Tuesday, May 01, 2007

International Community: Divide and Function Part III

By Liam Bailey

For far too long the U.S. has set the foreign policy agenda, and the "international community" blindly and unquestioningly follows. But with decades of evidence that U.S. foreign policy serves nothing further than their own interests, it is time we opened our eyes and made up our own minds.

Furthermore, major organizations like the U.N, N.A.T.O, the E.U., and the Quartet are all failing miserably as peace-makers. Why? Because the U.S is impeding them from the front, determining efforts at conflict resolution based on its own interests. The "international community" backs their efforts and echoes their words. Really they should know better; the U.S using its influence to have the international community serving its interests is the root cause of most of the world's current conflicts, and one of the main reasons some of the longer-running conflicts haven't been resolved. When is it going to stop?

Part III: Starving the Palestinians or doing the right thing?

It is particularly neccesary for the "international community" to separate its approach from that of the U.S, in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Evidence lies in the way the "international community" has followed Israel and the U.S' policies for dealing with Hamas as the newly elected Palestinian Authority government. The fair and democratic election was another demand, inferred to go before the ever-dangling carrot of a Palestinian state. But, when the Palestinian Authority did as was asked of them, in electing Hamas they did not do what Israel and the U.S. expected.

Hamas is classed as a terrorist organization by Israel and the U.S -- a classification followed by most of the "international community". Some believe that Hamas' aims and means are legitimate in the face of Israel's unrelenting occupation and constant refusal to grant the Palestinians an independent state. Many, however can understand why Hamas' suicide bombings and failure to make the distinction between civilian and military puts them on the same "international" list as Al Qaeda and Hezbollah. Hamas however, only attacks elements of the occupation; not "international" targets.

Hamas' entry into democracy had come at the tail of months of slowly changing Hamas rhetoric, including offering Israel a "Hudna" (long running ceasefire) in return for a temporary end to the occupation and Palestinian borders, pending further negotiations. But instead of treating the changing Hamas as an opportunity to bring the popular front of the Palestinians into the "peace process" the "international community" followed the lead of Israel, and their U.S. loudspeaker and set about trying to destabilize the P.A. and bring down the newly elected government.

Israel began witholding millions in monthly tax revenues and, backed by the U.S. initiated a financial blockade of the P.A. The E.U. and the rest of the "international community" following suit shows just how much influence the U.S. has.

Not many people would relish living under the occupation and totalitarianism of a regime that your brethren in neigbouring countries had gone to war with several times. Made worse recently by the tightened border and checkpoint controls since the Second Intifada and Israel's disengagement from Gaza -- costing Palestinians their jobs in Israel. Things were bad enough for the Palestinian people. Blocking all international aid to the Hamas government made matters ten times worse.

Hamas being elected gave Israel an excuse to do what it has always been doing, putting more pressure on the Palestinian people to meet impossible demands; driving them into actions that will ensure they are continually perceived as terrorists and a threat. Of the demands that must be met to end the Palestinian blockade, the two most difficult are:

Renouncing all forms of violence:

Over the years Israel as defied the international community in failing to take down settlements, expaning settlements, and, even the U.S. demand to stop building new ones. Put simply they have continued to annex more Palestinian land despite it hindering often fervorous attempts at bringing peace. The Palestinians believe that Israel will not give up its hold on the land without a fight and that if there was no resistance Israel would simply continue its annexation. Therefore, Palestinians, including Hamas and Fatah will not renounce violence until Israel meets their demands:

Returning the land taken in the 1967 war or equivalent in land swaps, creating a Palestinian state therein with east Jerusalem as its capital, and allowing the return of all refugees.

Israel will never grant the latter, but I have always suspected that if the Palestinians were given their ownb state and sacred East Jerusalem, they would accept a compromise on the refugee issue: either full or part compensation and/or homes in the new Palestinian state.

And Recognize Israel's right to exist:

To Palestinians this means accepting that Israel had the right to expel their brothers and sisters in the 1948 war, thus relinquishing any chance of the right for their return. Israel doesn't recognize the Palestinians right to exist, what does the "international community" care if the Palestinians recognize Israel's? It doesn't, this demand like all the others are the demands of Israel, amplified by the U.S. and followed by the "international community".

The treatment of the new unity government has reinforced the view of the Palestinians and some prominent Israelis, that Israel doesn't want peace and my view that the U.S. should no longer lead the "international community" in this crisis.

The new unity government, agreed in Mecca was the power-sharing agreement that Palestinians and seekers of peace had been praying for and the two parties trying and failing to achieve. Handing government of the P.A. to Israel and the U.S' pin-up Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party, sharing power with the shunned Hamas -- the latter has slightly more power. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh remained Prime Minister. This sparked fear for the "peace process", but the deal stated Abbas would carry on any negotiations with Israel.

The impression was always given that Israel, the U.S. and the "international community" shared the hope for Palestinian unity and the latter would spring into action to ensure a just peace were it achieved. In reality something quite different has emerged.

The unity deal came shortly after a U.N. report [pdf] warned of a humanitarian disaster in the P.A, especially in Gaza should the "international community" siege not be lifted.

The new unity government has not met the demands, but it went some way to meeting the third demand: adhering to past agreements between the PLO and Israel; the unity government respects past agreements. Because, in this concession the unity government went some way to giving Israel what it externally demands in a partner for peace, while maintaining the popular support to carry through any agreement, the "international community" began talking about lifting the financial blockade.

Israel, backed by the U.S. has held firm: the Palestinian Authority must meet the three demands in full. So far the "international community" has refused to show the strength of doing the right thing at the expense of losing its pairing with the world's strongest U.S.

All the while nothing is being demanded of Israel. Every time the U.N Security Council attempts to make such demands the U.S. uses its veto power. Over 140 examples of the U.S. stopping the U.N.S.C from fulfilling its charter should be enough for the world to realize the U.N. has been rendered useless in the Israel/Palestine conflict. The same goes for the Quartet: the U.N, the E.U, Russia and the U.S. combined should be able to make both sides concede the necessary amount to end this long-running conflict, but any good they could do is tainted by the U.S' support for Israel.

The E.U, Russia and other prominent members and groups of the "international community" acting independently of the U.S is the Palestinians only hope.

No comments: