How Israel Buried the UN’s War Crime Probe – Buying Off the Palestinian Authority

Israel celebrated at the weekend its success at the United Nations in forcing the Palestinians to defer demands that the International Criminal Court investigate allegations of war crimes committed by Israel during its winter assault on the Gaza Strip.

The about-turn, following furious lobbying from Israel and the United States, appears to have buried the damning report of Judge Richard Goldstone into the fighting, which killed some 1,400 Palestinians, most of them civilians.

Israeli diplomats suggested on Sunday that Washington had promised the Palestinian Authority, in return for delaying an inquiry, that the United States would apply “significant pressure” on Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to move ahead on a diplomatic process when the US envoy, George Mitchell, arrives in the region tomorrow.

But, according to Israeli and Palestinian analysts, diplomatic arm-twisting was not the only factor in the PA’s change of heart. Haaretz newspaper reported last week that, behind the scenes, Palestinian officials had faced threats that Israel would retaliate by inflicting enormous damage on the beleaguered Palestinian economy.

In particular, Israel warned it would renege on a commitment to allot radio frequencies to allow Wataniya, a mobile phone provider, to begin operations this month in the West Bank. The telecommunications industry is the bedrock of the Palestinian economy, with the current monopoly company, PalTel, accounting for half the worth of the Palestinian stock exchange.

The collapse of the Wataniya deal would have cost the Palestinian Authority hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties, blocked massive investment in the local economy and jeopardised about 2,500 jobs.

Omar Barghouti, a Jerusalem-based founder of a Palestinian movement for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel, denounced the Palestinian Authority’s move: “Trading off Palestinian rights and the fundamental duty to protect the Palestinians under occupation for personal gains is the textbook definition of collaboration and betrayal.”

The deal to establish Wataniya as the second Palestinian mobile phone operator has been at the centre of the international community’s plans to revive the West Bank’s economy and show that Palestinians are better off under the rule of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, than Hamas.

Tony Blair, the Middle East envoy representing the so-called Quartet of the United States, Russia, the UN and the EU, brokered the agreement last summer, saying Wataniya’s investment of more than $700 million over the next 10 years would “provide a much-needed boost to the Palestinian economy”.

Wataniya is a joint venture between Palestinian investors, including close allies of Mr Abbas, and Qatari and Kuwaiti businessmen.

But while Mr Netanyahu has welcomed the deal as part of his plans for an “economic peace”, an option he prefers to Palestinian statehood, Israel has been dragging its feet in allocating the necessary frequencies.

Wataniya’s planned launch earlier this year had to be pushed back and the company has threatened to pull out of the deal if the new October 15 deadline is missed. If it does, the Palestinian Authority will have to repay $140m in licensing fees and could be liable for hundreds of millions more that Wataniya has invested in building 350 communication masts across the West Bank.

According to Who Profits?, an Israeli organization that investigates links between Israel and international companies in exploiting the occupied territories, Israel has a vested interest in limiting the success of the Palestinian mobile phone industry and protecting its control over extensive parts of the West Bank it wants for Jewish settlement.

The only existing Palestinian operator, Jawwal, a subsidiary of PalTel, has been blocked from building communications infrastructure in the so-called Area C of the West Bank, comprising 60 per cent of the territory, which is designated under full Israeli control.

Instead, four Israeli companies – Cellcom, Orange, Pelephone and Mirs – have built an extensive network of antennas and transmission stations for Jewish settlers in Area C. Mirs, a subsidiary of Motorola Israel, also has an exclusive licence to provide cellular services to the Israeli military.

Typically, Palestinians travelling outside the major population areas of the West Bank find a limited or non-existent Jawwal service and therefore have to rely on the Israeli companies.

A World Bank report last year found that as much as 45 per cent of the Palestinian mobile phone market may be in the hands of the Israeli companies. In violation of the Oslo Accords, these firms do not pay taxes to the PA for their commercial activity, losing the Palestinian treasury revenues of up to $60m a year.

Israeli companies also rake off additional surcharges on connections made by Palestinians using Jawwal, including calls between mobile phones and landlines, between the West Bank and Gaza and many within Area C, and international calls.

Dalit Baum, a founder of Who Profits?, said the importance of the telecommunications industry to the Palestinian economy made it a point of leverage over the PA at moments of diplomatic crisis, such as the Goldstone report.

She said: “This case highlights not only how Israel restricts Palestinian economic development through the occupation but also how it uses that control for its own economic and diplomatic advantage.”

Israel’s chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, was reported last week to have conditioned his approval for Wataniya’s launch on the Palestinian leadership withdrawing demands for a referral to the war crimes tribunal.

Defense officials were reported to be angry that the PA had supported the attack on Gaza when it was launched last winter but were now pressing for Israeli soldiers to be put in the dock. One senior figure was quoted by the Haaretz newspaper saying: “The PA has reached the point where it has to decide whether it is working with us or against us.”

Under the Oslo accords, Israel retained ultimate control over the “electro-magnetic spectrum”, including the allocation of radio frequencies, in both Israel and the occupied territories.

Allan Richardson, Wataniya’s chief executive, who has previously launched mobile services in post-war Iraq and Afghanistan, blamed Israel for the company’s problems during an interview in July: “The obstacles we’re suffering from are obstacles you’ll never get anywhere else in the world.”

Last year Israel committed to providing Wataniya with a bandwidth of 4.8MHz, the absolute minimum required to provide coverage over the West Bank, but so far has offered only 3.8MHz.

Jawwal finally received 4.8MHz from Israel in 1999, two years after it launched. Despite the number of its subscribers growing tenfold to 1.1 million today, its bandwidth has remained the same. In comparison, Israel’s Cellcom company, with three times as many subscribers, has 37MHz.

Abdel Malik Jaber, PalTel’s chief executive, complained last year that millions of dollars of imported telecoms equipment was stuck at Israeli customs, some of it since 2004. Wataniya has made similar accusations against Israel.

Ref: Counerpunch

A version of this article originally appeared in The National (www.thenational.ae), published in Abu Dhabi.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is http://www.jkcook.net.

READ THE UN REPORT ON ISRAELI(HAMAS) WAR CRIMES!!!

VIDEO: Project For The New American Century (PNAC) WAR CRIMES

Project For The New American Century – deconstructed

Project for the New American Century web page.
The Neo Conservative Manifesto, The Project for the New American Century PNAC

Project for the New American Century is Robbing Us Blind

The Project for a New American Empire – Who are these guys? And why do they think they can rule the world?

Bush planned Iraq ‘regime change’ before becoming President

The United States of Violence – Imperial Excess

We keep hearing that Iraq is not Vietnam. And surely any competent geographer would agree. But the United States is the United States — still a country run by leaders who brandish, celebrate and use the massive violent capabilities of the Pentagon as a matter of course.

***
Almost fifty years ago, during the same autumn JFK won the presidency, John Hersey came out with “The Child Buyer,” a novel written in the form of a hearing before a state senate committee. “Excuse me, Mrs., but I wonder if you know what’s at stake in this situation,” a senator says to the mother of a ten-year-old genius being sought for purchase by the United Lymphomilloid corporation. “You realize the national defense is involved here.”

“This is my boy,” the mom replies. “This is my beautiful boy they want to take away from me.”

A vice president of United Lymphomilloid, “in charge of materials procurement,” testifies that “my duties have an extremely high national-defense rating.” He adds: “When a commodity that you need falls in short supply, you have to get out and hustle. I buy brains. About eighteen months ago my company, United Lymphomilloid of America, Incorporated, was faced with an extremely difficult problem, a project, a long-range government contract, fifty years, highly specialized and top secret, and we needed some of the best minds in the country…”

Soon, most of the lawmakers on the committee are impressed with the importance of the proposed purchase for the nation. So there’s some consternation when the child buyer reports that he finally laid his proposition “squarely on the table” — and the boy’s answer was no.

Senator Skypack exclaims: “What the devil, couldn’t you go over his head and just buy him?”

“The Child Buyer” is a clever send-up, with humor far from lighthearted. Fifteen years after Hersey did firsthand research for his book “Hiroshima,” the Cold War had America by the throat. The child buyer (whose name, as if anticipating a Bob Dylan song not to be written for several more years, is Mr. Jones) tells the senate panel that his quest is urgent, despite the fifty-year duration of the project. “As you know, we live in a cutthroat world,” he says. “What appears as sweetness and light in your common television commercial of a consumer product often masks a background of ruthless competitive infighting. The gift-wrapped brickbat. Polite legal belly-slitting. Banditry dressed in a tux. The more so with projects like ours. A prospect of perfectly enormous profits is involved here. We don’t intend to lose out.”

And what is the project for which the child will be bought? A memorandum, released into the hearing record, details “the methods used by United Lymphomilloid to eliminate all conflict from the inner lives of the purchased specimens and to ensure their utilization of their innate equipment at maximum efficiency.”

First comes solitary confinement for a period of weeks in “the Forgetting Chamber.” A second phase, called “Education and Desensitization in Isolation,” moves the process forward. Then comes a “Data-feeding Period”; then major surgery that “consists of ‘tying off’ all five senses”; then the last, long-term phase called “Productive Work.” Asked whether the project is too drastic, Mr. Jones dismisses the question: “This method has produced mental prodigies such as man has never imagined possible. Using tests developed by company researchers, the firm has measured I.Q.’s of three fully trained specimens at 974, 989, and 1005…”

It is the boy who brings a semblance of closure on the last day of the hearing. “I guess Mr. Jones is really the one who tipped the scales,” the child explains. “He talked to me a long time this morning. He made me feel sure that a life dedicated to U. Lympho would at least be interesting. More interesting than anything that can happen to me now in school or at home…. Fascinating to be a specimen, truly fascinating. Do you suppose I really can develop an I.Q. of over a thousand?”

But, a senator asks, does the boy really think he can forget everything in the Forgetting Chamber?

“I was wondering about that this morning,” the boy replies. “About forgetting. I’ve always had an idea that each memory was a kind of picture, an insubstantial picture. I’ve thought of it as suddenly coming into your mind when you need it, something you’ve seen, something you’ve heard, then it may stay awhile, or else it flies out, then maybe it comes back another time. I was wondering about the Forgetting Chamber. If all the pictures went out, if I forgot everything, where would they go? Just out into the air? Into the sky? Back home, around my bed, where my dreams stay?”

***
Suppression of inconvenient memory often facilitated the trances that boosted the work of the Pentagon. But some contrary voices could be heard.

Lenny Bruce wasn’t a household name when he died of a morphine overdose in August 1966, but he was widely known and had even performed on network television. His nightclub bits, captured on record albums, satirized the zeal of many upstanding moralistic pillars. One of Bruce’s favorite routines described a visit to New York by top holy men of Christianity and Judaism. They go to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral: “Christ and Moses standing in the back of Saint Pat’s. Confused, Christ is, at the grandeur of the interior, the baroque interior, the rococo baroque interior. His route took him through Spanish Harlem. He would wonder what fifty Puerto Ricans were doing living in one room. That stained glass window is worth nine grand! Hmmmmm…”

In what turned out to be his final performances, Bruce took to reciting (with a thick German accent) lines from a poem by the Trappist monk Thomas Merton — a meditation on the high-ranking Nazi official Adolf Eichmann. “My defense? I was a soldier. I saw the end of a conscientious day’s effort. I watched through the portholes. I saw every Jew burned and turned into soap. Do you people think yourselves better because you burned your enemies at long distances with missiles? Without ever seeing what you’d done to them?”

***
We saw butterflies turn into bombers, and we weren’t dreaming. The 1960s had evolved into a competition between American excesses, with none — no matter how mind-blowing the psychedelic drugs or wondrous the sex or amazing the music festivals — able to overcome or undermine what the Pentagon was doing in Southeast Asia. As journalist Michael Herr observed in Vietnam: “We took space back quickly, expensively, with total panic and close to maximum brutality. Our machine was devastating. And versatile. It could do everything but stop.” At the same time that Woodstock became an instant media legend in mid-August 1969, melodic yearning for peace was up against the cold steel of America’s war machinery. The gathering of 400,000 young people at an upstate New York farm implicitly — and, for the most part, ineffectually — rejected the war and the assumptions fueling it. Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was an apt soundtrack for U.S. foreign policy.

***
Days after the November 2004 election, while U.S. troops again moved into Fallujah for the slaughter, a dispatch from that city reported on the front page of the New York Times: “Nothing here makes sense, but the Americans’ superior training and firepower eventually seem to prevail.”

Superior violence, according to countless scripts, was righteous and viscerally satisfying. Television and movies, ever since childhood, presented greater violence as the ultimate weapon and final fix, uniquely able to put an end to conflict. Leaving menace for dead — you couldn’t beat that. But at home in the USA and far away, the practical and moral failures of violence became irrefutable. In Iraq, sources of unauthorized violence met with escalating American violence. In the United States, war opponents met with presidential contempt.

In a short story, published one hundred years ago, William Dean Howells wrote: “What a thing it is to have a country that can’t be wrong, but if it is, is right, anyway!”

Ref: counterpunch, by Norman Solomon

This essay is excerpted from Norman Solomon’s new book, Made Love, Got War.