As most readers who have the patience for IP at all are aware, a week or so back the United Nations Human Rights Council approved an investigation of settlements and other conditions in Occupied Palestine, principally the west bank. In that entity the US does not have a veto, and the US was the only party voting no, although some abstained.
In response, Israel barred the mission approved under that resolution from Israel and occupied territory, and began contemplating punishments publicly for the PA as their response to the resolution being proposed and passed. It's formal position is that such matters are not for international bodies to mess with, being a matter which must be resolved only in the context of final peace negotiations, those negotiations which are presently dead in the water.
According to this reporting today,Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon also was send on a semisecret but urgent mission to DC to talk to the Obama administration about getting it to work to dilute the offending UNHRC resolution and to withdraw from the body in the event that the body persisted, a thought recognized even by the Israeli publisher of the article as a no go because of the central focus of the UNHRC and its doings in Obama foreign policy, of which the recent resolution investigating the Sri Lankan civil war for war crimes, was one example only. The reporting suggests that the likelihood of the US withdrawing from UNHRC is somewhere south of nil, although the Israeli government insisted on semi visibly asking for it.
It just got worse for the Israeli government. Their timing stinks.
According to Ma'an, a Palestinian paper, PA issued an invitation to each member of the Security Council to visit and examine the conditions in West Bank and Gaza, and whatever else they want to see, and all but the US have in fact accepted that invitation and agreed to send delegations. In 2011, Russia had proposed a similar Security Council visit, which apparently did not get beyond the proposal.
As seems to be usual in these things, the HRC investigation and this Security Council visit announcement going forward coincided with a number of unpleasant settler related events, in no particular order, any one of which is a red diplomatic flag.
-As reported in Ha'aretz today, this is the week that a report by the Israeli Civil Administration, a branch of the Defense Ministry, was made public concerning long term plans to seize a very specific ten percent of WB for settlement purposes, many of which locations being both specified and named or affiliated to currently existing settlements, but the property, or residence of Palestinians. Sites were named. Are they all in the percentage of WB of which Oslo gave exclusive control to Israel -- of course not. The acreage alone is substantial. And the ability to do a good bit of it is justified by the various takings that IDF has heretofore done of Palestinians' property and homes as 'state land.' supposedly for military security purposes. While some of this was apparently known, the use of the Israeli equivalent of Freedom of Information Act requests resulted in the report describing all this becoming available. And, of course, the report, according to the newspaper makes clear that a good many of the sites are far, far from the green line or the settlements hugging it.
The article also makes clear that the route of the long ruled illegal security fence built by the Israelis was also routed with the intention of increasing settlement lands near it but not on the Israeli side of either the green line or the fence itself, lands useful on the PA side for expansion of settlements.
-Two nights ago, Another group of settlers took over an apartment building in Hebron about a hundred yards from the Cave of the Patriarchs in a middle of the night raid in which they had to break into the building. There is, of course a claim that they bought the building, but the reporting at the moment suggests that the owner of record is or may be deceased, that there is a dispute about who his heirs are and who gets what, and that purportedly one of them, of the same name as the original owner, did a deal, which would be illegal under Palestinian law. No transfer papers have been produced. Even the IDF is concerned about the security risks created by this raid and occupation, although the expectation of the settlers appears to be that now that they are in possession, IDF will do a deal to allow them to stay there, as has been done so many times in the past.
-A previously announced plan involuntarily to relocate thirty thousand Bedouins who are Israeli citizens has just passed successfully through the Prime Minister's office. This plan has been discussed for some time, and has the misfortune of being approved just before a grim holiday called Land Day, a day on which Israeli Palestinians observe the resistance put up in 1976 to Israeli governmental efforts to seize Arab lands in Galilee and make them available for Israeli Jewish settlement and use, the same sort of proposal for the lands here being taken from Israeli Bedouins. The apparent theory of the takers is that what they are doing is relocating Bedouins out of their own ancient settlements into registered towns near Beersheba, rather than simply legalizing the ancient settlements and the property interests of those living there in situ. The plan also has issues or problems with compensation and such since the amount of land those relocated will get is less than that from which they are being forced. Some Bedouin settlements have simply been torn down by IDF one at a time over the last few months. One family got one minute to leave, and their livestock died when the building it was in was torn down. That sort of eviction.
-Ma'an is also now reporting that settlers are acting up in unfortunate ways, including attacking and destroying villages, and using firearms to do it,, also here. Another reported tool is simply attacking villages, cutting off their access to a newly opened road for them, or simply doing substantial vandalism and property damage to the entire village. This is in addition to previously posted material stating that settlers have taken control of about ten percent of all the reported springs in the West Bank. and the ongoing destruction by settlers of olive groves and other orchards, crops and flocks, which has been going on at an accelerated basis for the last few years, aided and abetted by certain Israeli green charities. As readers are aware, this is in addition to and not part of the process of IDF of destroying individual springs and cisterns in Palestinian settlements for want of permits the Israeli government consistently refuses to even consider issuing, further limiting water supplies for resident Palestinians, when not blocking German funded water projects.
There is, I suggest, a limit to the number of things that the current Israeli government can expect the US to protect it from, when the reason action in protection is needed is self inflicted injury by the Israeli government upon Israel and Palestine. Amd truly atrocious timing.
Part of the question I pose for comment tonight is how much of this can continue before international bodies start in fact taking steps based upon what even the Israeli government has not managed or chosen for a little longer, to hide, just in the last few weeks. Does anyone here think it probable that Israel will be able to resist investigatons if the international bodies insist.
I suggest that simply trying to obstruct the UNHRC investigation may now be a futile gesture if it is the Security Council members, save for the US, which is supposedly thinking about the invitation, now coming officially to visit. Serious obstruction of the Security Council visit has consequences for more in the Israeli diplomatic pot than futzing around the HRC does.
Because the Security Council can in fact make findings as to the progress of the peace process and whether Israeli government actions are intended to delay if not prevent that process from in fact going forward on a timely basis, when the possibility of their going forward has long been the excuse for Israel to refuse to take action on this or that problem. The Blockade, for example. Distribution of water, for example. The recent report on the ten thousand Palestinian children arrested and mistreated while in custody, for example. Open ended detentions for adults and children without charges or prosecutions, for years on end, for example. The intentional and continuing destruction by settlers of Palestinian olive orchards, crops and lands without remedy. And so on, and so on.
The Security Council's members can also take notice of things for the benefit of their governments, by reason of the official eyeballiing on this trip, which may have serious effects in a number of political arenas, even if the US tries to wave the veto power a bit longer. And all members of the Quartet sit there.
The major problem which trying to obstruct evidentiarily oriented visits may cause is the weakening of the Israeli notion that all must be decided in the dead in the water negotiations and nowhere else, which are dead in the water for the various reasons Israeli government voices have said Israel will not at this time participate in them, including the Palestinian unity effort including the governance of an organization they once supported but not object to, Hamas. Election of Hamas by voters has no effect on its legitimacy in Israeli governmental eyes, although elections count for a good bit in most countries.
I also note that the concurrent Sri Lankan investigation is one which has formal war crimes in its sights, and is something the US pushed with that as a part of it. Apparently there have been past UNHRC visits of similar intent in places like the Ivory Coast where the hosts did not impede the visit, so there is precedent for such unimpeded HRC investigations and for their having consequences. This is in a situation where the option may no longer be present for Israel to negotiate for exemption from being hauled before the International Criminal Courts in exchange for letting the trip go forward, given its much flaunted bar of the HRC investigation. We shall see on that.
Israeli governmental pols are also in a weakened position as to the US, since although they are getting more Iron Domes, the Israeli papers all announced that the possiblity of an attack by Israel on Iran is now publicly off until after the New Year, and therefore the US elections, which means no October Surprise on that front directly. A card that the current government wanted to hold onto very badly. There is always, of course, the probability that the UN will take up the issue of a nuclear weapons free ME, which would include Israel in that, with its own known and admitted nuclear weapons pile, not a big one save in a place where it has the only one. Or that Bibi will use his October surprise, waving his nation's sovreignty and autonomy to do it, and gamble that Obama will not be reelected if he does so, and depending on how he does it and how good or badly it goes. Being forced to war in the two or three weeks before the general election and all that.
Comments and discussion invited under all of my usual rules. You know them. Honor them please.