Walk away, Palestinians!

Stuart Littlewood
Stuart Littlewood
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While a fanfare of trumpets announced the resumption of so-called peace talks between Israel and the trampled Palestinians, to be held under the watchful eye of America’s Zionist “facilitators,” the Israelis were awarding special priority grants and other government funding to a number of their outlying West Bank “settlements.”

Settlement is a nice, friendly word suggesting a peaceful pioneering enterprise. Israeli settlements are anything but. Let us call them what they really are: illegal colonizer squats on land seized at gunpoint.

Recipients of these special funds included four squats that were considered illegal even by Israel until the Tel Aviv government decided to change their status. Handing them more rewards makes a nonsense of Israel’s claim to be a peace partner, and for that reason a small handful of ministers abstained. But even justice minister Tzipi Livni, who heads the Israeli side in the talks, could not bring herself to vote against this blatant endorsement of the illegal squats that scuppered earlier talks.

According to Ynetnews the list passed the government vote unopposed. Towns on the list will receive a government injection for 30% of the cost of hotels and other tourist ventures, as well as reduced costs for housing and infrastructure and aid for culture and environmental projects.

So expect to see these frontier towns promoted as destinations on the Israel tourist trail when actually they are on stolen Palestinian land.

By now it must be obvious to all that the regime is no partner for peace, never was and never will be.

Here is how the situation looked nearly 5 years ago, as I noted at the time (December 2008)...

In a display of mutual admiration between U.S. president Bush and Fatah’s president Abbas, Bush reportedly said: “People must recognise that we have made a good deal of progress” and Middle East peace talks are now “irreversible”. Abbas, whose days are also numbered, praised the outgoing U.S. president saying: “There is no doubt that we will continue these efforts and the peace negotiations, but everything will be based on the foundation, and that foundation was laid by you during your time in office.”

But when Abbas’s team was asked if Bush would press Israel to ease its blockade of Gaza, it seemed the U.S. president would not commit to negotiating an end to the siege. So we can see how devoted they actually are to the cause of peace.

Meanwhile the Quartet - America, the EU, Russia and the United Nations – says there’s no turning back from U.S.-led talks between Israel and the Palestinians, despite their spectacular lack of progress.

No reverse gear, and no forward gears either, it seems.

It seems to me that at least six things need to happen before Middle East peace stands a chance.

Settlement is a nice, friendly word suggesting a peaceful pioneering enterprise. Israeli settlements are anything but.

Stuart Littlewood

First, the Palestinians must show some steel, walk away from these bogus talks and put the blame squarely where it belongs - on Israeli and US dishonesty.

Second, the Fatah and Hamas factions must unite so that Palestinians, finally, can pursue their quest for freedom and independence in a business-like way.

Third, they must start proceedings at the UN for full membership and bring charges of war crimes against Israel in the International Criminal Court.

Fourth, the Arab nations must show concerted support, likewise the civil society solidarity groups in the West.

Fifth, the Christian churches must wake up, throw off all Zionist influence and reclaim the Holy Land heritage so central to their beliefs.

And sixth, the European community must suspend Israel from the 1995 EU-Israel Association Agreement. The purpose of the Agreement is to promote peace and security, shared prosperity through economic co-operation, free trade and free movement of capital, and cross-cultural rapprochement. It governs not only EU-Israel relations but Israel’s relations with the EU’s other Mediterranean partners – which include the Palestinian National Authority.

EU, implement Article 2

To enjoy these privileges Israel undertook to show “respect for human rights and democratic principles”, described in Article 2 as “an essential element” of the Agreement. Steps may be taken to enforce the contractual requirements regarding human rights, self-determination and fundamental freedoms for all. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN in 1948, Article 13, states: (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state, and (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

But Israel continues to show the same contempt for the rules of the Association as it does for international law.

In 2002 the EU Parliament did vote to suspend the Agreement, condemning the military escalation by the Sharon government and the oppression of the Palestinian civilian population by the Israeli army. But the unelected EU Commission simply ignored the will of Parliament. Consequently there has been no improvement in Israel’s behaviour.

It is time to try again. Israel relies heavily on exports to Europe where it enjoys “favored nation” terms. By pulling the plug - as provided for under Article 2 of the Agreement - instead of continuing to reward Israel for its crimes, the EU could go a long way towards resolving the problem in the Holy Land.

Furthermore, toleration of Israel is wearing thin among Europeans. As far back as 2003 a European Commission poll of 15 member states named Israel as the top threat to world peace, ahead of North Korea, Afghanistan and Iran. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre branded the result “a racist flight of fancy that only shows that anti-Semitism is deeply embedded within European society.”

The EU has already fired warning shots by blocking the funding of entities within the illegal squats and requiring illegal squatter goods to be labelled as such. But these measures are not enough. The situation warrants a total ban on the trade.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice - that “principal judicial organ of the United Nations” - ruled that the Separation Wall is illegal and must be dismantled, and Israel must compensate the Palestinians. Furthermore, said the ICJ, all States are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the Wall and to ensure Israel complies with international humanitarian law.

Israel is still building the Wall. And despite its huge leverage the international community, in 65 years, hasn’t even begun to bring peace to the Holy Land. Who can blame those who believe that Israel must be curbed if peace is ever to blossom?


Stuart Littlewood is a marketing specialist turned writer-photographer in the UK. He is a regular contributor to Al Arabiya English website and the author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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