Saturday, December 3, 2011
PALESTINIAN UNITY: A THREAT, SAYS ISRAEL
by Stephen Lendman
Nonetheless, Israel's illegal occupation continues. Gaza's under siege. Israeli forces attack repeatedly. Deaths and injuries result. Dozens of weekly West Bank incursions harass Palestinians ruthlessly. Numerous arrests follow. Innocent civilians are imprisoned, including children young as 10.
Peaceful protesters are assaulted violently. Settlement expansions continue on stolen land. Dispossessed Palestinians have no redress. Police state repression terrorizes millions of people. World leaders yawn and do nothing.
Last April in Cairo, Hamas and Fatah leaders proclaimed unity. Palestinians hoped it signaled rapprochement between the two sides.
Both agreed to form a transitional government soon. The two delegations, headed by Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, discussed security issues and ways to coordinate forces cooperatively. They also agreed to hold presidential and legislative elections within a year.
Despite reservations on both sides, signing ceremony comments signaled hope. Abbas suggested turning a page, saying:
"Four black years have affected the interests of Palestinians. Now we meet to assert a unified will. Israel is using the Palestinian reconciliation as an excuse to evade (peace. It) must choose between peace and settlement."
Based on his long collaborationist history with Israel, his commitments need to be tested. Saying and doing often differ. The jury so far is out.
For his part, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said:
"Hamas was ready to pay any price for internal Palestinian reconciliation. The only battle of the Palestinians is against Israel. Our aim is to establish a free and completely sovereign Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza strip, whose capital is Jerusalem, without any settlers and without giving up a single inch of land and without giving up on the right of return."
At the time, Netanyahu denounced unity, saying:
"What happened....in Cairo is a tremendous blow to peace and a great victory for terrorism."
In fact, Israel is the region's leading purveyor of state terrorism by far. Moreover, Netanyahu, other Israeli officials, and previous ones spurn peace. Why else would decades of negotiations go nowhere.
Hopefully, Hamas and Fatah agreements will hold. On November 24, the International Middle East Media Center headlined, "Abbas, Mashal, Meet in Cairo, Affirm National Unity," saying:
Both sides affirmed "Palestinian national unity and partnership. An understanding was reached to hold legislative and presidential elections in May 2012.” Abbas said:
"I am pleased to inform the Arab and Islamic Nations that we started a new phase of partnership to best serve the Palestinian people. We deal with each other as partners."
"We have unified responsibility towards our people and our cause. We discussed the reconciliation agreement in detail, and we are pleased to say that were no disagreements on any issue."
It remains to be seen if he means it.
Mashal also signaled hope, saying:
"I want to assure everybody, these are not just words. I want everybody to wait and see the real outcome on the ground. We hope that our people, all factions, will help us in serving our cause."
Another meeting is planned for December 22 to affirm agenda details.
In response, Israeli officials condemned the agreement, calling Hamas (Palestine's legitimately elected government) a terrorist organization.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said:
"The foreign ministry is examining the possibility of Israel pulling out of the Gaza Strip in terms of infrastructure."
In other words, Israel may cut off electricity, water, and other essentials in retaliation. Already, besieged Gazans lack enough food, medicines, and other basic supplies. Everything is rationed. Shortages cause harm.
Rolling blackouts happen daily for hours. Normality's denied. So are Palestinian tax revenues PA leaders need to function. A senior Israeli official said if Hamas and Fatah conclude unity, "it would make a transfer of funds impossible."
In recent weeks, Israel escalated Gaza attacks. Potentially they signal more war. In mid-November, Israel's military commander Benny Gantz warned about another large-scale operation. Palestinians take the threat seriously.
On November 27, Haaretz writer Amir Oren headlined, "Egypt turmoil may prompt Israel to strike Gaza," saying:
The possibility of a post-election Islamist Egypt raised concerns. Why isn't clear as Israel and Western nations have close ties to others. In fact, Israel's using it as a pretext perhaps to unleash what's already planned.
Timing may depend on an "intelligence assessment of likely targets, the weather, the readiness levels of regular and reserve troops and, last but not least, the situation in Egypt" if new leaders are anti-Israeli.
These and other factors affect new conflict strategies. "During Gantz's nine months as chief of staff, plans for new operations have been drawn, old plans have been revised and numerous battle-oriented discussions have been staged."
Events on the ground will dictate decisions. Preemption's a strong possibility. Israel favors it, claiming it's responding defensively when, in fact, it's committing lawless aggression - especially against soft targets like Gaza.
Meanwhile, various UK media reports suggest Israel (with US logistical support) may attack Iranian nuclear sites by yearend or in early 2012. Britain's Foreign Office believes it could come "sooner rather than later," possibly by Christmas.
In mid-November, Washington held discussions with Israel to discuss sanctions. Whether or not possible belligerence was considered isn't known. Both countries bogusly call Iran a threat. Israel wants a regional rival eliminated. America wants client states throughout the Middle East to solidify its unchallenged dominance.
Attacking Iran and/or Syria involves huge risks. The potential for general war is real. Its dangers are frightening. In her 1962 book titled, "The Guns of August," Barbara Tuchman discussed events leading to WW I and its early weeks.
Once started, things spun out of control with cataclysmic consequences, including over 20 million dead, many millions wounded, and a generation of young men lost before it ended.
The lesson is be careful what you wish for. You may get more than you bargained for. A century ago, no mass destruction weapons existed. Today's can cause nuclear winter, including by accident.
As a result, igniting another global conflict should give officials pause about the consequences for potential gains. It should also make them consider what's next if their calculations are wrong. Nonetheless, those in charge often go for broke, and let the devil take the hindmost.
Iran's military chief of staff, General Hassan Firouzabadi, addressed possible aggression on the country, vowing strong retaliation. General Yadollah Javani specifically warned Tel Aviv, saying:
"If Israel fires a missile towards our nuclear or critical facilities, it should know that every inch of Israel, including its nuclear centers, are a target for our missiles (to strike), and we have this capacity today."
Turkey was also warned. General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh said if Iran is attacked, NATO's (offensive) missile shield there will be struck first.
Subduing Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya didn't go as planned, despite rhetoric claiming so. Imagine the greater challenge Syria and Iran pose, given their strength and allies.
Whether it's enough to give militarists pause is uncertain. So far, it doesn't seem so. Millions tremble at what may be coming. Everyone should!
Some Good News
With so little, savor it!
Since its founding in July 2005, the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign convinced dozens of businesses to leave Israel.
Germany's Deutsche Bank divested from Elbit earlier, a company involved in building Israel's Separation Wall. Norway's government ended operations with an Israeli security firm, and Harvard divested from Israeli companies.
In late November, French banking giant BNP Paribas announced it was pulling out entirely. Claiming financial reasons masked the truth.
Pressure forced them out. PNB Paribas has many global operations, including in neighboring countries. Moreover, its Israeli one financed large French companies doing business in Israel.
Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz tried, but failed, to retain them. Word is both sides exchanged harsh words.
Maybe other large companies will follow PNB Paribas. Some day perhaps they'll all stop doing business with an apartheid state worse than South Africa's, much worse.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.