Posts Tagged ‘EU’

israel_weapons

By Dr. Elias Akleh

Since their occupation of Palestine in 1948 to establish illegal Israel in the heart of the Arab World until the present, Zionist Israelis had initiated seven wars against their Arab neighbors. Six of those were waged after 1967 to maintain their occupation of the rest of Palestine, Lebanese Sheb’a Farms, and Syrian Golan Heights; formally recognized by the international community as an occupation.

Israel had maintained its occupation of the land for the last sixty years. The question that poses itself, here, is how a small state like Israel, 7 million Zionist Jews in an area of 8 thousand square miles (excluding the 1967 occupied territories), could maintain such an occupation against hundreds of millions of Arabs and against the disapproval of the civic (not political) international community? Bullying with extreme brutal force is the answer. Israel is a military society with every Zionist Israeli citizen, from childhood to old age, being militaristic in one form or another. Israel possesses all kinds of weapons including weapons of mass destruction (WMD) such as nuclear and chemical weapons.

Israel did not become the fourth largest army in the world by its own merit, but by the Western countries supplying it with all kinds of weapons. In its February 23rd report “Foreign Arms Supplies To Israel/Gaza Fueling Conflict” amnestyusa.org named 18 EU member states, which authorized 1,018 arms export licenses to Israel worth a little less than 200 million Euros. All these arms exports are in violation of the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports under Criterion 2, which states that member states are supposed to “deny an export license if there is a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression or be used in the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law”. Israel had committed such violations throughout its entire existence.

France, Germany, and Romania were the top three arms suppliers to Israel worth of 126 million Euros, 28 million Euros, and 17 million Euros respectively. Other significant arms suppliers to Israel since 2001 also include alphabetically Austria, Australia, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Columbia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, India, Italy, Poland, Romania, Serbia-Montenegro, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, and UK.

The report also indicated the well-known fact that “Since 2001, the USA has been by far the major supplier of conventional arms to Israel” It also stated the logical conclusion that “Put simply, Israel’s military intervention in the Gaza Strip has been equipped to a large extent by US-supplied weapons, munitions and military equipment paid for with US taxpayers’ money” What the report failed to indicate is that Israel had violated all the US laws governing arms transfers.

Examining the American military aid to Israel we find that since the end of WWII Israel had been the largest recipient of US aid (Armed & Dangerous Report). From 1949-2007 Israel had received more than $101 billion in total US economic and military aid. A previous Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two countries started phasing out the economic aid and increasing the military aid, and in 2008 all US aid to Israel turned into military aid only. The current MOU, singed by Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns in August 2007, has increased military aid to Israel by 25% a year for the next ten years FY2009-2018, totaling to $30 billion.

During the Bush administration 2001-2007 American military aid to Israel came under three primary programs; Foreign Military Sales (FMS) ran through the Pentagon totaled $25.2 billion in arms sales and contracts, Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) ran through the States Department totaled $6.16 billion in weapons and equipment, and Excess Defense Articles (EDA) also ran through the Pentagon totaled $36 million in used weapons and equipment. The total comes to a little more than $31.4 billion.

The Foreign Military Sales (FMS) provided Israel with air, missile & munitions, naval, design, vehicles, and miscellaneous military aid. Israel received $19.81 billion for their air forces that included F-35 joint strike fighters, C-130J-30 aircrafts, JP-8 aviation jet fuel, and T-6A Texan aircrafts. In missiles and munitions Israel received $2.73 billion worth of GBU-28 & 39 small diameter bombs, TOW, Hellfire, bunker buster munitions, AMRAAM, Harpoon, Sidewinder, JDAM’s, and MK-80 series. US gave Israel $1.9 billion worth of the new series (Littoral) naval combat ships, $164 million worth of troop carrier armored vehicles and trucks, and $253 million worth of miscellaneous in the form of Patriot Missiles upgrade and M72A7 Light Anti-Armor weapons. Also included in this FMS package were $350 million worth of design and construction of two infantry bases.

The Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) program contained about three hundred different categories of weapons transfer to Israel. The main top ten categories for FY2001-2006 were $557,896 million in aircraft spare parts, $449 million in missile spare parts, $439 million in engine jet F-100 spare parts, $254 million in engine jet F-100 series (F-15 & F-16), $210 million in ship components and spare parts, $186 million in aircraft fighter F-15 spare parts, $163 million in electronics components and spare parts, $128 million in ammunition raw materials, and $120 million in training equipment.

The Excess Defense Articles (EDC) program shipped to Israel $36 million worth of used Cobra Helicopters, personnel carriers, carrier command posts, and miscellaneous articles.

The most outrageous American military aid to Israel is the billions of Dollars worth of refined fuel to the Israeli army. Israel’s own oil refineries in Haifa and Ashdod, which could supply Israeli military with all its fuel needs, are instead producing and selling its refined products on the open market. The Israeli army gets all its military fuel from the USA through the FMS program. The US Defense Department uses American tax money to buy oil crude from Arab Gulf States, ship it to American refineries to refine it, and then ship it to Israel.

According to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, from 2004 to 2008 the Bush administration had granted the Israeli army 500 million gallons of oil products worth $1.1 billion. During this period the American tax payers were faced with energy crises and had to pay $4 per gallon of gas at the pump while Israel was getting free gas from the Bush administration. Somebody has to pay for this gas, and it wasn’t the Israelis.

Moreover, the US provides loan guarantees to Israel so that Israel can take out loans in the international money market with lower interest rates, and if Israel happens to default on any of these loans the US will bail Israel out with American tax money similar to the latest $700 billion bailout for the American banks. There is a condition on these loan guarantees. It states that these loans can only be used to support the activities within the sovereign areas in Israel (pre-1967 war), and cannot be used in the occupied Palestinian territories. This is a facetiously misleading condition, since such loans can free other monies in the Israeli budget to be used in building illegal colonies (settlements) in the occupied territories.

The US has three laws that govern arms transfer to other countries. The first is the Arms Export Control Act (P.L.80-829). This law states that American weapons given or sold to any foreign country can be used only for legitimate self-defense or for internal security. They are not to be used in occupational operations.

The second is the Foreign Assistance Act (P.L.97-195), which states that any country is not illegible for any form of US aid if it engages in consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. The third is the Leahy Law (Foreign Ops Appropriations Act). This is an annual part of the Foreign Appropriations Act, and states that no aid will be given to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible evidence that such unit has committed gross violations of human rights. Expanding their occupation of the land the Israelis had violated numerous UN Resolutions, broke international laws as well as their own local laws, violated all human rights, committed grave war crimes, and perpetrated terrorism against Arabs in general and Palestinian Arabs in specific.

It has been, numerously, documented by Israeli, Palestinian, and international NGOs that Israel had consistently violated international laws and human rights since 1948. In all its seven wars Israel, contrary to the false Israeli/American propaganda, had initiated the conflict in one way or another. Israel had attacked all its neighbors, committed war crimes, and occupied parts of their land. The Israelis had evicted hundreds of thousands of Palestinians out of their country, completely wiped off many Palestinian towns and built Israeli colonies in their place, had stolen Palestinian farm land and forcefully controlled the economy. Israel had shoved thousands of Palestinian leaders and freedom fighters into prisons, and kept the rest of the Palestinian populations confined into open air virtual town-prisons within a separation wall.

Attacking Palestinian civilians, mainly defenseless children and women, has become the daily entertainment of Israeli government -backed and armed extreme Zionist colonizing terrorists (settlers?). Israeli soldiers developed the sport of hunting (shooting) Palestinian children on their way to schools or while playing in front of their homes. The Israeli army is using the 1967 occupied Palestinian territories and its Palestinian inhabitants as testing fields and subjects for theirs and for the American newly developed weapons as was exhibited in Israel’s latest 22-days onslaught and massacres in Gaza.

Successive Israeli governments had consistently sent their armies to massacre Palestinian civilians. Israeli army had used all types of American supplied weapons; including depleted uranium tipped bombs and missiles, DIME bombs, chemical weapons such as phosphorous bombs and conventional weapons, to specifically and deliberately target Palestinian children and women. We need only go back to the Israeli last two wars; July 2006 against Lebanon and December 2008 against Gaza, still fresh in memory, to witness clear evidence of Israel’s terrorism, war crimes, disrespect and contempt of international laws and human rights.

The driving force for the Zionist Israeli crimes and terrorism has been the extreme racist religious ideology of establishing a pure theocratic “Jewish” state for a prejudice- god’s chosen people “narcissist Zionist Jews” in the real-estate- brokering-god’s promised land of Greater Israel “Eretz Israel” extending from Nile to Euphrates. This theocratic dream necessitates a holy war (not the first one against the Middle East) to evict and remove the original inhabitants of the land to make living space for world Jewry to come and live in this Promised Land. This is how Israelis perceive their “final solution” to their “Palestinian problem”; destruction, massacres and mass evictions.

Although Israel has violated all EU and US arms transfer laws yet none had conducted any investigation to hold Israel accountable to these laws. The two rare incidents when under pressure the American State Department investigated Israeli violations where completely suppressed and quashed. The first was in 2002 when Israel dropped a one-ton bomb on an apartment building in Gaza City in order to extra-judicially assassinate a Hamas leader, Salah Shehadeh, and killed 14 other civilians, women and children, in the process. This investigation was quashed by none other than John Bolton, the Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security at the time. The investigation was never sent to the Congress in violation of US laws.

The second investigation was in 2006 when Israel dropped an estimated one million cluster bombs on the civilian areas of South Lebanon in the last 72 hours of the war, even after a seize-fire was agreed upon. This was made a top secret State Department investigation and was released to only a few senior members of the Cogress such as the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and “Zionist” Joe Biden, the present Vice President. Needless to say that this investigation had never came to light.

Israel is a terrorist entity without any specific borders. It is an expansionist colonizing regime. Its successive governments had disregarded all UN resolutions, broken international laws, violated all human rights, committed holocaustal-level genocides, and perpetrated war crimes against all its neighbors and against mother earth and against the environment.

Yet the Western political power elites justify Israeli terror as a self-defense, and keep transfering more devastating arms to this terrorist entity to wage more future wars and to wreck more havoc in the Arab World. They also distort facts and describe the victims of the Israeli terror, the Palestinians, as terrorists, deny them their legitimate right to bear arms for self-defense, and send their naval war machines and serveillance equipment to tighten the illegal Israeli blockade against Gaza Strip under the guise of preventing “arms smuggling”, while at the same time shedding some crockodile tears and call for humanitarian aid to Gaza’s Palestinians.

To the Arabs of the Middle East, Israel seems to be a military tool for the Western countries. Hatred towards these Western political regimes is the natural consequences of arming Israel. Should we keep asking “why do they hate us” any more?

* Dr. Elias Akleh is an Arab writer from a Palestinian descent born in the town of Beit Jala. His family was first evicted from Haifa after the “Nakba” of 1948, then from Beit Jala after the “Nakseh” of 1967. He lives now in the US, and publishes his articles on the web in both English and Arabic.

The rebuilding of Gaza has become the latest siege weapon. The Israeli occupation, the US that had backed its offensive, and the EU which did nothing to stop it are conspiring to turn the reconstruction process into a means to produce a suitable “peace partner” while the Arab summit in Kuwait hopes to use it to bring about Palestinian reconciliation. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority (PA) government is urging all parties and others to look to it as the sole channel for administering the construction process on the grounds that it is the government formed by the Palestine Liberation Organisation that is recognised as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Soon we will see that freezing reconstruction will become the tool of all those parties for extracting from the resistance what they have been unable to gain from three weeks of warfare and the long blockade that preceded it.

Israel, the occupying power, is determined to keep a tight grip on the reconstruction process, which is why it sustained its closure of the border crossing following its “unilateral” ceasefire. Indeed, this is why it declared the ceasefire unilaterally: it did not want to be bound by any agreement — the Egyptian initiative or any other framework — that would oblige it to lift the embargo, if only partially, in order to facilitate reconstruction. Tel Aviv has also been seeking to obtain “guarantees” from international agencies such as UNWRA. On 19 January Reuters reported that Western diplomats revealed that Israel had asked the UN and other agencies to submit itemised lists of the goods, equipment and staff that they intend to send into Gaza, whether for urgent relief or for the more long-term reconstruction process. According to these sources, Israel plans to keep close tabs on these processes by insisting that the various agencies obtain its approval in advance for every project. One of the conditions for that approval will be that the project will not benefit Hamas or its government in Gaza. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has appointed Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog as coordinator of the Gaza reconstruction drive.

The US not only fully supports Israel on this; it is open about using the reconstruction process to help the PA reassert its authority and influence in Gaza. The EU is equally frank in its approval. EU External Relations Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner made clear that the EU would not contribute to reconstruction unless Gaza produced a viable peace partner and that it would not make aid available to a government led by Hamas. A high-level European diplomat was reported by Reuters as saying that this was “a recipe for failure”. “Let’s be realistic. If the PA is going to be responsible, its leadership and institutions have to exist on the ground. Right now none of that does,” he said.

It is patently clear that to Tel Aviv, Washington and Brussels the assertion of PA rule over Gaza is the strongest argument for holding off reconstruction as a Damocles sword over Gaza, and for the occupying power this condition is its strongest “guarantee” for sustaining its grip on that sword. The fear now is that Israel and the international powers that have helped it to perpetuate its occupation since 1967 will use a Palestinian fa├žade buttressed by official Arab support to stage a repeat in Gaza of the Iraq experience in the wake of the 1991 war when reconstruction and development were perpetually deferred in order to further weaken the country preparatory to toppling the regime through the invasion that took place in 2003. It may or may not be a coincidence that the Israeli invasion of Gaza ended almost on the same date that the war against Iraq started 18 years ago. Nor does it bode well for the aftermath of a “regime change” scenario in Gaza that Iraq’s infrastructure today, six days after the Saddam regime was toppled, is worse than it was beforehand.

The attempt to engineer such a scenario can be seen in PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s appeal to the Arab summit last week to channel the reconstruction process through the PA and its institutions, an appeal echoed by World Bank President Robert Zoellick who met with Abbas on the fringes of the summit in Kuwait. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and other Western leaders had proposed creating a temporary international committee to oversee the funding and organisation of the reconstruction effort. However, Abbas and his supporters rejected such a mechanism on the grounds that “it presumes that the separation between Gaza and the West Bank will continue,” as acting PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad put it, adding that international donors who are eager to reconstruct Gaza “will risk deepening the Palestinian division by ignoring the role of the PA”.

The PA’s stance, if followed, would condemn Arab pledges made in Kuwait — as well as any pledges made in a possible international conference on the reconstruction of Gaza called for by Egypt, the PA and the EU president — to remain pending until such time as a “viable peace partner” secures a steady seat in Gaza.

Although the participants at the Kuwaiti summit stressed the need for the reconstruction of Gaza in principle, they failed to reach an agreement over the mechanism. Differences between leaders obstructed a proposal to create a reconstruction fund and the most participants managed to agree upon was to make reconstruction contingent upon Palestinian reconciliation, a task they designated to Arab foreign ministers without setting a date or place for a ministerial meeting for this purpose, leaving us with the question as to when and how Arab ministers are to succeed where their heads of state failed.

Of course this procrastination through delegating makes the pledge to reconstruct Gaza barely worth the paper it was written on and will probably consign it to the same oblivion fated for so many other Arab summit resolutions. One of those forgotten resolutions was that adopted by the emergency Arab summit in Cairo in October 2000 calling for the creation of an Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem Fund for the purpose of reconstructing Palestinian infrastructure, especially in the sectors of healthcare, education, agriculture and housing. Apparently Arab leaders in Kuwait did not wish to recall that that resolution did not restrict the distribution of funds through the channel of the PA but also provided for other channels such as UNWRA, the Egyptian and Qatari Red Crescents, the Jordanian Royal Philanthropic Organisation, the UN Arab Gulf Programme and other such regional and international humanitarian agencies. Perhaps, too, they did not want to remind anyone that when that earlier resolution was passed there was no “Hamas problem” behind which are hiding those who do not really want to reconstruct the occupied territories, whether in Gaza or in the West Bank.

The underlying reason why the Al-Aqsa and Jerusalem Fund was not adopted by the Kuwaiti summit as a mechanism for the reconstruction of Gaza is that the urgent humanitarian mission has been politicised whereas it should remain above the political fray between Palestinians, Arabs, foreign powers and everyone else whose voices are loud enough to drown out the appeals of those in need. There is nothing to debate about humanitarian relief. The Israeli offensive destroyed all the civil infrastructure of the government in Gaza on the grounds that it served as bases for Hamas whereas in fact it was PA infrastructure paid for by taxpayers in donor countries. Whole residential quarters were flattened, totally destroying 4,000 homes and severely damaging around 16,000 more. There are now some 100,000 civilians in urgent need of shelter, temporarily accommodated in some 12 refuges opened by UNWRA in schools that were also targeted by Israeli guns and therefore need to be repaired as well. In addition, agricultural land ruined by bombardment has to be reclaimed, potable water needs to be supplied to half a million Palestinians, electricity has to be restored to about the same number of people, and about 80 per cent of the inhabitants of Gaza are in urgent need of food relief (these are all UN estimates). Any political argument for postponing such urgent aid is morally outrageous.

The Israeli list of “prohibited materials” even before its offensive includes such items as iron, steel and cement, which are now absolutely vital to reconstruction. UN Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes pointed out this self-evident truth in a statement last Tuesday saying that if Israel refuses to allow in construction materials reconstruction cannot begin.

It is equally obvious that to adopt the PA as the sole channel for reconstruction financing is to effectively allow the occupying power, which destroyed Gaza, to supervise reconstruction. It is hardly possible to expect the PA, which is at Israel’s every beck and call, to independently and effectively manage the reconstruction process by remote control from Ramallah, let alone release funding for projects without Israel’s prior approval. Remember that President Abbas, himself, pleaded the difficulty of obtaining an Israeli exit permit on short notice as the reason he did not appear at the Doha summit on Gaza, according to Qatari Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Sheikh Hamed Ben Jasem Al Thani. Also, only two months ago, Abbas’s government in Ramallah could not disburse salaries to some 70,000 PA government employees who are believed paid to stay home because of the internal Palestinian rift. If, as acting Prime Minister Fayyad repeats on every occasion, the PA is unable to deliver the budgetary allocation to Gaza, which is about half of its total budget, how can that government be relied upon to deliver the funds that have been pledged — or will be pledged — for reconstruction?

Kuwait, for one, acted correctly when instead of waiting for the Arab summit to reach an agreement it donated $34 million directly to UNRWA. Similarly, Norway donated 20 million kroner to organisations capable of reaching civilians directly in Gaza, such as the International Red Cross. Such noble examples confirm the existence of practical, serious channels for meeting urgent humanitarian needs. These should not be made pawn to the demand for the arrival of a Palestinian “peace partner” to Gaza, contrary to the insistence of PA Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki in Kuwait that everything had to be coordinated with the PA “in all fields” before beginning the relief and reconstruction process. If that demand is met, nothing could be more guaranteed to subject the reconstruction process to the whims of the occupying power and turn it into another way to besiege Gaza in order to bring it to its knees.

* The writer is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit on the West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. This article was translated from Arabic and published by Al-Ahram Weekly, Issue No. 932, 29 January – 4 February 2009.

Source: http://en.timeturk.com/nicola-nasser-gaza-new-siege-mechanism–377-yazisi.html┬áTimeTurk