What next for the Palestinians?. By: George S. Hishmeh

21-02-2016 06:37

Source: jordantimes.com


The rule of thumb in the US and other Western countries is that national elections should focus on national policy, as this may sound logical.


But considering how closely connected the world has become, it is time that foreign policy have an equally prominent role. 


In the US, where a new Congress will be elected in November, foreign policy has surely crept into the nationwide debate.


This was apparent in the prominent magazine Foreign Policy, which featured recently a lengthy article by Aaron David Miller, a former State Department official, who was involved in the suspended US-sponsored Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.


His article, published in late 2014, was headlined “Would Hillary be good for the Holy Land?”


But his opening line in the lead paragraph asked: “Would Hillary Clinton be good for the Jews? What would Hillary do with the US-Israeli relationship, and Netanyahu in particular, if she were to become president in 2016?”


He hurried to write that “both Bill and Hillary are so enamoured with the idea of Israel and its unique history that they are prone to make certain allowances for the reality of Israel’s behaviour, such as the continuing construction of settlements”.


Miller added that Hillary was “uneasy” with her husband’s call for a comprehensive illegal Israeli settlement freeze because “it would escalate a fight with Netanyahu that the United States probably couldn’t win”.


But whether Hillary Clinton can produce an Israeli-Palestinian peace “is another matter”, he said.


Philip Weiss, editor of Mondoweiss, revealed last week that President Barack Obama had hired Clinton as secretary of state “by way of the Israeli lobby, and because of her street cred with the Israeli lobby”.


Jason Horowitz of The New York Times reported in 2014 that once elected, Obama “seemed to understand that he needed someone to lend him credibility with the Israeli government and its American defenders”.


Horowitz said that Obama got in touch with Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organisations, and asked him to see if she would be “agreeable” to being named secretary of state.


Mondoweiss reported that public disclosures by Hillary Clinton revealed that she and her husband, Bill, and their daughter, Chelsea, earned roughly $4 million in speaking fees from pro-Israel organisations “allied with the right-wing government of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu”. 


In the meantime, a new controversial federal bill has emerged in the US Congress seeking to quell criticism of unpopular Israeli policy. Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) declared in a circulated statement that it “strongly opposes the latest legislative effort to discourage the growing movement for justice and equality for Palestinians”.


The bill, titled Combatting BDS Act of 2016, introduced on February 10, aims “to discourage and authorise state legislation to divest state funds from companies that boycott Israel”.


JVP’s Rabbi Joseph Berman declared that “this legislation, as well as the bills introduced at the state level, are an attempt to stifle public opinion, which increasingly sees economic pressure as a legitimate and even essential way to end Israel’s oppressive policies towards the Palestinians”.


A Brookings Institute poll released in December 2015 found that 49 per cent of Democrats and over one-third of all Americans support imposing economic sanctions or more serious action against Israel over illegal settlement construction.


The JVP statement reported that “the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS) originated in 2005 with a call for solidarity from Palestinian civil society organisations asking the international community to use the tools of economic pressure to hold Israel accountable for its obligations under international law, namely, an end to the nearly 50-year military occupation, full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel and the right of return for refugees. Modelled on the global solidarity movement to end apartheid in South Africa, BDS’ intent is to leverage grassroots power to put pressure on governments and corporations that uphold an unjust political system”.


A statement issued by the Washington office of the BDS movement, which has become mainstream in the US, described the action by four congressmen to pass the anti-BDS law as “outrageous” and “heavy-handed”, reminiscent of “McCarthy-style blacklisting”.


The statement concluded: “Even if they succeed in getting anti-BDS legislation passed, we want to remind everyone loudly and clearly: no legislature can take away our First Amendment-protected right to engage in BDS campaign.”


In other words, additional BDS campaigns can be launched.


These ignoble actions coincided with a bid by the French government, presented to Israel, to convince it to convene an international peace summit in an attempt to restart the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.


The Palestinians responded positively, according to French officials, while Israel reportedly has reservations about the French initiative because of the French foreign minister’s threat to recognise Palestine as a state if the initiative fails.

Topics : #USA #US #Western countries #national elections #national policy #Palestine #George S. Hishmeh

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