Absurd claim over Israel's territorial compromises
ANDREW J Shaw (February 26) writes that Israel "has made territorial compromises in the interests of peace". This is an absurd assertion. In reality, the history of Zionism had been one of grabbing more and more Palestinian land for Jewish colonisation, a process that is continuing unremittingly today.
Indeed since 1995 and the signing of the Oslo Accords, which divided the west Bank into three separate administrative areas, on an interim basis, over 500,000 settlers have been planted in the west Bank and East Jerusalem. All of this in breach of international law, which forbids an occupying power from transferring its citizens to territory it occupies and also frustrating any credible promise of a two state solution.
If the founders of Israel had accepted the 1947 UN partition plan, Israel would exist today in 56 per cent of mandate Palestine and Jerusalem and the surrounding area would be under international control. That's what the UN General Assembly recommended in resolution 181, passed on november 29 1947.
Instead, Israel expanded the area allocated by the UN by force to include 78 per cent of Palestine, even though at the time Jews made up only about a third of the population of Palestine as a whole and owned a mere 6 per cent of the land. To ensure 'Jewish predominance', nearly all the Arabs - around 750,000 - were expelled from it into the rest of Palestine and the surrounding Arab states, where they and their descendants live today. Over 500 Arab villages were razed to the ground so that those expelled had no homes to return to.
The Zionist project did not stop there. In June 1967, Israel occupied the remaining 22 per cent of Palestine (the west Bank, including east Jerusalem, and Gaza) and proceeded to colonise this newly occupied Palestinian territory with its own citizens.
As if the permanent annexation of these settlement blocs to Israel isn't enough, Prime Minister netanyahu is reportedly insisting that Israel should also be allowed to annex a swath of land in the Jordan valley. A territorial compromise? I think not.
Newtownabbey, Co Antrim
Tom Kelly's Israeli argument comes from a tattered script
TOM Kelly in his ill-informed opinion piece (February 24) equates an awareness and a sympathy for the victims of the Holocaust (which hopefully we all share) with support for the apartheid Israeli state. That Israel is guilty of the latter is well founded and it has been made by some of the world's most prominent jurists. This was also the finding of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. Established UN Human Rights bodies like the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination have found Israel to be formally guilty of numerous breaches of international law and of racial discrimination. Israel is increasingly being recognised by world opinion as in breach of the UN convention on the suppression and punishment of the crime of apartheid, a position also stated by figures like Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and ex-US president Jimmy Carter.
It is a position also held by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
It is also well known, though perhaps not by Tom Kelly, that Israel is in breach of more UN resolutions than any other state and that it has also been found to be formally guilty of breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention by the International Criminal Court, in its advisory judgement of July 2004.
To somehow associate the recognition that Israel is a racist and apartheid state and the taking of action to oppose such injustices with a lack of sympathy for the pogroms against the Jewish people and with the Holocaust is both repugnant and hypocritical. These are not mutually exclusive positions, an irony that was perhaps lost on Tom Kelly when he wrote his piece which was itself an attempt to criticise mutually exclusive thinking. It is more than ironic though. It is a veiled attempt to portray those of us who support a BDS position (boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel) as somehow anti-Semitic. The Irish trade union movement, in its commitment to BDS, does so as part of its opposition to all forms of oppression and of social injustice. When such injustice is encouraged by the state and indeed is written into the laws of the state, as is the case with Israel's discriminatory legislation, then it becomes much more of an imperative to take action.
The arguments of Tom Kelly come from a tattered script and it was most effectively and eloquently refuted a long time ago by Bertrand Russell: 'How much longer is the world willing to endure this spectacle of wanton cruelty? We are frequently told that we must sympathise with Israel because of the suffering of the Jews in Europe at the hands of the Nazis.
I see in this suggestion no reason to perpetuate any suffering. What Israel is doing today cannot be condoned...'
Trade Union Friends of Palestine, Belfast
Ill-informed article chooses to ignore reality of the situation
TOM Kelly's column (February 24) may have been his attempt at restoring some 'balance' in the Palestinian/Israeli debate but what he produced was a simplistic and ill-informed piece which rehashed many of the arguments used by those who support the Israeli government's brutal and illegal treatment of Palestinians.
In trying to take a 'nuanced' stand on the middle East mr Kelly says it is possible to be pro-Israel and pro-Palestine and he's right if you believe that both sides should have
equal rights with their territorial integrity guaranteed but if he means that there is an equivalency between the suffering and illegality then he is dead wrong.
Saying that 'being an Israeli cannot be easy' is an incredible statement in the context of what is happening on the ground in the occupied territories - the aggressor becoming the victim - and suggests that he is either unaware of what's happening in Palestine or chooses to ignore the reality of the situation.
Israelis are not being colonised, besieged, their lands seized, homes destroyed and suffering daily humiliation. Moreover, a few statistics from Israeli human rights body Btselem can also illustrate the reality. During the last invasion of Gaza 1,398 Palestinians were killed against nine Israelis and since then (from 2009) 558 Palestinians have been killed against 37 Israelis. Mr Kelly uses the term Israeli and Jew interchangeably as if they are one and same in this debate and has attempted to conflate the murder of six million Jews by Europeans and general anti-Semitism, which of course does exist, to bolster the case for Israel. Those who died in the Holocaust did not do so that Israel could destroy the lives of Palestinians and not all Jews support the Israeli treatment of Palestinians, so are they anti-Semitic? mr Kelly will perhaps deny he is taking sides but his column suggests otherwise. Finally, I am old enough to remember the arguments made against the boycott of apartheid South Africa. These same arguments are being deployed today in relation to Israel.
TAKING PRINCIPLED STAND
* Last week, the day after Amnesty International released its report 'Trigger-happy: Israel's use of excessive force in the West Bank', another Palestinian, Moataz Washaha (25), was killed by the Israeli army.
The damning report outlines the Israeli military's "callous disregard for human life by killing dozens of Palestinian civilians, including children", during the last three years in the occupied West Bank and calls on the EU and the US to suspend arms and munitions transfers to Israel while it continues to act with impunity.
It is time the Government took a principled stand in heeding the call from Amnesty International, and called for Israel's special trading relations with the EU to be suspended until such time as it upholds international law.
DOORADOYLE, CO LIMERICK
Obama tells Israel: make peace or face fallout alone
President Barack Obama has urged Benjamin Netan- yahu to seize the fading chance for peace with the Palestinians, warning that the US may not be able to shield Israel from the "international fallout" if no deal was reached.
Breaking a months-long silence on the US-brokered peace talks, Mr Obama yesterday made clear that he believed it was up to Israel to make the next move and break the stalemate.
The president borrowed an ancient Jewish proverb as he challenged Mr Netanyahu to take on the historic risks and opportunities of a deal: "If not now, when? And if not you, Mr Prime Minister, then who?" Speaking before the two leaders met at the White House, Mr Netanyahu insisted that it was the Palestinians, not him, who were preventing a deal from being reached.
"The tango in the Middle East needs at least three," he said as he landed in Washington.
"For years there have been two – Israel and the US. Now it needs to be seen if the Palestinians are also present."
In an interview with Bloomberg, Mr Obama said he believed that a peace agreement could still be reached but that "it gets harder by the day".
He said the growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the surging Palestinian population living within Israel, or under Israeli occupation, would eventually undercut chances for an agreement.
The US has traditionally used its power at the UN, including its Security Council veto, to protect Israel, but Mr Obama hinted that such a position could become unsustainable in the face of global pressure.
"If Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguous sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited," he said.
President Obama also said that he believed Mr Netanyahu had "the credibility" and political strength to make a deal while still holding together his fractious coalition government. "For him to seize this moment is perhaps the greatest gift he could give to future generations of Israelis," Mr Obama said.
Mr Netanyahu has forcefully denounced the White House's willingness to negotiate with Iran, calling the interim nuclear agreement signed in Geneva last year "a historic mistake".
Mr Obama defended the talks, insisting that Iran was "not North Korea" and would respond rationally to pressures and incentives from the negotiating bloc of the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
Recognise Jewish state, Abbas urged
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to recognise Israel as a Jewish state to prove that he is truly prepared to end the conflict between the two sides.
Speaking in Washington DC, Mr Netanyahu issued a message to Abbas that he needs to recognise the Jewish state with "no excuses, no delays".
Mr Netanyahu said he hopes a peace deal can be reached, but that if one is achieved, it will almost certainly come under attack by Hezbollah, Hamas, al Qaida and other militant groups.
He says that while international peacekeepers can help ensure Israel's security going forward - only the Israeli army can defend its homeland.
Mr Netanyahu also reiterated his disbelief about Iran's claim that it is not trying to develop a nuclear weapon.
He said Iran must be prevented from having nuclear weapons as well as the capacity to make them.
Mr Netanyahu told a pro-Israeli conference today that if Iran's nuclear programme is truly peaceful then Tehran should dismantle its heavy water reactor, which the Israeli leader says is not needed in a peaceful programme.
He added that Iran also must get rid of its centrifuges, stockpiles of enriched uranium and fully divulge the military aspects of its programme.
The Israeli premier called for more, not less pressure on Tehran - an apparent reference to the recent easing of international sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy.
Israel fears the international community will concede too much to Iran to reach an end to the standoff.
Gaza Strip: A man kisses the body of
Mousab Al-Zaani during his funeral in
Beit Hanoun. An Israeli air strike on
Monday killed two Palestinians, one of
them Al-Zaanin, who Israel’s military
said had been preparing to launch a
rocket across the border.