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Israel-Palestine: Gaza Rockets, Settlements, & Relations with Washington

Gaza Rocket Attack: After Gaza militants fired a Qassam rocket into the western Negev on Thursday, killing a Thai foreign worke, Israel's response was firm. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said, "With or without Goldstone [Report on the Gaza War], Israel will defend its citizens. Today we see how absurd the Goldstone report was."

According to the Israeli Defense Forces, more than 100 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel since Operation Cast Lead ended in January 2009. Although Hamas did not take the responsibility, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai declared the Palestianian organisation responsible. Deputy Premier Silvan Shalon vowed that "the Israeli response will be appropriate. It will be strong," adding, "This is a crossing of the red line, which Israel cannot accept."

Israel-Palestine Video: Biden’s Settlements Humour

The killing came an hour after the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, stepped into the Gaza Strip. She said:

I condemn any kind of violence, we have got to find a peaceful solution to the issues and problems.

I'm extremely shocked by the rocket attack and the tragic loss of life. I said when I came to Israel that part of the reason for my trip to this region is to express my concern that we move as quickly as we can to proximity talks.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined the condemnation, "All such acts of terror and violence against civilians are totally unacceptable and contrary to international law."

As for the planned construction of an extra 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Wednesday said that the demands of the United States and the international community are unreasonable: "This demand from the international community is mainly an opportunity to increase pressure on Israel and to demand unreasonable things."

On Thursday, Lieberman's Deputy Minister continued the official line, "We have never asked the permission of anyone to defend ourselves, and we will proceed in a similar fashion."

President Shimon Peres told EU policy chief Ashton that Israel reserved the right to build in Jerusalem, adding that its construction policy in the capital has not changed in 40 years.

Moreover, Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, in an opinion piece published by The New York Times on Thursday, argued that the construction in East Jerusalem is not Netanyahu's invention, as it has been pursued since 1967 within Washington's knowledge. He added:
We should not, however, allow peace efforts, or the America-Israel alliance, to be compromised by Israel's policy on Jerusalem.

Consistently, Israel has held that Jerusalem should remain its undivided capital and that both Jews and Arabs have the right to build anywhere in the city.

Amidst intense chatter of a rift between the US and Israel, President Barack Obama, in an interview with Fox News, said that there was no crisis in ties, despite the construction plan. Obama continued:
Israel is one of our closest allies, and we and the Israeli people have a special bond that's not going to go away.

But friends are going to disagree sometimes...

There is a disagreement in terms of how we can move this peace process forward.

The actions that were taken by the interior minister in Israel weren't helpful to that process. Prime Minister Netanyahu acknowledged as much and apologized for it.

This indicates that Netanyahu has probably responded to Washington's demands even before Wednesday. Late Thursday, Jerusalem had reportedly agreed to postpone the execution of the contentious Ramat Shlomo construction plan, while not canceling it altogether.

Haaretz says that, in a phone call between Netanyahu and Clinton, the Israeli PM reportedly conveyed a detailed list of gestures Jerusalem was willing to perform in order to restart negotiations with the Palestinians. These gestures allegedly include the release of Palestinian prisoners, the removal of West Bank checkpoints and perhaps even a willingness to transfer West Bank territories to PA control.

On Thursday, French news agency AFP reported that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stated that peace with Israel was "impossible" as the government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was not a real partner for talks. He called the construction plan of new East Jerusalem housing units as a "real obstacle," which would create "more wars and tension" in the entire region, adding that the Israeli government "cannot be considered a partner as long as it responds to calls for peace with settlements and the Judaization of (Muslim) holy sites."

Reader Comments (15)

When people make mistakes, serious mistakes, it is very very difficult to accept an apology, and very difficult for either party to apologize, and it is even difficult for the party that made the mistake to ask for forgiveness. The impasse seems impossible. The walls seem impregnable, and they appear so high, that sometimes no voices are heard and neither party sees the human side of the other. Bittnerness, anger, resentment are so powerful, that finding common ground seems impossible sometimes. Anger and emotions and feelings of being victimized cause people to react in predictable ways and the power of the emotions over-powers reason and anger breaks down the communication.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAli Mohommad

Israel needs to act on its own law and morality that condemns theft - including the theft of another's land.

Israels right to secure borders - derives from a UN declaration - and by disrespecting the 1967 borders defined in that UN declaration - Israel undermines its own legal and moral entitlement to the land of Israel.

To expect the Palestinians to sit down and 'negotiate' whilst their lands from the 1967 borders are being stolen from them on a daily basis - is an insult not just to the Palestinians - but to the entire world community - that has had a guts full of the ongoing problems arising from the problems of the Middle East - that primarily derive from Israel's systematic theft of its neighbour's lands.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDarZan


It has always been understood by both sides that Israel would keep this area in any peace deal with the Palestinians. The vast majority of the people that live there are Israelis.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDave

This 'vast majority' are nothing more than 'fact on the ground' illegal settlers - would Israel permit 1600 west bank or Gaza residents to move into Tel Aviv and steal Israeli land?

Occupation by force and theft does not confer legitimate legal or moral title - to build 1600 new homes in an area always understood by both sides to be intended as the Palestine capital - proves that Israel's agenda is simply to steal more Palestinian land - and has no legitimate interest in peace.

What an irony that the victims of the worst genocide in history - a genocide that also involved the plundering of their assets and lands - have now become little more than an armed pack of common thieves.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDarZan

Jerusalem has been the historical and spiritual capital to the Jewish people for thousands of years. They have a spiritual and historical claim to that land. And Ramat Schlomo was under Israeli control when the 1948 ceasefire was signed. Don't believe everything you read in the liberal press or Enduring America.

This administration's foreign policy is a MESS. What happened when the US announced a return of its ambassador to Syria last year? Assad invited A-jad to the capital for some couscous and to thumb his nose at the US. I don't recall anything posted on here about that.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDave

The Christian and Muslim communities of Palestine also have a historical and spiritual claim to Jerusalem - of no less importance than the Jewish claim.

Ramat Schlomo was under illegal Israeli occupation - as a result of its illegal invasion of its neighbour's lands - and the annexation of its neighbour's lands - is simply theft backed up by force.

If Israel does not respect the UN declared borders - why should the other countries of the Middle East respect Israel's UN declared borders - its systematic theft of its neighbour's lands undermines its own territorial integrity.

This is hardly a 'liberal' issue - the whole world is waking up to the reality that all of the problems arising from the Middle East derive from the fact that Israel is systematically stealing its neighbour's lands - and has no greater moral authority to occupy Palestine than did Hitler have in occupying Poland.

Assad is the leader of Syria - he can see whoever he wishes - including a usurping nutcase dictator like A-jad - just as Obama meets with the facist leaders of PR China and for that matter - the head of the current neo nazi Israeli regime.

So long as Israel persists with its state sanctioned theft of its weak and vulnerable neighbour's lands - extremists like A-jad will thrive in the Middle East.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDarZan

The Arabs forfeited that claim when they desecrated Jewish shrines in Jerusalem and prevented Jews and Christians from visiting the holy sites there from 1948 to 1967.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDave

According to Dave "The Arabs ... prevented Jews and Christians from visiting the holy sites there (= in Jerusalem) from 1948 to 1967."

What about Christian Arabs? Were they prevented from visits? Or preventing visits? Or what?

Dear Dave: Please explain.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterOld Outsider

I can recite numerous instances of Zionist massacres of Muslim and Christian Arabs since 1948 - ethnic massacres - morally identical to the SS massacres of Jews in the Nazi occupied territories during WW2.

I am neither Arab nor Jew - but the fact remains - if one community steals another's ancestral lands by force they are the real terrorists - don't feign surprise and hurt when the wrongly dispossessed forcibly resist - and don't expect the rest of the world to connive in or ignore your state sanctioned thievery.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDarZan

Ali Mohommad

Well said and this whole episode is just a demonstration of how hate/violence just breeds more hate/violence.


March 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBill


While I condem much of the actions Israel partakes in one has to consider it takes two to tango. Everyone knows the borders after 1967 were the direct result of wars the Arab states lost. If the Arabs had trully wanted peace they could have had it long ago. While Israel has in fact torpedo numerous peace deals the evidence on the ground clearly says they are not trying to wipe out the pals. The evidence on the other side(ie the charters of the PLO, Hezebollah, and Hamas) clearly says Israel must be pushed into the sea. This attitude is often a common one amongst the Muslims population across the world as well. I don't know about you but I find it kind of hard to realistically want peace with a party who's undying vow is to wipe you out. Frankly the Pals have to try non violence for once. Ghandi and Mandela showed the whole world that "loving thy enemy" is the fastest way to defeat your enemies.


March 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBill


The Palestinians are entitled to use force to resist and repel the armed thieves forcibly stealing their lands - just as the Americans would be if Mexico or Venezuela invaded the USA and occupied it by force.

Occupation by conquest from winning a war is still illegal occupation - as the UN and almost every government in the world - apart from the current neo Nazis governing Israel [and Zionist apologists like yourself Bill] - agree.

That indeed was the legal and moral reason why Israel's illegal occupation of Egypt's lands - also invaded during the 1967 war - was terminated - and why the illegal occupation of the West Bank, including Jerusalem,the Golan Heights, and the de facto occupation of Gaza, must also end.

March 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDarZan


Not disputing the occupation and the rights of the Palestinians. I am pointing out that the Arabs had supplied Israel all the ammo they needed to politically make the occupation a reality. In addition the constant violence has only made Israel's case for occupation stronger not weaker. Again I ask you what reason would Israel have to engage with a foe who simply wants them gone--and I mean all of Israel gone? I know it may seem like a one sided arguement but I honestly believe if the violence(ie rockets and low level insurgency) stopped Israel would be morally obligated to resolve the crisis--the world would also by extension be morally obligated to pressure Israel to do so. I bring this up because Ghandi and Mandela did such a thing and the enemy fell almost overnight!


March 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBill


Why this, Leverett like, focus on the extremists?

Has Abbas, or any major West Bank official, called for the Israelis to be swept into the sea? - has Mubarak? - has the King of Jordan? - has Assad for that matter?

Israel's systematic, four decade long, theft and plunder of its neighbour's lands and lives has created the extremists - including Hamas.

And Israel is not short of extremists [in addition to its current government] either.

The 'sweep them into the sea' nutters are no different from the settlor nutters who assert that the Palestinians - can all be expelled from the lands of 'Greater Israel' - and be 're-settled' in Jordan ['sweep them into the desert'].

And on the subject of 'violence' - armed occupation is an extreme act of state sanctioned violence - which all rational communities, including your own, believe may be resisted and repelled with force.

History also shows that the extremists have a role to play in any event - by forcing the adoption of more moderate alternative positions by the major stakeholders.

Little was done about the whites oppression of the blacks in the USA until the black power radicals starting throwing a few bombs around in the 1960's - this compelled the moderate whites to join the liberals and support legislative and socio-economic equality for the blacks.

Israel - with its continuation of its 'terrorist' breeding policies - will also be facing another Hamas entity - in the West Bank - if it does not soon accept the reality that its continued violent occupation and systematic theft of its neighbour's lands - which has contributed more to regional and world tensions that any other political event in the Middle East - is devoid of any moral or legal justification.

March 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDarZan


I think you see my point but disagree. However I do agree many of Israel's actions breed the violence as well. My bad I should have mentioned that as well. I think Israel like the Pals have to stop being so reactionary and then we might find peace. Sadly it seems like either side does not trully want peace. Abbas may trully want it but the Arab world as a whole, in my mind, does not. That is why I brought up the negative predisposition fostered by the Arab world against Israel. It has to stop on both sides if any progress is going to be made.

Personally I want this issue to go away because it is largely a political war being waged by both sides. It is a war that has distracted the world away from much greater humanitarian issues such as Darfur. 2 million have died in Darfur and the response is a big "who cares" from the world and from the Islamic world "what genocide what about the pals."

All said I agree with much of what you wrote but I difer on some points. I think we both want the same result and lets hope both sides of the conflict will come to their senses.


March 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBill

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