'Settlement expansion has been the conscious policy of every Israeli government since 1967'

De bekende Amerikaanse (Joodse) columnist Tom Friedman geeft een eenzijdig beeld van de ontwikkelingen in het Midden-Oosten, en van de rol die opeenvolgende Amerikaanse regeringen hierbij hebben gespeeld.
Dat is de mening van prof. Stephen Walt, mede-auteur – met prof. Mearsheimer – van het geruchtmakende boek ‘The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy’. Somber makend is zijn twijfel dat president Obama een einde zal maken aan het contra-productieve beleid van de VS.
Ik ben het volledig met hem eens en raad geinteresseerden aan het leerzame artikel te lezen via de link onderaan.

What Tom Friedman didn’t tell you about U.S. Middle east strategy

..[New York Times columnist] Tom Friedman says there are two big problems: extremist settlers in Israel and extremist groups like Hamas among the Palestinians. And for good measure, he tosses in the obstructionists in Syria and those dangerous mullahs in Tehran, whose opposition makes solving this problem nearly impossible. We also need help from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but it’s hard to count on them. His conclusion: "whoever lines up this diplomatic Rubik’s cube deserves two Nobel Prizes."

Actually it’s not that hard, although I doubt the Obama administration will summon the political will and diplomatic stamina that will be necessary to pull it off. To see why, you need a fuller picture of the situation than Friedman provides.

To begin with, Friedman would have you believe that settlement expansion is just the work of some isolated religious extremists, and the only problem is that no Israeli government has "mustered the will" to face them down.

In fact, settlement expansion has been the conscious policy of every Israeli government since 1967 — Labor, Likud, and Kadima alike.

If you don’t believe me, just read Idith Zertal and Akiva Eldar’s ‘Lords of the Land’; Gershom Gorenberg’s ‘Accidental Empire’, Neve Gordon’s ‘Israel’s Occupation’, or retired IDF general Shlomo Gazit’s ‘Trapped Fools.’
Thus far, Ehud Barak is the only Israeli leader to make a serious effort to negotiate a two-state solution, and even his best offer at Camp David fell well short of a viable two-state proposal. And when Oslo collapsed, Friedman’s columns helped spread the false claim that PLO leader Yasser Arafat had turned down a great deal and was solely responsible for the failure, a myth that undermined the peace camp in Israel and reinforced the political dynamics that Friedman now blames for the current impasse.

Friedman also fails to mention the role that the United States has played in bringing this situation about. What was the United States doing while all those settlers were moving into the West Bank? The answer: we were helping pay for it, by continuing to give Israel billions of dollars of aid each year…

Israel has added another 70,000 settlers since 2001, and the Bush administration never took any serious action to stop them. The question you might ask yourself is: why not?

Friedman is right that Palestinian rejectionists are a big problem too. The difference is that the United States has never hesitated to turn the screws on them.

Persistent U.S. pressure helped persuade Arafat and the PLO to recognize Israel, which paved the way for the Oslo Accords in 1993. Back then, Hamas had only about 15 percent support in the Palestinian community. Unfortunately, the Oslo process failed to deliver a Palestinian state and the combination of Fatah’s corruption and Israel’s ever-expanding occupation made Hamas more and more popular over time. So when the United States insisted on elections in 2006, Hamas ended up winning. Then Washington refused to recognize their victory and Israel imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza.

The United States actively worked to destroy the Palestinian unity government and foolishly tried to sponsor a Fatah coup in Gaza, only to have Hamas move first and rout the Fatah forces, thereby solidifying its position. The recent Israeli assault on Gaza — which the Bush administration backed and Congress voted overwhelmingly to endorse — has deepened these divisions even more. To a considerable extent, therefore, the situation that Friedman now deplores is of our own making.

Finally, Friedman’s suggestion that the involvement of Syria and Iran makes this problem nearly intractable misses the key point: it’s not their policies that make our problems more difficult, it is our policies that have helped drive some otherwise unlikely allies together and given them an issue they can exploit for their own reasons…

So solving this Rubik’s cube may not be so difficult after all. If we understand how the different pieces of the puzzle fit together and we pursue the right strategy, progress on one front will facilitate progress on the others. The key step is to approach the problem from broader regional perspective and a realistic assessment of U.S. interests, and to be willing to act as an honest broker, using our influence to push all the parties in the right direction. Happily, acting in this way would not just be in the interests of the United States, it would also be in the interest of our other friends in the region, Israel included.

It’s easier than Tom Friedman thinks: a realistic Middle East strategy (Stephen M. Walt in Foreign Policy)

Have you seen 60 Minutes’ Is Peace Out of Reach segment from last Sunday?  If you haven’t, please take a moment to view it by clicking here.  This piece marks the first time that a mainstream U.S. media outlet has dared to accurately portray what Israeli occupation and settlement mean for Palestinians living in the West Bank and to explain to the American public why this system is apartheid.

Thank CBS for Telling the Truth about Israeli Apartheid

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