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Maandelijks archief augustus 2013

Obama asks Congress to authorize military action against Syria

President Barack Obama stands with Vice President Joe Biden as he makes a statement about Syria in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
President Barack Obama stands with Vice President Joe Biden as he makes a statement about Syria in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013.

WASHINGTON: U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday he will ask the US Congress to authorize military action against Syria, lifting the threat of immediate strikes on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Obama said he had decided he would go ahead and take military action on Syria but he believed it was important for American democracy to win the support of lawmakers.

The decision represents a significant gamble for Obama, who has an estranged relationship with lawmakers, especially Republicans, and he risks suffering the same fate as British Prime Minister David Cameron, who lost his own vote on authorizing military action in parliament.

“I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress,” Obama said.

Obama said that Congressional leaders had agreed to schedule a debate as soon as lawmakers return from their summer break.

That is not due to take place until September 9. There was no immediate suggestion that the House of Representatives and the Senate would be called back into session early.

There had been growing expectations in Washington that military action could even happen as soon as this weekend, but Obama’s decision means that will now not happen.

Nevertheless, the president also said that he had decided that military force should be the price for what the United States says is the “undeniable” use of chemical weapons by Syria.

“Our military has positioned assets in the region,” Obama said.

“We are prepared to strike whenever we choose.”

(Source / 31.08.2013)

Syrische oppositie: ‘De chemische aanvallen zijn bedrog’

‘Een militaire interventie in Syrië is alles behalve een goed idee’, zegt Haytham Manna, vertegenwoordiger van de niet gewapende Syrische oppositie. ‘Geweld blokkeert de politieke dialoog.’

Syrische oppositie: 'De chemische aanvallen zijn bedrog'

Haytham Manna

De Syrische tegenstander Haytham Manna leeft al 35 jaar in ballingschap en is in het buitenland verantwoordelijk voor het Nationale Coördinatie Comité voor Democratische Verandering (de niet gewapende Syrische oppositie). Hij is een ferme tegenstander van buitenlandse interventies tegen zijn land.

Het gebruik van chemische wapens in Syrië is voor het Westen een argument om het regime te “straffen”. Wat vindt u daarvan?

Haytham Manna : ‘Ik ben een vurige tegenstander van een interventie, net zoals de Coördinatie die ik leid. Dat zal het regime alleen maar versterken. Daarenboven, riskeert een interventie het geweld nog meer te doen oplaaien, nog meer vernietigingen te weeg te brengen en de kans op politiek dialoog nog meer af te bouwen. Het regime is de eerste verantwoordelijke aangezien het de militaire veiligheidsoptie gekozen heeft. Maar hoe kan je over oorlog tegen het terrorisme spreken en tegelijk extremisten die lid zijn van Al-Qaeda helpen?’

Kiezen de Westerlingen volgens u de slechte optie ?

‘Al sinds het begin van het conflict zien we een opeenstapeling van politieke fouten. De Verenigde Staten, Frankrijk en het Verenigd Koninkrijk hebben de partijen tot radicalisering gedreven. Ze hebben het vertrek van jihadisten naar Syrië niet verhinderd en hebben zeer lang gewacht voor ze het fenomeen ter sprake brachten. Waar is het democratisch aspect dat de vernietiging van Syrië beoogt, gebleven? En door welke ethiek wordt ze geleid denkt u? Tijdens de slachting van Halabja (door de troepen van Saddam Hussein in 1988), hebben deze landen de ogen gesloten. Ik ben ook verbaasd dat de slachtoffers van de chemische wapens veel meer aandacht krijgen dan de 100.000 doden die we al sinds het begin van het conflict geteld hebben.’

Wie is volgens u verantwoordelijk voor de laatste slachting met chemische wapens?

‘Ik heb nog geen zekerheid, maar onze informatie komt niet overeen met die van de Franse president Hollande. Hij heeft het over duizenden slachtoffers terwijl we over een lijst van minder dan 500 namen beschikken. Het gaat hier dus om propaganda, slachtoffers, psychologische oorlog, alles behalve in de waarheid. Bovendien waren de chemische wapens ambachtelijk. Denkt u echt dat het loyalistische, sterk gemilitariseerde leger dat nodig heeft? Tenslotte werden er video’s en foto’s voor het begin van de aanvallen op internet geplaatst terwijl dat materiaal als bewijslast dient voor de Amerikanen.’

Denkt u dat een bepaalde partij gifgas heeft ingezet om een tussenkomst van het Westen te bereiken?

‘Het is bedrog. We weten dat Al-Qaeda al chemische wapens gebruikt heeft. Het vrije Syrische leger en de groepen die met Al-Qaeda gebonden zijn voeren samen 80 procent van de operaties in het noorden uit. Een maand geleden beweerde Ahmad Jarba (die de gewapende oppositie coördineert) dat hij de krachtsverhoudingen op het terrein zou veranderen. Het is echter het omgekeerde dat gebeurd is, het loyalistische leger heeft weer terrein veroverd. Enkel een rechtstreekse interventie zou dus de rebellen kunnen helpen… Laat ons dus afwachten. Indien Al-Qaeda verantwoordelijk is, zullen we het luid en duidelijk moeten zeggen. Als het regime de dader is, moeten we een resolutie van de VN verkrijgen. En niet twee of drie landen hun vrienden laten verenigen, die trouwens niet allemaal aanbevelenswaardig zijn.’

Welke positie tussen Westerlingen en Russen lijkt u de meest coherente ?

‘De Russen zijn het meest coherent omdat ze serieus werken voor de onderhandelingen van Genève 2 (dat het regime en de tegenstanders moet verenigen). De Amerikanen hebben geknoeid. Ze hebben zich twee of drie keer teruggetrokken op het moment dat een toenadering nabij was.’

Is er nog een politieke oplossing mogelijk?

‘Alles is mogelijk maar het zal vooral van de Amerikanen afhangen. De Fransen volgen hen. Een politieke oplossing is de enige die Syrië kan redden. Maar de gewapende oppositie slaagt er niet in een akkoord te vinden met betrekking tot een delegatie.’

Wat zal er met Assad gebeuren?

‘Hij zal niet aanblijven. Als de onderhandelingen slagen, zullen ze de facto tot een parlementair regime leiden. Als we tenminste de basistekst aanvaarden van Genève 2, dat de beste tekst is, en ook een internationaal compromis sluiten. Maar laat mij het volgende zeggen: als we het over het afslachten van de minderheden hebben terwijl de president uitmaakt van een minderheid, hoe kunnen we hem vragen om zich terug te trekken of zich niet terug te trekken? Vandaag heeft de Westerse politiek haar positie van verdediger van de Syrische eenheid en de minderheden versterkt. Dat gezegd zijnde zal niemand de overwinning kunnen opeisen: het geweld is zodanig blind geworden dat er echt een verbreed front van oppositie en regime moet komen om er een einde aan te maken.’

‘Er zijn te veel politieke fouten gemaakt’

Haytham Manna

(Source / 31.08.2013)

IOA adds 3 years to Atef Abu Alya’s sentence

 

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– An Israeli military court added three years to the prison term of the leader in Qassam Brigades Atef Abu Alya, sentenced to 13 years, after the prosecution’s appeal.

The Israeli prosecution has appealed against the Ofer Military Court’s ruling to sentence Abu Alya to 13 years. The Israeli judge agreed to add 3 years to his sentence to be 16 years in prison, the captive’s family said, noting that they will appeal to cancel the latest court’s order.

Atef Abu Alya, a father of 4 children, was arrested in 2009 on charges of firing against Israeli settlers. His brother Jaber Hussein Abu Alya was also sentenced for 19 years under the same charges.

(Source / 31.08.2013)

Hezbollah declares state of high alert

Hezbollah declares state of high alert in Southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah declares state of high alert in Southern Lebanon.
Lebanese Hezbollah resistance group has declared a state of alert and began deploying troops to the country’s south, as the possibility of a U.S.-led strike on Syria was publicly weighed.

According to al-Akhbar newspaper, the Lebanese organization has announced general alert in all units, including those in Syria.

According to the paper, Hezbollah has started taking “quiet” steps so as to not garner any attention.

The resistance group has already called on all its members to return to Lebanon within next 24 hours.

Hezbollah mobilization comes as the U.S. and its allies plot a unilateral strike against Syria on the basis of fake allegation the Syria government used chemical weapons in suburb of Damascus.

The top leadership of Hezbollah was holding intensive discussions about the possible consequences of an attack on Syria and the appropriate response against Israel, Lebanese media reported.

Hezbollah is unlikely to attack Israel unless a Western assault on Syria aims to topple President Assad or seriously damage the Syrian army’s capabilities, a senior source with ties to Hezbollah told the Daily Star on Wednesday.

“If the Western attack is limited to certain targets in Syria, then, Hezbollah will not intervene,” the source said.

However, “in the event of a qualitative [Western military] strike that aims to change the balance of power in Syria, Hezbollah will fight on various fronts,” he added, an event that “will plunge Lebanon virtually and immediately into the inferno of a war with Israel.”

The entry of Hezbollah troops into the Syrian civil war several months ago is credited as being a major factor in the Syrian government’s recent gains against the foreign backed militant groups.

(Source / 31.08.2013)

Experts Fear U.S. Plan to Strike Syria Overlooks Risks

A Broader Look at the War Across Syria

Uncertainty about how an attack could affect Syria?s civil war has led to disagreement among Western countries about how to respond.

BEIRUT, Lebanon — President Obama says he is considering a “limited, narrow” military strike against Syria — an aim that many Middle East experts fear overlooks the potential to worsen the violence in Syria and intensify a fight for regional influence between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria in Damascus this month. Some diplomats fear that a United States strike could increase anti-Americanism and help lead Mr. Assad into a wider conflict.

Supporters of the president’s proposal contend that a limited punitive strike can be carried out without inflaming an already volatile situation. But a number of diplomats and other experts say it fails to adequately plan for a range of unintended consequences, from a surge in anti-Americanism that could bolster Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, to a wider regional conflict that could drag in other countries, including Israel and Turkey.

“Our biggest problem is ignorance; we’re pretty ignorant about Syria,” said Ryan C. Crocker, a former ambassador to Syria and Lebanon, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan and is dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University.

The American strike could hit President Assad’s military without fundamentally changing the dynamic in a stalemated civil war that has already left more than 100,000 people dead. At the same time, few expect that a barrage of cruise missiles would prompt either side to work in earnest for a political settlement. Given that, the skeptics say it may not be worth the risks.

“I don’t see any advantage,” said a Western official who closely observes Syria.

In outlining its tentative plans, the Obama administration has left many questions unanswered. Diplomats familiar with Mr. Assad say there is no way to know how he would respond, and they question what the United States would do if he chose to order a chemical strike or other major retaliation against civilians.

That would leave the United States to choose between a loss of credibility and a more expansive — and unpopular — conflict, they said. “So he continues on in defiance — maybe he even launches another chemical attack to put a stick in our eye — and then what?” Mr. Crocker said. “Because once you start down this road, it’s pretty hard to get off it and maintain political credibility.”

For the United States, the challenge is to deliver the intended message to Mr. Assad without opening the door to a takeover by rebels linked to Al Qaeda, the collapse of state institutions, or a major escalation by Syria’s allies. Skeptics doubt that the United States — or anyone else — has the information to calibrate the attack that precisely.

That is partly because the United States is preparing to inject itself into a conflict that is no longer just about Syria, but has become a volatile regional morass that pits Iran and Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group in Lebanon, against Qaeda affiliates backed by Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf benefactors.

Iran’s and Syria’s defense ministers threatened on Friday to unleash attacks on Israel if Mr. Assad was in danger. While Hezbollah has said it would wait to see the scale and nature of the attacks before responding, in practice, analysts close to the organization said, it is probably prepared for any contingency.

There is also concern that Shiite-led Iraq could send thousands more militants to help Mr. Assad if it believed he was truly threatened, and that such a step would in turn further rally and embolden Sunni jihadists on both sides of its border with Syria.

Many diplomats and analysts consider retaliation unlikely, but the consequences could be grim. Israel has vowed that if Hezbollah attacks it again, it will respond forcefully, drawing Lebanon into war. And if Syria lobbed missiles into Israel and it responded with airstrikes through Lebanese airspace that threatened Mr. Assad further, Hezbollah would consider that further justification to attack Israel.

Even without such a direct entanglement, Lebanon could be very vulnerable. It has recently suffered its worst sectarian violence in years: a car bomb in Shiite Hezbollah territory in the Beirut suburbs, and two at Sunni mosques in the northern city of Tripoli. Lebanese authorities accused Syria on Friday of involvement in the Tripoli attacks, and intelligence officials fear such bombings could increase.

Within Syria, there is also the prospect of civilian casualties, either from errant American missiles or among people near the target sites. The Syrian government has put some military bases in populated areas, and thousands of political and other prisoners are held in security buildings. Although the strikes are said to be aimed at elite units involved in chemical weapons use, Reuters reported Friday that many Sunni conscripts have been effectively imprisoned on bases because they are not trusted, leaving them vulnerable, too.

Significant casualties among the very people American officials say they are protecting could be exploited by the government. “That will completely empty any justification for this” in the eyes of many, the Western official said.

Some likely targets are in areas that up to now have remained relatively secure, including the corridor from western suburbs of Damascus to the Lebanese border. And in Damascus itself, a bubble of relative security, residents have expressed fear that in the aftermath, clashes could erupt. That could create a new humanitarian crisis and new refugee flows to Syria’s already burdened neighbors. American officials say they do not expect a refugee crisis because of the strikes’ limited nature, but Human Rights Watch has called on them to plan for the unexpected.

“We haven’t received any indication that plans for beefed-up humanitarian response are under way,” said Lama Fakih, the group’s deputy director in Beirut.

Anger over American involvement could also undo one of the major benefits to American interests from the Arab uprisings by restoring the alliance against Israel that Iran, Syria and Hezbollah had with the Sunni Palestinian group Hamas. The conflict in Syria has sorely tested that alliance, with Hamas supporting the Sunni-led Syrian rebellion.

Verifying information in Syria is extraordinarily hard, and another risk, however remote it may seem to American officials, is that it turns out that the Assad government was not responsible for the chemical attack. In any case, in a region where many have their doubts after the faulty intelligence that led to war in Iraq, wide sectors of the public may remain convinced. That would allow Mr. Assad to paint himself as the victim of an unjust American intervention and draw more supporters back to his fold.

All that said, no one is suggesting that the United States or other countries should turn a blind eye to the use of chemical weapons or the suffering of civilians. The problem, Mr. Crocker said, is to figure out a response that leaves the Syrians, the region and the United States in a better position rather than entangled in another messy conflict with an uncertain outcome.

(Source / 31.08.2013)

Islamic Movement inside (Israel) rejects military intervention in Syria‎

One of the Syrian neighborhoodsOne of the Syrian neighborhoods

Gaza, Alray – The Islamic Movement in pre-1948 Palestine rejected military intervention in Syria, saying this path will not help the Syrian people to achieve his revolutionary objectives of freedom and dignity.

The movement said Saturday in a statement “the innocent Syrian people, still suffering two and a half years of the brutality of the Syrian regime and remain, would be the most affected party by the consequences of the any catastrophic airstrike,”

“Assad’s regime is fully responsible for aborting any peaceful solution that gives hope to the Syrian people to achieve a state where freedom, and dignity, and justice prevail,”

The responsibility of the Arab countries is to support the Syrian people’s revolution in achieving its goals of freedom, dignity and justice is, not to endorse a military strike.

We as a principled Palestinian movement are committed to support the peoples oppressed by the tyrannies, whether in Palestine, Egypt, Syria or anywhere in the world no matter how decoratively misleading the propagandas of these systems are.

(Source / 31.08.2013)

Thousand attend funeral for Jenin man

JENIN (Ma’an) — Thousands of mourners on Saturday attended the funeral of a 20-year-old man who died after being shot by Israeli soldiers in a Jenin refugee camp.

Karim Abu Sbeih, 20, died in the Arab Hospital in Nablus on Saturday.

He was hospitalized on Aug. 20 and had part of his kidneys, colon, lungs and liver removed after he was shot in the chest by Israeli forces during a raid on Jenin refugee camp. Majd Mohammad Anis Lahlouh, 22, was killed during the raid, after being shot in the chest by Israeli soldiers.

Masked gunmen from Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs brigades joined the procession through the camp, before Abu Sbeih was buried in a camp cemetery.

Mourners chanted for unity and an end to Israeli occupation. They also called on the international community to support Palestinians and end Israeli settlement activity.

Karim Abu Sbeih
(Source / 31.08.2013)

Politics of death: Human lives devalued in the Middle East

A Syrian couple mourn in front of bodies after what rebels said was a toxic gas attack in Ghouta on Aug. 21.

How many Egyptians have been killed since the January 2011 revolt?

My pursuit for exact figures has proven to be futile. Various sources suggest all sorts of numbers, some scrambled in such a way as to make a political point. It is as if the lives of ordinary Egyptians don’t matter on their own, as an absolute value that must be guarded aside from any political considerations. If it does matter at all, it is only within a larger context to simply prove a point.

But the deaths are certainly in the thousands, with many more maimed and wounded. On August 14 alone – one of the bloodiest days in modern Egyptian history – hundreds of people were mowed down, and thousands more were wounded in a security forces crackdown on anti-coup protests in Rabia al-Adawiya and al-Nahda Squares, among other areas of Cairo and the rest of the country.

It was a bloodbath by any definition – the images, the footage, the stories and the shattered hopes. But equally harrowing was the fact that there was no consensus that killing hundreds of protesters was wrong because it violates every shared human value. Even such dreadful moments were barely enough for most people to set aside their ideology, religious preferences, sectarian affiliations or political identity and simply mourn for a brief moment, just a moment, at the precious lives harvested before their time.

The British Guardian reported on August 19 that “more than 800 people, mostly Brotherhood supporters, were killed last week in the worst violence since President Mohamed Morsi was deposed in early July.”

What was the point of killing 38 allegedly pro-Brotherhood political prisoners on their way to Abu Zaabal prison in northern Egypt on August 18? And what did the killing of 25 Egyptian soldiers in northern Sinai the next morning achieve? Is the life of poor Egyptians cheap to the extent that they are being used as political fodder in exchange of few media sound bites?

What is happening in Egypt? How can a perceived evil become virtuous in a matter of two years? And how could those who shed many tears over the beating to death of Khaled Saeed at the hands of the Egyptian police in June 2010, justify with disheartening ferocity the killing and wounding of thousands of Khaled Saeeds in August 2013?

“The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic,” Joseph Stalin, the communist leader of the Soviet Union once said. In another version, it was “..when thousands die it’s statistics.” Either way, it seems as if there is a threshold number after which a tragedy seems less tragic.

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, 1,417 Palestinians were killed during the Israel’s 2008-09 war on Gaza, out of which 926 were civilians, including 313 children. The Israeli rights group B’Tselem put the number at 1385, except it is higher in its estimation of minors and children killed, which it put at 318.

Despite the outrage at the Israeli action and the spiteful way in which Israeli politicians justified their war, since then many Palestinians have been killed in equal impunity, but the numbers are not as high. And with every new casualty, there seems to be a tad less outrage, and fewer calls for international action.

When 22-year-old Mohammad Anis Lahlouh was killed by Israeli occupation forces in Jenin on August 20, the story didn’t make much of a buzz even in local Palestinian media. It was barely reported. How many Mohammeds were killed on that very day in Syria, in Iraq and throughout the Middle East?

Can human life be devalued like currency?

For months, if not years after the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, there has been little mention of how many civilians have been killed by US forces and their allies. In fact, we will never know as it is all an estimation, some of which is based on newspaper clippings and such.

It is outrageous, but the kind of outrage that becomes less shocking with time.

In Afghanistan, it is still impossible to even narrow down the numbers with any plausible accuracy simply because there have been too many casualties, and little time and resources has been invested in knowing how many. And of course, there is much politics in that, for US media sources would do whatever it takes to estimate victims of terrorism, but little to estimate victims of its government’s own wars.

The Los Angeles Times estimated that up to 1,201 civilians were killed between October 2001 and February 2002 (reported on June 2, 2002). The British Guardian estimated that up to 20,000 Afghans died as an indirect result of the initial US airstrike and ground invasion (reported May 20, 2002).

As for Iraq, iCasualties.org, founded in May 2003, didn’t bother to tend to Iraqi civilian casualties until nearly two years later. It was then called Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, and until now its main focus has certainly not been the hundreds of thousands of deaths at the hands of these military coalitions. According to Iraq Body Count website, as of the writing of this article, between 114,164 – 125,081 civilians were killed, and “further analysis of the WikiLeaks’ Iraq War Logs may add 11,000 civilian deaths.”

But of course, the numbers are much higher and they continue to rise, as the US has created a political atmosphere that set the stage for a protracted conflict. On August 1, the UN mission in Baghdad released new casualty figures: At least 4,137 civilians have been killed and 9,865 injured so far this year, and 1,057 Iraqis were killed in July alone, reported the BBC. Since then, hundreds more were killed.

The civil war in Syria has done more than enough to devalue human lives as well. The UN and other groups calculate the toll as a result of the brutal fighting at around 100,000. The site of dead bodies piled on top of one another has become a news media staple.

Now allegations by both sides regarding the use of chemical weapons are adding another twist to the gory Syrian reality. Still, there is little consensus that regardless of the religion, sect, or political views of the victims, the slaughtering of a family in some peaceful village is a reprehensible act that must be condemned with unreserved outrage.

True, human life has hardly been treated with much sanctity in the Middle East, as dictators ruled with iron fists, and Israeli and US wars carried on with almost predictable succession.

But recent wars and revolts have devalued human life even further, for now some are cheering at the misery of others where slaughter is shared on YouTube and social media, with casual comments, similes, and oftentimes utter indifference.

(Source / 31.08.2013)

‘Israeli aircraft violate Lebanon airspace’

  • An Israeli F16 fighter jet
An Israeli F16 fighter jet
The Lebanese government has filed several complaints to the United Nations over the violation of the country’s airspace by the Israeli military aircraft.”
The Lebanese army says Israeli military aircraft have once again violated the airspace of the country.

“Six Israeli warplanes and three reconnaissance planes violated Lebanon’s airspace in the past two days,” Lebanese newspaper Daily Star quoted the military as saying in a Friday statement.

It said that an Israeli reconnaissance plane entered the country’s airspace above the village of al-Naqoura at 11 a.m. Friday and left at 1:10 p.m. above the southern village of Alma Al-Shaab after conducting “aerial maneuvers over the Chouf and the southern region.”

“At 10:50 a.m. two Israeli warplanes entered Lebanon above Aytaroun (village) and left at 1:30 p.m. after conducting similar maneuvers over all Lebanese areas,” the statement added.

The army said that three reconnaissance planes infiltrated the airspace of the country from Naqoura around 6:30 a.m. Thursday and “conducted aerial maneuvers above various Lebanese regions before returning to Israel at 1:15 a.m. Friday.”

The statement added that six Israeli warplanes entered Lebanese airspace above Shebaa Farms and the border village of Aytaroun at 9 p.m. Thursday and left the airspace nine hours later at 6 a.m. Friday.

Israel violates Lebanon’s airspace on an almost daily basis, claiming the flights serve surveillance purposes.

The Lebanese government has filed several complaints to the United Nations over the violation of the country’s airspace by the Israeli military aircraft.

Lebanon’s government, the Hezbollah resistance movement, and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, have repeatedly condemned the overflights, saying they are in clear violation of UN Resolution 1701 and the country’s sovereignty.

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which brokered a ceasefire in the war of aggression Israel launched against Lebanon in 2006, calls on Israel to respect Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In 2009, Lebanon filed a complaint with the United Nations, presenting over 7,000 documents pertaining to Israeli violations of Lebanese territory.

(Source / 31.08.2013)

The Path to Peace Lies In Rejecting the ‘Peace Process’

For as long as the injustices continue, there can be no peace. (Photo: ActiveStills.org)

For as long as the injustices continue, there can be no peace.

Palestine’s illegitimate president, Mahmoud Abbas, is doing incredible damage to the cause of his people.

It is betrayal enough that he has decided to return to the U.S.-led so-called “peace process”—which is the process by which the U.S. and Israel block implementation of the two-state solution—despite Israel refusing to show even a modicum of good faith. Under threats of punishment for disobedience and promises of financial reward for compliance, Abbas agreed to return to talks “without preconditions”, meaning while Israel’s illegal colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem continue unabated.

But his betrayal goes much further. He has also expressed his willingness to surrender the Palestinians’ national sovereignty and right to self-defense by agreeing to the Israeli demand that the state of Palestine must be “demilitarized”. Abbas has tried to justify this decision by reasoning, “We don’t need planes or missiles”. But whether having the means to defend the state of Palestine is necessary or not is not the question. It may or may not be necessary, as a practical matter, but by agreeing to Israel’s demand to a “demilitarized” state, Abbas is surrendering, as a matter of principle, that Palestine might have the means by which to exercise its right to self-defense if it ever became necessary to do so—such as if Israel were to do what it often does and launch airstrikes or ground invasions against the state of Palestine.

Why is Abbas making such enormous concessions to Israel? The answer is that the Palestinian Authority, created under the so-called “peace process”, acts as Israel’s proxy security force. Bureaucrats like Abbas benefit from this system, as they have jobs and salaries, and they don’t want to risk upsetting the status quo if it means losing their relatively comfortable lives. The P.A. doesn’t want to risk losing the funding it receives from the U.S. by disobeying orders from Washington. It is rather content on making deals with the devil while maintaining the delusion that this road will somehow lead to heaven. This dependence of the Palestinian government upon the very nation most responsible for supporting Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people and for blocking implementation of the two-state solution is perverse.

The reason the U.S. and Israel consider Abbas a “partner for peace” is precisely because he is largely willing to comply with orders from Washington and Tel Aviv. If he wasn’t willing to do so, he by definition wouldn’t be a “partner for peace” in their lexicon. The Palestinians must have a leadership that the U.S. and Israel don’t consider a “partner” in their efforts to block implementation of the two-state solution if they ever want to see the two-state solution realized.

The Palestinians are not without options. Since obtaining the status of non-member observer state in the General Assembly, they now have legal recourse to the International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice. They have the option of bringing complaints against Israel’s violations of international law that prejudice their rights, such as its occupation regime and illegal colonization.

Israel has threatened to withhold taxes it collects on behalf of the P.A. in areas of the West Bank under its control and the U.S. has threatened to cut off aid if the Palestinians pursue such action, but this is also a Catch-22 for Israel and the U.S., since a collapse of the P.A. would not be in Israel’s interests, either.

The Palestinian leadership will gain nothing by negotiating with the government of the country occupying their land, stealing or destroying their resources, and colonizing their soil. The only possible outcome of participating in the charade known as the “peace process” will be the further loss of Palestinians’ internationally recognized rights. That Palestinians must surrender their rights is an explicit precondition imposed by Israel on any agreement to be arrived at via talks. So what is the point of talking?

The leadership of Palestine should immediately end talks and make clear that there is no point in negotiating unless and until Israel ceases its illegal colonization and withdraws from occupied Palestine. They should insist that any talks should be based on the equal rights of both parties, rather than agreeing to the framework of the “peace process” that excludes anything international law has to say about it, in which any agreement to be achieved is not about what Israel has a right to under the law, but what Israel wants that contravenes the law.

The leadership should also immediately file claims against Israel for its crimes against the Palestinians, including the ongoing collective punishment of the civilian population of Gaza, and also against the U.S. for its complicity in those crimes with its financial, military, and diplomatic support for them, at the ICC;  as well as request that the General Assembly refer the matter to the ICJ.

The way to make Israel’s occupation unsustainable is for the P.A. leadership to stop acquiescing to sustaining it. Simply choosing not to comply with orders from Washington to maintain the status quo and complacently continue with the charade of the mislabeled “peace process”, to walk away from it and use the legal mechanisms available to them in order to put an end to the U.S.’s support for Israel’s criminal policies by making it politically infeasible to continue, is the only path forward.

If the current Palestinian leadership won’t do that, the Palestinian people need to rid themselves of the Abbas regime, and perhaps rid themselves of the P.A. altogether, and lead themselves down the path towards an end of the perpetual injustices that have been and are being done to them.

If the U.S. responds by cutting financing to the Palestinians, let the world see this “aid” for what it really is: bribery payments intended to keep the P.A. leadership dependent upon and therefore compliant with the very nations oppressing them—namely, Israel and the U.S. The Palestinians are a resourceful people, and economic hardship is no stranger to them. The people of the world are with them in their struggle for justice. They will weather the storm. And the sacrifice of U.S. money to the P.A. seems a small price to pay in order to be done finally with the miserable “peace process” and get on with the process of making peace.

For as long as the injustices continue, there can be no peace. There is law. The path to peace will not be found by continuing with a framework that rejects law. It will be found by choosing the framework that seeks remedy and accountability under the law.

Let the Palestinian leadership stop this nonsense about negotiating with their oppressor while their land is occupied, stolen, and colonized. The time to begin negotiations on a final peace settlement, including a final agreement on borders, is when the occupation comes to an end.

That was the original intent of U.N. Resolution 242, and that is officially, under the law, what the international consensus is of how to achieve the two-state solution. That is the two-state solution.

That is also the reality that the U.S.-led “peace process” has fought so hard for so many years to make everyone forget. The U.S. has effectively reversed the prescription of the two-state solution by accepting Israel’s warped and legally invalid unilateral interpretation of 242, that a final settlement must be achieved first, and only then will it withdraw from some of the Palestinian territory it now occupies, annexing the rest into the “Jewish state”.

The Palestinians need no one’s permission—least of all Israel’s— to exercise self-determination. There is no sense at all in participating in a “process” in which they must ipso facto agree that Israel may exercise a veto power over their own statehood.

The Palestinian leadership must stop choosing that the Palestinians live as oppressed peoples. That will be the next step towards peace.

(Source / 31.08.2013)