We are posting two articles on the situation in Israel and the Middle East. The first for Socialist Democracy (Ireland) is about Netahyahu’s planned annexation of a further 30% of the West Bank. The second by Yassamine Mather, of Hands off the Peoples of Iran (HOPI), is about the Iranian regime’s response to Netanyahu’s move.
1. WEST BANK ANNEXATION
The anouncement by Netanyahu that Israel intends to annex 30% of the West bank and a greater proportion of Jerusalem itself has provoked anger among Palestinians and their supporters internationally and uncertainty among some Zionist supporters. But despite the presentation of this latest outrage as something new it is best viewed as a continuation of the historic theft of Palestine from the Palestinian people.
Concentration on the latest atrocity does not fully reflect the long term strategy of imperialism and Zionism and tends to forget the long series of atrocities that predate even the Naqba. On the left it reflects a slavish dependence on spontaneity. There exists a tendency to allow this to focus activity entirely on the next big thing, on tactics rather than strategy and to ultimately collapse in the face of imperialist strategy.
The Latest Annexation
During the September election in 2019 Netenyahu (Likud) announced plans to annex the West Bank, which had been categorised as Area C as part of the peace process. Area C has continuously been eroded by the floods of illegal settlements that were encouraged by the Israeli State and Jerusalem has been the scene of repeated attacks on Palestinian occupants. The election was fought by Likud on a far right platform against the Blue/White Alliance, Kahol Lavan, led by Benny Gantz, ex head of the IDF until 2015 and the announcement of the annexation was timed to attempt to siphon support away from Gantz and the extreme right.
It was more than an electoral tactic however. The land captured during the 1967 war was always intended to be part of a Greater Israel. The Two State solution negotiated in the 90’s saw the establishment of the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank under Abbas which allowed the reactionary Arab leadership of the Arab League to come on board with a strategy that the Israeli and US were viewing only as a stop-gap. The persecution of Gaza continued unabated and settlers continued to flood in to Palestinian land.
The peace talks collapsed in 2014 and following Trump’s election the US re-jigged the Two State solution by simply giving Israel the green light to go ahead with an open land grab. The practical opening up of the latest period was signalled by Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem but the Israeli election’s outcome was not decisive and has resulted in Netanyahu and Gantz sharing power with a rotating premiership and at the same time Trump’s further tenure is in question.
Making it completely clear what the relationship is between Israel and imperialism Netanyahu announced at the time of the election that the annexation plans would not go ahead until the US published its peace plan. Trump’s plan was duly released in January which he entitled ‘The Deal of the Century’. It hands Israel the permission to take direct control over 30% of what had been categorised during the peace process as Area C, including most of Jerusalem. East Jerusalem and a few isolated cantons would then make up the remnants ofa Palestinian State, even less viable than before without the benefit of an agricultural hinterland as the fertile Jordan valley and the entirety of the Dead Sea coast, which is rich in minerals, would go officially to Israel. The plan contains all the usual hypocritical claims that no Palestinians would be moved during the annexation but at the same time making it clear that they would not qualify for Israeli citizenship.
The same or similar promises have been repeatedly ignored by a country that is historically based on ethnic cleansing the most glaringly familiar example being the Naqba in 1948 but rather than being something unique the Naqba was merely a spike in expulsions. What did distinguish the 1948 attack on the Palestinian people however was the exposure of the hypocrisy surrounding Israeli expansion. During the Naqba the Palestinians were ostensibly to be protected from ethnic cleansing by UN resolution 181, which in essence was a partition plan. The difference was that while earlier dispossessions had been reprehensible but formally legal, this was reprehensible and formally illegal! Off course imperialism’s eyes are blind to the atrocities of their agents.
Now, with a population of 327,000 people already living in the West Bank, what we would see is an expansion of the Zionist’s massive ethnic cleansing operation. Both sides were to have been required to havegiven the go ahead for the annexation but the US ambassador to Israel clarified that the Israeli’s would not have to wait for any form of approval should the PA dig its heels in.
The plans have produced some protest and Trump’s less than secure position in the White House has given the Israelis pause for thought. In Britain even the arch Zionist Board of Deputies have come under pressure to oppose the annexation by worried Zionists whose letter to the Israeli embassy was ignored but their concerns, lacking any sense of irony, was that the annexation would ‘damage Israel’s reputation’ and give credibility to the BDS movement.
The annexation was planned to have gone ahead on July 1st but was postponed. Netanyahu is attempting to pacify the PA by telling them the annexation will apply only to a few of the older settler blocks. The decision has been made and although Netenyahu may have decided to proceed with some caution 1 million settlers have moved to east Jerusalem and the West Bank, a four fold increase since the start of the peace process which began with the 1993 Oslo accords. The concerns of the Zionists are well founded, we live in highly unstable times and the crimes of Zionism and their imperialist backers are being exposed like never before in recent history.
To put the latest iteration of the genocide in Palestine in context we include an interview conducted by the Electronic Intefada with the Palestinian academic and historian Joseph Massad:-
This was first posted at:-
2. ISRAEL’S NUCLEAR WAR
As Binyamin Netanyahu’s government tacitly admits its role, Yassamine Mather asks why the Iranian regime is in denial
There are strong indications that Israel was responsible for a number of incidents in Iran’s military and nuclear sites. On June 20 Tehran’s inhabitants reported a major explosion that lit up the skies east of the capital and the government tried to play down the incident, blaming a gas explosion in Parchin military base.
However, satellite photos showed the incident had occurred slightly further away at Khojir – a missile production plant with underground tunnels that conceal Iran’s arsenal. The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Jarida claimed the day after that the explosion was caused by missiles dropped by a number of Israeli F-35 stealth fighter jets, although both Israel and the United States have denied any involvement.
This was followed by major power cuts in the southern city of Shiraz. On July 2 there were reports of a fire and an explosion at one of the buildings in the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, which is rumoured to be a production plant for centrifuges. While most of the plant is underground, the explosion occurred in one of its few above-ground buildings.
According to Simon Henderson, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, “It looks as though a ‘nuclear war’ of sorts has started in the Middle East.”1 Henderson further claims that as a result of the blast Iran’s nuclear programme has been set back for months, if not years. I should warn readers that this ‘Institute’, far from being an independent academic institution, is “an American pro-Israel think tank based in Washington”, as Wikipedia puts it – “part of the core” of the Israel lobby in the United States (a charge that WINEP denies).2
Then on July 10 The New York Times claimed it had first-hand information that “a joint American-Israeli strategy is evolving – some might argue regressing – to a series of short-of-war clandestine strikes”.3 The Iranian press was also quick to blame Israel. According to Nournews, which is often associated with the Islamic Republic’s Supreme National Security Council, Israel could not have been responsible for the Natanz explosion operation without getting a green light from Washington: “If we accept that the Zionist regime’s role [in the incident] is true, then we have to accept that they had received US approval to directly engage with Iran.”4
Javad Karimi Ghodousi of Iran’s national security committee blamed International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, accusing them of acting as spies for the Israeli government. He added that the explosion at the nuclear site took place in the building that IAEA inspectors had examined six times: “The incident is a result of the infiltration and information-gathering in favour of the Zionist regime conducted by the inspectors.”5
In fact Israeli officials just stopped short of claiming responsibly for the Natanz incident. According to foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi, “We have a long-term policy over the course of many administrations not to allow Iran to have nuclear abilities … We take actions that are better left unsaid.”6
There are obvious reasons why Binyamin Netanyahu and his government might have been behind it. After all, the much heralded annexation of parts of the occupied Palestinian territories planned for July 1 did not happen after widespread opposition from European states. The opponents of the annexation included the pro-Israeli UK premier, Boris Johnson, who, writing in Israel’s high-circulation daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, stated:
I am a passionate defender of Israel. So it is with sadness that I have followed the proposals to annex Palestinian territory … I am fearful that these proposals will fail in their objective of securing Israel’s borders and will be contrary to Israel’s own long-term interests.7
All this coincided with low poll ratings for Donald Trump, who, of course, is Israel’s most important ally. However, whatever the reasons, the delay did not go down well with pro-settler Israeli politicians, who accused Netanyahu of “giving up” on plans to annex the Jordan valley in favour of more-limited moves. Former justice minister Ayelet Shaked accused Netanyahu of preparing to abandon the plan.
Under such circumstances, the Israeli government needed something to divert attention and the Natanz incident could have been part of such plans. Perhaps both Washington and Tel Aviv hoped Iran’s Islamic Republic would retaliate, paving the way for an all-out regional war. If that happened, no doubt every western institution from the European Union to the United Nations would express sympathy with Israel and perhaps see good reasons to go along with the annexation of Palestinian territory. If that was the plan, Iran’s current policy of downplaying these incidents must be infuriating for both the Trump and Netanyahu administrations.
Once more these events have showed the complete collapse of sections of the Iranian left. Some claimed they were concerned about the negative effects of Iran’s nuclear industry on the climate, while others berated “out-of-date anti-imperialists”, who keep going on about Israel!
Whenever we in Hands Off the People of Iran (Hopi) have addressed the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme, we have pointed out that it is the safety of Iran’s nuclear industry itself that poses a threat, not the alleged development of nuclear weapons. It is clear that the regime does not value the life of its civilians or even its own supporters. In 2020 both the Islamic Republic’s cavalier attitude towards Covid-19 and hostility towards demonstrators at the funeral of assassinated general Qasem Soleimani and against the downing of a civilian plane have proved this basic fact.
However, let us be very clear that another Middle Eastern state – namely, Israel – most certainly possesses nuclear weapons. Decades after the abduction and imprisonment of Mordechai Vanunu, the nuclear technician who exposed the extent of Israel’s nuclear programme, the country still denies having nuclear bombs. It is not a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and it is estimated that Israel has a stockpile of between 80 and 400 nuclear warheads.
Its Dimona plant has been at the centre of court battles between its former employees and pensioners, seeking compensation for nuclear leaks. In April 2016 the Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported that the plant has more than 1,500 defects – some detected as early as 1963.8 In September 2017, Dimona pensioners and surviving members of their families finally received a total of $22 million compensation from the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, which is part of the prime minister’s office.9
All this shows that Israel’s ‘secret’ nuclear programme is as dangerous to its own citizens and its neighbours as Iran’s nuclear industry. It poses a major threat not only to the peace and security of the Middle East, as well as Europe and North Africa, but also to the region’s environment.
Hopi has always maintained a very clear position – we want a nuclear-free region, which means, of course, the destruction of Israel’s nuclear arsenal. If Iran had nuclear weapons (and there is no evidence at all that it does) we would be demanding their destruction too. But to single out the nuclear programme of Iran’s Islamic Republic while ignoring another religious state’s actual nuclear weapons is totally hypocritical.
Anyone with an iota of intelligence knows that meddling with the control systems of a nuclear plant by hacking its computing system, or carrying out air raids against such plants, could cause an unprecedented ecological catastrophe.
Closer to home, the events of the last few weeks in the Middle East should act as a wake-up call for those who are still under the impression that false accusations of anti-Semitism directed against the left inside and outside the Labour Party are all down to a desire to undermine Jeremy Corbyn. The current witch-hunt has far more ambitious aims: it is about securing European support for the USA’s pro-Israel geopolitical agenda, and silencing the anti-war movement in this country and beyond.
- . haaretz.com/israel-news/cancer-stricken-israeli-nuclear-reactor-workers-awarded-22-million-1.5451774.↩︎
This article was first posted at:-
- WEAPON OF FIRST RESORT – Moshe Machover
- TRUMP NETANYAHU ‘DEAL OF THE CENTURY’- Socialist Democracy (Ireland)
- SYRIA – DOUBTS, LAW AND GRAND STRATEGY – Yassamine Mathert