Monday, November 20, 2006

Bring Down That Wall

By Chris Hedges

"The last hope of halting Israel’s steady ghettoization of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and calculated destruction of the Palestinian economy is the imposition of sanctions against Israel, especially the revoking of the $9 billion in U.S. loan guarantees. If we allow Israel to complete its massive $2-billion project to ring Palestinians in militarized, pod-like encampments in Gaza and the West Bank with security barriers, walls and electric fences, we will condemn Israel and the Palestinians to endless cycles of violence that could ultimately, given the mounting rage and despair that grip the Middle East, doom the Jewish state.

There is little dispute about the illegality of Israel’s actions. The International Court of Justice has called on Israel to dismantle the security barrier under construction in the West Bank and asked outside states not to render any aid or assistance to the infrastructure. But this call has been ignored, although even the U.S. State Department has gently admonished Israel for its behavior. The U.S. loans that make the barrier and expansion of Jewish settlements possible were granted with the stipulation that if the Israeli government used the funds to build housing and infrastructure beyond the 1967 border known as the Green Line these funds would be deducted from the loans.In April 2003, when Congress authorized the $9 billion in loan guarantees for Israel it said that the loans could be used “only to support activities in the geographic areas which were subject to the administration of the Government of Israel before June 5, 1967.” The legislation warned that the loan guarantees shall be reduced “for activities which the President determines are inconsistent with the objectives and understandings reached between the United States and Israel regarding the implementation of the loan guarantee program.” The State Department, acknowledging the misuse of the money, has made a symbolic deduction in the amount handed to the Israeli government and reduced the loan guarantees by $289.5 million. But unless there is heavy pressure brought on Israel soon the project will be completed, made possible by Washington’s complicity and a callous disregard for justice."

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