President Obama Meets Prime Minister Netanyahu
Netanyahu: The UN has become a moral farce
Netanyahu lashes out at UN anti-Israel resolutions
UN Speeches: Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas
Make 2017 the year Israeli occupation of Palestinian land ended
Barack Obama makes his final address to the UN General Assembly in New York as president of the United States, on 20 September 2016. UN Photo
Whenever a US president prepares to leave office, diplomats and Middle East specialists in think tanks urge him to make a final push for an Israeli-Palestinian “peace” deal.
It is a time-honored Washington ritual.
Given his passing reference to Palestinians and Israelis in his final speech to the UN General Assembly, however, it might seem like there is not much chance of that with Barack Obama.
“Surely, Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel but Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land,” Obama told world leaders gathered in New York on Tuesday.
It was classic Obama: tricky and deceptive language that seeks balance where there is none – equating alleged Palestinian “incitement” with real Israeli colonialism and occupation – and floating lofty goals belied by his actions.
The most glaring of these, of course, is Obama signing off on the record 10-year, $38 billion dollar military giveaway to Israel.
This weapons windfall caps a term during which Obama aided and abetted two devastating Israeli assaults in Gaza, as well as the ongoing siege, and offered Israel every diplomatic protection as it built more settlements on occupied Palestinian land, exceeding even the frenetic pace of colonization during the Bush administration.
Obama is due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the General Assembly on Wednesday, where he will reportedly push Israel to make progress towards the so-called two-state solution.
All Netanyahu will need to do is smile and nod politely for the cameras, knowing that the president has already given away any potential leverage by signing the massive military deal.
But make no mistake: Obama still poses a continuing danger to Palestinian rights as long as he remains in the White House.
Canceling Palestinian rights
In recent weeks, think tankers belonging to the peace process industry have launched a new campaign urging Obama to support a UN Security Council resolution before he leaves office that would enshrine the two-state solution.
But what it would actually do is write into international law an abrogation of Palestinian rights, offering Palestinians no more than a pale bantustan. It would renege on the right to return of Palestinian refugees, a right that the UN has guaranteed. It would, moreover, recognize Israel’s claimed “right” to discriminate against the indigenous Palestinians solely because they are not Jews.
France floated a similar initiative last year, which, as I explained at the time, would have fatally undermined Palestinian rights, but thankfully it went nowhere because the US would not support it.
In a New York Review of Books article this month, Thrall calls a UN resolution laying out the parameters for the partition of historic Palestine into ethnically segregated Palestinian and Jewish states a “last chance” for Obama to “salvage his legacy.”
Thrall claims that “many in the administration” are hoping that this will indeed be Obama’s final act.
“Any resolution the US supports will contain clauses that are difficult for each side to accept,” Thrall writes. “The most troublesome issues for Israel are that the borders will be based on the pre-1967 lines and that the Palestinian capital will be in Jerusalem. The most onerous clauses for the Palestinians relate to recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, the absence of a timeline for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank and a resolution of the refugee problem that would rule out anything but symbolic return to Israel.”
He affirms that the resolution would need to “offer some sort of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state,” in effect granting Israel a legal license to be racist.
It would also force on Palestinians what Thrall calls “entirely new concessions to Israel.”
“Settlements that existing Security Council resolutions call to dismantle would gain legitimacy as parts of a potential land swap,” Thrall writes.
Thrall, who enthusiastically supports this approach, is clear about the political realities: “It is a safe bet that on the majority of … issues, a US-supported resolution would favor Israeli positions over Palestinian ones.”
Abrogating UN resolutions
Another figure pushing for a UN resolution is Carl Bildt, the former Swedish foreign minister and high representative – diplomatic speak for unelected ruler – of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Obama, Bildt writes, “should push for a UN Security Council resolution that establishes new parameters for a future peace accord and replaces UN Security Council Resolution 242, which dates back to the 1967 Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt, Jordan and Syria.”
In other words, Bildt and Thrall want UN resolution 242 – which for all its shortcomings and omissions is at least clear on the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war” – replaced by a new resolution that actually blesses Israel’s decades of ethnic cleansing and land theft under the banner of “peace” and a “two-state solution.”
Israel’s certain resistance to such an approach should not be taken as evidence that a resolution would somehow be good for Palestinians. Its rejectionism is simply based on long-standing policy that Israel should never be bound by any international rules no matter how ineffectual or favorable they are.
As Thrall acknowledges – and this is also where the grave danger lies for Palestinians – the Palestinian Authority leadership would probably welcome such a resolution, dedicated as Mahmoud Abbas has been to abrogating Palestinian rights when it comes both to refugees and settlements.
Dennis Ross, that stalwart of the Israel lobby who has – absurdly – served as peace envoy for several presidents including Obama, has also weighed in on the potential impact of November’s presidential election on the prospects for such a resolution.
“I suspect that if [Donald] Trump wins, the president would be more inclined to go for a Security Council resolution to try to do something that binds, creates standards for the future that the next president couldn’t undo,” Ross said at a Zionist conference in California last week. “If [Hillary] Clinton wins, I suspect he [Obama] would be more sensitive to her concerns as to whether this helps or hurts her.”
But either way, Ross said, Obama “would like to do something, leave some kind of legacy.”
Arabs hold push against Israel at IAEA, seek new strategy
Debating an IDF soldier
Israeli Forces Detain 23 Palestinians in West Bank Raids
Israeli forces detained a total of 23 Palestinians, including a woman, during overnight raids into multiple West Bank districts, said Palestine Prisoner’s Society on Thursday. In the southern West Bank, forces detained three Palestinians from Hebron district, including a 22-year-old woman, and one from Bethlehem, WAFA reported. In the Northern West Bank, forces detained four Palestinians from Salfit district, four others from Tubas district, three from Jenin and another from Tulkarem. Forces also conducted raids in the central West Bank districts of Ramallah and al-Bireh detaining two. Police also arrested three Palestinians from Jerusalem and two more from nearby Abu Dis.
Israeli troops photographed beating unarmed Palestinian during ‘routine check’
Israeli soldiers have been photographed brutally detaining a Palestinian man in Hebron on Tuesday. One of the five troops in the vicinity could be seen kicking the man, while another soldier pinned the Palestinian to the floor with his knee. The incident took place near a Jewish neighborhood in Hebron, with the Israeli soldiers saying that the man was resisting arrest. “During a routine security check, the Palestinian who was documented [in the photos] refused to be frisked. The forces had arrested the suspect. The troops’ conduct is being looked into and the incident is being investigated,” the military said in a statement, as cited by Haaretz.
However, the photographs, which were shot as the detention was taking place, shows what seems to be unnecessary force being used by the Israeli soldiers. The Palestinian man was not wearing any shoes, and was dressed in a T-shirt and pants. The troops, who were from the Nahal 50th battalion, surrounded the man with one of the soldiers pinning him to the ground with his knee.
Another photograph shows a soldier appearing to kick the man, who was unarmed, with either his foot or his knee. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) says it is investigating the incident, while “the conduct of the forces will be checked.” A spokesperson for the organization said that the deteriorating security situation around Hebron had led to increased checks being carried out in the area. “In light of the situation following recent terror attacks in the city, and due to security considerations, it was decided to conduct searches in the area. During one such routine search, a Palestinian man deemed suspicious refused to be searched. Forces detained the suspect. The conduct of the forces will checked and the incident will be investigated,” the statement read, according to Ynet News.