Thursday, November 18, 2010

Obama’s bribe to Israel

Palestinians will be the losers – again


by Jonathan Cook, Dissident Voice,  November 17th, 2010

Watching the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians drag on year after year without conclusion, it is easy to overlook the enormous changes that have taken place on the ground since the Oslo Accords were signed 17 years ago.

Each has undermined the Palestinians’ primary goal of achieving viable statehood, whether it is the near-trebling of Jewish settlers on Palestinian land to the current numbers of half a million, Israel’s increasing stranglehold on East Jerusalem, the wall that has effectively annexed large slices of the West Bank to Israel, or the splitting of the Palestinian national movement into rival camps following Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.

Another setback of similar magnitude may be unfolding as Barack Obama dangles a lavish package of incentives in the face of Benjamin Netanyahu in an attempt to lure the Israeli prime minister into renewing a three-month, partial freeze on Jewish settlement construction in the West Bank.

The generosity of the US president’s package, which includes 20 combat aircraft worth $3 billion and backing for Israel’s continued military presence in the Jordan Valley after the declaration of a Palestinian state, has prompted even Thomas Friedman of The New York Times to compare it to a “bribe”.

Israeli officials said yesterday they were still waiting to see a text of the deal worked out between Netanyahu and the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, in seven hours of negotiations.

In addition to the concession in the Jordan Valley and the offer of combat jets that would effectively double the annual aid from the US, the deal is said to include a promise by Washington to veto for the next year any UN resolutions Israel opposes and to refrain, after borders have been agreed, from demanding any future limits on settlement growth.
The signs are that Netanyahu will be able to secure the backing of his right-wing cabinet for a brief settlement freeze that this time, the US has indicated, will not include East Jerusalem.

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