‘Israel not keen on peace with Palestine’ 16Aug11 August 17, 2011

Press TV  -  16 August 2011
Israel has approved the construction of more settler units on occupied Palestinian lands. It will build 277 new homes in the West Bank.

Israel has only recently announced the construction of 16-hundred units in eastern Jerusalem al-Quds. International condemnation has grown over Tel Aviv’s settlement expansion.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority says negotiations with Israel over the establishment of an independent Palestinian state will get nowhere.

The Authority’s Foreign Minister said Palestinians are sick of Israel’s lies. Riyad al-Maliki said the UN must find a solution to the issue.

He said Palestinians are determined to promote a unilateral bid for statehood. Maliki noted that 120 states have already recognized Palestine and the number will grow further.

Press TV interviewed with Joe Catron from International Solidarity Movement in Gaza on this issue.

Press TV: Why these consecutive settlement announcements, it seems in a row, are they doing it just because they can?

Catron: To certain extend I agree, Israel is obviously thumbing its nose to the world. The fact that it is carrying out what are universally recognized as great breaches of the fourth Geneva Convention, war crimes to be precise, says a great deal about how this criminal regime deals with the rest of the world, and our collective opinion.

At the same time I am not entirely sure that it is fair to say that these breaches are occurring without consequence for the Zionists. In recent weeks we have seen a number of major blows against the settlements and their profiteers.

On Thursday it was announced that Total Produce, an Irish company was withdrawing its bid to purchase Agrexco an Israeli produce exporter that deals extensively with the settlements. In recent weeks Veolia a trash disposal and municipal maintenance firm from France has lost a number of contracts because of campaigns by the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and these, I think exemplify what can be done, individuals by popular movements, in absence of the governmental opposition to these war crimes that we would all like to see.

Press TV: Just recently Israel invited fifth of the US congress to come and visit them for free. That was courtesy of APAC, and interestingly they did not visit Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, they did it to see what the protestors had to say about this huge wall that was being built in the occupied lands. What did you think of that piece of news?

Catron: Obviously it is contemptible it is not that markedly different from what happened last year, when sixth of the European Parliament went to Israel as guests of European friends of Israel.

It makes clear the kinds of games that Israel is playing in the Western capitals to hedge up its relationships, which in some cases are dwindling and loosing strength. My co panelists might have valid, intelligent disagreements with me but I have hope for the United States. I think a lot of my fellow citizens are sitting up and taking notice that eighty one of their supposed representatives are in Israel on lobbyist expense accounts instead of in their districts listening to their constituents concerns, which is what they are suppose to be doing during August recess.

I think in these coming years, this kind of awareness will increase and I have hope that it will lead to meaningful changes in the way our country deals with this criminal regime.

Press TV: why doesn’t Israel, based on that, want to deal with international bodies, what are Netanyahu’s reservations when he makes a statement like that?

Catron: It would be more correct to say I have hope in my country than fate in my country. I think Netanyahu’s game here is obvious he is determined to flout international law and the consensus of the global community as long as he can, that is something he has made clear repeatedly. That is why we see ongoing crimes, not only in the construction of settlements, but also siege of Gaza in defiance of expressed will of nearly the whole of the global community.

Press TV: let me get your opinion on this upcoming [UN] bid, it does make some of the realities on the ground that Israel has made to be illegal, including the settlements, including the movement of goods, including the movement of people, the check points, you still have Palestinians that are restricted from entering the al-Aqsa Mosque. Not to mention all the excavations and all the other realities that Israel has imposed on Palestinians. Will this [UN] recognition was it to happen, make a difference?

Catron: Well I don’t have a firm opinion on the question. At the end of the day I am not a Palestinian so it is not my question to resolve. I am also in a disadvantage in this group I am an activist and an organizer with no background in international law. However, I am not convinced that this unilateral decoration of statehood on twenty two percent of historic Palestine would do anything to solidify the status of the west Bank and east Jerusalem as occupied territory and the settlements as illegal.

Already everything that I have heard mentioned is, as far as I know, a violation of the Geneva Convention. What else is there? I mean, I realize I am showing my ignorance here, but I am just not convinced that more legal argument against Israel crimes are what we actually need at this point.

Additionally I worry that something like this declaration which is silent on seventy eight percent of historic Palestine that was occupied in 1948 instead of 1967 and is silent on other major Palestinian human rights, like the Right of Return, or equal treatment for Palestinian citizens of the so called state of Israel, I worry that things like that might fall by the waist side if the declaration succeeds in shifting the focus exclusively to what is happening in the twenty two percent of Palestine that it addresses.

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