Gary, who lived in Israel for about a decade, is under the impression that Obama's referring specifically to settlements in the West Bank. There are apparently several hundred of them - they began settling them in 1967, they tend to be religious (as opposed to Zionist) settlements, supported by the ultra right-wing - and are hotly debated in Israel itself, because of the cost. Many are very small, with less than 30 people - yet require 1000s of troops to defend them. Obama not supporting these settlements is hardly "throwing Israel under the bus."
Mike - you're absolutely right. What was "Palestine" has been redefined so many times under so many different rulers/invaders - and it was never ethnically a people.
It may seem off-topic - but a little history is in order here, given the discussion about what Israel should or shouldn't do re: the borders.
...In fact, the "Palestinians" to whom we refer are hardly a united or even ethnically "coherent" people (complicating the problem), and Gaza has been a political nightmare (like many of the great British legacies
) that even Egypt didn't want.
The "Palestinians" have always been a stateless, citizenshipless people in the Middle East - they are a collection of migrant workers and come from Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt.
Let's face it - the local Arab peoples were occupied for centuries by the Turks and had no national movement until the arrival of the British. "Palestine" may have a place on the history maps - but "Palestinians" were people who worked in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, etc. Arafat was born in Egypt.
So Gaza as it exists today, as has already been pointed out, is a product of the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Egypt and Israel. (Egypt occupied the Strip from 1949, except for four months of Israeli occupation during the 1956 Suez Crisis, until 1967).
In 1948, the "All-Palestine Government" was proclaimed in Gaza City by the Arab League. The government was only recognized by Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen - and not by Jordan or other countries, let alone any non-Arab country. It was basically under Egyptian control, had no influence or funding, and was subsequently moved to Cairo. Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip or Egypt were issued "All-Palestine" passports until 1959, when Nasser annulled the All-Palestine government by decree. Notably, Egypt never annexed the Gaza Strip, but instead treated it as a controlled territory and administered it through a military governor. The refugees were never offered Egyptian citizenship. http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclop...Strip-by-Egypt
Non of the Arab countries wanted the "Palestinians." !!
So the Gaza Strip was occupied by Egypt from 1948â€“67, and then by Israel following the 1967 war. In the 1967 war, Israel assumed control of Gaza - though they never wanted or intended to be there long term.
Pursuant to the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the PLO in 1993, the Palestinian Authority was set up as an interim administrative body to govern populated Palestinian centers - with Israel maintaining military control of the Gaza Strip's airspace, some of its land borders and its territorial waters - until a final agreement could be reached. It never was - but Israel unilaterally disengaged from Gaza in 2005, claiming it was no longer the "Occupying Power" there. In the meantime, all the settlements had been closed.
...so just who ARE the "Palestinian" refugees?
Under UNRWA's (United Nation's Relief And Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) operational definition, Palestine refugees are "persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict." UNRWA's definition "also covers the descendants through the male line of persons who became refugees in 1948." http://www.un.org/unrwa/refugees/whois.html
However, the UN traditional definition of a refugee is someone who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it." http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/o_c_ref.htm
The UN definition of Palestinian Refugees has allowed the population to balloon - according to Al Jazeera the population of the "Gaza Region" was 60,000 - 80,000 in 1948. Of course the war caused an influx - again, according to Al Jazeera - of approx 200,000 to the Gaza strip. According to the CIA Factbook, the current population of the strip is now 1.5 million.
As far as I'm concerned, the UN is partially responsible for exacerbating - or at least perpetuating - tensions in the Middle East. Why are numerous towns and cities throughout the Middle East still called "refugee camps?" OK - conditions in many are horrible and it is a serious shame. But they are towns and cities - not camps in any traditional sense of the word. IMO it's because it's to the political advantage of the Palestinian leadership - whoever that's been.
...And by allowing terrorists to turn "refugee camps" into the center of the Palestinian war machine, the international community has assisted in building the terrorists' system of control! And instead of working to relieve the refugees' misery, the UN has dedicated an ENTIRE agency - UNRWA - to perpetuating it.
For the rest of the world, the UN works tirelessly to improve their conditions - to relocate them, to help them rebuild their lives. With Palestinians, the U.N. does exactly the opposite, granting refugee status to the great-grandchildren of people displaced in 1948, doing nothing to dismantle the "camps" - because the Palestinian Authority doesn't want them to.
Israel has refused to be victimized. The Palestinians have chosen to be victims - and it has NEVER worked for them. And their people suffer because of it, and the Palestinians then terrorize Israel because of it.
Sadly, since its victory in the Palestinian Parliament, Hamas has failed to unify around a coherent program. This has led to partisan tensions within the Palestinian Authority that verge on civil war. And Palestinian civilians continue to suffer. As do Israelis.
Oh - almost forgot - in 1970, the "Palestinians" in Jordan (primarily picking oranges and working on the railroads at the tiem) attempted a coup (against the government under King Hussein) in what became known as "Black September." They were beaten and kicked out of the country. They fled out of Jordan into Lebanon - where six years later they started a civil war in an attempt to take over parts of Lebanon.
So where do they belong?
Gary says what really scares Israelis is not only that they want to kill the Jews - but that they kill each other with equal impunity, and that Hamas not only doesn't recognize Israel's right to exist but believes the Jewish people should be annhilated.
....but back to the original point - Obama throwing Israel under the bus? Israel would be happy to give up most of the West Bank if a legitimate, non-terrorist government could actually be established and enforce the rule of law - a law that doesn't consider the extermination of the Jews as a legitimate act of Parliament.