|Southwest Asia News Digest
Obama's Policy: The Emperor Has No Clothes
Sept. 22 (EIRNS)President "Nero" Obama's tripartite "summit"a 40-minute meeting with Palestinian President Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York on Sept. 22, was a capitulation to the British imperial control of the region. Using Netanyahu and the Anglo-Israeli lobbying apparatus in the U.S., the British Empire again succeeded in humiliating the Palestinians, and getting the U.S. to give a green light to fascist Netanyahu. The issue of ending settlement expansion has dissolved into pathetic haggling over whether Israel will agree to a one-year, nine-month, or six-month freeze on settlement construction, and whether Jerusalem is to be included. Obama caved.
Reuters reported that after today's manic activitiesa press conference by Obama before he met separately with Netanyahu and then Abu Mazen, followed by the two separate meetings, which were then followed by the "summit," which was then followed by another press statement by Obamait appears that Obama is "laying the groundwork to abandon his quest for an immediate Israeli settlement freeze and instead try to get Israel and the Palestinians directly" into peace talksi.e., rushing the calendar as he has done on the Nazi health care bill.
Obama continues to refuse to allow discussions with or recognition of Hamas, which overwhelmingly won the Palestinian national elections of 2006the last elections ever held in the Palestinian Authority. Obama also continues to block reconstruction aid to economically ravaged Gaza.
While Netanyahu held his own press conference after the photo opportunity, saying that Israel wants peace talks "without preconditions," the Palestinian side was condemned to hold its press conference under the thumb of Tony Blair, where it was obvious that Blair, the special envoy of the Quartet, has had a major hand in backing up Netanyahu to defy the United States. At the Blair press conference, Salem Fayyad, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, stood by as Blair defended Israeli intransigence, including the continuing blockade of reconstruction and vital supplies to Gaza. On the blockade, Blair said, "The kidnapped Israeli soldier [Shalit] needs to be released" by the Palestinians. When Prime Minister Fayyad stated that "the peace process will not be credible without a freeze on Israeli settlements," Blair contradicted him, saying that the Americans know that negotiations can only be credible if they have "a good chance of success." In other words, Israel will not agree on a freeze.
Palestinians Not Impressed With Obama's Dog-and-Pony Show
Sept. 25 (EIRNS)The Palestinians hear President Obama saying good things, but see that he is not delivering on anything. This was the gist of remarks delivered to the New America Foundation by Hanan Ashrawi, long-time Palestinian political activist, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and recently elected to the PLO executive committee. She told the audience that the trilateral meeting on Sept. 22 among Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian President Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) was seen among Palestinians as a photo opportunity without substance, and the recent diplomacy by U.S. special envoy George Mitchell as a failure. The number one issue is the Israeli occupation, and, in particular, Israeli settlement activity, which must stop. Instead, Netanyahu thumbed his nose at the Obama Administration.
Ashrawi's assessment of Obama's speech at the UN General Assembly was that he articulated the major issues, that the occupation must stop, and that there needs to be a comprehensive approach to peacemaking. "He makes the right noises, but the question is, can he make the right moves," she said. When asked what needs to happen next, Ashrawi said, "We can't keep playing with smoke and mirrors. If Mitchell can't deliver, he has to say so." She later added, "If the U.S. can't get a settlement freeze, how can they get anything?" What will happen, therefore, is, "we'll enter a new cycle of talks for talks' sake, while we lose more land and more lives." And, without a settlement freeze "there will be no [Palestinian state] to be had."
Another point Ashrawi made, is that there are many ways the U.S. can tell Israel, "We mean business," such as by lifting the cover the U.S. provides Israel at the UN, or using the UN Goldstone report on the deaths and destruction in Gaza that resulted from last Winter's Israeli assault. The U.S. failure to act, she argued, undermines the peace camp in Israel, since there are many Israelis who are very critical of Netanyahu's policies. "We can't afford the [peace] process for its own sake," she said. "Let's see action."
Carter: Israeli Settlements Hinder Peace with Palestine
Sept. 22 (EIRNS)Former President Jimmy Carter, speaking at Virginia's James Madison University's Mahatma Gandhi Center for Global Nonviolence, said Israel's settlement activity is hindering peace. "As President Barack Obama has made clear, the key factor that prevents peace is the continuing building of Israeli settlements in Palestine, driven by a determined minority of Israelis who desire to occupy and colonize East Jerusalem and the West Bank," Carter said, according to an AP story published in the Jerusalem Post.
"All 22 Arab countries have offered diplomatic recognition and full trade and commerce, if Israel will withdraw from occupied territories," he said. "The alternative to two states is one nation in the same area, within which Arabs will soon comprise a clear majority. This will mean the end of a Jewish state, or else an apartheid system within which Palestinians are dominated and deprived of equal rights."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to freeze all settlement activity, which is a precondition set by U.S. Middle East Envoy George Mitchell before negotiations can begin.
The Gandhi center was awarding Carter for his humanitarian efforts.
Netanyahu Is Sticking It to Obama
Sept. 24 (EIRNS)After what has been described as the "cold summit" among President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Palestinian President Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), Netanyahu is simply sticking it to Obama. He told the Israeli daily Ha'aretz that Israel will never return to the 1967 borders. He then praised Obama's speech and then was spinning it by claiming that when Obama spoke of creating two states, including a "Jewish state of Israel" and a "Palestinian state," that Obama had demonstrated his support for Netanyahu's demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the "Jewish state." The Palestinians have refused to concede to this sophistry, since not only has no other state done this, but it opens up the question of the rights of Israeli Arabs, who hold Israeli citizenship.
Then on the same day that Obama spoke before the United Nations, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved 37 more West Bank housing units in the settlement of Karnei Shomron, according to Yedioth Ahronoth. Just a few weeks ago, Barak approved the construction of 455 housing units in the West Bank.
Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer criticized Barak's decision, saying that the Defense Minister has become "Yesha's contractor," referring to Yesha, the main settler organization. "The Israeli government is singlehandedly destroying any chance for a peace agreement and jeopardizing our relations with the U.S.," Oppenheimer said.
U.S. Think Tank Report Threatens Iran
Sept. 21 (EIRNS)Former Democratic Sen. Charles Robb (Va.), former GOP Sen. Daniel Coats (Ind.), and Charles Wald, a retired general and air commander in the early stages of Operation Enduring Freedom, have a Washington Post op-ed today, threatening Iran with U.S. attack. Their saber-rattling comes after Zbigniew Brzezinski's call for the U.S. to attack Israeli planes were they to head to attack Iran.
The three are authors of a Bipartisan Policy Center report, "Meeting the Challenge: Time Is Running Out," released last week. Bipartisan Policy Center is a Washington think tank nominally founded by former U.S. Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole, and George Mitchell.
The op-ed declares, "A U.S.-led military strike [on Iran] is a feasible, albeit risky, option of last resort." The authors conclude: "Next month's talks may be one of the last opportunities to diplomatically address the advancing Iranian nuclear threat. If Iran chooses to waste yet another such chance, President Obama will have no choice but to fulfill his February commitment to 'use all elements of American power to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.' "