Does U.S Support Prevent Israel from Commiting to Peace?

Peace Between Israelis and Palestinians… By Liam BaileyThe United Nations General Assembly finally passed a resolution condemning Israel for killing 19 civilians in an artillery attack on Beit Hanoun. The resolution put forward by Qatar and other Arab UN member states was passed Nov. 17 2006, 9 days after the errant shells that were so costly to civilian life.

Israeli ambassador Dan Gillerman walked out after saying the “one-sided” resolution lends a hand to terror and that he would be better holding a press conference down the road. Despite this and similar criticism from U.S ambassador John Bolton the resolution was overwhelmingly passed, with 156 of the 192 member General Assembly members accepting the resolution’s “tweaked” wording. Seven rejected the resolution and there were six abstentions. The General Assembly has none of the powers of the Security Council, such as imposing sanctions or possibly even authorizing a UN peacekeeping force. As such the resolution is little more than rhetorical condemnation.

Practically the same resolution was presented to the Security Council, again by Qatar and other Arab member states, calling for an end to the violence on both sides. The U.S vetoed the resolution, with Bolton calling it “unbalanced,” “biased against Israel,” and “politically motivated.” If such wanton death or excessive (collective) punishment were being inflicted on a civilian population by any other country than Israel, I personally believe a U.N. security council resolution would have long since been passed trying to put a stop to the violence. This suggests that the U.S. supports Israel’s actions unquestioningly.

This support is also visible in U.S financial aid to Israel, which, according to the Jewish Virtual Library, using Congressional research figures [PDF] from 2005 has been between US$1.7 billion and US$4.9 billion per year since 1976, with varying amounts going straight back into the U.S. buying advanced weapons and military technology. The same CRS report, cited on the Jewish Virtual Library estimated U.S aid to Israel for 2006 as U.S$2.56 billion: a U.S$2.28 billion military grant, 240 million economic grant and a 40 million dollar grant for the resettlement of Jewish refugees.

In the current climate Israel is seen by the U.S. a staunch ally in the War on Terror, Bush and Olmert standing side by side in the face of Islamic extremist terrorism.

Comparing the violent acts of the Hamas militant wing and the many other Palestinian militant groups resisting the occupation to the indiscriminate and unnecessary terror that Al Qaeda and similar groups are inflicting on the world is not only a big mistake, but is also the reason that the biggest obstacle to Middle East peace is the lack of Israeli commitment to that goal.

Ahdaf Soueif, who writes on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict for the Guardian and Eyal Weisman, architect and prominent Middle East liberal writer both share my views on Israel’s commitment, I asked them both this question by e-mail:

Do you think the lack of Israeli commitment over the decades has been a major factor in the failure to resolve the conflict?

Both answered: “Yes”

Eyal Weizman is currently lecturing at Goldsmith’s college London, part of his lecture is on his forthcoming book Hollow Land, to be published in 2007 by Verso. The book includes the following excerpt:

“The chief of staff of the Israeli armed forces, Dan Halutz, confirms that the Israeli army sees the conflict as “unresolvable”. It has “geared itself to operate within an environment saturated with conflict and within a future of permanent violence … it sees itself acting just under the threshold of international sanctions … keeping the conflict on a flame low enough for Israeli society to be able to live and prosper within it.”

So, there you have it, Israel’s leadership doesn’t want peace. Israel’s UN ambassador also said before walking out of the General Assembly meeting on the shelling of Beit Hanoun, that the debate offered the Hamas government no incentive to renounce their ways of terror. Let’s look at incentives…

Since suicide bomb attacks effectively ceased with the erection of the separating wall, Israeli civilians have been relatively safe in the conflict. Although the Qassam rockets fired regularly from the Gaza strip by Palestinian militants are extremely disturbing and regularly cause damage to property, the thousands fired have killed nine Israeli’s this year. An Amnesty U.S.A total of 20 Israeli’s killed by Palestinian armed groups this year, is a stark contrast to the 240 Palestinians killed by Israel in the same period.

Therefore all Palestinians, including the Hamas government have one big incentive for renouncing terror and seeking peace: the heavy civilian death toll of every upsurge in Israeli retaliation. The Israeli leadership has no such incentive.

As I said Israel has received heavy financial aid from its U.S allies throughout its decades of conflict with its Palestinian occupants. Israeli leaders must wonder therefore whether achieving a sustainable peace in the on-going conflict would result in U.S aid being reduced. This is an incentive for Israel to keep the conflict going.

I also said that the latest U.S veto suggested that Israel enjoys unquestioned U.S support in the UN, which has a history of speaking the truth about Israeli actions. Add the latest veto to the 40 resolutions critical of Israel vetoed by the U.S since 1972 and it becomes clear just how unquestioning the U.S’ support for Israel’s military actions is. Therefore, whether I am right that Israel isn’t fully committed to peace, for whatever reason, or not, this unquestioning support from the U.S would certainly allow them to suppress the Palestinians sufficiently, as -Dan Halutz- suggests, to make such a policy viable.

Therefore if we are to see peace in the Middle East, the U.S has to change its attitude towards Israel. I believe if the U.S. stopped its unquestioning support of Israel in the U.N., perhaps allowing resolutions and possibly even sanctions against the Jewish state, alongside an ultimatum of cutting U.S. aid unless Israel’s leadership commits fully to achieving a sustainable peace with their Palestinian neighbours — firstly by sticking to promises and adhering to past resolutions, possibly by making more concessions, and certainly by being more willing to compromise — Israel’s leadership would become far more committed to peace. I put this to Ahdaf Soueif and Eyal Weisman:

Do you think Israel would be more committed to peace if the U.S allowed resolutions against Israel and threatened to withdraw U.S aid if Israel doesn’t make more concessions to achieve sustainable peace with the Palestinians?

Again, both answered: “Yes”

As the lack of commitment by Israel’s leadership has been such a factor in the failure to resolve the conflict. I believe such increased commitment by Israel would greatly increase the chances of sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians. If this was followed by an international peace conference as is currently being talked about who knows, there could finally be a lasting peace in the Middle East.

This article was published by OhmyNews International and Arabic Media Internet Network

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3 Comments

  1. jay tee said,

    November 27, 2006 at 7:30 pm

    “If such wanton death or excessive (collective) punishment were being inflicted on a civilian population by any other country than Israel, I personally believe a U.N. security council resolution would have long since been passed trying to put a stop to the violence. This suggests that the U.S. supports Israel’s actions unquestioningly.”

    Major death and destruction are permanent elements in many of the warring arab states. Look to any of the inter-arab wars and you’ll see major killing that is never commented on by the GA of the UN.

    Are you completely insensitive to the terror found in the PA? Hundreds if not thousands have been killed in the name of Islam and as collaborators. BTW, a collaborator can be a reporter who interviews Israelis. Britian has always been arabist in it’s perceptions and oil always blinds. Now that islam has a strong hold on the English, the above opinions will become more generalized and less connected to logic and reality.

    Israel has offered peace so many times, it’s dizzying. Unfortunately, the Pals can only see themselves as the new jews, as victims of Israel. They are too frightened to overwhelm their dictatorial goverment and too hate-ridden to consider peace with jews. Perspective is always advised. There are 22 arab states and they still want the 1% that the jews call home.

    I anxiously await your further reports when English dhimmitude really sinks in.

  2. December 13, 2006 at 8:15 pm

    […] The question should be: did the U.S ever dominate the Middle East? Sure, unconditionally supporting Israel ensured their influence in that conflict, IDF style. Bombing and shooting the Palestinians into agreement with the U.S’ –fad– peace plan at the time. Meanwhile the U.S exerted little or no influence in Israel’s often ill-advised and frequently illegal actions. Israel currently has little or no influence in Middle East affairs anyway. It couldn’t get by without U.S aid [PDF], let alone suppress the latest Palestinian Intifada. […]

  3. Liam Bailey said,

    December 26, 2006 at 12:55 pm

    Jaytee, I would like to refer you to my latest post on the conflict.
    Supporting Peace Is Not Abandoning Israel and my comments below.


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