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Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem

Chair of West Midland PSC

 

Dear Friends,

As you might well imagine, I’ve had my ear glued more to the radio today than usual.  The riots in Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, etc (none in Jordan so far) might end with no consequences or almost none, but then again, one never knows. Will this be the time when revolutions topple the puppet governments?  If so, what will be the consequences for Israel?  Will the changes be diplomatic or violent?  So many questions that only time will reveal the answers to.  Undoubtedly the United States and its allies will do all they can to keep the Middle East under western influence.  That is not desirable.  But then, is the alternative—whatever it might be—better.  It would be idealistic and naive to believe that the present uprisings will lead to a socialist revolution.  Will have to wait and see and hope for the best, not only for Israelis and Palestinians, but also for all the peoples of the region.

The media is full of reports on the riots and the Palestine papers released by Al Jazeera.  However, the first two items of the 7 below are positive.  Item one relates that Peru has joined other South American countries to recognize Palestine.

Item 2 relates that Ireland has upgraded the Palestinian delegation to a Mission.  Most interesting in the piece is Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon’s reaction to both the Irish and Peruvian moves, which he claims are “largely meaningless on the ground,” because they “contribute to the bubble of expectation that is growing among the Palestinian leadership However, we all know that bubbles eventually burst and it is negligent to contribute to this unsustainable policy.”   Does he intend to reveal that negotiations are meaningless, because they will lead to nothing?  We know that this is what Israel’s leaders intend, but I believe that Ayalon is the first to openly come out and declare this.

Item 3 is an LA Times editorial, “Israel’s lost weekend.”  The best part of it is the last paragraph in which it says that the US must not veto the resolution to be brought before the Security Council on the illegitimacy of settlements.  As the title suggests, the editorial is critical of Israel.

Item 4 is the New York Times report on the riots in Egypt.

In item 5 we have a reaction to the supposed willingness of the PA to turn over certain areas of East Jerusalem to Israel.  In short, a person who was chucked out of his home to make way for Jews insists: Jerusalem first.

Item 6 reports that Palestinians condemn the US plan (revealed in the Palestine papers) to resettle Palestinian refugees in South America.  When will the US administration and Israel realize that the ROR (Right of Return) is the crux of the matter, that without recognizing the right of Palestinians to return—just as every refugee should have the right to return to its homeland—there will be no peace.  Justice must precede peace.  Without justice, the other cannot follow.

In item 7 Kathleen Christison’s “We told you so” is highly critical of US complicity in Israel’s refusal to make peace. Today’s newspapers that treat President Obama’s State of the Union address, reveal that he intends to lay emphasis on the economy and to propose to reduce the deficit by “a five-year freeze on non-defense government spending,”  “Non-defense spending!?!”  Imagine had he recommended cutting back on defense spending, including the billions sent to Israel and other countries in the Middle East—wouldn’t that have been something!  But no.  Instead he finds it preferable to cut back on, what?  Education? social welfare? Health?  The kinds of things that Israel cuts back on, while spending much on military and militarism, expansion, and ethnic cleansing.  With friends as the United States, who needs enemies?

That’s it for tonight.  Hoping for bloodless revolutions (well as bloodless as possible—3 have already been killed in Egypt) that will bring leaders to power who care for their people and will remake this area into one of milk and honey instead of one that is constantly on the edge of war.

Dorothy

====================

1.  The Guardian,

25 January 2011

Peru recognises Palestinian state

Nation is seventh South American country to do so, bolstering Palestinian hopes of momentum towards global recognition

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/25/peru-recognises-palestinian-state

Rory Carroll, Latin America correspondent guardian.co.uk,

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has thanked South American countries for recognising Palestine as a state Photograph: Khaled El Fiqi/EPA

Peru last night announced it recognises Palestine as a state, becoming the seventh South American country to do so in a rapid diplomatic domino effect which has alarmed Israel.

The declaration came on the eve of a Latin American-Arab summit to be hosted in the Peruvian capital, Lima, reflecting growing political and economic ties between the two regions.

“Palestine is recognised as a free and sovereign state,” Peru’s foreign minister, José Antonio García Belaúnde, told RPP radio. “There was no pressure from any side. We have acted with freedom and independence.” He expressed Peru’s continued support for peace talks.

The announcement followed similar decisions by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Guyana in recent weeks, bolstering Palestinian hopes of momentum towards global recognition.

It came as a chink of good news for Palestinians amid controversy and despair over leaked peace talks documents showing negotiators’ apparent weakness in dealings with Israel and the US.

“Peru’s decision is very good news,” said Mauricio Abu-Ghosh, president of Chile’s Palestine Federation. “It recognises the existence and sovereignty of the Palestinian state.”

Israel warned that South America’s rush to recognition was “highly damaging interference” by countries that were never part of the Middle East peace process.

The US has lobbied the region to say recognition is premature. That argument has fallen flat with conservative and left-wing governments but Washington will be pleased that Peru, like Chile, hedged its position on Palestinian claims for borders that existed before 1967, encompassing the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Waves of emigration from Lebanon, Syria and Palestine to South America over the past century has dotted the region with small but influential Arab minorities, with some boasting politically connected tycoons.

Increasing trade – which will be trumpeted at next month’s Lima summit – has given an economic edge to cultural ties. Brazil, which has tripled its trade with Arab nations in the past decade, was thanked last month by President Mahmoud Abbas for allowing Palestine to open its first embassy in the Americas.

Argentina’s support for the Palestinian state’s pre-1967 borders is tinged with its own territorial claim over the Falkland Islands, which it calls the Malvinas. It lost a brief 1982 war against Britain for the archipelago and has complained that Britain violates UN agreements by refusing to discuss sovereignty.

Venezuela previously recognised the Palestinan state in 2005. Analysts say Uruguay and Paraguay may be next.

===============

2.  Jerusalem Post,

January 25, 2011

Photo by: Associated Press

Ireland upgrades PA delegation without recognition

http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?ID=205183&R=R1

By HERB KEINON

25/01/2011

Irish sources says Palestinian mission not upgraded to embassy status; expectations that other EU countries will follow suit.

Israel harshly criticized Ireland on Tuesday for upgrading the Palestinian delegation in Dublin to the status of a mission, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor saying this was in line with the country’s “long-time” bias in the Middle East.

An Irish diplomatic source confirmed that Dublin intended to upgrade the mission, but stressed that contrary to some reports, it was not being upgraded to the status of an embassy.

At the same time, the source said that the head of the delegation will now be referred to as Ambassador-Head of Mission, and will present credentials to the country’s president.

The source said this move was completely in step with what a number of other countries have done recently in the EU, such as Portugal, France and Spain. He said this was not a precursor to recognizing a Palestinian state, and that according to Irish laws, states can only be recognized if they exist.

A number of other EU countries are expected to take similar steps in the coming weeks, but – according to EU officials – are unlikely to grant recognition to a Palestinian state.

Palmor said Israel regretted the Irish decision, “though it comes as no surprise as it is line with Ireland’s long time biased policy in the Middle East.” Palmor said this step will “only strengthen Palestinian rejection of returning to direct dialogue and peace talks.” The move came a day after Peru joined a growing list of South American countries, including Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile, in recognizing a Palestinian state.

But the decision announced by Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Garcia Belaunde does not recognize the 1967 lines as the border of the Palestinian state, with Peru – like Chile – saying this must be worked out between the sides.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon reacted to both the Irish and Peruvian moves by saying they were “largely meaningless on the ground,” but were “destructive for negotiations.” He said they “contribute to the bubble of expectation that is growing among the Palestinian leadership However, we all know that bubbles eventually burst and it is negligent to contribute to this unsustainable policy.”

Ayalon said “every free gift the Palestinians receive from the international community contributes to their recalcitrance and maximalist strategy. We can see an obvious connection to the recent spate of recognition and a hardening of the Palestinian position.”

Turning to the Palestinians, Ayalon said that “if the Palestinians would expend one tenth of the effort towards meaningful negotiations that they use to push for largely meaningless one-sided declarations and political warfare in multilateral forums, then we could have actually moved a long way in negotiations.”

=========================

3.  LA Times Editorial,

January 24, 2011

Israel’s lost weekend

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinionla/la-ed-israel-20110124,0,7447075.story

Leaked documents and an Israeli report on an attack on an aid flotilla make dim peace hopes even dimmer.

Even before last weekend, the news from the Israeli-Palestinian peace front was not good. The most recent round of talks fell apart months ago. The Palestinian Authority is weakened and unsure where to turn; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with terrorist incidents down and the economy growing, has little incentive to move forward. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ripped apart the opposition by leaving the Labor Party. Prospects for near-term solution: low to none.

The weekend’s news just added to that sense of stalemate. First came the unauthorized release of thousands of official documents baring secret, inside-the-room details from a decade of failed peace talks. The documents, leaked to Al Jazeera, revealed concessions by Palestinian negotiators on a variety of emotionally charged subjects, including Israeli settlements, refugees and the status of East Jerusalem. Although most of the revelations were hardly shocking to those who follow these things, they seem certain to further damage the credibility of the Palestinian Authority in the eyes of its people, who see no corresponding benefits to make such concessions palatable.

Then came the ruling of the Israeli commission investigating last May’s deadly raid on a flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip in violation of the Israeli embargo. In a move certain to outrage much of the world, the commission concluded Sunday that Israeli soldiers had acted “professionally” and in accordance with international law. No sooner was the report issued than critics declared that the commission had no credibility and that its results had been preordained.

The next trouble spot: a resolution on Israeli settlements that may come to a vote in the U.N. Security Council. The resolution would reaffirm the view held by most of the world that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are on occupied land and are illegal under international law. The United States faces significant pressure not to veto it, as it ordinarily does with resolutions it perceives to be critical of Israel.

The U.S. position is that settlements are “corrosive” and “illegitimate” but that the issue should be negotiated between the parties, not imposed from New York. Other critics of the resolution — including some who oppose settlements — say it doesn’t serve U.S. interests to vote in favor of a toothless U.N. decree that Israel will probably ignore, which will impede negotiations and which would most likely weaken U.S. credibility unless it is willing to follow through, which it won’t be.

Fair enough, but on balance, we do not believe the U.S. should veto the resolution if it comes to a vote. Though settlements are almost universally believed to be illegal, Israel has built them steadily since 1967, creating unnecessary impediments to peace.

It would be naive to think that a yes vote would have much positive value, but settlement building is wrong, and a no vote would unquestionably send the wrong message.

=======================

4.  NY Times,

January 25, 2011

Broad Protests Across Egypt Focus Fury on Mubarak

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/26/world/middleeast/26egypt.html?_r=1&ref=middleeast

By KAREEM FAHIM and MONA EL-NAGGAR

CAIRO — Thousands of people calling for the end of the 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak clashed with riot police in this Egyptian capital on Tuesday, on a day of some of the most serious civil unrest in recent memory here.

A soldier died of injuries he sustained during the protest in Cairo, security officials said, and two protesters were reported killed in the port town of Suez.

The protesters, mobilized largely on the Internet and energized by recent events in Tunisia, occupied one of the city’s most famous squares for hours, beating back attempts to dislodge them by police officers wielding tear gas and water cannons.

“Freedom, freedom, freedom,” they chanted. “Where are the Egyptian people?”

Security officials said several thousand people demonstrated in Alexandria, and there were also reports of large demonstrations in other cities, including Mansoura and Mahalla al-Kobra. There, a video posted on the Internet showed people tearing up a large portrait of Mr. Mubarak — an act whose boldness here is hard to overstate.

State television made no mention of the protests, and sporadically through the afternoon, cellphone networks were interrupted or unavailable.

There was no immediate count of arrests or injuries, but the clashes in Cairo left dozens of people bleeding in Tahrir Square, one of Cairo’s best-known settings, near the Egyptian Museum and a Ritz-Carlton Hotel under construction. Tourists gawked, and older protesters said they had never seen anything like the defiant demonstration.

Just blocks away, in sharp contrast, calm prevailed and traffic was light for Police Day, the national holiday the protesters co-opted for their campaign against the government.

Mohammed Ashraf, a 22-year-old law student, said the blood drenching his white sweater was from a police officer. Like other protesters, he echoed the deep-seated frustrations of an enduring, repressive government that drove Tunisians to revolt:: rampant corruption, injustice, high unemployment and the simple lack of dignity accorded them by the state.

“Our government is unjust,” Mr. Ashraf said. “I’m not happy. The state is very aggressive with people.”

At least six young Egyptians have set themselves on fire in recent weeks, in an imitation of the self-immolation that set off the Tunisian unrest. Egypt has forbidden gas stations to sell to people not in cars and placed security agents wielding fire extinguishers outside government offices.

More than 90,000 people signed up on a Facebook page for the Tuesday protests, framed by the organizers as a stand against torture, poverty, corruption and unemployment. But the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most powerful opposition movement, said it would not officially participate, though its members were among the protestors in Cairo.

A small demonstration began sometime after noon but quickly swelled, as hundreds marched through winding streets as security officers formed a moving cordon. Scuffles broke out as the officers tried to halt the march by linking arms and forming lines.

One woman was injured when the officers pushed protesters against a wall near an on-ramp leading to a bridge over the River Nile. But the demonstrators quickly escaped the cordon and marched down the riverside Corniche, snarling traffic.

By the mid-afternoon, groups of people had converged in Tahrir Square, where they met security forces in full riot gear and a water cannon truck. Several people said the clashes began in earnest after protesters jumped on the truck and tried to take control of the water cannon.

Thousands occupied the square, including young men who broke rocks and threw them at the police. Some in the security force stooped to pick up the rocks and hurl them back at the protesters.

The marchers included young people documenting the clashes with cellphone cameras and middle-aged people carrying flags of the Wafd party, one of Egypt’s opposition groups. A young doctor, Wissam Abdulaziz, said she had traveled two hours to join the protest. She had been to one protest before, after the police were accused of fatally beating a young man in Alexandria named Khaled Said to death last year.

“I came to change the government,” she said. “I came to change the entire regime.”

Liam Stack and Dawlat Magdy contributed.

=========================

5.  The Independent,

25 January 2011

The price of Jerusalem

http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2011/01/25/the-price-of-jerusalem/

By Jody McIntyre

Notebook

I turned on Al Jazeera on Sunday to see a live interview with Maher Hanoun.  In 2009, I was living with Maher’s family in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah when they were evicted from their home.

It was 5:15am on Sunday 2nd August, when I woke up to the sound of the Hanoun family’s front room windows being smashed in.  I had just laid down to rest 20 minutes earlier.

We had known that the threat of eviction was imminent ever since the first order of this year was served on 19 February of that year.  The family had already been kicked out of their home once, in 2002, but it was still hard to imagine that the day would ever come.

By the time I’d got to my feet, scores of soldiers were rushing into the house and had surrounded me.  Due to my disability I cannot walk at a fast pace, which they used as an excuse to increase their level of aggression, kicking me as I fell to the ground and pushing me out the front door.  As I tumbled down the stairs outside, I pointed at my wheelchair:

“That’s my wheelchair,” I said. “I need it because I can’t walk.”

“No! No!” the armed Israeli forces replied, continuing to shove me away.

It was only a couple of hours before a van of Jewish settlers drove up and began moving in to the Hanoun family’s house. We slept the night on the pavement opposite the home.

The next day, Maher spoke to reporters who had gathered by the olive tree we sat under for shade in the day, and slept under for shelter at night:

“We have been made refugees again,” he told the reporters.  “This is a slow genocide they are conducting against the Palestinians of East Jerusalem.”

At the time, the local representative of the Palestinian Authority was prompt in delivering a verbal condemnation of the eviction of the Hanoun family.  But we now know, thanks to ‘The Palestine Papers’ leaked to Al Jazeera, that their words were nothing but a facade, and that the PA had already offered Sheikh Jarrah, along with most of the rest of East Jerusalem, to the Israeli government a year and a half previously.

As he was interviewed on Al Jazeera, Maher spoke with the same courage as he had during the time I spent living with his family that summer:

“Jerusalem must be first,” Maher asserted, “all of Jerusalem.  I do not see how there can be a Palestinian state without it.  If this is the case, negotiations must be stopped immediately.”

I suspect that his words will speak for many Palestinians in the coming weeks.  For the so-called “Palestinian Authority”, I cannot see these papers as anything but the final straw.

What the PA have now put beyond doubt is that they do not care for people like Maher and his family.  They do not care for Palestinian families who have lived in Jerusalem for generations.  When Saeb Erekat tells US state department officials that he wants only “a symbolic number of refugees” to return, he shows that he does not care for the masses of Palestinians living in camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, and the millions more scattered across the world.

Mr. Erekat went on Al Jazeera to defend himself, but his argument was pathetic, at best:

“Is it not strange that we would accept all these concessions that Israel is asking for and there is still no peace deal?”

Yes, Mr. Erekat, that is exactly what we think.  We think that the PA have offered concessions of epic proportions, concessions that sell out the most basic rights of their people, with nothing offered in return, and that Israel have still rejected your offers.  In fact, Mr. Erekat, we have thought it for a long time, but it is now documented fact.

Mahmoud Abbas, the disputed President of the Palestinian Authority, expressed his “shock” at the release of The Palestine Papers.  I think Mr. Abbas has a lot more shocks to come in the next few days.  Perhaps the Saudis should keep a room free for him and Erekat; I’m sure they’d be happy to stay with the recently deposed Tunisian President Ben Ali.

Tagged in: Al Jazeera, jerusalem, Maher Hanoun, Palestine, Saeb Erekat, Sheikh Jarrah

====================

6.  The Guardian,

25 January 2011

The Palestine papers

Palestinians condemn US plan to settle refugees in South America Suggestion revealed in Palestine papers clashes with refugees’ fundamental right to go home, say Palestinian groups

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/25/palestine-papers-refugees-south-america

Rory Carroll, Latin America correspondent guardian.co.uk

Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state under George Bush, suggested in 2008 that Palestinian refugees could be resettled in Chile and Argentina.

Children in Gaza refugee camp Photograph: Ali Ali/EPA

Palestinians have expressed shock and dismay at the US suggestion to settle Palestinian refugees in Argentina and Chile rather than let them return to ancestral land in Israel.

Representatives of the Palestinian diaspora said the plan to ship displaced Palestinians from the Middle East to a new homeland across the Atlantic clashed with their fundamental right to go home.

“It’s completely unacceptable. It contradicts our inalienable right to return to our own homeland,” said Daniel Jadue, vice-president of Chile’s Palestine Federation. “That right cannot be renounced. To make this suggestion shows the mediation was not honest. It was clearly tilted in favour of Israel. This is extremely grave.”

Condoleezza Rice, who was secretary of state in the Bush administration, floated the idea at a meeting on 28 June 2008 with US, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Berlin, according to minutes of the encounter obtained by al-Jazeera and shared with the Guardian.

The suggestion dumbfounded South America’s Palestinians – a largely Christian community which emigrated in waves over the past century and settled across the region, especially in Chile which is said to be home to more than 200,000.

Chile’s Palestinians would welcome compatriots who chose to settle in the Andes, said Jadue. “If a Palestinian accepted to come here that would be their right and we would show solidarity.” But that did not justify a US proposal to funnel refugees from the Middle East to reduce pressure on Israel to give up land, he said. “That’s wrong.”

Tilda Rabi, president of the Federation of Palestinian Organisations in Argentina, said the proposal violated the UN’s affirmation of refugees’ right to return home. “This is an extension of a long campaign of ethnic cleansing, of clearing people from their own homelands.” She doubted many refugees would have accepted such an offer. “In the camps people still have keys to the homes they left behind.”

It is unclear whether the Bush administration lobbied Argentina and Chile to take Palestinians. The foreign ministries in Buenos Aires and Santiago did not respond to email and phone queries.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said it received no such request. “UNRWA has never been approached by any government to assist with the movement of refugees to South America,” said a spokesman, Chris Gunness. “If such an offer was made refugees could accept or reject it,” he said. “It would be their choice.”

Hillary Clinton, Rice’s successor as secretary of state, played down the importance of the documents in her first comments on the leak last night.

“I don’t think it comes as any surprise what the issues are between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” she told reporters in Mexico. “They have been well known for 20 years or more. They are difficult issues. They do not lend themselves easily to compromise.”

However, the state department spokesman Philip Crowley earlier acknowledged that the disclosure would have an impact on efforts to get peace talks restarted.

“We don’t deny that this release will, at least for a time, make the situation more difficult than it already was,” he said. “None of this changes our understanding of what is at stake, or what needs to be done. We continue to believe a framework agreement is both possible and necessary. We continue to work with and engage the parties.”

The United Nations special co-ordinator for the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, said some of the interpretation of the documents conveyed an “inaccurate impression”. The Palestinian negotiators were committed to reaching a deal in the interests of the Palestinian people, he said.

“At this crucial time, I would urge both parties to show their readiness for a negotiated peace based on a two-state solution, and to deliver on the ground. It is to the genuine credit of the Palestinian leadership that they are doing so.”

Israel radio reported that Nabil Shaath, a member of the Palestinian negotiating team, said the documents released by al-Jazeera were authentic, unofficial and did not obligate the Palestinian side.

======================

7, COUNTERPUNCH

January 25, 2011

We Told You So!

The Palestine Papers and What They Reveal About the US/Israeli Agenda

http://www.counterpunch.org/christison01252011.html

By KATHLEEN CHRISTISON

Many people told them so — told them, meaning told the United States and Israel and even the overeager Palestinian leadership, that the Oslo agreement in1993 wasn’t fair, that it made too many demands of the Palestinians and virtually no enforceable demands of Israel; that the United States, no honest broker or neutral mediator, was looking out only for Israel’s interests and cared nothing for Palestinian concerns; that the peace process breakdown at Camp David in 2000 was not the fault of the Palestinians but was the responsibility of President Clinton and his “Israeli lawyer” advisers for representing only Israel’s needs; that while Clinton demanded Palestinian concessions, he was winking at Israel’s steady expansion of settlements and land grabs in Palestinian territory; that Clinton’s two successors did the same.

Many analysts told them that hopes for a genuine two-state solution died in the 1990s — indeed, were never realistic — because Israel, with U.S. knowledge and support, was swallowing Palestine, eating the pizza they were supposed to be negotiating over, as many Palestinians have said.  But no one in power in the United States or the international community or in the media listened.

Someone may have to start listening.  This U.S. complicity in Israeli expansionism, and the desperate acquiescence of the Palestinian leadership in Israeli demands for its surrender, have now been exposed in the massive document leak by al-Jazeera.  Dubbed the Palestine Papers, the collection of almost 1,700 documents was obtained from unknown, possibly Palestinian, sources and covers a decade of “peace process” maneuvering.  So far, there is only silence from the Obama administration, which is implicated in the documents along with the Bush and Clinton administrations.  But reaction around the world is voluble and hard to ignore.

Palestinians, the documents show, offered compromises that verge on total capitulation.  At a time in 2008 when talks with then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were coming to a head and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was pushing hard, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and his colleagues offered Israel the 1967 borders, the Palestinians’ right of return, and Israeli settlements on a silver platter.  The Palestinians would have agreed to let Israel keep all settlements in East Jerusalem except Har Homa; allowed Israel to annex more settlements in the West Bank (altogether totaling over 400,000 settlers); agreed to an inequitable territorial swap in return for giving Israel prime West Bank real estate, and settled for the return of only 5,000 Palestinian refugees (out of more than four million) over a five-year period.  And still Israel rejected the package of compromises, which they said “does not meet our demands” — presumably because their principal desire is that the Palestinians simply disappear.

The Palestinian eagerness to offer Israel such massive compromises has been the most prominent story from the Palestine Papers thus far, but the story of the pressure one U.S. administration after another has exerted on Palestinian negotiators to make these concessions and accommodate all Israel’s demands shows U.S. conduct throughout almost two decades of negotiations to be perhaps the most cynical, and indeed the most shameful, of the three parties.

United States negotiators, from Bill Clinton’s team, through Rice, to Hillary Clinton and George Mitchell today, have consistently treated the Palestinian leadership with humiliating derision.  In the fall of 2009, Hillary Clinton asked Erekat why the Palestinians were, as she remarked snidely, “always in a chapter of a Greek tragedy.”  Mitchell treated Erekat with similar contempt.  During a meeting in 2008, Rice dismissed a Palestinian request for compensation for refugees forced to flee their homes in 1948 — a demand that goes to the heart of Palestinian grievances — with the remark that “bad things happen to people all around the world all the time.”

Policymakers clearly couldn’t be bothered.  Scat, these Americans said to the pesky Palestinians in effect; we’re not interested in your silly grievances.  In a blunt commentary on al-Jazeera, former CIA officer Robert Grenier has written that his reaction to what the Palestine Papers reveal about U.S. conduct is “one of shame.”  The U.S., he says, has always followed a path of political expediency, “at the cost of decency, justice and our clear, long-term interests.  More pointedly, the Palestine papers reveal us to have . . . demanded and encouraged the Palestinian participants to take disproportionate risks for a negotiated settlement, and then to have refused to extend ourselves to help them achieve it, leaving them exposed and vulnerable.”  The papers “further document an American legacy of ignominy in Palestine.”

Shameful indeed.  A London Guardian editorial captures the essence of U.S. policy as it has been pursued since the first days of the Obama administration and indeed since the first days of Israel 63 years ago: the Americans’ neutrality, the Guardian writes pointedly, “consists of bullying the weak and holding the hand of the strong.”

It may be too much to hope for serious change in this U.S. policy anytime soon, but the Palestine Papers revelations may at least open discussion on the wisdom of continuing to pursue a policy that virtually everyone throughout the world recognizes as a “legacy of ignominy.”

Kathleen Christison is a former CIA political analyst and the author of several books on the Palestinian situation, including Palestine in Pieces, co-authored with her late husband Bill Christison.  She can be reached at kb.christison@earthlink.net.

http://www.counterpunch.org/christison01252011.html

 

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