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Bringing balance to the U.S. Senate's resolution on Gaza

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The 8 January 2009 U.S. Senate Resolution on Gaza was extremely one-sided to the point that it benefits no one but just exacerbates the situation. I have interspersed my own comments to provide badly needed balance to the resolution. 

SENATE NON-BINDING RESOLUTION ON THE RIGHT OF ISRAEL TO DEFEND ITSELF, 8 JANUARY 2009

S. RES.      10    

 
O:\DAV\DAV09017.xml S.L.C.

111TH CONGRESS

1ST SESSION

         Recognizing the right of Israel to defend itself against attacks from Gaza

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and reaffirming the United States’ strong support for Israel in its battle

with Hamas, and supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

Mr. REID(for himself and Mr. MCCONNELL) submitted the following

resolution; which was referred to the Committee _________________

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RESOLUTION

Recognizing the right of Israel to defend itself against at-

tacks from Gaza and reaffirming the United States’

strong support for Israel in its battle with Hamas, and

supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

[Recognizing that this Senate resolution is extremely one-sided and detracts from the pursuit of peace between Israel and Hamas, and recognizing that the resolution fails to acknowledge the need of Gazan citizens for self defense against Israel's long-standing destructive embargo and its November violations of the six-month cease fire which ended on December 19;]

Whereas Hamas was founded with the stated goal of destroy-

ing the State of Israel;

[Whereas Hamas, upon being elected to lead the Palestinian government, offered to negotiate a long-term cease fire and agreement with Israel based on UN Resolutions 242 and 338;]

Whereas Hamas has been designated by the Secretary of

State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization; 

[Whereas there have been many  "terrorists" who ended up in negotiations with the U.S. and its allies,

[Whereas U.S.-designated "terrorist" tigers can and do change their stripes when the U.S. and other western allies are forced by events to abandon their narrow and unproductive ("It's a privilege for you to be allowed to talk with us") concept of their own national interests and diplomacy, examples  being: the African National Congress (long considered a terrorist group by the U.S.) led by Nelson Mandela (who until July, 2008, was still classified by the U.S. as a terrorist!), Mao Zedung, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mohmmar Qadaffi, Northern Ireland's Sinn  Fein leader Gerry Adams, Vietnam's man in Cambodia Hun Sen, and irony of ironies, the Palestinian political faction Fatah, long reviled by the U.S. and Israel but now the darling of both Israel and the U.S., contra Hamas;]

Whereas Hamas has refused to comply with the requirements

of the Quartet (the United States, the European Union,

Russia, and the United Nations) that Hamas recognize

Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence, and agree to ac-

cept previous agreements between Israel and the Pal-

estinians;  

[Whereas Israel, by effectively refusing to accommodate the existence of an independent and viable Palestinian state, has made "existence" a negotiating point, especially since the Palestinians got nothing but an expansion of Israeli settlements, additional restrictive checkpoints, and non-compliance with international law following the Palestinian Liberation Organization's recognition of Israel's existence as a Jewish state in the 1993 Oslo Agreement;[1]

Whereas the Israelis have never even come close to renouncing violence, whether of the hard type executed by traditional weapons of war or the soft type executed by embargo, bottleneck checkpoints, and daily humiliation of Palestinians in occupied territories, all of which amount to an attempt by Israel to carry out slow-motion ethnic cleansing of occupied territories;

Whereas the final border is a negotiable issue, and by UN Resolution 242 of 1967 the final border will be close to the pre-1967 boundary with adjustments agreeable to both parties, a position which Hamas has offered as a basis for negotiations and cease fire but Israel, in its own unenlightened self interest, rejected in favor of continuing to expand settlements on the West Bank;]

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2

Whereas, in June 2006, Hamas crossed into Israel, attacked

Israeli forces and kidnapped Corporal Gilad Shalit, whom

they continue to hold today; 

[Whereas Israel continues to imprison almost ten thousand Palestinians, many innocent even under Israeli law, and continues to carry out extralegal assassinations of Hamas government officials and has imprisoned legitimately elected Hamas members of the Palestinian parliament;]

Whereas Hamas has launched thousands of rockets and mor-

tars since Israel dismantled settlements and withdrew

from Gaza in 2005; 

[Whereas Israel withdrew ground troops but did not disengage from Gaza and continues to this day, in a most odious way, to control its seacoast, its land borders, and airspace, which by any meaningful definition is an "occupation" that brings with it by international law the responsibility to take care of those dominated by this control;]

Whereas Hamas has increased the range of its rockets, re-

portedly with support from Iran and others, putting addi-

tional large numbers of Israelis in danger of rocket at-

tacks from Gaza;

[Whereas the U.S. has armed Israel to the teeth so it can project its military power thousands of miles compared to the 20 or so miles achievable by Hamas's notoriously inaccurate missiles;

[Whereas the U.S. has accepted and most likely assisted Israel's development of nuclear weapons (acquired in 1967 or before) in violation of the U.S.'s responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, thus making Israel a superpower towering far above anything any Palestinian group or Middle Eastern country could muster against it;]

Whereas Hamas locates elements of its terrorist infrastruc-

ture in civilian population centers, thus using innocent ci-

vilians as human shields;

[Whereas Israel's military infrastructure exists in the hearts of Tel Aviv and many other Israeli cities, close to civilians, which inevitably exposes Israeli civilians to attack;

[Whereas Israel neglected the welfare of its own citizens by encouraging the development of cities such as Sderot near contested border areas, knowing their settlement policies would ensure decades of strife with Palestinians with unavoidable danger to their near-border civilians;

[Whereas Hamas's civilian governmental offices are located where they must be, among the populated areas of Gaza, a region so small (about 150 square miles, twice Washington, DC's area with twice DC's population) that separation of Hamas's government facilities of any kind is not practical and indeed would not be necessary if Israel were not occupying and controlling Gaza;]

Whereas Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a state-

ment on December 27, 2008, that ‘‘[w]e strongly con-

demn the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against

Israel and hold Hamas responsible for breaking the

ceasefire and for the renewal of violence there’’;

[Whereas Israel broke the June, 2008 six-month cease-fire the day it was signed by aggressing against Gaza through a continuation of its rigid control of Gaza's borders and, on November 4 (U.S. time), by executing a ground incursion into Gaza and extralegally assassinating six Hamas men, all prior to Hamas violation of the cease fire with systematic rocket attacks;]

Whereas, on December 27, 2008, Prime Minister of Israel

Ehud Olmert said, ‘‘For approximately seven years, hun-

dreds of thousands of Israeli citizens in the south have

been suffering from missiles being fired at them.. . . In

such a situation we had no alternative but to respond.

We do not rejoice in battle but neither will we be de-

terred from it.. . .The operation in the Gaza Strip is de-

signed, first and foremost, to bring about an improve-

ment in the security reality for the residents of the south

of the country.’’;

[Whereas the people of Gaza have been suffering mightily under the Israeli embargo of humanitarian goods and services for three or more years, and have suffered for more than 41 years under Israeli military occupation, Israeli theft/settlement of their territory, and daily humiliation from Israeli restrictions on everyday movements;

[Whereas Gaza residents have the legitimate right of self defense against Israeli aggression;]

Whereas, on January 2, 2009, Secretary of State Rice stated

that ‘‘Hamas has held the people of Gaza hostage ever

since their illegal coup against the forces of President

3

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Mahmoud Abbas, the legitimate President of the Pales-

tinian people. Hamas has used Gaza as a launching pad

for rockets against Israeli cities and has contributed

deeply to a very bad daily life for the Palestinian people

in Gaza, and to a humanitarian situation that we have

all been trying to address’’;

[Whereas Israel has held the people of Gaza prisoners ever since the Israel's departure from Gaza;

[Whereas the attempt of the U.S., Israel, and Palestinian President Abbas to stage a coup against Hamas in Gaza in June, 2006 backfired by prompting a preemptive countercoup by Hamas that left Hamas in power;][2]

Whereas the humanitarian situation in Gaza, including short-

ages of food, water, electricity, and adequate medical

care, is becoming more acute;

[Whereas shortages of food, fuel, water, electricity, and adequate medical care are nothing new but have been produced by Israel's blockade, illegal under international law, constituting collective punishment against the people of Gaza;]

Whereas Israel has facilitated humanitarian aid to Gaza with

over 500 trucks and numerous ambulances entering the

Gaza Strip since December 26, 2008;

[Whereas the inflow of food, water, medical supplies and other necessities amounts in normal times to 700 trucks per day, and Israel violated the 19 June 2008 cease fire agreement by agreeing only to 15% of the normal cross-border traffic, resulting in acute malnutrition of Gaza's population on a scale equal to that in the poorest nations of the southern Sahara;][3]

Whereas, on January 2, 2009, Secretary of State Rice stated

that it was ‘‘Hamas that rejected the Egyptian and Arab

calls for an extension of the tahadiya that Egypt had ne-

gotiated’’ and that the United States was ‘‘working to-

ward a cease-fire that would not allow a reestablishment

of the status quo ante where Hamas can continue to

launch rockets out of Gaza. It is obvious that that cease-

fire should take place as soon as possible, but we need

a cease-fire that is durable and sustainable’’; and

 [Whereas Hamas rejected an extension of the cease fire because Israel, in violation of international law prohibiting collective punishment, would agree to only allow 15% of the normal cross-border supply traffic if the cease fire were extended, which would have left the population continuing to struggle under conditions of extreme deprivation;[4]

[Whereas the United States cared not to push for a cease fire that would impose on Israel stringent sanctions should they abuse their control of Gaza's border or should they gratuitously use extralegal military force against Hamas officials and, "collaterally," against innocent Gaza citizens;

Whereas the ultimate goal of the United States is a sustain-

able resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will

allow for a viable and independent Palestinian state living

side by side in peace and security with the State of

Israel, which will not be possible as long as Israeli civil-

ians are under threat from within Gaza:

[Whereas the United States under George Bush prejudiced negotiations when Bush acceded to Israel's theft of Palestinian land by claiming Israel's right to retain "large" settlements, even though West Bank settlements, all illegal under international law, are connected by a network of Israeli-only roads that break the West Bank into a collection of non-contiguous "Bantustans," thereby making a mockery of Bush's proclaimed desire for a "viable" Palestinian state;]

Now, therefore, be it

1       Resolved, That the Senate—

2                (1) expresses vigorous support and unwavering

3       commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of

4

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1       the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state  

2       with secure borders, and recognizes its right to act  

3       in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of  

4       terrorism;

[Now therefore be it

Resolved,  That those truly interested in peace and justice for Palestinians and Israelis acknowledge that:

         [(1) Israel's government, having never declared Israel's borders, a ruse by which it has rationalized its theft of land on the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights, must with all due haste dismantle all settlements in occupied territories, must carry out its responsibilities as an occupying power, must reject policies of collective punishment, and must work towards the rapid and complete end of its military occupation so that Palestinians will be left with the material conditions required for the establishment of a viable state and Israel will be left with a safe and secure state roughly in its pre-1967 boundaries;]

5                (2) reiterate that Hamas must end the rocket

6       and mortar attacks against Israel, recognize Israel’s  

7       right to exist, renounce violence, and agree to accept  

8       previous agreements between Israel and the Pal-

9       estinians;

         [(2) reiterate that Israel must end its aerial bombardments and missile attacks against Gaza that have killed innocent Palestinians in numbers far beyond Israel's combined civilian and military war deaths, recognize Palestine's right to exist in secure borders and airspace without threat from Israel, and recognize that Israel must live up to its agreements struck at Oslo and adhere to UN resolutions, particularly 242 and 338, and any other provisions which will bring about a viable Palestinian state outside Israel's pre-1967 borders, with adjustments agreeable to both parties;]

10              (3) encourages the President to work actively to  

11     support a durable, enforceable, and sustainable

12     cease-fire in Gaza, as soon as possible, that prevents  

13     Hamas from retaining or rebuilding the capability to  

14     launch rockets and mortars against Israel and allows  

15     for the long term improvement of daily living condi-

16     tions for the ordinary people of Gaza;

         [(3) encourage President Obama to demand that Israel stop using U.S.-supplied weaponry, in violation of both U.S. law and agreements between Israel and the U.S., for the purpose of killing, oppressing, and humiliating Palestinians through occupation or attack, and to eliminate all U.S. aid to Israel if Israel refuses to  immediately begin dismantling all settlements outside of its pre-1967 boundaries, which are illegal under international law;]

17              (4) believes strongly that the lives of innocent  

18     civilians must be protected and all appropriate meas-

19     ures should be taken to diminish civilian casualties

20     and that all involved should continue to work to ad-

21     dress humanitarian needs in Gaza;

         [(4) believe strongly that the U.S. government's unconditional support of extreme elements in Israel (unfortunately represented by all three of Israel's major political parties) is counter to any professed U.S. desire to address humanitarian needs in Gaza and is not in the interests of the U.S., of Israel, or of Palestinians, and that such unconditional support has contributed to Israel's disproportionate responses to Palestinian resistance, to Israel's continuous expansion of settlements in the West Bank, and to the continuation of Israel's brutal apartheid-like occupation that has worsened in recent years;]

22              (5) supports and encourages efforts to diminish

23     the appeal and influence of extremists in the Pales-

24     tinian territories and to strengthen moderate Pal-

5

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1       estinians who are committed to a secure and lasting

2       peace with Israel;  and

         [(5) support and encourage not just moderate elements in the Palestinian territories and in Hamas, but also moderate forces in Israeli politics, by opposing Israel's militaristic and illegal attacks and its humiliating occupation policies against Palestinians, and opposing also any military actions of Hamas and other Palestinian parties against Israel that can be proved to go beyond the legitimate right of self defense; and]

3                (6) reiterates its strong support for United

4       States Government efforts to promote a just resolu-

5       tion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a seri-

6       ous and sustained peace process that leads to the

7       creation of a viable and independent Palestinian  

8       state living in peace alongside a secure State of  

9     Israel

[(6) reiterate their strong support for United States Government efforts to promote a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a serious and sustained peace process with the full realization that the creation of a viable and independent Palestinian state living in peace with Israel requires that Israel be prepared to abjure all intent to occupy land taken over in the 1967 and to immediately begin to dismantle all settlements on that land.]  



[1] As the great Israeli journalist and patriot Uri Avnery put it in 2006 shortly after Hamas won election and the U.S. and Israel made recognition of existence a sine qua non, "When a state 'recognizes' another state, it is a formal recognition, the acknowledgement of an existing fact. It does not imply approval.  The Soviet Union was not required to recognize the existence of the USA as a capitalist state. On the contrary, Nikita Khrushchev promised in 1956 to "bury" it. The US certainly did not dream of recognizing
at any time the right of the Soviet Union to exist as a communist state."

[2] See David Rose, "The Gaza Bombshell," Vanity Fair, April, 2008, available at click here Rose carefully documents how plans for a coup agasint Hamas went awry.

[3] See Jimmy Carter, "An Unnecessary War," Washington Post , 8 January, 2008, available at click here

[4] See Carter, ibid.)

 

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I am a retired physics professor. I have been concerned about the Palestinian-Israeli situation for years and have authored a number of op ed pieces on the subject, often in response to other pieces giving a distorted picture of the Middle East. (more...)
 

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