On December 24, Ecuador became the fifth Latin American country to recognize "the Palestine state as free and independent within its borders since 1967." An accompanying statement said:
"Sadly, the Middle East continues to face wars and violent events that have led to the death of many innocent people, a situation contrary to the humane and pacifist position established by the Ecuadorian Constitution. This recognition is meant to reinforce the valid and legitimate wish of the Palestin(ian) people to have their own free and independent state." Having it is "fundamental to achieve the peaceful co-existence of the nations in the region through dialogue and mediation."
On December 23, Uruguay said it planned to join Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia in granting recognition, though would formerly do so in January 2011.
Though largely symbolic, growing recognition flies in the face of a unanimous December 16 House resolution opposing unilaterally declared independence, urging Palestinians to:
"cease all efforts at circumventing the negotiating process, including efforts to gain recognition of a Palestinian state from other nations within the United Nations, and in other international forums prior to achievement of a final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians....and calls upon foreign governments not to extend such recognition."
It also asked the White House to "deny recognition to any unilaterally declared Palestinian state and veto any resolution by the United Nations Security Council to establish or recognize a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated by the two parties." EU nations said they'll act when "appropriate," meaning not until Washington and Israel approve.
Never mind that Israel and America don't negotiate. They demand, imposing their will unilaterally when denied, often by force. Both countries also deplore peace. They prevent it by provoked conflict, blamed on governments they oppose, even democratically elected ones.
Israel is now so extremist that Haaretz writer Zeev Sternhell described Netanyahu's Knesset as "an assembly line of legislation that is dragging Israel down to the bottom of the list of civilized countries," amounting to might makes right.
On December 22, a Haaretz editorial headlined, "Netanyahu can blame himself for decline in Israel's world standing," saying:
He "embarked on a....diplomatic effort to (prevent possible) international recognition for Palestine (within) 1967 borders, and fend off a (UN Security Council resolution) condemning settlements." Another campaign aims to discredit what he calls the "delegitimization of Israel around the world."
He's "trying to convince us that Israel's" deteriorated image isn't "related to his government's policies on peace and settlements." Instead of seeking real peace, however, his "Foreign Ministry is sent to dust off ancient public-relations papers that failed to convince anyone." No wonder world leaders "are losing their patience with Netanyahu and are wondering if (he's really) a partner for peace."
On December 29, Haaretz writer Aluf Benn headlined, "It's over for Benjamin Netanyahu," saying:
"It's all downhill until the next elections, without any achievements and without an agenda....Instead of initiating and leading, Netanyahu (engages) in fruitless holding actions until he falls from power." Absurdly he claims "Palestinians are not ready to move forward to peace, so the whole country is stuck."
Of course, Palestinians always wanted an equitable peace, not conflict, but Israel wants none of the former. It thrives on conflict like America, inventing enemies as justification.
Benn urges that "Instead of cultivating false hopes for a peace agreement, international effort(s) should be geared toward heading off a war." Otherwise, it's just a matter of time before the next one.
Decades of Arab-Israeli conflict produced seven full-scale wars, two Intifadas, thousands of violent incidents, bogus peace initiatives, annexed lands, settlement expansions, Gaza's siege, and repressive arrests, dispossessions, assassinations, torture, and countless other forms of police state terror. Why now would world leaders imagine potential policy change, especially under Israel's most extremist ever government and prime minister who abhors peaceful resolution, calling it a waste of time.
Moreover, he uses the coup d'etat Abbas regime repressively against his own people, and bogusly calls the legitimate Hamas government a terrorist organization as justification for Israeli assaults.
As a result, repeatedly without cause:
On December 23, Xinhau, China's English language news service, quoted PLO official Ahmed Majdalani saying:
Israel plans more war, and "is preparing the internal and international opinion using the same scenario" as during Cast Lead, claiming Gaza threatens its security. Majdalani believes "this proves there is a planned intention to wage a wide aggression on Gaza," perhaps harsher than before.
A December 22 Xinhau article headlined, "Israel, Palestinians warn of military escalation in Gaza," saying:
Palestinians fear it after "Israeli army officials said that the situation on the borders between the enclave and Israel is expected to flame sooner or later." In recent weeks, Israeli attacks increased, at times provoking responses regarded by Israel as "terrorism," the usual red herring for further escalation.
"Amid the mounting (attacks) and Israeli army officials (threatening) senior Hamas leaders, (its) government (ordered evacuation) of its ministries as well as police and security apparatuses headquarters" in preparation.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told Xinhua that Israel:
"is preparing for a new war on the Gaza Strip by threatening to carry out a large-scale military operation or practice murder against the population and their military leaders. We expect anything from Israel, but Israel should understand that (Gazans) and their factions of resistance would never surrender in case of any operation....We will defend our people and our lands by all means."
Israeli Radio reported an official UN complaint filed, "accusing Gazan militants of firing homemade projectiles and rockets into Israel." Not explained was provocative IDF attacks using firepower Palestinian capability can't match. Nor that international law permits self-defense in response to naked aggression, an Israeli specialty.
Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Abu Obaida said the Ezz El-Deen al Qassam Brigades "want to keep the Palestinian people away from suffering from war and aggression." However, if Israeli chooses confrontation, "we are ready and will resist regardless of the price and the Zionists will pay an expensive" one.
Obaida's remarks came a day after Mahmoud al-Zahar, a member of Hamas' leadership, renewed his ceasefire commitment. No matter. Obaida said calm "may not last for long" before another war erupts. Why not given Israel's history of aggression against neighboring states and Palestinian communities.
Allied with Israel and Washington, Abbas is Israel's sheriff against his own people, including by provoking conflict with Hamas. According to a WikiLeaks released cable, Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin "established a very good working relationship" with him. He, in turn, shared "almost all its intelligence" with Israel. "They understand that Israel's security is central to their survival in the struggle with Hamas in the West Bank."
Another cable disclosed Abbas wanting unprecedented Israeli help in attacking Hamas prior to the split that left Fatah illegally controlling the West Bank with Hamas governing Gaza. At the time, Diskin described Fatah as "desperate, disorganized and demoralized," saying:
"They are approaching a zero-sum situation, and yet they ask us to attack Hamas. This is a new development. We have never seen this before. They are desperate." He also called Abbas "a paradox. He cannot function and do anything. Why is Fatah failing? (Abbas) knows he is weak and that he has failed....to rehabilitate Fatah. He did not start to take any action when he had the chance in 2004. Instead of choosing to be the leader of Fatah, he chose to be a national leader for all Palestinians," but he failed.
Hamas always accused Abbas of collaborating with Israel. Released cables prove it. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum expressed no surprise, saying:
"This is proof of what Hamas has said in the past, that there has been a division of labor between some elements of the former authority in Gaza and the Israeli occupation. The same situation is taking place right now in the West Bank as well."
Previous memos also showed Abbas - Israeli collaboration. A June 2009 diplomatic message cited Ehud Barak, Israeli defense minister, asking Fatah before Cast Lead if it wanted control of Gaza once Hamas was defeated. According to a US diplomatic memo, Fatah rejected the offer. Repeatedly, Abbas and key lieutenants acted duplicitously against their own people. In return, Israel and Washington rewarded them generously, no matter how repressively Palestinian civilians suffer.
On December 23, Zinhau reported that Hamas suspended reconciliation talks with Fatah, Hamas senior official Musa Abu Marzouq saying:
"There will not be any meeting with Fatah as long as it continues ignoring Hamas' prisoners who are (on) hunger strike."
Hamas wants all prisoners "immediately released," including six members detained in Jericho for nearly two years. Each side accuses the other of undermining Palestinian cohesion and reconciliation. It's no surprise with Abbas and key lieutenants as Israel's enforcer
On December 25, the Palestine News Network headlined, "Santa Claus brings Rubber Bullets, Gas and Arrests," saying:
While Christmas was celebrated in Bethlehem, "the village of An Nabi Saleh (near Ramallah) faced another reality." Israel's military used "excessive violence" against peaceful demonstrators. "Several people (were) injured; three Israeli activists and one Palestinian....got arrested."
Twelve rubber-coated steel bullets struck a 16-year old boy, "aimed from close range directly at his chest." Though hospitalized, he escaped serious injury.
Santa Claus joined with demonstrators walking down the village's main road chanting slogans. Israeli military and Border Police met them forcefully with sound bombs, tear gas and rubber bullets "aimed directly at people" with intent to commit harm - Israel's Christmas gift to nonviolent protestors.
Rubber bullets struck a man and his wife inside their home severely enough to require hospitalization. Gas inhalation harmed demonstrators.
"When the day came to a close, Santa Claus had brought only more tear gas and rubber bullets for the villagers....Merry Christmas," Israeli-style.
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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on December 29, 2010.