The Zeitgeist Politics

Global Politics with a focus on The Middle East

Posts Tagged ‘Silvan Shalom

UPDATED: A Knesset bill to watch

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This isn’t getting much coverage:

The Israeli parliament’s Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved a bill on Monday requiring a 60-MK majority and national consent on withdrawing from territory occupied by Israel in 1967.

The referendum bill on withdrawal from the Syrian Golan Heights and East Jerusalem mandates that any government decision be brought before Israeli citizens in a referendum, Israeli news site Ynet reported. [Ma’an News Agency]

I don’t know what the likelihood is that a bill like this would pass but the fact that it might see the light of the Knesset is troubling. Firstly, it damages the potential of success for a future Israeli-Syrian peace track. By putting a plot of land viewed widely by Israelis to be a key strategic advantage to a populist referendum it harms any opportunity of future Israeli governments easily returning it to Syria.

Most pressingly, what this bill essentially achieves is yet another barrier to a two state solution and an independent Palestinian state. By putting in place further political roadblocks, it makes it easier for far right populist politicians like Avigdor Lieberman to manipulate both public opinion and votes in the Knesset and further the two state impasse. Once again, one state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan becomes ever more inevitable.

Update: One of the smartest Twitter users in the Middle East, @Elizrael, points out that there is already such a law in place for the Golan Heights, which Israel occupied after the Six Day War in 1967 and annexed in 1981 with the Golan Heights Law. This action is not recognised internationally and is still considered occupied territory, as per UN Security Council Resolution 242 which remains in force to this day.

The bill that @Elizrael refers to also appears to be called the “Golan Heights Law” and was proposed by Likud MK Silvan Shalom. Any return of the Golan Heights was to require a 50% special majority of Knesset members (61/120) as well as a majority in national referendum. This was a move by the right to preempt any move by Barak to hand the Golan back to Syria, as negotiations at that stage were considered quite advanced. Incidentally, one piece of evidence indicating that Israel’s current path of discriminatory lawmaking is not that recent an event, Likud MK Uzi Landau advocated excluding Israeli Arabs from such a referendum on the grounds that it would be unfair to have Arabs voting on a proposal to hand back Arab land. On March 1,2000, the Knesset gave the bill preliminary approval. (1)

Unfortunately, I can find no further evidence or information on the interwebs about this bill, or whether it was passed. If anyone hears of anything, let a brother know. According to @Elizrael, “The Golan law was passed, however, it needs additional legislation of how to conduct the referendum, which wasn’t passed. The additional legislation has been delayed for years (including by Bibi now) because it can cause problems with the US. This means that the current law will also never see the light of day.”

All this makes for some interesting food for thought.

1. The only thing I could find via google on this bill came form Steven K. Maize’s 2006 book, “Israel’s Higher Law”. Page 215.

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Biggest Israeli strike on Gaza since Cast Lead with more to come?

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Image credit: Reuters

Israel hit Gaza with renewed strikes, the biggest incursion since Operation Cast Lead, and threatened worse yesterday, The Independent reports:

The Israeli military said it had successfully hit four targets across Gaza in the early hours of yesterday morning – two weapons-manufacturing plants and two arms caches.

Eyewitnesses in Gaza said there were at least seven strikes, and a cheese factory, a film studio and metal workshop in the central refugee camp of Nuseirat had been hit. Hospital officials said three Palestinian children had been injured after being hit by flying debris.

While Hamas has disclaimed responsibility for the attack and stated that attacks on Israel are not in its best interests, Israel has maintained that Hamas is responsible as the body governing the Strip (I like how Israel recognises Hamas as a legitimate government but only when it’s convenient to do so). Also, a cheese factory? I wonder if Israel is planning to launch a campaign on cheese akin to their hummus campaign.

Hamas has called for calm, but stopped short of openly condemning the rocket attack that prompted this Israeli action, something they are usually careful about doing. Meanwhile, Israel’s deputy prime minister Silvan Shalom had the following to say:

“We won’t allow frightened children to again be raised in bomb shelters and so, in the end, it will force us to launch another military operation,” he said. [Al Jazeera]

Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha reiterated that Hamas is working to curb rocket attacks against Israel and Ismail Haniyeh has once again asked for international intervention. The US has urged restraint, as has the UK.

While Israel contemplates another massive bombing raid, undoubtedly killing a bunch of women and children in the process, the results of the Dahiya doctrine in Southern Lebanon are still being felt. Nearly four years after the 2006 war that involved Israel dropping more than 4 million cluster bombs (according to the UN) and littering Southern Lebanon with mines, victims are still awaiting prosthetics. Great time to launch another humanitarian crisis.

One optimist is Salam Fayyad who is still talking about declaring a Palestinian state, this time in 2011, and with delicious, almost Obama-esque rhetoric full of hope and such.

“The birth of a Palestinian state will be celebrated as a day of joy by the entire community of nations,” Fayyad told the Haaretz daily.

“The time for this baby to be born will come,” he said, “and we estimate it will come around 2011,” the prime minister said. [Daily Star]

The delicious irony of this ‘day of joy’ celebrated by ‘the entire community of nations’ is probably not lost on the Gazans who are probably soon going to be burying more of their real babies.

Because I like to round off depressing news with proof that the Middle East still pitches up some corkers, here are few bits & pieces:

– Robert Fisk rails against the internet and Ann Coulter, expresses himself with “Aaaaagh!”. Choice quote: “Friends who are currently abandoning the hate-hell of the internet tell me that the only good button is the one called “delete”.” Nice, I’m sure Fisk’s ‘friends’ leaving the interweb in droves will spell its ultimate demise and it will be left for Justin Bieber fans to pick over.

– Speaking of railing, KABOBfest & Abu Muqawama both have a fun go at the perpetual neocon straw men that are still pounding out essays on how “they hate our freedom”. The fact that this crap is still being printed in 2010 is a joke. Sayyid Qutb? Gitouttahere! This time the symbol of the West, flying the flag for our freedoms, is Lady Gaga. Now she’s really made it.

– Speaking of scantily clad objects of desire pop stars who the “Arabs” don’t seem to hate, Nancy Ajram is visiting Abu Dhabi for some humanitarian thingy, as are Sami Yusuf, Hussain al Jassimi, Ehab Tawfik, and the actress Elham Shaheen. Sounds like a party. The race is on to be the Arab world’s Bono.