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Re: [Activist_List] Israel/Hamas hollow victory-Ceasefire declared, but conditions that led to escalation remain

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  • Elvira Williams
    ________________________________ From: Cort Greene To: Activist-List Group Sent: Thursday, November 22,
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 22, 2012
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      From: Cort Greene <cort.greene@...>
      To: Activist-List Group <Activist_List@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Thursday, November 22, 2012 9:50 AM
      Subject: [Activist_List] Israel/Hamas hollow victory-Ceasefire declared, but conditions that led to escalation remain

      Soldiers' protest against Netanyahu, ceasefire goes viral

      This pic went viral this morning (Thursday) in Israeli social media networks. The soldiers in the photo are forming the words, in Hebrew, “Bibi is a loser.”
      ‘Bibi loser’ protest by IDF soldiers, now making its rounds through Israeli social media networks

      From Lebanon
      We condemn them all

      When did Hamas become secular?



      By Noam Sheizaf

       |Published November 21, 2012

      Ceasefire declared, but conditions that led to escalation remain

      As attacks from both sides come to a halt, Hamas claims victory while Prime Minister Netanyahu faces criticism at home. The Palestinian Authority seems more irrelevant than at any other point since the Oslo Accords.
      Palestinians in Gaza celebrate the ceasefire reached between Hamas and Israel, November 21, 2012 (Photo: Anne Paq/Activestills.org)
      An agreement over a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas went into effect at around 9:00 p.m. local time today (Wednesday). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a press conference at 8:30, after which the IDF was to stop all offensive activities. Shortly after 9:00, 12 more rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel, but since then, it seems Hamas is holding up its end of the agreement.
      In Israel, the right and even some centrist political figures (especially from Kadima) are criticizing Netanyahu for not ordering a ground invasion or at least continuing the airstrikes. However, it’s not yet clear to what extent the political map has changed because of the operation or the way it ended. At the same time, there are reports and pictures of celebrations in the Gaza Strip.
      It’s too early to estimate the long-term effect of operation Pillar of Defense. What seems like a victory at present could turn out to be a defeat, and vice versa.  The Second Lebanon War was considered a failure for Israel both locally and internationally, but it seems that it caused more trouble for the Hezbollah than anyone imagined at the time. Similarly, Israelis celebrated the success of Cast Lead in 2009, but none of the operation’s stated goals were met, and the devastating toll in Palestinian lives that assault took ended up haunting Israel. I have no doubt that the aftermath of Cast Lead and the Goldstone Report were in the minds of Israeli and international leaders in the last week, and could account for the diplomatic effort to end the fighting – an effort that began at a relatively early stage – and for the Israeli leadership’s reluctance to order a ground invasion.
      Since the Jabari assassination last Wednesday, more than 140 Palestinians were killed, including dozens of civilians and many children. Five Israelis – three civilians, one soldier, and one civilian working for the army – also lost their lives.
      Here are a few takeaways from the last week’s events:
      Hamas seems strengthened. The negotiations leading to the ceasefire agreement promoted its leaders to a new status in the international arena. The details of the ceasefire are not clear, but if – as some reports indicate – Israel and Egypt loosen the blockade on the Strip a bit more, Hamas could claim a meaningful achievement that benefits the population of the Gaza Strip, thus strengthening its claim as the leading party in the opposition to the occupation.
      Hamas will surely take pride in some other precedents it set, including firing rockets at Tel Aviv and the greater Jerusalem area, something that even Hezbollah in 2006 wasn’t able or willing to do. Despite the relatively minor damage those rockets caused, from an Israeli perspective, the mere fact that they were fired might be the biggest problem of all: just like rockets attacks on the larger cities of the south – Be’er Sheeva and Ashdod – became the new standard after Cast Lead, attacks on Tel Aviv are now the minimum threshold for every organization or regime who will seek to challenge Israel by force. It is a serious blow to Israeli deterrence, which was, as IDF officials repeated again and again in the last few days, the reason for this entire operation.
      Even those who still believed in the Palestinian Authority as a vessel for change to the status quo had to admit this week that it has become all but irrelevant. President Abbas’ UN bid, planned to take place at the end of the month, now looks like a sad farce. Who needs to travel to New York – to get what exactly? – when Hamas brought the secretary general here? Not to mention the fact that Israel and the United States ended up negotiating through Egypt with Hamas itself. Ramallah must have been a very lonely place in the last week.
      Yet a success for Hamas or even an Israeli failure does not necessarily translate into a long-term achievement for the Palestinians. This is not a zero-sum game of two parties. The real Palestinian interest lies in a unification of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and an agreed upon leadership that advances the Palestinian cause in a meaningful way. This goal is no closer than it was a couple of weeks ago.
      The only military success, from an Israeli perspective, was the introduction of the Iron Dome anti-missile system, which proved to be extremely effective in intercepting hundreds of short and medium-range rockets, something that was considered impossible just a few years ago. Yet even this fact needs to be seen in context: defense systems are a tool that can increase the operating space and the options that lie before decision-makers. They do so by reducing the death toll and thus public pressure on politicians to pursue offensive measures. In theory, Iron Dome should allow Israeli leaders to take diplomatic initiatives, because the security risks that they bring are reduced. But Israel is governed by politicians who believe that the Palestinian issue can be contained by the use of offensive military power, so the maneuvering room provided by a good defense system becomes almost irrelevant.
      On a positive side, one can imagine that without the Iron Dome, we would have already been well within the ground invasion, with all the terrible consequences on human lives it would have brought.
      Looking ahead, we should remember that the fundamentals of the situation in Gaza remain unchanged. The Strip is still under aerial and naval blockade, and movement of people is allowed only through the Rafah crossing to Egypt. Export is almost entirely forbidden, so the local economy cannot grow; the power grid is controlled by Israel, and frequent power failures result in sewage failures and a growing water crisis. Construction materials are not allowed in, so large-scale projects are impossible to carry out. The pressure on the civilian population is enormous, and its dependence on foreign aid is almost total.
      All this has almost nothing to do with Israeli national security, since military supplies arrive through the tunnels. Israeli strategies and actions are directed at the civilian population, perhaps in the hopes that the people will blame Hamas for their problems and remove the organization from power, something that the Israeli army hasn’t been able to do, though it tried twice.
      If anything was proven last week (and the couple of months leading up to it), it’s that “containment” and other code words for the status quo are not an option. It’s time to examine the entire Israeli and international policy regarding Gaza, and most importantly, to address the right of the Palestinian population to dignity, justice and hope. Only then can this ceasefire become more than an introduction to the next escalation.

      'Relax, the rocket fell on an Arab village'

      Israel, Gaza leaders claim military victory
      Published today (updated) 22/11/2012 15:10
      A Gaza police officer is hugged by a Palestinian man after they returned  to their destroyed police headquarters in Gaza City Nov.
      (Reuters/Suhaib Salem)
      GAZA CITY (M'’an) -- Leaders in Gaza and Israel on Thursday both claimed victory after an eight-day war which left 170 Palestinians and five Israelis dead. Hamas and Islamic Jihad agreed an Egyptian-mediated truce to halt hostilities on Wednesday night.In Cairo, Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal said his movement would respect the truce if Israel did, but would respond to any violations. "If Israel complies, we are compliant. If it does not comply, our hands are on the trigger," he told a news conference.Mashaal thanked Egypt for mediating and praised Iran for providing Gazans with financing and arms. "We have come out of this battle with our heads up high," he said, adding that Israel had been defeated and failed in its "adventure".Islamic Jihad chief Ramadan Shallah also addressed the conference, claiming the war was Israel's "greatest defeat in history." "We fought with honor, and we accept these understandings (ceasefire) with honor" he said.But he noted Palestinian factions were on standby if Israel launched new attacks on the Gaza Strip. Jihad's military wing the al-Quds Brigades said that while 10 of its fighters had been killed, they had fired 620 rockets at Israeli cities, and hacked more than 5,000 wireless communication devices for Israeli intelligence.The brigades thanked civil defense teams and paramedics for their work, and praised the work of journalists in covering the conflict. Meanwhile, Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades said they had fired more than 1,500 rockets at Israeli locations during the conflict. Heralding "victory," the brigades said they launched 11 long-range missiles at Tel Aviv and Herziliya and three at Jerusalem.'Piece of paper' Israel's defense minister said meanwhile that Israel dropped 1,000 times as much explosive on the Gaza Strip as had landed in Israel.Ehud Barak said Hamas had suffered a heavy military blow, including the death of its top commander, killed in an air strike at the start of the operation on Nov. 14. He said the deal merely let Hamas surrender while saving face."A large part of the mid-range rockets were destroyed. Hamas managed to hit Israel's built-up areas with around a tonne of explosives, and Gaza targets got around 1,000 tonnes," Barak told Israel's Army Radio."So whoever misses what is happening in Gaza does not understand that this entire agreement is a paper bridge for the defeated so that they can explain to their public how they can even show their faces after what they were hit with for a week."Barak dismissed the ceasefire text released by Hamas and Egypt as "a piece of paper which I don't remember anyone going around with -- there's no signature on it." He appeared to confirm, however, a key Hamas claim that the Israelis would no longer enforce a no-go zone on the Gaza side of the frontier that the army says has prevented Hamas raids:"If there are no attacks along the border ... then I tell you that there is no problem with them working the farmland on the perimeter up to the fence," Barak said. But should Palestinians exploit such measures to breach the truce, Israel would be "free to act," he said, adding: "The right to self-defense trumps any piece of paper."Israeli opposition Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had agreed to "exhaust this opportunity for an extended truce", but told his people a tougher approach might be required in the future.Facing a national election in two months, he swiftly came under fire from opposition politicians who rallied to his side during the fighting but now contend he emerged from the conflict with no real gains for Israel."You don't settle with terrorism, you defeat it. And unfortunately, a decisive victory has not been achieved and we did not recharge our deterrence," Shaul Mofaz, leader of the main opposition Kadima party, wrote on his Facebook page.Some Israelis staged protests against the deal, notably in the southern town of Kiryat Malachi, where three civilians were killed by a rocket from Gaza last week, Army Radio said. In rocket-hit towns in southern Israel, schools remained closed as a precaution. Nerves were jangled when warning sirens sounded, in what the military quickly said was a false alarm.National holiday Meanwhile in Gaza, Municipal workers in Gaza began cleaning streets and removing the rubble of buildings bombed in Israel's air strikes. Stores opened and people flocked to markets to buy food."Israel learned a lesson it will never forget" said 51-year-old Khalil Al-Rass from Beach refugee camp in Gaza City. "We are the spearhead, we don't want anything from Arab countries, we only need weapons. We have achieved what no other country did."Hamas declared Nov. 22 a national holiday marking "the victory of the resistance". Its spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said: "Resistance has achieved and has imposed a new formula - if you hit Gaza, we will hit Tel Aviv and beyond Tel Aviv."He brushed aside the idea that Hamas might have trouble forcing smaller rivals to honor the truce, saying: "Just as factions coordinated the escalation, they also agreed on calm." Nevertheless, Abu Mujahed, spokesman of the Popular Resistance Committees, active in firing rockets at Israel, said there was no time to relax, in case hostilities began again."If they hit, they will definitely be hit and hit hard," he said. "We are bracing for the worst," he said.Reuters contributed to this report.

      Top Ten Steps that are Necessary for Lasting Gaza-Israel Peace (or, Good Luck!)

      Posted on 11/22/2012 by Juan
      1. The Israeli blockade on Gaza exports and non-military imports must be lifted altogether. Ben White points out that the restrictions on goods brought into Gaza via Israel are still very substantial, despite Israeli assertions that the blockade has been eased.
      And, the blockade on exports is almost complete, with some minor exceptions, and is devastating to the Gaza economy. Real per capita income among Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is less today than in the early 1990s!
      These Israeli policies are a form of collective punishment imposed by an Occupying power on a noncombatant occupied population. Israel also imposes restrictions on Palestinian travel outside the Strip (even, sometimes, unconscionable delays for patients seeking specialist medical care– delays that lead to their deaths). Collective punishment, obstacles to free movement as part of an Apartheid regime, and occasional Israeli attacks that show blatant disregard for civilian life are not only illegal in international law butconstitute a set of systematic war crimes that rise to the level of crimes against humanity as defined by the Rome Statutes.
      While it is unfortunate that small homemade rockets are sometimes fired by small militant groups from Gaza into Israel, it is impossible to expect social peace from a people being economically strangled.
      2. Palestinians must be granted citizenship in a state. It is all the same to me if it is a Palestinian state or if they are given Israeli citizenship. The aggressive, far-right Likud Party is setting things up so that there isn’t really a place to put a Palestinian state anymore. In any case, it is unacceptable for millions of Palestinians to be kept stateless by Israel. Stateless people have no real rights, since rights are enforced by a state. Gaza is lawless because it lacks a state, and Mr. Netanyahu won’t let one be formed. Among the rights that stateless people lack is the right to security of property. Palestinian property is being daily stolen from Palestinians by Israelis, who use Israeli law, administration and the courts to deprive stateless Palestinians of their rights. Mr. Netanyahu played a central and self-admitted role in reneging on the promises made by Israel to the Palestinians as part of the Oslo Peace Process and Madrid conference, and the reason he could do so with impunity is that Palestinians are stateless. Treaty obligations to them don’t have to be honored.
      There are probably only about 12 million stateless people in the world. Many are individuals who get caught between countries (as with women who lose citizenship for marrying a foreigner and emigrating with him, but who are not eligible for citizenship in their new country either). Palestinians are the largest single group of the stateless, probably amounting to some 5 million. An additional 3.6 million Palestinians in Jordan have Jordanian citizenship for the moment, but it is apparently not necessarily permanent. Some 40,000 Palestinians from Gaza who had attained Jordanian citizenship have had it withdrawn again.
      Statelessness was common in the 1930s in Europe. Franco made millions of Spanish leftists stateless. The Nazis withdrew German citizenship from the Jews. The Communists declared the White Russians stateless. Gypsies were often stateless.
      I’m sure most Jews would not wish to be responsible for Palestinians being kept stateless in the way that the fascist German state rendered Jews stateless in the ’30s. It seems certain that stripping citizenship from Jews and Gypsies was what allowed the Nazi state to genocide them. The stateless, having no rights, can be ethnically cleansed or killed with relative ease.
      3. Egypt should broker a rapprochement between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas. As long as these two are at daggers drawn, Palestinians are easily divided and ruled by Israel and the US, and they have fewer means to resist having their land stolen and having their lives blighted by the blockade.
      4. Egypt’s President Muhammad Morsi should put pressure on Hamas leaders to foreswear the use of terrorist tactics toward Israel. The US federal code defines terrorism as the deployment of violence by a non-state actor against civilians for political purposes. Deliberately killing innocent non-combatants is a war crime and always carries the taint of illegitimacy, and if Hamas wants to amount to anything politically it must take this step. Hamas’s and Islamic Jihad’s use of terror has deeply damaged the Israeli left and virtually killed off the Israeli peace movement– the people most likely to come to an understanding with the Palestinians.
      5. New elections for the Palestine Authority should be scheduled, perhaps overseen jointly by Israel and Egypt. The winner, even if it is Hamas, must be recognized as the legitimate government of the PA.
      6. Israel must return to a moratorium on its colonization of the Palestinian West Bank, so as to permit genuine peace talks to start back up. Settlements are the number one obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace. Palestinians cannot be expected to negotiate over how much of the pie they get if the Israelis are digging into the pie and eating most of it while the negotiations are proceeding.
      7. Israel must cease expropriating the property of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and must recognize that the status of Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations. Likely, in any successful negotiations, part of Jerusalem will be the capital of Palestine. There is no reason in principle that the city cannot be shared. Chandigarh in India is capital of both Punjab and Haryana states, which are rather more populous than Israel/Palestine.
      8. Israel must cease demanding that people recognize it before negotiations begin. There is something pitiful about being that insecure, or too clever by half in being that Machiavellian. For Palestinians, some forms of ‘recognition’ involve giving up basic claims and rights that they believe should be part of the negotiations. The Israelis are trying to set things up so that the Palestinians have to give away most of what they want to negotiate about before they even get to the table. The PLO recognized Israel as part of the Oslo accords. It was rewarded by being marginalized, emasculated and betrayed. Why should any other Palestinian political force wish to be taken for a ride that way? As for Israeli complaints that Hamas wants to destroy them, that is ridiculous. It is not ridiculous that Hamas might have such aspirations in the long term, it is ridiculous that a tiny poverty-stricken and militarily virtually non-existent entity like Hamas should be taken seriously as a military threat to nuclear-armed Israel.
      9. Israel and the Palestinians, in the light of Hamas pledges of renouncing terror tactics and Israel’s moratorium on land theft, must return to the negotiating table for final status talks and the swift implementation of Oslo.
      10. The United States should cease blocking United Nations Security Council resolutions critical of Israel. If the Israelis continue their illegal blockade of Gaza and their massive land theft from the Palestinians of the West Bank, the UNSC should place economic sanctions on Israel. The US moves to paralyze the UNSC on the Palestine issue are the height of hypocrisy, similar to the diplomatic cover it gives the government of Bahrain. Note that among the most severe sanctions in history are being applied to Iran, for doing things that Israel has also done. American hypocrisy on Palestine has long detracted from the moral authority of the US and the UN in the Middle East, and weakens American diplomacy and soft power, to the detriment of US interests.
      I’m not stupid or naive. I know that almost none of these 10 points is likely to be realized. All I’m saying is that these steps are would would be necessary for the achievement of peace. They won’t be taken, and therefore intermittent wars, bombings, attacks, and the blighting of human lives will continue. The US will likely at some point suffer further for these failures, just as it did on 9/11, which was launched in part to punish Washington for its treatment of the Palestinians. Given how many of our liberties we lost with 9/11, you worry that another such large-scale attack will finish off the constitution altogether.
      That point is why George W. Bush and Barack Obama have not really served US interests well in the Middle East, since neither Iraq nor Afghanistan is at the center of the region’s geopolitics. Both have kicked the can down the road, just as Mitt Romney admitted he would do. We know that US politicians behave in this way because the Israel lobbies, including those of the Christian Zionists, are a successful single-issue interest group. But in attempting to ensure that the Israeli right wing is never impeded in its ambitions, they are dooming Israel. Eventually the region will just become too hot and nervous-making for most Israelis, and more will begin leaving every year than coming in. Over time they will be diminished, as the once-dominant Christians of Lebanon have been, through out-migration. Unfortunately, this scenario will unfold over decades, and will cause us all a lot of headaches on the way.

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