Friday, 19 June 2009

Chomsky on Israeli settlement expansion

Chomsky wrote the following about the planned expansion of Israeli settlements in Palestine:

Washington's position was presented most strongly in Hillary Clinton's much-quoted statement rejecting "natural growth exceptions" to the policy opposing new settlements. Netianyahu, along with President Peres and in fact virtually the whole Israeli political spectrum, insists on permitting "natural growth" within the areas that Israel intends to annex, complaining that the US is backing down on Bush's authorization of such expansion within his "vision" of a Palestinian state.

Senior Netanyahu cabinet members have gone further. Minister Yisrael Katz announced that "the current Israeli government will not accept in any way the freezing of legal settlement activity in Judea and Samaria.” (Ha'aretz, May 31). The term "legal" in US-Israeli parlance means "illegal, but authorized by the government of Israel.” In this usage, unauthorized outposts are termed "illegal," though apart from the dictates of the powerful, they are no more illegal than the settlements granted to Israel under Bush's "vision."[…]

If Obama were serious about opposing settlement expansion, he could easily proceed with concrete measures, for example, by reducing US aid by the amount devoted to this purpose. That would hardly be a radical or courageous move. The Bush I administration did so (reducing loan guarantees), but after the Oslo accord in 1993, President Clinton left calculations to the government of Israel. Unsurprisingly, there was "no change in the expenditures flowing to the settlements," the Israeli press reported: "[Prime Minister] Rabin will continue not to dry out the settlements," the report concludes. "And the Americans? They will understand" (Hadashot, Oct. 8; Yair Fidel, Hadashot Supplement, Oct. 29, 1993).

Obama administration officials informed the press that the Bush I measures are "not under discussion," and that pressures will be "largely symbolic" (Helene Cooper, NYT, June 1). In short, Obama "understands." […]

[A]ll of these discussions about settlement expansion evade the most crucial issue about settlements: what Israel has already established in the West Bank. The evasion tacitly concedes that the illegal settlement programs already in place are somehow acceptable (putting aside the Golan heights, annexed in violation of Security Council orders) -- though the Bush "vision," apparently accepted by Obama, moves from tacit to explicit. What is in place already suffices to ensure that there can be no viable Palestinian self-determination. Hence there is every indication that even on the unlikely assumption that "natural growth" will be ended, US-Israeli rejectionism will persist, blocking the international consensus as before.

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