In clear U-turn, Israel says ready to reopen Golan crossing with Syria 1

Press TV. Listen here.

In a surprising change of tone, Israel has expressed readiness to reopen the Quneitra border crossing with Syria in the Golan Heights, now that the Arab country’s armed forces have purged militant groups from there.

“We are ready to open the crossing as it was before, and now the ball is in the Syrian court,” Israeli minister for military affairs Avigdor Lieberman told reporters as he toured the border area on Thursday.

Lieberman, who has a long history of hurling threats of doom and destruction against Syria and President Bashar al-Assad, added that Israel never wanted conflict with Syria and was ready to ensure a 1974 armistice agreement between the two sides is strictly observed.

“We said from the beginning that we have no interest in meddling in the … war within Syria and we have never intervened. What interests us is ensuring the security” of Israelis, Lieberman said.

The Golan Heights is a Syrian territory, which Tel Aviv has been occupying since 1967 and claims as its own territory despite international criticism.

In August, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) returned to the border between Syria and the occupied territories, four years after it was shuttered due to militant attacks.

More…

Confederation: The One Possible Israel-Palestine Solution Reply

By Bernard Avishai

New York Review of Books

“The two-state solution is over,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters, responding to Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “Now is the time to transform the struggle for one state with equal rights for everyone living in historic Palestine, from the river to the sea.” As The New York Times subsequently reported, Erekat is hardly alone. The “over”-ness of “two states”—albeit with radical disagreements about the character of a hypothetical single state—has been claimed by ideological zealots, severe liberals, and exasperated peacemakers alike.

On the Palestinian side, one hears about the almost 700,000 Israeli settlers’ making annexation an established fact; on the Israeli side, about preventing recalcitrant Palestinian terrorists from firing missiles at Ben-Gurion Airport. For those of us living in Jerusalem, just speaking of two states, implying two capitals—but also, vaguely, some redivision of the city—invites skeptical, or pitying, stares from most Jews, as well as from Arabs, over a thousand of whom applied for Israeli citizenship in 2016.

READ MORE

Neocons Seek War with Iran, Ethic Cleansing of Palestinians Reply

As a I have long suspected.

William S. Lind

Traditional Right

Those of us who supported President Trump in last year’s election because he promised a less interventionist foreign policy need to be aware of a rising danger.  Neo-con influence in the Trump administration seems to be on the increase.  Rumored high-level personnel changes could put neo-cons into key foreign policy positions.  Just as their neo-con predecessors led President George W. Bush into the disastrous Iraq war, a gift that keeps on giving, so today’s neo-cons want a war with Iran.

The obvious question is, how could anyone be so stupid?  War with Iran is a lose-lose proposition.  If the Iranians defeat us, we lose.  If we defeat them, we also lose because there is a high probability the Iranian state would disintegrate and Iran would become another stateless region.  That would be a huge victory for our real enemies, Islamic non-state entities such as Al Qaeda and ISIS that wage Fourth Generation war. 

The neo-cons refuse to see this because they are playing another game, a game driven by the misconceived interests of a foreign power.  To put it bluntly, many influential neo-cons are part and parcel of Israel’s Likud party.  Years ago, around the beginning of the George W. Bush administration, they helped Likud devise a strategy for Israel.  That strategy called for the United States to destroy every Middle Eastern state that could be a threat to Israel.  That was why the neo-cons pushed the Bush administration into war with Iraq.

READ MORE

Is It True That Not a Single Senator—Even Bernie Sanders—Cares About Palestinian Plight? Reply

The entire political class, from the most liberal Democrats to the most conservative Republicans, are the enemy.

By Ben Norton and Adam Johnson

Alternet

All 100 members of the U.S. Senate sent a letter to the United Nations on April 27 that spread misleading pro-Israel myths. Included as signatories were the Senate’s two progressive leaders, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

AlterNet repeatedly contacted the offices of Sanders and Warren with a request for comment. Neither replied.

The 725-word letter does not mention Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestinian land, which marks its 50th anniversary this June. Nor does it acknowledge Israel’s illegal colonization of Palestinian territory through ever-expanding settlements.

Even the U.S., Israel’s closest ally, has agreed at the U.N. that Israel’s occupation and settlements are flagrant violations of international law. The senators’ letter glosses over this elementary fact, and does not even acknowledge the existence of the Palestinian people.

The bipartisan senatorial campaign against the U.N. was led by hard-right neoconservative Republican Marco Rubio and Reagan-Republican-turned-Democrat Christopher Coons.

“Although, as Republicans and Democrats, we disagree on many issues, we are united in our desire to see the United Nations improve its treatment of Israel,” the senators wrote in the letter, which also demonizes the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

They claimed “member states and agencies are using the U.N.’s privileged platform to advance an anti-Israel agenda.”

U.N.’s Pro-Israel Bias

In reality, the evidence shows that the U.N. has a pro-Israel bias. Emails leaked from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demonstrate how the U.S. State Department successfully exerted pressure with the goal of “deferring” U.N. action on Israeli war crimes, as previously detailed in my report in Salon.

While the State Department conceded that the 2009 U.N. Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, known commonly as the Goldstone Report, was only “moderate,” it was still not pro-Israel enough for the U.S. Messages from top officials illustrate how the government pushed to water down the report, “reframing the debate” about the atrocities and “moving away from the U.N.”

Moreover, U.S. government cables released by WikiLeaks show how former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon worked with the U.S. and Israeli governments to weaken the 2009 U.N. report on the war crimes Israel had committed in its recent war in Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead.

The idea that the United Nations was “singled out for special scrutiny” is conventional wisdom in U.S. political circles. Those who make this argument, as the senators do in the letter, point to Agenda Item 7, a standing agenda item on the U.N. Human Rights Council docket that debates Israeli human rights violations. Crucial context missing from this talking point is that the focus on Israel’s human rights record by less powerful U.N. bodies like the Human Rights Council is the logical byproduct of a U.N. Security Council—by far the most powerful and consequential U.N. body—doing nothing to curb Israel’s human rights abuses through the decades.

READ MORE

Keith Preston: US using anti-Semitism excuse to cover up growing opposition to Israel Reply

Press TV. Listen here.

Forces within the US government are using anti-Semitism as an excuse to cover up growing opposition among university students to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands, says Virginia-based analyst Keith Preston.

Israeli researchers at Tel Aviv University said Sunday that anti-Semitic incidents on US college campuses, mostly in the form of insults and harassment of Jewish students, increased 45 percent in 2016.

Overall, the number of violent anti-Semitic incidents in the United States rose slightly last year, compared to 2015, increasing from 88 to 91, the report found.

The report comes following a recent wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers across the United States and in Canada.

Political scientists and academics have argued that supporters of Israel equate criticism of Zionism and Israel with anti-Semitism in a deliberate attempt to discredit critics and prevent legitimate criticism of Israel.

Preston, director of attackthesystem.com, told Press TV that there was “very limited evidence” of growing anti-Semitic sentiments on college campuses across the US and people who made such claims were providing a “dubious” explanation of what they consider anti-Semitism.

“What they seem to be objecting to is what they perceive as anti-Israel sentiments on campuses and I think they are probably right in the sense that there is a growing support among university students in the United States for the pro-Palestinian movement and for the movement to divest Israel and things of that nature,” the analyst said Sunday.

“This is markedly different from anti-Semitism,” he argued. “Anti-Semitism implies a carte blanche hostility or prejudice against Jewish people and that is not what the pro-Palestinian movement is about at all.”

Preston said there were even Jewish students promoting movements like the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

“So, I think this is something of a smoke-screen argument that is being raised and claims that anti-Semitism is somehow growing on American campuses,” he said, concluding that such reports in fact show that opposition to Israel’s occupation of Palestine is on the rise.

 

Keith Preston: US unremittingly aligned with Israel on Palestinian issue Reply

Press TV. Listen Here.

The United States has protected Israel from UN action and international criticism for decades, despite Tel Aviv’s violation of a broad range of international laws, and President-elect Donald Trump will maintain that cynical policy, an American political analyst in Virginia says.

“The United States has always been unremittingly aligned with Israel and when comes to the United Nations, rarely has the United States ever broken with Israel on any issues in the region, certainly when it comes to the Palestinian issue,” said Keith Preston, the chief editor of AttacktheSystem.com.

“Donald Trump will be continuing what previous presidents have done,” Preston told Press TV on Thursday.

“It was predicted, even during the campaign, that Donald Trump will have a very pro-Israel position and he seems to be following up on that,” he added.

On Thursday, Trump urged the outgoing Obama administration to veto a UN Security Council draft resolution that calls for an immediate halt to illegal settlement building on the occupied Palestinian land.

“The resolution being considered at the United Nations Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed,” the incoming Republican president said in a statement.

“As the United States has long maintained, peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations,” he said.

The UN resolution calls for “the cessation of all Israeli settlement activities is essential for salvaging the two-state solution,” stating that the activities are dangerously imperiling” and threatening the viability of any future Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank.

Last week, Trump nominated David Friedman, a hardline Zionist, as US ambassador to Israel, likely paving the way toward a controversial decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

Over half a million Israelis live in more than 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. Tel Aviv has defied international calls to stop the settlements expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.