By Stephen Lendman
On May 8, Haaretz Service and Reuters headlined, ‘PLO executive committee approves new peace talks with Israel,’ saying:
"The Palestinian Authority on Saturday got the green light to restart peace talks with Israel after the PLO’s executive voted to approve indirect negotiations," excluding Hamas – the legitimate government after Palestinians overwhelmingly elected them in January 2006. Instead, coup d’etat leader (whose presidential term expired in January 2009) Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will participate, PLO spokesperson Yasser Abed Rabbo saying that "negotiations will take one form: shuttling between President Abu Mazen (Abbas) and the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu." Talks have now begun.
Obama’s Middle East special envoy, former Senator and Walt Disney chairman, George Mitchell will do the honors, trying to force Palestinian negotiators to accede to Israeli demands and declare success, until inevitable new violence forces a restart of the whole process at some future time. The charade continues.
Recurrent negotiations have gone on for decades, always with the same result. Rita Mae Brown (in her book "Sudden Death"), and some say Albert Einstein, called it insanity, or the practice of "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." In this case, results are what Israel predetermines, Palestinians having no say whatever about a process designed to fail.
Justifiably, Hamas objected to being left out, calling the proximity talks "absurd" because they’ll "give the Israeli occupation an umbrella to commit more crimes against the Palestinians. Hamas calls on the PLO to stop selling illusions to the Palestinian people and announce the failure of their gambling on absurd talks."
On May 7, the Chinese Xinuah news agency said that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) also rejected talks as "ill and absurd, whether direct or indirect," given numerous earlier failures, or as honest peace brokers explain: besides excluding its legitimate government, how can Palestinians negotiate in good faith without a willing partner.
They’ve never had one in Israel, nor do they this time. As a result, expect another round of peace process hypocrisy, producing rhetoric but nothing else, or what this writer earlier called the tragedy and travesty at Annapolis, the last bogus November 2007 effort.
Negotiations are one-sided. Israel makes demands and offers nothing. Abbas has been co-opted to go along, so failure is again assured. Yet President Shimon Peres claims Israel is "committed to peace" and a sovereign Palestinian state, a cantonized one encroached on for as much West Bank land as Israel wishes and all East Jerusalem, an international city under a UN Trusteeship Council, as much a rightful Palestinian capital as for Israel.
A topic not to be discussed, nor the right of return, a legitimate state, the preferable one-state solution, and the end to 43 years of oppressive military occupation. Not important enough to be on the agenda nor the legitimate rights and concerns of a sovereign people, set up again to be betrayed.
With new peace talks underway, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) reported that from April 29 – May 5:
— Israeli security forces continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property in the West Bank and Gaza;
— seven Palestinian civilians, including two children and a journalist, were shot and wounded;
— nonviolent West Bank protesters were assaulted;
— the IDF fired at Palestinian farmers in Gaza border areas;
— their forces conducted 23 incursions in West Bank communities and one in Gaza;
— in the West Bank, they arrested 40 civilians, including eight children, three journalists, and two human rights workers;
— Gaza remains under siege while West Bank free expression and movements are restricted;
— home and other Palestinian demolitions continue;
— Separation Wall construction continues a process of separation, isolation, and annexation of 12% of Palestinian West Bank land;
— East Jerusalem ethnic cleansing continues;
— West Bank and Gazan agricultural lands are being destroyed;
— regular settler attacks on Palestinians occur; and
— settlement expansion goes on unabated.
In this environment, peace talks have resumed, but there’s more. On May 7, Jerusalem Post writer Caroline Glick headlined, "Column One: Time to plan for war," saying that Obama’s "repeated abdication of responsibility (for) preventing nuclear non-proliferation leaves it on Israel’s shoulders" to prepare for the:
"coming war (in which) Israel will have only one goal: to destroy or seriously damage Iran’s nuclear installations. Every resource turned against Iran’s proxies must be aimed at facilitating that goal. That is, the only thing Israel should seek to accomplish in contending with Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas is to prevent them from diverting Israeli’s resources away from attacking Iran’s nuclear installations."
It gets worse, advocating a "preemptive strike against Hizbullah’s missiles and missile launchers, Syria’s missiles, artillery and launchers, and Hamas’s missiles and launchers….These are dangerous times. Iran, which seeks to position itself as a regional superpower, has been emboldened by the Obama administration’s abdication of US global leadership. Only Israel can prevent Iran from endangering the world. But time is of the essence."
Glick advocates all-out war at a time Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and Syria pose no threat. Only Israel and America’s presence do, a topic unaddressed in her article nor are new proposed peace talks.
However, her column serves a purpose. Besides highlighting Israel’s belligerency, she acknowledges its "undeclared nuclear arsenal (that) only threatens those who would attack the Jewish state with the intention of annihilating it." She assumes because Israel never used it, or failed to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) as Iran did, that it "has the right to develop a nuclear program," weapons, of course, because Dimona doesn’t generate electricity.
Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, is hard line on Iran, demanding unspecified action if it won’t abandon its nuclear ambitions, besides:
— once wanting all Israeli Arabs and Arab Knesset members who met with Hezbollah and/or Hamas executed;
— favoring Israeli Arab loyalty to a Jewish state as a condition for citizenship or face expulsion otherwise;
— assassinating "militant" Palestinian leaders, ones committed to equality and freedom;
— abandoning the peace process and earlier agreements like Camp David and Oslo; and
— on his first day as foreign minister said "those who want peace should prepare for war."
Suffering Palestinians in crisis aren’t his concern, nor Gaza’s siege, its electricity crisis, and its humanitarian impact, the topic addressed below.
Under Siege, Gaza’s Humanitarian Crisis – One of Many Problems is its Deteriorating Electricity Supply
Under nearly three years of siege, inadequate power supply persists, now less than earlier since January 2010 as the "UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs occupied Palestinian territory" reported.
On May 7, it explained that:
"Since January 2010, there has been a serious deterioration in the supply of electricity in the Gaza Strip. (It’s because) Gaza’s sole power plant, the Gaza Power Plant (GPP), is able to produce only half the electricity that it did (earlier), due to a lack of funds (for required) industrial fuel," after the European Commission’s subsidy ended despite the great need.
Worse still, Israel limits amounts of all goods and services entering Gaza, including essential to life foods, medicines, and fuel.
Pre-2010, most parts of Gaza got from 8 – 12 hours of electricity most days. Now it’s 6 – 8, so more than ever, "all aspects of daily life (are impeded), including household chores, health services, education, and water and sanitation services."
The situation is chronic, serious, and deteriorating, dating from June 2006 when Israel bombed and destroyed six GPP transformers. Five months later, production resumed at a 65 MW capacity compared to 140 MW or more previously.
Under siege since June 2007, the ability to get spare parts, needed equipment and fuel was greatly impeded, the result being inadequate electricity for 1.5 million people, including for essential facilities like hospitals.
Currently, GPP operates one turbine producing about 30 MW of electricity, half its 2009 amount and less one-fourth prior to June 2006. Gazans lucky enough to have them use generators, but if operated improperly they can be dangerous, causing fires, explosions, or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Inadequate electricity also hampers hospitals that also use back-up generators. However, they can’t run non-stop. Doing so causes damage, and spare parts are hard to get. As a result, elective surgeries are postponed or not done, deferring to critical ones or emergencies.
Water and sanitation facilities are also impacted. For example, Gaza City’s sewage treatment plant requires 14 days of uninterrupted power to properly complete the treatment cycle. Without it, 60 – 80 million liters of raw or partially treated sewage is discharged into the Mediterranean Sea daily.
Pumping water also requires electricity, but because pumps can’t operate continuously, households especially can’t get enough (at most from 5 – 7 hours a day), raising hygiene and health concerns.
Education is affected by darkened classrooms, inadequate refrigeration to store food for schools with canteens, dirty rest rooms, the inability to run equipment like computers, and other impediments. Agriculture as well for irrigation, fodder production, adequate lighting for hens to lay eggs, and various other functions.
Gaza needs from 240 – 280 MW of electricity daily. About 42% is bought from Israel, around 7% from Egypt, and the rest depends on GPP that can only supply 13% of the Strip’s needs, far short of enough. The Gaza Electricity Distribution Company then apportions output through scheduled service outages in some areas to feed others. The situation in untenable and deteriorating, short of committed outside help. Israel and Washington have impeded it or cut it off entirely to make all of Gaza scream – a slow-motion genocide agenda affecting 1.5 million people.
– Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.