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MSNBC’s Velshi: ‘Peace Hasn’t Really Worked Out’ for Gazans – ‘Israel Needs a New Approach’ Besides ‘Apartheid’

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On Saturday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “Velshi,” host Ali Velshi said that the “idea that it’s even remotely controversial to call what Israel has imposed on Palestinians a form of apartheid is laughable.” And that while Hamas “may not be in the best long-term interests of the Gazans,” and Gazans have picked “a government that most of us wouldn’t prefer,” “peace hasn’t really worked out” for Gazans. Velshi further argued, “Israel needs a new approach to the Palestinians and America needs a new approach to Israel.”

Velshi began by saying, “Israel has a right to exist and to defend itself. That is an indisputable fact, but so do Palestinians, and that’s a fact that’s often ignored. Palestinians are, at best, third-class citizens in the nation of their birth. The idea that it’s even remotely controversial to call what Israel has imposed on Palestinians a form of apartheid is laughable. One look at a current map of Israel, Gaza, and the occupied territories conjures up only one other example, apartheid-era South Africa. The Israeli government, on an ongoing basis, declares parcels of land on which Palestinians live to be either of military or archeological importance, causing residents to be evicted. Sometimes there’s a court case, and almost always, the Palestinians lose. Yet, months or weeks later that same important land suddenly becomes home to a brand-new Israeli settlement. As more and more Jewish settlers take over land on which Arabs live, the occupied West Bank becomes de facto more Israeli and, in the explicit hopes of the Israeli government, more Jewish. This is a longstanding attempt and a deliberate attempt to force Arabs who have lived in that land, sometimes for hundreds of years, out. It’s an attempt to dilute their presence because to have Arabs as full participants is, in the opinion of the Israeli government and their courts, diluting Israel.”

He added, “Palestinian families are refused permits to build or renovate their homes. When they connect their homes to the municipal water supply, Israeli soldiers sometimes cut the pipes. When they attempt to harness solar energy because their homes are not on the grid, Israeli soldiers literally come and remove solar panels from their homes. I spent an hour and a half traveling alongside an elderly Palestinian woman who was being transferred between three ambulances from Gaza to the no-man’s land in between and then into Israel to get cancer treatment. Three ambulances over the course of one mile, more than an hour to cross the border. That’s how Gazans live, without medical treatment because Israel prevents it, without electricity much of the time because Israel prevents it, without the ability to fish in the Mediterranean ocean because Israel prevents it, without an airport or a seaport because Israel prevents it.”

Velshi concluded, “Like Israelis, Palestinians also have a right to exist and to defend themselves, but there is no one willing to help them do that, not the Israeli courts and not the U.S. government. What the U.S. also shares with Israel is the belief that Hamas, the political party that governs Gaza, is a terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel. Hamas is supported by the majority of Palestinians in Gaza. Hamas may not be in the best long-term interests of the Gazans, but peace hasn’t really worked out for them. Faced with an Israeli government which pens them into what has been called the world’s largest open-air prison, they have chosen a government that most of us wouldn’t prefer, one that is not given to negotiation and moderation and respect for its neighbor. Israel needs a new approach to the Palestinians and America needs a new approach to Israel. After more than seven decades of not just being deprived of land from which they were evicted, Palestinian frustration runs deep.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett