An Israeli government delegation left for London for discussions with US officials on settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank and Iran's nuclear programme, officials said.
The move came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that Israel would have to tear down unauthorised settlements in the West Bank in order to win US backing for its stance on arch-foe Iran.
What is happening beneath this innocent report?
Peace With Iran Does Not Justify Israeli Colonization of the West Bank.
First is the way in which the Iran issue and the Palestinian independence issue are being linked. Yes, the two are in reality linked and must in practice be linked by Washington...but not like this. The correct linkage is that Israel's repression of Palestinians opens the door to Iranian interference in the region, creating needless tensions that may result in a regional nuclear war. At the moment this would be started by Israel, but one could imagine all sorts of future alternatives (e.g., some actor gets a Pakistani or North Korean bomb). Repression of Palestinians radicalizes regional politics and empowers regional extremists. Indeed, one might say it "justifies" regional extremism. How else but with extreme defensive measures should one respond to endless Israeli collective punishment of the whole Palestinian population? The way to move toward a more stable region in which Israelis (and others!) can live in peace and security is for Israel, the local superpower, to clean up its act. A does not guarantee B, but B guarantees the absence of A.
Israel, however, is working with great success (judging from the proliferation of media reports reflecting its distortions and judging from Washington's apparent inability to resist being trapped) to turn this linkage on its head and make it appear that Israel will make the concession (!) of sacrificing a handful of settlements in return for a U.S. promise to bully Iran. The point of progress on Palestine (even if this were progress, which it is not) is not to open the door for a war against Iran.
All Israeli Presence in the West Bank Is Illegal.
Second is the distortion of the settlements issue. An utterly spurious distinction is being slipped into the report between "unauthorized" and "authorized" settlements in the West Bank. The West Bank is part of what the U.N. in 1947 gave to the Palestinians. No Israeli habitation of or control over the West Bank is "authorized." All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are on land stolen from Palestinians and are illegal. The Greater Israel campaign of the Zionists (as distinct from other Jews who simply desired to live in Palestine or even in an Israeli state within its legal 1967 borders) is run as follows: Israelis are encouraged to move into Palestinian territory with their guns, form vigilante committees, and establish a presence. Eventually the Israeli government follows with its bulldozers and army (just as the British flag in the good old days of imperialism used to follow British traders and missionaries) and makes it all "authorized," forcing the Palestinian inhabitants to move into one of the local ghettos Israel reserves for them on the least attractive portions of West Bank land.
This distortion of the settlements issue is Netanyahu's way of saying, "We'll make a show of giving Palestinians a couple of villages in return for being allowed permanently to colonize all the best land on the West Bank, keep the Bantustan system, and keep the apartheid system of Israeli-only highways." This distortion of the settlements issue by Netanyahu of course makes inconceivable any real Palestinian liberty, and thus makes a mockery of Obama's public position.
The third issue of concern is the fact that the U.S. and Israel are meeting at all to discuss, at the same venue, Palestine and Iran. The mere existence of such an agenda combining the Palestinian and Iranian issues in a bilateral U.S.-Israeli meeting constitutes a huge Israeli victory that undermines U.S. freedom of action and makes all Obama's positive signals toward Iran appear insincere.
The Iraqi conflict is heating up. The Western position in Afghanistan is slipping. The new 2 million refugees in Pakistan in just the last month represent a huge defeat for the U.S. and victory for all extremists in the region. The last thing the U.S. needs is conflict with Iran. Someone needs to tell Obama that he is being manipulated.