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Op-Ed

Illusion of Obama's Peace Talks

Latheef Farook, November 30, 2009

Palestinian demonstrators walk amidst tear gas fired by Israeli forces to disperse a protest against Israel's controversial Israeli barrier in the West Bank village of Bilin near Ramallah on Nov. 27. (Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/ AFP-Getty Images)

President Barack Obama's overture to start peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel seems to be yet another "mirage." So far, all such moves by successive U.S. administrations have only helped Israel to consolidate its grip on occupied Palestinian lands while hoodwinking the Palestinians, whose suffering continues.

The question is, how can the United States, guardian angel of Israel and an active partner in Israeli crime and atrocities towards Palestinians, be an honest peace broker?

The U.S. collusion in Israel's December 2008/January 2009 genocide in Gaza and its rejection of U.N.-sponsored Goldstone Reports on war crimes in Gaza are two recent examples of how the U.S. administration places the interest of Israel above that of the United States itself.

Numerous independent columnists accused the United States of being responsible for this carnage and criticized then President Elect Barack Obama's deafening silence to please the Zionists.

With regard to the Goldstone Report, Paul Craig Roberts, assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, said, "The Goldstone Report is the report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Israeli military attack on the Gaza ghetto, where 1.5 million dispossessed Palestinians, whose lands, villages and homes were stolen by Israel, are housed. The attack was on civilians and civilian infrastructure. It was without any doubt a war crime under the Nuremberg standard that the U.S. established to execute Nazis."

U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich asked the House if the members had any realization of the shame that the vote condemning Goldstone would bring on the House and the U.S. government. The entire rest of the world accepts the Goldstone Report. The House answered with its lopsided vote (344 to 36) that the rest of the world doesn't count, as it doesn't give campaign contributions to members of Congress.

Obama's credibility is shot, as is that of Congress. And the U.S. House of Representatives has voted to show that it is a servile, venal puppet of the Israel Lobby.

It is common knowledge that East Jerusalem has been Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory since June 1967. That was the ruling of the International Court of Justice since July 2004, and the Goldstone Reports refer to East Jerusalem as occupied Palestinian territory.

The rule of law exists to protect the victims of war, and occupying states are forbidden from seizing the land and property of those they occupy, forbidden from settling their citizens on occupied soil. Palestinians in East Jerusalem and other occupied territory have been kicked out of their homes, some after half an hour's notice, to build homes for Jewish settlers, some of whom have not even seen the soil there. These Jewish settlements have been often built with U.S. taxpayers' money. Some 500,000 Jews live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, among 2.7 million Palestinians.
  
President Obama vowed to stop Jewish settlements. However, illegal Jewish settlements continue, demonstrating Obama's helplessness, despite being the president of the mightiest country in the world. On November 17, days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Obama at the White House, Israel announced its decision to build 900 homes for Jewish settlers at the settlement of Gilo in the occupied West Bank Palestinian land annexed to Jerusalem municipality. It is hard to believe that Obama was not aware of Israeli's new settlement program.

Obama, who claims that Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are the cornerstone of his Middle East policy, expressed dismay and said the "situation in the Middle East is very difficult, and I've said repeatedly and I'll say it again, Israel's security is of vital national interest to the United States, and we will make sure they are secure."

As expected, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon deplored the action. The European Union said the move hampered talks, while French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner did not consider it an obstacle to peace talks despite international condemnation of the plan. Obama's envoy, George Mitchell, asked Israel to block the proposed construction. This request was rejected.

There was hardly any response from the Arab regimes, most of whom have abandoned the Palestinians and Jerusalem.

On assuming office, Obama dispatched Mitchell as the special envoy to explore possibilities of starting peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Here too yielding to Israeli dictated that the United States dismiss Hamas, elected in a spotless election described by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter as free and fair, and pick up Mahmoud Abbas, a U.S.-Israeli lackey rejected by the Palestinians.

These talks remain a nonstarter. Peace talks or not, Israeli colonization of occupied Palestinians lands continues unabated.

It was a strange coincidence that the Israeli announcement of new settlements came on the day, November 17, when the 27-nation European Union rejected Palestinian requests for support for an independent state. E.U. Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana said, "Setting up a viable Palestinian state needs to be done with time and calm manner in an appropriate movement, and no one is looking for that today."

When will that auspicious time come? The same old conspiracy continues under U.S. patronage—hoodwinking the Palestinians with peace moves that drag on for generations while helping Israel build and expand. And then Javier Solana may say, "Well, the ground reality has changed," as once stated by George W. Bush.

Betrayed by U.S., European and Arab leaderships, Palestinians face a worsening dilemma in their long dream to live a normal life on their own soil.

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