Can Palestinians Get Balanced Treatment from US?

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The recent eruption of deadly violence in the Gaza Strip is yet another example of the failed leadership of Washington and Western governments to broker anything resembling peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

Can Washington really be expected to lead Israelis and Palestinians toward peace given the Beltway’s bias against Palestinians? Last Wednesday, after eight days of fury a ceasefire was agreed to by the Israeli government and members of Hamas—the Palestinian political entity which governs the Gaza Strip, a tiny populous territory along the border with Egypt. Fatah, which governs the other Palestinian entity is recognized by the West.

Prior to the ceasefire agreement, the death toll from the fighting between Israel’s military and Hamas militants and others, had risen to around 150 Palestinians and six Israelis.  There were airstrikes and shelling against what the Israeli military characterized as “terror sites.” Israel’s military was reportedly considering the launch of a ground offensive into Gaza and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had ordered the mobilization of troops along the Gaza border.

Mr. Netanyahu had warned that he was prepared to “significantly expand” Israel’s military attacks against Hamas strongholds in the Gaza Strip. However, last Tuesday’s arrival of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary and the presence of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, apparently, tempered.

Calling for an immediate end to hostilities, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated: “All parties must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians. That is true of those bearing arms, and it is true of those giving the orders to use them. My message is clear: all sides must halt fire immediately. Further escalating of the situation will put the entire region at risk.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Israel after leaving Cambodia where she had accompanied President Obama on a trip to that region. Mrs. Clinton met with Netanyahu at his office in Jerusalem and with the head of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas. She made a plea for peace saying, “In the days ahead the United States will work with our partners here in Israel and across the region for an outcome that bolsters security for the people of Israel, improves conditions for the people of Gaza and moves toward a comprehensive peace for all peoples of the region.”

Mr. Netanyahu also said he is willing to pursue peace. “I prefer a diplomatic solution. I hope we can get one, but if not, we have every right to defend ourselves with other means and we shall use them,” Mr. Netanyahu said. "As you know we seek a diplomatic solution unwinding to this, through the discussions of cease-fire. But if the firing continues, we will have to take broader actions and we won’t hesitate to do so.” The prime minister also claimed if rocket fire coming from Gaza ceased he was ready to accept a “long term solution” to secure peace.

Unfortunately, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s claim that he would “prefer a diplomatic solution” or “long term solution” rings hollow. The truth is a diplomatic solution has been staring Mr. Netanyahu and the Israeli government in the face for some time now. That solution is: the cessation of settlement building in the Occupied Territories—and the end of the iron-fisted brutalization Palestinians have endured for decades and the crippling blockade.

Isn’t it time the leaders of the State of Israel—and Washington—deal honestly with the land issues that lie at the heart of all this needless bloodletting?

For decades, blood has spilled in this troubled region of the Middle East because of failed leadership by Western governments and Washington. Ever since the modern creation of the State of Israel in 1948 an economic imbalance, that is at the heart of much of the enmity between regional Arab countries and Israel, has festered and fermented leading to continual cycles of catastrophic carnage.'

Currently, whenever Washington, or the corporate media, speak about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict it does so in simplistically problematic terms which generalize the actions of Israelis as "good" and Palestinians as "bad." Tragically, this false narrative has given many people the impression that most Palestinians are either irrationally illogical or hopelessly prone to violence and terrorism. Consequently, far too many have no empathy for the plight of Palestinians.

Now, it would be equally unfair to characterize all Israelis as bad. There’s no doubt there’re both good, and bad actors, on both sides of this sordid affair. However, it would ridiculous to claim both sides are equally at fault. No honest reading of the history of the region can lead any fair mind to such a conclusion.

First of all, let’s remember that from the 1948 creation of the modern State of Israel—and the chaotic wars that were fought by Arab nations to stop that creation—the U.N. estimated that nearly one million Palestinians were dispossessed and displaced from Palestine. Part of the problem here is that imperial interference from Western nations—like Great Britain who controlled Palestine prior to 1948—has created confusion and chaos with their thoughtless meddling and unilateralism.

Much of the hostility Arabs have for the State of Israel can be blamed upon Great Britain’s advocacy of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 which promoted the idea of establishing a nation for Jews in Palestine—without, apparently, much thought or care for how Arabs would feel about this. No wonder warfare and strife has plagued the region since 1948.

Things worsened after the Six-Day War of 1967 when Israel defeated the combined nations of Egypt, Jordan and Syria. As a consequence of this defeat, Israel seized control of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip.

Unfortunately, very little of this history is mentioned by corporate media. Consequently, American leaders have been patently dishonest about the roots of the problems in Palestine by leaving out major parts of the history. Washington and Western leaders continue to treat Palestinians with disrespect by downplaying and distorting the true state of the injustices Palestinians have faced all these years.

Will Washington and this White House continue to oppose the Palestinian bid for statehood currently being considered by the United Nations? Will they continue to crush the self-determination of the Palestinian people?

In the end, Israelis and Americans of good conscience must challenge and push Washington and Tel Aviv toward a just and lasting resolution of this longstanding war of attrition against the Palestinian people. This would mean Israel must immediately cease and desist settlement building in the Occupied Territories—following the United Nation’s recommendations after the Six-Day War of 1967—and pave the way for a Palestinian state free from Israel’s control.

Isn’t it about time?


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