Omar Yousef Shehabi

Back to the future with Netanyahu's subterfuge

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepared for his first meeting with US President Barack Obama earlier this week, preliminary construction began on the Maskiot settlement in the Jordan Valley, which forms the Eastern Bantu of the occupied West Bank. According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, it will be Israel’s first new settlement in the northern West Bank in 27 years. Omar Yousef Shehabi comments for The Electronic Intifada. 

Abu Mazen: America's Tribute to Hafez Assad

The late Hafez Assad had “his Palestinians.” Ideologically divergent, they served politically to forestall any move by the PLO towards a negotiated settlement with Israel and personally to thwart the man Assad loathed like no other: Yasser Arafat. Surely few in my generation have even heard of the personalities comprising the Palestinian face of Assad’s crusade. Abu Musa, a celebrated Palestinian commander early in the Lebanon War, in 1983 led his breakaway Fateh faction into battle against what remained of Arafat’s PLO in the wake of Begin and Sharon’s slaughter a year prior. Thanks to Syrian patronage, his combat victory led him into total obscurity and into early retirement in Damascus. 

Deepening the fault lines

Now, with the Israel-Hizbollah war a stalemate at best and the Israeli deterrence at a historic nadir, Olmert and Bush know that the Israeli public has lost its nerve and its stomach for a unilateral withdrawal from one inch of the West Bank. Twenty years elapsed between the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and the first intifada. Eight years elapsed between the start of the Oslo process and the second intifada. The Gaza withdrawal has only exacerbated the Palestinians’ suffering, and without a diplomatic track to speak of, a third intifada is imminent, one that likely will not be constrained by the sham of Palestinian self-governance. 

The Clash of Democratic Ideals

Two years ago a US magistrate judge pronounced al-Arian “a model of civic involvement” but denied him bail, substituting a nationalistic play for a real assessment of flight risk. The problem, evidently lost on the judge, is that Palestine cannot offer al-Arian or any other of its refugees safe haven; the Israeli military has occupied the Palestinian areas for 38 years and prohibits their return. Under US Supreme Court precedent, this flight risk makes al-Arian’s two-year pretrial stay in a Florida maximum-security prison, with 23 hours a day in solitary confinement, a constitutional administrative measure, not punishment.