“If the Israelis continue to attack and kill our people and destroy their homes, impose sanctions, collectively punish us, and imprison men and women for exercising the right to self-defense, we have every right to respond with all available means.” – Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyyeh
In recent years, there have been signs of hope for change in the Middle East; that the world will come to its senses and enlightened leadership will finally assume positions of responsibility. We can recall when in June 2009 U.S. President Obama greeted the Cairo audience with a robust “As-salaamu alaykum” and our optimistic expectations for the 2011 Arab Spring popular uprisings. Of late, we have witnessed a Russian-brokered agreement on Syria’s chemical munitions avert a U.S.-threatened cruise missile attack, and, shortly thereafter, the P5+1 reach a joint accord with Iran over its peaceful nuclear energy program.
“During this time, in stark contrast,” observed the outgoing Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Filippo Grandi, “The issues that matter to Palestinians have gone through a frustrating period of stagnation: the peace process has languished, unity in the Palestinian leadership remains elusive, and occupation and exile continue to characterize the lives of most Palestinians.” Indeed, the dark specters of the Zionist occupation of the West Bank and the inhumane illegal blockade of Gaza have endured, leaving most Palestinians with scarcely a glimmer of hope for any improvement.
Considering this chronic lack of progress on the Palestinian issue, we must ask, what was the U.S. forced to concede to the Zionist entity to achieve this historic breakthrough in Geneva between the west and Iran? Continuing the U.S.-EU blind eye toward the Israeli regime’s nuclear arsenal, of course, must have been part of it, but could Washington’s appeasement of Tel Aviv possibly have included free rein for illegal settlements in the Occupied West Bank and collusion between Palestinian Authority (PA) chief Mahmoud Abbas and Egypt’s military rulers in an effort to topple the democratically-elected Hamas government in Gaza?
Certainly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s inflammatory rhetoric over the accord with Iran suggests that Israeli intransigence will continue unabated. The day after the agreement was reached with the P5+1, Netanyahu fomented, “Today the world has become a much more dangerous place, because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world.” On that same day, most likely as a warning sign that the military option is still on the west’s table, U.S., Zionist and other EU forces held exercises simulating air-combat against the large army and modern air force of an enemy which bore a striking similarity to Iran.
Critiquing his ex-boss Netanyahu and taking a slightly more conciliatory tone on the U.S., former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Dan Meridor commented, “It’s a mistake to pick a fight with partners when we’re in the midst of a campaign against Iran, in which the Americans have the main role.” Michael Herzog of the Guardian appeared to concur, and, concerning a final agreement with Iran, wrote that the Zionist entity “has the potential to play an active role. It could encourage additional sanctions in the U.S. Congress conditional on Iran's behaviour, while also making clear that its own military option is on the table.” These comments imply that the U.S. had to give up something to dissuade the rogue Israeli entity from a unilateral strike on Iran. Was that something peace in the Occupied Palestinian Territories?
Confirming that the U.S. caved in to Netanyahu, Brookings Institution senior fellow and former CIA official Bruce Riedel confided, “The Palestinian issue is the big casualty of this deal,” adding, “Now that they have an Iran deal, over the strong objections of Israel, it’s going to be very hard to persuade Netanyahu to do something on the Palestinian front.” Additional evidence that the U.S. capitulated on Palestine as a “deal sweetener” was provided by Fatah Central Committee Member Nabil Shaath, who said that peace talks with the Zionist regime already have failed as a consequence of approving 24,000 new illegal settler units in the Occupied West Bank. Conceding the futility of further “peace talks,” the Palestinian negotiators recently tendered their resignations to PA head Abbas, who still insists that he wants a peace deal with the Israeli entity.
With the election of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammad Morsi to the Egyptian presidency in June 2012, hopes for improvement of the prison-like living conditions in Gaza ran high, only to be dashed by the July 3, 2013 military coup led by General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who quickly acted to destroy the lifeline tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt. While Zionist warplanes have repeatedly bombed Gaza’s only power plant, each time it has somehow been brought back to life to supply about 30 percent of Gaza’s electrical power requirements, with most of the diesel fuel to operate its generators smuggled in through the tunnels under Rafah to Egypt. General al-Sisi, no doubt with nods of approval from Tel Aviv and Washington, has managed to wipe out 95 percent of those life-giving tunnels.
As a result, Gazans are faced with rapidly deteriorating living conditions which not only include daily power blackouts of 12 to 16 hours, but also raw sewage flooding the streets due to insufficient electricity to run pumping stations. And as if electrical shortages were not enough, the Israeli entity has cut off the supply of building materials to the isolated coastal enclave, halting 19 out of 20 new construction projects, which included 12 new schools. These acts of collective punishment have been condemned by UNRWA, which is responsible for coordinating humanitarian aid and human development for over 5 million Palestinian refugees. “I must remind you, once more, that Gaza is quickly becoming uninhabitable,” warned UNRWA Commissioner Filippo Grandi, “And that further conflict - bound, as before, to affect civilians in Gaza and southern Israel - will erupt unless its causes are addressed.” But conflict is exactly what Tel Aviv wants to justify military intervention.
As further evidence of Washington offering up Gaza to Tel Aviv in exchange for acquiescence on Iran, recall that it was the Obama administration’s refusal to label al-Sisi’s power grab in Egypt a coup d’état, which provided the military junta continued funds and a veneer of a legitimacy. While Netanyahu’s official response to the Morsi ouster was appropriately subdued, the Israeli military, which has had close ties with General al-Sisi since the removal of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, was privately elated over the potential benefit of the coup to the Zionist entity. With the overthrow of President Morsi, the Hamas government lost its most important ally, forcing Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyyeh to appeal to Zionist collaborator Abbas, who promptly said no to reconciliation overtures, but offered to supply diesel fuel to Gaza in return for taxes paid directly to his Palestinian Authority.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian generals are preparing quisling Abbas’ former Gaza security chief, Mohammad Dahlan, to carry out a coup in Gaza, no doubt with the full blessing and support of the U.S. and the Zionist entity. Dahlan, a former Fatah commander who is known to have close ties to Mossad, was ousted in 2007 when Hamas took control of the government following its victory in democratic elections. Additionally, Dahlan has organized operatives from Fatah to gather intelligence for the CIA and Mossad, planted homing devices on Palestinian leaders to allow tracking and assassination by Zionist forces, attempted to assassinate Prime Minister Haniyyeh, and was involved in the slow-poisoning of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Dahlan’s forces, first approved for FBI and CIA training in 1996 during the Clinton administration, have also trained with Americans in Arab countries.
Unlike the Zionist regime which continues to play its deadly zero-sum game using Gaza and the Palestinians as pawns on the Middle East chessboard, Iran has stepped up its humanitarian relief efforts. Recently, the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation distributed 40,000 food packages worth over USD$2 million among Gaza residents. An official of Iran’s Society for the Defense of the Palestinian Nation (SDPN) has made it clear that until the Gaza blockade ends, Iran will continue to ship aid, and with over 100,000 young Iranians volunteering, according to one official at Iran’s Red Crescent Society, there will be no shortage of help for Iran’s relief efforts.
We must not forget our Palestinian brothers and sisters who continue to suffer under the oppressive Zionist occupation. In the words of Gaza-based, non-violent activist and social psychologist Ana Sanchez, “Do not forget about Gaza, silence is complicity.”
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