Israel's relationship with the United States, a defining feature of the troubled Middle East, was under severe strain as diplomats scrambled on Saturday to save newborn U.S.-brokered peace talks with the Palestinians.
A senior U.S. official predicted "a dicey period here in the next couple days to a couple of weeks" as Palestinians demanded the reversal of a new Israeli settlement plan and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition, which includes pro-settler parties, reacts to unusually blunt criticism from Washington.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Israel's behavior "insulting" after it approved 1,600 new homes last week at a settlement in the Jerusalem area on the very day Vice President Joe Biden was there to set a seal on relaunched negotiations....
Insulted by Israel, U.S. scrambles to save talks | Reuters (external - login to view)
Biden condemns new Israeli construction
Talks marred by Israeli announcement to build in east Jerusalem
CBC News - World - Biden condemns new Israeli construction
...Instead of accepting Netanyahu's partial apology and letting bygones be bygones, Obama issued a stern warning to the Israeli prime minister and is now demanding that he take "specific actions" to show he is "committed" to the U.S.-Israel relationship and to the peace process itself.
Washington did not reveal the contents of the ultimatum or the list of demands reportedly presented to Netanyahu. Those conditions, however, could undermine the prime minister's coalition ties to hard-line right-wing parties like Yisrael Beiteinu and Shas, as well as provoke strong criticism from within his own Likud faction. In case Netanyahu still fails to understand the situation, a U.S. official told Reuters yesterday that the Israeli leader's rightist coalition leaves him in a "perilous" situation...
www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1156251.html (external - login to view)
Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977.
4. In addition to the grave breaches defined in the preceding paragraphs and in the Conventions, the following shall be regarded as grave breaches of this Protocol, when committed wilfully and in violation of the Conventions or the Protocol:
(a) the transfer by the occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory, in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Convention;
www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/470?OpenDocument (external - login to view)
March 11, 2006
Israelis Were Warned on Illegality of Settlements in 1967 Memo
by Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
Israeli ministers were secretly warned just after the Six-Day War in 1967 that any policy of building settlements across occupied Palestinian territories violated international law.
A "top secret" memo by the Foreign Ministry's then legal counsel said that would "contravene the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention". Growth of Jewish settlements over the next three decades followed....
...leading to an Israeli population of more than 240,00 in the West Bank today...
Israelis Were Warned on Illegality of Settlements in 1967 Memo (external - login to view)
24 August 2009
...In the 42 years since Israel captured the land, its control has grown apace. There are 149 settlements, together with at least another 100 "outposts" — smaller settlements unauthorised even by the Israeli government. Nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers now live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank...
How settlements in the West Bank are creating a new reality, brick by brick | World news | The Guardian (external - login to view)
File:Westbankjan06.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Forced displacement and settlement building in the West Bank is a root cause of conflict.
The Canadian government's position on Israel makes me sad.
January 05, 2009
On Israel's 60th anniversary last April, Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised Canada's "unshakable" support for Israel.
At the time, this struck me as odd. It would be understandable for a prime minister to offer Canada's "unshakable" support for the principles of democracy, the rule of law, human rights, etc. But for a country? A country is led by a government, and a government is always fallible. Why would Canada promise its unqualified support for any country?
Such unqualified support is particularly problematic when the country is locked in a bitter struggle with millions of people whose land it has held under military occupation for more than forty years.
The problematic nature of Harper's promise has taken on a new dimension with Israel's intense bombing of the Gaza Strip...
www.lindamcquaig.com/Columns/...umn.cfm?REF=90 (external - login to view)
United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict (external - login to view)