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Palestinians dubious of Kerry’s “real progress” in peace plan

Al-Akhbar | June 30, 2013

A top Palestinian official said on Sunday that there had been no breakthrough in marathon American-led efforts to revive direct peace talks, but US Secretary of State John Kerry said there had been “real progress.”

The statements come just as Israel announced that it might implement monetary incentives to encourage people to move to an illegal settlement in the West Bank.

“It was a positive and profound meeting with [Palestinian] President (Mahmoud)Abbas but there has been no breakthrough so far and there is still a gap between the Palestinian and Israeli positions,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told reporters after Kerry finished talks in Ramallah with Abbas, his third meeting in as many days.

But Kerry, however, insisted he had held “very positive” discussions with both sides since starting his intense shuttle diplomacy in Jerusalem on Thursday evening, in a high-profile bid to draw the two sides back into direct negotiations after a gap of nearly three years.

And he said that with “a little more work” the start of final status talks “could be within reach.”

“I am pleased to tell you that we have made real progress on this trip and I believe that with a little more work, the start of final status negotiations could be within reach,” Kerry told reporters at Ben Gurion airport just before leaving for Brunei.

“We started out with very wide gaps and we have narrowed those considerably,” he said, describing them as “very narrow.”

“We have some specific details and work to pursue but I am absolutely confident that we are on the right track and that all the parties are working in very good faith in order to get to the right place.”

Asked if Israel’s settlement building had hampered efforts to achieve a breakthrough, he said: “The answer is no, there are any number of obstacles, but we are working through them.”

“We have to have the courage to stay at this and to make some tough decisions,” he said.

Kerry, who has over the last four days spent a total 13 hours in talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and another six with Abbas, said he would return to the region without saying when.

“I’m going to come back because both leaders have asked me to,” he said.

Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu insisted that Israel was not blocking a return to negotiations.

“We are not putting up any impediments on the resumption of the permanent talks for a peace agreement between us and the Palestinians,” he said in remarks communicated by his office.

He also pledged to put any agreement to a referendum, saying it will be “submitted to the people for a decision.”

But Israel’s army radio said Kerry’s marathon efforts had so far failed to coax the sides back into direct negotiations after a gap of nearly three years.

Abbas is pushing Israel to free the longest-serving Palestinian prisoners, to remove roadblocks in the West Bank and to publicly agree to make the lines that existed before the 1967 Middle East war the baseline for negotiations.

Army radio said that Netanyahu was willing to consider just the first two conditions — but only after talks were under way.

So far, Israel has flatly refused to countenance any return to the 1967 lines.

Palestinian officials appeared pessimistic about Kerry’s chances of achieving a breakthrough.

“Netanyahu and his government are not serious about establishing a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, they speak of a state without clear borders, and we need clarity according to international resolutions,” said Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior official of Abbas’s ruling Fatah party.

“We are ready to resume negotiations according to our clear guidelines,” he told Voice of Palestine.

“Even with regards to the prisoners’ issue, Israel did not provide any clear answer. We want a serious process to be launched,” he said.

In another move likely to spark tension, army radio said an Israeli committee was poised to push through a big discount for buyers of nearly 1,000 new homes which are due to be built in annexed east Jerusalem.

The plan, which will offer prospective buyers a huge discount on 930 new homes to be built in Har Homa, will be discussed by Jerusalem municipality’s finance committee on Monday, army radio and Maariv newspaper reported.

If approved, the plan will lower the price of each new home by $27,500 in a move which will be funded by the housing ministry.

Har Homa is located on east Jerusalem’s southern outskirts, and construction there is likely to have a serious impact on the sector’s boundary with the rest of the West Bank, analysts say.

Jerusalem councilor Elisha Peleg, a member of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, made no effort to hide his delight.

“The temporary suspension of construction in east Jerusalem is over, despite the visit of Secretary of State Kerry,” he told army radio.

“There is no reason to halt construction any more, because it is now proved that stopping construction in east Jerusalem has not brought about a renewal of negotiations with the Palestinians but has caused a severe shortage of housing,” he said.

Last week, on the eve of Kerry’s arrival, another local committee gave final approval to build some 70 homes in the same area.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said it showed which side was blocking a return to the negotiating table.

“This is Netanyahu’s response to everything Kerry said, to his ideas and to all his efforts,” Erakat told AFP.

“We on the Palestinian side tried every possible effort to help Kerry succeed but it is obvious today … that Netanyahu is putting an obstacle in front of Secretary Kerry’s efforts.”

“Netanyahu alone is responsible for ruining Kerry’s efforts and trying to abort his mission and destroying the two-state solution which is supported by the entire international community.”

Palestinians have said they will not return to direct talks unless Israel completely halts settlement construction and accepts the 1967 lines as the basis for negotiations.

Although Israel has expressed a willingness to talk, it has insisted it would only do so if there were no such “preconditions”.

Kerry, who has made the elusive goal of Middle East peace a top priority, was on his fifth visit to the region since taking over the State Department in February.

“Kerry is willing to put in the legwork necessary to move this process forward in a meaningful way,” a US official said on condition of anonymity.

US officials have been tight-lipped about the substance of Kerry’s meetings, fearing that any public statements could put at risk his efforts.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

June 30, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Comments Off on Palestinians dubious of Kerry’s “real progress” in peace plan

Mass protests after Indian forces kill two in Kashmir

Press TV – June 30, 2013

Indian security forces have shot dead at least two people in the north of Indian-administered Kashmir, prompting huge anti-India protests.

An Indian police official said that soldiers surrounded a few houses in the village of Markondal in Bandipora District, about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) north of the main city of Srinagar, before dawn on Sunday.

A teenage boy was killed during a search operation.

A second person was killed after the Indian army shot at local residents who were protesting the earlier deadly incident. According to witnesses, three other people were also wounded.

The killings triggered mass protests in the area. Angry demonstrators chanted slogans against the Indian army.

Reports coming out of Kashmir suggest that Indian authorities are considering imposing a curfew to defuse tensions in the region.

Kashmir lies at the heart of more than 65 years of hostility between India and Pakistan. Both countries claim the region in full but each only has control over a section of the territory.

Over the past two decades, the conflict in Kashmir has left over 47,000 people dead by the official count, although other sources say the death toll could be as high as 100,000.

June 30, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Comments Off on Mass protests after Indian forces kill two in Kashmir

Catholic Online Muddles Story of Priest’s Beheading

By Richard Edmondson | War and Politics | June 29, 2013

Father Francois Murad was beheaded by US-backed rebels in Syria

Catholic Online today posted a story—if you could call it that—about the beheading of Father Francois Murad by rebels in Syria. Relying on a press release from the Vatican, the article refers to Murad, accurately, as a “martyr,” but makes no mention of the fact that the US is funding Syrian rebels. In fact, the issue of who is backing the rebels is not even addressed in the story. Nor is there any mention of the fact that under the secular government of President Bashar Assad, the Christian community in Syria has prospered and enjoyed freedom of worship. I can only conclude it’s either a shoddy piece of journalism or a deliberate attempt to obfuscate. Below is the full story. I’ll have some additional information to follow.

Warning Graphic Video—Syrian Jihadists Behead Catholic Priest

By Catholic Online (News Consortium)

Jihadists are Terrorizing Syrians and Persecuting Christians

Syrian terrorists have beheaded a Catholic priest who they accused of collaborating with the Assad regime. Those accusations have not yet been verified. Father Francois was summarily executed and the Vatican has confirmed the martyrdom.

VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) – The Vatican is confirming the death by beheading of Franciscan Father, Francois Murad, who was martyred by Syrian jihadists on June 23.

Below is the news release from the Vatican, via

On Sunday, June 23 the Syrian priest François Murad was killed in Gassanieh, in northern Syria, in the convent of the Custody of the Holy Land where he had taken refuge. This is confirmed by a statement of the Custos of the Holy Land sent to Fides Agency. The circumstances of the death are not fully understood. According to local sources, the monastery where Fr. Murad was staying was attacked by militants linked to the jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusra.

Father François, 49, had taken the first steps in the religious life with the Franciscan Friars of the Custody of the Holy Land, and with them he continued to share close bonds of spiritual friendship. After being ordained a priest he had started the construction of a coenobitic monastery dedicated to St. Simon Stylites in the village of Gassanieh.After the start of the Civil War, the monastery of St. Simon had been bombed and Fr. Murad had moved to the convent of the Custody for safety reasons and to give support to the remaining few, along with another religious and nuns of the Rosary.

“Let us pray,” writes the Custos of the Holy Land Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM ” so that this absurd and shameful war ends soon and that the people of Syria can go back to living a normal life.” Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo, titular of the Syrian Catholic archeparchy in Hassaké-Nisibis reports to Fides: “The whole story of Christians in the Middle East is marked and made fruitful by the blood of the martyrs of many persecutions. Lately, father Murad sent me some messages that clearly showed how conscious he was of living in a dangerous situation, and offered his life for peace in Syria and around the world.”


This should make it clear to Christians around the world what jihadists are about. Make no mistake. Catholics and Christians around the globe are under dire threat, particularly from the spread of militant Islam. Until the threat is recognized and taken seriously, martyrdoms like this will continue.

We have a link to video provided via LiveLeak. We must warn you, the video is extremely graphic. We believe the first victim is Father Francois, and the second victim that is depicted is another person said to be a collaborator with the Assad regime.

The video CLEARLY depicts the beheadings of these victims. DO NOT follow the link unless you are over the age of 18, and are prepared to view content of this nature.

Catholic Online believes it is very important the world knows that Christians are being murdered for their faith, and that martyrdom isn’t an ancient phenomenon.

You’ll notice also there is no mention in the above story about US and Israeli interests dovetailing in Syria, or that Israel is pushing for regime change in Syria as well. Why does the Catholic Online omit this information? The prayer by Pizzaballa, the custos of the Holy Land, is a bit ironic as well, is it not? “Let us pray so that this absurd and shameful war ends soon and that the people of Syria can go back to living a normal life.” With Obama intent on arming the rebels, the war, absent direct intervention from God, is not likely to end anytime soon. While the article does refer to al-Nusra, it fails to mention that the latter is linked to the Free Syrian Army or that the FSA is being backed by the US.

At least one mainstream media outlet has now also reported on the beheadings—the Unification Church-owned Washington Times. And you know something? Their report is considerably better than Catholic Online’s. It at least includes the information that many of the insurgent forces in Syria “are supported by the West” (support from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey is also mentioned), and that the beheading of the two men “comes about the same time America has started sending arms to rebel fighters.”

And yes, according to a report here, the Obama administration has indeed begun shipping its promised arms to the rebels.

Even the Japanese media are doing a better job than Catholic Online reporting on Father Murad’s death. “The Franciscan Father, Francois Murad, was killed by Takfiri Muslim fanatics belonging to either al-Nusra—or another fanatical terrorist group which takes pleasure in barbarity,” write Murad Makhmudov and Lee Jay Walker in an op-ed piece for Modern Tokyo Times.

The article goes on to cite other atrocities committed, and makes clear who is directly responsible:

In other sickening videos taken by al-Qaeda affiliated factions and FSA terrorist groups they show Muslims being beheaded, women being shot and thrown down holes and now they are taunting the families of captured soldiers by phoning them before beheading their sons. This barbaric reality which is glossed over by major Western and Gulf media agencies highlights the utter disgrace of the Obama government in America, the government in France under Hollande and the same applies to the United Kingdom under Cameron.

So why do we have a Catholic media organ doing such a poor job reporting on the atrocious murder of a priest? Why do we have a pope intent on pandering to Jewish favor? These are questions worth considering.

The following article from the website Syria Report features some revealing information, including a quote from Pizzaballa that didn’t make it into the Catholic Online article for some reason.

Catholic Priest Executed as Foreign Arms Flood into Syria

On Sunday, June 23,  Syrian Catholic priest François Murad was murdered in the locality of Gassanieh, northern Syria, according to a statement from the Custody of the Holy Land sent to the Fides Agency.

Murad (49), having led a religious life and studied in Palestine, was ordained a priest and set about building a monastery in Gassanieh, Idlib.

Murad was targeted by armed militants, while he was residing at the monastery, which was dedicated to Saint Simon Stylite.

Citing the head of all Franciscans in the Holy Land, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Vatican News Agency said that Father Murad recently chose a monastic way of life and resorted to the monastery, with Franciscan Friars, a few weeks earlier.

“The world must know that the support of gunmen by the west is helping extremists in killing Syrians”, Pizzaballa said, adding that, “with such stances, not a single Christian will remain in the East.”

According to local sources, the monastery was raided by gunmen, who proceeded to execute François Murad, loot and burn the building. Four-thousand people are reported to have since fled the area.

Christians in Syria are being increasing targeted by sectarian armed groups in Syria, of which there are between several hundred and over a thousand.

In May, a Christian village located in Homs countryside, was overrun by armed men and it’s entire population massacred.

Two Christian bishops who were kidnapped by Chechen gunmen in Aleppo earlier this year, are still missing.

In April, the remaining Christians in Deir el-Zour fled, the church having being blown up by militants. Last week, militants massacred dozens of villagers in the province’s town of Hatla. Since then, summary executions and sectarian house-to-house raids have taken place.

Sectarian bloodshed has increased following the Syrian army’s securing of the strategic Homs city of al-Qusayr earlier this month. Despite the overt sectarianism of armed groups in Syria, America and it’s allies have pledged to continue the transfer of weapons in an effort to turn the tide of the conflict. Advanced weapons have since been spotted in the hands of extremists militants.

Finally, here is the link to the video of the beheading, if you haven’t seen it yet. WARNING: it is extremely graphic. The video is a bit over nine and a half minutes. Go here to view.

June 30, 2013 Posted by | Deception | , , | 1 Comment

German aid workers ‘kidnapped’ in Syria

Press TV – June 30, 2013

German aid group Gruenhelme says three of its members who had been reported missing in Syria for more than 45 days have been kidnapped in Idlib Province.

“It has been 45 days since three members and employees of Gruenhelme were kidnapped overnight on May 14-15, in the village of Harem” of Idlib, the group’s founder Rupert Neudeck said in a statement on June 28.

The three members have been identified as Bernd Blechschmidt, Simon S. and Ziad Nouri.

Neudeck added that Gruenhelme (Green Helmets) has asked the German Foreign Ministry, German police, and the Syrian opposition in Germany for help, but the identity of the kidnappers has not been clarified yet.

The German Foreign Ministry confirmed that three German nationals have been “reported missing” in Syria, without giving further details.

Neudeck said his group was “very surprised to see that… the media in Germany have been silent” on the issue.

“But we are no longer able to remain silent,” he said.

The aid group has been active in northern Syria for several months to help provide healthcare to local people.

Syria has been gripped by a deadly unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of Syrian forces, have been killed in the violence.

Foreign-sponsored militants have committed major crimes in the country including kidnapping Syrians and foreigners.

In April, the militants released two Orthodox archbishops kidnapped in the northwestern city of Aleppo.

Several international human rights organizations have also accused militants operating in Syria of committing war crimes.

June 30, 2013 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , | Comments Off on German aid workers ‘kidnapped’ in Syria

Israel: A great place to be white!

By Charles Davis | False Dichotomy | June 29, 2013

Not everyone who lives in Israel is of pasty white European heritage, but you wouldn’t know it from the Israeli government’s outreach. For reasons only fully understood by the gods and the person trolling me, I was recently subscribed to the newsletter of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), a quasi-governmental organization that seeks to replace brown people in Israel with Jews and trees.

An explicitly racist organization (Israel’s second largest property owner, it refuses to rent land to Arabs), it was not surprising to find that JNF’s printed propaganda featured almost exclusively smiling white people. On one page, smiling white college kids whose trip to the Holy Land totally rocked. On another page, a smiling white foodie dishing the inside scoop on Israeli cuisine. Here a white person; there a white person; everywhere a white person. The reader at home’s takeaway: Go to Israel and you won’t have to mix with the coloreds, unless of course you book the 4 day / 3 night Ethnic Immersion tour package.

What’s a little weird is that when I tweeted something snarky about the awful lot of white folk in JNF’s newsletter, the CEO of JNF, seemingly awful white person Russell Robinson, saw fit to retweet it. Judging by the rest of his tweets — yes, older friends, I too find my generation’s language insufferable — it does not appear this was an act of passive aggression, though I probably shouldn’t jump to any conclusions. Perhaps he was just distracted by how pasty white I am and hit the wrong button.


June 30, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 2 Comments

Maximum Land with Minimum Palestinians: The Annexation of Area C

In the vast majority of Area C Israel denies Palestinians any opportunity to build or develop.

In the vast majority of Area C Israel denies Palestinians any opportunity to build or develop.
By Sam Gilbert | Palestine Chronicle | June 29 2013

Early this month Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem published a report on Israel’s policy in Area C and its implications for the population of the West Bank. Less then a week later Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, in the midst of Kerry’s attempts to start the stalled peace talks, reiterated his plan to annex all of Area C to the Israeli state, bringing with it the 350,000 some od settlers as well as 62% of land of the West Bank.

In a conference held by the settler Yesha Council Bennett said “the attempt to establish a Palestinian state in our land has ended … That we need to Annex area C of the West Bank now because the idea of creating a Palestinian state there is over.”

Bennett’s comments were met with international condemnation, the timing of his words seen as purposefully undermining Kerry’s attempt to restart the stalled peace negotiations. These comments, along with others from the Israeli right, have been presented as marginal within the mainstream Israeli political discourse. However the substance of Israeli policy and practice in the West Bank requires that these ideas been taken seriously.

Bennett’s Israel Stability Initiative published in 2012 lays out his plan for annexation, while B’tselem’s Report on Area C outlines the application and effect of Israeli Policy in Area C from 1995 till today.  Each report has fundamentally different political objectives yet both provide a window into Israeli politics and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (oPt).

The Israel Stability Initiative

In 2012 Naftali Bennett presented a 7-point plan for managing the Arab-Israeli Conflict in Judea and Samaria, the biblical term for the West Bank.  The Israel Stability Initiative outlines a plan whereby Area C, the territory that Israel maintains full security and planning control after the Oslo agreement, would be annexed to Israel and the Palestinian State would be created in the disconnected cannons of areas B and C. Bennett’s plan would naturalize the 50,000 Arab residents (official number at 180,000), along with the 350,000 Israeli settlers. No Palestine refugee would be allowed to return to the west bank or Israel, and Gaza would be left to fend for itself.

The PA would be granted, “Full autonomy in areas A and B” while Israel would maintain a “full security umbrella for all of Judea and Samara.” The IDF would maintain a strong presence and complete security control over all of Judea and Samaria.”

While this proposal might seem especially partial to Israeli interests, B’tselem’s recent report on Area C shows how Bennet’s plan is in essence the institution of permanence for something has already become the de-facto reality in the west bank today.

B’Tselem Report

Earlier this month B’Tselem published a 111 page report titled “Acting the Landlord: Israeli Policy in Area C, the West Bank. The report presents Israel’s policy in Area C and explores its implications for the population of the West Bank as a Whole.

Area C is a product of the Oslo accords, an interim agreement that was supposed to lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state next to Israel.  In 1995 the interim agreement went into effect in West Bank and the region was divided into three administrative categories A, B and C. “Area A: Under full control of the Palestinian Authority, comprising 18 percent of west bank including most Palestinians cities and population center. Area B, 22%: Israel retains military control while PA controls civil matters. Area C, 60 percent: Israel controls security and land related matters, including land allocation, planning and construction, and infrastructure.”

These divisions were based on demography not geography, with A and B subdivided into 165 disconnected cantons with no territorial continuity and surrounded by area C.  Area C on the other hand is territorially contiguous, and comprises all the settlement and settlers in the west bank (350,000) along with some 180,000 Palestinians.

Area C contains the vast majority of the West Bank’s natural resources (water, agricultural, mineral) and nearly all of the development potential for a future Palestinian state. Area C lands surround all areas of A and B stifling growth in these already built up areas, and disconnecting the regions from one another

Legalizing the Norm

Claim to the greater land of Israel (Eretz Israel), has been a common thread in Israeli politics since the state’s inception and before. Bennet’s proposed plan to annex all of Area C (a modified two state solution) is interesting in that it simply cements the reality on the ground today, extending it to a final solution to the conflict.

B’Tselem’s report underscores how Israel’s policy in area C is anchored in the perception of the area as meant above all to serve Israel’s Own Needs in favor to those of the Palestinians by restricting Palestinian construction and development throughout.

In the vast majority of Area C Israel denies Palestinians any opportunity to build or develop. In fact since 1967 only .6 percent of the entire area C has been allocated to Palestinians by the Civil Administration, while 31 percent has been allocated to pseudo governmental World Zionist Organization (which develops settlement), 8 percent to Settlement Authorities, 12% to government ministries with an additional 30 percent designated as Military Firing Zones.

According to international law, planning and construction policy for Area C should rely on Jordanian planning law, but this has been altered by order of the Israeli military to serve the state’s purposes. One outcome has been the refusal of Civil Administration to plan villages, approving Mandatory Plans for only 16 of 180 villages in Area C. Since all construction in Area C requires approval of Civil Administration, the prospect for receiving a building permit without a master plan is negligible. In fact between 2000-2010 of the 3050 application for permits only 6.5% were approved. Many are forced to build without permits, at constant risk of demolition (660 a year since 2000).

Yet “in contrast to the restrictive planning policy followed for Palestinian communities, the Israeli settlements, also in Area C, enjoy expansive allocation of land, detailed planning, connections to advanced infrastructure and a blind eye regarding illegal construction.”

In 75% of the settlements, building was carried out without the appropriate permits, legalized retroactively by government and military. Between 2000-2007, 91 building permits were issued for Palestinians, same period 17,000 residential units were built in settlements. While Palestinians in area C are isolated from areas A and B, Jewish settlements are connected to one another and to Israel proper by Jewish only bypass roads.

The international community has time and again confirmed the illegality these actions under International Humanitarian Law. Yet insufficient international pressure (particularly from the U.S.) has led to a situation where Israel strengthens it hold on Area C and “preserves a de-facto annexation of area C and creates circumstance that will help perpetuate this state and influence the final status of the Area.”

The Party Line

Bennet’s Ideas about area C reflect a broader hostility within the Knesset about Palestinian statehood and the need to annex all or most of West Bank. In a Times of Israel interview, Deputy minister of Defense Danny Dannon spoke about the sentiment within the coalition government: “there was never a government discussion, resolution or vote about the two-state solution… and nobody will bring it to a vote, it’s not smart to do it — but if you bring it to a vote, you will see the majority of Likud ministers, along with the Jewish Home [party], will be against it.”

Numerous quotes from current cabinet minsters confirm this position:

 “The essence of Zionist existence in Israeli settlements across the country.” – Moshe Ya’allon:  Defense Minister.

“The real solution is to extend Israeli sovereignty over the settlements in Judea and Samaria.” — Danny Dannon, Deputy Defense Minister.

“We will try to apply sovereignty over as much as we can at any given moment.” — Ze’ev Elkin, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

“Israel should announce the annexation of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.” — Gilad Erdan, Minister of Communication and Home Front Defense.

 “Israel will need to take unilateral steps to extend Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria.” — Yisreal Katz Minister of Transportation.

Annexation: The Final Solution

The vocal support of annexation has been attributed to the right wing shift in the government in Israel, yet its mainstream credentials are exposed with even a cursory glance at policy and practice in the west bank through Israeli history.

Every Israeli president since Menachem Begin in the 70’s has publicly espoused a two state solution based on Bilateral U.S. brokered negotiations, while simultaneously doing everything in their power to undermine its physical viability on the ground.

Netanyahu’s most recent statements, considered “moderate” in comparison to Bennet’s, nonetheless betray the administration’s position to undermine the two state solution, as noted in Peace Now’s report on settlement construction under the current administration. In response to the proposed peace talks Netanyahu said that Israel would continue to build and that “construction in major settlement blocks does not substantially affect Israel’s ability to come to an agreement.” He went on to say that “We will continue to live and build in Jerusalem, which will always remain united under Israeli sovereignty,” as published by the Israeli daily, Isreal Hayom and Haaretz.

Considering East Jerusalem is the internationally recognized future capital for the Palestinian state, and that settlement expansion is the number one obstacle to peace, these comments say much about the prospects for a future agreement. Furthermore, the proposed state Netanyahu supports is one that according to him “would have to be demilitarized and with arrangements that rely fully on the Israel Defense Forces for security.” A state that doesn’t control its borders or security and whose army is the occupying power is not an autonomous state, but the “state” of Palestine today.

Netanyahu’s position toward the Palestinians in consistent with the low ceiling allowed for Palestinian aspirations since the onset of the peace processes. Oslo, the basis of the most current arguments about annexing area C, provides a telling example. As scholar Rashid Khalidi, one of Yassar Arafat’s key advisers during the Oslo negotiations, states, “It (the Oslo agreement) was never designed to achieve independent Palestinian statehood.  It was never designed to end the occupation. It was really designed, of all people, by Menachem Begin, to make permanent Israeli control over the occupied territories. And that is what has succeeded until now.” Indeed it has. Since the signing of the Oslo agreement settlement population in West Bank (not including East Jerusalem) has tripled from 110,900 to nearly 350,000, according to B’Tselem.

Palestinian author Naseer Aruri notes the occupation was never designed to be temporary, but has been used to create the illusion of a two-state solution when that option has never been on the real agenda. Madrid, Oslo, Camp David all have been used as diplomatic cover as Israel has consolidated and even extended its illegal occupation.

B’Tselem’s report exposes the fact that Israeli policy gives every indication of permanence. “Israel preserves a de-facto annexation of area C and creates circumstance that will help perpetuate this state and influence the final status of the Area.” If we acknowledge Israeli policy in tandem with territorial usurpation, then comments like Bennet’s need not be viewed as extreme. It is time the International community, the U.S. and those moderates in the Israeli Knesset acknowledge that what Bennett’s is arguing for is not on the margins of Israeli political thought but the ideological underpinning of Zionism as practiced in the oPt. And in area C the Zionist goal of maximum land with minimum Palestinians is on full display.

– Sam Gilbert is a journalist living in Ramallah.

June 30, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Comments Off on Maximum Land with Minimum Palestinians: The Annexation of Area C