Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bribing Israel: Enhancing the Swag

By Phyllis Bennis, ZNet, Nov 24, 2010

Phyllis Bennis’s ZSpace Page

The breathless will-they-won’t-they coverage wasn’t quite as extreme this time, but there’s still been way more attention paid to the latest U.S. “settlement freeze” offer to Netanyahu than it deserves. What’s supposed to be the main point of it all – new negotiations leading to something remotely resembling a just, lasting and comprehensive peace – is simply not on the agenda of either Israel or the U.S.

The actual bribe – oh, sorry, I meant to say “incentives” – being offered to Israel this time around isn’t insignificant, of course. Among other things it will massively escalate the offensive capacity and reach of Israel’s air force, already by far the most powerful in the region. The offer starts with 20 brand-new state-of-the-art F-35 Joint Strike Fighter planes – three billion dollars worth. That’s $3 billion on top of the almost $3 billion of military aid already paid to Israel this year. According to the influential Israeli daily Ha’aretz, it will double the number of the F-35 stealth bombers that the U.S. will send to Israel – Tel Aviv had already ordered 20 using the “normal” military aid to Israel, now they’re being offered 20 more free of charge.

F-35 Stealth Bombers free of charge to Israel, that is – this offer will cost U.S. taxpayers $3 billion more, money that could instead pay for 600,000 new green jobs here at home.

Then there’s the guarantee that the U.S. will veto any effort in the United Nations aimed at winning Security Council recognition of a Palestinian state. And the promise to prevent any UN effort to hold Israel accountable for possible war crimes in Gaza, such as moving the Goldstone Report forward in the Council, and potentially moving the investigation to the International Criminal Court. From what we know of the offer (the final language is not yet settled – at least publicly) it will also include a broad commitment to automatically veto essentially any UN resolution that Israel claims undermines its already precarious international legitimacy.

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