Once again, US sponsored attempts at a resolution of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories has failed – to no one’s surprise. With Israel refusing to extend the freeze on settlement expansions, the Palestinian Authority walked away – arguing with considerable sense that allowing Israel to continue to expand it’s control of the land that would make up a future state of Palestine is directly opposed to any chance for peace. Washington’s response was another burst of shuttle diplomacy and a speech by Sec. of State Clinton which pledged continued involvement but did nothing to address the fundamental issues or propose a new course. Certainly there is no consideration of withholding or decreasing American funding.
If you read the Israeli press you will however see concern that the lack of a finalized US budget has held up the transfer of a new record level of US military funding to Israel – up from $2.4 Billion to $3 Billion for fiscal 2011 (this amount does not include additional funding of “$415 million to build and/or deploy anti-missile systems” along with $2 million for energy programs and $25 million for refugee resettlement. You’ll also learn that this delay is costing Israel even more because, as Globes, an Israeli business magazine notes:
The immediate effect of the delay is the loss of millions of dollars in interest payments. Israel is the only recipient of US military aid which receives it in a single installment, within 30 days after the president signs the budget. In theory, the aid for 2011 should have been transferred to Israel’s bank account in the US in early November at the latest. (emph. added)
Take that in – not only do we send huge amount of military aid to Israel, but we send it in a lump sum so the Israeli government can earn the interest on the unspent amounts of US tax dollars we send them.
At the same time, Israel is stepping up it’s expansion of settlements, particularly in areas like the Silwan district of Jerusalem. The latest move:
The Israeli military is making rare use of an emergency regulation enacted by the British Mandate in 1945 to order the temporary banishment of a Palestinian activist from his home city of Jerusalem.
Adnan Gheith, 35, faces expulsion for four months from the city because of his part in protests at mounting encroachment by Jewish settler groups in the politically ultra-sensitive Silwan neighbourhood of inner-city Arab East Jerusalem.
Gheith’s crime? Opposing the Israeli plan to demolish Palestinian homes to build a tourist park:
The immediate trigger for the unrest in Silwan has been the Jerusalem municipality’s government-backed plan to turn a large part of its Palestinian-inhabited subdistrict of al-Bustan into the “King’s Garden”, a tourist park that would connect to the “City of David” archaeological site. While confirming in March that 22 Palestinian houses would be demolished, Mayor Nir Barkat did not rule out that others among the 90 in the area served with demolition orders might also go.
The report by the EU Consuls General says an estimated 5,000 Jewish settlers in the Historic Basin, which includes Silwan, are “creating facts on the ground by attempting to prevent a division of the city” needed for a final peace deal. It says that “a swath of smaller settlements, public parks, archaeological sites and tourist complexes” are part of a “strategic settlement push” promoted by settler organisations but “facilitated by the government of Israel and the Jerusalem municipality.”
In response, Palestinians are requesting that the UN act in January on a “draft resolution condemning the settlements” but of course, “Washington has said that it would not back the anti-settlement resolution” and is expected to use its veto to block it.