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Thursday, May 18, 2006

EU Ambassador Ramiro Cibrian-Uzal: Israel still occupies Gaza

Here's proof positive that Ariel Sharon's unilateral disengagement surrender plan accomplished nothing: European Union Ambassador Ramiro Cibrian-Uzal still thinks that Israel 'occupies' the Gaza Strip, despite the fact that the Gaza Strip is Judenrein. You can't make this stuff up folks!

An interview with the Ambassador appears in today's Jerusalem Post. The interviewer actually did a pretty good job of trying to put Cibrian-Uzal in the hot seat. The interview includes the following exchange:

Why should the Palestinian public be bailed out? They voted freely for a terrorist organization. Why shouldn't they be made to pay a price for that?

The Palestinian people are in a very difficult situation. We all know that they do not yet have a full-fledged state. That is the core of the problem. An occupation of their territories is still going on - territories which, according to many people, will make up a future Palestinian state.

This, of course, limits many things. It limits the degree of economic development and the degree of autonomy in the territory. Both Israel and the international community have a responsibility for what is going on there. The reality is that the international community, the United States, the European Union and Israel accepted the participation of Hamas in the elections…The fact that Hamas is now in the government does not excuse the responsibilities that Israel has as an occupying power and that the international community feels it has with respect to what is going on in the territories.

My understanding is that Israeli control in the territories, even in Gaza, is extremely important. Supplies of water and electricity, delivery of fuel and even telecommunications and financial services are still controlled by Israel. So the first [country to bail out] the Palestinian people is Israel. Then the EU, then the US… What has changed is that the three of them are refusing to transfer funds and supplies through the PA.

You got that folks? We supply them with water, electricity and fuel and therefore we are still an 'occupier' of Judenrein Gaza. Maybe we should at least stop supplying those things!!!! Note also that he says that Israel consented to Hamas participating in the 'Palestinian elections.' Is consent under duress still consent? Even Sharon was opposed to Hamas participating in the elections.

The interview goes on. Cibrian-Uzal thinks Israel should negotiate with Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen, the Holocaust-denying President of the 'Palestinian Authority':

But Abbas was elected a year and a half ago. Much more recently a PA government was elected that not only rejects negotiations with Israel, but rejects its right to exist. Is it reasonable to go over the head of the choice of the people?

Things are not so categorical [with Hamas]. I think there is some discussion going on in Hamas and the PA government to accept the results of a referendum on the negotiations [conducted by Abbas]. So it is not so black and white.

This is kind of like Bill Clinton and the meaning of the word "is." These people just cannot accept what happened.

Then the Post tries to pin him on the fungibility of money and on Europe's pre-occupation with Israel as opposed to other 'humanitarian crises:'

Some people are saying that the recent decision by the Quartet already represents a weakening of Europe's position vis-a-vis Hamas. Does Europe have the patience to hold Hamas to the three conditions set out by the Quartet?

The EU's policy of refusing any kind of political contact with Hamas and the PA government still stands. What we are doing in Brussels right now is trying to identify a temporary international mechanism to transfer funds directly to the Palestinian people, without the need to have any kind of political contact with the Hamas leadership.

Isn't this a slippery slope, however? If you fund the programs and activities the government is supposed to be funding, aren't you basically giving it a free pass to continue its anti-Israel stance, with no incentive to change politically? Does Europe have the stomach to hold firm against Hamas, even as conditions deteriorate in the territories, especially Gaza?

My impression is that Hamas is under significant pressure and doesn't like it. The EU is not going to change its policy regarding the three basic conditions. We and other members of the international community are trying to avert a humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories, including Gaza. This is a challenge that will require a great deal of sensibility, diplomacy and determination.

So far, we have been pretty successful. There is no question that Hamas is feeling the heat from many sides to change, and sees very clearly both the cost of not changing and the benefit of changing.

Couldn't it be argued that this is a complete capitulation to Hamas - which obviously isn't feeling the pressure enough to take decent, humane positions? It's not caring about its people, and could probably argue, "Great, the Europeans are going to bail us out."

Politics is the art of reconciling two contradictory positions.

We are trying to do our best not to legitimize Hamas - not to recognize it politically until it recognizes Israel, renounces violence and accepts the agreements. At the same time, we feel obliged to continue to support the Palestinian people where their basic human needs are concerned.

Why do you feel this obligation? There are people in dire straits all over the world, many of whom are even worse off than the Palestinians.

Because the Palestinians' plight is the result of a political and military conflict. So we consider it more of a concern… We also have to say, within the concept of international law - and I know there are different legal perspectives of many people, including within Israel - that Israel is an occupying power, and as such has a responsibility to the occupied population. For a number of historical reasons, Europe and the US have always felt a special responsibility for what is going on in this part of the world.

We felt it with the Balfour Declaration. We felt it in 1947 when the UN voted for the partition. And we have felt it during all interaction with the Israeli and Palestinian people throughout the 58 years of Israel's statehood.

But, if you are talking about humanitarian issues, there are worse ones in the world, for example in Darfur. And if you are talking about occupation, one could argue that what China is doing to Tibet is worse. So what is it that makes the Palestinian plight more important to Europe?

The EU elaborated this at the end of 2003, when its 25 member states approved the equivalent of a national strategic policy defining their strategic priorities. There it is clearly highlighted that a peaceful resolution of the Middle East conflict is one of the the EU's strategic priorities, for historical, geographical, and cultural reasons. So it is clear that the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians is not on the same level as Darfur, which we care about, but which is not one of our strategic priorities.

You got that folks: Darfur, where there is a genocide going on is 'not a strategic priority.' But facilitating the destruction of the one Jewish state in the world by twenty-three Arab states is a 'strategic priority.' Because after all, 'we' (Europe) are responsible for putting Israel there in the first place through the Balfour Declaration.

And when Cibrian-Uzal gets trapped by the total lack of logic in his position, he just refuses to answer the question:

The Palestinian people are a special case because they are occupied.

But why are they occupied, from an Israeli perspective? Because their last government rejected the last offer of statehood. Many in Israel argue: How many times must we save them from themselves, because we are not prepared to let them suffer and therefore wise up?

I don't want to enter into a historical debate about the negotiations at Camp David… My only comment today is that we are not in any political contact with Hamas. That's what we are like with the [leader of Belarus, the only remaining authoritarian regime in Europe]… Do we have any business with [Hamas] today? No.

Of course, they're not claiming that Belarus is 'occupied' or that anyone else is responsible for it.

From Europe's perspective, is the Gaza Strip "occupied territory" today?

From the strict point of international law, it is not an "unoccupied" territory. For a territory to be defined as free of occupation, it is not only the question of military presence on the ground. It is also control of airspace and maritime space and we are not yet there… But it is clear that the military presence on the ground - and the presence of settlers - was ended last summer. And that was welcomed by the EU as a step in the right direction.

So if Israel allowed Gaza an airport and a seaport, it would be "unoccupied?"

We are far from there. As long as Kassam rockets continue to be fired at Israel, and Israeli artillery continues to respond massively, to speak about whether Gaza is unoccupied is premature. The conflict, unfortunately, is still there.

So the Gaza Strip will be 'occupied' until the 'Palestinians' decide to end the conflict by stopping the Kassam fire?

There's a lot more to this interview (including that Europe has no intention of funding Olmert's convergence consolidation surrender plan because the US funds Israel and Europe funds the Arabs). Read the whole thing.


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