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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a meeting of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee in Washington D.C. on Tuesday evening that the call from the international community for Israel to temporarily freeze settlement construction in territory it has been illegally occupying since 1967 was an “illogical and unreasonable demand”.[1] Netanyahu’s comments came after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had called on the Zionist state to make “difficult but necessary choices”, a reference to Israeli plans to construct around 1,600 new homes in illegally occupied East Jerusalem which were announced during U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s recent visit to the country.

Clinton used her appearance at AIPAC to underscore her “rock solid” dedication to “Israel’s security”, saying that this is “more than a policy position for me. It is a personal commitment that will never waver”. She went on to say, however, that Israel’s continuing settlement expansion “undermines mutual trust” between the two nations.[2] Such tame chastisement came less than 24 hours after Netanyahu had told his cabinet that, “As far as we are concerned, building in Jerusalem is like building in Tel Aviv”.

According to international law, however, there is a clear distinction. Israel has resisted repeated United Nations Security Council resolutions to withdraw from all territory it occupied in 1967, and has continuously expanded illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which have more than doubled in size since the failed Oslo peace accords of 1993. The total number of inhabitants of Jewish-only settlements in illegally occupied territory currently stands at over 650,000.

Despite the fact that the construction of settlements in territory acquired by war is roundly condemned by the international community and the practice is forbidden by international law, the BBC insists on including the concession that “Israel disputes this” whenever settlements’ legal status is mentioned, further clouding the issue and giving the illusion of legitimate contention where there is none.

Aside from their outright illegality, settlements are routinely constructed in strategic areas which give their inhabitants preferential access to scarce supplies of water and arable land to the detriment of the impoverished Palestinian communities who live on their margins. A network of roads and highways administered by Israel cuts through the West Bank, in many cases isolating Palestinian villages from one another and making travel between towns just a few miles apart unfeasible.

Settlements in East Jerusalem have been constructed so as to “ring-fence” the portion of the city under illegitimate occupation, with Israel claiming the whole of Jerusalem as its “eternal and indivisible” capital. The location of such settlements makes any transfer of sovereignty over East Jerusalem to a Palestinian government under a future peace deal practically impossible should the current inhabitants be allowed to remain where they are. The dominant forces within the international community have steadfastly refused to take collective action against Israel’s repeated and flagrant violations of internationally accepted practice in refusing to withdraw from territory it acquired following the 1967 war, and have thus undermined any genuine prospect of peace between the two sides.

British arms sales to Israel skyrocketed under Tony Blair’s stewardship and currently stand at their highest ever level. The prospect of a potential future Conservative government bringing pressure to bear on the Zionist state looks remote to say the least: a Channel 4 programme entitled Dispatches: Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby, screened in late 2009, found that roughly 80% of Tory MPs are members of Conservative Friends for Israel. The United States currently sends Israel, a nation with a population of just over 7 million, around US$3 billion in foreign aid annually, more than to any other single country and more than to every country in Sub-Saharan Africa combined.

Speaking at AIPAC on Tuesday, Netanyahu said that illegal settlements in East Jerusalem were an “inextricable” part of Israel and would remain so under any subsequent peace deal. Incredibly, he went on to state that their construction, “in no way precludes the possibility of a two-state solution.”[3] President Barack Obama appeared to agree with Netanyahu’s position in September of 2009, when he dropped an official demand for Israel to cease illegal settlement construction.[4] Even more bizarrely, this humiliating capitulation was reported by CNN as if it were a major step in bringing the two sides together.

Quite how Obama and the United States manage to retain any credibility whatsoever as neutral peace brokers in this conflict is a testament to the power of the mainstream media upon which the majority of Americans and Britons rely for information about world affairs. Obama, who had won glowing praise from the Israeli press for a now infamous performance at AIPAC prior to his victory at the polls in late 2008, effectively extinguished any faint hopes of positive action from Washington on the matter when he appointed former IDF volunteer Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff shortly after being elected. Emanuel is widely acknowledged to be one of the most potent figures in Obama’s administration, and it is against this backdrop that any call by the United States’ government for peace talks to resume can be discarded as fading rhetoric.

Clinton at AIPAC: Iran threatened once again

Speaking on behalf of the planet’s foremost nuclear power, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the latest contribution to the burgeoning collection of threats targeted at Iran by political figures from the United States and Israel, calling for “sanctions that bite” against the Persian nation and stating that the United States is “determined to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons”. Clinton was greeted by applause from the 7,500-strong audience, comprised of members of arguably Washington’s most powerful political lobby representing the interests of a foreign nation, no less than 25 times during Monday’s speech. She called Iran’s mythical quest to procure nuclear weaponry “unacceptable to the United States, unacceptable to Israel and unacceptable to the region and the international community”.

Russia and China have hitherto resisted proceeding with sanctions against Iran, while the U.S. began a programme of sanctions during the presidency of Secretary Clinton’s husband Bill which were dutifully extended by President Obama shortly after the latter took office early in 2009.

The double standard underpinning the frequently recited mantra that Iran is not entitled to obtain nuclear armaments and should be considered a pariah if it wishes to do so is palpable: not only does the U.S. have the world’s most formidable nuclear arsenal; it stands apart from the other members of the coveted nuclear club, having used such weapons to devastating effect against the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

In addition, Israel is believed to have several hundred nuclear warheads and senior Israeli politicians have been repeatedly threatening military action against Iran in recent years. Israel allowed “cursory inspections” of its nuclear facilities once a year between 1962 and 1969, going to great lengths to conceal underground areas of its sites which contained incriminating evidence of the country’s clandestine nuclear weapons programme.[5]

When covertly taken photographs and information regarding Israel’s secret nuclear weapons facilities were released to The Sunday Times in October 1986, Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu was kidnapped in Rome before being flown to Israel where he served years in prison, spending longer in solitary confinement than any known prisoner in modern history. Iran, meanwhile, denies categorically that it is seeking to enrich uranium for the purpose of weapon development and maintains that its intentions are purely peaceful.

Tom Kavanagh


[1] Benjamin Netanyahu says Mid-East talks face new delay, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8583589.stm

[2] Hillary Clinton warns Israel faces ‘difficult’ choices, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8579766.stm

[3] Netanyahu reaffirms ‘right to build’ in Jerusalem, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8582190.stm

[4] Obama drops demand that Israel freeze settlements, http://edition.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/09/22/us.mideast/index.html

[5] Israel’s Nuclear Weapons, http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/cpc-pubs/farr.htm

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The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad met with Brazilian head of state Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brasilia on Monday as the two leaders were poised to sign new agreements boosting trade and cooperation and securing Iran’s burgeoning status within the region. The two nations are expected to sign accords on biotechnology, farming and energy, and may discuss co-operation on the construction of nuclear power facilities. Tehran hopes these agreements can boost bilateral trade between the two nations from $2 billion to $15 billion annually1.

In addition to signing trade deals with the Iranian head of state, Lula reiterated his support for Iran’s nuclear program, saying, “Brazil has a model of nuclear energy development recognised by the United Nations and we know about the controversy surrounding the same development by Iran. Brazil defends Iran’s right to develop uranium for peaceful purposes, just as Brazil has been doing. It is simple. That which we defend for ourselves, we defend for others.”2

Such reciprocity when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program is unlikely to sit well with Washington or Tel Aviv, both of which have been categorical in their opposition to Tehran’s desire to pursue a policy of uranium enrichment, claiming that Iran intends to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies outright that it intends to develop nuclear armanents. The United States has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal and Israel is the only country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons, although it allows no international inspection of its nuclear facilities and has never publicly acknowledged possessing such arms.

Israel has repeatedly threatened to attack Iran, citing fears that the Persian state is attempting to acquire nuclear weapons behind closed doors. In early November 2009 Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon stated on Sky News that Israel is “not bluffing” in its threats to “take military action” against what he called “Iran’s contentious nuclear program”3. Ahmadinejad has frequently been misquoted with regards to statements he has made about Israel, with the most notorious example being the wide circulation of reports he had called for the Zionist state to be “wiped off the map” in October 2005. The Iranian President had in fact quoted the late Ayatollah Khomeini, with an accurate translation of his words being, “The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time”4. Mainstream news outlets immediately reported a skewed translation of Ahmadinejad’s words which has served as evidence of the Iranian President’s desire to attack Israel ever since, with The New York Times and other sources stating that, “Iran’s conservative new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Wednesday that Israel must be “wiped off the map””.5

In July of 2008, Pullitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh reported that at a meeting he attended in then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, the use of false flag operations to provoke a war with Iran was discussed in Cheney’s presence. Hersh reported, “There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up.” Hersh says the idea was eventually rejected “because you can’t have Americans killing Americans”6.

As Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met with Lula in the Brazilian capital, protests were held in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo in what The Guardian labelled a denunciation of the Iranian President’s “record on human rights, homosexuality and Israel”. The Iranian government severely cracked down on domestic dissent this summer and outlawed protests as riots erupted in Tehran following Ahmadinejad’s disputed election victory. Ahmadinejad, who enjoys widespread support among Iran’s poor, has repeatedly accused the U.S. and Britain of meddling in Iran’s internal affairs.

In October, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Mohammad Ali Jafari accused British and American intelligence services of involvement in a suicide bombing targeted against the Revolutionary Guard leadership which killed 42. General Jafari claimed that his security officials had documents linking Britain and the United States to Jundullah, the militant group which claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing on Sunday 18th October7. “Behind this scene are the American and British intelligence apparatus, and there will have to be retaliatory measures to punish them”, said Jafari.

Such suspicions are certainly not without historical precedent. In 1952, following a unanimous vote in the Iranian parliament to nationalise the country’s vast oil reserves under President Mohammed Mossadeq, British intelligence (S.I.S.) launched a covert operation with the C.I.A in order to topple him and protect the interests of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company – now BP. British and American intelligence services staged bombings in Iran targeted against religious leaders which were then blamed on Iranian agents posing as Communists loyal to Mossadeq in an ultimately successful bid to turn the country’s religious establishment against the government8. Mossadeq was then replaced by the Shah whose brutal regime ruled with an iron fist before being deposed by the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Despite stating publicly that he wishes to “extend a hand” to Iran, in March U.S. President Barack Obama renewed sanctions against the Persian state which have been in place since 1995, when they were introduced by the administration of Bill Clinton. These sanctions prohibit American companies from investing in or trading with Iran. Obama defended this policy of isolation, stating that, “The actions and policies of the government of Iran are contrary to the interests of the United States in the region and pose a continuing and unusual and extraordinary threat”9.


Ahmadinejad was in Brazil on the first leg of a tour which the Iranian government hopes will strengthen the Persian state’s standing in a continent where it has numerous allies in the form of left-wing governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. The Iranian President will subsequently make visits to Caracas and La Paz, where he will meet with Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales respectively, both of whom have also voiced support for Iran’s right to develop nuclear technology for non-military purposes. Iran has been making steady diplomatic inroads into Latin America in recent years, provoking concern in Washington, which has traditionally regarded the region as its “backyard”.

Tom Kavanagh

1Brazilian protests greet Ahmadinejad at start of South American tour, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/23/ahmadinejad-brazil-protests-iran

2Lula destaca apoio ao Irã no desenvolvimento de urânio para fins pacíficos, http://noticias.uol.com.br/ultnot/internacional/2009/11/23/ult1859u1903.jhtm

3Israel threat to attack Iran is not a bluff, deputy FM says, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1126394.html

4“Wiped Off The Map” – The Rumor of the Century, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=4527

5Wipe Israel ‘off the map’ Iranian says, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/26/world/africa/26iht-iran.html

6EXCLUSIVE: To Provoke War, Cheney Considered Proposal To Dress Up Navy Seals As Iranians And Shoot At Them,http://thinkprogress.org/2008/07/31/cheney-proposal-for-iran-war/

8New York Times Special Report: The C.I.A. in Iran, http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/mideast/041600iran-cia-index.html

9Obama renews US sanctions on Iran, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7941031.stm

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The governments of Venezuela and Iran have signed a memorandum of understanding which pledges military cooperation and entails “training and mutual exchange of military experiences”. The accord was signed on Thursday 30th April following a meeting between Iran’s Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammed-Najjar and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Brigadier General Mohammad-Najjar affirmed that, “Iran pledges its full support to promote the Venezuelan military’s defense capabilities in the framework of mutual defensive agreements”[1].

There has been increasing collaboration and solidarity between the two nations in previous years; past agreements include cooperation over oil exploration, the construction of low-income housing and assembling tractors and bicycles. Venezuela has been an outspoken defender of Iran’s right to enrich uranium for civilian purposes; the U.S. and its allies have repeatedly threatened Tehran over its nuclear policy, accusing the Persian state of attempting to acquire nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile the United States itself has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, and Israel is believed to be the only Middle Eastern nation with nuclear weapons, although it refuses to disclose any information regarding its nuclear program. Former Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu released classified information about Israel’s development of advanced nuclear weapons to the Sunday Times in 1986, with the newspaper estimating that Israel had more than 100 nuclear warheads and publishing photographs which Vanunu had taken in secret. Israel subsequently prosecuted Vanunu, having first kidnapped him in Rome; convicting him of treason and espionage and sentencing him to 18 years in prison. Vanunu served 12 years of his imprisonment in solitary confinement; longer than any other known prisoner in modern history[2].

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was briefly overthrown by an abortive coup d’état in 2002 before being reinstated just 47 hours later following a massive popular uprising. The United States had been quick to recognise the interim government which replaced Chávez, and members of the Organization of American States (OAS) went on record at the time stating that senior U.S. officials were “not only aware the coup was about to take place, but had sanctioned it, presuming it to be destined for success”.[3]

Relations between the United States and Venezuela have been tense since the election of Chávez in 1998, with Washington taking issue with the redistributive policies of the Venezuelan leader who has been keen to ensure that the country’s vast oil wealth is better-distributed among the country’s 28 million inhabitants.

The United States covertly sponsored numerous coups d’état throughout Latin America during the 20th century, overthrowing governments which have threatened its hegemony and commercial interests whenever forceful regime change has been viable. In 1970, a memo sent by then-National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger to President Richard Nixon just days after the inauguration of the left-wing leader Salvador Allende in Chile urged “regime change” in the South American nation, warning that Allende’s populist policies could serve as a “model” for other regimes and thus prove damaging to U.S. interests[4].

The memo, declassified in 2004, underlines the subversive means the United States uses to pressure governments of weaker nations into conforming to U.S. foreign policy objectives, and the perils which await those who refuse to toe the line.

Chávez has consistently pursued policies which conflict with Washington’s interests. Under an agreement with the Cuban government, Venezuela exports reduced-price oil to the Caribbean nation whilst Cuba furnishes Venezuela with desperately needed medical professionals and expertise.

The United States continues to give refuge to numerous suspected terrorists wanted by Havana on suspicion involvement in attacks against the Cuban state, with the most prominent among them being Cuban-born Venezuelan Luis Posada Carriles. Carriles has himself admitted to taking part in the bombing of a Cubana airliner in 1976 which claimed 73 lives, and for which he was detained in Venezuela before escaping from prison in 1985.

Carriles has also been implicated in the bombing of hotels in Havana and an assassination attempt against Fidel Castro during a 2000 visit to Panama. Venezuela has repeatedly requested his extradition; calls which have fallen on deaf ears in Washington, leading to observers condemning the United States for its clear display of double standards in the ‘war on terror’[5].

In March, Chávez aroused the attention of the world’s media when he called the recently inaugurated Barack Obama “ignorant”, stating that his U.S. counterpart is uninformed of the “reality of Latin America” and urging him to “read and study”[6]. Obama had condemned Chávez for “exporting terror” and “hindering progress” in Latin America[7], to which the Venezuelan premier responded; “the real obstacle has been the empire that he today presides over, which has exported terrorism for nearly 200 years, has launched atomic bombs on innocent cities, has bombarded, invaded and issued orders to kill whenever they have taken the notion.”

In addition to the South American country’s pact with Iran, Venezuela inaugurated diplomatic relations with Palestine on April 27th. The South American nation severed ties with Israel and expelled its ambassador to Venezuela following the Zionist state’s three-week winter offensive in Gaza which left over 1,400 Palestinians dead and well over 5,000 wounded, causing $1.6 billion worth of damage to Gaza’s economy in the process[8].

Venezuelan foreign minister Nicolas Maduro stated that, “The people of Palestine can count on our eternal and permanent solidarity with their just and humane cause.” Hugo Chávez has said on record that he believes Israel’s onslaught in the beleaguered Palestinian territory constitutes genocide.

Tom Kavanagh


[1] Iran, Venezuela enter into military alliance, http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=93122&sectionid=351020101

 

[2] Prisoner Support – Mordechai Vanunu, http://www.motherearth.org/prisoner/vanunu.php

[3] Venezuela coup linked to Bush team, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/apr/21/usa.venezuela

[4] Kissinger Document Shows Pre-Emption in Practice, http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0205-07.htm

[5] Terrorist Luis Posada Carriles – AND THE DOUBLE STANDARD IN THE U.S. ‘WAR ON TERROR’, http://www.rethinkvenezuela.com/downloads/Posada%20Carriles.htm

[6] Chavez: Obama clueless about reality, http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=89370&sectionid=351020704

[7] Venezuela’s Chavez calls Obama “ignoramus”, http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE52L19G20090322

[8] ‘Genocide’ brings Palestinian embassy to Venezuela, http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=92776&sectionid=351020704

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