By Iqbal Jassat
(source: Palestine Chronicle / Voice of the Capefm Online)
Noam Chomsky calls it one of the most humiliating moments in US diplomatic history. Sam Bahour refers to it as a dead end. Both are referring to President Obama’s pathetic capitulation to Israel on the issue of settlement freeze. Indeed, watching Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on TV broadcasts explaining why America has backed off from these demands, revealed beyond any doubt that the US is extremely weak with questionable motives and thus cannot be trusted as a fair and impartial mediator.
Following this latest failure by the Obama administration to impose its considerable weight, it has become easier for many more people to accept Bahour’s thesis that the Israeli agenda has become a domestic US issue and is integrally linked to US elections, US foreign policy, aid and the US military-industrial complex.
The stark nakedness of the US position and the embarrassment it ought to cause senior public figures within the White House seems to be of zero consequence. That the Netanyahu regime spurned Obama’s lavish array of ‘gifts’ that included $3 billion for fighter jets, is sufficient evidence of how Obama, like his predecessors, is totally straitjacketed within the Zionist lobby.
While the far-right Israeli government continues to float frightening scenarios of “existential threat” to its survival as a “besieged Jewish state”, Chomsky points to a very different picture. He says that Israeli and US high-tech civilian industries are closely integrated. US arms manufacturers are subsidized not only to develop and produce advanced equipment for Israel, a state “that is virtually part of the US military-intelligence establishment” but also to provide second-rate military equipment to the Gulf states – currently a precedent-breaking $60 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi deal also allows for recycling petrodollars to an ailing US economy.
It’s due to this web of intrigue – mostly concealed from public scrutiny, that Israel is able to manipulate US politics and public opinion to its advantage. It explains too why Washington – whether Republican or Democrat – pledges to veto any UN Security Council action that might annoy Israel’s leaders and to drop any call for further extension of a settlement freeze.
With Obama’s capitulation it is evident that Israel will intensify its expansion of criminal actions in the occupied territories is Chomsky’s view. He also alludes to the illegality of these acts and that these being criminal have not been in doubt since late 1967 when Israel’s leading legal authority, international jurist Theodor Meron, advised the government that its plans to initiate settlements in the occupied territories violated the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The irony is that the Convention, a core principle of international humanitarian law, was established in 1949 to criminalize the horrors of the Nazi regime! No wonder then that many critics of Israeli policies have attacked it as a neo-Nazi regime. When it comes to international laws and treaties, it is clear that Obama has never ever invoked any in relation to Israel. Phyllis Bennis commented on this glaring deficiency a year ago when she expressed her dismay with Obama’s General Assembly speech calling on the international community to mobilize behind the US-led “peace process”.
“In all his discussions of the peace talks and their importance, and even in his description of the arguments of ‘the cynics’, Obama never acknowledged the most important reason why this round of talks will almost certainly fail to bring about a just, comprehensive and lasting peace: because they are not based on international law and the UN Charter and resolutions.
The president said that the cynics’ view is that Israelis and Palestinians don’t trust each other, that both parties are divided internally, that ‘the gaps between the parties are too great.’ But he never acknowledged that ‘the parties’ do not come to the table as equals, that this is not a border dispute between Peru and Ecuador. These are talks between an Occupying Power, which happens to be the 23rd wealthiest country in the world and by far the strongest military and nuclear power in the region, backed by the strongest and most powerful country on the globe, facing an impoversihed and dispossessed occupied population.
When talks are based on accepting that inequality as a given, when the arbiter of the talks is the main backer of the stronger party, and when international law is ignored, the talks cannot succeed”. The current capitulation signals to Palestinians and the wider world that America’s monopoly and strangulation of the so-called “peace process” was and is no more than a charade!
Iqbal Jassat is the chairman of the Pretoria-based advocacy group, the Media Review Network.
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