“Hizballah’s call for legitimacy” and other news
Posted by uscsjp on December 13, 2009
Hizballah’s call for legitimacy
“Last week Hassan Nasrallah delivered a speech over video link from an unknown location, as he frequently does. The leader of the Lebanese Shia Islamic resistance and political group Hizballah addressed the audience in Beirut to present the group’s new manifesto, their first since 1985 when the group unveiled its initial open letter.
The new political document, however, contained few surprises for some observers like independent Lebanese journalist Bilal el-Amine. ‘It’s not new for the people who have followed Hizballah over the past 20 years,’ he said. ‘The new document only formalizes Hizballah’s process. [Unlike the 1985 letter] there is no call for an Islamic state which has been the de facto position for many years now; this shows their commitment to become an integral part of Lebanese society.’
Hizballah was founded in the early 1980s, soon after Israel’s 22-year-occupation of south Lebanon began in 1978. Initially a resistance movement aimed at liberating Lebanese territory from the Israeli occupiers, Hizballah has since become a major political party in Lebanon officially entering the government in 2005.
Nasrallah has mostly remained underground since 2006 when Israel waged war on Lebanon after Hizballah led a cross-border raid that captured two Israeli soldiers. The war lasted 34 days and devastated much of Lebanon, killing more than 1,200 Lebanese — mostly civilians — and around 120 Israelis — mostly soldiers. The war was widely seen as a victory for Hizballah, and the group’s popularity skyrocketed in both Lebanon and the region. Today, Hassan Nasrallah is considered one of the most popular political figures among Arabs and Muslims around the world.
Opponents have long accused Hizballah, which is allied with both Syria and Iran, of operating a ‘state within a state’ and have frequently demanded that the group disarm, therefore leaving the Lebanese army as the only armed group in the country. Since the end of Lebanon’s bloody civil war in 1990, subsequent Lebanese governments have allowed Hizballah to retain its arms and serve as a resistance organization. After it was formed last month, the new Lebanese cabinet headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri reaffirmed this right.
‘Hizballah reasserted its right as a resistance group but talked about it in the context of coordination between the state, the army and the resistance,’ el-Amine said. ‘The new document is a message to ease any worries internally in Lebanon about what Hizballah might be up to.’
El-Amine added, ‘the document was heavy in its use of leftist terminology, much more than Islamist language and particularly in its strong rejection of neo-liberalism’…”
–Matthew Cassel, Electronic Lebanon, 8 December 2009
Settlement Freeze, Schmettlement Freeze (or “We’ve heard this one before”)
“The following media release was sent out this afternoon by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation:
Washington, DC – The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation welcomed today Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell’s statement that Israel’s partial settlement moratorium ‘falls short of a full settlement freeze.’
Speaking at the State Department, Mitchell reiterated that “United States policy on settlements remains unaffected and unchanged. As the President has said, America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.”
According to Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, ‘The United States must continue to push Israel for a complete freeze of settlements, including in East Jerusalem. All Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal and must be dismantled. The Obama Administration should counter Israel’s intransigence on settlements by cutting off U.S. military aid to Israel at least until it complies with U.S. policy and international law.’
While welcoming the Obama Administration’s continued insistence on the illegitimacy of Israeli settlements, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation challenged its assertion that the partial settlement moratorium ‘is more than any Israeli Government has done before,’ noting that Israeli Prime Ministers and governments have pledged at least five times since 1978 to freeze settlements (see below for documentation).
According to David Hosey, National Media Coordinator of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, ‘Previous Israeli governments have often pledged to freeze settlement construction, yet they all have continued to expand them. Today’s partial moratorium falls into this same pattern. Unless the United States puts its money where its mouth is by ending military aid to Israel there is no incentive for Israel to stop settlement construction.’
Previous Israeli promises to freeze settlements include:
* As part of the 1978 Camp David Accords negotiating process, President Jimmy Carter stated that ‘Prime Minister Begin pledged that there would be no establishment of new settlements until after the final peace negotiations were completed.’ Source: http://www.cartercenter.org/news/documents/doc137.html
* In July 1992, the Israeli government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin declared a settlement freeze. Source: http://www.nytimes.com/1992/07/25/world/baker-hails-israeli-freeze-hints-at-approval-of-loan.html
* Israel accepted the Mitchell Report of April 2001, which stated ‘The GOI [Government of Israel] should freeze all settlement activity, including the “natural growth” of existing settlements.’ Source: http://www.mideastweb.org/mitchell_report.htm
* Israel agreed to the ‘road map’ of April 2003, which stipulated that ‘Consistent with the Mitchell Report, GOI [Government of Israel] freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).’ Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/2989783.stm
* At the Annapolis Conference in November 2007, Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed ‘to immediately implement their respective obligations under the performance-based road map to a permanent two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, issued by the Quartet on 30 April 2003 — this is called the road map.’ Source: http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Statement_of_%22joint_understanding%22_released_after_Annapolis_Conference
Read other US Campaign press releases on our website by clicking here…”
–US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, 25 November, 2009
New Israeli funds for West Bank settlements
“The Israeli cabinet has decided to include some West Bank settlements in a national scheme that will entitle them to millions of dollars’ worth of funds. They are being designated as national priority zones, meaning they will qualify for grants, tax benefits, and other forms of aid. The move comes amid anger by Jewish settlers at a government-imposed curb on new building in settlements. The Labour Party leader warned some of the new money might go to extremists. On Friday a mosque in the West Bank was set on fire, and sprayed with Hebrew graffiti. Labour leader Ehud Barak said: ‘I don’t think that we need to award them a prize in the form of including them in the national priority map.’ His five ministers in the coalition government voted against the plan. The other three right-wing parties in the coalition – Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas – voted for it…”
–BBC News, 13 December, 2009
And from Jewish Voice for Peace
Tell President Obama to demand that Israel free Bil’in nonviolent leader Abdallah Abu Rahmah
“On December 10, 2009 at 2 AM, the Israeli military surrounded the Ramallah home of Abdallah Abu Rahmah, a high school teacher and the Coordinator of Bil’in’s Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, and arrested him. Abu Rahmah is among the leaders of the West Bank village of Bil’in’s nearly five-year nonviolent struggle of protests, lawsuits and boycotts aiming to save the village’s land from Israel’s wall and expanding settlements. Abdallah Abu Rahmah joins Mohammed Othman from the village of Jayyous, Adeeb Abu Rahmah from Bil’in and many other Palestinians who are currently jailed by Israel for working for justice. Tell President Obama to demand that Israel free Bil’in nonviolent leader Abdullah Abu Rahmah! (Your letter will be cc’ed to the American Consulate in East Jerusalem)…”
–Jewish Voice for Peace, 11 December, 2009