Dumb as rocks (‘Washington Post’ says giving Palestinians access to quarries will ‘advance the peace process’)

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 22 Comments

I used to tell myself, being devil’s advocate, that longtime US envoy and Israel advocate Dennis Ross must be some genius and that behind the opaque curtains of the Obama administration he had a vision that could save the two-state solution. George Mitchell didn’t get it. Condi Rice didn’t get it. But Dennis Ross in a Nixon-goes-to-China way did.

Well now all the secrets are revealed– and he has no ideas!

Ross has a piece in the Washington Post saying that all we have to do is let the Palestinians get access to some quarries in occupied territory, and that’s the key. The way to break the impasse between Israelis and Palestinians, he argues, is for Israel to take steps that show the occupation is shrinking and that therefore validate the leadership of Palestinian Authority P.M. Fayyad, not wicked Hamas. Oh and Fayyad has “nonviolent” answers to the occupation.

There is no mention of the nonviolent anti-apartheid movement in the West Bank. There is not a word here about Israeli settlements. Amazing.

What follows is the heart of Ross’s argument: some loosening of restrictions in the occupation. Sort of like rearranging the deck chairs. My headline comes from the Post’s stupendously stupid caption accompanying the article, offered below. Ross:

Finally, in Area C, which is about 60 percent of the West Bank, Palestinians’ security and police forces have no access, their economic activity is extremely limited, and Israel retains civil and security responsibilities. There is no practical reason that the Palestinians cannot be permitted dramatically more economic access and activity in this area.

To give one example, there are Palestinian stone masonry factories in Area A [under P.A. control], but Palestinians have limited access to the rock quarries in the West Bank, which are in Area C. In a case brought against Israeli ownership of the rock quarries, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled late last month that no additional quarries should be Israeli-owned. That ruling creates an opening for private Palestinian ownership, should any new quarries be established — and there clearly is room for more.

Expanding the Palestinians’ economic opportunities in Area C would do wonders for job creation and the overall Palestinian economy.

These steps should be feasible from an Israeli standpoint.




About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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22 Responses

  1. HarryLaw
    January 7, 2012, 1:11 pm

    What Ross does not say is that the quarrying activities undertaken by the Israeli occupying authorities are completlely illegal and contrary to Customary International Law, particularly the Hague regulations 1907 articles 55 and 43. My comments here have been posted before and they illustrate those aspects of International Law which Israel have broken and which the Israeli court took no notice.

    Two reports from Zafrir Rinat and Aeyal Gross in Haaretz on 28 Dec 2011 give some details on how the Israeli high court arrived at its decision on Yesh Dins petition to it involving commander of the Israeli defence forces and others. See Commander of IDF v Yesh Din and others Known as the Quarries case (here http://www.yesh-din.org/sys/images/File/QuarriesPetitionEng%5B1%5D.pdf ).
    Here are a few of my own notes on the decision I have not seen the decision in full yet. The decision was perverse in the extreme. Under customary international law, the 1907 Hague regulations and the 1949 Geneva conventions, the military commander of the occupying authority must act within the occupied Palestinian territories(OPT) according to the narrow parameters of these laws which are:
    1 Military needs and/or
    2 To benefit the local protected population
    Under article 55 of Hague, the commander or civil administrator is allowed to sell crops and minerals (using local labour) for the two reasons above.
    The minerals in this case, quarrying material, under the rules of war may be mined (in this in my opinion the court made an error) in the same way and in the same proportion as was done before the occupation began(continuity). The problem for the court is that the quarries were opened after the occupation began, so the continuity which the court claimed should continue did not in fact exist. See paragraph 71, p19 of Yesh Din petition linked above.
    Second, acting as trustee and administrator, the commander does not have the power to grant concessions or to transfer property rights and interest other than to ensure public order and safety in the OPT in breach of customary international law. See Hague regulation 43(the mini constitution of occupation). Obviously the sale of this material, 94% of which goes to Israel proper defeats the trust at the expense of the true beneficiary, the protected local population. The leasing of these property rights and interests, usually for 49 years with a further option also directly contradicts this trust, since occupation is supposed to be temporary. The usufructuary principle inherent in article 55 of Hague is breached in several other ways, the judge said mining did not affect the capital of the property – clearly this is not the case, the quarries have a finite existence and are not replaceable, as is for instance, fruit from a tree. As a non renewable public natural resource they are clearly Palestinian owned resources. WHAT IF THEY HAD BEEN DIAMONDS?

    (1) An earlier decision in the Israeli high court which ruled that the Hague regulations prohibit
    the exploitation of resources of occupied territory for the economic needs of the occupying country. “The military commander may not weigh national, economic, or social interests of his country in so far as they have no ramifications on his security interest in the area, or on the interest of the local population. Even military needs are his (i.e. the military commander’s) needs and not national security needs in the broad sense. Territory held in belligerent occupation is not an open field for economic or other kinds of exploitation” [HCJ 393/92 Teachers Housing Cooperative V Commander of IDF forces. Honourable justice A Barak 1983].

    (2) The Israeli state attorney’s office relied on this principle in its response to the petition The Ma’ale Adumin Municipality filed to exempt it from paying for burying Palestinian waste in the Abu Dis waste-disposal site:

    It is absolutely clear that the powers specified in Article 55 too are subject to the fundamental principal involving the powers of the military commander in territory that is subject to belligerent occupation, as appears from Article 43 (Hague 1907) whereby the area is not an open field for economic exploitation. Therefore the entire authority of the military commander in the region is exercised for security interests or for civilian needs of the population living in the territory, and this includes also the authority under Article 55.

    (3) The issue of exploitation of natural resources of occupied territory arose following the occupation of Iraq by the forces of the USA and the UK, the two countries made a commitment to the UN security council that all the receipts from the Iraqi oil sector would be used for the Iraqi people, and would be kept in a separate fund from which only a recognised representative of the Iraqi people could draw (see UN resolution 1483 May 22nd 2003). The International court of justice at the Hague ruled that it was absolutely forbidden to utilise the natural resources of the occupied territory for the need of the occupying country and that by doing so breached article 43 (republic of Congo V Uganda. 19th December 2005).
    The reasons advanced by the court in dismissing the petition are similar to the reasons the Israelis gave in drilling for oil in the Sinai peninsula, namely what was once desert was now a thriving industry (make the desert bloom) even the US government rejected that line of reasoning. Also in rejecting the petition judge Dorit Beinisch said the Isreal/Palestine interim agreement permits the quarries to operate in the present manner until a final status agreement is signed. This is also not correct, the PLO is legally prevented from entering into agreements with Israel that would undermine the interests of the Palestinian people under international law, even if such agreements were born out of mutual consent, because as a natural consequence of a state of belligerent occupation parties are not on an equal footing. This limits the ability of the authorities of the OPT to act freely without military pressure in the interests of the occupied population. The provisions set out in the Geneva convention prohibit the conclusion of agreements in which the imbalanced position of the two parties would coerce the authorities of the occupied territory to sign agreements hampering the rights of the occupied population.
    Article 7(i) of the Geneva convention strictly prohibits the concluding of agreements that adversely affect the rights of protected persons and in all circumstances, customary international law trumps any administrative act by the occupier or any agreement entered into by representatives of the the occupied protected population. See http://www.alhaq.org/publications/publications-index/item/exploring-the-illegality-of-land-swap-agreements-under-occupation
    Numerous UN resolutions, notably UN 465(1980) which the US did not veto, determined that Israel not change the physical character or demographic composition of the OPT are also instructive here, clearly Israel behaves above the law, and in a manner that thinks it owns the west bank, and all its resources. I can’t help thinking that judge Beinisch took some lessons from Tzipy Livni when the minister of justice said “I was minister of justice, I am a lawyer……but I am against law……international law in particular, law in general.”(the Palestinian papers). It is quite clear Palestinians seeking justice need not apply to the Israeli high court.

  2. pabelmont
    January 7, 2012, 1:37 pm

    Dumb as a rock quarry. Quite so. Dennis Ross and I burst into whatever sort of print is available to us to give our “ideas for peace” which do not necessarily change much over time. His basic message, unstated, is “ignore human rights and international law and make hasbara points” and mine is “take heed of human rights and enforce international law” thereby removing most of the worst of the occupation (settlers, settlements, wall, siege).

    But he is really “dumb as a post” in that he is unable to speak (“dumb”) on the most important points.

    • Walid
      January 7, 2012, 4:19 pm

      “Dumb as a rock quarry. ”

      Maybe not that dumb, Pabel. When you want something real bad out of the Palestinians, such as having them suspend the UN Human Rights Commission review and ruling on the Goldstone Report, you offer them something they want real bad, such as an operating license/frequencies of a cell phone company for the WB. Worked before and might work again with the rocks. Don’t belittle the value of rocks. Rocks were very important to some Palestinians in the past, they allowed them to make cement to sell to the Israelis to build parts of an apartheid wall.

      • Hostage
        January 8, 2012, 6:57 pm

        Here we go again. The Goldstone report was DOA in the UN system from day one. There are file cabinets full of UN reports about Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity. U.S. envoy to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said that:

        “It is outrageous that a respected institution like the United Nations provides a platform to spread lies and stories about Israel.”

        *’U.S. to stand by Israel in the fight against Goldstone report’ http://www.haaretz.com/news/u-s-to-stand-by-israel-in-the-fight-against-goldstone-report-1.5704

        The US State Department labelled the Goldstone report seriously flawed and refused to accept it as the basis for any Security Council action. It was widely reported that Israel had reached an understanding with the US to veto any attempt to obtain a referral to the ICC:
        *Israel, US reach ‘silent understanding’ on Goldstone veto
        http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3799934,00.html, e.g.

        Regardless of the number of times someone repeats the propaganda about the second mobile operator license, it simply doesn’t hold water. Abbas and Fayyad authorized a criminal complaint to be filed directly with the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC and called on the Arab League to establish an independent fact finding mission to be sent to Gaza. The press reported that Israel had demanded that the PA withdraw the complaint and that it deployed the threat to withhold the mobile license you mentioned above. Neither the complaint nor the very damning report, “No Safe Place”, have never been withdrawn. The PA ministers, the Arab League Secretariat, and the fact finding mission team members all held follow-up discussions with the Prosecutor after those reports surfaced urging him to take on the case. Wikileaks revealed that the Government of Israel considered the Palestinian complaint with the ICC “an act of war” and asked the United States for help in getting it quashed. link to wikileaks.org

        Those meetings were held long after Israel attempted to blackmail the PA with the cellular license. See Israel demands PA drop war crimes suit at The Hague, 27/09/09 and the chronology in paragraphs 8-10 of the Prosecutor’s report to the UN regarding the PA complaint. Dr. Khashan accompanied by a delegation from the Palestinian National Authority and advised by Professor Vaughan Lowe of Oxford University, visited the Court on 15‐16 October 2009. On the same days, the Prosecutor was also visited by a high level Arab League Secretariat delegation and the members of the League’s Fact Finding Committee ‐ Professor John Dugard (Chair, South African), Judge Finn Lynghjem (Norwegian), Solicitor Raelene Sharp (rapporteur, Australian), Professor and forensic expert Francisco Corte‐Real (Portuguese), Professor Paul de Waart (Dutch), and Advocate Gonzalo Boye (Chilean/German).

        The reason that Abbas asked for a delay in putting the Goldstone report on the HRC agenda was reported to be Israeli threats to attack the West Bank if he didn’t:
        *Diskin to Abbas: Defer UN vote on Goldstone or face ‘second Gaza’
        PA official claims Shin Bet chief told Abbas if Goldstone vote occurs West Bank will be attacked. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/diskin-to-abbas-defer-un-vote-on-goldstone-or-face-second-gaza-1.261541

        It’s fairly obvious that, given a choice between obtaining justice for the victims of Operation Cast Lead through recognition of a state within the 1967 borders or holding out in hopes of a one state solution, that some Palestinian activists have chosen the latter. For that reason, many in the Palestinian activist community wouldn’t touch the standing PA criminal complaint on file at the ICC or its bid for recognition in the UN system with a barge pole. The international community cleared the last legal obstacle to investigating that complaint and prosecuting those responsible when it formally recognized an existing State of Palestine and admitted it as a full member of UNESCO. Surprisingly, activists like Ali Abunimah, were the ones standing in the way of that recognition by objecting to “UN recognition of a Palestinian make-believe state”. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2011/04/2011413152522296883.html

        Nothing is standing between the Palestinians and membership in the ICC, except the Palestinians themselves. The silence from the activist community is deafening. So please stop shreying about the Goldstone report. The Prosecutor can always use any information available from open sources once the jurisdictional objections have been eliminated.

      • Walid
        January 9, 2012, 9:25 am

        “Here we go again. ”

        No, Hostage, here YOU go again with your conclusion about something not under discussion here.You discussed the nothing that would have happened in the UNSC when at issue here was simply that Abbas “paused” the scheduled Gladstone review at the UNHRC in exchange for favours. No one ever expected anything out of the UNSC against Israel because of the US veto and all what was hoped for from the UNHRC condemnation was to get egg on Israel’s face and to give a helping at the ICC on outstanding accusations against Israeli individuals.

        You said “Regardless of the number of times someone repeats the propaganda about the second mobile operator license, it simply doesn’t hold water.” I’m assuming the repetitive propagandist you are referring to is me. You followed this by saying, “The press reported that Israel had demanded that the PA withdraw the complaint and that it deployed the threat to withhold the mobile license.” Which of the 2 contradicting versions of your assertions do you want considered?

        I think you are confounding the Palestinians’ outstanding claim against individuals at the ICC that Netanyahu wanted Abbas to annul and the then UNHRC scheduled review of Israel’s crimes in the Goldstone that Netanyahu also wanted Abbas to annul.

        As to your repeat needling of Abunimah, had I been a Palestinian and asked to subscribe to either Abbas’ philosophy of doing nothing to avoid pissing off the Israelis, or to Ali’s one of BDS and being an overall pain in the ass for Israel, I’d have gone with Ali’s. I don’t understand your reservations about this guy and his co-activists; in contrast, what has Abbas’ leadership gotten for the Palestinians since 7 years ?

      • Hostage
        January 9, 2012, 5:08 pm

        No, Hostage, here YOU go again with your conclusion

        You’re the one drawing the conclusion and repeating claims that Abbas delayed the UN HRC vote in exchange for a bribe. You’ve never presented a damn bit of evidence, just innuendo.

        The UN HRC has adopted measures formally condemning its own member states. It never required the consent of Abbas to discuss or endorse its own fact finding report. That’s especially true in light of the fact that militias associated with the Fatah party were implicated in possible war crimes outlined in the report itself.

        In any event, the delay lasted ten days – from 6 October 2009 until 16 October 2009 – when Palestinians took to the streets en mass and demanded a vote in the Human Rights Council on the report. That’s history now. It doesn’t account for the mysterious failure of the BDS movement to support the existing Palestinian request for investigations and penal sanctions in the aftermath of the recent UNESCO vote.

        FYI, the ICC Prosecutor doesn’t require a Security Council referral as a preliminary matter. The report of The Fact Finding Mission to Gaza didn’t require one either:

        1968 (c) The Mission further recommends that the United Nations Human Rights Council should formally submit this report to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court – page 423;

        The subsequent delay in investigating the allegations contained in the Goldstone report occurred as a result of the recommendation of the Fact Finding Mission itself. The report asked the UN Security Council to direct Israel and Palestine to conduct their own independent investigations and prosecutions. The report had already noted the likelihood that the none of the parties concerned would be able to adequately carry-out that task:

        1964. The Mission believes that, in the circumstances, there is little potential for accountability for serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law through domestic institutions in Israel and even less in Gaza.

        I’m assuming the repetitive propagandist you are referring to is me.

        Yes. Omar Barghouti, Haaretz, and others were the initial source of the reports about the threats to cellular phone licenses. Jonathan Cook portrayed it as a threat of economic sanctions with dire consequences, but Barghouti accused PA officials of active collusion or betrayal in the matter.

        The reports from the original sources died down after the other reports surfaced which outlined a) the Israeli threat to attack the West Bank and place it under siege like Gaza; and b) that Israel considered the Palestinian attempt to indict its officials in the ICC as an act of war.

        As to your repeat needling of Abunimah, had I been a Palestinian and asked to subscribe to either Abbas’ philosophy of doing nothing to avoid pissing off the Israelis, or to Ali’s one of BDS and being an overall pain in the ass for Israel, I’d have gone with Ali’s.

        I’ve stated before that I understand Abunimah doesn’t like Fayyad or the two state solution, but that doesn’t justify fabricating sensational claims about collusion or saying “Fayyad just gave away your right of return”. I’ve read and re-read the Haaretz article about the Palestinian state that Abunimah cited and it contained no mention of any waiver or anything that subverted Palestinian rights. Compare:

        President Abbas explained that the purpose of pursuing UN recognition of the State of Palestine was to pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not just a political one. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/17/opinion/17abbas.html
        Polls showed that the majority of Palestinians supported the UN bid, despite concerns about the expected backlash. http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=421205

        For his own part, Abunimah thought nothing of subverting the UN bid and the rights of the citizens of a widely recognized State, that would flow from being a full UN member or joining one of the UN specialized agencies as a member. Those include the legal right to accept the jurisdiction of the ICC and pursue penal sanctions (in line with the “S” in BDS) against the officials and agents of an occupying power. This site exists to discuss the war of ideas. So naturally, I’ ll keep bringing that subject up from time to time and pointing out the efforts of people to subvert the application of the appropriate penal sanctions.

      • Walid
        January 10, 2012, 4:46 am

        Hostage: “So naturally, I’ ll keep bringing that subject up from time to time and pointing out the efforts of people to subvert the application of the appropriate penal sanctions.”

        A laudable vocation, but what has this to do with Abunimah’s objection to Abbas’ UN application that omitted including the rights and the will of disapora Palestinians and the ongoing occupation? You keep going on how Abunimah tried to subvert the UN application as if to say that he is so gung-ho for a one state that he’s against an independent Palestine that Abbas was trying to achieve, which is absurd. Abunimah was saying that the half-assed application was another gimmick along the lines of Oslo to help maintain the occupation as it was a forgone conclusion that it would never clear the American veto hurdle and even if it would, it ran the debatable risk of having written-off any chances of RoR. He said the application would serve only prolong the the Palestinians’ agony instead of achieving Abbas’ desire to internationalize it that we all knew was doomed to fail. He was proven right by Obama’s UN speech that showed his vision being essentially more Zionist than Netanyahu’s which shocked the majority of Israelis that would have wanted to see Palestine’s application accepted. It’s now been over 3 months that this application was filed and should be put into the perspective of South Sudan having applied to the UN and gotten its approval within 3 days.

        You seem to agree with Abbas’ concept of “internationalizing” the conflict; with which international nations, the Dominicam Republic and Lichtenstein? The US, Canada and Europe are already pissing all over the Palestinians and their problems.

        In light of the revelations of the Palestinian Papers, you could dump a bit of your “application of the appropriate penal sanctions” on Abbas & Co.

  3. powzon
    January 7, 2012, 2:19 pm

    Did it take you until Obama’s administration to realize that Ross has only one idea, that Israel gets to take over pretty much whatever it can? As he managed to parlay into an esteemed diplomatic career his attendance at most of the bottlenecks, stalls and failures, wasn’t the fact that he was part of the Obama administration a bad sign?
    Now you see what he was up to all along, and why Obama selected him: for cover.

    Ross’s “idea” has been the same as Netanyahu’s: “do wonders for the overall Palestinian economy”, which means make some so comfortable that they don’t have much fight left, and make others so uncomfortable that they leave, or get injured or killed. While Israel surrounds them on all sides, they’re controlled by judicious application of pleasure and pain. That’s always been the plan.

  4. Annie Robbins
    January 7, 2012, 2:26 pm

    screw ross, why does the WAPO continue to provide these neocons with platforms to distract people. ross has no desire to solve this so why’s he coming up with these little handouts designed to create an appearance of the good occupying power cronies being oh so helpful?

    i’ll tell you why, because right now israel’s focus is on chopping off palestine from east jerusalem permanently and ethnically cleansing all of jerusalem, that’s why.

  5. ritzl
    January 7, 2012, 2:35 pm

    “Permitted?” If that doesn’t say it all about the mentality of the Occupiers and why a TSS is currently dead (stake through the heart by Israel’s own hand).

    On the other hand, this decision provides clarity that that is the case, which may be a good thing in that it may foster some new problem-solving thinking in the US and Israel. Ross seems to have taken notice that this is in fact a problematic decision. What the means prospectively is anyone’s guess, but I think this decision shortens the time frame for a resolution to this conflict by some TBD amount, whatever the outcome.

  6. Richard Witty
    January 7, 2012, 5:04 pm

    A little progress is progress. Why seek to stop it?

    • MLE
      January 7, 2012, 11:19 pm

      So Richard, what do you think about multinational companies violating the sovereignty of Native American territory and mining it for resources, without compensation to the tribes who own the land? Do you think that’s perfectly OK as well?

    • eljay
      January 7, 2012, 11:31 pm

      >> DR: Finally, in Area C, which is about 60 percent of the West Bank, Palestinians’ security and police forces have no access, their economic activity is extremely limited, and Israel retains civil and security responsibilities. … Expanding the Palestinians’ economic opportunities in Area C would do wonders for job creation and the overall Palestinian economy.
      >> RW: A little progress is progress. Why seek to stop it?

      Rather than immediately stop the rape, RW sees “some merit to the theme” of letting the victim keep her bra on while the rapist continues to violently rape her. He’s a real “humanist”.

      • Hostage
        January 8, 2012, 8:48 pm

        The way to break the impasse between Israelis and Palestinians, he argues, is for Israel to take steps that show the occupation is shrinking and that therefore validate the leadership of Palestinian Authority P.M. Fayyad, not wicked Hamas. Oh and Fayyad has “nonviolent” answers to the occupation. . . . Expanding the Palestinians’ economic opportunities in Area C would do wonders for job creation and the overall Palestinian economy.

        Fayyad was responsible for the 2009 two-year government plan for Ending the Occupation and Establishing the State. It culminated in the bid for UN recognition of Palestine. He told Al Jazeera that seeking recognition and membership in the UN is perfectly legitimate.
        link to english.aljazeera.net

        Haaretz and AFP have both reported on Fayyad’s attitude toward an economic peace:

        But Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad has rejected Netanyahu’s proposals for an economic solution to the Middle East conflict.

        Fayyad, a former International Monetary Fund economist, said the conflict was a political one that required a political solution.

        “I am interested not in redefining the occupation but in ending the occupation,” he said in an interview published by the Israeli daily Haaretz on Tuesday.


  7. Les
    January 7, 2012, 6:05 pm

    While our media may use the term “peace process,” for Ross, Clinton, and Obama it has always been about a “piece process” Sudetenland style.

  8. Talkback
    January 8, 2012, 6:25 am

    Interesting map. So all the quarries are in the Jews-only-area and outside the Palestinian’s bantustans?

    • MLE
      January 8, 2012, 9:56 am

      How convenient for them.

      • anonymouscomments
        January 9, 2012, 5:58 am

        Just like the water resources, under Ariel, that they effing sell back to the occupied at profit. Oh and they also limit the amount of water they even get, and do not get it 24/7. Everyone in Bethlehem has 1 or more water tank on their roof, which they fill for the times when water is cut. While the ominous settlement destroying the backyard view gets 24/7 stolen water. Israel is so shameless it really blows my mind.

  9. eGuard
    January 8, 2012, 11:54 am

    Ross writes that only when new quarries are opened, there could be Palestinian owned. That is, a new one can be Palestinian, or Israel could own a new one and “give” an existing one to Palestine. Today and in the end, Israel will own ten.

    Direct link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/how-to-unfreeze-a-middle-east-stalemate/2011/12/21/gIQAdhZdfP_story.html

  10. greybeard
    January 8, 2012, 12:08 pm

    It must be habitual wishful thinking to expect Ross to have any ideas which counter Israel-first-ism. He has been “Israel’s lawyer” since or before Clinton.

  11. piotr
    January 8, 2012, 9:58 pm

    This is a good question “A little progress is progress. Why seek to stop it?”

    I tried to find a song on the topic, instead I hit

    O knige V. I. Lenina “Shag vpered, dva shaga nazad.”

    Apparently, in 1964 someone wrote a book about the book of V. I. Lenin, “Step forward, two steps back”. There is nothing particularly wrong about making a step forward. But when we have a MODERATE strategy, the balance of steps matters. Ross, apparently a self-hating Jew, observes that “their [Palestinian] economic activity is extremely limited” in Area C and that this area is 60% of the occupied area. How many steps were made last week to restrict that activity? How many cisterns were demolished, storage sheds destroyed, shepherds chased away, etc.? Could we think about at least one step in the opposite direction?

    My favorite positive step of Israeli authorities is when some time in 2009 IDF lifted the ban on importing hummus to Gaza, however, with exception for hummus with flavoring additives like mushroom or pine nuts. And there was plenty of good news in 2009, because IDF lifted perhaps 100 bans. Shoes were permitted! Because I do not have access to comprehensive info, only to stories, I do not know what is the current status of cilantro. But IDF can finely balance magnanimous steps toward Gazans with more stern steps, like killing some suspicious character now and then. Striking a proper balance in West Bank is harder, so I must conclude that Ross’s criticism, while perhaps friendly, is not constructive.

  12. ToivoS
    January 9, 2012, 12:08 am

    I happened to know someone who inherited a fair amount of land that had always been considered worthless because no one could figure out how to grow any crops on it. However, it did have rocks, in fact some very attractive igneous formations if they were properly excavated. So he started a business supplying ornamental rocks to landscape firms. He loved the business he started, was able to support a modest life style but he really made very little money at it. Labor costs consumed most of his revenues. The point is one does not get rich in that business but a minor economy can grow around it.

    It is a symptom of the greed of the Zionist that even the most marginal businesses will be controlled by the Jews. Even Ross is appalled at Israeli greed. Nothing for the Palestinians, everything for the Israelis. This is really small potatoes compared to the water Israel is stealing from the high land aquifer in the WB.

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