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Commentary Last Updated: Jun 4th, 2008 - 01:14:51

When will Israel quit pretending it wants peace?
By Linda S. Heard
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Jun 4, 2008, 00:18

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Successive Israeli governments have perfected the art of announcing one thing and doing just the opposite. Almost every member of the Israeli leadership says a two-state solution on the lines of �the road map� is the way forward, yet they do nothing at all to bolster the credibility of the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas except throw occasional smiles and handshakes his way.

On Sunday, Israel�s Ministry of Housing angered Palestinian negotiators by inviting tenders for the construction of 884 homes to enlarge two illegal Jewish settlements in occupied East Jerusalem -- Har Homa and Pisgat Zeev. President Abbas termed this move �a dangerous threat� to the peace process.

The skeptics among us might feel tempted to ask Abbas, �What peace process?� Is there one, or is it a mere illusion designed to keep tensions off the boil as the apartheid concrete wall splits communities and robs Palestinians of their land and livelihoods?

Sure, he gets to meet with the Israeli prime minister and his team from time to time behind closed doors where they supposedly thrash out the details. But progress reports are nonexistent so nobody knows whether they do anything more than complain about Hamas over coffee.

They probably won�t even be exchanging pleasantries shortly since Ehud Olmert is expecting his marching orders over accusations of corruption leveled against him. His successor is anyone�s guess, although Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, a former Mossad agent who spent years chasing Palestinian militants around Europe, is said to be the favorite.

Was Annapolis just an empty exercise aimed at producing false hope in a people that have been battered, beaten and bricked-up for decades? If so, Washington is a partner in this deception just as it is when it comes to glossing over Israel�s nuclear weapons horde.

The world and its wife know that Israel is a nuclear power with as many as 100-200 sophisticated nuclear weapons and both short-range and long-range ballistic missiles capable of delivering them to just about any target, anywhere.

Indeed Israel�s nuclear capability was confirmed beyond doubt in the mid-1980s by Mordechai Vanunu, a technician who worked on the Dimona reactor and, more recently, when Prime Minister Olmert inadvertently slipped his tongue during a visit to Germany in 2006.

�Iran, openly, explicitly and publicly threatens to wipe Israel off the map,� he told Germany�s Sat.1 Channel before asking: �Can you say that this is the same level, when they are aspiring to have nuclear weapons, as America, France, Israel and Russia?� Oops!

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates also admitted that Israel had nukes before a Senate hearing, yet when former President Carter announced that Israel possessed a 150-strong nuclear arsenal last week at a literary festival held in Britain, America�s right-wing knives came out accusing Carter of betrayal, endangering national security and providing Iran with grist for its nuclear stance.

Here�s what Robert Maginnis, an American national security and foreign affairs analyst and strategist with the US Army had to say: �On May 26, ex-President Jimmy Carter demonstrated his disdain for Israel and disregard for state secrets when he announced that Israel has 150 or more atomic weapons. His statement likely breaks federal law, compromises the trust of a key ally and could help fuel Middle East nuclear proliferation.�

Fox News even interviewed a former CIA wallah, who said Carter�s admission had put America�s security in jeopardy, which confirms to me what I already knew: Washington and Tel Aviv are two sides of the same coin. Israel�s security and America�s security are one and the same. Although, admittedly, someone forget to tell Israel, which regularly spies on its devoted ally.

Such hypocrisy is surely beyond belief and even more unbelievable is the way the international community allows Israel to get away with such intelligence-insulting humbug. Israel has even coined a name for this blatant deception in an attempt to bring it into the realm of acceptability, �nuclear ambiguity,� which translated means �mind your own business!�

The fact is it�s everybody�s business and especially that of the governments and peoples of this region that have been calling repeatedly for a nuclear-free Middle East and getting precisely nowhere. The Arab League has also been asking for a genuine, long lasting and comprehensive peace process that would include all regional players, and has also been rebuffed.

But there�s a new wind blowing here where nations are beginning to adopt more realistic views and for the first time are coming together to achieve joint goals as we witnessed recently in Doha, where thanks to Arab intervention, Lebanon was gifted a fresh start.

Moreover, several regional countries have indicated their wish to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, including Egypt and Jordan, which unlike Israel are both signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Unless Israel comes clean and signs up to NPT safeguards and inspection, while demonstrating it is serious about its road map commitments, it might be worthwhile for those nations to shred their NPT memberships and adopt policies of �nuclear ambiguity� of their own. Israel has been allowed a free ride for far too long. It can�t be much longer before its neighbors become jaundiced at hearing endless hollow promises, distortions and excuses. There may even come a time when they will no longer be disposed to even pretend to believe peace is possible.

Israel should be made aware that the window of opportunity is closing each day that attitudes harden. Those 884 houses to be constructed on stolen Palestinian land in a flagrant breach of the road map represent another factor hastening the dreadful day that window will finally shut fast for all time.

Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at

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