Friday, August 20, 2010

Israel's Bogus Construction Moratorium

Israel's Bogus Construction Moratorium - by Stephen Lendman

Promises made, then broken. Promise peace. Wage war and daily violence throughout the Territories. Announce a settlement construction halt. Keep building, the promised pause (not a freeze) never observed despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's December 8 announced moratorium saying:

"I hope that this decision will help launch meaningful negotiations to reach a historic peace agreement that would finally end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians," what he relentlessly pursues, spurning resolution for an equitable, just peace, wanting surrender, not conciliation on equal terms, what he'll never agree to or accept.

Despite announcing "a suspension of new permits and new construction in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) for a period of ten months," construction never stopped. Israel's land grab continues. Thousands of new units have been approved, New York Times writer Ethan Bronner, on July 14, headlining, "Despite Settlement Freeze, Buildings Rise," saying:

"....an examination of the freeze after more than seven months suggests that it amounts to something less significant, at least on the ground. In many West Bank settlements, building is proceeding apace. Dozens of construction sites with scores of Palestinian workers are active."

Why? Because "cheating has occurred (and other units were) grandfathered in" to proceed. In addition, huge approval increases preceded Netanyahu's announcement, enough to continue construction unabated, though at a slower pace.

Another promise, another lie like the bogus peace process and claims about regional threats, Israel posing the only one, what everyone knows but won't say.

Peace Now.org (PN) on Israel's Bogus Moratorium

PN "is the leading voice of Israeli public pressure for peace....with over 10,000 members from the Middle East and around the world." On August 8, it launched a anti-settlement campaign, saying:

It's Israel's moment of truth, its "choice between hope and despair; between settlements and the peace process....between international isolation and global support....choosing settlements over peace will have a destructive impact on public support...."

Eight months into the announced moratorium, PN assessed its non-enforcement, explaining:

-- construction began on 600 or more housing units in 60 separate settlements, including 223 permanent structures and 167 caravans or semi-permanent projects;

-- at least 492, announced on the eve of the pause, are in "direct violation," plus another 112 granted since December 8;

-- during an average previous eight-month period, construction on about 1,130 housing units began; and

-- currently, about 2,000 units are being built, most begun before the December 2009 announced pause.

"This means that on the ground, there is almost no freeze or even a visible slowdown, despite the fact that legal construction starts have been prohibited for eight months. It also means that....Israel is not enforcing the moratorium."

Included are small scale and much larger projects, involving dozens of units. For example, 180 have been built in Modiin Ilit, midway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and another 40 in Givat Ze'ev, northwest of Jerusalem, one of the largest settlements with an estimated 10,800 population, a virtual small town.

In addition, other projects broke ground for their infrastructure, including 62 Barkan units in the northern West Bank, about 100 in Neriya, and 60 in Shaarei Tikvah. In total, 16 settlements have large-scale violations, many others smaller ones.

In the past decade, an average 1,700 new housing units were built annually, plus others built illegally. The settlement pause (never a freeze, a word Netanyahu never used)) excluded construction begun before it began. It will expire in October. Unless maintained and enforced, it will perpetuate the peace and conciliation lie, one persisting for decades. The names and faces change. The fraud and deceit remain.

Ending the moratorium in October will amount to another "meaningless, several month delay," nothing more. Continuing construction "cast doubt from the start" on Israel's true intentions. Say one thing, do another, standard practice in its quest for regional hegemony, a Greater Israel, and Jewish only exclusively, one settlement expansion and bulldozed home at a time.

Also Palestine's historic Mamilla cemetery in Jerusalem, its previously untouched graves with roots from the 7th century, Israel's Religious Affairs Ministry (in 1948) recognizing it as "one of the most prominent Muslim cemeteries, where Muslim scholars and seventy thousand Muslim warriors" led by Saladin, the first Egyptian Ayyubid Sultan/ opposition leader against the Franks and other Levant European Crusaders, recaptured Jerusalem in the Battle of Hattin. "Israel will always protect and respect this site." Another promise, another broken.

The plan now calls for Jewish developments to destroy it along with thousands of Palestinian homes and property, Judaization to replace them. The process continues relentlessly, including the Separation Wall, closed military zones, Jewish only infrastructure, and seized Palestinian farmland - to establish "irreversible facts on the ground," putting a lie to serious peace and reconciliation efforts, ideas not in Israel's vocabulary and practically obscene for Netanyahu, a man who abhors everything not Jewish.

Peace Now stands opposed, saying a settlement moratorium is "for Israel's own best interests, regardless of what is happening, or not happening, with regards to Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. (It wants it) extended with no more game-playing....without adding any new exceptions or loopholes, (including) enforcement to stop settlers who" keep building illegally. "Otherwise, the entire debate....is little more than empty words," another Israeli specialty.

Some Final Comments

In a July 23 address in Canada, Palestinian National Initiative founder Dr. Mustafa Barghouti assessed reality today in Palestine, saying:

For over six decades, Israeli apartheid, worse than South Africa's, has persecuted and dispossessed Palestinians for decades. How else can you describe a system under which "Israel controls more than 85 per cent of" Palestine's water, letting settlers use "48 times more than us," where Israeli incomes are 26 times greater than Palestinians, and they're obliged to pay inflated Israeli prices "because of (policy and) an imposed tax."

"We even....pay double" for electricity and water, but don't get enough. After 43 years of occupation, "most of our (West Bank) roads....have been confiscated (and) segregated," used exclusively for Jews, Arabs on them arrested, imprisoned for seven years or shot by trigger-happy soldier or settlers with immunity to commit murder.

The Separation Wall is stealing 12% of the West Bank, depriving Palestinians of their land and freedom, destroying their economy, health system and education.

A woman "stand(s) on the roof of her two-floor building in Bethlehem," her house "surrounded by the wall from all directions." The Israeli military prohibits her going there anymore, saying "she needs a permit" henceforth for her own property.

"I am a medical doctor....I practiced medicine for 15 years in Jerusalem. I was born in Jerusalem. But (for the past) five years, I'm forbidden, like most Palestinians, from entering Jerusalem even with a permit. (It's) horrifying." West Bank husbands and Jerusalem wives can't live in the city together, and if she stays in her husband's residence, she'll lose her Jerusalem citizenship.

"What is apartheid?" It's "when you have two different sets of laws for two different people living in the same area." Jews from Brooklyn or Siberia get immediate Israeli citizenship on arrival to live anywhere in Israel or West Bank or Jerusalem settlements. "If this is not apartheid, then what is....?

Today's horrors negate Jewish suffering by the Nazis, Russian pogroms, the Inquisition or at other times. Before 1948 for decades, Palestine was, in fact, a safe haven for Jews who lived peacefully with Muslims and Christians in harmony, before Zionists wanted it all for themselves.

Trouble then began and never ended. Gaza is repressively besieged. West Bank Palestinians and Jerusalemites are virtually imprisoned by the Wall, checkpoints, permit restrictions, and total military control - a free and open system for Jews, an apartheid one for Palestinians denying them all rights oppressively, by wars, daily violence, home demolitions, land seizures, dispossessions, mass arrests, torture, and death.

The struggle isn't between "two equal sides, and one cannot continue to equate between the Israelis and Palestinians as if this is just a struggle between (them) that cannot find a way to talk" and deal with each other peacefully. It's "a struggle between" an oppressor and the oppressed, "between the culture of power and the power of culture, (our) vision....values, (and) humanity."

Nonviolence doesn't mean "non-struggle. (It) means struggling for your rights. (It's) about not giving in or giving up, not giving up our dignity, even in the most difficult times....They can imprison us...torture us...shoot us, but they can't....take away....our dignity" and determination. "We've learned how not to give up. (We know) resilience." That spirit defies oppression, occupation, injustice and always will, what Israeli might can't ever destroy. "Please don't be silent." Stand with us proudly.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.