If ever there were a more convincing demonstration of the arrogance and intransigence of the US Senate, then it would be hard to find. The almost humiliating fawning of politicians, from both sides of the fabled ‘political divide’, over Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as he addressed the Senate this week, was sickening in its intensity.
Netanyahu, it seems, is unmoved by the push for democracy presently sweeping the Middle East. His ‘terms’ for the creation of a Palestinian state are ludicrous.
According to a BBC report on his address:
His speech to Congressional lawmakers was punctuated by around 30 standing ovations.
Some of the biggest came when he listed the things Palestinians would have to accept to make a deal with him.
“Jerusalem must never again be divided, it must remain the united capital of Israel,” he said to waves of applause.
Palestinians want a capital in East Jerusalem.
Mr Netanyahu also demanded a continuing Israeli military presence along what would become an independent Palestine’s border with Jordan.
But the Palestinians want to control their own borders.
Mr Netanyahu ruled out any right of return of Palestinian refugees to Israel.
The most realistic of the theoretical peace deals that have been thrashed out over long years of meetings at neutral locations between well-meaning Israelis and Palestinians assume there would only be a token return of refugees.
But it is supposed to be an issue to be decided by negotiation, not by a unilateral declaration.”
Most Americans are pro-Israeli because they know no better. The Jewish-controlled US media has long force-fed anti-Palestinian propaganda down their throats. America’s politicians, however, have far more concrete reasons to roar approval at Mister Netanyahu’s bully-boy rhetoric – his stance too unyielding even for President Obama to stomach.
There’s a war in the Middle East hardly ever reported back home in the West. While Iraq, and more lately, Afghanistan, managed to hold America’s attention for a while, the real war being fought in the region is between Iran and Israel. Like most wars it’s about control. Middle East dominance is the prize.
Israel fears an Iran allowed to grow too militarily powerful. The US has similar fears, but for somewhat different reasons. The spread of democracy would prove advantageous for American markets in the region, but if Iran becomes another nuclear power in the Middle East it will not only threaten Israel’s security, but could take control of the oilfields and suppress the democratic process, making expansion of Western companies into the region more difficult.
America’s politicians see only military might as a means to prevent that from occurring. Their support for Netanyahu’s intransigence is based on controlling the Middle East by force of arms, as Israel has tried to do since its inception in 1948.
For the last thirty years Israel has relied on the support of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian dictator kept in power by American money, to corral the Palestinians. This became vital to Arial Sharon, when in 2005, he evicted 10,000 Israeli settlers from the Gaza strip and allowed Palestinians to retake control of the land.
Many saw the action as a brave attempt at reconciliation, but it was nothing of the sort. Instead, it was a clever ruse by the old Israeli campaigner. By splitting the Palestinians into two segments he created divisions between them that resulted in factional infighting between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank. Conditions inside Gaza rapidly became intolerable as Israel strictly controlled access in and out of the strip.
Mubarak closed the Egyptian border with Gaza and the land became, for all practical purposes, a prison for those forced to remain and suffer the degradation imposed on them by these two nations.
Netanyahu would like that situation to continue. So would the US Senate.
It’s likely, though, that the arrogance of both has caused them to overlook one effect of the ‘Arab Spring’ spreading throughout the Middle East.
Mubarak no longer controls Egypt. He’s awaiting trial for corruption.
Today, the BBC reports:
Egypt is to open the Rafah border crossing into Gaza permanently to most Palestinians from Saturday, Egyptian state news agency Mena has said.
Gaza has been under blockade since 2007, when the Islamist Hamas movement took control of the territory.
Under ex-President Hosni Mubarak – ousted in February – Egypt opposed the Hamas administration and helped Israel to enforce the blockade.
Israel says the blockade is needed to stop weapons being smuggled into Gaza.
The Rafah crossing will be opened permanently from 0900 to 2100 every day except Fridays and holidays, beginning Saturday 28 May, Mena said.
“Palestinian women of all ages will be exempted from visas as will men under 18 or over 40,” Mena reported.
Rafah is the only crossing into Gaza which bypasses Israel.”
Will this mark the beginning of a change in Palestinian politics? Already Hamas and Fatah are patching up old wounds. There is talk of asking the UN General Assembly in New York to recognize Palestinian Independence. Israel and the US will undoubtedly oppose any move to do so, but there is far more sympathy for the Palestinian cause among Europeans.
Without the assistance of Egypt, Israel may find it has few friends other than those fawning politicians in the US Senate.
 “Netanyahu chooses to make things worse with Capitol Hill speech” BBC, May 25th 2011
 “Gaza: Egypt ‘to open Rafah crossing to Palestinians'” BBC, May 25th 2011
Filed under: Stamped ‘Defective’