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Monday, November 19, 2007


Israeli double-talk

The lead:
Israel vowed on Monday to freeze the construction of new settlements in the occupied West Bank and said it plans to free hundreds of Palestinian prisoners ahead of a key US peace meeting.
The reality:

On the subject of prisoners, Israel is proposing (they haven't actually done it yet, mind you, and there are a lot of things they have said they were going to do - like the item we're coming to - which never actually got done) to release a grand total of 450 prisoners. They are holding...11,000 "detainees" (not actually "prisoners" since the vast majority have been convicted of precisely nothing, just like the vast majority of detainees being held by the Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and elsewhere). Like the absurd "no-fly" list which consists of 750,000 people, the idea that there are 11,000 Palestinians who have committed a crime as "serious" as even throwing a stone is absurd. The majority are in prison because they dared to oppose the Israeli occupation of their land.

On settlements, Israel was committed not to build "new" settlements since the "roadmap" in 2003 (and of course they're committed not to build any settlements at all under international law). Now, four years later, Olmert says "We have committed ourselves under the roadmap not to build new settlements in the West Bank and we will not build any." I guess he forgot the word "more" as in "any more." But what is a "new" settlement exactly? Not anything that can be remotely construed as part of an existing one: "Under no condition will we strangle the existing settlements." New houses, yes. New settlers, yes. But "new settlements"? Not if they're allowed the same definitional flexibility that George Bush uses to define "torture."

The AP story on this news items includes a bit of humor:

[Israel] stopped short of American demands to halt construction in existing settlements before a crucial U.S.-hosted Mideast conference.
"Demands"? Wouldn't "pro-forma request to keep up appearances" be a little more accurate? When you "demand" something, and you're holding the power the U.S. holds (to the tune of billions of dollars, U.N. vetoes, provider of weapons, etc.), a "demand" is usually accompanied by an "or else" clause. I must have missed that.

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