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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he told U.S. President Barack Obama that Israel is willing to immediately open peace talks with Syria and the Palestinians.
But Mr. Netanyahu says he also made it clear to Mr. Obama that any peace deal must address Israel's security needs.
The Israeli prime minister frustrated President Clinton's peace efforts; the new president must do better.
By Mustafa Barghouthi, LA Times
Icannot recall a more important meeting between an American president and an Israeli prime minister than today's meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Will the Obama administration have the courage to challenge Netanyahu, or will all the talk of change dissolve in the face of a concerted one-two punch from Netanyahu and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee?
I am increasingly convinced that if Obama fails to speak out now, it will doom the two-state solution forever. Further fiddling in Washington -- after eight years of it -- will consign Jerusalem, the West Bank and the two-state solution to an Israeli expansionism that will overwhelm the ability of cartographers to concoct a viable Palestinian state.
Two cheers for President Obama.
President Obama, at the press conference yesterday with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu:
Now, Israel is going to have to take some difficult steps as well, and I shared with the Prime Minister the fact that under the roadmap and under Annapolis that there's a clear understanding that we have to make progress on settlements. Settlements have to be stopped in order for us to move forward.
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine
By Stephen Lendman
After two years of "underground" work, it was launched with a "successful press conference" and announcement that:
"The Russell Tribunal on Palestine seeks to reaffirm the primacy of international law as the (way to settle) the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Its work will focus on "the enunciation of law by authoritative bodies. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), in its opinion on the (Separation Wall in Occupied Palestine, addressed relevant) "International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, as well as dozens of international resolutions concerning Palestine."
This Tribunal will "address the failure of application of law even though it has been so clearly identified." It begins where the ICJ "stopped: highlighting the responsibilities arising from the enunciation of law, including those of the international community, which cannot continue to shirk its obligations."
Israel yields to UN and Lebanese demands that it hand over data on the cluster bomb operations it conducted in Lebanon in 2006.
The United Nations peacekeeping forces in Lebanon, known as the UNIFIL, revealed Tuesday that Israel has handed over technical strike data and maps that detail its use of cluster munitions in its most recent war on Lebanon.
Israeli warplanes had dropped most of the cluster bombs in the last 72 hours of the 33-day war when Tel Aviv had lost all hopes of winning the war and the Hezbollah movement rendered Israel unable to take control of the country.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general says Israel would be making a 'completely insane' move, should it stage a war on Iran.
Head of the UN nuclear watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei advised officials in Tel Aviv to exercise restraint and allow the diplomatic approach of the Obama White House on the Iranian nuclear issue to proceed.
ElBaradei's comments, made in an interview with Der Spiegel released on Saturday, came as Israel is increasingly preparing the ground for a military strike on the Islamic Republic.
Meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Obama has the chance to make good on real change in U.S. policy in the Middle East.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is coming to Washington on May 18, for his first official visit with President Obama. If President Obama is serious about achieving a two-state solution in his first term, and therefore serious about bringing real pressure to bear on Israel, there will be no better time to do so. *
Obama, who has strongly supported the idea of a two-state solution since his campaign, has yet to articulate whether or not he is actually prepared to spend some of his massive political capital to exert serious pressure on Israel towards that end – for example by conditioning (even some) of the currently committed $30 billion in U.S. military aid to Israel, on a complete Israeli settlement freeze in the West Bank. If he means it, this could be the moment. Netanyahu’s campaign rejection of the two-state solution, his rejection of continuing the current Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy and instead limiting negotiations to economic issues, and his extreme racist Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman all serve to make a serious U.S. effort towards Israeli accountability not only timely, but less politically costly than ever.
Host: Basima Farhat
Anna Baltzer is a 28-year-old Jewish American Columbia graduate, Fulbright scholar, and the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. She is a three-time volunteer with the International Women’s Peace Service, where she documented human rights abuses in the West Bank and supported the nonviolent movement against the Occupation. She has spent most of the past few years in Palestine or on tour with her book, Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories. Anna Baltzer presents: LIFE IN OCCUPIED PALESTINE: EYEWITNESS STORIES & PHOTOS
Anna Baltzer is touring the United States with a presentation and book describing her experiences documenting human rights abuses in Palestine and supporting nonviolent resistance to the Occupation.
Providing photographic documentation and critical information often misrepresented or ignored in the Western media, Baltzer’s presentation covers checkpoints, settlements, demonstrations, Israeli activism, the 1948 war & refugees, censorship, the Separation Wall, and more.
For further information about Baltzer’s work and tour, please visit
Since Israel's closure of the Gaza Strip in 2007, only severely sick Palestinians have been allowed to seek medical attention elsewhere provided they receive authorisation and security clearances from the Israeli authorities.
However, getting the special permit that allows patients to leave Gaza for medical treatment is a bureaucratic hassle and, many Gazans say, comes with strings attached.
It’s Springtime for AIPAC! The mega-Israel Lobby convenes annually in Washington, D.C. at the convention center. AIPAC sucks out over $3 billion a year from our fast fading treasury for Israel with little or no dissent from the fakers in the U.S. Congress. (See links in "Read more" below).
In pursuit of the case of Israeli war crimes, the United Nations moves to report to the Security Council that UN facilities in Gaza had been targeted willfully.
After the United Nations Works and Relief Agency (UNRWA) compound became the target of GPS-guided Israeli mortars on January 15, the UN set up a commission to bring Israeli human rights violations in Gaza out into the open.
The commission -- led by the former British secretary-general of human rights group Amnesty International, Ian Martin -- assembled a report on Israeli actions in Gaza for submission to the Security Council.
"Israel deliberately fired at UN institutions even though it knew it was forbidden", read the report.
The Israel lobby has been running into a few problems lately, but it’s nothing they don’t think they can handle: a charge of treason, a strong suspicion of obstructing justice, and a gathering storm of criticism from a few dissident intellectuals and policy types. Nothing to get too exercised about. Having felled Charles "Chas" Freeman, smitten Gen. Zinni, and sidelined those in the Obama administration who question the nature and utility of America’s "special relationship" with Israel, the Lobby’s flagship organization, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), is primed to hold their national conference in Washington next week, with Jane "This Conversation Doesn’t Exist" Harman slated to address the gathering.
The focus of the conference, and the legislative centerpiece of the event, will be passage of the Iran Diplomatic Enhancement Act, which would ban US companies from providing Iran with refined petroleum products, and seeks to punish European companies — particularly the Swiss, who come in for two specific mentions in the text of the bill — for doing so.
To begin with, the name affixed to this piece of legislative legerdemain is a prime example of congressional doublethink: will it really enhance diplomatic relations with Iran to impose draconian sanctions, the equivalent of an economic chokehold and a prelude to a military blockade? Hardly, and that is very far from its clear intent.
This bill is all about provoking the Iranians, effectively sabotaging efforts to engage in a mutual dialogue with Tehran. Why the egregious packaging? Well, it seems the American people are sick and tired of war, and preparations for war, and so it is far less incriminating if a member of Congress can say he (or she) voted for "the Iran Diplomatic Enhancement Act" than it is to admit they supported isolating Iran economically.
Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to be the third pontiff to visit the Holy Land from 8-15 May, following in the footsteps of Paul VI in 1964 and John Paul II in 2000, on a mission officially described as a “pilgrimage” and one of “peace and reconciliation.”
However, the Pope will be stepping into “a diplomatic minefield,” where the Catholic highest spiritual authority will be unmercifully scrutinized by the protagonists of the one hundred year old Arab-Israeli conflict for the Holy Father’s every step, word and handshake, which would force him into the defensive in an impossible balancing act that will rule out any hope his presence is supposed to inspire, especially among the down-trodden Arabs of Palestine, whether those who are “Israelis” living as second class citizens since 1948 or those Palestinians living under the Israeli military occupation since 1967.
Even the pontiff’s own Catholic diminishing flock in the Holy Land seems in controversy over the timing and the itinerary of his pilgrimage. "We will ask him why he came, what he intends on saying … and why he isn't coming to Gaza," Father Manuel Mussalam, the pastor of the only Catholic church of about 300 believers in Gaza, out of 3000 Christians in the Israeli besieged Mediterranean strip, was quoted by AFP as asking. "We'll tell him that this is not the right moment to come and visit the holy places, while Jerusalem is occupied," Mussalam added.
In a small anonymous home in the West Bank, a Palestinian academic has set up a project which is almost unheard of in the Occupied Territories.
Hassan Musa is the curator of a museum exhibition dedicated to the Jewish Holocaust in Europe.
The cracked white walls of this makeshift museum in the village of Ni'lin are covered from floor to ceiling with images of people forced out of their homes, tortured, imprisoned, starved and murdered.
In addition to the pictures depicting the Nazi brutality against Jews in Europe, there are also images of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) following the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and the violence in Palestine since.
On one wall, there is a picture of a scared Jewish boy holding up his hands as Nazi soldiers look on; the caption reads: "Make your final account with Hitler and the Nazi Germans, not with the Palestinians."
An American academic is to be prosecuted for drawing parallels between the plight of Gazans and that of the Jews who suffered under Nazi rule.
Jewish Sociology and Global Studies Professor William Robinson of the University of Santa Barbara in California sent the electronic post entitled 'Parallel photos of Nazis and Israelis' to 80 students in his class, Ynet reported on Thursday.
There have been hints in the press that the Obama Administration has been considering conditioning U.S. aid to Israel on a real freeze of Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank. There's a conventional wisdom that suggests that doing this would touch a "third rail of politics." But the conventional wisdom might not have been accurate; if it once was accurate, it might not be accurate any more.
WorldPublicOpinion.org has just released a poll showing that three-quarters of Americans oppose Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank. This number is up 23 points from 2002.
Even among respondents who say they sympathize with Israel more than the Palestinians, 64% say Israel should not build settlements in the West Bank.
Obama's Decision Shields Bush Administration Officials From Prosecution
By Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
Commenting on the NYTimes article, "U.S. to Drop Spy Case Against Pro-Israel Lobbyists," Michael Munk wrote:
There was more to this story.
The indictment alleged that in early 2002 David Satterfield, (former deputy chief of the United States Mission in Baghdad and lead US negotiator on the phoney US-Iraq security treaty that Bush - and now Obama - hope would legitimate permanent US bases in Iraq) discussed secret national security matters in two meetings with the two AIPAC lobbyists.
The meetings, on January 18, 2002, and March 12, 2002, were confirmed by classified documents. The Times reported on August 18, 2005 that "Their meetings are listed as overt acts in a conspiracy to illegally communicate national defense secrets to a foreign government. After Mr. Rosen's first meeting with USGO-2 [Satterfield] on Jan. 18, 2002, the indictment said, a memorandum containing the information that Mr. Rosen had obtained was sent to other AIPAC employees.
The indictment did not indicate who wrote the memorandum, but said that it "contained classified information provided by [Satterfield]."The two men met again on March 12, the indictment said. At their second meeting, they talked about Al Qaeda, the indictment said, without saying what aspect of the terror network was discussed. On March 14, Mr. Rosen disclosed to an unidentified foreign official, [an Israeli diplomat] "FO-2," the information that he had heard from USGO-2, the indictment said.
Obama's decision protects Bush's secretary of state and national secuirty advisor from testifying in the case.
U.S. to Drop Spy Case Against Pro-Israel Lobbyists
By Neil A. Lewis and David Johnston | NY Times
A case that began four years ago with the tantalizing and volatile premise that officials of a major pro-Israel lobbying organization were illegally trafficking in sensitive national security information collapsed on Friday as prosecutors asked that all charges be withdrawn.
Stand up for Peace in the Middle East and Against the Pro-War Policies of AIPAC!
On May 3-5, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) will hold its annual convention in Washington DC to rally its supporters to
push the U.S. government to support the Israeli government without conditions. AIPAC is advocating an aggressive approach to Iran;
supporting Israel's continuing to siege on Gaza and its refusal to cooperate with a UN investigation into violations of international law;
and backing the Israeli government’s refusal to engage in substantive peace negotiations with the elected Palestinian leaders.
It's time to expose AIPAC’s pro-war stance and take a stand in favor of human rights and international law. Join CODEPINK and other groups in DC May 2-5 in a variety of activities planned throughout the convention. E-mail for more information.
Schedule of Events:
Like a modern-day Cain, Mordechai Vanunu walks the streets of East Jerusalem in search of a place to spend the night. He has no permanent address, and because of a cash shortage he moves from one cheap hostel to the next. He is forbidden to talk with foreigners. With Israelis he does not wish to speak. The Arabs in East Jerusalem do not try to befriend him, fearing trouble. He is a difficult and complicated man. His belief in his principles is stern and dogmatic, but is also cause for bewilderment. Even his family and most of his few supporters abroad have cut off contact.
His financial situation as well as his physical and mental health is deteriorating. But Israel, to paraphrase Gene Pitney, is "a state without mercy." The security authorities and the courts, which back them almost automatically, are time and again after him. This is a vindictive, closed system that intends to apply the law as severely as possible. This week Home Front Command, one of the authorities dealing with Vanunu's case, called in his attorneys Avigdor Feldman and Michael Sfard to tell them that the warrants restricting Vanunu's freedom of movement and speech will remain unchanged. A similar announcement will be made by the Interior Ministry. Moreover, Vanunu still faces a four-month prison term for violating the restrictions - because he tried to enter Bethlehem on Christmas and spoke with foreign reporters. He has appealed to the Supreme Court.
Thus Vanunu, who was released from prison in 2004, entered his sixth year as a "Prisoner of Zion." During that time we have had three prime ministers, four justice ministers and three defense ministers; Israel exchanged prisoners with Hezbollah; spies were released from prison and murderers' sentences were shortened. But the state is adamant that Vanunu be punished repeatedly for his original sin.
The authorities consider him a traitor, even though he did not betray secrets to enemy countries, a terrorist organization or foreign security organizations. He exposed Israel's nuclear secrets to the British Sunday Times. Even if we accept the state's stance that this makes him a spy and a traitor, he was neither the worst nor the most dangerous. There have been and there are worse traitors than Vanunu.
Written by Melvin A. Goodman | The Public Record
Under the stewardship of Fred Hiatt, the editorial and op-ed pages of the Washington Post have gradually moved to the right. Post editorials and op-eds have defended the decision to go to war in Iraq; opposed any improvement in bilateral relations with Russia; refused to acknowledge Israel’s misuse of military power in the Middle East; and lobbied against the need for investigation of the detention and interrogation programs of the Bush administration.
Israeli Use of Palestinians As Human Shields
By Stephen Lendman
The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights is a Gaza-based Palestinian NGO mandated "to promote, protect and prevent violations of human rights in general, and economic, social and cultural rights in particular, to provide effective aid to those victims of such violations, and to enhance the quality of life of the community in (Gaza's) marginalized sectors."
It monitors and documents violations, provides legal aid and advocacy, and helps Gazans on "fundamental issues such as basic human rights, democracy, and international humanitarian" matters. It also produces reports and publications on its work.
Recognizing the Jewish State of Israel
What are the consequences of Israel’s newest demand for recognition on the Palestinian people and prospects for peace?
By Abu Yusef from occupied Palestine | Palestine Monitor | 19 April 2009
Here in Palestine, we have been utterly confused as to why Israel has publicly backtracked from the Annapolis Peace Process over the last weeks, in the midst of overt US pressure to continue the broken negotiations.
We understand that parties like Shas, Likud, Israel Beitenu and others in the coalition do not want to achieve any meaningful peace, and that in fact they want only to extend the Israel’s civilian and military reach into the occupied Palestinian Territories…so why would they be adverse to what had taken place since Annapolis? If anything they should be the ones eagerly promoting a return to the process, while the Palestinians should be running for the hills.
After all, since Annapolis:
- Not one of the over 6 million Palestinian refugees from abroad has been granted the right of return to either Israel or the occupied Palestinian Territories.
- Gaza, while disengaged from by Israel in the civilian sense, remains occupied and controlled by Israel in every other way imaginable.
- The number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails has increased to over 11,000.
- The Judaization of East Jerusalem has continued full bore with the destruction and seizure of hundreds of Palestinian homes.
- The illegal annexation Wall has continued to grow in the occupied Palestinian Territories despite its condemnation in international and Israeli courts.
- The settlement enterprise not only continued throughout 2008, it increased dramatically. Tenders for new construction increased by 550% (!), and a whole 55% of these were designated for construction even beyond the illegal annexation Wall.
- The system of checkpoints and movement restrictions, by which Palestine is turned in to a series of isolated cantons, have increased dramatically throughout 2008, and are set to increase ever more according to the promises of Israel’s Avigdor Liebermann.
JERUSALEM (AFP) – Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire on Tuesday accused Israel of "ethnic cleansing" policies in annexed east Jerusalem, where the municipality plans to tear down almost 90 Arab homes.
"I believe the Israeli government is carrying out a policy of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians here in east Jerusalem," said Maguire, who won the 1976 Nobel prize for her efforts at reaching a peaceful solution to the violence in Northern Ireland.
"I believe the Israeli government policies are against international law, against human rights, against the dignity of the Palestinian people," she said at a news conference.
It was held in a protest tent erected by residents of east Jerusalem's Silwan neighbourhood where 88 Arab homes are under demolition orders.
Harman's Wiretap Woes and the AIPAC Clique
By Marcy Winograd
How ironic that I made my decision to challenge Jane Harman in 2006 after watching her Meet the Press interview in which she lambasted the New York Times for breaking the story about the Bush administration's massive illegal wiretapping. "Oh my God," I told my husband, who was doing Sunday sit-ups in front of the television set, "this woman needs to be challenged -- on the wiretaps, on the war, and on her collusion with the Bush mob."
By the time I poured my coffee and cranked up my cell phone, I was off and running, campaigning as an insurgent Democratic Party peace candidate in the 36th congressional district.
The Aftermath of the War on Gaza and Israeli Elections: Problems and Prospects Facing Palestinian/Israeli Peace
Executive Summary | Link to complete paper
The War on Gaza ‐ The 22‐day war on Gaza did not move the conflict closer to resolution. After the war the imbalance of threats remains the same. HAMAS was able to launch rockets on the last day of the war and Israel maintains the ability to prevent food and fuel from entering the strip and can bombard it at will. The end result will undoubtedly have to be a negotiated agreement based on the security needs of both sides and for this to work it must be evenhandedly mediated and verified by third parties.
West Bank Situation ‐ As recently as this month the State of Israel announced plans for the major expansion of settlements in the West Bank. The establishment and expansion of settlements, still illegal under international law, continues unabated, striking at the very heart of Palestinians distrust of the State of Israel. Throughout the peace process settlements have continued to be built or expanded and have created the perception among Palestinians that Israel is only interested in talking about a two‐state solution without genuinely being willing to craft the necessary policies to make it a reality.. Land confiscation and home demolition continues in sensitive areas like East Jerusalem while a separation wall and checkpoints continue to make freedom of movement nearly impossible.
Palestinian Leadership Issues ‐ Since the death of Yasser Arafat divisions in Palestinian politics have continued to grow. Erupting in bloody conflict in the summer of 2007, the growing dispute between HAMAS and FATEH has left the internationally recognized Palestinian leadership in a week and illegitimate position. Recently conducted public opinion polling shows that the war on Gaza seems to have exacerbated the Palestinian crisis of legitimacy and calls into question the ability of President Mahmoud Abass to govern or negotiate a lasting peace. Many elected representatives in the Palestinian Legislative Council continue to be held by Israel as political prisoners.
Israel Leadership Issues ‐ The recent elections in Israel, which have lead to a new government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have brought the right wing of the Israeli political spectrum to power. Netanyahu’s previous record as Prime Minister, the platform positions of the empowered right wing parties, and statements of party officials during the campaign period indicate that the policies of the next Israeli government is not supportive of the two state solution within the framework of pertinent UN resolutions. The US government should ensure that the upcoming Israeli government publically declares its support for such a solution and that the latter takes tangible steps to enact it.
United Nations officials on Monday tried to save an anti-racism summit in Geneva after some delegates walked out in response to a speech by Mahmoud Ahmadi-nejad, the Iranian president, describing Zionist rule in Israel as racist.
”Following World War II they resorted to military aggressions to make an entire nation homeless under the pretext of Jewish suffering,” Mr Ahmadinejad told the conference, speaking through a translator.
Peter Gooderham, British ambassador, condemned the Iranian leader’s ”offensive and inflammatory comments” that prompted the temporary walk-out. Delegates said they would return after he had finished speaking.