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Uprooting Peace in Palestine

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The Security Council determines that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

 United Nations Security Council Resolution 446, 1979.

A U.S. diplomatic convoy was attacked Friday in the West Bank by Jewish settlers throwing rocks, Israeli news reports said.

– Los Angeles Times January 2, 2015.

Imagine the uproar, the news media hysteria, the White House shrieks of righteous rage and the Congressional threats of dire vengeance if a group of US consular officials had been attacked in Russia or Venezuela.  Even if such an incident had taken place in a country such as Australia, Britain or Canada there would have been a hullabaloo and massive media cover.

But when, as reported by Associated Press, “Jewish settlers attacked American consular officials Friday [January 2] during a visit the officials made to the West Bank as part of an investigation into claims of damage to Palestinian agricultural property,” there was mild and entirely uncritical media comment and merely an expression of “deep concern” by the State Department. After all, the US officials were only pelted with rocks and their vehicles were struck only with clubs.

It is interesting to examine the reason for the rock-pelted visit to the Palestinian village of Turmus Ayya by US diplomatic officials, because this was not a minor matter of “damage to agricultural property.” It involved them looking at the area where 5,000 olive tree saplings had been uprooted and scores of ancient olive trees chopped down. All these were the property of Palestinians who own the land on which they grew. Those who destroyed the trees and the livelihoods of hundreds of Palestinians were illegal Israel settlers on land taken by force from its Palestinian owners. The conduct of these settlers is supported root and branch by the Israeli government and the US Congress.

It was no surprise that the first veto cast by the Obama administration at the UN Security Council, exactly four years ago, defeated an otherwise unanimous resolution requiring that “Israel, as the occupying power, immediately and completely ceases all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem and that it fully respect its legal obligations in this regard.”

Israel will never cease its seizure of Palestinian land and destruction of olive trees because the United States supports it by using its veto in the Security Council. And sometimes it doesn’t need to use its veto, such as when it has enough Council puppets to ensure that a vote will defeat any proposed resolution aimed at restoration of Palestinian fields to their owners. Last December, for example, the Council rejected a resolution demanding an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands within three years.

This was fixed by US and Israeli arm-twisting of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan who was contacted by the US secretary of state and the Israeli prime minister and ordered to ensure that his country would abstain from voting. Among other intrigues, this squalid little episode demonstrated the lengths to which the US is prepared to go to ensure that Israel will continue its massive building program on illegally occupied Palestinian land – and that it will carry on destroying olive trees.

It is ironic that an ancient symbol of peace is used by the Israelis as a modern means of persecution. Uprooting and hacking down olive trees symbolizes all that Israel stands for as regards the Palestinian people. These precious trees are destroyed in the cause of Israeli Lebensraum – or “living space”.

The living space of increasing numbers of Israeli settlers is acquired by means that would have excited the admiration of the psychotic Adolf Hitler who wrote that “we must eliminate the disproportion between our population and our area … We must secure for the German people the land and soil to which they are entitled.” It has a horrible resonance.

Olives are delicious and produce wonderful oil. They were originally cultivated in Syria, Palestine and Crete and there is evidence that some existing trees are 2,000 years old, which is amazing.

But there aren’t any 2,000 year-old olive trees in Palestine nowadays. Indeed there are very few left in the Palestinian lands that have been illegally occupied by Israel since 1967. Since then, the Israelis have destroyed over 800,000 Palestinian olive trees and on January 11 Israeli settlers uprooted another 170 of them in a village south of Nablus, the third such operation in a week of the campaign to destroy the livelihoods of Muslim Palestinians and force them out of their homes to make room for Jewish settlers.

A year ago at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Prime Minister Netanyahu was blunt in stating that “I have no intention of evacuating any settlement or uprooting any Israelis,” and this January, as reported in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, he made it clear that his policy has not changed. He again declared that if he is re-elected on March 17 there will be no handing back of any settlements “since I’m in charge it won’t happen.” The regime in Israel will continue to promote Lebensraum, just as Hitler directed, in the “land and soil to which they are entitled.” Netanyahu certainly won’t uproot any Israelis, but he will continue to uproot olive trees and Palestinians.

There is rarely a squeak of protest about Israel’s vicious excesses from any western country, least of all the United States whose entire legislative system is controlled by the Israeli lobby represented by AIPAC, the America Israel Public Affairs Committee, which calls the shots in Washington and has given money to almost every senator and member of the House of Representatives.

All decent people are in favor of donating to charities, but legislators of the US Congress are not charities. When they are given money by an organization of any sort they are expected to produce results that are favourable to the donor – and in the case of AIPAC they certainly do that. In 2011 Netanyahu addressed both houses of Congress in a triumphant diatribe denying the rights of Palestinians. And for this he received adulation on a scale hitherto reserved for international figures of illustrious achievement.

Washington has laid out the Congress carpet seven times for Israeli politicians, and Netanyahu leads with two imperial appearances. After his last triumphant performance it was reported that “President Obama got 25 standing ovations from Congress during his 2011 State of the Union address. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got 29 today.”

It is barely credible that this brutally racist prime minister could receive such adulation from the massed representatives of a nation having a Declaration of Independence declaring that “unalienable Rights” include “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

There is little liberty and no happiness for Palestinians in their own country, because almost all Arab lands have been seized by Jewish ‘settlers.’ Yet Israel’s persecution of Palestinians meets with the wholehearted support of America’s government whose taxpayers give Israel over three billion dollars a year.

There hasn’t been a report of one single Senator or member of the House of Representatives protesting the January 2 attack on consular officials of the United States by rock-throwing car-bashing Israeli settlers.

They also ignore their own country’s endorsement of UN Security Council Resolution 446 which calls once more upon Israel, as the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, to rescind its previous measures and to desist from taking any action which would result in changing the legal status and geographical nature and materially affecting the demographic composition of the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, and, in particular, not to transfer parts of its own civilian population into the occupied Arab territories.

While the 2014 talks between Israel and Palestine were taking place the Israelis approved the illegal building of another 13,851 new settlement houses on Palestinian land. So, of course, the talks collapsed. They were never meant to succeed by either Washington or Tel Aviv.

The Israelis will never come to any sort of equitable arrangement with the Palestinians. Washington’s unconditional support allows Israel to carry on rejecting olive branches of peace and continue destroying the olive groves of Palestine. All in the cause of Lebensraum.

Brian Cloughley lives in France.

This article first appeared in the Asia Times Online on January 20, 2015

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Brian Cloughley writes about foreign policy and military affairs. He lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.

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