Alaa Tartir is the programme director of Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network.
The role of the US administration as a dishonest broker for peace between the Palestinians and Israelis could not have been better illustrated than by last week’s news conference with United States President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The meeting between these two leaders was a turning point for the Palestinians. According to The New York Times, it was the first time since the beginning of the peace process that an American president publicly disposed of the notion that the two-state solution was the only viable framework for peace.
Within the space of a few minutes, President Trump did away with decades of carefully cultivated, albeit deeply flawed and biased, American diplomacy. Yet it is still to be seen if Trump’s “new concept” will actually mean shifting away from the flawed two-state solution formula over the course of his presidency.
Netanyahu wasted no time articulating an alternative vision, which Trump appeared unable – or unwilling – to repudiate. As a prerequisite for peace, Netanyahu declared that Palestinians must recognise Israel as a Jewish state and acquiesce to continued Israeli security control over all the land west of the Jordan River.
|Whether the outcome is one state or two is irrelevant as long as it is based on ending Israel’s military subjugation of the Palestinian people as the first step to fulfilling Palestinian rights. Any deviation from this prerequisite is a deviation from genuine and lasting peace.|
The two leaders’ joint vision also alluded that a regional approach would be adopted to impose an agreement or a framework on the Palestinians, while normalising relations between Israel and America’s regional Arab allies.
Netanyahu’s proposed framework was the most obvious articulation of a one-state reality, if there ever was one. His version of this reality is one where Israel retains absolute territorial control over the whole land of Mandate Palestine, without conferring any political rights to the Palestinian inhabitants of that land.
This is not a new vision. Even the Israeli leader, touted as a peacemaker, Yitzhak Rabin, announced in his speech to the Knesset on the ratification of Oslo Peace Accords, “we would like this [Palestinian entity] to be an entity which is less than a state.”
This goal and the prerequisites for peace announced by Netanyahu are fundamentally flawed and diametrically at odds with the Palestinian demand for internationally sanctioned rights.
This one-state framework makes no space for the right to self-determination that the Palestinian people aspire to by creating their own state on what is now the occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
Rather, Netanyahu’s framework maintains the status of the Palestinian inhabitants of the territories as second-class citizens: living within an overarching Jewish state which refuses to provide them with citizenship or political rights, in other words, apartheid.
In fact, the only prerequisite to peace, and the one that was most starkly absent from the news conference, is ending Israel’s military occupation of another people, an act of war that is now entering its fifth decade.
Whether the outcome is one state or two is irrelevant as long as it is based on ending Israel’s military subjugation of the Palestinian people as the first step to fulfilling Palestinian rights. Any deviation from this prerequisite is a deviation from genuine and lasting peace.
And so, what must the Palestinians do following this publicly declared intention to evolve Israel’s occupation into an American-sanctioned and legitimised form of perpetual control?
For one thing, the current leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) must stop living in the myth of statehood.
Netanyahu’s vision is an honest reflection of where Israel is now. It should leave no doubt at all that the PA’s vestiges of sovereignty will never evolve beyond the administrative tasks that had been assigned to it in the Oslo Accords in 1993.
Instead of acquiescing to truncated sovereignty, Palestinians must decisively shift towards a rights-based national project that aims to achieve equality for all inhabitants in between the river and the sea.
The PLO must conclusively revoke the out-lived framework of the Oslo Accords and stop sustaining the cost of Israel’s occupation. This might well mean the immediate reconfiguration of the PA’s duties, particularly when it comes to security coordination with Israel.
This reconfiguration is crucial if the Palestinian leadership is interested in becoming a relevant actor in the diplomatic trajectories that are now unfolding.
The scheduled speech by Abbas later this month at the UN in Geneva provides a timely opportunity for him to send a resolute message to the international community that Palestinians will not play by the rules of this “peace process” any longer.
Equally important, the Palestinian leadership must confront these new threats, manifested by a most cynical Trump-Netanyahu alliance, by completing its long overdue homework. The decade-old intra-Palestinian divide is a vital starting point.
If Hamas and Fatah are interested in serving the Palestinian struggle for self-determination, they must finally put national interests above party ambitions. Achieving domestic unity will strengthen the Palestinians to resist this effort to erase their national aspirations.
Domestic unity must be premised on reviving participatory decision-making processes within the PLO. The crisis of legitimacy of the current leadership is completely debilitating. An inclusive political agenda needs to be put forward for the emergence of a future leadership that is accountable to its people and their aspirations.
While focusing on these urgent domestic reforms, the Palestinian leadership must ensure that the emerging regional alliance between Israel and other states in the region does not come at the expense of Palestinian rights.
Shifting to a rights-based struggle that does away with the performances of a defunct pseudo-state, achieving unity, and lobbying regional allies are all actions that are entirely doable and attainable, if the political will exists.
Palestinians must not stand idly by while Netanyahu, encouraged by a pliable Trump administration, solidifies Israel’s supremacist far-right vision over Palestinian land. Palestinians have a plethora of tools at their disposal in the international arena that can safeguard their rights and bring a cost to bear on Israel’s violations of them.
While doubling down on these international initiatives, Palestinians must make clear that the sole prerequisite that is actually needed for a lasting peace is justice on their lands, whatever political framework that takes.
Alaa Tartir is the programme director of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network. He is also a post-doctoral fellow at The Geneva Centre for Security Policy, and a visiting research fellow at the Graduate Institute’s Centre on Conflict, Development, and Peacebuilding, Geneva, Switzerland. Follow Alaa Tartir on Twitter: @alaatartir
Tareq Baconi is the US-based policy fellow for Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network. His book, Hamas: The Politics of Resistance, Entrenchment in Gaza, is forthcoming with Stanford University Press.
68 years of the UNRWA history of directing and managing the disaster of the Palestinian refugees should be studied again in a different way than the hypocritical one of the UN !!! 67 years of the Palestinian misery that is not only going on but deteriorating and deepened in lots of places of the diaspora other than Gaza !! Why has the UNRWA failed in its “humanitarian” work? To what extent is the UNRWA itself responsible for founding and creating the Palestinian ongoing suffering? What has been the real role of the UNRWA since it was founded ?
In order to understand the role of the UNRWA in managing, if not participating in creating our eternal misery, a critical way of thinking and analyzing is needed. There is an urgent need for a historic preview and review for the core of the UNRWA’s “benevolent” aids. When and who established the UNRWA? How it was established and for what purpose? To what degree it has succeeded and how it has failed?
The hypocritical discourse of the UNRWA would tell you that they have done a great “human work” in aiding the Palestinian refugees in all aspects of their life (and they did) starting from urgent aids of food to working programs, helping the refugees to settle (tents, materials and whatever), educational aids of building schools and managing them plus training the stuff… hospitals and mobile clinics…. and all what you can dream of “human” aids in your nightmares !! Fine, great “human” job!!
Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, was established by United Nations General Assembly resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949 to carry out direct relief and works programmes for the Palestinian refugees.
However, this superficial discourse of hypocrisy doesn’t work anymore.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt (enough time before the actual cleansing of Palestine) put it in December 1942 , “I actually would put a barbed wire around Palestine, and I would begin to move the Arabs out of Palestine…. Each time we move out an Arab we would bring in another Jewish family…” And this was exactly what happened with planned massacres !!
It took the British Occupiers only and exactly thirty years to accomplish their promise to ethnically cleanse Palestine from its natives and bring Zionist settlers in their place starting from their Balfour Declaration in 1917 up to declaring the “state de facto” of the Zionist entity in the Partition Plan in 1947!!!
To do [the ethnic cleansing], the Zionist leaders needed a systematic plan to “cleanse” the land for Jewish habitation only. It began with a detailed registry or inventory of Arab villages the Jewish National Fund (JNF) was assigned to compile. The JNF was founded in 1901 as the main Zionist tool for the colonization of Palestine. Its purpose was to buy land used to settle Jewish immigrants that by the end of the British Mandate in 1948 amounted to 5.8% of Palestine or a small fraction of what Zionists wanted for a Jewish state. Early on, Ben-Gurion and others knew a more aggressive approach was needed for their colonization plan to succeed.
It began with the JNF Arab village inventory that was a blueprint completed by the late 1930s that included the topographic location of each village with detailed information including husbandry, cultivated land, number of trees, quality of fruit, average amount of land per family, number of cars, shop owners, Palestinian clans and their political affiliation, descriptions of village mosques and names of their imams, civil servants and more. The final inventory update was finished in 1947 with lists of “wanted” persons in each village targeted in 1948 for search-and-arrest operations with those seized summarily shot on the spot in cold blood.
The idea was simple – kill the leaders and anyone thought to be a threat the British hadn’t already eliminated quelling the 1936-39 uprising. It created a power vacuum neutralizing any effective opposition to Zionists’ plans. The only remaining obstacle thereafter was the British presence Ben-Gurion knew was on the way out by 1946 before it finally ended in May, 1948.
From the very beginning in 1917, the British Occupiers were aware of what they are doing as they were hectic in devastating the Palestinian social, economic and national structure (SPECIALLY during the 1936-9 uprising and onward) while building and reinforcing (with the help of the Zionist World Movement) a strong and modern Zionist society with stable economy and powerful army on the rubble of the intentionally and systematically devastated Palestinian society. By the end of WW2, (specially at the eve of 1947) the Palestinians society was lurching and exhausted due to the British constant suppression and the Zionist terrorist attacks. It was depleted with no clear leadership nor any ability to resist the coming Zionist ethnic cleansing which was clear to be done even before UN declared the de facto Zionist state.
It was clear for the “benevolent” UN what is going on in Palestine and the most important it was full aware of what will happen in the coming year; almost a month before Partition Plan (through which Palestine was divided into two states) and even before establishing the UNRWA, the UN established the UNRPR fund in preparation for funding ethnically cleansing Palestine from its natives, that they were fully aware of the cost of the devastation they (with the help of the Zionist terrorist gangs) are going to accomplish in the following year of 1948, the year in which most of the ethnic cleansing was accomplished and funded by the UN and later managed by the UNRWA !!!
The UNRWA role in ethnic cleansing:
Lots of the Palestinian leaders were aware of the dirty work the UNRWA was established to do, like what Samihah Khalil (the former presidential candidate) said in the early 50s that the UNRWA is bribing the Palestinian refugees to stay away in the diaspora and not to fight back home!!
Three major parties played a decisive role in preparing for, and accomplishing, the ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinians after depleting their power and national structure, these parties are; the Zionist terrorist groups, the British-led Arab Legion (which was responsible for protecting the eastern boundaries of the colonized Palestine) and the UN (with its different funds and agencies)
The Zionist terrorists were to do the dirty job of massacring the exhausted natives and terrorizing them to run away leaving their homes and land. During 1948 over 70 planned massacres were committed by the Zionist groups such as the massacres of Deir-Yassin, Gebia, and lots of others in which they intended to expel the natives and demolish their villages (as there were over 540 villages were demolished) to prevent the exhausted and terrorized villagers from fighting back !!
Once begun, the whole ugly business took six months to complete. It expelled about 800,000 people, killed many others, and destroyed 531 villages and 11 urban neighborhoods in cities like Tel-Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem. The action was a clear case of ethnic cleansing that international law today calls a crime against humanity for which convicted Nazis at Nuremberg were hanged. So far Israelis have always remained immune from international law even though names of guilty leaders and those charged with implementing their orders are known as well as the crimes they committed.
The British-led Arab-Legion (the army of TranJordan led by L. Gen Glubb , i.e. the British occupation force) was to facilitate the ethnic cleansing during the theatrical war of 1948, and to prevent the already expelled villagers from coming back fighting for their existence. The Arab-Legion was the strongest Arab forces (though it was far more weak than the British supported and facilitated Zionist Army) and the only one that can wage and maneuver attacks against the Zionist army. Though there ware courageous and great individual fighting and sacrifice of the Arab-Legion specially around Jerusalem, the role of this British-led force is to facilitate evacuation Palestine from the natives and prevent the already expelled from fighting back as they asked the Palestinians to run away to Jordan for a few weeks till they (the British-led Legion) liberate Palestine for them !!! Jordan, actually was established by the British Occupation force to be the home for the expelled Palestinians and to protect the eastern borders of the zionist entity. This way, and before the 1948 theatrical war, the Arab-Legion helped expelling the Palestinians from their homes!!! Funny and theatrical history of the 1948 Nakba !!!
The third party, which is our beloved UNRWA, (as the executive arm of the UN) also had a decisive planned role in evacuating Palestine for the sake of the Zionist settlers, and also to manage a permanent life for them away from their demolished villages and stolen land !!!
As we mentioned before, in 1947 (even before declaring the Division Plan, and at the time most of the Palestinians were still in their villages living a semi-normal life and still not ethnically cleansed yet) the UN was fully aware of what they are preparing to and what is going to happen in the next year, the year of the actual ethnic cleansing. In preparation for this, the UN first established the UNRPR fund to facilitated cleansing the Palestinians, and second, (pursuant to expelling the vast majority of the Palestinian people) established our beloved UNRWA !!!
The UNRWA role was to help the Palestinians manage their misery away from their home, to let them forget about their stolen homeland, to prevent them from fighting back to their homes and villages !!! It was clear for the UNRWA that its role was created to last, was created to manage the misery of those refugees, to keep them away in the Diaspora… and accordingly its “benevolent” aids were to be dedicated to create a permanent infrastructure for the refugees to stay into the misery they were expelled to, for the refugees to start a new life leaving their land and homes for the Zionist colonizers!! This was the sole and the only reason for which the UNRWA was established; to manage (the crisis of) the misery of the Palestinian refugees away from their homeland and to facilitate creating Israel. Its role is to clean the mess that the Zionist terrorist created, to clean the blood-smeared Zionist hands from our blood, to take off the economic and the moral burden off the Zionist terrorists… otherwise how can we explain what the UNRWA is doing since 60 years? What have they done to prevent the holocaust of Gaza lately other than cleaning the mess the Zionist have committed? Helping to silence the Palestinian refugees with trash of “humanitarian” aids after the Zionist couldn’t silence them with their terror !!!
After 60 years of constant lying and hypocritical discourse, I got the right to ask; What has the UNRWA done to me personally other than managing my eternal misery? What is hidden under their magical hat to surprise me with and silence me more, for me to swallow the bitter taste of stealing my home while, still after 60 years, I still live a few kilometers away from my demolished home, and still they bring Russian “jews” (if they are jewish, anyway) settlers to enjoy my garden !!! What has the UNRWA been doing other than silencing me, managing my misery and facilitating the establishment of the Zionist entity on my own homeland, and cleaning off the mess the Zionist terrorists commit every couple of years ???
But don’t rely on the Foreign Secretary… or the Prime Minister… or the Speaker to take action. And especially not the Standards Committee.
by Stuart Littlewood
Both the Foreign Office and Boris Johnson, the UK’s Foreign Secretary, have declared the Shai Masot affair “closed” after Masot, an employee of the Israeli embassy and probably a Mossad asset, plotted with gullible British MPs and political hangers-on to “take down” senior government figures including Johnson’s deputy, Sir Alan Duncan. “The UK has a strong relationship with Israel and we consider the matter closed,” they announced. The Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, who is Jewish, has also declined to investigate.
Sorry, Boris. It isn’t closed – hell no. It’s just opening and it’ll run and run. You and your fellow stooges can be sure of it.
According to some reports Masot served in the Israeli navy in Palestinian waters off Gaza. Given the many atrocities committed by Israel’s gunboats against Gaza’s fishermen, and children playing on Gaza’s beach, and even peaceful unarmed humanitarian vessels bringing relief to the sick and starving there, he may well be on a wanted list for questioning about war crimes. Masot’s damning comments were captured and revealed in an undercover investigation by Al Jazeera and not, as one might have hoped, by Britain’s own beloved press barons.
Masot’s hostile connivings were going on under the eye of a recently arrived ambassador, the loathsome Mark Regev, ace propagandist, mastermind of the Israeli Lie Machine and personal spokesman for the Zionist regime’s chief thug, Netanyahu.
Emily Thornberry, the Labour Party’s shadow foreign secretary, called Masot’s activities “extremely disturbing” and has demanded a probe into the potential extent of political “interference” in the United Kingdom. There are calls for Regev to be packed off back to Tel Aviv.
A petition demanding a public inquiry can be found here.
Are British parliamentarians at last waking up? Are those who wave the flag of a nasty, murderous foreign military power about to feel the heat from an increasingly furious public? They should be very afraid.
Watch George Galloway’s devastating summing-up.
The realisation that we are in the grip of great evil has been slow in coming. Nine years ago twenty senior professionals wrote to the Committee on Standards in Public Life about the undue influence of the Israel lobby at the heart of British government and their deep concern about the appalling conditions forced on the civilian population in the Occupied Territories and particularly Gaza by the Israeli blockade and uncalled-for sanctions imposed by Britain and the EU.
A letter had earlier been delivered to the Foreign Office minister then responsible for the Middle East, Kim Howells, suggesting that Britain consider suspending the EU-Israel Association Agreement. The rules provide for this sanction if Israel’s conduct towards its neighbours falls short of what is required under the UN Charter and other obligations.
Howells replied: “We consider that the Association Agreement is a key tool for the EU to both enhance co-operation with Israel but also to raise any concerns. We do not support suspension of that Agreement, which would limit how we could put our viewpoint across to the Israeli government.”
When the EU demanded an end to the emergency in Gaza and the military occupation of the West Bank, Israel responded with an even tighter lockdown so another letter was sent to Mr Howells. He replied: “The UK… has strong relationships with Israel on a number of fronts… We do not consider it would be in the best interests of the UK, or the European Union, to end this relationship.”
Howells was a former chairman of Labour Friends of Israel. His opposition shadow at the time was a member of Conservative Friends of Israel.
The minister was then asked to explain what “viewpoint” Her Majesty’s Government had put to the Israeli government regarding the medieval-style siege of Gaza and the collective punishment inflicted on its already impoverished civilians in flagrant breach of the UN Charter and every conceivable code of conduct. What action had he and his Department taken to alleviate the suffering in this former British mandate? What was the status of the coastal waters off Gaza? How could Israel maintain a sea blockade lawfully and deny Gazan fishermen their livelihood?
And how did continuing the Association Agreement in these cruel circumstances “enhance co-operation” with Israel?
No answers to these questions were ever received.
So the twenty signatories reminded the Standards Committee how the lobby group, Friends of Israel, had embedded itself in the British political establishment with the stated purpose of promoting Israel’s interests in our Parliament and bend British policy.
British MPs eating out of the Israeli government’s hand
It was put to the Committee that MPs are surely not at liberty to act for a foreign military power at the expense of our own national interests, or to let foreign influence cloud their judgement. Such conduct breached the second of the Seven Principles of Public Life, namely Integrity – “Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might seek to influence them in the performance of their official duties.”
The various Friends of Israel organisations had gone to great lengths to influence those in power. A good many of them, it seemed, reached their high positions with FoI help. The network acted as a sort of parliamentary freemasonry. The political director of Conservative Friends of Israel claimed that with over 2,000 members and registered supporters alongside 80 percent of the Conservative MPs, CFI was the largest affiliated group in the party. Its website stated that the CFI “strives to support the Conservative Party at all available opportunities. In the run up to the 2005 General Election… CFI supported candidates up and down the country. As candidates are now being continuously selected for target seats, CFI has developed a special programme of weekly briefings, events with speakers and a chance to participate in delegations to Israel. CFI encourages all members to help campaign for parliamentary candidates and also for local council, London and European elections.” It also had a ‘Fast Track’ group for Conservative parliamentary candidates fighting target marginal seats at the next election. The political director himself was seeking election to Parliament. If successful where would his loyalty lie? Senior Conservatives tried to justify these activities by insisting that Israel was “a force for good in the world” and “in the battle for the values that we stand for, for democracy against theocracy, for democratic liberal values against repression – Israel’s enemies are our enemies and this is a battle in which we all stand together”.
The danger of inappropriate ‘friendships’ with foreign regimes had become blazingly obvious a few days earlier when Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister, was reported to have twice asked David Miliband, our Foreign Secretary, to scrap the law that authorised magistrates to issue arrest warrants for suspected war criminals who set foot in the UK, she being a particularly bloodsoaked example. Avi Dichter, a former director of the Shin Bet spy service and involved in the Shehadeh assassination in which 14 Palestianian civilians (including children) were killed by an Israeli air strike, had to cancel a trip to London for fear of being arrested. Doron Almog, an Israeli ex-general also involved in the Shehadeh affair, narrowly avoided arrest when he landed at Heathrow in 2005. Israel wished the UK to change its laws to protect alleged war criminals. So we did so just to oblige them, in the name of “enhanced co-operation” as Mr Howells might have put it.
The Standards Committee was also told bluntly: “It is especially disconcerting to discover that at least two members of your Committee, which is pledged to uphold the Principles of Public Life, are Friends of Israel [one the president of Conservative Friends of Israel and the other a member of Labour Friends of Israel]…. Given that Israel’s deep penetration of our political system apparently prevents Britain from taking a principled stand on Middle East matters, including the violations of Palestinian human rights, we invite your Committee – minus those with an interest – to uphold the Principles of Public Life and consider the activities of the Friends of Israel as a matter for urgent investigation.”
But the Standards Committee refused to look into it. The chairman’s reply, sent in a note from a member of his office staff, said: “I regret that the Committee on Standards in Public Life has no remit to help you in this matter.”
So the public’s watchdog – the Standards Committee – which was formed specifically to uphold those Seven Principles, wasn’t playing ball. Its published remit called on it “to examine current concerns about standards of conduct of all holders of public office, including arrangements relating to financial and commercial activities and make recommendations as to any changes in present arrangements which might be required to ensure the highest standards of propriety in public life.” Wasn’t this the kind of plain English even dyed-in-the-wool bureaucrats like the Committee’s chairman could understand?
Apparently not. He added: “This Committee commented on lobbying in their first report in 1995 and re-addressed the issue, including the changes instigated by their first report, in a review in 2001. The Committee has no plans to review this area again in the near future.”
The angry twenty pointed out there was nothing in the 1995 report relating to MPs and legislators representing the interests of foreign countries within Parliament or placing themselves under the influence of a foreign country’s political lobby. Nor could they find any mention of it in the 2001 report. They asked for chapter and verse. No reply.
And there the matter has rested for nine years.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Fast-forward to the present day and we find it’s now the Anglo-Israel Association (AIA) casting a shadow over the Standards Committee. “The Association’s primary purpose is to promote wider and better understanding of Israel in the UK; to encourage exchanges between both countries at every level and generally to support activities which foster good will between British and Israeli citizens,” says the website. But its programme is skewed mainly towards ‘educating’ Brits (including our clergy) about Israel.
The Honorary president of the AIA is the Ambassador of Israel himself. Chairman of the AIA’s Executive Committee is none other than Lord Bew, also chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. And its Council includes the Earl of Balfour – the 5th earl, that is – related of course to the first earl, that nincompoop Arthur Balfour whose infamous Declaration in 1917 paved the way for the shameful handover of the Palestinians’ homeland – and Christianity’s homeland – to Zionist Jews. “What we have done, by concessions not to the Jewish people but to a Zionist extreme section,” warned Lord Sydenham at the time, “is to start a running sore in the East, and no-one can tell how far that sore will extend.”
The centenary of Balfour’s Declaration will be joyously celebrated this year by Israel’s many Westminster stooges including Theresa May if her sucking-up speech to the Israel lobby last month is anything to go by.
So there’s a lot of weeding-out to do.
Those disgruntled twenty could easily become 2 million if the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, the PSC (Palestine Solidarity Campaign), the unions and other activist groups got together. The sinister machinations of Masot and Regev have presented them an open goal. And we have Al Jazeera to thank for the brilliant exposée where our own security services failed.
12 January 2017