Now in a new phase: the US is blaming BOTH sides for the lack of progress in the talks

Here is a video of US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking from Algiers when he should have been back in Jerusalem or Ramallah [were he was a day earlier, on 1 April]… Instead, Kerry took off from a NATO meeting in Brussels, and headed to Algiers. But he kept on talking about the Israeli-Palestinian talks…

He even mentioned “self-determination”… and he can only have been referring to Palestinian self-determination, because Israel realized its right of self-determination on 15 May 1948:

“Self-determination”, Kerry said, “Peace” — “it’s easy to say the words but it is not easy to achieve the goals”…

US policy has morphed in past 24+hrs from 1) @AmbassadorPower [Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the UN] blaming Palestinians], to 2) not playing the “blame game”, and then to 3) apportioning blame to both sides.

Kerry said in Algiers: “The parties themselves have to make fundamental decisions and compromises. The leaders have to lead”…

Netanyahu, at age 28, on a Palestinian State [basically: no way … at most, if they behave well, the Palestinians can get eventual citizenship of some kind, Israeli or Jordanian or some other, he says…]

While looking for something totally unrelated on Youtube, this completely other video was suggested:  it shows a young Benyamin Netanyahu, before he even took the name “Netanyahu”.

He’s identified here as “Ben” or “Benjamin Nitay”, a 28-year-old graduate of MIT, an Israeli [and, according to the screen titles, an “economic consultant”] who has “written widely on this question before the house tonight”.

In the video, Ben Nitay / Benyamin Netanyahu is not debating his political views, he’s being given a platform to say what he wants, to argue his polemic.

Looking a lot like John Travolta in the movie “Saturday Night Live”,  but with much wilder eyes, Nitay / Netanyahu says:

“No, I don’t think Palestinians do have a right to a state… For 20 years [from 1948 to 1967] we didn’t hear a word about self-determination… I’m sure…if the process continues they will be offered citizenship of some kind, be it Israeli or Jordanian”

The moderator is Marilyn Berger of the Public Broadcast System in the U.S. — who co-anchored the best and almost only non-stop coverage, such as it was in the days before satellite communications and computers, of both the 1967 and 1973 Middle East wars — and the endless debates in the UN Security Council in New York, afterwards.

“Attorney One”, as we shall call him, is the gentle-mannered late Morris Abrams whose warm and kind demeanor didn’t obscure fierce pro-Israel views.  He was later to become the U.S, Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, where he served for years, before his retirement — when he founded the Geneva-based UN Watch [which watches out for Israel].

Morris Abrams gets the first Question: “Mr. Nitay, is self-determination at the core of this conflict?”

This allows the young Netanyahu to explain: “No, I don’t think it is.  The real core of the conflict is the unfortunate Arab refusal to accept the State of Israel”…

Little has changed in more than three decades.

“For twenty years, the ‘Arabs’ had both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and if self-determination were, as they say it is, the core of the conflict, they could have easily established a Palestinian State, but they didn’t…For twenty years, we didn’t hear a word about self-determination. In fact what we did hear, those of us living in the Middle East, was about ‘driving the Jews into the sea’… Now, after 1967, under the leadership of the PLO, the hardline strategy shifted to adopting a moderate dressed-up slogan which talked in terms about first a secular, democratic state and then replaced it with ‘Palestinian self-determination’. But, what this really means, is contrary to what Mr. Arouri said about 1977 being a a changed year in the PLO’s objectives, let me quote you what the PLO Information Office said in a Dutch paper in 1977, on May 5, 1977, the statement was very simple: ‘Our objective remains the destruction of the Zionist state’. So, let’s keep in mind, the objective here is not to build a state, but to destroy one”…

Continue reading Netanyahu, at age 28, on a Palestinian State [basically: no way … at most, if they behave well, the Palestinians can get eventual citizenship of some kind, Israeli or Jordanian or some other, he says…]

Self-Determination: an important concept, now lost?

Both Israeli and Palestinian theoreticians have argued that the partition of the British Mandate Palestine, as decided at British request by the United Nations in General Assembly Resolution 181 of November 1947, violated the principle of self-determination, which is a central — it could even be said, sacred — concept in modern international law.

(Britain then abstained in the UNGA vote on Resolution 181, as did Turkey, the successor to the Ottoman empire).

A recent policy brief published by Dore Gold’s Jewish Center for Policy Affairs [JCPA] in Jerusalem, recently stated openly that Israel’s claim to the West Bank, and the legitimacy of its settlements there, is based on the 1922 Palestine Mandate.

[This is interesting, as the Palestine Mandate was only formally adopted by the Council of the League of Nations in 1923 — after the formal surrender of the Ottoman Empire in Lausanne, and, significantly, after Britain informed the League of Nations that Transjordan was being administered separately, thereby effectively limiting Jewish immigration, which the Mandate was designed to encourage, to the areas west of the Jordan River.]

Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network based in Berkeley, California, has a stated mission of educating and fostering “public debate on Palestinian human rights and self-determination within the framework of international law”. In May 2010, it published a policy brief written by Ali Abunimah, entitled “Reclaiming Self-Determination”, and posted here, which says that “any commitment to self-determination in principle or in practice” has been lost or given up (including by the Palestinian leadership) during the “peace process” of the
past two decades.

Abunimah wrote that “The peace process that began with the 1991 Madrid Conference has gradually excluded the majority of Palestinians from having any role in determining the future of their country. In the eyes of peace process sponsors, the ‘Palestinian people’ constitutes at most residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, though even Gaza now finds itself as marginalized as the Diaspora. It is this exclusion that has allowed a cause of decolonization and self-determination to be reduced to little more than a ‘border dispute’.”

In his analysis, Abunimah then wrote that self-determination is a right “legitimate residents” of the territories — not of national groups (as the League of Nations recognized the Jewish people, for the first time, by incorporating the language of the Balfour Declaration and its advocacy of a Jewish homeland directly into the Palestine Mandate). However, he then argued, Jewish settlers could be considered, if …

He explained: “[T]he notion that Israeli Jews are legitimate residents, provided they shed their colonial character and privileges, derives directly from the traditional conception of Palestinian self-determination. As Arafat put it in his 1974 UN speech, ‘when we speak of our common hopes for the Palestine of tomorrow we include in our perspective all Jews now living in Palestine who choose to live with us there in peace and without discrimination’.”

Ruth Gavison: recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is accepting the Jewish right of self-determination

Ruth Gavison, who is reportedly hard to pin down when speaking at conferences (“No, no, I didn’t say that…”) has written in today’s Haaretz — if I understand her correctly — that what the Palestinians are being asked to accept is the Jewish people’s (or does she mean the Jewish nation’s?) right to self-determination.

Gavison writes: “The basic principle of the conflict is that of self-determination of nations – the basic unit of nationality. A nation-state is not a state of all its citizens, but rather a state of the majority nation or of the national collective living within it”. [Question — is Gavison saying that a tyranny of the majority is permissable? Or maybe that’s not what she meant…]

See her entire argument here.

One should not lose perspective or forget, however, that the Jewish people’s right to self-determination is no longer in doubt — not at the moment, nor in the forseeable future — and that it is the Palestinian peoples’ right of self-determination which is being blocked and suppressed by Israeli policies.