For Palestinians, there is no Obama-Netanyahu rift

 by Ali Abunimah, in Huffington Post,  02/28/2015

Palestinians do not see any substantive Obama-Netanyahu rift on life and death matters for them. But there urgently needs to be one. (Chuck Kennedy / White House Photo)

Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech to the United States Congress next week has led to much talk of a rift between the Israeli prime minister and the US president, and even between their two countries.

Tuesday, national security adviser Susan E. Rice said the growing partisanship regarding Israel is “destructive of the fabric of the relationship.”

Citing protocol of not meeting foreign leaders too close to an election, President Barack Obama will shun his Israeli counterpart in Washington, and Vice President Joe Biden will stay away from the joint session of Congress when Netanyahu appears.

The dispute has taken on rancorous partisan tones with more than two dozen Democratic lawmakers vowing to boycott the speech. They charge that Netanyahu’s goal is to undermine the president’s diplomacy with Iran, and that Republican House Speaker John Boehner invited the Israeli leader to defy and humiliate the White House.

Yet all those objecting to the speech, whether in the United States, or Netanyahu’s rivals at home, where he faces an election next month, protest that their concern is to guarantee US-Israeli relations on whose strength the very future of Israel is said to hang.

But what all this sound and fury misses is that for the Palestinians, there is no meaningful Obama-Netanyahu rift. Indeed US-Israeli relations have never been stronger, nor more damaging to the prospects for peace and justice and for the very survival of the Palestinian people.

Just look at the recent record. Last December, the Palestinian Authority put forward a tepid resolution in the UN Security Council that did little more than repeat long-standing US policy on the outlines of a two-state solution. Obama’s UN ambassador Samantha Power marshaled all her resources to defeat it.

She claimed that the resolution was “deeply imbalanced” and took “no account of Israel’s legitimate security concerns.”

The next day, after disappointed Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas signed the treaty acceding to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Obama’s State Department declared itself “deeply troubled,” accusing Palestinians of an “escalatory step” that “badly damages the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace.”

Power said the Palestinian move “really poses a profound threat to Israel.”

These words are perverse. Israel’s 51-day long attack on Gaza that left more than 2,200 people dead didn’t “damage the atmosphere” as far as the Obama administration was concerned, but any Palestinian effort to use international bodies in pursuit of justice and accountability is tantamount to an act of war.

I challenge Power to go and repeat her words to any of the 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza still living in the damp and freezing rubble of their homes, to the surviving parents of more than 500 children killed in the Israeli attack, or to the thousands who will live with lifelong injuries.

Neither the ambassador nor her president has commented on the findings of Amnesty International, which said that Israel “brazenly flouted the laws of war by carrying out a series of attacks on civilian homes, displaying callous indifference to the carnage caused.”

Few Palestinians will forget that when Israeli fire was raining down on them, the Obama administration authorized the transfer of grenades and mortar rounds to resupply the Israeli army.

Last summer’s war was something even Hamas leaders tried to avoid. After it began, armed Palestinian groups declared that their goal was a ceasefire accompanied by a lifting of the eight-year siege that has devastated Gaza’s economy and isolated its 1.8 million people from the rest of humanity.

Since the war, promises that the siege would be lifted have been broken. Billions pledged in reconstruction aid have failed to materialize. As a result, cash-strapped UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, has suspended repairs on Gaza homes.

Israel’s view tends to be unquestioningly echoed by US officials and media: that Palestinians are at fault for the repeated surges of violence.

Yet even senior Israeli leaders and officers have often acknowledged that Palestinian armed groups, especially Hamas, have meticulously stuck to ceasefire agreements, as they are doing currently.

Despite this, the US put no pressure on Israel to end the years-long blockade.

As a result, the lesson Palestinians have repeatedly learned is that whether they fight or stay quiet, Israel will be allowed to do as it pleases. It can besiege and slaughter them in Gaza, seize and colonize their land in the West Bank, deprive them of their most fundamental rights, and Obama will have Israel’s back.

Just because Obama, Netanyahu and their partisan followers may be peeved at each other does not change the basic dynamic of full US support for Israel’s occupation of millions of Palestinians, the continuation of which guarantees ongoing suffering with regional repercussions.

Sure enough, despite the supposed rift, the US is proceeding with the sale of more of the most advanced F-35 fighter jets to Israel.

That’s why Palestinians do not see any substantive Obama-Netanyahu rift on life and death matters for them. But there urgently needs to be one.

It is long past time for the American people and their representatives to challenge Israel on its seemingly permanent subjugation of the Palestinians.

This post was first published by The Huffington Post.

In This Time of Resistance to a Genocidal Assault, A Strategic Call for Palestine

[Today, July 31, amidst loudly announced “ceasefire talks” at hand in Cairo, one can’t help but think of the endless see-saw of aggression by the gun and the aggression by the pen.  In this article below, the noted Palestinian scholar, Dr. Hatem Bazian, predicts the ominous and dangerous play about to be performed behind the doors in Cairo, based upon his careful and detailed review of the Oslo Accords and Camp David Talks (and other highly-touted but widely seen, in time, as notorious embellishments and extensions of the bloody settler-colonial Zionist regime in the historic land of Palestine).  As the balladeer Woody Guthrie once wrote, “Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered / I’ve seen lots of funny men; / Some will rob you with a six-gun, / And some with a fountain pen.”  How the appeal of Dr. Bazian — to keep eyes fixed on the goal of liberation, and not be tricked or dissuaded — will be carried by the Palestinian representatives in the Cairo talks, will be seen in the days to come. — Frontlines ed.]

Gaza: A Palestinian War of Independence

Gaza: A Palestinian War of Independence

July 30, 2014

by Dr. HATEM BAZIAN, Director, Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project

The PLO announced the sending of unified delegation to Cairo to participate in intense negotiations with Israel through Egyptian intermediaries intended to institute a ceasefire in Gaza. Leading up to the PLO delegation announcement, PA President Mahmoud visited Saudi Arabia to coordinate and reaffirm support for the Egyptian ceasefire plan. As such, one has to be clear on the unfolding process and the negotiation lines that will become transparent in the next few days. More importantly, how best for the Palestinians as a people, to confront plans coming from the smoke filled rooms in Cairo which seeks to dispossess them one more time but with the complicity and participation of the PA, Arab “leaders” and the Western powers.

Gaza’s resistance and steadfastness, in reality, is a Palestinian war of independence witnessing complete self-reliance and internal grassroots solidarity in the face of Israeli, PA, Arab and Western collusions to maintain the Occupation intact.

Let us again be clear on Israel’s approach to the Cairo negotiations, which at present sees high level coordinating of its positions with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the US with the specific short-term goal of a ceasefire to immediately be followed with restoring Abbas’s authority and power inside Gaza. Israel’s failure in this campaign is as much a result of the lack of intelligence on the ground as it is the success of resistance planning on the ground. As such, immediate reconstitution of Abbas and the PA in Gaza would be the game changer for Israel if the same framework present in the West Bank is permitted to sink roots in the Strip.

Continue reading

Massed Israeli troops poised for invasion of Gaza

[Immediately after Hamas agreed to a cease-fire, and on the eve of receiving more than $4 billion from the US to support Israeli aggression, Israel has now launched a new invasion of Gaza.  Whenever Israel loses ground and support (both active and secret) from its international allies, it resorts to new aggression against Palestinians and against its neighbors.  And when such aggression is launched, it is rewarded and paid for by the United States. — Frontlines ed.]

Air strike assassination of Hamas military chief signals start of major operation…Palestinians extinguish fire from the car of Ahmed al-Jabari after it was hit by one of several Israeli air strikes in Gaza City.  (Reuters)

Israeli troops massed on the Gaza border last night, poised for a possible ground invasion as Israel launched a major military operation it said was designed “to severely impair the command and control chain of the Hamas leadership, as well as its terrorist infrastructure.”

Military sources told The Independent that a ground invasion was “a distinct possibility”. The army has deployed extra infantry units near the Gaza border, halted major exercises, cancelled soldiers’ leave and mobilised some reserve forces.

The opening salvo of Operation Pillar of Cloud was the pinpoint assassination by missile of the Hamas military commander, Ahmed al-Jabari, as he drove through Gaza City, followed by aerial attacks against targets throughout the Hamas-controlled enclave. At least seven Palestinians, including civilians, were reported dead.

Gaza residents ran for cover as Israeli aircraft pounded targets across the Gaza Strip. It was the most extensive assault since Israel’s ill-starred ground invasion ended in January 2009. Continue reading

Palestine: How hunger strikers “tied the hands of the occupation”: a view from Israeli prison

A demonstration in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, Jaffa, 12 May 2012. (Oren Ziv / ActiveStills)

A demonstration in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, Jaffa, 12 May 2012.

(Oren Ziv / ActiveStills)

Palestinians have achieved three consecutive victories in the last few months. In October 2011, there was the release of prisoners (the exchange deal involving the kidnapped Israeli soldier).

Then there was a series of individual hunger strikes, which lasted for unparalleled periods of time. These began with Khader Adnan, who went on hunger strike to protest against the Israeli policy of administrative detention.

Adnan’s action spurred an open-ended hunger strike by prisoners, started by more than a thousand prisoners on 17 April. It ended on 14 May, with more than 2,000 prisoners taking part. The strike began a new page in the history of the Palestinian struggle for liberation, written by the prisoners along with their Arab and international supporters.

The agreement signed on 14 May 2012 between the authorities in charge of the strike and Israel — with Egyptian and international mediation and guarantees — confirmed that the prisoner movement not only scored a major achievement, but realized a clear victory. We can now speak of two periods, the before and after, with the watershed moment being the hunger strike of 2012. Continue reading

Palestinian inmates escalate hunger strike

Reuters, 2012-05-11

Gaza – Hundreds of Palestinians on hunger strike in Israeli jails said on Friday they would shun vitamin supplements and prison clinics in an escalation of their mass protest against detention conditions.
“We swear we will not retreat. We are potential martyrs. Either we live in dignity or die,” prisoner organisers said in a letter announcing the move and which was read out by Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Islamist Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, during a demonstration.

An estimated 1 600 inmates out of 4 800 launched the hunger strike on 17 April to demand improved conditions in Israeli custody, such as an end to solitary confinement and more family visits.

They have also challenged Israel’s policy of indefinite detention without charge of suspected Palestinian militants. Continue reading

Syria Crisis: Hamas Ditches Assad

[In a move that indicates both the declining prospects for the Syrian Assad regime, as well as the growing role of the Saudi regime in post-Mubarak Arab alignments, Hamas–which is also busily retooling its relations with the Fatah forces and the Palestine Authority as a whole–has made a significant break in relations with Syria, Hezbollah, and Iran.  This deserves some close attention.  The revolutionary  currents in the Arab world, while not invested in any of these organized and governmental forces, will find in these shifts some openings for their own initiatives, because the controllers of political life on all sides are off balance.  In every crisis, opportunities will surface–for those who dare to cast away illusions, rely on the masses, and seize the time. — Frontlines ed.]


By Omar Fahmy and Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters

CAIRO/GAZA, Feb 24  – Leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas turned publicly against their long-time ally President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Friday, endorsing the revolt aimed at overthrowing his dynastic rule.

The policy shift deprives Assad of one of his few remaining Sunni Muslim supporters in the Arab world and deepens his international isolation. It was announced in Hamas speeches at Friday prayers in Cairo and a rally in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas went public after nearly a year of equivocating as Assad’s army, largely led by fellow members of the president’s Alawite sect, has crushed mainly Sunni protesters and rebels.

In a Middle East split along sectarian lines between Shi’ite and Sunni Islam, the public abandonment of Assad casts immediate questions over Hamas’s future ties with its principal backer Iran, which has stuck by its ally Assad, as well as with Iran’s fellow Shi’ite allies in Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement. Continue reading

Israeli intelligence: Prisoner Swap Deal Doesn’t Include Al-Barghouti, Saadat, Nor As-Syyed

Wednesday October 12, 2011

by Alaa Ashkar – IMEMC & Agencies

The prisoner swap deal, reached by the Hamas movement and Israel, does not include several senior political leaders of the major Palestinian factions, senior sources told the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency early on Wednesday.

The exchange does not include; Fatah senior leader, Marwan Al-Barghouti; the Secretary-General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmed Saadat; several top Hamas leaders, including: Ibrahim Hamed, Hasan Salameh, Abdullah Al-Barghouti, Jamal Abu El-Heija, Abbas Issyd. As well as several other senior Hamas officials, whose names are still anonymous, the Israeli Channel Two reported the Israeli Intelligence Chief saying. Continue reading