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Hiding Israeli crimes past and present

Jul 23,2019 - Last updated at Jul 23,2019

The latest revelations from US envoy Jason Greenblatt provide further evidence of the ingredients of the US plan for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — the so-called “deal of the century” — totally in accordance with Israel's demands.

In a recent interview with PBS, Greenblatt absolved Israel of any responsibility for the current situation.

"Israel is actually more the victim than the party that's responsible," he said. "From the moment of its formation, they [Israelis] were attacked multiple times. They continue to be attacked with terrorism."

Greenblatt also said that the "word settlements" is "pejorative", preferring alternative terms for the "Jewish communities" built in violation of international law on occupied Palestinian territory, such as "neighbourhoods and cities". 

He also rejected the term "occupied" to describe the West Bank, saying: "I would argue that the land is disputed."

"Calling it occupied territory does not help resolve the conflict," he added.

Greenblatt's positions are perfectly in line with what's been happening since Trump took office more than two years ago.

So far, Israel has been granted Jerusalem as its united eternal capital by a US presidential decree. 

Another recent decree granted the Syria's occupied Golan Heights to Israel.

The US has also been pushing to defund and eventually abolish UNRWA, in the hope that terminating its mandate will close the file on Palestinian refugees' right of return by coercing host countries to permanently absorb them.

And then David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, informed The New York Times that "under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank".

That was not exactly a surprise as Israeli leaders have for years been calling for annexation of all or parts of the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

In 2004, US president George W. Bush handed Israel a letter recognising its right to claim that territorial and demographic changes it created on the ground be taken into consideration in any peace settlement.

Annexation, or decisive steps towards it, may happen by the time the current Israeli election campaign is over, or actually any time.

While the various phases of the US "peace" deal were being implemented — even though no one has agreed to them — no notice was ever made of the provisions of international law and UN resolutions by which every US measure is illegal.

But Greenblatt has a way around that: reinterpreting international law to suit the purpose.

He explained: "International law, UN resolutions and internationally recognised parameters are not always clear cut. They are interpreted differently in good faith by different parties and they do not provide an executable solution to this conflict."

He added that to resolve the conflict, people have to stop "pretending that settlements, or what I like to call neighbourhoods and cities, are the reason for the lack of peace".

I find it difficult to understand how playing with terminology can annul established records of history and clear legal positions that correctly identify Israel as the aggressor, the occupier, the oppressor and the permanent obstructionist of any attempt at resolving the conflict in accordance with legality and justice.

But while Greenblatt, Jared Kushner and the rest of the Trump "peace" team are busy rewriting the present, Israel is once again rewriting and erasing history.

On July 5, Israel's Haaretz newspaper published an important exposé of how Israel is systematically hiding archival evidence and documentation of its atrocities during the 1948 Nakba, including mass murder of civilians, rape, destruction of property and wholesale ethnic cleansing.

In this must-read article — "Burying the Nakba: How Israel Systematically Hides Evidence of 1948 Expulsion of Arabs" — Haaretz reveals that a special unit of Israeli intelligence, Malmab, has been going around secretly removing archives that document these crimes.

I was a young child in Palestine at the time, in a village southwest of Jerusalem. We were terrified by the stories brought to us from the inhabitants of the neighbouring villages who managed to escape Jewish forces massacres, including from the village of Deir Yassin which is only an hour's walk from my village.

Well-armed and trained Zionist militias attacked defenceless Arab villages at night. They destroyed and killed randomly with the avowed purpose of forcing people to flee. We finally did when the frontline got closer. No amount of burying can conceal that dark history.

And no amount of wordplay by Greenblatt can hide the present reality of Israeli occupation, apartheid and ongoing massacres.

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