NPK-info - 03-12-2006 Nederlands Palestina Komitee /
Today in Palestine!   http://www.theheadlines.org
The 2006 International Day of Solidarity is a day of commitment to ending almost
40 years of occupation and 60 years of Palestinian Nakba
On International Day of Solidarity, PLO leader Farouk Qaddumi addresses General Assembly
Report, United Nations General Assembly, 30 November 2006 [*]
Apartheid: Israelis adopt what South Africa dropped, John Dugard, 29 November 2006
Acties en activiteiten
Divestment - ASN trekt zich terug uit Veolia [**]
First Bank decides to Divest! Dutch Civil Society challenges investments in the Occupation, November 27th, 2006
4-12 Amsterdam Machsom Watch in EAJG-cafe  
Overige Berichten
A Sparkling Bubble - Olmert's Spin, Uri Avnery, 2.12.06 [***]
- Palestinian Students and Faculty Call for Academic Boycott, November 26th, 2006
- Palestinians hail Irish academics' support of Palestine
David Lundy, Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, 21 November 2006
- Human Rights Watch denying Palestinians the right to nonviolent resistance, Jonathan Cook, 30 November 2006
NPK/WL, 3-12-2006
FAROUK KADDOUMI, Head of the Political Department, Palestine Liberation Organization recalled that the Assembly had recognized the organization in 1974 and had recognized the Palestine National Council's Declaration of Independence in December 1988. He also recalled the peace initiatives that had been launched, beginning with the 1991 Madrid Peace process, the 1993 Oslo Accords, the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative and the 2003 Road Map, launched by the Quartet of the United States, Russian Federation, European Union and United Nations.

To this day, he said, the Road Map remained the primary internationally recognized framework for achieving a peace settlement on the question of Palestine, but it had been stillborn, due to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's 14 reservations, followed by the 2004 five guarantees of United States President George W. Bush to Mr. Sharon. The United States had impeded its own initiative; it had allowed Israel to proceed with its unilateral policy and considered the Palestinian leadership to be a non-partner. The outcome of that negative approach had been the house arrest of late President Yasser Arafat prior to his death under suspicious circumstances, with no international body designated to investigate.

Furthermore, he said, by 2003, the year the Road Map was "created", Israel was not initiating steps towards peace, but was instead intensifying the building of the "apartheid wall", in grave violation of human rights and international law. The International Court of Justice had rendered an advisory opinion on the matter and had called on Israel's friends to consider it an "outlaw state" in case of non-compliance with its opinion. Israel had continued building the wall, however, which, in 2004, was 185 kilometres in length, and two years later, was 388 kilometres long. That had prompted human rights organizations to urge States to request the Secretary-General to convene a resumed tenth emergency special session of the Assembly to call for compliance with the Court's advisory opinion.

Reviewing events of 2005 and conditions that had led to a worsening of the situation for the Palestinian people, he said that postponements and short-circuiting of the peace process had been reinforced by the dual policy of the United States, which, in its role as peace broker, on the one hand, encouraged peace initiatives, while also encouraging Israeli non-compliance with initiatives. The results of the January legislative elections, which had been held at the insistence of the United States, had apparently landed a "severe blow to US dreams of finally dealing with a subservient new leadership", he said.

The results of those elections, he said, had proved that the reading by the United States of the facts on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory were completely erroneous. Despite all warnings of international legitimacy in the first half of 2006 about an impending worsening humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, due to a policy of collective punishment imposed on an unarmed civilian population, Israel, the occupying Power, continued to impose a policy of voluntary starvation, punishing the Palestinians for simply having elected their chosen representatives; those happened not to be to the liking of either Israel or the United States.

Moreover, despite the worsening humanitarian situation, a horrendous terrorist massacre had been perpetrated by the Israeli military forces against unarmed besieged Palestinian civilians on the Gaza beach on 9 June, decimating a whole Palestinian family, except for one young survivor, he said. There had been no logical reason for the violence, except to rekindle the fires of war in the impoverished Gaza, leading to its reoccupation. Other similar events had included Israel's actions in Lebanon and the culmination in Beit Hanoun of a massacre on 8 November, prompting the resumption of the Assembly's tenth emergency special session, after the United States again blocked action in the Security Council.

He said there was a basic flaw in the logic that failure of the peace process and the continued violence in the Territory was the implied responsibility of the present democratically elected Palestinian National Authority Government, which had been elected under the Quartet's supervision. The Quartet needed to recognize the role played by the fact that the West Bank and Gaza were still occupied, and that Israel, the occupying Power, still used violent and repressive actions against an unarmed civilian population.

It was time to hold an international conference and to actually implement practical measures to end the occupation in a process that had so far been stalled because no real pressure had been exerted on Israel to implement its commitments, he emphasized. It was not necessary for the international community to concentrate so much effort on pressuring the Palestinian Government with its local and limited powers, rather than applying all energies to solving the crux of the problem by calling for the withdrawal of the Israeli occupying forces and relieving the Palestinian population of all their pain.
De macht van de rekeninghouder
Ook te gast zijn directeur van de ASN Bank, Jeroen Jansen, en Adrie
Nieuwhof. Adrie Nieuwhof is intiatiefneemster van een collectief van
rekeninghouders dat bij de bank heeft aangedrongen om haar banden met een
Franse multinational te verbreken, en met succes. De multinational Veolia is
deze week verwijderd uit het beleggingsuniversum van de ASN Bank omdat
Veolia betrokken is bij de Israëlische bezetting van de Palestijnse
gebieden. Hoeveel macht heeft een rekeninghouder, en kan dit een begin zijn
van een verandering in de relatie tussen banken en rekeninghouders?

Uri Avnery on Olmert's Spin

Uri Avnery
                                    A Sparkling Bubble
A FRIEND of mine, who was brought up in Egypt, took part in the interrogation of Egyptian officers captured in the 1956 Sinai war.
An Egyptian lieutenant-colonel told him: "Every time David Ben-Gurion gave a speech declaring that he was holding out his hand for peace, we put our forces on alert."
And, indeed, it was a typical method of Ben-Gurion: before launching a military operation, he would make a speech culminating with "We are holding out our hand for peace!" He frequently added that he was ready to meet the Arab leaders face to face, that he was in favor of negotiations without pre-conditions, and such.
NOW, BEN-GURION has an heir.
True, even in his darkest dreams Ben-Gurion could not have imagined an heir like Olmert - a politician personifying all the traits that Ben-Gurion detested. But, as the Bible says, "the dead praise not the Lord" (Psalm 115) nor can they choose their heirs.
Last week, Olmert went all the way to Ben-Gurion's grave in the remote Negev and made a speech designed to establish his status as his successor. No point wasting words on this pretension. But it is certainly revealing to analyse the speech itself.
On the face of it, a peacenik speech the likes of which we have not heard for some time. Some said that this was an answer to the words addressed to him by the writer David Grossman at the Rabin memorial rally. And indeed, there is a resemblance between the two: just as Grossman's speech was rich in sublime values and poor in practical proposals, so Olmert excelled in impressive phrases but failed the test of content. 
WHAT DID he say, after all?
"If you (the Palestinians) set up a new government that will undertake to fulfill the principles of the Quartet, a government that will realize the Road Map and bring about the release of Gilad Shalit - I shall propose to Abu-Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) to meet him immediately, with the aim of conducting a real, open, sincere and serious dialogue between us and you."  (I have translated the words literally, since the official translation has edited the text.)
Looks good. But if one looks again, one realizes that it is just a soap bubble.
Since the days of Ben-Gurion, all our governments have used this tactic: say "yes" to every peace proposal, and add a small prior condition that turns "yes" into "no".
What does Olmert demand from the Palestinian government? Little things: to recognize Israel's right to exist without fixed borders  (and without Israel recognizing the right of a Palestinian state to exist within the 1967 borders), to stop the violence (without a parallel commitment by Israel) and to recognize all the agreements signed in the past (almost all of which have been violated by Israel no less than by the Palestinians.)
On top of this, the Palestinian government must fulfill its "obligations" under the Road Map. This ridiculous document, a product of Bush & Co., demands that the Palestinians' first step must involve dismantling all the "terror organizations". Meaning: all the military organizations of the Palestinian parties. As long as the occupation is in force, this is a completely impossible and unreasonable demand and the Palestinians, of course, do not agree. It's like demanding that Israel must dismantle the IDF as a first step.
Olmert does not suggest that Israel, too, would follow the Road Map. According to that document, parallel to the dismantling of the Palestinian organizations, Israel must stop all settlement activities. In practice, these were not suspended for a moment and are in full swing even now.
What will happen if the Palestinians fulfill all these one-sided conditions? Olmert will agree to meet Abu-Mazen "immediately". What for? In order to conduct a "real, open, sincere and serious dialogue."
The words were chosen meticulously. Not "negotiations", God forbid, but "dialogue". A strictly non-committal term. If we eliminate from the text all the nice words that only serve as decorations - "immediately", "real", "open", "sincere", "serious" - all that remains is the agreement to a meeting. Perhaps there are people who are eager to meet Olmert - it's a matter of taste - but this has no political meaning at all.
OLMERT DOES not spare words. "In the framework of the dialogue (again "dialogue" and not "negotiations") and in accordance with the Road Map (see above) you (the Palestinians) will be able to establish an independent and viable Palestinian state, with territorial contiguity in Judea and Samaria (Olmert uses these occupation terms instead of the term "West Bank", which has become a symbol of the opposition to the occupation), a state with full sovereignty and defined borders."
Now that is really nice. No more "temporary borders", as in the Road Map, but "defined borders". Only one little detail: where will these run?
Some might say: one does not disclose his final positions before the start of the negotiations (sorry, dialogue). But the Palestinians are expected to give everything before the start.
"We, the State of Israel, will agree to the evacuation of many territories and the settlements that we have established therein. This is extremely difficult for us - akin to the Parting of the Red Sea (a Hebrew saying) - but we will bear it, in exchange for true peace between us and you."
Sounds nice. But what does it mean? The evacuation of "many territories" and not "all the territories", not even "most of the territories". (In Israeli usage, "territories" means "occupied territories", a term official spokesmen prefer to avoid.)
Also, not "the borders that existed on the eve of the Six-Day War". Not even "borders based on the Green Line", which would allow for small changes and an agreed swap of territories. But a new border which would annex to Israel the "settlement blocs", as defined by the Separation Wall. That means the annexation of at least 10% of the West Bank, and perhaps much more.
And what's to stop that? After all, at this stage the other side would already be disarmed and would have agreed to recognize an Israel without fixed borders.
That is the old plan of Ariel Sharon: to dismantle the small and dispersed settlements, in which some 20% of the settlers live, in order to annex to Israel the territories occupied by the remaining 80%. Olmert does not say what would happen to the expanded Jordan Valley, which constitutes about 20% of the West Bank and which is already completely cut off from it (with the exception of Jericho). Nor doe! s he mention East Jerusalem, in which another 200 thousand settlers have established themselves.
He promises that with the release of the captured soldier, Gilad Shalit, he would be prepared "to release numerous Palestinian prisoners, including ones who were sentenced to lengthy prison terms, in order to increase the trust between us and prove that we indeed hold out our hand for peace."
After eliminating all the bla-bla from this sentence, what it says is that he would agree to release veteran prisoners, with "blood on their hands", which he and his predecessors have always refused to do, in return for the soldier, as demanded by Hamas. That only confirms the Palestinian view that Israel understands only the language of force and that it would never give up anything unless compelled to do so.
It seems that Olmert was in an especially generous mood, so he added: "(After) the cessation of terrorism and violence… we will significantly diminish the number of road-blocks, increase freedom of movement in the territories, facilitate movement of people and goods in both directions, improve the operation of the border-crossings to the Gaza Strip, and release your monies held by us, in order to alleviate the humanitarian hardship which many of you suffer."
"Thank you, really thank you from the bottom of our hearts," a Palestinian might reply. Not the end of the occupation, not even the lifting of the blockade of Gaza. The dismantling of some road-blocks, leaving the others where they are. Not the return of freedom of movement, but an agreement to "increase" the permitted movement. And no opening of the passage between the Gaza strip and the West Bank (as provided for in the Oslo agreement 13 years ago.) But at least, we would give back the Palestinian money "held" by us. "Embezzled" would be a more proper term.
And what did Olmert not say in his speech? He did not propose a cease-fire in the West Bank. Why? Perhaps because the army chiefs object. But even a child can understand that without a cease-fire there, the cease-fire in the Gaza Strip will not hold. The members of the organizations in Gaza will not be able to sit still while their defenseless comrades in the West Bank are being arrested, wounded and killed. Not to mention the dismemberment implied in this proposal, contrary to the Oslo agreement, which states unequivocally that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip constitute "a single territorial unit".
SO HOW to define this speech?
It is easy to say what it is not: it is not a "turning point" in the policy of the government. A "turning point" is a change of direction, which would necessitate the preparation of the public, explaining the nature of the change, its reasons and expected results. Nothing of the sort has been done. Even the spokesmen of the extreme right did not get excited.
The correct definition is "spin" - just some more sleight of hand prepared by "image advisors" and publicity experts.
True, even spin can have some positive value. Olmert has decided to devote the spin to matters of peace, not matters of war. This shows that he believes that Israeli public opinion is moving in this direction. The Israeli peace camp can congratulate itself for that. But there is no cause for dancing in the streets.
WHY DID Olmert make such a speech at all? And why now?
There is an internal reason. In Israel, the impression has (quite rightly) gained ground that this is a government without an agenda, without a political plan, a "hollow" government (to use Grossman's phrase), whose only concern is political survival.
Olmert thought it necessary to fill the vacuum and to create the image of a Prime Minister who knows what he is doing and is working towards a clear goal.
And there is also an external reason, which may be more significant. Olmert may be bankrupt, but President Bush is even more desperate. He has come to the Middle East in order to convince the American voter that he knows what he is doing in Iraq and in the whole region. He needs a manifest achievement. He is carrying on the tradition of his predecessors that an American president who does not know what to do turns to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and achieves a "breakthrough". 
Bush demanded that Olmert make a gesture to impress the world. So he made a gesture - delivering a speech full of nice phrases and promises with nothing behind them.
It must be remembered: Bush wants to look like a resolute statesman, who is constructing a front of "moderate" Arab leaders against the Evil Axis of Iran, Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas. This is why he came to Amman, instead of summoning his servants to Washington! . But the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan know the dangers of looking like Israeli agents. So Bush demanded that Olmert include in his speech a reference to the Saudi peace initiative, which was rejected out of hand by the Israeli government after it had been endorsed by all the Arab states. This initiative says that the entire Arab world would recognize Israel and establish normal relations with it if it withdrew to the borders of June 4, 1967. Now, suddenly, Olmert declares that there are "positive" elements in it. But he did not accept it this time either.
Bush has returned home and will forget the whole matter. Olmert's speech will join the many others which were forgotten the day after they were delivered. Just another speech by an Israeli leader "holding out his hand for peace".


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