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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Congressmen go to Gaza and What is a balanced resolution anyway?

US Members of Congress visit Gaza
http://endthesiege.blogspot.com/2009/02/us-members-of-congress-visit-gaza.html

Representatives Baird and Ellison (you know, the Muslim people mixed up with Obama and made up that he used a Quran to be sworn in?) visited Gaza and were moved. Good. And so what? Or what now?

On one hand, I’m glad they are seeing things with their own eyes (instead of just parroting Israel and dismissing all else) and I’m glad they agree that the situation is bad. On the other, I know nothing will get done. Even if they were moved to sacrifice their seats and advocate for rights and basic necessities of life for Palestinians as much as everyone is concerned for Jews’ rights to sit in cafes and go to the movies, they are too few. Despite the futility of that scenario, that would be a good thing. But, it won’t happen. Everything will be blamed on Hamas, as usual, as though Israel has done nothing remotely wrong or against the law. War is devastating and has consequences, Palestinians’ troubles are just collateral damage. They’ll say- if Hamas would just do this or Palestinians just do x, y and z, then Israel wouldn’t be forced to “act”.

These Congress people are saddened and moved by the humanitarian situation when confronted with it face to face, but when in Washington, this* is what happens:
(*this= unabashedly pro-Israel resolutions detailing Palestinian faults and blame, not mentioning any Israeli wrongdoing or preconditions, expressing solidarity with Israel, listing instances where they perceive Israel has fulfilled obligations, while paying lip service to the peace process.)

This was introduced during the latest offensive by Israel in Dec 08-Jan 09:

SRES 10 ATS, 111th CONGRESS, 1st Session, S. RES. 10

Recognizing the right of Israel to defend itself against attacks from Gaza and reaffirming the United States' strong support for Israel in its battle with Hamas, and supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

January 8, 2009

Mr. REID (for himself, Mr. MCCONNELL, Mr. KERRY, Mr. LUGAR, Mr. DURBIN, Mr. KYL, Mr. LEVIN, Mr. CHAMBLISS, Mr. LIEBERMAN, Mr. HATCH, Mrs. BOXER, Mr. BOND, Mr. SCHUMER, Mr. DEMINT, Mr. LAUTENBERG, Mr. THUNE, Ms. LANDRIEU, Mr. CRAPO, Mr. MENENDEZ, Mr. MARTINEZ, Ms. MIKULSKI, Mr. NELSON of Florida, Mr. CASEY, Mr. PRYOR, Mr. DORGAN, Mr. CARPER, Mr. BAUCUS, Mr. BAYH, Mr. JOHANNS, Mrs. LINCOLN, Mr. BROWN, and Mr. CARDIN) submitted the following resolution; which was considered and agreed to

Recognizing the right of Israel to defend itself against attacks from Gaza and reaffirming the United States' strong support for Israel in its battle with Hamas, and supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Whereas Hamas was founded with the stated goal of destroying the State of Israel;

Whereas Hamas has been designated by the Secretary of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization;

Whereas Hamas has refused to comply with the requirements of the Quartet (the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations) that Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence, and agree to accept previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians;

Whereas, in June 2006, Hamas crossed into Israel, attacked Israeli forces and kidnapped Corporal Gilad Shalit, whom they continue to hold today;

Whereas Hamas has launched thousands of rockets and mortars since Israel dismantled settlements and withdrew from Gaza in 2005;

Whereas Hamas has increased the range of its rockets, reportedly with support from Iran and others, putting additional large numbers of Israelis in danger of rocket attacks from Gaza;

Whereas Hamas locates elements of its terrorist infrastructure in civilian population centers, thus using innocent civilians as human shields;

Whereas Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement on December 27, 2008, that `[w]e strongly condemn the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and hold Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence there';

Whereas, on December 27, 2008, Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert said, `For approximately seven years, hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens in the south have been suffering from missiles being fired at them. . . . In such a situation we had no alternative but to respond. We do not rejoice in battle but neither will we be deterred from it. . . . The operation in the Gaza Strip is designed, first and foremost, to bring about an improvement in the security reality for the residents of the south of the country.';

Whereas, on January 2, 2009, Secretary of State Rice stated that `Hamas has held the people of Gaza hostage ever since their illegal coup against the forces of President Mahmoud Abbas, the legitimate President of the Palestinian people. Hamas has used Gaza as a launching pad for rockets against Israeli cities and has contributed deeply to a very bad daily life for the Palestinian people in Gaza, and to a humanitarian situation that we have all been trying to address';

Whereas the humanitarian situation in Gaza, including shortages of food, water, electricity, and adequate medical care, is becoming more acute;

Whereas Israel has facilitated humanitarian aid to Gaza with over 500 trucks and numerous ambulances entering the Gaza Strip since December 26, 2008;
(I guess this is supposed to be a statement showing how Israel is fulfilling it’s obligations, but to those of us who know anything about the conflict, 500 trucks is a drop in the bucket. 500 trucks is a reduction from previous levels which were insufficient to prevent a humanitarian crisis.

Whereas, on January 2, 2009, Secretary of State Rice stated that it was `Hamas that rejected the Egyptian and Arab calls for an extension of the tahadiya that Egypt had negotiated' and that the United States was `working toward a cease-fire that would not allow a reestablishment of the status quo ante where Hamas can continue to launch rockets out of Gaza. It is obvious that that cease-fire should take place as soon as possible, but we need a cease-fire that is durable and sustainable'; and

Whereas the ultimate goal of the United States is a sustainable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will allow for a viable and independent Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel, which will not be possible as long as Israeli civilians are under threat from within Gaza: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate--

(1) expresses vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders, and recognizes its right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism;

(2) reiterates that Hamas must end the rocket and mortar attacks against Israel, recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence, and agree to accept previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians;

(3) encourages the President to work actively to support a durable, enforceable, and sustainable cease-fire in Gaza, as soon as possible, that prevents Hamas from retaining or rebuilding the capability to launch rockets and mortars against Israel and allows for the long term improvement of daily living conditions for the ordinary people of Gaza;

(4) believes strongly that the lives of innocent civilians must be protected and all appropriate measures should be taken to diminish civilian casualties and that all involved should continue to work to address humanitarian needs in Gaza;

(5) supports and encourages efforts to diminish the appeal and influence of extremists in the Palestinian territories and to strengthen moderate Palestinians who are committed to a secure and lasting peace with Israel; and

(6) reiterates its strong support for United States Government efforts to promote a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a serious and sustained peace process that leads to the creation of a viable and independent Palestinian state living in peace alongside a secure State of Israel.


This one was introduced during Israel’s offensive in Lebanon:

H. Res. 921

In the House of Representatives, U. S.,

July 20, 2006.

Whereas on September 12, 2005, Israel completed its unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, demonstrating its willingness to make sacrifices for the sake of peace;

Whereas more than 1,000 rockets have been launched from Gaza into Israel since Israel's disengagement;

Whereas in a completely unprovoked attack that occurred in undisputed Israeli territory on June 25, 2006, Israeli Defense Forces Corporal Gilad Shalit was kidnapped and is being held hostage in Gaza by a Palestinian terrorist group which includes members of Hamas;

Whereas Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal, in Damascus, Syria, has acknowledged the role of Hamas in holding Corporal Shalit hostage;

Whereas in a completely unprovoked attack that occurred in undisputed Israeli territory on July 12, 2006, operatives of the terrorist group Hezbollah operating out of southern Lebanon killed three Israeli soldiers and took two others hostage;

Whereas Israel fully complied with United Nations Security Council Resolution 425 (1978) by completely withdrawing its forces from Lebanon, as certified by the United Nations Security Council and affirmed by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on June 16, 2000, when he said, `Israel has withdrawn from [Lebanon] in full compliance with Security Council Resolution 425.';

Whereas United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 (2004) calls for the complete withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon and the dismantlement of all independent militias in Lebanon;

Whereas despite the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559, the Government of Lebanon has failed to disband and disarm Hezbollah, allowing Hezbollah instead to amass 13,000 rockets, including rockets that are more destructive, longer-range and more accurate than rockets previously used by Hezbollah, and has integrated Hezbollah into the Lebanese Government;

Whereas the Government of Israel has previously shown great restraint despite the fact that Hezbollah has launched at least four separate attacks into Israel using rockets and ground forces over the past year;

Whereas the failure of the Government of Lebanon to implement all aspects of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 and to extend its authority throughout its territory has enabled Hezbollah to launch armed attacks against Israel and recently to kidnap Israeli soldiers;

Whereas Hezbollah's strength derives significantly from the direct financial, military, and political support it receives from Syria and Iran, and Hezbollah also receives important support from sources within Lebanon;

Whereas Iranian Revolutionary Guards continue to operate in southern Lebanon, providing support to Hezbollah and reportedly controlling its operational activities;

Whereas the Government of the United States has enacted several laws, including the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-175) and the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-172), which call for the imposition of sanctions on Syria and Iran for, among other things, their support for terrorism and terrorist organizations;

Whereas the House of Representatives has repeatedly called for full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559;

Whereas section 1224 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2003 (Public Law 107-228) withholds certain assistance to Lebanon contingent on the deployment of the Lebanese armed forces to the internationally recognized border between Lebanon and Israel and its effective assertion of authority in the border area in order, among other reasons, to prevent cross-border infiltration by terrorists, precisely the criminal activity that has provoked the current crisis;

Whereas President George W. Bush stated on July 12, 2006, `Hezbollah's terrorist operations threaten Lebanon's security and are an affront to the sovereignty of the Lebanese Government. Hezbollah's actions are not in the interest of the Lebanese people, whose welfare should not be held hostage to the interests of the Syrian and Iranian regimes.', and has repeatedly affirmed that Syria and Iran must be held to account for their shared responsibility in the recent attacks;

Whereas the United States recognizes that some members of the democratically-elected Lebanese parliament are working to build an autonomous and sovereign Lebanon and supports their efforts; and

Whereas both Hezbollah and Hamas refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist and call for the destruction of Israel: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives--

(1) reaffirms its steadfast support for the State of Israel;

(2) condemns Hamas and Hezbollah for engaging in unprovoked and reprehensible armed attacks against Israel on undisputed Israeli territory, for taking hostages, for killing Israeli soldiers, and for continuing to indiscriminately target Israeli civilian populations with their rockets and missiles;

(3) further condemns Hamas and Hezbollah for cynically exploiting civilian populations as shields, locating their equipment and bases of operation, including their rockets and other armaments, amidst civilian populations, including in homes and mosques;

(4) recognizes Israel's longstanding commitment to minimizing civilian loss and welcomes Israel's continued efforts to prevent civilian casualties;

(5) demands the Governments of Iran and Syria to direct Hamas and Hezbollah to immediately and unconditionally release Israeli soldiers which they hold captive;

(6) affirms that all governments that have provided continued support to Hamas or Hezbollah share responsibility for the hostage-taking and attacks against Israel and, as such, should be held accountable for their actions;

(7) condemns the Governments of Iran and Syria for their continued support for Hezbollah and Hamas in their armed attacks against Israelis and their other terrorist activities;

(8) supports Israel's right to take appropriate action to defend itself , including to conduct operations both in Israel and in the territory of nations which pose a threat to it, which is in accordance with international law, including Article 51 of the United Nations Charter;

(9) commends the President of the United States for fully supporting Israel as it responds to these armed attacks by terrorist organizations and their state sponsors;

(10) urges the President of the United States to bring the full force of political, diplomatic, and economic sanctions available to the Government of the United States against the Governments of Syria and Iran;

(11) demands the Government of Lebanon to do everything in its power to find and free the kidnapped Israeli soldiers being held in the territory of Lebanon;

(12) calls on the United Nations Security Council to condemn these unprovoked acts and to take action to ensure full and immediate implementation of United Nations Security Council 1559 (2004), which requires Hezbollah to be dismantled and the departure of all Syrian personnel and Iranian Revolutionary Guards from Lebanon;

(13) expresses its condolences to all families of innocent victims of recent violence; and

(14) declares its continued commitment to working with Israel and other United States allies in combating terrorism worldwide.


UN Resolutions are mentioned and Arab shortcomings are detailed. Israel’s failures (be they failures to implement UN Resolutions or violations of international law) are totally disregarded. If this resolution also detailed Israel’s shortcomings, violations, etc, they would certainly outnumber by far the Arab “whereas” statements of shortcoming.

***
Looking at these resolutions, it is easy for us to forget what Israel is doing to perpetuate the violence, so...

Here are a few places to find Israel’s violations that you’ll never find in a so-called balanced (here, balanced = pro-Israel) Congressional resolution:
***
quick and dirty facts and figures of the conflict
http://www.miftah.org/report.cfm

Israel: New report condemns Israel's 'blatant violation of International Law' in West Bank
http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=17362

Diaries
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/diaries.shtml

Eyewitnesses
http://www.palestinemonitor.org/spip/spip.php?rubrique2


http://www.alhaq.org/


Israel Is Committing War Crimes- Jan 10, 2009
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123154826952369919.html

Occasionally has interesting personal stories, diaries, etc in addition to news:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/middle_east/2001/israel_and_the_palestinians/default.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7802295.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7822048.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/talking_point/7270785.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1899387.stm

Interesting project- war crimes
http://www.crimesofwar.org/archive/archive-mideast.html#israel


Specifically about the recent Gaza action:
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090112/falk?rel=emailNation

http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/israeli-armys-use-white-phosphorus-gaza-clear-undeniable-20090119


This article talks about 66 UN resolutions Israel disregards:
http://www.wrmea.com/backissues/0393/9303040.htm

A quote from the article that I wholeheartedly agree with:
"If the United States really wants peace in the Middle East, it must insist that Israel abide by the judgment of the world community as expressed in resolutions by the United Nations."

***
***

The Congressmen were moved by what they saw in Gaza, yet didn’t ask why things are this bad. It’s Hamas’ fault and the Palestinian people’s for not revolting against the democratically elected leadership. They didn’t ask- is it just this latest offensive that caused such suffering? Is Israel doing enough to prevent such hardship on civilians or are they deliberately creating this situation (terrorism) to induce the innocent population to revolt against Hamas (civil war)? Was it necessary to flatten every structure (security, utilities, telecom, etc) in view and kill so many to achieve the reduction of rocket attacks?

Take a look at these resolutions that place the blame solely on Palestinians and never on Israel, that express such strong support for Israel, that detail every failure of Hamas, that don’t mention a word of Israel’s violations of international law (settlements, role of Occupier, etc) and UN Resolutions and general standard for justice and regard for the civilian population. Anyway, take a look at that, then look at the UN Resolutions the US has vetoed because they are “anti-Israel”. Anything that calls Israel out for it’s deficiencies or holds Israel accountable in any way is considered anti-Israel. I guess that’s what friends do. Lie and cover up each others’ sins, rather than tell the unpleasant truth and truly help them. Israel doesn’t even reciprocate, but no worries, we have a special relationship (whatever that means), right?

++++++++The US veto in the Israel/Palestine conflict++++++++

Two veto lists:
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/UN/usvetoes.html

http://www.ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/p-neff-veto.html


One US Rule for Israel, Another for Saddam
http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0216-07.htm

Gaza 2005
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/us-vetoes-biased-un-resolution-attacking-israels-gaza-bloodbath-423993.html


2003- about the veto
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2828985.stm
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The most recent UN Resolution on this issue is below. We abstained (voted present?) on this one rather than vetoed. There was some snafu over it as we were going to vote for it, then got a call from Olmert which changed "our minds." Anyway, it's hardly anti-Israel, but I guess it's not obsequious enough. In order to be balanced in American eyes, one must reaffirm Israel's right to exist and defend itself as the primary message and demand that all recognize these things, congratulate it on all it's "done" and heavily criticize Palestinians (and other Arab nations if you can fit it in). Above all, you must not allude to any Israeli wrongdoing at all. That would be anti-Israel. That's a bunch of garbage, of course, but you understand the thinking.

John Bolton called this resolution anti-Israel (???) :

UN Resolution 1860
Background

The Security Council met this evening to take action on a draft resolution (document S/2009/23) sponsored by the United Kingdom, which reads as follows:

“The Security Council,

“Recalling all of its relevant resolutions, including resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1397 (2002), 1515 (2003) and 1850 (2008),

“Stressing that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the territory occupied in 1967 and will be a part of the Palestinian state,

“Emphasising the importance of the safety and well-being of all civilians,

“Expressing grave concern at the escalation of violence and the deterioration of the situation, in particular the resulting heavy civilian casualties since the refusal to extend the period of calm; and emphasising that the Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations must be protected,

“Expressing grave concern also at the deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza,

“Emphasising the need to ensure sustained and regular flow of goods and people through the Gaza crossings,

“Recognising the vital role played by UNRWA in providing humanitarian and economic assistance within Gaza,

“Recalling that a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved by peaceful means,

“Reaffirming the right of all States in the region to live in peace within secure and internationally recognized borders,

“1. Stresses the urgency of and calls for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza;

“2. Calls for the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance, including of food, fuel and medical treatment;

“3. Welcomes the initiatives aimed at creating and opening humanitarian corridors and other mechanisms for the sustained delivery of humanitarian aid;

“4. Calls on Member States to support international efforts to alleviate the humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza, including through urgently needed additional contributions to UNRWA and through the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee;

“5. Condemns all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism;

“6. Calls upon Member States to intensify efforts to provide arrangements and guarantees in Gaza in order to sustain a durable ceasefire and calm, including to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition and to ensure the sustained re‑opening of the crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access between the Palestinian Authority and Israel; and in this regard, welcomes the Egyptian initiative, and other regional and international efforts that are under way;

“7. Encourages tangible steps towards intra-Palestinian reconciliation including in support of mediation efforts of Egypt and the League of Arab States as expressed in the 26 November 2008 resolution, and consistent with Security Council resolution 1850 (2008) and other relevant resolutions;

“8. Calls for renewed and urgent efforts by the parties and the international community to achieve a comprehensive peace based on the vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace with secure and recognised borders, as envisaged in Security Council resolution 1850 (2008), and recalls also the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative;

“9. Welcomes the Quartet’s consideration, in consultation with the parties, of an international meeting in Moscow in 2009;

“10. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”

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