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Total number of comments: 76 (since 2013-11-28 15:54:42)

Johnboy

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  • The momentum to recognize a Palestinian State is unstoppable
    • Mark: "Depends on who you ask, however it is not much of a “state” if the IDF controls the sea, air, land and population there."

      Yeah, but the point I am making is this: Israel **isn't** the arbiter of that question, and Israel standing up and shouting "No! No Way! Not Unless I Say So!" that doesn't form the definitive answer.

      Mark: "however it is not much of a “state” if the IDF controls the sea, air, land and population there."

      The same was equally true of Iraq in 2003.
      Did that mean that Iraq wasn't a state in 2003?

      And as for your three conditions, well, there is another way.....

    • One of the reasons why this occupation has become permanent is that Israel has successfully conflated two quite separate issues into one.

      What I mean is that the Israeli narrative claims that the "peace negotiations" is about whether (or not, in this case) Israel will ever agree that the Palestinians can have their state, and until Israel *does* give its permission-slip then Palestine Ain't No State.

      Think about it: Israel is not the sovereign power. Israel's A-OK is therefore not a prerequisite for the establishment of (much less the int'l recognition of) the state of Palestine.

      The end of this endless occupation **does** require Israel's agreement. Sure, it does, but that issue is Another Issue Altogether.

      After all, the USA occupied Iraq in 2003, and that didn't mean that George Bush "owned" Iraq, nor did it mean that USA had gained a "right" to "decide" if Iraq would be regarded as a state or Just Some Territory That Uncle Sam Liked Squatting On.

      This question: Is Palestine a state or is it merely a territory? is something that does not require Israel's say-so, precisely because Israel didn't gain that "right" by seizing this by force of arms.

      Meanwhile, this question: What will it take for Israel to agree to end the occupation? is something that only the government of Israel can answer.

      But those are two different questions, and Israel only has a "right" to decide one of them.

  • In Symbolic Vote, UK Parliament urges Recognition of Palestine
    • Isn't the really important point that comes out of this vote that only twelve British parliamentarians could bring themselves to side with Israel on this matter?

      Sure, 367 of them were AWOL on the day but, then again, who would want to be seen attempting to defend the indefensible?

      Twelve shameless Zionists, apparently.
      Out of 650.

      Says it all, really......

  • Defying US, Sweden to Recognize Palestine (First in Western Europe)
    • Well, not an "independent state" since, obviously, it is a state that is being held under a belligerent occupation i.e. the Palestinian leadership does not possess "authority" over its own territory.

      But certainly a "sovereign state", since "sovereignty" does not (and can not) be seized by the occupier.

      Or, put another way: under international law "authority" is a different concept to "sovereignty", and it is the former that determines if you are "independent".

  • Shock & Awe In Syria: It never Works
    • Well, the obvious answer is this: the USA bombs, and then the Syrian Army moves in once the rubble stops bouncing.

      Still, that would require "co-ordination", not "forewarning", and apparently the USA claims that it doesn't want to do that.

      Well, not yet, anyway....

  • War or Counterterrorism? John Kerry denies it is a War
    • If you are launching air raids then you are - by definition - engaged in an "armed conflict".

      Q: Does international law make a distinction between "armed conflict" and "war".
      A: No, it doesn't, and so neither should Kerry.

  • Middle East "Allies" decline to Commit Forces, Resources against ISIL
    • If the USA really is serious about taking down ISIS then it should accept the offer from Assad.

      And if it won't accept that offer then Obama may well be willing to talk the talk, but it is axiomatic that his real aims are not at all the same thing as his rhetoric.

  • Russia denounces Obama Plan for Syria Air Strikes as Violation of Int'l Law
    • You know, in a world where every man and his dog has a mobile phone, and even the cheapest of mobile phones have (a) a camera and (b) an internet connection you'd think that SOMEBODY would have taken some photos of those sneaky, sneaky invadin' russkies.

      But, no, apparently not.

      They remain, to this very day, much-talked-about but never-photographed.

      Perhaps they aren't Russian invaders at all.

      Maybe they are Yeti's, and we are all mistaking the fur for winter camouflage.

      Or maybe it's Big Foot, and the big fella' just darn got himself lost....
      rong foot....

  • Would a US/ NATO war in Syria be Legal in International Law?
    • Why does a state cease to be a state simply because it is riven by a civil war?

      Did the USA cease to be a state "in any sense but name" when it underwent a civil war? Did Britain cease to be Britain because Oliver Cromwell thought that he could do a better job that King Charles?

      Syria is embroiled in a civil war. It happens. But it is still "Syria", and won't cease to be "Syria" unless/until ISIL wins.

    • So why doesn't Assad simply ask the Russians to launch air raids against ISIL? According to this article such a request is perfectly legal, and it would have the secondary benefit of pre-empting any tendency for the USA to launch unauthorized air strikes.

      And Russia could hardly be sanctioned for "interfering" when it would be able to say - quite truthfully - that "the Syrians asked us to".

      After all, if Putin is as warmongering as the western press says he is then.... why not? What's the downside for either Assad or Putin?

  • Israel's blockade on civilians of Gaza - no signs of loosening
    • "Though many of the most contentious issues were left for further negotiations due to take place in three weeks"

      A prediction: either Israel won't even send anyone to those "further negotiations", or else Israel will send a low-level nobody who will spend their entire time leaning back in their chair with their arms crossed, and all the time muttering "I'm not authorized to agree to that, or to this, or to those...."

  • 5 Ironies of US Reaction to Egypt/UAE Bombing of Libya
    • Well, yeah, that's the problem of trashing international norms: the little minions decide that if it's good enough for Uncle Same then it's Good Enough For Them.

      Because that's the funny thing about "norms".

      If they get trashed often enough then the "trashing" become The New Normal.

      Honestly, the USA should at least stop with the hand-wringing; it's unseemly, and more than a little pathetic.

  • Israel Bombs Gaza back to Stone Age: Razes only Power Plant & Plunges Strip into Darkness
    • There is a ludicrous article on Haaretz that mulls the reason why the Israeli government insists on calling this an "operation" rather than a "war". Apparently it has to do with property insurance claims.

      Maybe now is a time to come up with another name for this carnage. I vote for The Great And Glorious UN School Shoot-em-up.

      Or maybe that's too subtle for the Zionists; how about The UNRWA Turkey Shoot?

    • This is a response to the deaths of those five Israeli soldiers.

      Think about that: Hamas launched an assault on an IDF army base - a military target, and no mistaking it - and in response the Israelis decided to take out their frustration and anger on the power station, which is indisputably a civilian target.

      If this isn't a war crime then, honestly, that phrase has no meaning....

  • Unlike Iraq, Iran, Libya, N. Korea, Israel has Impunity from Defying UNSC (Gaza Ceasefire)
    • Oh, the story gets even better than this.

      The latest reports out of Israel is that Netanyahu has been advised to sideline Kerry by....
      .... wait for it....
      .... wait for it...
      .... wait for it...
      ... writing his own UNSC Resolution (Chapter VII?) and then ramming that Israel-crafted resolution down the Security Council's throat.

      Apparently Israeli hubris and chutzpah is so immense that it thinks it can
      (a) shaft the US Secretary of State
      but still expect that
      (b) the US will still snap to attention at the UN.

      Hmmmm, actually, they may be right.

      But get all the other members of that Security Council to drop their pants? Why, exactly, would they do that?

  • Israel's Gaza Campaign Endangers US Security: Why Obama & Kerry are Furious
    • Well, Obama and Kerry aren't so "furious", seeing as how CNN is reporting that the USA has agreed to an Israeli request to restock their ammo supplies by drawing it from the USA's own "strategic stockpile" in the region.

      Isn't that just the dictionary-definition of "gutless wonders".

    • No, it wouldn't require that.

      All it would require is for Obama to stand up alongside some US soldiers in uniform, and then state that Israel's actions are putting those brave boys in danger, and he won't stand for that.

      Followed by a media blitz of a carefully selected cross-section of Our Boys In Uniform pointing out that they are put in danger of blow-back every time Israel goes Whammer-Jammer! on poor defenceless civilians.

      Get THAT campaign going and let's see how much traction the Israeli Lobby can manage.

      After all, in the face of THAT campaign there wouldn't be a single member of Congress willing to stand up and say "F**k our soldiers, Israel is far more important that the lives of OUR men in uniform!"

  • Gaza: Why a 'Cease-Fire' is Not enough
    • Oh, sure, agreed: the very notion of a occupying power "going to war" against the people that it holds under a belligerent occupation is a nonsense, and a gross violation of international humanitarian law.

      But even if Israel shouts "Is Not! Is Not! Is Not!" whenever anyone says that the IDF is still the occupying power, that fig leaf still doesn't grant Israel any right to blockade anyone ONCE A CEASEFIRE IS IN EFFECT.

      I'm merely pointing out that Catch-22 i.e.
      either:
      a) The IDF is still the occupying power, in which case "blockading" that occupied territory is a war crime,
      or:
      b) The IDF is no longer the occupying power, in which case "blockading" that territory absent an armed conflict is a war crime.

      It is damned either way, no matter how much it plays pretendies with its fellow travellers and apologists.

      "Blockade" is legal only during an "armed conflict".

      But an "armed conflict" and a "belligerent occupation" are mutually-exclusive terms.

      Equally, an "armed conflict" and a "ceasefire" are mutually-exclusive terms.

      Pick either (and Israel seems to want to cherry-pick both depending upon its mood) and what you end up with is this: the blockade is illegal.

    • Well, to be fair: a ceasefire is merely that i.e. an agreement to stop shooting at each other.

      But having said that, yeah, the beginning of a ceasefire necessitates the ending of any blockade.

      After all, "blockade" is governed by international humanitarian law i.e. a "blockade" is only legal during an "armed conflict", precisely because that "armed conflict" is what triggers the applicability of international humanitarian law.

      So the ceasefire should contain an explicit acknowledgement that signing the document ends the current "armed conflict" between Hamas and the IDF and, having so ended, all blockade by the IDF must cease.

      After all, that's exactly what happened when UNSCR 1701 ended the 2006 Lebanon War with Hezbollah.

    • Mike: "Not according to UNSCR 242, which links Israeli withdrawal from any territory to a negotiated peace agreement with the relevant party."

      No, quite untrue.

      UNSCR242 linked two "principles" to the overarching aim of the Security Council, which is "peace".

      As in: there will be no prospect for "peace" until
      a) Israel withdraws from occupied territory
      and
      b) everyone acknowledges and respects everyone else's "boundaries".

      So it is simply untrue that the resolution "linked" an IDF withdrawal to anything i.e. a withdrawal is merely one of the two pre-requisites of "peace", not sufficient in itself, sure, but nonetheless indispensable.

      Indeed, according to the plain text of UNSCR242 there is no necessity of any "negotiated agreement" whatsoever i.e. it would be sufficient for every state to make a unilateral declaration that their border is **here** and they have no right to interfere with anyone who is outside those borders.

      Such a declaratory statement is perfectly compatible with the language of UNSCR242.

      You HAVE actually read the resolution, right, Mike?

  • U.N.: One Child Killed Every Hour in Gaza
    • This is a simple, indisputable fact: an occupying power is *not* entitled to claim "self-defence" when those that it occupies attempt to fight back.

      It can claim a right to "restore order", sure.

      It can even claim a right to punish those who commit crimes against the occupying forces, sure.

      International law allows an occupying power to claim both of those things.

      But an occupier can't claim "self-defence", precisely because it is already engaged in an ongoing act of belligerency i.e. a belligerent occupation.

  • What Has $121,000,000,000 US Aid to Israel Really Bought?
    • Yep. Joel appears to have this quaint notion that if that $3billion is withheld from Israel then it simply.... disappears.

      Err, no, it wouldn't.

      If Obama ever withheld that $3billion from Ya'alon then he'd simply turn to the Secretary of Defense and hand him that money, and say "Here, Chuck, you spend it".

      Net impact on the US economy: zero.

      Actually, probably that would be a marked positive effect, since $3billion worth of extra high-tech military hardware would require more bases, more facilities, more support infrastructure.

    • joelsk44039: "Most of the money provided to Israel comes back to the U.S. in the form of contracts (meaning JOBS) with American companies."

      Yeah, funny that: the USA gives Israel a $3billion gift voucher, marked "redeemable at any reputable Merchant of Death", but with a little note saying "offer valid only in the USA".

      How dare Uncle Sam! How dare he insist that US dollars can only be used to purchase US military hardware!

      Doesn't he know that Israel wants to spend those US dollars on its **own** domestic military-industrial complex?

      Oh, wait, it does: alone amongst all recipients of US military aid Israel is entitled to immediately skim 20% off the top and spend it on Israeli-built armaments.

      Fancy that, heh? Uncle Sam is actually subsidizing the Israeli armament industry (a competitor, remember) to the tune of $600million each and every year.

      Sweeeeeeeeeet.

      Joel: "Can’t say that about any other country to which the U.S. provides foreign aid."

      Actually, you can. All other recipients of US military aid are required to spend 100% of that military aid money on the purchase of US built military equipment.

      None of them - not a one - is entitled to skim off a single cent to spend on their own domestic arms industry.

      Nobody is, except Israel, who skims off $600million of that money each and every year.....

  • Gaza: 4 Dead Boys on the Beach & Israel's Precision War
    • Here's how the IDF will play this.....
      1) BANG!!!!!!!
      2) Journalists: those kids were killed by an Israeli gunboat...
      3) IDF: Our bad. Preliminary reports suggest a case of misidentification by an IDF aircraft
      4) That "confession" starts a new narrative i.e. everyone accepts that the kids were killed by a bomb dropped from an IDF plane,
      whereupon....
      5) IDF: No! No, actually, there were no IDF planes flying over that beach! This is a BLOOD LIBEL! It wasn't us! Those kiddies obviously blew themselves up! Pallywood! Pallywood! Pallywood!

      See how the trick works?

      A preliminary, tentative, "sorta-confession" by the IDF diverts attention away from the real cluster-f**k.

      Then once everyone's attention is diverted the IDF recants that "sorta-confession", thereby absolving itself of any culpability.

      Sorta' like a cheap pea 'n' thimble trick, but using dead bodies instead of dried peas......

  • Israel, Gaza and the Fatal Spirit of Versailles
    • Except, of course, Israel isn't finished with the Palestinians yet, and won't be until it can "convince" them all to leave.

      Magnanimity isn't on the agenda, because that's what you do when you want a durable "peace".

      But that's not Israel's goal - at least, not yet. It hasn't finished claiming all the territory between the River and the Sea.

      Once it has done that - and that really does require the mass exodus of all the Arabs - then Israel's mind will turn to "peace".

      But until then Israel is merely faking it, and that's why there will be no magnanimity.
      .

  • Stop Saying 'If X fired Rockets at U.S.': It's Racist, & assumes we're Colonial
    • The Israeli narrative doesn't really stand up to any scrutiny.

      On the tactical level: the IDF is admitting that it is blowing up the houses that belong to Hamas officials, even though it accepts that those officials went into hiding days ago.

      But that's a war crime i.e. a house is a house is a house, and you can't blow up a house just to send a message to the owner.

      So Israel claims legitimacy for blowing up those houses by insisting that they serve as "command and control" centres i.e. as places from which Hamas directs its military activities.

      Helloooooooo........

      Why doesn't any journalist ask the obvious question: how can they be Hamas "Command and Control Centres" if the owner abandons that house before the first shot is even fired?

      After all, for it to be a Command and Control Centre there has to be someone "commanding" things from it, and Israel admits that the "commanders" fled days ago. Axiomatically, where they fled **to** is the real Command and Control Centre, not the house they fled **from**.

      And on a broader view, what's this about Netanyahu insisting that he isn't interested in a ceasefire?

      Helloooooooo...... the excuse is that Israel is dropping bombs to stop Hamas from firing rockets, but BY DEFINITION the "stopping of fire" is called..... a ceasefire.

      So wtf is Netanyahu on about saying he isn't interested in a ceasefire??

      Because if he wants the rockets to stop (and he says that he does) then he should ALWAYS be receptive to a ceasefire (though he says he isn't).

      Just two examples, but it just shows how the Israeli narrative doesn't stand up to any scrutiny. Indeed, it is so internally-inconsistent (at all levels) that it's a wonder Bibi's head doesn't explode from all the cognitive dissonance.

    • I think you will find that Juan Cole was making the point that the USA made a decision to *stop* colonial-expansionism very early in the 20th century.

      Manifest Destiny fizzled out a long time ago in the USA.

      It's still alive and well and "manifesting" itself in Palestine, curtsey of a colonial-expansionist ideology that calls itself "Zionism".

      That's a decision that Israel has made, whereas it could always decide to leave the 19th century behind and abandon colonialism. It just doesn't want to, and is outraged that anyone is resisting.

    • Robert Fisk also punctured that same propaganda meme.

      He pointed out that during the "troubles" there were towns in Northern Ireland - by definition. BRITISH towns - that were subjected to regular mortar attacks by the IRA and others.

      And not once - not ever - did the British respond by sending Tornado or Javelin fighter-bombers against anyone, let alone bomb the snot out of Dublin.

      Not. Once.
      Not. Ever.

  • The Second Iran-Iraq War and the American Switch
    • Except that the "Zionist dream" is far more likely to end in a whimper, not with a bang.

      Pretty hard to nuke a trade embargo, or vaporize a country because they refuse to buy your goods.

      After all, where do you decide Ground Zero?

    • George: "The bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut happened on Ronald Reagan’s watch. 241 marine dead, 60 wounded. Worst terrorist attack prior to 9/11"

      Care to explain to me how an attack on a Marine barracks can be a "terrorist attack"?

      Such an argument rather presupposes that the US Marine Corp can be "terrified", which is a concept that they would probably find offensive.

      Those were soldier, on active duty, in a foreign country wracked by a civil war.

      They were "attacked", sure, they were. No argument there.

      And wether that attack was justified or not, horrific or not, it was still an "attack", which is not at all the same thing as a "terrorist attack".

  • Netanyahu's Blood and Soil: The Racist-Nationalism of his "Jewish State" Ideal
    • Notice also that Bibi describes "Israel" as "a state", but he is very, very careful to refrain from describing "Palestine" as "as state".

      In Bibi-world there are two "national homes" living side by side: one called "Israel", which is "a state", and the other called "Palestine", which is....... what, exactly?

      Well, Bibi doesn't exactly say what "Palestine" is supposed to be (other than, of course, a dumping ground for Goys).

      Q: Is "Palestine" going to be "a state" in Bibi's dream world?
      A: Well, he won't describe it as such, so I'd suggest that the answer is "No".

      A Bantustan, apparently. Or as Bennet describes it: "autonomy on steroids".

      Yeah, riiiiight.

    • I agree with everything you say, though it really does boil down to a few points:
      1) Netanyahu wants this enshrined because the ultimate goal is to eject all the "Israeli Arabs".
      2) Abbas understands that perfectly well, which is why he refuses to "recognize" Israel as "the Jewish state".

      Win/Win for Bibi: if Abbas folds then he gets closer to the dream of an Israel free of Arabs, but if Abbas holds firm then Bibi can paint Abbas as a peace-rejectionist.

      But there is one other important point from Netanyahu's speech that nobody seems to have picked up i.e. the complete absence of the word "state" in any sentence regarding Palestine.

      Bibi talks about "two homelands", sure, he does, and he fingers "Israel" as one and "Palestine" as the other.

      But only ISRAEL gets the label "state" placed upon it, while that other place does not.

      Netanyahu is not *just* demanding that The Jews Stay Here And The Arabs Go Over There.

      He is also - very pointedly - refusing so say that The Over There place is "a state", or even that he envisioned it becoming "a state".

      In his world-view it's clearly Just A Place Called Palestine, and its only reason for existing is so that it is the dumping ground for Goys.

  • Israel, US Complain about not being able to Divide and Rule the Palestinians
    • Has the US Govt's response been all that hostile to this announcement?

      The words I have seen so far from the State Department have been statements that this is "disappointing" and/or "unhelpful", which are exactly the same words that it uses to describe Israeli settlement construction i.e. the words that it uses when it doesn't LIKE what it is seeing but isn't the slightest bit interested in making a move to stop it.

      For example, the State Department hasn't used the word "unacceptable", or anything else that would suggest that The USA Is Determined To Connive With Israel To Put A Stop To This.

      That's a big difference to 2006, and it suggests that the USA isn't the least bit interested in helping Netanyahu pin the blame on Abbas for the failure of these peace talks.

      Which, in itself, something that should worry Netanyahu.

    • It seems to me that the only answer to your first question is this: the agreement will involve Hamas refraining from any acts of terrorism, though they will have to finesse the issue of Hamas retaining an armed wing that sits outside the "PA Security Forces".

    • The PLO is not an elected body, Juan.

      All the elections so far have been for the legislative assembly of the Palestinian Authority i.e. for the PA, not for the PLO.

      Nobody ever puts their hand up for election to the PA legislature by running on the "PLO ticket", they campaign for election either as representatives of Fatah (which is affiliated with the PLO) or of Hamas (which is not affiliated with the PLO)

      But the PLO and the PA are two separate entities, even if the same individuals occupy positions of authority in both, and even if Fatah seeks representation in both.

    • No, the Government of Israel has **not** recognized that the state of Palestine has a RIGHT to exist.

      It never has, and by the look of things it never, ever will.

      All that Rabin, Barak and Olmert had ever said was that they were willing to discuss the notion in direct bilateral talks with the PLO.

      All that Netanyahu has ever said is what was said in his Bar-Ilan speech i.e. IF the int'l community gives him assurances on "this" or "that" THEN he can envision a situation where his government will be willing to sit down and discuss the possibility with.... someone.

      That's it.

      Nothing more.
      No less.

      None of them is an acknowledgement that the state of Palestine has a RIGHT to exist, merely a grudging "Eh, whatever, I'm open to discussions about it...".

  • Top Ten Ways in which it was Actually the Israeli Gov't that Derailed the Peace Talks
    • That last question mark is very telling.

      After all, what **is** so horrific about Abbas signing the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, or the Convention on Consular Relations, or the Convention on the Treatment of Women?

      None of them is in the slightest way a "threat" to Israel, nor do any of them seek in any way to "change the status of the territory" that is supposed to be negotiated.

      After all, Abbas can sign all of those treaties and the West Bank will **still** be "Israeli occupied Palestinian territory", which was their status the day before signing those treaties, and will be their status the day after those treaties are signed.

      It is a telling outburst from Netanyahu, because it indicates that his objection is to the very idea of "Palestinian statehood".

      Abbas wants to show that Israel has No Intention Of Ever Allowing A Palestinian State, and Netanyahu's response to these innocuous moves simply proves that point.

  • US: Stop Blocking Palestinian Rights! (HRW)
    • A question: amongst amongst those 15 treaties is there a single example of a treaty that the USA and/or Israel hasn't also signed?

      If not then it is beyond hypocrisy for the USA and/or Israel to "punish" the Palestinians for deciding that it's a good idea for Palestine to sign those treaties, seein' as how the USA and/or Israel had previously made the decision that it was a good idea to sign those same treaties.

      What better example of the dictum: Do as I say, not as I do!

  • Palestine's Abbas finally says will Go to UN over Israeli Squatters
    • Joseph: "Has it mattered how Palestine has viewed its status?"

      Not during this farcical "US-mediated peace process", no.

      But that's the entire *point* of these endless negotiations i.e. by having the USA "mediate" in this dispute it is able to constrain the talks to a strictly "political" level, without allowing any discussion of the actual "legal" entitlements of the two sides.

      Joseph: "What matters is how international law and hence the international community views its status. "

      And I agree, and the only way that the PLO can frame the conflict in those terms is to kiss off this entire "US-mediated peace process", whose main purpose is to sideline any talk of int'l law.

      The USA must decry the very concept of int'l law as being "unhelpful", and the only way it can do that is to "own" this "peace process" and, therefore, to claim the right to set the agenda.

      Joseph: "BDS sanctions will become much more effective once Palestine is internationally recognized as a state"

      It is already internationally recognized as a state.
      Indeed, it would be interesting to count up how many countries recognize "the state of Palestine" and compare it to the number of countries that recognize "the state of Israel".

      There wouldn't be very much in it.....

    • Just to point out that there is a fundamental disconnect between how the Israelis view these negotiations, and how the Palestinians view it.

      The Palestinians insist that they are ALREADY a state. That part of it is A Done Deal and, furthermore, that is something that Israel (who has only ever been the "occupying power", it has never been the "sovereign power") has no say in.

      So for the Palestinians the negotiations are being held between two states: one who is "occupying", and the other which is "occupied", and the negotiations are entirely about what amount of extortion the state of Israel can strong-arm out of the state of Palestine as the "price" to be paid for ending this endless occupation.

      Israel sees it very differently: it insists that there is no such thing as the "state of Palestine" and, furthermore, Israel's permission must be obtained before such a state can come into being.

      So for the Israelis the negotiations are between an "overlord" and his "vassals", and what is being negotiated over is the price those vassals must pay their liege lord before he will magnanimously grant them freedom from their serfdom.

      Israel is, axiomatically, quite wrong: even if Palestine **ISN'T** a state then it still remains true that the Palestinians don't need Israel's "permission" to become a state.

      Israel simply **isn't** their sovereign - and never was - and therefore Israel's "permission" isn't needed.

      Israel has to agree to end the occupation - it is the occupying power, after all - but it does not possess the authority to deny them statehood, precisely because Israel Is Not Their Sovereign.

  • Pace Sheldon Adelson: Top 5 Signs West Bank is Occupied Territory
    • Ahh, here it is: google up UN Security Council document S/766 of 22 May 1948.

      The question was: "Have Arab forces penetrated into the territory over which you claim to have authority?"

      The answer was: "Arab forces have penetrated into the territory of the State of Israel in certain corners of the Northern Negev and in the Jordan Valley south of Lake Tiberias. In addition, planes of the Royal Egyptian Air Force have repeatedly raided Tel Aviv and southern Jewish settlements"

      Not much of an "invasion" of Israel, is it?

      Basically, those dastardly Egyptian soldiers were using the Negev desert as a way of "cutting corners", and some Jordanian forces were toolin' around south of Lake Tiberias and - somehow, and it's not explained how - that's meant to represent an attempt to Throw The Jews Into The Sea..

      Apparently their heart just wasn't into it.

    • "That was what is known in military parlance as a “pre-emptive strike.” "

      No, quite untrue.

      A "pre-emptive strike" (or "anticipatory self-defence") has to fulfil the requirements set out in The Caroline Case, and there is no way that the military situation in early June 1967 fulfilled even one of those criteria.

      The Egyptian planes were lined up on the runway: they weren't being prepped to attack anyone.
      The Egyptian soldiers were dug into their foxholes in the Sinai Desert: they weren't being positioned to launch themselves at anyone.

      Regardless of how furiously Nasser was rattling his sabre this still remained true: there was **no** Egyptian attack being "imminently prepared" against Israel. None whatsoever.

      Therefore there was **no** justification for a "pre-emptive strike", precisely because there was no enemy attack to "pre-empt".

      Israel attack Egypt in June 1967 for the same reason that Japan attacked Pearl Harbour in December 1941 i.e. because they could, and because they knew that if they did then they'd wipe the floor with their opponents.

      "He had already closed the Straits of Tiran, closing off access to Israel’s southern port of Eilat."

      Hmmm, had he now? Remind me again of the name of the ships that were "prevented" from reaching Eilat..

      Because here's something you don't know, but Nasser did: he announced that Egypt would not allow any ISRAELI FLAGGED ships from making passage through the Straits of Tiran (Egyptian territorial waters, btw), safe in the certain knowledge that there WERE NO ISRAELI FLAGGED SHIPS plying that trade.

      There was, indeed, nothing to "block".
      Any other ship could - and did - sail right up that passage and into Eilat.

      Indeed, a week into the "blockade" and Egyptian naval ships weren't even inspecting the ships as they sailed past; they'd gotten bored of the pretence.

      Didn't you know that?

    • "Under UNSCR 181, adopted November 29, 1947, the former British Mandate was to be divided between two states, one Arab and one Jewish"

      Correct. Well Done!

      "The portion of the former Mandate which was to become the Arab state was invaded by those 5 armies,"

      Errr, nooooo, because they were asked by the leaders of that "Arab state" to come to their assistance in the face of ongoing aggression from the Haganah.

      That's perfectly legal under the doctrine of "collective self-defence".

      ", as well as the part that was to become Israel. "

      Noooooo, actually. The UNSC sent a letter to the Israeli provisional govt just a week into that war, and one of the questions they asked was, simply put: what part of your state is being "invaded"?

      The answer: errrr, well, ummm, some Egyptian planes have bombed Tel Aviv and, ummmm, errrr, we *think* some Egyptian troops have cut corners in the Negev so they could link up with the Jordanian Army. But we can't be sure.

      I can give you a copy of that letter, if you want it.

      It makes very interesting reading indeed regarding Who was invading Whom.

      "At that time, the Arab League had no intent to create the Palestinian state, but rather to divide all of the former British Mandate among themselves."

      True of Jordan, but not true of the other four.

      Egypt didn't even want to join the fight, and had to be taunted into it.

      Syria sent a token effort (5,000 troops in the beginning, and never more than 10,000 at any one time), while Lebanon and Iraq were hardly in it at all.

      Only Jordan was in the "carve-up" business, mainly because King Abdullah had cut a deal pre-war with Golda Meir.

      But you knew that, right?

      "If Egypt and Jordan were interested in Palestinian self-determination, they could have established the Palestinian state anytime between 1949 and 1967."

      True enough, but please explain to me how that invalidates the Palestinian's right to self-determination, or extinguishes any rights granted to them by UNGAR 181?

      Because I'd suggest it doesn't, precisely because neither Egypt nor Jordan were Sovereign Powers anywhere west of the River Jordan.

      "At that time, Israel also recognized a right to Palestinian statehood, "

      No, they didn't. All that Israel "recognized" was the right of the PLO to represent the "Palestinian people" in final status negotiations.

      But Israel definitely did **not** recognize "a right to Palestinian statehood".

      Not in 1993, not now, not ever.

      They are willing to *discuss* the possibility of a Palestinian state, but they do not recognize that such a state has a *right* to exist.

    • Mike: "1967 and 1973"

      Israel attacked the neighbouring Arab states in 1967, Mike.

      They started that war with a sneak attack on the Egyptian airforce (who were doing nothing more than sitting out in the open on their airfields) and then immediately followed that up with an armoured blitzkrieg against Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai (who were doing nothing more than hunkering down in foxholes).

      At no time had those Egyptian planes been ordered to attack Israel, and at no time had those Egyptian soldiers been ordered out of their foxholes and told to advance into Israel.

      Israel. Attacked. Them. They. Did. Not. Attack. Israel.

      And as for the events of 1973, ahem, you might want to look at who's territory the fighting took place i.e. in the South those Egyptian forces were fighting to retake.... Egyptian territory. And in the North those Syrian soldiers were fighting to retake.... Syrian territory.

      Fancy that: soldiers fighting to reclaim territory from a foreign army of occupation that had seized that territory at the point of a gun and was absolutely, positively, come-and-make-me-if-you-dare refusing to withdraw.

      Oh, the horror! The horror!

    • Mike, in May 1948 the expeditionary armies of five - count 'em, 5- Arab armies advanced into the territory that had been allocated to .... the "Arab state".

      They did not advance into the territory that had been allocated to.... the "Jewish state".

      Q: Why did they advance into the territory that had been allocated to the "Arab state"?
      A: Because that's where the armed forces of the "Jewish state" were.

      Q: And why were the armed forces of the "Jewish state" deep inside the territory of the "Arab state".
      A: Well, they weren't lost, if that's what you mean.

      Q: So what was the Haganah doing there?
      A: Invading that "Arab state".

    • The simplest retort to the argument that the West Bank isn't occupied is this: each and every "law" that Israel passes in the West Bank is promulgated by means of an IDF Military Order issued in the name of the IDF commander in the West Bank.

      Ariel wants a University?

      OK, sure, but that decision isn't gazetted by the Israeli Minister for Education.

      No, that decision is made via a Military Order issued by the IDF Commander, who does so because he has been instructed to issue it by the Israeli Minister of Defence.

      Every decision - every single one, no matter how trivial - is carried out because the IDF Commander issues a Military Order that makes it happen.

      Every. Single. Decision.

      There's a name for such a system: a "belligerent occupation".

  • The Shame of American Politics: GOP Presidential Hopefuls now Trek to Las Vegas seeking Adelson Blessing
    • "The unsaid premise here and in all broadsides against campaign finance is that voters are stupid"

      No, not "stupid", just "deprived of choice".

      After all, three - count 'em, three - front-running republican candidates for President all went to Las Vegas and essentially indulged in a pitching session for the dubious affections of a right-wing billionaire who mind just Isn't All There.

      So when it comes time for the registered Republican voter to start pickin' 'n' choosin' in those primaries then what sort of candidate will they have to pick from?

      Well, there's the fat guy who mouths right-wing kookiness.
      Or there's the skinny guy who does likewise.
      Or there's That Other Guy who sounds just like the first two.

      They are all of 'em fully paid up mouthpieces of that ultra-whacky billionaire who has paid for them to get to those primaries, and Those Are The Only Choices The Voting Public Have To Choose From.

  • Obama to Netanyahu: Israel faces Int'l Sanctions over "Permanent Occupation of West Bank"
    • That view is far too egocentric.

      Obama isn't signalling that the USA will impose sanctions upon Israel.

      He is signalling that Everyone Else will impose those sanctions, and when they do he will neither be willing nor able to lift a finger to prevent that outcome.

      This about it: the EU alone accounts for 1/3 of all Israeli trade, while Israel accounts for less than 1% of all EU trade.

      So the EU could decide to sanction Israel, and doing that **would** crash the Israeli economy, without imposing the slightest hardship on Europe.

      Only the USA has the clout to browbeat the EU to prevent that scenario, and what Obama is saying is that he couldn't be bothered even trying.

      And, really, why should he? It's not as if Israel is doing anything to help....

  • Now Peace Talks, John Kerry, are "Anti-Semitic" in Eyes of Israeli Far Right
    • Barkley, if it is "on his father's side" then as far as Israel is concerned he isn't "half-Jewish", he is in fact "a goy".

  • US seeks Broad Powers, Immunity for post-2014 Troops in Afghanistan (Lazare)
    • From a legal perspective the situation is this: a belligerent occupation begins when an army of occupation establishes its "authority" over a territory.

      And there is no question - none whatsoever - that the US Army established its authority over Afghanistan post-9/11.

      So the only real question is whether (or not) the SOFA amounts to the US Army (i.e. the "occupying power") relinquishing its authority over this territory.

      The proposed SOFA says that US troops (and its mercenaries) are not answerable to Afghani civil authority.

      Or, put another way: the Afghani government CAN'T tell those US Forces to cease and desist from storming into houses and taking people into custody.

      That means that the Afghani government DOESN'T have "authority" over those US troops, while those troops will continue to have "authority" over Afghani civilians, all of whom they can arrest for whatever reason takes their fancy.

      Occupation, plain as day.

  • Take that, France: Iran has Halted Expansion of Nuclear Facilities: IAEA
    • "Luckily, France is demanding that this plant be disabled."

      No, not in the interim agreement.

      The deal that the USA found acceptable was that the Iranians continue construction work but NOT introduce any fissile material until the final deal is done.

      The deal that France insists upon is that the Iranians cease all construction work on Arak until the final deal determines its fate.

      But France isn't demanding that the plant be "disabled", merely that work on it be "frozen".

    • .."but Fabius decided to go ahead in order to score political points with those who want to keep Iran locked in a box"...

      Or to score political points with Some Certain Countries who are waving around $billion weapons orders.

      After all, how many Rafale jet fighters has Dassault managed to sell into overseas markets?

      Ans: Nowhere near enough, but I suspect that's about to change.

  • Is the White House Right that More Iran Sanctions put US on "Path to War?"
    • "If we remove the threat and reality of sanctions what negotiating chips do we have to make sure Iran only enriches fuel for civilian purposes and has only a breakout capacity."

      The offer to remove the sanctions is the only bargaining chip you need and - let's face it - the whole point of that chip is to play it.

      If the USA puts that offer on the table in return for the Iranians signing the Additional Protocols and agreeing with the much, much stricter inspection regime that goes with that AP, then the Iranians will agree to it in a second.

      Heck, they'd knock Kerry over in their rush to sign it.

    • "I don’t understand."

      Carney's comments are disingenuous.

      The power to wage war (as opposed to declaring war) lies with the Executive, not with the Congress.

      No matter how much the hawks push and push and push, if the President won't go to war then the USA can't "march to war".

    • "they could act as a counterweight to the Saudi controlled OPEC"

      Well, it may be the Saudi King's lips that are moving, but w.r.t. OPEC the strings are very tightly held in Obama's hands.

      OPEC caused trouble in the 1970s. It was brought to heel in the 1980s, and brought totally under US control in the 1990s.

  • Will Avigdor Lieberman's return as Israeli Foreign Minister scupper Talks with Palestinians?
    • Likud is far-right.

      Habayit Hayeudi is wacky-way-out-right.

      It is a matter of degrees, but on the main point Cole is correct i.e. both Likud and HH are so far out to the right that they can't even **see** the centre from where they are standing.

      It's just that HH is so far to the right of the far-right Likud that they can barely see even Netanyahu from where they are standing.

  • Top Reasons Israel's Likud Really Opposes an Iran Nuclear Deal
    • Nathan, the danger to Israel in launching an attack on Iran *after* a deal is struck isn't a military one.

      Nobody (except Iran, of course) will go to war with Israel because Netanyahu had launched such an attack.

      The danger is that such an Israeli attack can not be construed as anything other than a military attack upon a USA national security policy.

      What would each of the P5+1 conclude from that?

      Answer: they would all conclude that Israel is barking-mad, utterly, completely, rabid-dog-out-of-control.

      The USA would have no choice but to regard Israel as "going rogue", and the last middle east leader who went rogue on the USA was Saddam Hussein in 1991.

      Food. For. Thought.

  • Top Ten Ways the US and Iran could avoid a Catastrophic War
    • You have Iran giving up enriching to 20% for the TRR, but there is nothing that I can see in your list of quid-pro-quos that would make up that shortfall.

      So, question: is that an oversight, or are you suggesting that Iran should accept that cancer-treatment in Iran should grind to a halt?

  • Former Iranian President Slams Syria for Gassing own People: Sign of deep Divisions in Tehran
    • To be fair, Dale Gavlak isn't "on the spot".

      He is repeating the reports that are being sent to him by his stringer, Yahya Ababneh, who is in Ghouta.

      There is nothing unusual or even sinister about that, but you should at least note the correct sequence of events i.e. Yahya Ababneh is in Ghouta, and he is collecting evidence that he relays to Dale Gavlak in Jordan(?) or Lebanon(?).

    • JC: "the rebels gassed themselves, though this conclusion is absurd on the face of it and contradicted by French, British, US and Israeli intelligence, including telephone intercepts that make it clear that the Syrian military deployed the gas"

      Why would a false-flag operation by foreign jihadists against Syrian civilians be "absurd"?

      After all, if you are a foreign jihadist then those aren't your civilians, so why would you care how you killed 'em.

      And in what way, exactly, has French, UK, US or Israeli intelligence assessments "contradicted" that argument other than to various ways to say "trust us, we know he did it"?

      Why are those assessments any the less absurd, when it is demonstrably true that recent history has proven that "you can trust us" is absurd when applied to those intelligence services?

      And, so sorry, in what way is guilt "clear" from a telephone intercept wherein
      (a) a (supposed) Syrian Ministry of Defence official (supposedly) demands an explanation about What Just Happened?
      (b) the reply that is given is nowhere recorded or otherwise noted?

      Half a conversation isn't "a conversation", it is "a monologue".

      You're smart enough to know that, so why keep pretending otherwise?

  • Obama goes to Congress on Syria as his International Support Collapses
    • Joe, the USA has gone to war several times in the Middle East since Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991

      1991: Russia did not oppose Operation Desert Storm
      1998: Russia did oppose Operation Desert Fox
      2001: Russia did not oppose Operation Enduring Freedom
      2003: Russia did oppose Operation Iraqi Freedom
      2011: Russia did not oppose Operation Odyssey Dawn
      2013: Russia is opposed to this proposed Syrian smackdown

      So I think you are being waaaay too simplistic in claiming that Libya was an outlier.

      It wasn't.

      The Russians are perfectly capable of supporting (or at the least not opposing) the use of US military force *provided* that the USA can come up with a plausible reason why it is necessary for the USAF to go BANG!!!! on someone.

  • Rush to Western Strike on Syria slows, but does not Stall
    • Well, in all fairness the dude at Foreign Policy may not know that he was being lied to.

      His American source may have told him about that phone intercept, and the reporter may then have simply assumed that the USA intercepted it.

      He was in no position to know that the USA has hearing this second-hand from the Israelis, and it isn't likely that his spook-friend would have volunteered that particular bit o' information.

  • Kerry signals US Intervention in Syria, but to What End?
    • "The US and its Allies cannot stand idly by while yet another state flaunts the international norm against the use of chemical warfare"

      Why not, exactly?

      Even if this accusation is proven it still amounts to a CW attack during an armed insurrection i.e. during a civil war.

      The prohibition against CW during an international armed conflict would still be preserved, and from the PoV of an *outside* actor like "the USA and its Allies) then that is what really counts.

      After all, the British seriously considered poison gas against tribesmen in Mesopotamia in the 1920s, but when WW2 came around they didn't think of using poison gas against German or Italian troops.

    • What I am pointing out is that the party that *is* signalling its willingness to intervene in that war *isn't* the party that is making definitive statements regarding who was responsible for these attacks.

      It *is* making definitive statements that a CW attack was carried out, sure, but it *isn't* making definitive statements that Assad Is The Dude Who Did It.

      Yet that is the country that wants to pitch in. Odd, hey?

    • Not meaning to be rude, but why would anyone accept the notion that "bombardment of the site of chemical use likely destroyed the evidence"?

      If it is Sarin or VX or some other military-grade nerve agent then the weapon is in the form of an air-dispersed liquid. Why would "bombardment" destroy that in clothing or water supplies?

      Nerve agents aren't houses: you can't bomb 'em away.

    • JC: "I don’t find the ‘false flag’ narrative about the gas attack put forward by the Russians plausible."

      There are stories circulating that "Russia's ambassador in the UN Security Council, Vitaly Churkin, presented conclusive evidence - based on documents and Russian satellite images - of two rockets carrying toxic chemicals, fired from Douma, controlled by the Syrian "rebels", and landing on East Ghouta."

      The public comments of the Russians are very forthright in saying that the rebels are responsible.

      Not that it is "unclear" or that Who Done It is "unknowable".

      The Russians are saying - no beatin' around the bush, but flat-out saying - that the rebels were responsible.

      Compare and contrast with John Kerry, who says that there was a CW attack, but who doesn't actually come out and say that Assad was responsible, and who *is* saying that Who Done It is now "unknowable".

  • Top Ten Things that don't Make Sense about NSA Surveillance, Drones and al-Qaeda
    • It would appear that the terrorists have won the War on Terror, and the NSA has helped them to win it.

      Think about it: all that a terrorist has to do is to..... pick up the phone to their Terrorist Best Buddy and discuss this all-new odourless, invisible, untouchable, bomb that they are going to use to blow up a US embassy somewhere.

      PANIC!!! PANIC!!! CLOSE ALL THE EMBASSIES!!! DO IT!! DO IT!!

      Terrorists: *snicker* *chortle* *snicker*

      Virtual terrorism - costing nothing more than a local phone call - yet it has the effect of striking terror into the heart of this US Administration.

      From their point of view, can it get any easier than that?

  • On Eve of "Peace Talks," Israelis Subsidize their West Bank Colonies, build new Units
    • There was much talk before Livni and Erekat went to Washington that Kerry had extracted a promise from both sides that they would refrain from taking any provocative actions during the talks.

      The Palestinians would refrain from going to the UN and/or the ICC, and the Israelis would refrain from any new construction in the settlement.

      The Palestinians.... have said they will refrain from going to the UN.

      The Israelis.... have said they will keep building, f**k you and your mother for suggesting otherwise.

      Go figure, hey?

      The only question that remains is how Kerry will manage to blame the Palestinians for this, even though it is the Israelis who have just trashed that promise.

  • How the US Can Facilitate Peace in Syria: Talking to All Sides including Iran (Lawson)
    • The first paragraph posits this:
      "Kerry persuaded Russian President Vladimir V. Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov to join Washington in organizing an international conference to lay the foundation for a transitional government,"

      Riiiiiiiight.

      That conference was Kerry's idea, was it?

      And his trip to Moscow was conceived as his attempt to strong-arm the Russians into accepting it, correct?

      Riiiiiiiight.

      Because my understanding of this is exactly the opposite i.e. Kerry went to Moscow to get the Russians to agree to Assad's overthrow, and he left that room thoroughly mugged by reality.

      So much so that he had to agree to the RUSSIAN idea of a conference, one that the USA really didn't want to happen.

  • Syria Spirals down into Sectarian War (Cole at Truthdig)
    • Are you really so certain that it was the Shabiha that carried out those killings?

      For what purpose, exactly?

  • The N. Korea/ Iran Nuclear Connection Fraud
    • Debkafiles has attempted to keep this pot bubbling along with a fluff-piece that contains this claim:
      "In late April, Tehran shipped to Pyongyang a large quantity of uranium enriched to 20+ percent – apparently for use in the May test."

      Clearly the story is nonsense, because every report from the IAEA confirms that there has been no diversion of enriched uranium from either Natanz or Fordow, which are the only two places in Iran that this stuff could have come from.

      And if Iran has "secret" facilities to make "illicit" 20% uranium then is simply doesn't **need** to use North Korea, because (clearly) it can do what it wants on its own soil without the IAEA - or anyone else - being any the wiser.

  • Israel - Iran Military Comparison
    • "Under what conditions could Israeli/Iranian reservists, tanks or airplanes engage in combat?"

      Well, apart from the likelihood that the IDF would attempt to drive up to the Litani River to push Hezbollah missiles out of range of Tel Aviv....

      There are many other scenarios, though most involve special forces e.g. Israel could attempt to (temporarily) seize an abandoned Iraqi airbase to act as an emergency base for returning F-16s.

      Also, of course, in a long war the Iranians have a route to Israel's doorstep via Iraq -> Syria -> Lebanon, and the IDF might have to move up to cut that route off, or use its airpower to attack any such moves.

    • So if they weren't fussed about Israel having nukes then why, exactly, should they be fussed about Iran having nukes?

      After all, Egypt has never got itself involved in a war with Iran, but it's fought more than a few with Israel..

    • "Now, if you could demonstrate that Israel was not about to be attacked when it launched preemptive strikes, that would refute Glenn’s point"

      Well, heck, that's easy to demonstrate:

      1) When the IAF Mirages screamed out of the morning sky they found the Egyptian MIG-21s lined up alongside the tarmac. Few were in revetments. Even fewer had been dispersed. None were on alert.

      How odd.

      2) When the IDF tank commanders drove their tanks aross the Sinai Desert towards the Suez Canal they found that the Egyptian soldiers were well forward and dug in, and the tanks were located well to the rear.

      Q: What sort military doctrine is *that*?
      A: It is classic Soviet defensive deployment.

      Q: But why didn't the Syrians rush forward when they saw that the IDF was busy dealing with Egypt?
      A: They were also dug in, and the Syrians showed not the slightest interest in urging them up 'n' forward.

      Which is odd indeed, seeing as how the hasbarah had both Egypt and Syria straining at the leash to get at Israel.

  • Obama warns Israel against Iran Strike, Cancels Joint Military Exercises
    • Can I just point out that e.v.e.r.y.b.o.d.y. is making an unwarranted assumption i.e. they are all assuming that nobody will come to Iran's assistance.

      As in: the equation is always...
      1) Can Israel beat Iran, or
      2) will it need the USA to help beat Iran?

      What if Dempsey is conveying a very different message to Israel e.g. you might *start* a war with Iran, but end up in a war against Iran *and* Russia *and* China.

      After all, the Americans have made that same mistake before i.e. in 1950, when GI's were powering their way up towards the Yalu River in the safe "knowledge" that the Chinese would never intervene.

      Until, of course, the Chinese did intervene.

      If the USA has had any hints that this could happen again then they will be getting very cold feet, very fast.

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