Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Can you believe it? (Er, no.)

This sounds like good news. So why has it not received much press attention outside Israel (except from Uncle Jimmy, who simply parrots the Israeli government line on every issue anyway)?

Well, let's read some other reports on the Blair-Netanyahu talks. Here's Tony Blair himself, talking to Time magazine.

Blair said that Netanyahu's plan calls for the question of the borders of the Palestinian state and the fate of Jewish settlements and Jerusalem to be deferred to the final stage. The first step would concentrate on the consolidation of Palestinian institutions, strengthening security forces and reconstruction of the economy in the territories.

Hmm. So the principal obstacles to peace in the region - Israel's illegal occupation of the West bank, its illegal settling of its population in conquered territory, and its illegal annexation of East Jerusalem - these are to be "deferred" until such time as Netanyahu is ready. And when will that be, one wonders? Forty-three years on from Israel's opportunistic land grab, one wonders just how much longer the world will give Israel to start behaving like a real country and obey the same laws that other real countries are obliged to observe.

Of course Tony Blair, whose remit covers economic reconstruction, would welcome having that and similar infrastructure matters in the first stage: it increases his own importance in the whole affair. That it kicks into touch all the issues that are actually holding back peace seems to have escaped his attention.

Netanyahu reportedly is not opposed to the Palestinian Authority assuming attributes of statehood at this stage.

And why should he be? The unelected Palestinian Authority, chosen and imposed on the people of the West Bank by the USA and Israel: yes, let them have the "attributes of statehood". Yet despite Blair's sensible insistence (in a Newsnight interview linked by Jimmy) that any Palestinian state had to include Gaza as well as the West Bank, and that "any strategy that’s based on putting Gaza to one side is not going to work" there seems to be no matching suggestion that Hamas, the elected government of the whole of Palestine, should have any such attributes. It is not necessary to like Hamas's policies to concede that it has a right to govern. I loathe Netanyahu and Likud and everything for which they stand: but I do not attempt to pretend that they are not the elected PM and government (or senior coalition partner therein) of Israel. Yet Blair happily acquiesces in Netanyahu's sidelining of Palestine's elected government until... well, until he's good and ready.

Another thing that has apparently escaped Tony Blair's attention is the timing of this "good news" story, impeccably planned to distract the press from the announcement of the cover-up, sorry the enquiry, into the attack on the aid flotilla. This is the entirely predictable Israeli internal affair, conducted by a retired israeli Supreme Court judge, a retired army officer (mmm, sounding impartial already) and a professor of international law (the kind of law which Israel refuses to recognise, so presumably despite being 93 tears of age he won't ever have had to do much work so should be nice and fresh for the cover-up enquiry. The tribunal will feature two international observers, one of them David Trimble who will be familiar to British readers. Yet they will have no input into the final verdict; they may not even be allowed to see all the evidence (a funny kind of observer, then). And of course the soldiers who took part in the attack which left nine dead and many more injured - they are to be exempt from appearing at the enquiry at all. So what is this farce intended to achieve other than a glorification of Israel's "moral" armed forces? I could write its conclusions now, though as the IDF has undoubtedly already done so what would be the point? Blair is so far up Netanyahu's backside that he can't even see that he has been used as a distraction from this shameful farrago, as a way of giving some legitimacy to the Israeli government's Gaza policy.

As an aside, so far as I can tell from extensive scanning of the Israeli and foreign online press, there may still be passengers on the Mavi Marmara unaccounted for, neither released nor dead. if the sums do add up it is strange that the Israelis are allowing the uncertainty to continue when they could simply publish the passenger lists and tick off all the members. Perhaps the enquiry will establish the fate of all the passengers, though only of course if it shows the IDF in a good light. If any missing people turn out to have been shot in the back of the head and dumped overboard, or if they are are presently being tortured in a secret prison somewhere, we will undoubtedly never find out about it from the cover-up enquiry.

It would be lovely to believe that Netanhyahu was sincere in wanting to progress towards peace, as I am sure Tony Blair is. Yet at the same time that he was gulling Blair with his talk of wanting to ease the privations of the Gazan people by allowing them, perhaps, to receive newspapers, pens and paper, and by increasing the amount of food Israel allows them to receive to maybe half of what they require - at the same time his soldiers were firing live ammunition to harass unarmed women attempting to harvest their crops. And this wasn't an isolated incident but part of a co-ordinated series of attacks.

Perhaps if the IDF were as valiant in their dealings with actual armed opponents as they are in shooting at Gazan women and Turkish peace protestors, there would be fewer tales of wicked terrorist attacks on innocent Israelis. But then, the tales of woe are the whole point: if the IDF defeated the "terrorists" the whole supposed we-have-the-right-to-defend-ourselves justification for the occupation would evaporate.

Anyway, it would seem that outside the compliant Israeli press (and camp followers like Uncle Jimmy) nobody gives any more significance to Netanyahu's manipulation of Blair than I do.


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