforts to secure the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit and to keep the Qassam rockets away from northern Negev communities have evolved over the past few days into an all-out campaign against the government of the Palestinian Authority.

To begin with, the political echelon ordered the arrest of a group of ministers and parliamentarians from among the Hamas leadership. Yesterday, the Israel Air Force carried out a strike on the office of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. And senior government spokespersons threatened that if Corporal Shalit is not released soon, additional steps can and will be taken against the Hamas leaders, who are deemed responsible for the incident at Kerem Shalom and its consequences.

Justice and Foreign Ministry officials have said that the members of Hamas' political wing were not nabbed in order to serve as bargaining chips in talks with Shalit's captors, but were arrested under suspicion of committing offenses under the Prevention of Terrorism Law. Nevertheless, the decision to arrest politicians who were elected in a vote that took place as a result of U.S. pressure and with Israel's full consent is not purely a legal matter, but rather a highly significant, strategic move.

Hamas' victory in the elections of the Palestinian Legislative Council boded ill for the future of relations between Israel and the Palestinians and for the security of civilians on both sides. However, getting rid of a central government in the territories brings with it a disaster that is sevenfold greater. In the eyes of the Palestinian public, an Israeli arrest warrant is viewed as a badge of honor for a politician. No Palestinian political leader with any sense would dare to rise to power on the turrets of Israeli tanks. Even if the Fatah bureaucrats, under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, decide to consider the option and are tempted to fill the vacuum - they are unlikely to remain in power for too long.

The official eradication of the Palestinian government will leave the government of Israel morally and legally responsible for the well-being of the civilians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, too. If the government of Israel fails to understand on its own that chaos will lead to Somalization on the other side of the street, the international community will be forced to stop the rot. No wonder the neighboring states, Egypt and Jordan, are monitoring the crisis with increasing worry.

The political echelon, which is making every possible effort to secure the release of the soldier, does not have the right to be dragged into populist moves. The government must keep the State of Israel's overall political-security interests at the forefront of its concerns. Regardless of the current crisis, these interests do not in any way fall in line with quashing a neighboring government and leaving millions of civilians to the mercy of armed militias.

Media reports indicate that despite the far-reaching implications of the siege on the Hamas government, the decision to take action against the Hamas leaders was taken without a discussion in the government, and not even with the approval of the political-security cabinet. The ministers, and particularly those from the Labor Party, must demand from the prime minister and defense minister an immediate end to the attack on Hamas' political leaders, against whom there is no evidence to indicate that they are involved in planning or carrying out acts of terror.

Switzerland says Israel violating

international law in Gaza Strip

4 July - Associated Press: Switzerland said Monday that Israel has been violating international law in its Gaza offensive by heavy destruction and endangering civilians in acts of collective punishment banned under the Geneva conventions on the conduct of warfare.

"A number of actions by the Israel Defense Forces in their offensive against the Gaza Strip have violated the principle of proportionality and are to be seen as forms of collective punishment, which is forbidden," the Swiss Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"There is no doubt that Israel has not taken the precautions required of it in international law to protect the civilian population and infrastructure," it said. The statement did not name the Geneva Conventions, but it referred to provisions of the 1949 treaty, which is regarded as the cornerstone of international law on the obligations of warring and occupying powers.

Switzerland, as the depository of the conventions, has a responsibility to call meetings if it finds general problems with the implementation of the treaty, but it does not have any special powers to interpret the document.

Both the principle of proportionality and the ban on collective punishment are found in the Fourth Geneva Convention, which spells out the obligations of occupying powers toward the civilian population under their control.

Israel has used tanks, troops, gunboats and aircraft to attack the Gaza area over the past week to press militants to free captured IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit.

When it launched its first large-scale military action in Gaza since the disengagement from the coastal strip last summer, Israel's declared purpose was to press militants to release Shalit. In statements since, government officials have said they also mean to disable the Hamas government and stop gunmen from launching Qassam rockets at southern Israel.

"They have criticized us even though we are showing restraint," Aviv Shir-On, Israel's ambassador in Bern, told The Associated Press. "We are disappointed that the Swiss government did not issue such statements when Israel's civilian population was constantly under attack from the Gaza Strip."

Shir-On said the criticism was unfair when Israel was supplying people in Gaza with electricity, water, fresh food and necessary medicine even though Hamas was sworn to the Israel's destruction.

Switzerland also called for the "rapid release" of Shalit, but said Israel had an obligation "to respect international humanitarian law in the measures it undertakes to liberate the captured soldier."

It said Israel's destruction last week of the main Gaza electricity power station and its attack on the office of the Palestinian prime minister was unjustified. It also urged Israel to free Hamas legislators, including eight ministers who have been seized.

"The arbitrary arrests of a large number of democratically elected representatives of the people and ministers ... cannot be justified," the statement said.

Switzerland said it had earmarked an additional 1 million francs ($820,000) to provide medical supplies to civilians in Gaza.

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Source: http://www.middleeast.org/articles/2006/7/1449.htm