‘The Palestine Cables’: WikiLeaks dox expose Netanyahu’s vision of Palestinian bantustan

on 19 Comments

Last week Alex Kane began a series called The Palestine Cables, based on Wikileaks data. His second entry.

The Obama administration’s failure to bribe Israel’s right-wing government into accepting a three-month settlement “freeze” should have ended talk about the “peace process,” but Obama’s Middle East team is still crawling towards a two-state solution with little light at the end of the tunnel.  State Department cables released by WikiLeaks will dim the lights further.  The cables show that Israeli officials’ stated vision of a Palestinian state is one that is feeble and toothless–a vision that could snuff out any remaining hope of a viable Palestinian state.

During an April 2007 meeting with Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY), an ardent supporter of Israel, then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said that “a return to the 1967 borders and dividing Jerusalem was not a solution since further
withdrawals would only whet the appetite of radical Islam.”  Netanyahu also referred to the Palestinian right of return as an “acid test,” saying that “the Palestinians must drop the right of return and accept Israel’s right to exist,” and that “not one refugee could ever return.” 

Another cable, which describes a meeting Netanyahu held with a U.S. Congressional delegation two weeks after the 2009 Israeli elections, shows Netanyahu repeating his vision of a Palestinian bantustan.  According to the cable, Netanyahu’s vision of a Palestinian state is one where Palestinian sovereignty is “refined,” meaning “without an army or control over air space and borders.”

Once he assumed the office of prime minister, Netanyahu’s conception of a Palestinian state stayed the same.  A cable describing an April 2009 meeting with another Congressional delegation notes that Netanyahu said that “a Palestinian state must be demilitarized, without control over its air space and electro-magnetic field, and without the power to enter into treaties or control its borders.”

The image of a sovereign-less, still-occupied state for the Palestinians isn’t just confined to the leader of the right-wing Likud party; the leader of Kadima, which is routinely described as a “centrist” party, also shares that image.  In a January 2007 document meant to prepare Condoleeza Rice for an upcoming trip to Israel, the author references a Ha’aretz interview where Livni said her vision of “an interim agreement with the Palestinians” was one in which the illegal “separation barrier would serve as the border.”

The negotiations brokered by the Obama administration have not changed Israeli leaders’ insistence on creating a sliced-up Palestinian entity that lacks any real power.  Newsweek, relying on “a Palestinian official involved in the talks and an Israeli source familiar with the details,” lately reported on the September 2010 round of negotiations:

Netanyahu told the Palestinians they had to accept Israel’s “security concept” before he would discuss other issues, including borders. The concept involved keeping Israeli troops stationed along territory on the Palestinian side of the barrier Israel has built in the West Bank to protect what Israel calls its “narrow waistline.” That strip would be several kilometers wide at some points, says the Palestinian negotiator, and run along much of the seam line. Also, to protect itself against the possible rise of a hostile Islamic state in Jordan, say both sources, Netanyahu insisted Israeli troops would remain posted in the Jordan Valley for years. Though Netanyahu didn’t present maps, Abbas and his negotiators calculated that Palestinians would be left with just 60 percent of the West Bank.

This conception of a Palestine that lacks some of the core attributes a nation-state possesses–the ability to defend themselves with a military, and control over their air space and borders–is wholly inconsistent with international law and the United States’ past statements.

But there George Mitchell is, still talking to both Israeli and Palestinian officials and trying to jump start the moribund “peace process” once again.  And for what?

As the WikiLeaks cables reveal, not much of anything. 

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist and blogger based in New York City. He blogs on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia in the United States at alexbkane.wordpress.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

19 Responses

  1. Citizen
    December 15, 2010, 2:13 pm

    Hence the need to stop Rep Berman’s resolution now circulating shady in the House to stop the Palestinian people from trying to get a state of their own that’s worthy to be called a state in the first place–directly via gaining recognition of such a state from the individual UN state members.

    • Hostage
      December 16, 2010, 2:11 am

      Berman and other US officials look like idiots when they say recognition of Palestine is “premature”, or when they propose resolutions condemning other sovereign states for recognizing Palestine. They should consult S/1466, 9 March 1950, Letter Dated 8 March 1950 From the Secretary-General to the President of the Security Council Concerning “Legal Aspects of Problems of Representation in the United Nations” It describes the reaction of the US when the Security Council representative from Syria tabled a resolution requesting an ICJ advisory opinion on the legal status of Israeli statehood. When the Syrian representative challenged the United States recognition of the Provisional Government of Israel, Mr. Austin was practically livid:

      I should regard it as highly improper for me to admit that any country on earth can question the sovereignty of the United States of America in the exercise of that high political act of recognition of the de facto status of a State. Moreover, I would not admit here, by implication or by direct answer, that there exists a tribunal of Justice or of any other kind, anywhere, that can pass judgment upon the legality or the validity of that act of my Country. There were certain powers and certain rights of a sovereign State which were not yielded by any of the members who signed the United Nations Charter and in particular this power to recognize the de facto authority of a provisional Government was not yielded. When it was exercised by my Government, it was done as a practical step, in recognition of realities: the existence of things, and the recognition of a change that had actually taken place. I am certain that no nation on earth has any right to question that, or to lay down a proposition that a certain length of time of the exercise of de facto authority must elapse before that authority can be recognized.”

      The Negev comprised 60 percent of the territory that had been allocated by the General Assembly for the establishment of a Jewish state. When President Truman recognized Israel, and for many months afterward, it did not have a physical presence in much of the Negev or effectively control most of the territory between Beersheba and modern-day Eilat. Truman had no way of knowing if the Israeli government ever would, but nonetheless recognized a State of Israel “within the boundaries of the UN resolution”.

      Berman is also barking-up the wrong tree regarding a “unilateral declaration”. The Palestinians have been pointing-out, for quite some time that over one hundred other states have already recognized their 1988 unilateral declaration of statehood. They do not intend to issue another declaration. They are simply seeking the recognition of their borders or the recognition of their statehood from additional states, e.g. See here, here, and here

      Berman’s resolution is untenable in any event. One of the Quartet partners, the Russian Federation, already recognizes the State of Palestine (e.g. see the Embassу of Palestine in the Russian Federation) ad the European Council issued a declaration long ago which severed the issue of Palestinian statehood from EU recognition. Their declaration on the Middle East Peace process stipulated that the negotiations do not prejudice the unqualified Palestinian right to self-determination, including the option of a state, which is not subject to any veto. See for example Other Declarations, Middle East Peace Process, Berlin Presidency Conclusions, 24-25 March 1999

      The General Assembly also adopted a resolution which stipulated that the Palestinians have the right of self-determination, including the right to a State, which is not subject to any veto in the current peace process. See operative paragraphs 1&2 of A/RES/55/87, 21 February 2001 That measure was adopted by a recorded vote of : Yes: 170, No: 2, Abstentions: 5, Non-Voting: 12, Total voting membership: 189

      • Citizen
        December 16, 2010, 7:01 am

        Hostage, you make a great and detailed point. Those jumping on Berman’s gravy train wouldn’t blink an eye, dismissing what you document and you as irrelevant because you’re talking about Israel, our bestest friend in the wide world. Don’t you realize the Palestinians are on the terrorist list?

      • Hostage
        December 16, 2010, 10:38 am

        The gravy train cannot prevent the President from recognizing Palestine. Strangely enough, the fault lies entirely with Obama, not with AIPAC or the Congress.

        The President has the constitutional authority to conclude international agreements related to recognition without authorization from Congress or consent of the Senate. See United States v Belmont, 301, US 324, 57 S Ct. 758, 81 L.Ed. 1134 (1937); or §204 “Recognition and Maintaining Diplomatic Relations: Law of the United States”, Volume 1, page 89; and §303 Reporters Note 11 “Sole Executive Agreements”, Volume 1, page 167, in “The Restatement of the Law (Third) of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States”, American Law Institute, 1986, ISBN 0314301380.

  2. marc b.
    December 15, 2010, 2:28 pm

    slightly OT, but with all the justified hand-wringing over the bully-boy treatment of assange, the apparent torture of one of the ‘whistle-blowers’ who allegedly provided wikileaks with material has been glossed over.

    see glen greenwald’s latest.

    link to salon.com


    • syvanen
      December 15, 2010, 10:40 pm

      Maybe OT but this is a story that deserves more exposure. Not just solitary confinement but Manning is not allowed to exercise during his 23 hours of isolation. I guess if he attempted to do push-ups, deep knee bends or sit-ups he would be declared “unruly”. The military is definitely trying to break him. He reminds me of Vanunu. He at least survived his incarceration with his character and spirit of resistance intact. I can only hope that Manning has the inner strength and psychic skills to survive his ordeal. But for those of us in the opposition there is not much more than publicizing his ordeal that we can do other than praying for him.

      What we all should do is to remind any young soul who is tempted to enlist in the US military, that once they do they have given up their rights as a citizen. We on the outside can do very little to help them.

      • Citizen
        December 16, 2010, 7:04 am

        Yeah, we need to make sure those young souls know they should work to get into congress, a land where there’s no accountability and the bennies are great. Or, they could go to Wall St.

  3. Bandolero
    December 15, 2010, 4:19 pm

    Here is a very interesting cable regarding Israel and Iran: 07TELAVIV2652, U/S BURNS’ AUGUST 17 MEETING WITH ISRAELI MOSSAD

    ¶11. (S) Dagan described how the Israeli strategy consists of
    five pillars:

    A) Political Approach: Dagan praised efforts to bring Iran
    before the UNSC, and signaled his agreement with the pursuit
    of a third sanctions resolution. He acknowledged that
    pressure on Iran is building up, but said this approach alone
    will not resolve the crisis. He stressed that the timetable
    for political action is different than the nuclear project’s

    B) Covert Measures: Dagan and the Under Secretary agreed not
    to discuss this approach in the larger group setting.

    C) Counterproliferation: Dagan underscored the need to
    prevent know-how and technology from making their way to
    Iran, and said that more can be done in this area.

    D) Sanctions: Dagan said that the biggest successes had so
    far been in this area. Three Iranian banks are on the verge
    of collapse. The financial sanctions are having a nationwide
    impact. Iran’s regime can no longer just deal with the
    bankers themselves.

    E) Force Regime Change: Dagan said that more should be done
    to foment regime change in Iran, possibly with the support of
    student democracy movements, and ethnic groups (e.g., Azeris,
    Kurds, Baluchs) opposed to the ruling regime.

    I would say, this looks like proof that Mossad and CIA planned the green revolution in Iran, and furthermore, there were doing covert action, what is most likely a synonym for terror operations.

    • annie
      December 15, 2010, 4:27 pm

      were doing covert action, what is most likely a synonym for terror operations.

      the cable is proof there were plans and intention, the rest is speculative..

      • Kathleen
        December 15, 2010, 5:13 pm

        If you have sent special forces into another country to disrupt, kill scientist, undermine the present government. Terrorism for sure

      • VR
        December 15, 2010, 7:25 pm

        I say that about sizes up what we did in Iraq kathleen, so actually these heinous acts are nothing new. You do know what counterinsurgency is don’t you? It means you kidnap, hurt, kill civilians, etc.


        So, as horrible as these activities are, they have been going on for over 100 years. really

      • annie
        December 15, 2010, 7:31 pm

        i know kathleen. i’m just saying these cables show obvious intent but that doesn’t mean they did it. it’s only as obvious as a woman caught on tape saying she wants to kill her husband and then a year down the road he ends up murdered. not conclusive but heck, i’d warn her fiance.


        and of course i agree it is terrorism, whomever commits these acts.

      • VR
        December 15, 2010, 9:35 pm

        Actually this goes further back that the study (link-Instruments of Statecraft) mentions, the implication is that it started in earnest after WW2. Actually, you even find these tactics used at the inception of this nation (USA) against the indigenous. But to just give you an idea what the above link entails –

        “Since World War II, assassination, sabotage, kidnapping, torture, the overthrow of foreign governments, and other terroristic activities have been intrinsic to our national defense policy. These have been justified time and again as necessary to combat communist insurgency and, more recently, terrorism-as the only effective response to the barbarism ascribed to, or projected onto, our enemies- be they Sandinista or the PLO.

        So it is that America has maintained forces -including the OSS, the CIA, the Green Berets, and the Delta Force-that have specialized in dirty warfare with impunity, in Nicaragua, Lebanon, Laos, Vietnam, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Guatemala, Africa, Cuba, Central America, and Greece, among other places.”

        Try to get familiar with it.

      • Hostage
        December 16, 2010, 3:51 am

        As the old saying goes, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” I was surprised when President Bush declared Afghan civilians “unlawful combatants” in their own country and said that the US would not observe Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions with respect to their treatment. In 1993, the US voted in favor of a Chapter VII Security Council resolution which said that the Geneva Conventions reflect customary international law that is binding on any parties that engage in armed conflicts. The resolution authorized the establishment of an Ad Hoc international criminal tribunal that was empowered to prosecute non-signatory parties for violations of the conventions.

        Common Article 3 merely requires contracting states to provide the minimum necessary legal protections. For example, it prohibits at all times “the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.”

        For a long time now, the US government has targeted civilians in deadly raids where the justification employed appears to be “we suspected them of being suspicious”.

        I was amazed when John Kerry complained during his Presidential campaign about Operation Phoenix, a joint CIA-Special Forces undertaking in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. William Colby who directed the Operation was supposedly “on temmporary leave of absence” from the CIA, working for the USAID. Sen. Kerry publicly condemned the operation as an illegal assassination program on Meet the Press, but in the very next breath complained that Osama Bin Ladin and the Taliban leadership had escaped from a very similar joint CIA-Special Forces undertaking in Afghanistan.

        Just the other day, there was an article about the passing of Richard C. Holbrooke (who happened to be the head of the USAID for the Mekong Delta and an author of one of the volumes of the so-called “Pentagon Papers”). The article noted that Gen. Petraeus had publicly cited recent improvements in conditions due to the elimination, through killing or capture, of hundreds of local political leaders in raids by U.S. Special Operation forces. See Holbrooke’s death leaves major void in Obama’s Afghan strategy

  4. Kathleen
    December 15, 2010, 5:08 pm

    Conversation over at Race for Iran about the two state solution. Jump on. Respectful folks

    link to raceforiran.com

  5. Kathleen
    December 15, 2010, 5:12 pm

    “Netanyahu said that “a Palestinian state must be demilitarized, without control over its air space and electro-magnetic field, and without the power to enter into treaties or control its borders.”

    Give up on the right of return, East Jerusalem, no control over your own sovereignty. Netanyahu reconfirms once again he is playing games and has no intention of seeing two states or one state. Just keep it all up in the air as you grab more land

    • Citizen
      December 16, 2010, 7:15 am

      Nettie feels he is merely planning for a good self-defense. Israel needs Palistinian land for its buffer zone; that’s why it has it now, and is determined to keep it. Consider the buffer area (present day Syria) between ancient Egypt and the Hittitte land. Both kept skirmishing there as each felt it needed a buffer zone on their border. The folks actually living in the buffer zone area didn’t count at all. Of course, the ancient rivals were fairly evenly matched, even down to their chariots. In contrast, the contemporary Palestinian land is the buffer zone, and they, of course, can only throw stones at tanks.

  6. peters
    December 15, 2010, 5:39 pm

    please consider this if you haven’t already…

    link to willyloman.wordpress.com

  7. Kathleen
    December 15, 2010, 7:09 pm

    Vote on the Berman legislation up
    link to cspan.org

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