Home   Bookmark and Share

 Print Friendly and PDF

The announcement last week by the United States of the largest military aid package in its history – to Israel – was a win for both sides.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu could boast that his lobbying had boosted aid from $3.1 billion a year to $3.8bn – a 22 per cent increase – for a decade starting in 2019.

Mr Netanyahu has presented this as a rebuff to those who accuse him of jeopardising Israeli security interests with his government’s repeated affronts to the White House.

In the past weeks alone, defence minister Avigdor Lieberman has compared last year’s nuclear deal between Washington and Iran with the 1938 Munich pact, which bolstered Hitler; and Mr Netanyahu has implied that US opposition to settlement expansion is the same as support for the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews.

American president Barack Obama, meanwhile, hopes to stifle his own critics who insinuate that he is anti-Israel. The deal should serve as a fillip too for Hillary Clinton, the Democratic party’s candidate to succeed Mr Obama in November’s election.

In reality, however, the Obama administration has quietly punished Mr Netanyahu for his misbehaviour. Israeli expectations of a $4.5bn-a-year deal were whittled down after Mr Netanyahu stalled negotiations last year as he sought to recruit Congress to his battle against the Iran deal.

In fact, Israel already receives roughly $3.8bn – if Congress’s assistance on developing missile defence programmes is factored in. Notably, Israel has been forced to promise not to approach Congress for extra funds.

The deal takes into account neither inflation nor the dollar’s depreciation against the shekel.

A bigger blow still is the White House’s demand to phase out a special exemption that allowed Israel to spend nearly 40 per cent of aid locally on weapon and fuel purchases. Israel will soon have to buy all its armaments from the US, ending what amounted to a subsidy to its own arms industry.

Nonetheless, Washington’s renewed military largesse – in the face of almost continual insults – inevitably fuels claims that the Israeli tail is wagging the US dog. Even The New York Times has described the aid package as “too big”.

Since the 1973 war, Israel has received at least $100bn in military aid, with more assistance hidden from view. Back in the 1970s, Washington paid half of Israel’s military budget. Today it still foots a fifth of the bill, despite Israel’s economic success.

But the US expects a return on its massive investment. As the late Israeli politician-general Ariel Sharon once observed, ­Israel has been a US “aircraft carrier” in the Middle East, acting as the regional bully and carrying out operations that benefit Washington.

Almost no one blames the US for Israeli attacks that wiped out Iraq’s and Syria’s nuclear programmes. A nuclear-armed Iraq or Syria would have deterred later US-backed moves at regime overthrow, as well as countering the strategic advantage Israel derives from its own nuclear arsenal.

In addition, Israel’s US-sponsored military prowess is a triple boon to the US weapons industry, the country’s most powerful lobby. Public funds are siphoned off to let Israel buy goodies from American arms makers. That, in turn, serves as a shop window for other customers and spurs an endless and lucrative game of catch-up in the rest of the Middle East.

The first F-35 fighter jets to arrive in Israel in December – their various components produced in 46 US states – will increase the clamour for the cutting-edge warplane.

Israel is also a “front-line laboratory”, as former Israeli army negotiator Eival Gilady admitted at the weekend, that develops and field-tests new technology Washington can later use itself.

The US is planning to buy back the missile interception system Iron Dome – which neutralises battlefield threats of retaliation – it largely paid for. Israel works closely too with the US in developing cyber­warfare, such as the Stuxnet worm that damaged Iran’s civilian nuclear programme.

But the clearest message from Israel’s new aid package is one delivered to the Palestinians: Washington sees no pressing strategic interest in ending the occupation. It stood up to Mr Netanyahu over the Iran deal but will not risk a damaging clash over Palestinian statehood.

Some believe that Mr Obama signed the aid package to win the credibility necessary to overcome his domestic Israel lobby and pull a rabbit from the hat: an initiative, unveiled shortly before he leaves office, that corners Mr Netanyahu into making peace.

Hopes have been raised by an expected meeting at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday. But their first talks in 10 months are planned only to demonstrate unity to confound critics of the aid deal.

If Mr Obama really wanted to pressure Mr Netanyahu, he would have used the aid agreement as leverage. Now Mr Netanyahu need not fear US financial retaliation, even as he intensifies effective annexation of the West Bank.

Mr Netanyahu has drawn the right lesson from the aid deal – he can act against the Palestinians with continuing US impunity.

- See more at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/2016-09-19/palestinians-lose-in-us-military-aid-deal-with-israel/#sthash.fL4Eq28N.dpuf
Black November

The Balfour Declaration 99 years ago marked the beginning of a settler colonial project of tragic proportions.

By Ilan Pappe

November 03, 2016 "Information Clearing House" - "Al Jazeera" - November is a painful month in the Palestinian calendar. It is dotted with commemorative days that have one theme in common: the partitioning of Palestine.

Today is the 99th anniversary of the Balfour declaration. Although it did not offer partition, it sowed the seeds for it, which eventually allowed the Zionist movement to take over Palestine.

On November 15, we commemorate the Palestinian Declaration of Independence (issued by the Palestinian National Council (PNC)), which was a reluctant national Palestinian consent to partition, notwithstanding the injustice and criminality involved in such an act.

At the end of the month, on the 29th, we commemorate the UN General Assembly Resolution 181, which recommended in 1947 the partition of Palestine into two states.

Put into the right chronological sequence, we can see a direct line between the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the 1947 UN partition resolution and the 1988 PNC's document. It is worth our while to re-read Edward Said's wise words about the Balfour Declaration.

"What is important about the Declaration is, first, that it has long formed the juridical basis of Zionist claims to Palestine, and second, more crucial for our purposes here, that it was a statement whose positional force can only be appreciated when the demographic, or human realities of Palestine are clearly understood. For the Declaration was made (a) by a European power (b) about a non-European territory (c) in a flat disregard of both the presences and the wishes of the native majority resident in that territory, and (d) it took the form of a promise about this same territory to another foreign group, that this foreign group might, quite literally, make this territory a national home for the Jewish people."

In fact, it was more than that: It allowed a settler colonial movement, appearing very late in history, to envisage a triumphant project even before it set proper foot in the land or had a meaningful geographical and demographic presence there.

'The logic of the elimination of the native'

The native population in Palestine was much better equipped than the American Indians or Aborigines to deal with the danger of Zionism when it had just arrived.

They also had far better understanding of self-determination and nationhood than any of the other indigenous people at the time.

In 1917, the Palestinians inhabited their homeland almost exclusively and possessed most of its lands. Only with the help of British bayonets could the settler colonial project of Zionism survive in its early stages through the Palestinian uprisings of 1920, 1921, 1929 and, in particular, 1936.

The British army employed immense force, which included the Royal Air Force, to quell the 1936 Palestinian uprising. It lasted for three years and ended with the British elimination of the Palestinian national leadership, either by killing or by exiling.

This was the main legacy of the Balfour project: not its hallowed text but the policy that ensued in its wake, leading eventually to the catastrophe of 1948.

There were British officials at home and on the ground who had second thoughts and qualms about the alliance with Zionism. They had their say when the British government despatched a Royal Inquiry Commission to examine the origins of the 1936 revolt.

The commission hoped to rectify some of the injustice by suggesting partition between the settlers and the native population.

The Zionist leadership urged the British to transfer the Palestinians from any area that would be accorded to the Zionist settlers, but this was something London refused to do.

However, by legitimising partition in Palestine as a "solution" with international credibility, Britain associated this geographical arrangement clearly with the basic impulse of any settler colonial movement, the one so brilliantly defined by the late Patrick Wolfe as "the logic of the elimination of the native".

With such a blessing, no wonder that, henceforth, partition and ethnic cleansing in Zionist thought and practice went hand in hand.

When the British cabinet announced its decision to leave Palestine at the beginning of February 1947, and referred the future of the country to the UN, the historical opportunity arose to fuse once more partition with transfer of population.

This time, the Zionist leadership did not seek international legitimacy for the transfer; they sought it only for the partition. It assumed correctly that partition, in particular two years after the Holocaust, would be accepted internationally as a just, moral and reasonable solution.

A European crime

The natural Palestinian rejection of the notion of dividing their homeland with settlers, the majority of whom had arrived only few a years earlier, fell on deaf Western ears.

Locating the Jews in Palestine, without the need to come to terms with what Europe did to them in World War II, became the easiest corridor out of Europe's ugliest historical moment.

As is clear today from the documents, the Zionist leadership regarded the partition resolution as both international legitimisation for a Jewish state in Palestine, and the Palestinian rejection of it as a valid pretext for the ethnic cleansing of the native population.

The Arab world supported the Palestinian rejection and hoped at first through diplomatic means to change it. When it became clear during the first of months of 1948 that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine was beginning in earnest (by the beginning of May, most Palestinian towns were depopulated and some wiped out entirely by the Zionist forces), Arab public opinion demanded more from its governments.

The last straw was the Deir Yassin massacre of April 1948. In its wake, the Arab League began to coordinate a large-scale military operation to stop the destruction of Palestine.

Not all the Arab leaders were genuinely interested in this goal, and not one of them was willing to throw into the campaign a meaningful military force.

The result was a total defeat by the Israeli forces, which continued, without any international rebuke or intervention, the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.


Two areas remained outside Israel's reach: the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Not because Israel at the time lacked the power to occupy them, but because its leaders decided that the West Bank was a demographic liability and the Gaza Strip could serve as a huge receptor for the hundreds of thousands of refugees Israel pushed out south of Jaffa and Jerusalem.

However, ever since 1948, a lobby had been operating in Israel demanding the occupation of these last bits of Palestine. The opportunity came in 1967.

Soon after it became clear that, at least for some of the Israelis, this was not a welcome development: Occupying the lands of millions of Palestinians proved an unexpected political headache and for a while a financial burden.

Thus the Israeli peace camp was born wishing to control these two areas from the outside and grant them autonomy, and later some members of the movement were even willing to call the areas a state.

At the same time, settlers, with and without government blessing, began to colonise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

As in 1936, so in 1987, an oppressed people tried to shake off the colonial project. This time there was some positive international reaction which the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was hoping to galvanise for the cause. It seemed that even the US in the post-Cold War era might change its attitude.

Substituting presence with absence

American blessing came with a price - a demand that the PLO would acknowledge the partition of Palestine and accept the loss of almost 80 percent of the homeland.

The Declaration of Independence navigated between the pragmatism required and loyalty to the moral and basic principles of the liberation movement. Partition was recognised both as a crime and a fait accompli.

Despite the historical injustice done to the Palestinian Arab people in its displacement and in being deprived of the right to self-determination following the adoption of General Assembly Resolution 181 (II) of 1947, which partitioned Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish State, that resolution nevertheless continues to set preconditions to international legitimacy that guarantee the Palestinian Arab people the right to sovereignty and national independence.

This might have worked had partition been a genuine strategy or vision of the settler state of Israel. However, conceding demographic exclusivity and total geographical ownership is an unthinkable scenario for any settler colonial project. The aim is to displace the natives and replace them; or, as Edward Said put it so well, substituting presence with absence.

From the Israeli/Zionist perspective, partition can only be a means of completing the project of settler colonialism; it can never be used for limiting or forsaking the project.

Thus, the Declaration of Independence did not affect the reality on the ground, and neither did all the next international, regional or local attempts to resell the idea of partition as a "two states solution".

The discourse on partition continued, while the reality of settler colonialism covered now almost every inch of historical Palestine.

November is a good month to ponder why partition, described in American parlance as the best way of keeping neighbours happy, equates occupation, colonisation and ethnic cleansing.

The seeds were sown in 1917, reaped in 1947 and poisoned the country ever since. It is time to adopt a fresh moral and political view on this history for the sake of a better future.

Ilan Pappe is the director of the European Center of Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter. He has published 15 books on the Middle East and on the Palestine Question.

Click for Spanish, German, Dutch, Danish, French, translation- Note- Translation may take a moment to load.

What's your response? -  Scroll down to add / read comments 

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for our FREE Daily Email Newsletter

For Email Marketing you can trust











 Please read our  Comment Policy before posting -
It is unacceptable to slander, smear or engage in personal attacks on authors of articles posted on ICH.
Those engaging in that behavior will be banned from the comment section.




In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Information Clearing House has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Information ClearingHouse endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

Privacy Statement