You are browsing the archive for Tzipi Livni.

by CTuttle

MENA Mashup: Friday News Dump

7:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As Shir Hever makes abundantly clear in that clip, the I/P Peace Farce is nothing but a charade…! Now, I swear it’s Déjà vu, all over again, as I wrote back when Hillary was the SoS… The Fork Is Stuck In The Peace Farce’s Dead Carcass In reflecting back on that golden oldie, and but for a few personnel changes, much of it reflects exactly what’s happening today…!

However, one of those characters I’d cited, Tzipi Livni, has certainly roiled the waters recently…

Tzipi Livni claims she had sex with two Palestinian figures, Erekat and Abed Rabbo and threatens them with video proof

The chief Israeli negotiator and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, said this week that she has had sex with the chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority in the peace negotiations with Israel, Saeb Erekat and the Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation(PLO) Yasser Abed Rabbo.

Livni’s sexual misdemeanours have been the fodder of the political Arab rumour mill for years, but until now, what the foxy Israeli politician got up to behind closed doors was all guess work.

Lebanese newspaper Al Diyyar broke the story earlier this week that the Knesset Beauty had publicy stated that she and the chief Rabbi of Israel had decided that “It was ok for her to sleep and have sex with strangers, as long as it benefits Israel”.

According to Al Diyyar, Livni said :“The room where I had sex with Palestinian figures as Saeb Erekat and Yasser Abed Rabbo was equipped with cameras.”

She also confirmed that the videos show Palestinian officials, nude, having sex with her.

Livni is now threatening a number of Arab figures to post these shot videos on YouTube if they do not execute what she orders them.

That seemingly paints those Palestinian Negotiators into the same pathetic corner, as Abu Mazen’s complete cop-out throughout the Peace Farce, as the Palestine Papers have made so abundantly clear…!

So anyways, there’s a ton more of MENA news and views to cover…

An optimistic Arabic article…

‘A nuclear deal in sight for Iran at Geneva talks’

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi says an initial nuclear deal is likely to be reached on Iran’s nuclear program after a planned meeting between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and US Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva.

“I’m a bit optimistic,” Araqchi told reporters after the first day of talks between Iran and the five permanent U.N. Security Council members and Germany.

The hoped-for agreement — seen as a first step ahead of further talks on a final deal — could see Tehran to decide about changes on the dimension of its nuclear activities for as long as six months in exchange for some relief from the Western sanctions.

However the administration of US President Barack Obama says it is “premature” to criticize a deal being discussed in Geneva over Iran’s nuclear energy program.

“There is not an agreement at this point,” John Kerry told reporters shortly after arriving in Geneva Friday to help seal what is hoped to be a landmark deal with Tehran.

Kerry, who broke off a Middle East tour to join the ongoing negotiations in the Swiss city, stressed that “there are still some very important issues on the table that are unresolved.”

In addition to Kerry, the foreign ministers of France, Britain and Germany also arrived Friday following last-minute announcements they would join the talks.

As Bloomberg wrote today…

Iran Accord Seen Near as Top Diplomats Flock to Geneva

World powers are sending their top diplomats to Geneva for an unscheduled third day of talks with Iran, signaling a possible agreement to break the decade-long stalemate over the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.

The Chinese and Russian foreign ministers are due to join their French, German, U.K. and U.S. counterparts today in the Swiss city, where negotiators have been seeking for the past two days to complete an initial accord.

“Foreign ministers don’t show up to be embarrassed,” said Jim Walsh, a security analyst at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, who has traveled to Iran for talks with nuclear officials. “They’re in town because they’re close enough to a deal to come.”

Naturally, the PePs, and Neo/Ziocons are completely freaking out, from today’s WSJ…

Emerging Iran Deal Brings Jitters to Washington

As Secretary of State John Kerry and European foreign ministers met Friday with Iranian officials to finalize a deal curbing Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for reduced sanctions, legislators back home weighed in on the possibility of a deal.

Several members of Congress blasted the administration for being too open to what they consider a substandard deal that doesn’t require Iran to fully suspend its uranium enrichment programs. {…}

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers were concerned about the deal emerging in Geneva, which would have Iran roll back its nuclear enrichment program in exchange for an easing of international sanctions. Negotiators emphasized Friday that important details remained unresolved.

“If Iran intends to show good faith during these talks, it must at a minimum abide by United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for a halt to enrichment, and it is my hope that we achieve much more,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.) in a statement Friday. “I forcefully reject any notion that Iran has a ‘right’ to enrichment, a view which the administration has publicly articulated on numerous occasions.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) called the deal being pursued “terrible” and said it would endanger the country.

To put it all into it’s proper perspective, on why on earth, Rep. Engel and Sen. Cruz should happen to be on the same page, Philip Giraldi, penned another awesome essay, yesterday…

Israel and You and Me

What’s in it for us, Mr. President?

If the United States fails to take advantage of the opportunity to come to terms with Iran over its nuclear program it will be because of pressure from Israel. If the unthinkable happens and Washington actually attacks Iran, initiating another major war that will have far reaching and possibly disastrous consequences, it will likewise be because of Israel. Folks in the progressive media who find that fact unpalatable or, quite frankly scary, tend to attribute the White House’s inability to articulate a more benign and responsible foreign policy that would serve true national interests to other factors, including imperialism, capitalism, the military industrial state and misguided humanitarianism, but they are possibly deliberately missing the point. Imperialism and capitalism do not explain Syria, nor does the increasingly militarized American national security state, witness the fact that the Pentagon knows its limitations and is actually reluctant to get more involved anywhere in the Middle East. {…}

All of the above is intended to demonstrate that what passes for United States national interests have been manipulated and distorted, so much so that they have little or nothing to do with reality. Where is the “you” and “me” in what the White House is doing? We Americans have an interest in peace and prosperity but instead the president sits down with five heads of organizations who only want war on behalf of a foreign land, with more American soldiers likely dying for nothing as a result as we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. And there is domestic blowback that comes part and parcel with the fractured foreign policy: homeland security in the United States is a response to the international terrorism that has plagued our country in large part because of Washington’s uncritical support of Israel. Our national security state not surprisingly incorporates many Israeli practices as America becomes more and more like Israel, not vice versa. And Washington pays for making us “safe” on a credit card, as the economy sinks and burns…

Now, moving along to other blockbuster news… Following hot on the heels of the recent Turkish, seismic shift… Turkey’s shift to China instead of NATO Egypt, seemingly, is working on a very similar Arms Deal with Russia…!

Egypt Eyes $4Bln Arms Deal With Russia

Egypt is considering spending up to $4 billion on advanced weaponry from Russia following the partial suspension of military aid and equipment deliveries from the United States, a Palestinian online newspaper said Thursday.

According to Donia Al-Watan, Moscow has offered Cairo “a historic deal giving Egypt an option to buy the most advanced weaponry without any restrictions.”

To be sure… Russian Defense, Foreign Ministers to Visit Egypt

In more news, the constant rants from the infamous Moustache of Fury, amongst numerous others, in Geneva today… US loses Unesco voting rights after stopping funds over Palestine decision along with Israel…!

Ironically, on Twitter’s big IPO, Bibi, had declared… Netanyahu launches ‘Real face of Iran’ Twitter campaign against Khamenei

Funny thing tho, today… Our negotiators are not ‘compromisers,’ Khamenei tweets Oh Snap…!

Meanwhile, Obama calls Netanyahu amid Israel fury at proposed Iran deal…!

Stay tuned…! *gah*

by CTuttle

More On The ‘July 14′ Protestors Call For ‘Social Justice’

8:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As +972′s Mairav Zonszein reported yesterday, from Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Blvd…

Jewish supremacists visit social justice protests

How long can the social justice protests go on without defining what “social justice” means? While there was no official rejection of the Kahanists’ visit by protest leaders, some activists confronted them and skirmishes broke out…

…Yesterday’s spectacle of far rightists at the tent protest visiting from their illegal settlements in the West Bank was significant because they were scuffling with fellow citizens, rather than their disenfranchised and discriminated Palestinian neighbors who they usually scuffle with. They brought their extremist politics to a turf filled with secular Jews, activists, anarchists, gays and transgenders, making them appear the odd ones out.

This should be a clear sign to those in the movement that there is a need to formalize and sharpen definitions of “social justice,” even at the expense of alienating fellow citizens and calling attention to the deep cracks that divide Jewish society here. Today a Facebook event was started calling for a protest on Saturday in reaction to the visit, which will specifically assert that Tel Aviv-Jaffa is a multi-cultural city and calling for unity and tolerance, not fascism, homophobia and racism. This is a step in the right direction.

Indeed it is shared values that should connect the people in this movement, not shared citizenship.

From today’s Haaretz…

Livni: Netanyahu trying to quash Israel protests, not solve problems

Kadima chairman and MK Mofaz strongly criticize government’s response to cost-of-living protesters, who are expected to hold large demonstrations in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv Saturday night.

Opposition Leader MK Tzipi Livni criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a meeting of the Kadima Party on Friday morning for not responding to the substance of the cost of living protests that have engulfed the country over the last three weeks.

“Benjamin Netanyahu does not concern himself with changing national priorities, but with how to reduce the scope of protests, that is all he cares about,” said Livni at the Friday morning meeting. “We suggested the prime minister reopens the 2012 budget in order to create a new budget, but Netanyahu refuses to do so.”

Livni also said it is mandatory to change the way that governments get replaced in office. “Governments who are led by a person that does not work for the good of the majority, but spends all their money on small segments of society – they generate complete distrust for the system,” she said.

Aah, So that’s how it supposed to work, Mz Livni…?

Well, Bibi doesn’t quite see it that way…

As Israel’s social protests continue, Netanyahu sees a big political opportunity

The prime minister sounds truly committed to tackling the issues brought up by the protesters, writes Yossi Verter, but that doesn’t mean he likes the protest leaders themselves, whom he thinks wish him ill…

“This could be our big opportunity. Are they saying that after this protest the country will be different? Definitely. Very different. You can’t complain about the economy. The economy works. Education, communications and transportation work. There are complaints, justified complaints, about the cost of living. My political strategy for the coming year is simply to address all these problems seriously.” [...]

The prime minister knows that as long as he has Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, his government will last forever. He believes the opposition striving to topple him faces two main obstacles: his coalition’s political stability and the time remaining until elections. He has at least a year and a half to revise and improve. Today’s agenda is not the agenda of late 2012. He is hearing politicians calling Habima Square his Tahrir Square. He is not amused, as he watches his friend, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, caged in a Cairo court. “Tahrir Square? Have I sent an army to shoot demonstrators?” he asks…

My, how comforting, Bibi…!

Btw, maybe it was because they were busy beavers, elsewhere… Many treated for the Effects of Tear Gas Inhalation as troops attack the weekly West Bank Protests.

Getting back to Bibi, the Knesset, and Kadima…

Some Kadima MKs Withdraw Support for Bill Eliminating Arabic and English as Official Languages

After initially supporting a bill in the Israeli parliament that would change Israel’s definition as a “Jewish and democratic state” to “the national home of the Jewish people,” several MKs from the opposition Kadima party withdrew their signatures from the bill.

The bill would also eliminate Arabic and English as official languages of Israel, making Hebrew the only official language.

Knesset sources said the bill has broad support and will most likely pass in the Knesset’s winter session.

Can ya just feel the Love from that bunch of Rightwingers…?

All the while, there goes another slice of the Palestinian Pizza Pie…

EU slams Israel’s decision to build new East Jerusalem housing project

Catherine Ashton said the timing of the decision was particularly regrettable, since it undermines the international community’s recent attempts to reestablish trust between the sides.

*gah*

by CTuttle

The Science Of A Siege

7:37 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Today’s Haaretz published this editorial…

Formulas for siege

The use of mathematical euqations to calculate basic humanitarian needs cannot help but raise parallels with the most monstrous uses of science.

For three years, officers from COGAT, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, have used mathematical formulas to monitor food and other basic necessities imported into the Gaza Strip. The formula Z/C=D, for example, was used to measure the “breathing space” Gaza residents had before stocks of a given product were depleted. [...]

The documents that were disclosed displayed the inhumanity of Israel’s closure policy in all its glory. But the blockade had long since proven itself to be not only an immoral instrument of policy, but also an ineffective one. None of its declared aims has been achieved: not the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and not the weakening of Hamas, which has only reinforced its rule under the closure. [...]

But the use of mathematical formulas to calculate basic humanitarian needs cannot help but raise parallels with the most monstrous uses of science. Blood-curdling calculations were made over the suffering of a civilian population numbering 1.5 million individuals. This inhumanity was also expressed in the cynical wording of the documents. [...]

The use of these documents, whose disclosure was essential to understand the thinking of those responsible for the blockade, has ceased. But we must remember that even if the siege has been eased, it continues to exist. Almost no one can enter Gaza or leave it, and the same is true of merchandise for export, which is of critical importance to the territory’s economy.

Haaretz’s Amira Hass in tandem with Gisha forced the COGAT to release these documents… (PDF! 22pgs)

Definitions:

a. Long shelf life – products that can be stored and used for a long time such as rice, sugar, flour, baby food.

b. Short shelf life – products that can be stored for relatively short periods of time, after which they expire, such as fresh milk and meat products.

c. Warning line – inventory days beyond which the relevant official must attend to the deviation from reasonable norms and assess the adequacy of the model.

d. Shortage - number of inventory days beneath which there is a danger of a shortage of a basic product, to the point of complete absence as part of the statistical deviation of the model and the difficulties of geographical distribution in the Gaza Strip.

Appendix B

Calculation of product inventory (except for animal feed, meat
and fuel)

b. The inventory of products will be calculated by weight (if for some reason it is not possible to obtain a breakdown by weight of the trucks, the weight will be calculated by the average weight of the relevant product per truck – Appendix G).

c. The daily consumption per capita per product as calculated by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics = A.

d. The population of the Gaza Strip = B.

e. Daily consumption = C. (A * B = C)

f. The daily quantity entering the Gaza Strip of the relevant product (70% of wheat goes to making flour and therefore in calculating the inventory of wheat calculate 70% of the amount of wheat entering the Gaza Strip) = X.

g. The existing reserves in the Gaza Strip (without the amount transferred that day) = Y.

h. The quantity of reserves in the Gaza Strip = Z. (X + Y – C = Z)

i. Breathing space (in days) = D. (Z /C= D)

As Amira Hass recently reported…

The formulas used coefficients and a formulation for “breathing space,” a term used by COGAT authorities to refer to the number of days remaining until a certain supply runs out in Gaza, to determine allowed quantities. [...]

A high-ranking COGAT officer told Haaretz that “Regulation, supervision and evaluation of supply of inventories in Gaza” is a method of quickly identifying a shortage of any basic item in Gaza, and that despite the mathematical equations contained in the document, he had never intentionally limited the amount of goods allowed to enter, but on the contrary, verified whether inventories of certain basic supplies in Gaza were full.

The COGAT spokesman said that the regulations were formulated “based on well-known basic foodstuffs, in consultation with the Israeli Health Ministry and in consideration of family consumption habits in Gaza, as published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in 2006.” [...]

These rules, the draft continued, were meant to allow in goods that would “supply the basic humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population.” It then listed seven considerations to weigh when determining which goods should be permitted.

Security was one. The others were as follows:

* “The necessity of the product for meeting humanitarian needs (including its implications for public health in both the Strip and Israel ).”

* “The product’s image (whether it is considered a luxury ).”

* “Legal obligations.”

* “The impact of the product’s use (whether it is used for preservation, reconstruction or development ), with an emphasis on the impact of its entry on the Hamas government’s status.”

* “The sensitivities of the international community.”

* “The existence of alternatives.”

These rules explain why, for example, imports of cloth and thread, which were considered “development” products, were barred, thereby destroying Gaza’s textile industry.

Ironically, it’s been widely touted that the siege had been ‘eased’ shortly after the Mavi Marmara tragedy, but, the duplicity of Bibi was evident even upon Bibi’s initial ‘announcement’…

Israel announces let-up to Gaza siege – but only in English

Prime Minister’s office issues two statements, one in English announcing plan to ease blockade, one in Hebrew omitting to mention the decision.

…Two official statements came out of the Prime Minister’s Office in regard to the security cabinet meeting – one in Hebrew for the Israeli media and another in English for the foreign media and foreign diplomats. The English version said that “It was agreed to liberalize the system by which civilian goods enter Gaza [and] expand the inflow of materials for civilian projects that are under international supervision.” The Hebrew version addressed mainly remarks made by Netanyahu, but failed to mention any decision or agreement.

The Hebrew version also failed to mention whether the prime minister’s position was formally approved. “Israel will alter the system in order to allow more civilian goods into Gaza,” the Hebrew statement read.

Even Tzipi Livni, who was the Foreign Minister at the time the Gaza Siege was first imposed on Hamas, had recently testified at the Turkel Commission…

Gaza prohibitions were ‘too harsh,’ Livni tells Turkel

Livni said the Defense Ministry was responsible for banning numerous food products from entering Gaza, such as pasta, coriander, spices and even ketchup.

Many of the prohibitions Israel imposed on the Gaza Strip were overly harsh, opposition leader Tzipi Livni yesterday told the Turkel Committee probing Israel’s raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May. [...]

“I thought [at the time] that drawing a distinction between different types of food, some of which would be allowed in and some of which not, was unnecessary,” Livni said. “I thought the ban on spaghetti excessive, but it was the defense minister and the coordinator of government activities in the territories who made the decisions.”

She was referring to Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Coordinator of Government Activities Amos Gilad, who in the last months of Olmert’s government, insisted on a rigorous blockade. Their refusal to allow pasta into Gaza prompted a wave of international protest, and the United States demanded lifting the ban on all food items immediately.

That would be the Bush Administration demanding the lifting of the ban, at that juncture…

Why is it that we’re only hearing *crickets* from Obama and Abu Mazen on the lifting of the Siege during the current Peace Farce talks? Hmmm…?

Btw, the latest sleight of hand in the Peace Farce…

Report: U.S. proposes Israel lease lands from Palestinians under future deal

According to Asharq al-Awsat, U.S. offers in secret negotiations that Israel lease lands in E. Jerusalem from future Palestinian state for 40-99 years.

Israel is conducting secret negotiations with the U.S. on establishing the future borders of a Palestinian state, the London-based Arabic language daily Asharq al-Awsat reported on Friday.

According to the report, Palestinian sources confirmed that the two sides discussed an option wherein Israel may lease lands in East Jerusalem from the Palestinians in exchange for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Israel would lease the territories from the Palestinian state for a period of 40 to 99 years.

The Palestinian sources said that the talks are an American initiative that has been going on for some time in order to obtain an understanding with Israel regarding the terms surrounding a future Palestinian state.

The Palestinian Authority apparently has only recently been made aware of the talks and hasn’t been given the details of the proposal.

An Egyptian source told the newspaper that the negotiations are “more quiet than secret, and are meant to try to save the peace process.”

Awesome…! Ensure that the ‘Bantustans’ exist for the next 40-99 years…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

‘…and this is a good thing’

5:48 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Two weeks into Operation Cast Lead, Tzipi Livni, Israel’s Foreign Minister at the time, said on Israeli radio…

“We have proven to Hamas that we have changed the equation, Israel is not a country upon which you fire missiles and it does not respond. It is a country that when you fire on it, it responds by going wild — and this is a good thing.

The question I’ve never seen asked by Likud/Kadima/AIPAC/ et al… Is ‘Why’ Hamas is lobbing homemade Qassam rockets into Israel…?

Something along the lines of what Helen Thomas asked at a recent WH Press briefing about the Undies Bomber…

…Thomas posed an adult query that spotlighted the futility of government plans to counter terrorism with more high-tech gizmos and more intrusions on the liberties and privacy of the traveling public.

She asked why Abdulmutallab did what he did.

Thomas: “And what is the motivation? We never hear what you find out on why.”

Brennan: “Al Qaeda is an organization that is dedicated to murder and wanton slaughter of innocents… They attract individuals like Mr. Abdulmutallab and use them for these types of attacks. He was motivated by a sense of religious sort of drive. Unfortunately, al Qaeda has perverted Islam, and has corrupted the concept of Islam, so that he’s (sic) able to attract these individuals. But al Qaeda has the agenda of destruction and death.”

Thomas: “And you’re saying it’s because of religion?”

Brennan: “I’m saying it’s because of an al Qaeda organization that used the banner of religion in a very perverse and corrupt way.”

Thomas: “Why?”

Brennan: “I think this is a — long issue, but al Qaeda is just determined to carry out attacks here against the homeland.”

Thomas: “But you haven’t explained why.”

Neither did President Obama, nor anyone else in the U.S. political/media hierarchy. All the American public gets is the boilerplate about how evil al Qaeda is perverting a religion and exploiting impressionable young men.

Insert Hamas instead of AQ and you get the picture…

The truth about those Hamas rockets

Conscientious Israelis acknowledge that the Hamas rockets rationale is fraudulent. For instance, Jerusalem Post writer Larry Derfner has noted, “We don’t want to see how people in Gaza are living, we block it out of our minds — which, I suppose, is natural for a society at war, but which also keeps that war going longer than it might if we would recognize that Gaza is getting so much the worst of it.

“The [Palestinian] Kassam [rockets] have terrorized the 25,000 people in Sderot and its environs, but have caused very, very few deaths or serious wounds. By contrast, Israel has terrorized 1.5 million Gazans, locked them inside their awfully narrow borders, throttled their economy, and killed and seriously wounded thousands of them . . .

“This is crazy. Israel is the superpower of the Middle East, but because we still think we’re the Jews of Europe in the 1930s, or the Israelites under Pharaoh, we spend a lot more time fighting our enemies than we might if we looked at the whole picture, not just our half of it . . .”

Lawrence Wright of the New Yorker wrote a very penetrating account, entitled… "What really happened during the Israeli attacks?"

…The stated goal for Operation Cast Lead was to “destroy the terrorist infrastructure,” but there were larger aims. “We cannot allow Gaza to remain under Hamas control,” Tzipi Livni, the Foreign Minister at the time, said. Six months before the operation began, Israel and Hamas had agreed to a truce. The Deputy Defense Minister, Matan Vilnai, warned that Gazans were “bringing upon themselves a greater Shoah, because we will use all our strength in every way we deem appropriate.” Such charged language revealed the degree to which anger permeated the thinking of Israel’s military planners…

…Operation Cast Lead—a three-week-long Israeli attack on Gaza, which began in December, 2008—has left Gaza in ruins. “Half a year after the conflict, we don’t have a single bag of cement and not a pane of glass,” John Ging, the director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees, told me in July. (Later that month, Israeli authorities announced that they would allow the U.N.R.W.A. a limited amount of steel and cement. Ging says that that has yet to happen.) Humanitarian supplies that suddenly have been struck from Israel’s list of approved items pile up in large storage warehouses outside the Kerem Shalom crossing, and international aid worth billions of dollars awaits delivery. “For the last two school years, Israeli officials have withheld paper for textbooks because, hypothetically, the paper might be hijacked by Hamas to print seditious materials,” Ging complained. (Paper was finally delivered this fall.) When John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, visited Gaza in February of this year, he asked why pasta wasn’t allowed in. Soon, macaroni was passing through the checkpoints, but jam was taken off the list. According to Haaretz, the I.D.F. has calculated that a hundred and six truckloads of humanitarian relief are needed every day to sustain life for a million and a half people. But the number of trucks coming into Gaza has fallen as low as thirty-seven. Israeli government officials have told international aid officials that the aim is “no prosperity, no development, no humanitarian crisis.”

…I walked outside, among shuttered shops. “The term ‘economy’ is no longer valid in the Gaza Strip,” Omar Shaban, the economist, told me. In 1994, the poverty rate in Gaza was sixteen per cent. (In the U.S., it was 14.5.) But by 1996 the Israelis had virtually shut out Palestinian labor. And the second intifada, four years later, ended tourism in Gaza; before then, Shaban said, more than ten thousand people a month had visited the territory, many of them Israelis who enjoyed the beaches and the seafood. Most economic activity came to a halt in 2007, with the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Now, according to the U.N., about seventy per cent of Gazans live on less than a dollar a day, and seventy-five per cent rely on international food assistance. In 1994, Shaban said, one wage earner supported six people in Gaza; the dependency rate is now one earner for every eighteen people. Unemployment is practically universal, except for people working for international organizations, or trading in the black market. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, ninety-six per cent of Gaza’s industrial sector collapsed after Operation Cast Lead.

What prodded me to write this diary, besides the fact the carnage continues, but, that the PTB’s in Israel seem to be finally getting a clue that they might not be above the law, after all…!

Time to lawyer up…!

A decision by Israel to take legal advice during combat marks a belated acknowledgment that its international standing has been badly wounded by last year’s bombardment of Gaza.

Israel now realizes it can no longer ignore criticism of alleged war crimes, which it denies. Still, the move by chief of staff Maj. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi’s — involving increased participation of army legal advisers in real time — is a limited step and perhaps a largely cosmetic one.

According to the decision, legal officers will be involved in battle decision-making and a greater emphasis will be placed on educating officers in the rules of war and international law. The officers reportedly did take part in the planning of the three-week operation launched in Gaza in late December 2008 but reportedly were rarely consulted after it was launched.

“It seems that the army has concluded that the world wants to see us do something,” said Yossi Alpher, former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies. But, he added: “This may just be for show.”

The Goldstone Mission has apparently had an impact… Besides Livni’s sudden change in travel plans…

Ashkenazi’s decision, as well as the army advocate-general’s meeting with U.N. and U.S. officials recently, appear to be a step away from the “to hell with world opinion” approach.

But it is certainly worlds away from the state commission of inquiry demanded by Israeli doves or the investigations the Goldstone commission said would be needed to obviate referral to the ICC. An inquiry commission was never a realistic possibility because the overwhelming majority of the Israeli public views the war as a justified response to years of rocket fire. They believe Hamas is responsible for the civilian casualties on the grounds that it used the civilian population as human shields. No politician considering re-election would support a state probe or even anything more than mild criticism of the army.

The apparently cosmetic nature of Ashkenazi’s order appears rings true in his reluctance to move the legal advisers physically closer to the action — say, in battalion headquarters, as is the case with many Western armies — keeping them instead in divisional headquarters.

Moreover, Israel’s leading human rights organization, B’tselem, argues that the problem is not the degree of involvement of the army lawyers but their legal interpretations. It has called on Israel’s attorney-general to investigate “the involvement of army legal echelons in approving attacks on targets that were not legitimate targets.” The military denies that illegitimate objectives were targeted.

“Adherence to the principles of international law such as proportionality does not necessarily stem from inserting the legal people,” said B’tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli.

Ain’t that the truth…!

The ‘Why’ is still left out there hanging…!!!