Pope Francis at Israel's Separation Wall in Bethlehem
By Jonathan Cook – Nazareth
When Pope Benedict XVI visited the Holy Land five years ago, Israel heightened its security, gladly emphasizing the potential threat he supposedly faced in Israel from Muslim extremists.
As his successor, Pope Francis, arrived in Israel late on Sunday, security was no less strict. Some 9,000 police had been drafted in to protect him, Christian institutions were under round-the-clock protection, and the intelligence services were working overtime. According to a Vatican official, Israel’s preparations had turned “the holy sites into a military base”.
On this occasion Israel was less keen to publicize the source of its fears, because the most tangible threat came not from Islamists but Jewish fanatics linked to Israel’s settler movement.
Erekat reportedly told the Israeli side that “we are here to negotiate in the name of the UN-recognized State of Palestine, not in the name of a Palestinian Authority whose inputs and outputs are controlled by Israel.”
A long and heated meeting between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators in Jerusalem ended early Thursday without any signs of bringing both sides back to the negotiating table.
Palestinian sources told Ma’an that the nine-hour meeting with US Special Envoy Martin Indyk was attended by PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat, Head of Palestinian intelligence Majid Faraj, and Israeli negotiators Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho.
The sources described the meeting as a “fierce political battle”, with Martin Indyk struggling to control heated exchanges between both sides.
Erekat reportedly told the Israeli side that “we are here to negotiate in the name of the UN-recognized State of Palestine, not in the name of a Palestinian Authority whose inputs and outputs are controlled by Israel.”
The Palestinian leadership, for too long timid and self-serving, finally has a chance to redeem itself. (Photo: WAFA)
By Ghada Karmi
No term in the Israeli-Palestinians political lexicon has been so abused or so denuded of meaning as the “peace process”. It was set up after the Oslo Accords in 1993, to settle the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians by peaceful negotiations, but has led nowhere.
Yet it is still ongoing, its latest manifestation launched in August 2013, when US Secretary of State John Kerry put forward an ambitious plan to resolve all the major issues that have bedevilled the conflict within the space of nine months. The result he envisaged was a “final-status agreement” over borders, security, Jerusalem and refugees, which when resolved, would supposedly end the conflict for good
In the last four decades, the 'peace process' became an American diplomatic staple in the region. (Photo: WH)
By Ramzy Baroud
As the US-imposed April 29 deadline for a ‘framework’ agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority looms, time is also running out for the American administration itself. The Obama administration must now conjure up an escape route to avoid a political crisis if the talks are to fail, as they surely will.
Chances are the Americans knew well that peace under the current circumstances is simply not attainable. The Israeli government’s coalition is so adamantly anti-Arab, anti-peace and anti any kind of agreement that would fall short from endorsing the Israeli apartheid-like occupation, predicated on colonial expansion, annexations of borders, land confiscation, control of holy places and much more. Ideally for Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies in the right, far-right and ultranationalists, Palestinians would need to be crammed in disjointed communities, separated from each other by walls, Jewish settlements, Jewish-only bypass roads, checkpoints, security fences, and a large concentration of Israeli military presence including permanent Israeli control of the Jordan Valley. In fact, while politicians tirelessly speak of peace, the above is the exact ‘vision’ that the Israelis had in mind almost immediately following the 1967 war – the final conquest of all of historic Palestine and occupation of Arab lands.
Israel had promised to free 104 veteran Palestinian prisoners in four tranches. (Photo: Tamar Fleishman)
Apr 3 2014
Israel will not release the fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners because of renewed Palestinian efforts to join international organizations.
A spokesman for Tzipi Livni, Israel’s justice minister and the government’s chief negotiator, said on Thursday that the Israeli government had been working to finalize an agreement to free the prisoners when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed letters of accession to 15 international conventions.
Abbas said it was a response to Israel’s failure to release prisoners as promised, according to the Associated Press news agency.
By Tamar Fleishman
I decided to talk about the detainment of Palestinians by the army through the story of three people; I attempted to portray the larger picture by using personal stories.
These people aren’t heroes nor are they warriors, provocateurs, protestors or people who had made names for themselves.
A man, a lad and a boy, they are just three among the thousands that are crushed under the violent and vicious boot of the executors of the policy that aims to break the spirit and daily life of the Palestinian people, of thousands of people who don’t know what the future holds. Each one of their hopes and dreams is accompanied by doubt, since this everlasting and advancing terror that is used against the civil population is like a sword that dangles over all of them, men as well as women, children as well as adults, and they never know from where shall evil break and what will bring upon them the next disaster.
Statistics show that there are thousands of detainees.
Mar 23 2014 / 7:35 pm
Sacrifices must be made and sometimes risks must be taken to snatch our life from the jaws of death. .
By Samah Jabr – Jerusalem, Palestine
The chronic tyranny brought by the Israeli occupation has had a devastating effect on the wellbeing of the Palestinian community. But one of the worst effects is the internalization of oppression and the undermining of Palestinian’s collective self-concept. I have observed that since the 2006 elections in Palestine—which were followed by an arrest of the elected parliamentarians and an international boycott of the elected government—the vigorous spirit of the Palestinian community that had previously evolved during long years of resistance has finally been reduced to a state of demoralization.The undermining of this election represented an additional bitter blow after the more subtle impact of the Oslo’s Accords, which had been originally promoted as part of the Palestinian liberation project. However, reports published on the Accord’s 20th anniversary showed that during this period the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank had doubled and the area controlled by settlements had expanded to 42 % of Palestinian land; furthermore, a system of restrictions on Palestinian movement and trade had continued its division of Palestinian families and its decimation of the economy. No mention the infamous collaboration between Palestinian and Israeli security forces that has secured for Israelis a profitable trade and tourism through bed and breakfast hotels overlooking the magnificent hills of the West Bank, dismantled resistance, and incarcerated more Palestinians in prisons.
Obama and Abbas in the Oval Office. (Photo: WAFA)
By Jonathan Cook – Nazareth
For the first time since the US launched the Middle East peace talks last summer, the Palestinian leadership may be sensing it has a tiny bit of leverage.
Barack Obama met the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Washington last week in what Palestinian officials called a “candid and difficult” meeting. The US president hoped to dissuade Abbas from walking away when the original negotiations’ timetable ends in a month.
The US president and his secretary of state, John Kerry, want their much-delayed “framework agreement” to provide the pretext for spinning out the stalled talks for another year. The US outline for peace is now likely to amount to little more than a set of vague, possibly unwritten principles that both sides can assent to.
By Richard Falk
OMAR is the second film directed by Hany Alu-Assad to be a finalist among foreign language films nominated to receive an Oscar at the 2014 Academy Awards ceremony on March 2nd. The earlier film, PARADISE NOW (2005), brought to life the preoccupation at the time with suicide bombing as the principle tactic of Palestinian resistance by exposing the deep inner conflicts of those who partake, the tragic effects of such terror on its Israeli targets, and the hardened manipulative mentality of the leaders who prepare the perpetrators. Alu-Assad born in 1961 in Nazareth, emigrated to the Netherlands in 1980, writes the screen plays for his movies as well as directs. He has a profound gift for story telling that keeps an audience engaged with the human drama affecting the principal Palestinian characters while illuminating broader issues of profound moral and political concern without stooping to didactic means of conveying ‘the message.’ So understood, Alu-Assad’s achievement is artistic in the primary sense, yet attunes us to the dilemmas of oppression and servitude.
In these respects OMAR is superior even to PARADISE NOW, telling the story of what life under Israeli occupation means for the way Palestinian lives are lived, the normalcy’s of romantic attraction contrasting with the abnormalities of humiliating lives lived behind prison walls. The film opens with Omar climbing the high domineering security wall to overcome the separation of Arab families living on either side, being detected by the Israeli guards who sound sirens and fire a shot. Omar manages to clamor back down and leap to safety. Israeli police on foot and in cars pursue Omar through the alleyways and streets of an impoverished Palestinian neighborhood. The underlying poignancy of Omar’s situation is to be at once ‘a freedom fighter’ and a sensitive young man deeply in love with Nadia, the younger sister of Tarek, his militia commander. In an unspoken realism, Omar is unconditionally bound to both causes, jeopardizing his chance to live a shadow life of acquiescence to the realities of occupation by his choice to dedicate himself at great risk and little hope to the liberation of the Palestinian people and their land.
For as long as the injustices continue, there can be no peace. (Photo: ActiveStills.org)
By Jeremy R. Hammond
Palestine’s illegitimate president, Mahmoud Abbas, is doing incredible damage to the cause of his people.
It is betrayal enough that he has decided to return to the U.S.-led so-called “peace process”—which is the process by which the U.S. and Israel block implementation of the two-state solution—despite Israel refusing to show even a modicum of good faith. Under threats of punishment for disobedience and promises of financial reward for compliance, Abbas agreed to return to talks “without preconditions”, meaning while Israel’s illegal colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem continue unabated.
But his betrayal goes much further. He has also expressed his willingness to surrender the Palestinians’ national sovereignty and right to self-defense by agreeing to the Israeli demand that the state of Palestine must be “demilitarized”. Abbas has tried to justify this decision by reasoning, “We don’t need planes or missiles”. But whether having the means to defend the state of Palestine is necessary or not is not the question. It may or may not be necessary, as a practical matter, but by agreeing to Israel’s demand to a “demilitarized” state, Abbas is surrendering, as a matter of principle, that Palestine might have the means by which to exercise its right to self-defense if it ever became necessary to do so—such as if Israel were to do what it often does and launch airstrikes or ground invasions against the state of Palestine.
By Sam Bahour
The first proclaimed leak from Secretary John Kerry’s efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as it is so often called, were published last week in the reputable London-based daily Arabic newspaper, Al-Hayat. The source is said to be from a posting from the website of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, who claim the information was leaked to them by someone attending the tightly closed negotiating sessions. The validity of this claim and the contents of the leak are unverifiable and the infighting between Hamas and Fatah give both a vested interest to publicly damage the other, however, a read through the supposed leaked information makes anyone familiar with this issue take a worrying note.
The Al-Hayat article on the leak states that Secretary Kerry obtained Palestinian President Abbas’ approval on general parameters for the restart of negotiations, at meetings between the two in Amman on 17-18 July 2013, prior to Secretary Kerry’s announcement that negotiations would restart. According to the leaked document, “Kerry set a maximum period of time ranging from 6 to 9 months would be dedicated to bilateral Palestinian-Israeli negotiations … without any preconditions,” beyond the principles listed below and whereby Jordan participates in meetings on refugees, Jerusalem and borders where necessary:
1. “The Separation Wall will serve as the security borders of the ‘Jewish’ state, and the temporary border of the ‘Palestinian’ state… Both parties will acknowledge and announce this.”
2. There will be “an exchange in disputed territories within the plan of the Separation Wall noted above, as agreed to by both parties and with the blessing of the Arab League Follow-up Committee, as specified by this Committee to Mr. Kerry during their last visit to Washington, ranging in size from eight to ten percent of West Bank lands.”
Samih al Qasim: There is no blood-stained shred ..of a shirt our upright brothers wore."
By Talal Alyan
Arab poetry has, in some circles, become regarded as being synonymous with political resistance. The role of the written word has been fundamental in reinforcing our commitment to assorted causes and marginalized groups. It has also been irreplaceable in emboldening our cultural links, a political act to be sure in the context of the region. However, there seem to be aspects of Arab political verse that tend to be eclipsed by the more traditional slogans of resistance. By that I mean that sometimes the most commanding works are not those that espouse unwavering nationalism, but instead those that reflect the uncertainty and grief of the landscape. And much akin to the subject of their work, these poets are commonly fated to the same devastation and end.
It is hard to find Arab writers whose perspectives remained linear throughout their literary careers. There lie in the writing of even the most renowned political poets an evolution of ideology, a fluctuation of faith. It stands as testament to the veracity of Arab poetry that we find in it such a heavy presence of doubt, skepticism, and disillusion. “We wear the masks of living people,” proclaims Abdul Wahab Al-Bayati, the wandering Iraqi poet, after the 1967 war “We are half men/In the garbage dump of history.”
Amira Hass: 'Throwing a stone is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule.' (Photo: Tamar Fleishman)
Amira Hass: 'Throwing a stone is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule.' (Photo: Tamar Fleishman)
By William A. Cook
A debate rages in Israel today on the truth of Amira Hass’s words “Throwing a stone is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule. Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of resistance” (Amira Hass, Haaretz, 4/3/13).
The day after Hass’ comment, Dr. Rosenberg offered these objections: a. throwing stones after all can result in death and Hass does not mention that consequence, b. justifying stone throwing “grants legitimacy to the activities of the government she condemns; and c. stone throwing is “a natural right of every human being is futile and invalid, certainly in ethical terms.” Conveniently, Rosenberg does not mention that the Palestinians have no army, no air-force, no navy, no comparable military ordinance of any kind to throw at the fourth largest state of the art military in the world, only stones; can the stone kill, yes, but so can $300,000 missiles and phosphorus bombs. Do we justify death by missiles and phosphorus but damn death by stoning? Does the throwing of a stone justify the carnage of the Israeli IDF against the defenseless Palestinians? Where is the argument here? Is throwing a stone a birthright as Amira states or is that “futile and invalid” as Rosenberg claims? Given the reality of the Israeli military power versus the feeble efforts of the Palestinians, children and teenagers hurling stones, the debate on birthright avoids the obvious: not to throw a stone.
By Manash Bhattacharjee
I learnt from your poems how
To wait upon death
And how waiting is a game as
Treacherous as death.
I learnt from you how the root
Of waiting is grasped in despair
And that there is no despair
More deceitful than hope.
Waiting helped you gather those
Roses along the way
Which grow only for travellers
Who walk the loneliest road.
You kept those roses as mementos
Of your nights when gunshots
Would remind you of the difficulty
To make love under the moon.
As you carried the landscape on
Your shoulders and looked
For your address in the clouds
The enemy laughed.
They thought you will grow weary
From repeating the same lines of loss
But they didn’t know those without a home
Are always hungry for memory.
- Manash Bhattacharjee is a poet, writer and scholar from New Delhi, India. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com
By J. Kēhaulani Kauanui
When reflecting on the week-long visit to Occupied Palestine and Israel - the delegation organized by the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) - in some ways, the meeting that was the most provocative was with the Palestinian academics who hosted us at a public policy research center in Haifa called Mada al-Carmel: Arab Center for Applied Social Research. There we encountered critical and incisive perspectives on the academic boycott by Palestinian citizens of Israel that showed how the politics look different from their social location. Their penetrating critiques and our productive dialogue ultimately strengthened my understanding of the situation of fragmentation on the ground in Palestine, and of the need to grapple with this complexity to address what is, after all, one occupation.
This meeting took place on the second day of our trip. To reach the Center, we left the West Bank for Haifa in a taxi van with our host Magid Shihade on a journey that itself demonstrated the situation of apartheid. Haifa is a historically fraught city located in Israel. To get there, we had to go through one of the more than 500 police and military checkpoints that regulate Palestinian movement between the occupied West Bank and the state of Israel-- referred to by the hosts of the delegation and many Palestinians as "'48" as an insistent reminder that Israel's history as a state dates back only to 1948 and involves Palestinian dispossession. We first made our way through an inspection, which included six Israeli soldiers surrounding the van with automatic rifles ready to shoot as they peered in through the windows of the van, then rode on a segregated highway - part of an intricate network of settler roads, bridges and tunnels that continue to surround Palestinians villages and towns to break up territorial contiguity by separating them from each other.
Haifa sits along the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea, and as we entered it, on what happened to be the day of the Orthodox Christmas, the tree in the middle of town with numerous Stars of David and Israeli flags hanging on it stood as a reminder of the violence through which the city was claimed as part of Israel. The 1947 UN Partition Plan designated Haifa as part of the proposed Jewish state. Since it was the major industrial city and oil refinery port in "British Palestine", control of the city was critical in the ensuing Arab-Israeli war. As Ilan Pappé explains in The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, on April 21, 1948, British forces in Haifa redeployed and withdrew from most of the city while still maintaining control over the port facilities. Very soon after, Moshe Carmel led a brigade of the Haganah (a paramilitary organization that was the precursor to the Israeli Defense Forces) in Operation Bi'ur Hametz (also known as the Battle of Haifa), which caused a massive displacement of Haifa's Palestinian population. The refugees' flight in the wake of mass evacuation was via the port of Haifa. After the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948 Haifa became the gateway for Jewish settlers into Israel, where, after the war, they were resettled in vacated Palestinian houses enabled by the violent "de-Arabization" of Haifa.
Read the full story at Social Text
The PA moves to rebrand itself the “State of Palestine” ahead of Israeli elections likely to bring in the most right wing government yet seen, writes Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah
The Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership seems to have backed away from earlier threats to dissolve the Ramallah regime if Israel goes ahead with announced plans to build an additional 75,000 settler units in Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank.
Instead, the PA leadership has decided to officially change name of the Palestinian Authority to the “State of Palestine”.
The (settler party, the Jewish Home0 rejects any peace deal with the Palestinians involving “territorial concessions”. The Talmudic-indoctrinated party calls for the annexation of the West Bank, reoccupation of the Gaza Strip, and subjugation or expulsion of Palestinians.
The move comes in the aftermath of the November resolution by the UN General Assembly to upgrade the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) status to that of a non-member observer state.
According to instructions from the PA chairman’s office, all communications, stamps, stationary and official documents will now bear the new name. A PA statement said the move was intended to enhance Palestinian sovereignty on the ground and constituted a step forward to real independence.Israel has rejected the largely symbolic Palestinian step, calling it “unilateral” and in violation of the Oslo Accords.
Israeli officials said Israel wouldn’t deal with Palestinian documents bearing the name of “state of Palestine”. In the past, Israel rejected and “returned to sender” documents bearing the name “Palestinian National Authority”. Israeli officials argued then that the word “National” was an unacceptable addition since it was not contained in the original agreement.
General view of Haifa From Mt. Carmel looking west , 1934-1939. (Photo: Maston Collection.)
By Ramzy Baroud
What does a Palestinian farmer who is living in a village tucked in between the secluded West Bank hills, a prisoner on hunger strike in an Israeli jail and a Palestinian refugee roaming the Middle East for shelter all have in common? They are all characters in one single, authentic, solid and cohesive narrative. The problem however, is that western media and academia barely reflect that reality or intentionally distort it, disarticulate it and when necessary, defame its characters.
An authentic Palestinian narrative – one that is positioned within an original Palestinian history and articulated through Palestinian thought – is mostly absent from western media and to a lesser degree, academia. If such consideration is ever provided, everything Palestinian suddenly falls into either a side note of a larger Israeli discourse, or at best, juxtaposed to a pro-Israeli plot that is often concealed with hostility. Palestinian news stories are often disconnected, disjoined news items with seemingly no relation to other news items. They are all marred with negative connotation. In this narrative, a farmer, a prisoner and a refugee barely overlap. Due to this deliberate disconnect, Palestine becomes pieces, ideas, notions, perceptions, but nothing complete or never whole.
Sumud is the invincible Palestinian rock that will bring down the Zionist Leviathan. (Photo: Zoriah)
By Vacy Vlazna
The Parisian sewer system is famous. Victor Hugo described it as such: ‘Paris has another Paris under herself; a Paris of sewers; which has its streets, its crossings, its squares, its blind alleys, its arteries, and its circulation, which is slime, minus the human form.’
Israel too has a sewer system that is spread internationally… a system of interconnected corporations in the USA, Australia, Canada, and Europe with subterranean links to Israel’s Leviathan- ‘slime minus the human form’ – the savage Zionist illegal occupation of Palestine.
Just as Paris offers tours of its sewers, let us descend into the visceral underground (Here, no more false appearance, no possible plastering, the filth takes off its shirt, absolute nakedness, rout of illusions and of mirages, nothing more but what it is . . . The last veil is rent. A sewer is a cynic. It tells all. Hugo) of corporate interconnections to Israel and its military that violate international law which declares ‘occupation must only be temporary; the Israeli settlements [colonial cities] are in direct violation of this principle’… For instance, the colonial cities on Palestine land with their 500,000 illegal colonizers, ‘violate Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention, which forbids an occupier from transferring its own civilians into the territory it occupies. Additionally, according to Article 55 of the Hague Regulations, the occupying power’s role is to safeguard occupied properties and maintain the status quo.’(Global Exchange) There is also the UN Global Compact, Principle Two “Businesses should make sure they are not complicit in human rights abuses.”
Through all his political life, Abbas has been a concessionist.
By Hasan Afif El-Hasan
After wasting twenty years of negotiations in which basic Palestinian rights were squandered while Israel was colonizing the West Bank and Jerusalem and millions of Palestinians rot in refugee camps, Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority (PA), decided to ask the UN General Assembly to recognize Palestine as non-member state. The vast majority of the world governments especially in Asia, Africa and South America have been always supportive of the Palestinian cause and direction. The UN vote was substantial: 138 votes in favor, 9 against and 41 abstentions. The euphoria among the Palestinians created by the vote reminds us with the sense of relief and optimism among the Palestinians when the Oslo Accords were signed and sold to the Palestinians by their self-appointed leaders as the road to “the peace of the brave.” Twenty years later, the Oslo Agreements proved to be catastrophic.
Many UN resolutions favoring the Palestinians are collecting dust on UN shelves rather than being enacted. Israel ignored countless resolutions issued by UN General Assembly, the UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice. Israel rejected the Arab Peace Initiative, endorsed by the 2002 Beirut Arab summit, because colonizing the West Bank and Jerusalem outweigh the benefits of formal normalization with the Arab and Muslim nations. Israel has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and it has established low-profile trading and cultural relations with other Arab and Muslim nations without having diplomatic relations, mostly after the signing of the Oslo Agreements. According to Haaretz newspaper issue of last Dec. 28, “Israeli business quietly thrives in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and in far-off countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, too.”
By Gale Courey Toensing
December 29, 2012
American Indians and Palestinians have supported each other’s struggle since at least the 1970s when the American Indian Movement hosted a delegation of leaders from the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
“What the American Indian Movement says is that the American Indians are the Palestinians of the United States, and the Palestinians are the American Indians of the Middle East,” the late great Indian leader Russell Means said many times. So it is no surprise that Palestinian activists are coming out in support of Idle No More.
In little more than two weeks since the December 10 launching of the Idle No More movement by First Nations in Canada oppose a Senate omnibus budget bill that leaves them with no power over their lands and resources, dozens of organizations and hundreds of individuals supporting Palestinian liberation and human rights have endorsed the Palestinians in Solidarity with Idle No More and Indigenous Rights statement of support of the continuing Native protest that has spread across Canada, the U.S., some European countries and into the Middle East. Palestinians in Solidarity with Idle No More and Indigenous Rights calls for justice, dignity, decolonization and protection of the land, waters and resources.
Read the full story at Indian Country Today Media Network
By Khalid Amayreh
Binyamin Netanyahu and Avigdor leiberman are the perfect fascist couple that will shape Israeli policy and lead the Zionist entity for the next few years. Netanyahu is a notorious-propagandist turned politician, who is indoctrinated in Zio-Nazism. His views, political behaviors and especially his actions testify to this prognosis.
Not only does Netanyahu believe in the “inherent superiority” of Jews over non-Jews, but he seems to be a firm believer in the Nazi doctrine of Lebensraum. This is why he wastes no time trying to seize additional Arab land to incorporate into Israel. This is exactly what Nazi Germany did when it sought territorial aggrandizement at the expense of its neighbors, which ignited the Second World War.
Eileen Fleming Salem-News.com
Bethlehem at the birth of Jesus was a besieged city. Today Bethlehem is again a besieged city surrounded from three sides by a 25-foot high concrete wall.
Santa in Bethlehem
(BETHLEHEM, Occupied Palestine) - "In a procession calling for 'peace on earth starting with peace in the Holy Land,' Santa led the march to where the confiscation of land and the construction of the Wall were taking place. The Israeli army, in its normal response, used violence and heavy arms to block the peaceful procession." - Sami Awad, American Palestinian, Founder and Executive Director of Holy Land Trust. 
Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, was born in Bethlehem and has been the Pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas church in Bethlehem since 1988.
My July 2007 interview with him follows his December 2012 sermon:
Poster design by Guevara de la Serna
“You who come from beyond the sea, bent on war,
don’t cut down the tree of our names,
don’t gallop your flaming horses across
the open plains….
Don’t bury your God
in books that back up your claim of
your land over our land,
don’t appoint your God to be a mere
courtier in the palace of the King”
– Mahmoud Darwish, The Penultimate Speech of the “Red Indian”
Palestinians in Solidarity with Idle No More
Indigenous people have risen up across Canada in the Idle No More movement, a mass call for Indigenous sovereignty, self-determination and rights, against colonization, racism, injustice, and oppression. As Palestinians, who struggle against settler colonialism, occupation and apartheid in our homeland and for the right of Palestinian refugees – the majority of our people – to return to our homeland, we stand in solidarity with the Idle No More movement of Indigenous peoples and its call for justice, dignity, decolonization and protection of the land, waters and resources.
(Please note that you can sign on by emailing PalestiniansIdleNoMore@gmail.com or using the form: http://bit.ly/PalIdleNoMore. Endorsements are welcome from Palestinian and Palestine support organizations; Palestinians and Arabs; and solidarity signatures in support.)
Read the full story and sign the petition at US Palestinian Community Network
Let the Palestinian people decide. (Photo: Tamar Fleishman)
Even if we manage to elect a national council that represents all Palestinians, the leadership of the factions and the managerial class cannot be entrusted with making a decision regarding the partition of historic Palestine. They are so desperate to have an entity to manage no matter how insignificant that may be. They very well realize that such an entity will be a collection of reservations, a human warehouse. The leaders of the factions are bickering about who will be the administrator of the prison, and they have brought with them over eighty thousand prison guards. With an equivalent population to the West Bank and Gaza, the cities of Chicago and Los Angeles, with much higher crime rates, each has less than nine thousand police. The factions are leading their people into a trap, using the flag as bait.
By Mahmoud N. Musa – Paris
“At some point, Mr. Abbas must admit to his people that most of the refugees will never return to Israel: that is the price of partition”. This statement appeared on page 14 of the issue of the Economist dated September 24th to 30th, 2011. The Economist is a weekly British journal that distributes over one million copies of every issue and to a large extent represents the mainstream of Western political and economic thought.
The logic of partition is that it is two sides of the some coin. If there is going to be a Palestinian state, this means that there is going to be a Jewish state. The partition of the land means the separation of the people who live on it. For Palestinians to have a separate state and also having their people return to Israel is seen as having one’s cake and eating it at the same time. It is true that Palestinians have the legal and moral right to return to their original homes, but one gives up one thing to get another. Palestinians would be giving up their right of return in exchange for getting a state. To think otherwise would be eccentric logic and self-deception.
The politics of partition does not end there: it affects Palestinians in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Upon formation of such a state, Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria will become citizens of the new state. This means that in Jordan they will lose what little political rights they currently have, something that is being openly discussed by influential groups such as the retired military organization. Surplus people and the malcontent will be pressured to move to their state. In Lebanon and probably also in Syria, refugees will be moved from their temporary camps to permanent ones in the West Bank or Gaza.
First visit to Palestinian land in 45 years seen as demonstration of new confidence after conflict with Israel.
Ismail Haniya, Hamas prime minister of Gaza, was among the Palestinian officials who greeted Meshaal on Friday [Reuters]
The leader of Hamas has arrived in the Gaza Strip, ending 45 years of exile from the Palestinian Territories with a visit that underscored the armed group's growing confidence.
Khaled Meshaal said on his first-ever visit to the Gaza Strip on Friday that he hoped to become a "a martyr" in the Palestinian territory.
"I hope God will make me a martyr on the land of Palestine in Gaza," Meshaal said shortly after crossing from Egypt into Gaza via the southern Rafah crossing.
After passing through the Egyptian border crossing, Meshaal knelt on the ground to offer a prayer of thanks and was then greeted by dozens of officials from an array of competing Palestinian factions lined up to meet him.
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 (Image: Niño Jose Heredia/Gulf News)
By Ramzy Baroud
A small group of students affiliated mostly with leftist Palestinian factions meandered through the streets of the small town of Birzeit near Ramallah in the summer of 1993. It was an impromptu political rally.
They denounced what they understood as the relinquishing of basic Palestinian rights in exchange for meagre returns: Self-autonomy governed by some Palestinian political body, future negotiations without any guarantees and a hollow Israeli recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
The hastily organized protest was prompted by earlier news that an agreement — Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements — was reached in Oslo and that an official signing ceremony would soon be held at the White House.
The agreement had hallmarks of what promised to be a mockery that merely attempted to reintroduce an Israeli-American version of self-autonomy — as opposed to real independence. Many such shams were introduced and soundly defeated by the Palestinian people and their leadership.
President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority spoke at the United Nations before the General Assembly voted on Palestine's status as a “nonmember observer state” on Thursday.
By ETHAN BRONNER and CHRISTINE HAUSER
Published: November 29, 2012 214 Comments
UNITED NATIONS — More than 130 countries voted on Thursday to grant Palestine the upgraded status of nonmember observer state in the United Nations, a stinging defeat for Israel and the United States and a boost for President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, who was weakened by the recent eight days of fighting in Gaza.
The new ranking could make it easier for the Palestinians to pursue Israel in international legal forums, but it remained unclear what effect it would have on attaining what both sides say they want — a two-state solution.
Still, the vote offered a showcase for an extraordinary international lineup of support for the Palestinians and constituted a deeply symbolic achievement for their cause, made even weightier by arriving on the 65th anniversary of the General Assembly vote that divided the former British Mandate of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and the other Arab — a vote that Israel considers the international seal of approval for its birth.
The tally, in which 138 members voted yes, 9 voted no and 41 abstained, took place after a speech by Mr. Abbas to the General Assembly, in which he called the moment a “last chance” to save the two-state solution amid a narrowing window of opportunity.
The move is part of a renewed probe into his death after Swiss scientists found traces of polonium on his clothing.
By Gregg Carlstrom
Scientists have completed final preparations to exhume the body of Yasser Arafat, whose tomb will be opened on Tuesday to test for radioactive polonium.
Three teams of international investigators traveled on Monday to the muqat’aa, the Palestinian Authority headquarters, where Arafat is buried. They could be seen bringing equipment to the site throughout the day.
A nine-month investigation, the results of which were broadcast earlier this year, found elevated levels of polonium on Arafat’s final personal effects, raising new questions about what killed the longtime Palestinian leader.
by Stanley Heller
November 9, 2012. Today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht and the Zionists, of course, will misuse its meaning to bash Palestinian human rights. But we have a perfect answer to throw back at the Zionists, their awful record of betraying Jews by making deals with the Nazis. The story was told by anti-Zionist Lenni Brenner in 1984, but it was also told by Zionist Edwin Black who focused on how the Transfer Agreement of 1933 destroyed the boycott against the Nazis. My article below is based on Black's work
Besides refuting the Zionists, the facts in Black's book show 1) how boycott is legitimate and how Jews used it several times 2) the power of the 1933 boycott and its limitations.
One can argue that the Holocaust began with the November 9-10, 1938 Kristallnacht when 1,000 synagogues were burned, 30,000 Jews thrown into concentration camps and around 100 killed outright. From discrimination and violent outrages the Nazis had moved on to mass murder.
Could they have been stopped? What could have stopped them?
Recently I finished Edwin Black's "The Transfer Agreement", a proud Zionists account of how Palestinian and German Zionists dealt with the new Nazi government of the '30's and used German Jewish money to build up Jewish Palestine. (The Transfer Agreement, First Dialog edition 2009) For a Zionist the book is as respectable as they come. It has an "Afterwords" by the head of the ADL, Abraham Foxman.
Black thinks the deal was a grand achievement, but he also knows full well that the "Transfer", as it was called, completely undermined the first serious attempt to stop Hitler, the worldwide boycott of German goods. He ends the book, "Was it madness or was it genius"?
I knew about the "Transfer" from the books of Lenni Brenner, "Zionism in the Age of the Dictators" and "The Iron Wall". He uncovered the whole sorry history of Zionist appeasement of anti-Semitism and their willingness to make deals with Nazis and Fascists. Black's book came out in 1984 around the same time as Brenner first book.
It's well written and well documented, but what is really impressive is how powerful the anti-Nazi boycott actually was. Six weeks after Hitler became Chancellor thousands of war veterans marched down the streets of New York City demanding a boycott of German goods and were received by the mayor. A few weeks later 20,000 people filled Madison Square Garden and an estimated 35,000 more surrounded it, demanding an end to anti-Jewish attacks in Germany. Boycotts began around the world from Poland to Egypt.
And who came throw to a cold wet blanket on all this? The Zionists. They made a deal with the Nazis in which German Jewish money was used to buy German goods which Zionists in Palestine sold in the Middle East as a way of building up Palestine and partially compensating German Jews for Nazi theft of their wealth. The Zionists scabbed on the boycott and broke it.
This betrayal of the Jews by this maneuver has already been exposed by Brenner and others. The Zionist answer (and Edwin Black agrees) was that German Jewry was a lost cause and the best that could be done was to get Jewish money and refugees out of Germany. But was it? Could the boycott have succeeded?
The question is not just of historical curiosity, a what if? It's important now when we work to use the boycott to oppose Israeli apartheid. How strong can a boycott be? What can it accomplish?
Read the rest of Stan's important article at The Struggle
Attacks against Palestinian farmers by Israeli settlers have been on the rise since the olive harvest began in October.
"Cultivating our land is an act of steadfastness and peaceful resistance. Helping has always been a part of our culture and it is slowly being depleted. We are trying to revive it through acts like these."
- Mahmoud Hriebat, Ramallah resident
By Dalia Hatuqa 28 Oct 2012 12:49
Al-Lubban Ash-Sharqiya, West Bank - With a canvas tarp and a bucket in tow, the Daraghmehs surround one of the many olive trees dotting the family’s small parcel of land, plucking the green fruit in the early morning hours. For this Palestinian family of seven, the olive harvest has become a seasonal ritual passed down from one generation to the next.
Perched on one of its branches, 17-year-old Jalal freed a handful of olives and dropped them onto the tarp, each making a thumping sound as it hit the earth. The day moves by quietly. But the family said the serenity marking this fall morning in the village of Al-Lubban Ash-Sharqiya is an anomaly. For weeks on end, Khalid Daraghmeh, the family’s patriarch, and his eldest son, Jamal, have been in and out of Israeli prisons, following a series of attacks by Israeli settlers.
“We have been beaten and wrestled to the ground by settlers on numerous occasions,” said Khalid Daraghmeh, also known as Abu Jamal. “When they come, they don’t spare us or the plants or animals.” Abu Jamal said the settlers have thus far killed four of his dogs, uprooted 350 seedlings, and removed the irrigation system of pipes used to water the plants. On one occasion, settlers stripped naked and dipped themselves in another well used for drinking, he said.
As Israel and the US jump to shore up the Palestinian Authority, many — if not most — Palestinians are ready to see it collapse, writes Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank
Israeli policemen detain a Palestinian protester during clashes. Israeli police, some on horseback, used stun grenades and made a number of arrests outside Jerusalem’s Old City
As protests continue throughout the occupied territories against the high cost of living, growing numbers of Palestinians are openly demanding the cancellation of the Oslo Accords.
Signed between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Israel in August 1993, the accords allowed for the creation of the autonomous Palestinian Authority (PA) under the Israeli military occupation. The Palestinians hoped the accords would eventually liberate them from Israeli domination and lead to the creation of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Local elections are on the cards, but Hamas continues to protest that it has no freedom to campaign in the West Bank, reports Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah
The Palestinian Authority (PA) is planning to hold local elections in the West Bank in mid-October despite Hamas's refusal to do likewise in the Gaza Strip.
The Fatah-dominated PA views elections as the ultimate arbiter between itself and Islamist Hamas, which is in control of the Gaza Strip. Hamas views elections as the would-be fruit of national reconciliation with Fatah.
Despite several agreements and understandings reached through active Arab -- especially Egyptian -- mediation, the two main Palestinian political groups have failed to reach a solid final agreement that would end more than five years of tension, starting soon after Hamas defeated Fatah in the 2006 general elections.
Photo credit: Vivien Sansour
BY SAM BAHOUR
Underneath much of the Middle East lies the world’s oil supply, which is pumped year-round to keep the global economy humming along. In one special place in the Middle East—better known as the Holy Land—a different type of oil reigns supreme: olive oil. In this strategic region in the Levant, Palestine has a large amount of land devoted to the olive tree; about 45% of agricultural land in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) is planted with twelve million olive trees, the vast majority of which are in the West Bank, and its valuable, healthy fruits take center stage in the political conflict between Palestinians and Israelis every harvesting season.
Land is at the core of this conflict. Israel’s military has confiscated land for illegal Israeli settlements, erected an illegal “Separation Barrier” that separates Palestinian farmers from their plantations, and has not spared Palestinian olive groves: it has uprooted olive trees as a way of punishing the population. The vast majority of Palestinian olive trees are in the West Bank, which has 739,500 dunams (184,875 acres), or 98.6% of the total, whereas, the Gaza Strip had only 11,200 dunams (2,800 acres) of olive trees, which is 1.4%. However, in the Gaza Strip, over 7,300 dunums (1,825 acres) of land along the perimeter fence with Israel, previously cultivated with olive trees, were leveled during Israeli incursions in recent years. An olive seedling can take several decades to fully mature and many of Palestine’s olive trees are hundreds of years old. The horrifying reality is that Israel has added olive trees to their campaign to ethnically cleanse Palestinians and the result is that Palestine’s golden oil is becoming scarcer and much more dangerous to harvest.
olives on branches, Palestine
The Eid Al-Fitr holiday has been bleak for Palestinians in Lebanon this year, but there are signs of hope, writes Franklin Lamb in Beirut
Pain-stricken and frustrated women hold posters depicting their jailed relatives during a protest calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails at the headquarters of the Red Cross in Gaza
Remarkably, during this last Ramadan holiday season in Lebanon designees from both the Shia Higher Islamic Shia Council and the Sunni Dar Al-Fatwa figuratively pointed their binoculars deep into the eastern sky and in almost-unheard-of unison proclaimed that the celebration of Eid Al-Fitr this year was to be on 19 August. It was a good omen for many in Lebanon that Shia and Sunni religious leaders had agreed on this important event, given the internal and external forces at work to divide further the two main denominations of Islam in the country, as well as all of Lebanon by sect, confession, geography, region, tribe, clan and neighbourhood.
It was also good news for Palestinians living in places like Finland, which these days has approximately 20 hours per day of sunlight, since many devout Muslims have very long fasts. Mercifully, a majority of Muslims far up north tend to adopt the mere 16 hours of daylight for fasting, using Mecca hours for dawn-to-dusk days without touching food or water, as well as avoiding bad thoughts or acts of incivility, as they test and renew their devotion to Islam while engaging in introspective self-criticism.
The Palestinian Authority is reverting to old oppressive tactics as its raison d'être is increasingly questioned, writes Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah
A Palestinian protester kicks a tear gas canister back at Israeli security forces during clashes at a protest against the nearby Jewish settlement of Kdumim, near Nablus; bottom: Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (c) in Amman attending the funeral of Hamas member Kamal Ghanaja who was killed in his home in Damascus
A visibly nervous Palestinian Authority (PA) has been clamping down on dissent following the cancellation earlier this week of a planned visit to Ramallah by Israel's deputy prime minister, Shaul Mofaz.
Mofaz is widely viewed here as a war criminal for his role in the killing of thousands of Palestinian civilians, including hundreds of children, especially in the Gaza Strip, while serving as chief of staff of the Israeli army.
from Electronic Intifada:
Al Jazeera investigative reporter Clayton Swisher is joined by Ali Abunimah on Al Jazeera’s The Stream to discuss Swisher’s bombshell revelations that the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat may have died of polonium poisoning.
Protests by Palestinians in Ramallah were met with swift, violent repression by Palestinian Authority forces. (Issam Rimawi / APA images)
By Eoin O'Ceallaigh
Ramallah, 8 July 2012
On Saturday, 30 June, approximately 1,000 people gathered in al-Manara square in Ramallah to protest the Palestinian Authority’s invitation to Shaul Mofaz, Israel’s deputy prime minister and an indicted war criminal, and demanding an end to negotiations with Israel.
The protest was swiftly and violently repressed by plain-clothed mukhabarat (secret police) thugs, with PA police coordination. The repression took the form of mukhabarat and police beating people with batons and metal chains, sexually assaulting and spitting in the face of female protestors, kidnapping and beating several people, including journalists, in police stations. Many were treated in the hospital for their injuries.
Read the full story at The Electronic Intifada
By Sam Bahour
Those damn Palestinians. They refuse to sit still. They just don't get it. They are unable to fathom their reality. The more outrageous their situation becomes, the more human they become. When all the powers-to-be thought that they had sufficiently battered (or bought) Palestinians into full political submission, Palestinians embarked on yet another act of terrorism—the terror of dance, music, song, and cultural celebration.
This is not just any act of humanity; it is one of global dimensions. The world had better take note.
To begin with, Israel dispossessed Palestinians of 78% of their homeland and created the world’s largest refugee population. Any Palestinian who remained in Israel was involuntarily made an Israeli citizen and the state created a system of structural discrimination, much worse than that against black South Africans before the end of Apartheid.
'Long Live the Revolution'. (via Aljazeera)
By Uri Avnery
Everybody knows by now why we are stuck in Palestine.
When God instructed Moses to plead with Pharaoh to let his people go, Moses told him that he was unfit for the job because “I am slow of speech and of a slow tongue” (Exodus 4:10).
Actually, in the Hebrew original, Moses told God that he was “heavy of the mouth and heavy of the tongue”. He should have told Him that he was also heavy of the ears. So when God told him to take his people to Canada, he took his people to Canaan, spending the prescribed 40 years – just long enough to reach Vancouver – wandering hither and thither in the Sinai desert.
So here we are, in Canaan, surrounded by Muslims.
PalFest: A celebration of the power of culture. (Activestills)
By Ayah Bashir - Gaza
Amid the focus on the economic hardships caused by Israel's ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip, it has been easy for many to overlook the fact that the territory's 1.6 million people have been kept under a cultural siege as well.
This is ironic because much international debate has emphasized the rights and wrongs of cultural boycott of Israel in the context of the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign.
For years, the Palestine Festival of Literature — PalFest — has been trying to break this siege.
PalFest began in 2008 in the West Bank, and tried its best to come to Gaza in 2009 with the clear objective of connecting international writers with Palestinian writers and audiences in Gaza. However, Israeli occupation forces denied organizers entry permits through the Erez crossing in the north of the Gaza Strip. In 2010, PalFest organizers tried again to enter Gaza via the Rafah crossing — along the Strip’s border with Egypt — but were also denied entry by the regime of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who was deposed in February 2011.
The old may die but the young will never forget.
By Ramzy Baroud
Many Palestinians remember and reference al-Nakba, also known as the Catastrophe, on May 15 every year. The event marks the expulsion of nearly a million Palestinians, while their villages were destroyed. The destruction of Palestine in 1947-48 ushered in the birth of Israel. Older generations relay the harsh and oppressive memory of their collective experience to younger Palestinians, many of whom live their own Nakbas today.
In covering al-Nakba, sympathetic Arab and other media play sad music and show black and white footage of displaced, frightened refugees. They rightly emphasize the concept of Sumud, steadfastness, as they show Palestinian of all ages holding unto the rusty keys of their homes and insisting on their right of return. Other, less sympathetic media discuss al-Nakba, if at all, as a side note – a nuisance in the Israeli narrative of a nation's supposedly miraculous birth and its progression to an idyllic oasis of democracy. What such reductionist representations often fail to show is that while al-Nakba started, it never truly finished.
I do not recall any reference to the refugees in Peace Now publications.
The [Nakba] law is actually an amendment to the Budget Foundation Law, and states that the minister of finance is entitled to reduce funds to any public institution, such as a school or university, if it commemorates "Independence Day or the day of the establishment of the state as a day of mourning..."
By Neve Gordon
I first heard about the Nakba in the late 1980s, while I was an undergraduate student of philosophy at Hebrew University. This, I believe, is a revealing fact, particularly since, as a teenager, I was a member of Peace Now and was raised in a liberal home. I grew up in the southern city of Be'er-Sheva, which is just a few kilometres from several unrecognised Bedouin villages that, today, are home to thousands of residents who were displaced in 1948. I now know that the vast majority of the Negev's Bedouin population was not as lucky, and that, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, most Bedouin either fled or were expelled from their ancestral lands to Jordan or Gaza.
How is it possible that a left-leaning Israeli teenager who was living in the Negev during the early 1980s (I graduated from high-school in 1983) had never heard the word "Nakba"?
How, in other words, is collective amnesia engendered?
By Frank Barat
Before I start, I’d like to make it clear that not all views/takes on the subject will be mentioned in this piece. I will not talk about the 'views from Mars' (actually if there is 'people' on Mars they will probably be offended by the comparison. So if you do indeed exist, please forgive me) of certain 'Palestinian People deniers' US politicians that manage to be lunatic and mainstream at the same time. The fact that those views are hardly challenged and condemned in mainstream US politics and media says a lot about the 'land of the free'.
The easiest way to define Palestinian is to say that 'a Palestinian' is either someone coming from historical Palestine, born from a Palestinian mother or a Palestinian father or someone born from a Palestinian father and mother but living outside of Palestine. A land, in its historical sense, extending from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River.
A land full of history, conflicts and occupations.
Without going too far back in history, the land of Palestine has been, throughout the 20th century, occupied by the Ottoman Empire, followed by the British (the Brits did not like the word occupation much so found a nicer name to describe it: A mandate.), the Kingdom of Jordan and Egypt. From 1948, something else happened with the creation, on top of ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages, of the State of Israel.
Palestine Telegraph) - Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren not only called the head of CBS news in an attempt to quash a report on the displacement of Palestinian Christians by the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, but he briefed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of the far right wing Likud Party on his attempt.
Here are the top ten reasons Israel’s Likud Party would have wanted to censor American television news on this occasion (and of course we don’t know all the occasions they have successfully done so):
Khader Adnan recounts his 66-day fast in Israeli jail that has made him a symbol of Palestinian resistance.
By Linah Alsaafin
Adnan's 66-day hunger strike inspired others in Israeli prison to do the same [EPA]
When Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan called his mother at 11:30pm on Tuesday night, she burst into tears. "He told me, 'Mother I am on my way home,'" she said. “For the first time in months my heart was at ease again." For Palestinians, Khader Adnan has become a symbol of resistance and steadfastness, or sumoud, after he waged a 66-day hunger strike against the Israeli prison service. He began his hunger strike immediately after his violent arrest by Israeli soldiers on December 17, 2011. He was detained under what Israel calls "administrative detention", a policy adopted from the era of the British mandate. Under administrative detention, Israel can detain a prisoner for up to six months, renewable indefinitely, without ever charging the prisoner or presenting any evidence against them.
Security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel has scuppered a national unity government and in turn Palestinian general elections, writes Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah
Hard political realities in the occupied territories seem to have dashed all hopes for organising Palestinian general elections next month, the erstwhile designated date for holding the polls according to an agreement reached in Doha between Fatah and Hamas a few months ago.
Palestinian leaders representing various political factions have described the previously designated date as "impossible" and "clearly unrealistic".
"It is obvious that we can not hold elections in May or even June. The preparations necessary for organising the elections are yet to be made," said Mustafa Barghouti, who heads the Freedom Committee set up to facilitate the reconciliation process between Fatah and Hamas.
Say it, Mr. Grass
by Stanley Heller
Grass writes "It Must Be Said"
Israeli twits go for his head
Tom Segev say it's pathetic
Netanyahu says anti-Semitic
Grass insists all nukes be inspected
So Israel wants Günter rejected
Israel, as all know, has no nukes
Those who say so: brown-shirt kooks
Grass wonders why much stained Germany
Sells subs to Israel's naval fraternity
He cries it's material for a big crime
So Zionists say he's Hitler slime
"Blood libel" say Israel diplomats
Israel bombs won't make much splat
Grass has Nobel Prize for lit
But NY Times thinks poem not fit
Don't let the screamers
Make you silent again
The tales of compulsive liars
are not reasons for massacre in Iran
Poets ** Mobilize Your Vowels and Consonants *** Defend Günter Grass
Support Grass with a poem of your own.
For full story and where to send your poem go to The Struggle
By Ramzy Baroud
Last week Marwan Barghouti, the prominent Palestinian political prisoner and Fatah leader, called on Palestinians to launch a 'large-scale popular resistance' which would 'serve the cause of our people.'
The message was widely disseminated as it coincided with Land Day, an event that has unified Palestinians since March 1976. Its meaning has morphed through the years to represent the collective grievances shared by most Palestinians, including dispossession from their land as a result of Israeli occupation.
Barghouti is also a unifying figure among Palestinians. Even at the height of the Hamas-Fatah clashes in 2007, he insisted on unity and shunned factionalism. It is no secret that Barghouti is still a very popular figure in Fatah, to the displeasure of various Fatah leaders, not least Mahmoud Abbas, who heads both the Palestinian Authority and Fatah.. Throughout its indirect prisoners exchange talks with Israel, Hamas insisted on Barghouti’s release. Israel, which had officially charged and imprisoned Barghouti in 2004 for five alleged counts of murder – but more likely because of his leading role in the Second Palestinian Intifada - insisted otherwise.
By Gulamhusein Abba
“It is all very well for us, sitting in the comfort and security of our homes, to be purists. We do not live with drones flying over our heads 24/7,we do not experience any difficulty travelling from one place to another, we do not live in fear of bombs falling on our homes.”
“Neither I nor the talking heads nor the pundits and pen pushers and keyboard warriors operating from the comfort and security of their homes, nor the Finkelsteins of this world, nor anyone else can tell the Palestinians what they should do or not do. It is for them to decide how to shape their destiny.”
Dr. Norman Finkelstein
UPDATE: This article was sent to Dr. Norman Finkelstein with a request that if there be any statement, argument, belief attributed to him in the article to be untrue or incorrect, he should let me know. He has responded and made only the following clarifications:
He has stated: “I am not aware of any authoritative statements by jurists or legal bodies that equate Israeli policies vis-a-vis its own Palestinian-Israeli citizens as constituting Apartheid. No sane person denies the discriminatory nature and policies of the Israeli state, but Apartheid under the Rome Statutes constitutes a ‘crime against humanity’, and so it requires crossing a very high threshold before one equates a State's discriminatory policies with Apartheid.”
With regard to my suggesting that he urges the Palestinians to accept a two state solution and agree to swap about 1.9 per cent of existing West Bank for a land equal in size and value, he has stated categorically: “I do not believe that Palestinians should accept anything less than the full 100% of their territory.”
The article refers to a map he showed at the lectures with the 1.9 percent of West Bank that was being asked for a land swap. The implication was that this was a map drawn up by Finkelstein. With regard to this he has clarified that the map was actually a map that had been presented by the Palestinians in 2008.
About Palestinians recognizing Israel, while not denying what he said at the lectures that Israel was not entitled to insist on the Palestinians recognizing its right to exist as a state, much less entitled to insist that they recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, he has stated, “If one wants to anchor a resolution of the conflict in international law, I do not agree that the decision is the Palestinians to make whether or not they recognize Israel. The law is the law; and according to the law Israel is a member state of the United Nations and has the same rights and duties as any other state.”
It must be emphasized that the purpose of this article is neither to endorse or reject any of the statements, claims, arguments, beliefs, suggestions presented by Dr. Finkelstein in his recent UK lectures but merely to present a true and correct picture of what was said.
Our land, our soil. Despoiled, scarred, wounded .. (Activestills)
By Stephen Williams
We climbed the hill at Al Khader, overlooking Bethlehem, and marvelled at the view of the city and, to our right, the extensive Israeli settlement of Gilo.
Reaching the summit, Mohammed and I paused. Ahead was the building-site that marked the progress of the Annexation Wall; the scarred landscape, the bulldozers, the watchtower, the fences. A hundred metres away was a Palestinian house hemmed in on three sides by the worksite; for its inhabitants, life would never be the same. Mohammed was staring at the ugliness with infinite sadness.
“This is our land,” he said. “Part of me is lost.”
Each stolen duram, each burnt olive grove , every racially-segregated road, each fence, barrier, wall cutting through the landscape denying access to crops, dividing families, each scar on the landscape is mirrored by the scar on the soul of a Palestinian.
Haneen Zoabi, an MK from the Balad party, speaks to Elsa Rassbach about Land Day and her relationship as a Palestinian to Zionism and citizenship.
By Elsa Rassbach
Since the 1980s, Palestinians have marked every March 30 with protests to celebrate Land Day. The day commemorates the first widespread struggle of Arab Israelis against processes of land confiscation intended to create Jewish majorities in certain communities. The marches and general strikes began in the Galilee in 1976, and resulted in the killings of six unarmed Arab citizens of Israel. Solidarity protests spread to the occupied West Bank, Gaza and the refugee camps in Lebanon. Since then, the day has marked the first common struggle for a Palestinian national cause following the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, an event Palestinians call the Nakba. This year on Land Day, worldwide Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activities will take place against Israeli policies, as well as the Global March to Jerusalem, which will call attention to the continuing Judaization and ethnic cleansing in the city that was supposed to be the multi-ethnic, multi-religious capital of a future Palestinian state.
Haneen Zoabi, 43, became a Knesset member in 2009, as the first Palestinian woman elected on an Arab party’s list. She is a member of the Balad party, which seeks to transform Israel into a democracy for all of its citizens, irrespective of national, ethnic or religious identity. Zoabi was born in Nazareth to a Muslim family. In 2010, she participated in the Gaza flotilla on board the Mavi Marmara. I spoke with her recently by Skype.
What does Land Day mean to you?
To me, Land Day is a day of ongoing and a continuous struggle around the issue of “land property.” This is still the crucial issue between us and the state. The core of the Zionist project is a continuous stealing of land from the Palestinians and transferring it to the Israeli Jews. Renaming the places, the junctions, the villages, the streets, and giving Jewish names to the landscape is part of this “confiscation.” It’s a way to steal from us and confiscate our historical relation with our homeland. This is the meaning of Ariel Sharon’s famous statement in the Knesset in 2002 when he said that the Palestinians inside Israel, whom he called “Israeli Arabs,” in effect have only temporary “rights in the land,” the land not yet confiscated, but “all the rights over the Land of Israel are Jewish rights.”
During the 63 years since 1948, Israel has confiscated 85 percent of our land and turned it over to the exclusive use of the Jews. It has developed and built 1,000 towns, cities and villages, all of them only for the Jews. And zero for the Palestinians. We live now on 2 percent of our land. We don’t even have permission to build our own houses on our own land and thus have no rights to use our land that hasn’t been confiscated.
In his trip to Washington, Israel's premier acted more like the US president than his host, Barack Obama, writes Khaled Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem
Obama meets with Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington
The hypocrisy was highlighted when Obama bestowed the Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honour, on Israeli President Shimon Peres.
But Peres is a war criminal. In 1996, as prime minister following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, he ordered the Israeli army to bombard a UN peacekeeping force headquarters in Southern Lebanon where hundreds of Lebanese civilians had sought refuge from Israel's bombing of their villages. The bombardment, which according to the UN was carried out deliberately and with forethought, killed over 100 civilians, mostly children and women.
Despite Barack Obama's desperate efforts to retain a semblance of American national dignity in the face of encroaching Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, it seems that the latter succeeded in getting most if not all of what he wanted from a visibly insecure president who appears convinced that it will be hard for him to stay in the White House without grovelling at Israel's feet.
Netanyahu went to Washington in a pugnacious, even insolent mood, to achieve two main goals: first, to cajole and if necessary bully the Obama administration to take more proactive measures against Iran; second, to see to it that the Palestinian issue is put on the back burner for many months, if not years, to come.
As expected, Netanyahu praised the wide-ranging sanctions imposed so far on Iran. However, he told his host that Israel was her own master. His unspoken meaning was, "If you don't bomb Iran, we will."
Hamas might be reinventing itself. (Via Aljazeera)
By Ramzy Baroud
Despite all of Hamas' assurances to the contrary, a defining struggle is taking place within the Palestinian Islamic movement. The outcome of this struggle – which is still confined to polite political disagreements and occasional intellectual tussle – is likely to change Hamas’ outlook, if not fundamentally alter its position within a quickly changing Arab political landscape.
The current Hamas is already different from the one initially set up by a local Gaza leadership in December 1987 in response to the first Palestinian uprising. One of the very first statements circulated by their newly established ‘military wing’ (masked men armed with wooden clubs and cans of spray paint) expressed the nature of that political era:
“What has happened to you, O rulers of Egypt? Were you asleep in the period of the treaty of shame and surrender, the Camp David treaty? Has your national zealousness died and your pride ran out while the Zionists daily perpetrate grave and base crimes against the people and the children?”
Although the power discrepancy between Israel and the Palestinians has remained largely unchanged, Hamas has morphed from a local Palestinian branch of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood into a tour de force within Palestinian society. It has also become an important regional player, long designated by the US and Israel as a member of the radical camp in the Middle East (the other members being Iran, Syria and Hezbollah). While Iran and Syria were demonized for aiding and enabling Palestinian and Lebanese resistance to Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah successfully resisted Israel’s military adventures in Gaza and Lebanon.
By Sam Bahour
The human body is an amazing creation. It's not only the most complex system known to mankind, but it embodies within it signals that tell its owner that something has gone wrong. A similar signaling system exists in political bodies. Those tasked with reading the signals--be they individuals, physicians or politicians--can choose to consciously ignore the warning signs. The Middle East peace process between Palestinians and Israelis has been emitting SOS signals for decades, but only recently are those signals being received and analyzed for what they are transmitting--a clear and irreversible message that the entire paradigm of "two states for two peoples" has collapsed.
Falk: I salute the steadfastness of the Palestinian people.
Interviewed by Yousef M. Aljamal
(Richard Falk is Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has authored and edited numerous publications spanning a period of five decades, most recently editing the volume, International Law and the Third World: Reshaping Justice - Routledge, 2008. He is currently serving his third year of a six year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights.)
How and why did you get involved in Palestinian Activism?
I suppose my interest in the Palestinian struggle is rooted in my professional identity as an international law teacher and writer, and my personal identification with the victims of the strong and abused. My friendships with Edward Said and Eqbal Ahmad also pushed my professional support for the Palestinian struggle for justice in the direction of activism. And finally, my way of thinking about being a Jew led me to affirm the call for justice by Old Testament prophets. I was never a religious Jew in an institutional sense and never supported the Zionist project.
What is the legal status of the Palestinian territories?
The overwhelming international consensus is that the Palestinian territories are ‘occupied territories’ that are subject to administration by Israel as the occupier, but in accord with the Fourth Geneva Convention and the First Additional Protocol of 1977. This occupation that has lasted since 1967 goes beyond what is envisioned by international humanitarian law, and in the West Bank has in many aspects evolved into a form of unlawful de facto annexation, and in East Jerusalem this development is explicitly claimed by Israel through its effort to annex the part of the city occupied in 1967. Gaza, experiencing an unlawful blockade since mid-2007, continues to be occupied and criminally administered by Israel, but it has not experienced either de facto annexation or been the subject of Israel policies of either ethnic cleansing or territorial claims.
MaanImages/ Bilin popular committee
Santa Clauses with Palestinian flags rallied against Israel's wall in the occupied West Bank on Saturday, Dec. 23, ahead of Christmas. Soldiers dispersed the protest with tear gas.
At the rally, Palestinians called for national unity, resistance and freedom for prisoners.
The Bilin popular committee appealed to the Palestinian and Egyptian leaderships in addition to human rights organizations to work on freeing female detainees who remain in Israeli jails.
The Arab Spring is an opportunity to mend fortunes by rebranding Palestinian politics for statehood and good governance.
If 'a Palestinian state sees the light of day' over the next decade, 'Cairo will have a hand in it' [GALLO/GETTY]
On a "win-loss" scale, Hamas features more as amongst the "winners" not "losers" of the Arab Spring. Ismail Haniyeh's current diplomacy "shuttle" around several Arab capitals is designed, amongst other things, as a declaratory policy embracing the Arab Spring.
However, the embrace remains a little ill-defined around the edge, and faces many challenges.
The Arab Spring, like that "sudden" light, creating a desperately needed opening in a tunnelled Palestinian cause, illuminating the path for Haniyeh, amongst other chiefs of the Palestinian polity, including Fatah.
Egypt's newly empowered Muslim Brotherhood (EMB), through free and fair elections, will stamp its diplomacy with more than the rhetorical championing of the Palestinian cause. Primarily, and this is the first significance of Haniyeh's visist to Cairo, the Palestinian cause will cease to be treated as a security file. It is a political file. This is the single most important pillar of Mubarak's legacy that is being smashed to smithereens.
Haniyeh lands in Cairo around the same time in December three years ago when a buoyant Tzipi Livni more or less declared the war on Gaza with total indifference from Mubarak's ousted Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu al-Ghait in December 2008. Maybe not by design, but the timing of Haniyeh's visit is not without political symbolism.
No one can predict when Livni will get back to Cairo. But what is certain: Haniyeh's visit will not be his last to Egypt's capital.
Funeral of Mustafa Tamimi, Nabi Salih, West Bank. (Activestills)
By Ramzy Baroud
Mustafa Tamimi was a 28-year-old resident of the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. His meticulously trimmed beard served as the centerpiece of his handsome face.
In December 2009, when an Israeli soldier shot him from a short distance with a tear gas canister, half of Mustafa’s face went missing. More soldiers laughed as his horrified family tried to accompany him to a nearby hospital, according to activists present at the scene. Only the mother was finally able to obtain a special permit from the Israeli military, which allowed her to be with her son.
Mustafa’s crime? He, along with Palestinian, Israeli and international peace activists, protested the besiegement of Nabi Saleh by the illegal Jewish settlement of Halamish. Halamish has existed since 1977 and drastically grown in size and population ever since, taking over privately-owned Palestinian land. As of late, Nabi Saleh has been struggling for mere survival as its fresh water spring has also been seized by settlers under the watchful eye of the Israeli army.
As Fatah and Hamas bury some of their differences, Tel Aviv says the move is a step back towards terror
By Matthew Kalman
Saturday, 24 December 2011
A breakthrough agreement between Fatah, Hamas and other radical groups that could unify all Palestinian factions under a single political umbrella was yesterday greeted with scorn by Israeli officials, who said it marked a step away from peace and back towards terror.
Following talks in Cairo with the Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, and the Islamic Jihad leader, Ramadan Shallah, the Palestinian President and leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, Mahmoud Abbas, announced that a joint committee with representatives of all the groups would meet in Amman on 12 January to prepare for elections to the Palestine National Council, the ruling plenary body of the PLO.
It may take years to convene the PNC, but presidential and parliamentary elections in the Palestinian Authority have tentatively been set for May.
Intifada. (Art: Sauda Camo)
By Mohammed ALNadi - Gaza
As I write this, I'm listening to 'Ween el Malayeen' song, meaning 'where are the millions', a revolutionary song which used to stir the patriotic emotions inside millions of raging Arabs at the time of the first Intifada. This song is the Intifada's trademark which is reminiscent of vivid bittersweet memories of Palestinians in their most courageous images. It is associated with the unarmed, bare-chested Palestinian who stood firmly catapulting his stone at the Israeli killing machine, and who dared to grab the fuming tear gas grenade with his bare hands and throw it back at the Israeli soldier.
The first Palestinian Intifada, or uprising, began 24 years ago, as an accumulative result of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1967, and its mounting brutal, repressive actions against Palestinians in all the occupied territories.
Every year on December 8, Palestinians all over the world commemorate this remarkably significant event in the history of Palestinian armed resistance. For them, it is one of the most honorable memories of which we are most proud, because it embodies the Palestinian unified spirit of defiance and perseverance against oppression and injustice.
NEW YORK (Ma'an) -- Hamas has ordered the departure of nearly all its staff at its Damascus headquarters by next week following pressure from Turkey and Qatar, a US newspaper reported Wednesday.
The Wall Street Journal quoted a Hamas official saying the two regional US allies were trying to isolate Syrian President Bashar Assad amid an eight-month crackdown on antiregime protests.
Hamas will establish new headquarters in Cairo and Qatar to replace its operations in Syria, the official told the Journal, apparently on the condition of anonymity.
Allegiance must not lie with any particular faction. (Latuff)
By Ramzy Baroud
The Palestinian Uprising or Intifada of 1987 remains the single most significant triumph of popular mobilization in Palestinian history.
The First Intifada, as it is commonly known, had, once and for all, placed the Palestinian people as a collective on the political map of a region that previously had room only for Israeli Merkava tanks and US ‘peace envoys’. The Arab body politic had been led by mostly powerless leaders, and Palestinian factions with multiple allegiances were led by men with numerous nom de guerres.
Not discounting the fact that some of the Palestinian factions had, in fact, contributed to the long and arduous struggle for Palestinian freedom, a chasm had long existed between the larger mass of the Palestinian people and those who claimed to represent them.
GENEVA – United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, will undertake a fact-finding mission to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory from 6 to 18 December 2011, in what will be the first visit by the mandate.
“During my mission, I will meet with Government officials from both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, as well as with human rights defenders, journalists and media professionals, individuals and UN agencies to gather first-hand information on the situation of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of the media,” said the independent expert.
“The main purpose of this mission,” Mr. La Rue added, “is to contribute, through collaborative engagement with all interlocutors, to enhance the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression for all.”
The Special Rapporteur will visit the occupied Palestinian territory from 6 to 11 December, and Israel from 12 to 17 December. He plans to visit Tel Aviv, the Negev, Ramallah, Gaza and other places in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
A press conference will be held at 15h00 on 18 December 2011 at the American Colony Hotel (Pacha room, One Louis Vincent Street, Jerusalem).
The Special Rapporteur will present his findings and recommendations in his report to the Human Rights Council in June 2012.
Frank La Rue was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in August 2008 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. As Special Rapporteur, he is independent from any Government or organization and serves in his individual capacity.
For further information on the Special Rapporteur’s mandate, log on to: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/opinion/index.htm
OHCHR Country Page – Occupied Palestinian Territories: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/MENARegion/Pages/PSIndex.aspx
OHCHR Country Page – Israel: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/ILIndex.aspx
On the 15th of November, six Palestinian activists: Nadeem Al-Sharbate, Huwaida Arraf, Dr. Mazin Qumsieyeh, Fadi Qura'an, Basel Al-Araj, and Badee' Dwaik, boarded a segregated Israeli bus used by Israeli settlers to Jerusalem in an attempt to highlight the regime of discrimination on freedom of movement in place in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the fact that Palestinians cannot access Jerusalem freely. After boarding the bus without incidents, the bus was stopped at the Hizme checkpoint, where all the activists were arrested and violently forcibly removed from the bus.
by Alan Hart
In advance of the formal burial of the Palestinian Authority’s bid for state recognition at the UN, BBC Radio 4′s flagship Today programme was on the right track. In his introduction to a quite revealing report, presenter John Humphrys said reporter Kevin Connolly had gone to Israel to find out “what hopes there are, if any, for the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
Among those Connolly interviewed were Akiva Eldar, the Ha’aretz columnist who has been a constant critic of Israel’s settlement policy. He said. “The settlers have won and Israel has lost… Israel must now live with the consequences.”
Zahhar says Hamas will not negotiate with Israel (MaanImages/Wissam Nassar)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas will not become a carbon copy of rivals Fatah after their reconciliation deal, but welcomes the prospect of Palestinian elections, senior party official Mahmoud Zahhar said Saturday.
Hamas will not negotiate with Israel, Zahhar said in an Eid al-Adha celebration in Gaza City.
The May deal between Hamas and Fatah sought to end years of animosity between the parties that split Palestinians into rival administrations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
A Response to Michael Neumann
by JONATHAN COOK
This is at least the third time in the past four years that philosophy professor Michael Neumann has used these pages to lambast the supporters of a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. On each occasion he has offered a little more insight into why he so vehemently objects to what he terms the “delusions” of those who oppose – or, at least, gave up on – the two-state solution.
In his most recent essay, Neumann suggests that his previous reluctance to be more forthright was motivated by “politeness”. Well, I for one wish the professor had been franker from the outset. It might have saved us a lot of time and effort.
Even though I have identified myself as a supporter of the one-state solution, I find much to agree with in what Neumann writes on this occasion. Like him, I do not believe that a particular solution, or resolution, will occur simply because the Palestinians or their wellwishers make a good moral case for it. Success for the Palestinians will come when a wide array of regional developments force Israel to conclude that its current behaviour is untenable.
Palestinian freedom is non-negotiable. (FreeGaza.org)
(The following is a condensed version of Susan Abulhawa's speech at the Al-Awda Center grand opening)
By Susan Abulhawa
Summary: Susan Abulhawa presents an argument to abandon all negotiations with Israel and to abandon calls for the One State and Two State solutions; and in fact, to abandon academic debates on a political construct in favor of embracing the basic calls of Palestinian civil society for essential human rights. This strategy includes the need for a consensus and unified call originating from Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and agreed upon with the various Palestinian communities that make up the Palestinian Nation, including: Palestinians of the West Bank, Jerusalem, Gaza, refugee camps outside of Palestine, the worldwide Diaspora and Palestinians of 1948. She argues that the greatest and unstoppable power available to Palestinians lies in their roots, the moral authority of their struggle for freedom. Harnessing that power, to which Israel has no real defenses, is the most practical path forward and it is rests on the need for 1) a unified call for freedom and the full range of human rights and dignities 2) a point of synergy among the multitude of internal and external movements which include direct action and solidarity activities inside Palestine and around the world and 3) sustained mobilization from the bottom up, hopefully with the assistance of the Palestinian Authority, but at least without interference from them.
To try to comprehend the PA’s UN bid for statehood and to figure out what the ramifications are on many fronts, it behooves us to take a look at history because, this is, after all, not the first time that a Palestinian state was formally declared. I know there are legal differences between the declaration of state in the 1980s and the current application for recognition, but for all intents and purposes, they are both attempts to achieve statehood by seeking international recognition, which, I feel, is the wrong approach for our struggle at this moment in history and, in my opinion is also probably a cynically calculated move that has little to do with actually achieving statehood.
Hamas, not Fatah, is gaining popularity in the West Bank after the deal with Israel to release Palestinian prisoners
By Ian Black
Mahmoud Abbas addresses newly released Palestinian prisoners in Ramallah. Photograph: Abed Omar Qusini/Reuters
Palestinians in the West Bank are celebrating the release of the hundreds of prisoners exchanged for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, but the political implications of the unprecedented deal look like bad news for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas, who heads the Palestinian Authority as well as the PLO and its main group, Fatah, addressed a rally in Ramallah – unusually, with Sheikh Hassan Yousef, Hamas's leader in the West Bank – in a ceremony which included laying a wreath at Yasser Arafat's tomb.
"Your efforts have not been in vain," he told a crowd of thousands, which included 133 of the freed prisoners. "You have sacrificed, fought and paid the price. You will see the results of your struggle by the inception of a free and independent Palestinian state whose capital is Jerusalem."
According to Nixon, an Israeli official asked an Egyptian general convalescing in hospital, “We have defeated you Arabs three times (1948, 1967 & 1973) why to you continue to resist us?” The Egyptian replied, "You may have defeated us three times, and you may defeat us 11 times. But the 12th time we will win and Palestine will be liberated."
By Franklin Lamb
09 October, 2011
Beirut: Three weeks after being named by President Obama in January 2009 as the 19th Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and during his first day on the job which was February 12, 2009, Leon Panetta, now US Secretary of Defense, signed off on a March 2009 “eyes only” CIA Report that had just been completed by his new agency.
As reported at the time, the CIA Report predicted the demise of Israel within 20 years, if present political trends in the region continued. The CIA intelligence analysts concluded that it was unlikely that Israeli leaders would grant even minimal concessions in order to achieve a settlement with their neighbors, which comprise increasingly disillusioned and rapidly growing dignity and justice seeking populations.
The CIA Report noted that Israeli officials felt emboldened in taking Palestinian land by the myriad support Israel was receiving from the leadership of Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan and three other Arab leaders.
Israel and its two most powerful US lobbies, the US Congress and AIPAC, quickly squelched the 2009 Report and only seven copies were eventually acknowledged, one by AIPAC and the others by staffers of select supporters of Israel on key Congressional Committees.
The Palestinian president is caught between the anvil of domestic public opinion and the hammer of US economic sanctions as the UN bid for recognition proceeds, writes Saleh Al-Naami
Omar did not expect his family to be so distraught and despondent when he came home Friday to his home in the town of Al-Khedr on the outskirts of Bethlehem. His father's health took a sharp blow after occupation forces seized large sections of family land to expand the Jewish settlement of Nogdeem, where Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman lives. Omar, a university student and an activist in Al-Shebiba movement, the on-campus student arm of Fatah, was one of thousands of Palestinians who welcomed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas upon his return from New York, in an expression of support of what he said in his speech to the UN General Assembly.
Following Abbas's celebrated speech in New York, Palestinians wonder whether international support in the UN will help them attain freedom and national rights, writes Khaled Amayreh
A Palestinian protester throws back a gas canister, previously fired by Israeli troops during a demonstration against the expansion of the Jewish settlement of Halamish, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh
Palestinians are quickly returning to reality following the brief euphoria generated by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas's landmark speech at the United Nations on 23 September.
PA officials, who have been overenthusiastic about the creation of an international momentum that would dramatically expedite Palestinian statehood, are now realising that reality is more complex than they previously thought.
This is not to say that Palestinians, including the PA, are having second thoughts about the PA bid to gain UN membership for a prospective state. Far from it, there is a great consensus among Palestinians that Abbas's speech was positive, if not impressive.
However, there is renewed realisation that speeches alone, even if eloquent, alone don't produce statehood and that a lot of struggle, bitterness, as well as sacrifices are still required to convince the world of the long-overdue entitlement of Palestinian statehood, independence and freedom.
By Rashid Khalidi
September 30, 2011
The National Interest
As the dust settles after last week’s “showdown” at the United Nations over the Palestinian application for membership, several initial conclusions can be drawn.
First, the United States now is thoroughly out of touch with most of the international community when it comes to Palestine and Israel. It has positioned itself to the right of the most right-wing, pro-settler government in Israeli history. This was reflected in the joyful reception of President Obama’s speech by Israeli prime minister Netanyahu and his right-wing foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, as well as in the Israel lobby’s satisfied response to Obama’s caving in to Israeli demands all along the line.
In an almost surreal display of pandering, Republican presidential candidates—notably Texas governor Rick Perry—disparaged the president for “appeasing” the Palestinians and thereby betraying Israel. This rhetoric came despite the fact that Obama single-handedly sabotaged the Palestinians’ UN bid while publicly lecturing them and the entire General Assembly on the suffering of Israelis without so much as a word acknowledging Israeli occupation, violence and settlements—not to mention the Palestinian suffering caused by these American-supported policies. Obama's domestic electioneering in the face of a historic demand by the long-suffering Palestinians was not lost on the world. Taken in the context of the Arab Spring and its wave of popular demands for human and political rights, it means that the United States has lost all credibility as an honest broker in this conflict.
New leaders will spurn two states
By Jonathan Cook
Monday, September 26, 2011
Amid the enthusiastic applause in New York and the celebrations in Ramallah, it was easy to believe -- if only a for minute -- that, after decades of obstruction by Israel and the United States, a Palestinian state might finally be pulled out of the United Nations hat. Will the world’s conscience be midwife to a new era ending Israel's occupation of the Palestinians?
It seems not.
The Palestinian application, handed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon last week, has now disappeared from view -- for weeks, it seems -- while the United States and Israel devise a face-saving formula to kill it in the Security Council. Behind the scenes, the pair are strong-arming the Council’s members to block Palestinian statehood without the need for the US to cast its threatened veto.
Whether or not President Barack Obama wields the knife with his own hand, no one is under any illusion that Washington and Israel are responsible for the formal demise of the peace process. In revealing to the world its hypocrisy on the Middle East, the US has ensured both that the Arab publics are infuriated and that the Palestinians will jump ship on the two-state solution.
But there was one significant victory at the UN for Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority, even if it was not the one he sought. He will not achieve statehood for his people at the world body, but he has fatally discredited the US as the arbiter of a Middle East peace.
Palestinians celebrate UN speech by president as he delivers membership request to chief of world body.
The Palestine 194 campaign says it has the support of 125 countries - more than a majority of world states [EPA]
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has handed over a historic request to UN chief Ban Ki-moon asking the United Nations to admit the state of Palestine as a full member.
The Palestinian leader won huge applause and a standing ovation on Friday from some of the assembly as he entered the hall before beginning his speech.
Abbas said he was ready to return to the negotiations, saying he did not want to isolate or delegitimize Israel.
"Here I declare that the Palestine Liberation Organization is ready to return immediately to the negotiating table on the basis of the adopted terms of reference ... and a complete cessation of settlement activities," he told the UN General Assembly.
Palestinian students hold flags as they arrive to deliver letters to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon through the head of the UN office in Ramallah on Sept. 20. [Reuters/Mohamad Torokman]
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Seven countries in the Security Council are committed to supporting Palestine's bid for membership in the UN, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad Malki said Tuesday.
Malki told Voice of Palestine radio that Gabon, a non-permanent member, resolved to support the decision, according to Wafa, the official PA news agency based in Ramallah.
Malki added that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation pledged to talk to Turkey, Serbia, Nigeria, and Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to guarantee the nine votes needed to recommend Palestine's membership.
Security Council resolutions need nine votes from the 15-nation body to pass, but the United States has already said it will veto the measure, which would prevent its passage.
Malki told reporters in New York he was confident the Palestinians would muster nine votes.
Palestinians are fed up with symbolic victories. (UN Photo/file)
By Ramzy Baroud
When Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas decided to go to the United Nations to request the admission of Palestine as a full member, he appeared to have had an epiphany. Had he finally realized that for the past two decades he and his party, Fatah, have gone down a road to nowhere?
That Israel was only interested in him as a conduit to achieve its colonial endeavor in the remaining 22 percent of historical Palestine? That his national project — predicated on the ever elusive “peace process” — achieved neither peace nor justice?
Abbas claims to be serious this time. Despite all US attempts at intimidation (for example, by threatening to withhold funds), and despite the intensifying of Israeli tactics (including the further arming of illegal Jewish settlers to combat possible Palestinian mobilization in the West Bank), Abbas simply could not be persuaded against seeking a UN membership this September.
“We are going to the Security Council. We need to have full membership in the United Nations... we need a state, and we need a seat at the UN,” Abbas told Palestinians in a televised speech on Sept. 16.
By Nick Nash
Dotted on a barren hillside, a group of flowers live,
Spread in bright red families, they are always active.
In the cold of winter they rise to life, defying every odd,
And remain in place, for the native race, and those from far abroad.
For time untold, the group had lived in the sprawling meadow,
Outside of ancient town Bil'in, from a time quite long ago.
Spread out among the many valleys, they adopted every village,
The family living near Bil'in, felt their role a privilege.
In December dawns the darkest month, with nights both dark and cold,
And when hope among their village fades, they take a step that's bold.
To remind the humans whom they watch over, to never give up love,
They slowly change to full crimson shade, with blessings from above.
And then the coming of warming spring, they slowly fade from sight,
As those who have been slumbering, react to God's great light.
New life comes forth with diversity, and there's great warmth in the air,
And the new life takes on the timeless task of balancing despair.
The anemones then fade to sleep, while others take their place,
In a cycle that is old as time, and known by the native race.
While asleep, they dream great dreams, of a world filled with peace,
Where nations have stopped useless wars, with hostilities that cease.
The air is clear, the water pure, and no one lacks for food,
Schools flourish with eager students, each in a joyful mood.
A sturdy home and the needs of life, are enjoyed by every family,
And life moves on free from strife, with no need to be angry.
A dream you say, that will never happen, but are you really sure?
Consider the life of the anemone, and the weather they endure.
During winter nights, they spring to life, awaking from their dream,
When others need to hibernate, awaiting spring's sunbeam.
Next time you pass the family, that chose to be your friends,
Send a thought of love to them, as they truly are Godsends.
For outside of sight and bathed in light, Jibril looks on with love,
His messages to those below have arrived on wings of dove.
For now, the anemones sleep and dream, of a world filled with light,
And in due time they will spring to life, bathed in winter's moonlight.
Until that time, try to hold the line, and seek strength in your prayers,
For understand the angels and the flowers work in pairs.
- Nick Nash contributed this poem to PalestineChronicle.com.
Israeli guns and degrading treatment did not deter us. (FreeGaza)
By Audrey Bomse, Legal Adviser to the Free Gaza Movement
Almost all the factual findings, as well as the legal analysis and conclusions of the recently leaked UN Secretary General’s Panel of Inquiry into the 'Flotilla Incident' on May 31, 2010 (Palmer/Uribe Panel) directly contradict those of an earlier UN report of the Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission (FFM). Its findings and conclusions also contradict every statement Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon has made about Gaza, the Goldstone report, and statements by other international agencies, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
For this reason, until a dispositive ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is issued on the legality of Israel’s closure of Gaza, including its naval blockade, and therefore on the lawfulness of Israel’s attack on the Mavi Marmara and other flotilla vessels, the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the Palmer/Uribe Panel deserve no deference. States need not heed its recommendation to “dissuade” their citizens from trying to break the blockade. The Free Gaza Movement and other civil society initiatives to challenge Israel’s closure of Gaza certainly do not intend to abandon our mission; our boats will sail again.
The Electronic Intifada
Will Palestine bury the two-state solution at the UN once and for all? (Mohamad Torokman/MaanImages)
By Ilan Pappe
We are all going to be invited to the funeral of the two-state solution if and when the UN General Assembly announces the acceptance of Palestine as a member state.
The support of the vast majority of the organization’s members would complete a cycle that began in 1967 and which granted the ill-advised two-state solution the backing of every powerful and less powerful actor on the international and regional stages.
Even inside Israel, the support engulfed eventually the right as well as the left and center of Zionist politics. And yet despite the previous and future support, everybody inside and outside Palestine seems to concede that the occupation will continue and that even in the best of all scenarios, there will be a greater and racist Israel next to a fragmented and useless bantustan.
The charade will end in September or October — when the Palestinian Authority plans to submit its request for UN membership as a full member — in one of two ways.
Leaked diplomatic despatches highlight efforts by army to use use force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank.
The Israeli army chief is quoted as threatening to be 'more assertive' in dealing with West Bank demonstrations [EPA]
US government officials have been well aware of Israel's harsh methods of dealing with peaceful protests in the occupied Palestinian territory of West Bank for quite some time, according to a recently leaked WikiLeaks diplomatic cable.
A cable from the embassy in Tel Aviv from February 16, 2010, titled "IDF plans harsher methods with West Bank demonstrations", reveals a premeditated effort by the Israeli army to use force against peaceful demonstrators in the West Bank.
In the cable, the US ambassador to Israel noted that government officials considered any rally as grounds for use of military force.
On 31 May 2010 at 4.26 a.m. a flotilla of six vessels was boarded and taken over by Israeli Defense Forces 72 nautical miles from land. The vessels were carrying people and humanitarian supplies. The flotilla had been directed to change course by the Israeli forces who stated that the coast of Gaza was under a naval blockade. Nine passengers lost their lives and many others were wounded as a result of the use of force during the take-over operation by Israeli forces.
The Secretary-General established the Panel of Inquiry on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident on 2 August 2010. The Panel received and reviewed reports of the detailed national investigations conducted by both Turkey and Israel. Turkey established a National Commission of Inquiry to examine the facts of the incident and its legal consequences, which provided an interim and final report to the Panel along with annexes and related material. Israel provided the report of the independent Public Commission that it had established to review whether the actions taken by the State of Israel had been compatible with international law.
The Panel reviewed these reports and further information and clarifications it received in written form and through direct meetings with Points of Contact appointed by each government. In light of the information so gathered, the Panel has examined and identified the facts, circumstances and context of the incident and considered and recommended ways of avoiding similar incidents in the future. In so doing it was not acting as a Court and was not asked to adjudicate on legal liability. Its findings and recommendations are therefore not intended to attribute any legal responsibilities. Nevertheless, the Panel hopes that its report may resolve the issues surrounding the incident and bring the matter to an end.
The Panel’s Method of Work provided that the Panel was to operate by consensus, but where, despite best efforts, it was not possible to achieve consensus, the Chair and Vice-Chair could agree on any procedural issue, finding or recommendation. This report has been adopted on the agreement of the Chair and Vice-Chair under that procedure.
Read the full report here The Palmer Report
By Ali Abunimah on Sat, 09/03/2011
Last June, as the Gaza Freedom Flotilla 2 was preparing its attempt to break the illegal Israeli siege of Gaza, many were dismayed when the Mavi Marmara was withdrawn from the flotilla. Why did this happen?
The Mavi Marmara is the Turkish-operated ship that Israel attacked on 31 May 2010 in international waters during the previous flotilla, killing 9 people and injuring dozens more.
Israel’s refusal to apologize for the attack, and to meet other Turkish demands led to yesterday’s unprecedented sanctions by the Turkish government.
In the wake of a deeply flawed, biased and non-credible UN report justifying the Israeli siege of Gaza and whitewashing the Israeli attack, Turkey has downgraded diplomatic relations with Israel to the lowest level, suspended all military agreements between the countries, and vowed to take other measures to seek justice for the victims of the Israeli attack and to challenge the Israeli siege.
Although the Mavi Marmara was operated by the independent charity IHH, it seems highly likely that the decision to withdraw from the flotilla in June was taken at the suggestion of the Turkish government. The reasons given publicly for withdrawing the ship were “technical.”
We cannot know what private communications may have taken place, but in early June Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu publicly suggested that the flotilla organizers should “rethink” their plan to break the siege by sea. Whether the decision was at the behest of the Turkish government or not, it suited its needs at the time. Why?
At the time many observers – myself included – feared that Turkey was softening its stance toward Israel and seeking to “mend fences” without Turkey’s demands being met.
The suspicions of many were encapsulated in a drawing by celebrated political cartoonist Carlos Latuff that showed Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declaring “I love Palestine” to win votes in the Turkish general election, while his shadow shakes hands with Israel.
Many were convinced that the withdrawal of the Mavi Marmara meant Turkey’s policy was no different from the abject complicity of Greece, which worked hand in glove with Israel, to prevent the remaining flotilla ships from reaching Gaza.
It is now clear that this analysis was wrong. For one thing, Turkish-Israel relations featured little in the June Turkish election campaign, and if Turkey’s stance was about winning votes, the government would presumably have announced its measures against Israel before the election rather than months afterwards.
Read the full story at Electronic Intifada
Rather than apologising for Israel's killing of nine Turkish activists, the prime minister dug in his heels.
Turkey has expelled Israel's ambassador as relations continue to deteriorate [Reuters]
It sounds crazy, but only because it is. Netanyahu's highest priority is to maintain the occupation. The settlers and the religious fanatics are his people; the Israelis of Tel Aviv and Haifa are not.
By MJ Rosenberg
Well-handled, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Rather than apologise to the Turkish government for the deaths of nine of its nationals on the Mavi Marmara, you dug in and now your ambassador to Ankara has been expelled. At this rate, the once critical Israeli-Turkish relationship will soon be finished, leaving Israel with no friends in the region except shaky Jordan.
The peace treaty with Egypt is holding, but just barely and Egypt can hardly be considered a friend anymore. Its people despise Israel and identify it with former President Mubarak, the one Egyptian relationship Israel bothered cultivating. Israel's de facto friendship with Syria will end when President Bashar al-Assad goes. He is no Zionist, but he has been a force for stability on Syria's border with Israel, and Lebanon's, too.
Once he's gone, the north will almost surely heat up, especially now that Hezbollah plays a dominant role in the Lebanese government. As for the Palestinians, Netanyahu says that if they dare to take their case to the United Nations later this month, he may declare the Oslo agreement null and void. In other words, the Palestinians will be deemed enemies of Israel. Again.
In short, Binyamin Netanyahu is very close to bringing Israel back to where it was before the Oslo agreement of 1993. There is even the strong possibility that he will take it back to where it was before the Camp David peace treaty with Egypt — with the added disaster that the relationship with Turkey (established in 1948) will also be gone.
By Chris Gunness, UNRWA Spokesman
As debate intensifies over the anticipated Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN in September, many column inches have been devoted to UNRWA, the Agency mandated by the General Assembly to offer education, health, relief and social services to Palestinian refugees until a just and lasting resolution of their plight is achieved. Some commentators have focused on neutrality issues around UNRWA, its staff, its installations and its education programs. Also, UNRWA has been accused of "perpetuating the refugee situation" and the question has been asked "why not dissolve UNRWA and hand the refugees over to UNHCR which would resettle them?"
The alleged issues around neutrality are founded on discredited myths and misunderstandings. Most important, they fail to take account of the neutrality work which the Agency undertakes. The critiques of UNRWA's alleged role as a "perpetuator of the refugee situation" fail to grasp the fact that UNRWA's work is consistent with established international refugee law and practice and that the Agency's mandate to protect and assist refugees, as exclusively granted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, will remain in effect until its parent body decides otherwise.
Indigenous Politics: From Native New England and Beyond Radio Program
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 4-4:55pm EST on WESU, Middletown, CT (88.1), USA
Listen online while the show airs: www.wesufm.org
On Tuesday's show, August 16, 2011, host Kehaulani Kauanui will be interviewing Maria LaHood, Senior Staff Attorney at the Center
for Constitutional Rights, and Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies in the Department of History at Columbia University. They will be discussing an urgent case involving the construction of the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance atop the oldest Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem and put in context vis-à-vis the indigenous Palestinian struggle under illegal occupation and settler colonialism.
In late June of this year, Israeli bulldozers entered the part of the ancient Mamilla Cemetery that remained intact to destroy and dispose of nearly 100 grave markers, both ancient and renovated. The Center for Constitutional Rights and other groups have filed a petition on behalf of the Palestinian descendants of those buried in the cemetery. Khalidi is one of those descendants, as well as author of six books, including Sowing Crisis: American Dominance and the Cold War in the Middle East (2009); The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood (2006); Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America's Perilous Path in the Middle East (2004); and Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness (1997; reissued 2010), and author of over a hundred articles on Middle Eastern history. The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This show airs on WESU on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Tuesday of each month, and is syndicated on these select stations:
WRFN, Nashville, TN; WAZU, Peoria, IL; KUCR, Riverside, CA; WPKN in Bridgeport, CT and Montauk, NY; WNJR, in Washington, PA, WETX-LP, "The independent Voice of Appalachia," which broadcasts throughout the Tri-Cities region of East Tennessee, southwest Virginia, and northwest North Carolina; WBCR-lp in Great Barrington, MA and WORT in Madison, WI.
All past episodes are archived online: www.indigenouspolitics.com.
JOIN THE FACEBOOK GROUP: "Indigenous Politics: From Native New England and Beyond - Radio Program"
The producer and host, J. Kehaulani Kauanui, is an Associate Professor of American Studies and Anthropology at Wesleyan University. She is the author of Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism
and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity
(Duke University Press, 2008). Kauanui served on the founding steering committee for the Native American and Indigenous
Studies Association and is currently serving on its inaugural council.
Posted By Daniel Levy Friday, July 22, 2011
As more information seeps out from the Quartet principals meeting held in Washington on July 11, it becomes harder not to reach the conclusion that American policy on Israel-Palestine is now being driven almost exclusively by a desire to prevent any possible U.N. vote on the matter in the Autumn. Reading the draft text proposed as a Quartet statement by the U.S. (the text is not yet public, but the authenticity of the draft described here has been reliably confirmed) and rejected by the EU, Russia, and the U.N. Secretary General entrenches that conclusion -- and worse, that the U.S. was attempting to pull something of a diplomatic fast one on the senior Quartet officials assembled. But more on that later.
First, a veritable minefield of myths that have sprung up around a possible Palestine vote at the U.N. should be debunked.
No a U.N. vote will not in practical terms deliver a sovereign Palestinian state and Israeli withdrawal and de-occupation. Nor will Israelis instantly be hauled in front of various international legal bodies as a consequence of a U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) resolution. Several other steps would have to take place subsequent to a U.N. vote for either of those things to happen and those do not flow seamlessly, one from the other.
No the U.N. Security Council or General Assembly is not an inappropriate venue for discussing or passing resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, nor does doing so contravene previous agreements signed between the parties. It is hard to imagine a more relevant or obvious matter for the U.N. to act on. One does not have to get very far in reading the charter of the U.N. to understand that U.N. member states who are signatories to that charter would be derelict in their duties if they refused to act on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Article 1 of that charter is about maintaining international peace and security; Article 2 is about the right of peoples to self-determination; and the list goes on. More specifically, when it comes to Israel-Palestine, the idea of partition to two states is a product of the U.N. (more specifically Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question), enshrined in UNGA Resolution 181, and it was U.N. recognition that crucially established the legitimacy of the State of Israel. The existing panoply of Israeli-Palestinian agreements from the past two decades say nothing about barring any action at the U.N. and do not even explicitly refer to Palestinian statehood, so that any recognition of a Palestinian state at the U.N. cannot be in contravention of those agreements.
There is hope. (Noor Harazeen)
By Jeremy R. Hammond
The U.S. has long opposed any 'unilateral' action on the part of the Palestinians to seek fulfillment of their right to self-determination, and there is a very real threat that if the Palestinian Authority goes to the United Nations in September seeking international recognition of Palestinian statehood, the U.S. will respond by cutting or eliminating aid that the P.A. has come to depend on in order to function.
The P.A. must not bow to such threats, and the Palestinian people must take their case to the U.N. if their legitimate political aspirations are ever to be achieved. It won’t be an easy road to statehood, but the alternative is to return to the U.S.-led “peace process”, which is the process by which the U.S. and Israel have sought to entice the Palestinian leadership to back away from their 1988 Declaration of Independence and to prevent the establishment of a viable, independent, and fully sovereign state of Palestine.
The U.S. is not the “honest broker” it proclaims itself to be. It supports illegal Israeli policies financially, militarily, and diplomatically, and, all rhetoric to the contrary aside, it has long rejected the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.
By Gale Courey Toensing July 5, 2011
Indian Country Today Media Network
Pulitzer-prize winner, Alice Walker and former Anishanaabek Chief Robert Lovelace aboard the Freedom Flotilla in protest of Israel’s illegal sea blockade of Gaza.
ATHENS—A First Nations leader, who was jailed for protesting uranium mining claims on his people’s territory, is now standing up against Israel’s illegal sea blockade of Gaza.
Robert Lovelace, former chief of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation and a professor of Indigenous Studies at Queen’s University in Canada, is a passenger on Canada’s Boat to Gaza. The boat attempted to leave Greece for Gaza on July 4 but was stopped by the Greek coast guard. The U.S. Boat to Gaza was the first to attempt to leave Greece on July 1 and was also stopped by the Greek authorities.
The boats are participating in the second international Freedom Flotilla that aims to break Israel’s illegal blockage of the tiny Palestinian territory on the Mediterranean coast that is sandwiched between Israel and Egypt. The flotilla is a coalition of nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations from more than half a dozen countries that will soon sail through international waters to Gaza to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The first flotilla which sailed last year ended in tragedy when Israeli commandos boarded the Turkish boat, the Mavi Marmara, and killed nine activists, including an American citizen.
Published: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 Litchfield County Times
By Gale Courey Toensing
I’m honored and delighted to be a passenger on the U.S. Boat to Gaza—The Audacity of Hope—at the end of June. The boat will be part of the international Freedom Flotilla of more than a dozen boats from more than a dozen countries carrying more than 1,000 people. The flotilla’s goal is to end Israel’s illegal blockade of the tiny Mediterranean coastal enclave where 1.5 million people live in an oppressive open air prison imposed by their neighboring state. Some neighbor!
Alice Walker, the African American Pulitzer prize-winning author of “The Color Purple,” will be among the passengers. So will former U.S. Ambassador Col. Ann Wright, who resigned from the State Department in 2003 to protest the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the amazing Hedy Epstein, an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor. Alice Walker compared the Freedom Flotilla to the Freedom Riders of the 1960s civil rights movement when Americans got on buses and headed south to challenge the racist policy of segregation. The Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, she said, “is the Freedom Ride of this era.”
Israel has threatened to use violence against us, even to unleash attack dogs on us, according to the Jerusalem Post, which only makes the comparison between the Freedom Flotilla and the Freedom Riders more apt. Bull Connor, the Commissioner of Public Safety in Birmingham, Ala., back in the 1960s civil rights movement, ordered the use of police attack dogs and fire hoses against unarmed peaceful demonstrators, including children. His notorious legacy is brutality. Ironically, Mr. Connor’s violence actually helped end segregation because it was so widely viewed on national television and people were horrified. With the Internet and 24/7 news cycle, what happens on the international flotilla will be seen around the world almost instantly. Is that the path Israel really wants to take?
Palestinians have not forgotten, nor will we. (Photo: Rich Wiles)
By Susan Abulhawa
Anger was my first reaction after listening to Obama's two speeches, one to the world and another to AIPAC – the powerful Israeli lobby in the US. I went around to my friends with phrases like 'who does he think he is, presuming to tell Palestinians how they may or may not achieve freedom?', or 'what makes him think his vision for Palestinian dignity actually trumps the vision of Palestinians themselves?' or 'how dare he talk to us like a parent chastising a small child?' or 'when will we have a president who can and will tell the truth?' or 'I think AIPAC wrote his speech for him.'
My friends are used to hearing impassioned political commentary (rants) from me. The ones close to me always advise me to let the anger dissipate before I write anything so that what I put into words is coming from a clear head. That’s where I am now – no anger, calm, and clear headed. And here is my reaction:
Who does Obama think he is, presuming to tell Palestinians how they may or may not achieve freedom? What makes Obama think his vision for the future of Palestine, indeed vision for the Arab world on the whole, trumps the vision of Palestinians or Arabs for themselves? How dare he talk to Palestinians like we’re his bad little children in need of (his) parental direction? And will we in the US ever have a president capable of speaking frankly and truthfully? Because he just put Israeli propaganda in his own voice for the world.
By Aijaz Zaka Syed
Pundits still aren’t done debating Netanyahu’s little circus in the Congress last week. Which isn’t surprising. Even though we have all been familiar with the long tradition of US politicians forever dancing to Israel’s tunes and eating out of its lobby’s hand, Bibi’s endless adulation in the Congress was nonetheless hard to digest.
And it’s not just us, distant observers in the Middle East and sympathizers of the oppressed lot of Palestinians who are outraged by the US lawmakers repeatedly throwing themselves at Israeli premier’s feet. Many a US commentator who still retains some semblance of conscience has been troubled by the craven sycophancy of their politicians. The lawmakers cheered even when the ‘guest’ standing there in the highest representative body in the land continually derided their president and rubbed his nose in.
Spurred by the Arab revolutions, Palestinians marked Nakba Day this year with unprecedented scenes of protest, within and without occupied Palestine, writes Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah
Demonstrators wave Palestinian flags during a rally marking the 63rd anniversary of Nakba, the term used to mark the events leading to Israel's founding in 1948
There was a special aura characterising this year's Nakba anniversary on Sunday, 15 May. Unlike previous years, when the Nakba was commemorated with rhetoric but very little else, this year witnessed a determined reassertion of the centrality to the Palestinian cause of the right of return.
"In the past, we were relating to the right of return with a sort of abstract determination. But this year, many people feel that invoking the right of return is acquiring a realistic tone. We are no longer talking about chimerical goals, at least as far as we are concerned," said Mohamed Jawabrah, a middle-aged teacher from the Arroub Refugee Camp.
"We feel the right of return is being extricated from the realm of uncertainty and symbolism into the realm of relevance. At the very least, there is now a greater realisation among all those concerned, including the Israelis, the Americans, and especially the refugees themselves, that there can be no real and lasting peace in this region without the repatriation of all or most of the refugees back to their homes."
By by Ali Abunimah on Thu, 05/19/2011
The New York Times was quick to spin Obama’s speech in ‘historic’ terms
“Obama Endorses 1967 Borders for Israel” as part of a “Broad Speech Rejecting Status Quo in the Middle East” – that was the instant spin on the front of The New York Times website within minutes of the president speaking.
But while President Barack Obama laid out in a little bit more detail a US “vision” of what “peace” would look like in his much anticipated speech on US policy in the Middle East and North Africa, there was precious little new.
Moreover, the speech affirmed that the United States will not take any effective action to advance its vision of a two-state solution.
The president covered broadly the uprisings in the Arab world and the American response to them, but I will look at the sections on Palestine – not necessarily in the order of delivery, but by theme.
The Audacity of Hope, the U.S. Boat to Gaza, will sail to Gaza in June amidst an international flotilla of more than a dozen boats carrying more than 1,000 passengers who are committed to breaking Israel's illegal siege of Gaza.
The Audacity of Hope'so will be thousands of letters from U.S. citizens to the remarkable people of Gaza who have managed to survive years of oppressive Israeli occupation and siege and to continue to live in hope for a peaceful and just future.
Please write a letter of friendship and hope to the people of Gaza to let them know Americans support their struggle for freedom and self determination. You can send your letters via email at:
Or mail them to:
Letters To Gaza
119 West 72nd Street
New York, New York 10023
When The Audacity of Hope sails, your letters and messages will be part of its cargo. Meanwhile, we will send some of these messages right away and make them public through Twitter, Facebook, on our website, and in statements to the press.
Visit the U.S. Boat to Gaza web site: http://ustogaza.org and sign up for news alerts as The Audacity of Hope sails "To Gaza with Love."
Mahmoud al Zatar
Bush and Obama and all the other Western loud-mouths have consistently failed to deliver. So the question remains: why should Hamas renounce violence against a foreign power that violently occupies their homeland, bulldozes their houses at gun-point, uproots their beautiful olive groves, sets up hundreds of armed checkpoints to disrupt normal life and block access to the holy places, batters down villagers’ front doors in the dead of night, builds an illegal ‘separation’ wall to annex their territory, steal their water and isolate their communities, and blockades exports and imports to cause economic ruin?
By Stuart Littlewood
One of Hamas's top men, Mahmoud al-Zahar, says he doesn't trust the United Nations to hand statehood to the Palestinians.
Dr al-Zahar notes that Bush promised an independent state and Obama can’t even stop the illegal settlement-building. There has been a long list of disappointments with the international community.
Asked whether Hamas was willing to accept the existence of the Zionist entity, al-Zahar replied: "The question is whether Israel is ready to accept the Palestinian state..."
It is interesting to see Dr al-Zahar speaking up more. A founder of Hamas and a member of its 'politburo', he is listed as the government's foreign minister and was the Resistance movement’s first press officer back in 1987.
He’s regarded as a hard-liner. But who wouldn't be if he'd suffered as cruelly at the hands of the Israeli regime as this man. Al-Zahar was expelled in 1992 (along with Ismail Haniyeh) to South Lebanon and subsequently targeted for assassination. In 2003 an Israeli F-16 bombed his home killing his eldest son and seriously injuring his wife. In 2007 another Israeli air-strike killed his youngest son.
Palestinian defiance will fuel imaginations of Palestinians everywhere. (Aljazeera)
By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth
They are extraordinary scenes. Film shot on mobile phones captured the moment on Sunday when at least 1,000 Palestinian refugees marched across no-man's land to one of the most heavily protected borders in the world, the one separating Syria from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Waving Palestinian flags, the marchers braved a minefield, then tore down a series of fences, allowing more than 100 to run into Israeli-controlled territory. As they embraced Druze villagers on the other side, voices could be heard saying: "This is what liberation looks like."
Unlike previous years, this Nakba Day was not simply a commemoration of the catastrophe that befell the Palestinians in 1948, when their homeland was forcibly reinvented as the Jewish state. It briefly reminded Palestinians that, despite their long-enforced dispersion, they still have the potential to forge a common struggle against Israel.
Several killed and scores wounded in Gaza, Golan Heights, Ras Maroun and West Bank, as Palestinians mark Nakba Day.
Scores of Palestinians have been injured in clashes on the 63rd 'Nakba Day'. [AFP]
Several people have been killed and scores of others wounded in the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, Ras Maroun in Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as Palestinians mark the "Nakba", or day of "catastrophe".
The "Nakba" is how Palestinians refer to the 1948 founding of the state of Israel, when an estimated 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled following Israel's declaration of statehood.
At least one Palestinian was killed and up to 80 others wounded in northern Gaza as Israeli troops opened fire on a march of at least 1,000 people heading towards the Erez crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
A group of Palestinians, including children, marching to mark the "Nakba" were shot by the Israeli army after crossing a Hamas checkpoint and entering what Israel calls a "buffer zone" - an empty area between checkpoints where Israeli soldiers generally shoot trespassers, Al Jazeera's Nicole Johnston reported from Gaza City on Sunday.
"We are just hearing that one person has been killed and about 80 people have been injured," Johnston said.
"There are about 500-600 Palestinian youth gathered at the Erez border crossing point. They don't usually march as far as the border. There has been intermittent gunfire from the Israeli side for the last couple of hours.
Dozens wounded in West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights as Palestinians commemorate "Nakba Day".
Dozens of people have been injured in the Gaza Strip as thousands of Palestinians and activists marched to mark "Nakba Day", or Israel's 1948 founding, amid tight Israeli security.
A group of Palestinians, including children, were shot by the Israeli army after crossing a Hamas checkpoint and entering what Israel calls a "buffer zone" - an empty area between checkpoints where Israeli soldiers generally shoot trespassers, Al Jazeera correspondent Nicole Johnston reported from Gaza City.
Johnston said tank shelling and artillery fire were also heard from the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian house key is the symbol that represents collective memory of the Palestinian diaspora [Getty]
The mislabeled "peace talks" were instrumental in creating divisions amongst Palestinians, compelling me to speak out.
By Ziyad Clot
In Palestine, the time for national reconciliation has come. On the eve of the 63rd commemoration of the Nakba, this is a long-awaited and hopeful moment. Earlier this year, the release by Al Jazeera and the Guardian of 1,600 documents related to the mislabelled "peace process" caused deep consternation amongst Palestinians and in the Arab world. Covering more than ten years of talks (1999-2010) between Israel and the PLO, these "Palestine Papers" illustrate the tragic consequences of a highly inequitable and destructive political process grounded on the assumption that the Palestinians could effectively negotiate their rights and achieve self-determination while enduring the hardship of the Israeli occupation.
Since my name was circulated as one of the possible sources of these leaks, I would like to clarify here the extent of my involvement in these revelations and explain my motivations. I have always acted in fact in the best interest of the Palestinian people, in its entirety, and to the full extent of my capacity.
Predictably, Israel is using financial blackmail in an attempt to snub out Palestinian national reconciliation and unity, writes Khaled Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem
Fatah supporters take part in a rally celebrating the reconciliation agreement, at Al-Azhar University in Gaza City
The extreme rightwing government of Israel is carrying out threats to financially scuttle the Palestinian Authority (PA) for daring to restore national unity with Hamas.
Israeli leaders are worried Palestinian national unity will strengthen the overall Palestinian stance vis-à-vis Israel and might expedite international recognition of a prospective Palestinian state.
Israel has refused to transfer to PA coffers an estimated $100 million in tax and customs revenue, which Israel collects on the Palestinians' behalf. Israel receives administration and other fees for collecting the money that the PA government uses to pay salaries for tens of thousands of civil servants.
Consequently, the PA has so far not been able to pay salaries for April. This is already generating discontent within the Palestinian community. Some Palestinian political leaders have urged the PA to respond stringently to Israel's draconian measures by suspending or ending security coordination with Israel.
Israel and its guardian ally, the United States, view the continuation of security coordination between Israel and the PA as a sine qua non for the existence and survival of the PA as well as for the continuation of any semblance of peace efforts in the region.
By Dr. Ahmed Yousef
Speaking 150 years ago about political judgments, [Otto von] Bismarck said if we listen carefully, we can hear the sound of hoof-beats in the distance and plan accordingly.
The hoof-beats are near today, not distant, so there is little time to waste before we readjust our thinking and map out new strategies that correspond to rapidly emerging facts on the ground.
There are 5 critical factors to consider regarding recent events in the Arab and Muslim world.
The first point is that the winds of change now being unleashed in the Middle East have pushed Islamists from the margins into the very center of political decision-making. Islamists will assume a partnership role in government; and they will, as leaders of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt have re-iterated, work on behalf of national unity and national re-building.
The second point is that the Palestinian question, the Palestinian struggle for freedom and self-determination, will move to the top of the agenda. Authoritarian regimes had ignored or suppressed the voice of the people for decades; but as democracies emerge, leaders must listen. And the people who have been going out into the Arab street want justice, not just in their own countries, not just for themselves, but for Palestinians.
'Egypt is charting a new course in its foreign policy'. (Aljazeera)
By Ramzy Baroud
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's response to the Hamas-Fatah deal in Cairo was both swift and predictable. "The Palestinian Authority must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both," he said, in a televised speech shortly after the Palestinian political rivals reached a reconciliation agreement under Egyptian sponsorship on April 27.
Despite numerous past attempts to undercut Mahmoud Abbas, stall peace talks, and derail Israel’s commitment to previous agreements, Netanyahu and his rightwing government are now arguing that Palestinians are solely responsible for the demise of the illusory ‘peace process’. Israeli bulldozers will continue to carve up the hapless West Bank to make room for more illegal settlements, but this time their excuse may not be ‘natural expansion’. The justification might instead be Israel has no partner. US and other media will merrily repeat the dreadful logic, and Palestinians will, as usual, be chastised.
But frankly, at this juncture of Middle East history, Israel is almost negligible. It no longer has a transformative influence in the region. When the Arab people began revolting, a new dimension to the Arab-Israeli conflict emerged. As the chants in Cairo’s Tahrir Square began to adopt a pan-Arab and pro-Palestinian language, it became obvious that Egypt would soon venture outside the political confines of Washington’s patronizing labels, which divide the Arabs into moderates (good) and radicals (bad).
Palestinian exiles take nourishment from the Arab uprisings, notes Anayat Durrani
The ninth Annual International Al-Awda Convention kicked off this past weekend with the theme "Onward, United, and Stronger. Until Return!" A major focus of the convention was the Arab people's mass uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa and their relevance to the Palestinian struggle.
"Today the winds of change are sweeping all over the Arab world clamouring for freedom, democracy and independence," said Salman Abu Sitta, general coordinator for the Palestinian Right of Return Congress, and founding president of the Palestine Land Society. "But of all the Arab people, nobody has consistently, forcefully, and continuously demanded these rights more than the Palestinian people."
Post-revolution Egypt celebrated yesterday the signing of a Palestinian reconciliation agreement after four years of virulent internal conflict, Amira Howeidy reports
The long, long awaited rapprochement between Fatah and Hamas has prompted flag-fluttering festivities in Gaza
Change is sweeping the Arab world and the Palestinians who took to the streets in thousands chanting, "The people want the end of the division!" are no exception. On Tuesday, rival factions Hamas and Fatah signed an agreement in Cairo to end a four- year-old hostile conflict for the sake of national unity. This was followed yesterday noon by a large celebration at the Egyptian Intelligence headquarters attended by a host of Arab and international figures and ministers, including Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of Fatah, Hamas's politburo chief Khaled Meshaal, Egypt's chief of General Intelligence Murad Mowafi, and Foreign Minister Nabil El-Arabi.
The Palestinians signed three documents that compliment each other: the 2009 Cairo paper for Palestinian reconciliation, an "understanding" for reconciliation presented in 2010 Damascus, and a third agreement written in Cairo last month. Based on the agreements, an interim government of technocrats will be formed to address a series of key issues, including preparing for presidential and parliamentary elections exactly one year from now, on 4 May 2012. The two elections will be held in parallel with a third, to elect the Palestinian National Council (PNC), which is the legislative body of the
Egypt and Israel Headed for Crisis
By JONATHAN COOK
Israeli officials have expressed alarm at a succession of moves by the interim Egyptian government that they fear signal an impending crisis in relations with Cairo.
The widening rift was underscored yesterday when leaders of the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation pact in the Egyptian capital. Egypt's secret role in brokering the agreement last week caught both Israel and the United States by surprise.
The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called the deal "a tremendous blow to peace and a great victory for terrorism".
Several other developments have added to Israeli concerns about its relations with Egypt, including signs that Cairo hopes to renew ties with Iran and renegotiate a long-standing contract to supply Israel with natural gas.
More worrying still to Israeli officials are reported plans by Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah crossing into Gaza, closed for the past four years as part of a Western-backed blockade of the enclave designed to weaken Hamas, the ruling Islamist group there.
Translated by Al Mubadara, the Palestinian National Initiative, this document is currently in the process of being signed by all of Palestine's factions and parties.)
Under the auspices of Egypt, delegations from the Fatah and Hamas movements met in Cairo on April 27, 2011 to discuss the issues concerning ending the political division and the achievement of national unity. On top of the issues were some reservations related to the Palestinian National Unity Accord made in 2009.
Both political parties mutually agreed that the basis of understanding made during the meeting are committing to both parties in the implementation of the Palestinian National Reconciliation Agreement. The basis of understanding agreed upon by Fatah and Hamas are as follows:
A. Election Committee:
Both Fatah and Hamas agree to identify the names of the members of the Central Election Commission in agreement with the Palestinian factions. This list will then be submitted to the Palestinian President who will issue a decree of the reformation of the committee.
Israel withholds Palestinian cash transfer
Israel suspends transfer of $89m to Palestinian Authority in view of recent unity deal between Fatah and Hamas.
Steinitz, left, has also reportedly decided to cancel talks with PA on tax transfer mechanism [GALLO/GETTY]
Israel will hold up an $89 million cash transfer to the Palestinian Authority [PA] planned for this week because of a new unity deal between rival Palestinian factions.
"Israel wants assurances that any money transferred to the Palestinians will not reach the militant Hamas organisation, which is set to become part of the Palestinian government," Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli finance minister, said on Sunday.
"I think the burden of proof is on the Palestinians, to make it certain, to give us guarantees that money delivered by Israel is not going to the Hamas, is not going to a terrorist organisation, is not going to finance terror operations against Israeli citizens,'' he said.
By Khalid Amayreh in occupied Palestine
After four grim years of mutual recriminations, cold war and deep mistrust, the two main Palestinian political camps, the nationalist Fatah and Islamic Hamas, reached an auspicious agreement to end their differences.
The four-year rift exhausted the Palestinian people, seriously weakened the traditionally-strong fabric of the Palestinian society, and nearly caused an irreversible implosion within the Palestinian community at home and in the Diaspora.
And, above all, it made the prospects of peace in the region as remote as ever if only because a divided nation can't get its acts together, especially when an increasingly fascist Israel, which always searches for pretexts and red herrings in order to evade and circumvent peace, sought to utilize the inter-Palestinian front to evade real peace and keep up building peace-killing settlements for fanatical Jews.
Needless to say, many if not most of these so-called settlers, are taught a morbid, venomous ideology which inculcates in them a certain belief that the whole universe was created solely for them and that non-Jews were created by the Almighty solely to serve Jews.
Unity at last between Hamas and Fatah. (Aljazeera.net)
By Iqbal Jassat – Pretoria
Unity at last between Hamas and Fatah!
Shocking says Israel. Unacceptable declares America.
“The Palestinian Authority must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both,” Israel’s rightwing leader Netanyahu said in a rather somber mood on television.
The Obama administration retained it’s back to the wall approach by declaring that Hamas was “a terrorist organization” and that any Palestinian government would have to “renounce violence”, respect past “peace deals” and recognize Israel’s “right to exist”.
As Palestinians celebrate news of the agreement reached between Hamas & Fatah, reports from Israel suggest that the Netanyahu regime is extremely angry and dismayed with President Mahmoud Abbas for daring to defy Israel.
Extensive secret talks between the factions have been hosted by the interim post-Mubarak government in Cairo and included a number of independent Palestinians along with key Egyptian role players.
Details released at a press conference late on Wednesday [April 27] reveal that the groups have reached an understanding on forming a transitional Palestinian unity government and holding future elections.
With policy speeches ahead by Obama and Netanyahu, Palestinians are pushing for their own solutions, writes Khaled Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem
Tension is mounting throughout the West Bank as the Palestinian Authority (PA) is contemplating a possible unilateral statehood declaration, which Israel says it will undercut by all means necessary.
Earlier this week, a Jewish settler was shot dead, ostensibly by a Palestinian police officer. The incident happened when a group of unruly Jewish settlers sought to storm a controversial religious site in a heavily populated Arab neighbourhood in the northern West Bank town of Nablus.
Following the incident, paramilitary settlers went on the rampage in several localities in the West Bank, shooting on Palestinian homes and vandalising property. The Israeli army did nothing to stop the settlers, with one spokesman suggesting that the army was allowing the settlers to "vent their anger".
Palestinian factions agree to form interim government and fix general election date following talks in Cairo.
Abbas, the president of the PA, had called for presidential and legislative elections before September [AFP]
Fatah, the Palestinian political organisation, has reached an agreement with its rival Hamas on forming an interim government and fixing a date for a general election, Egyptian intelligence has said.
In February, Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority and a member of Fatah, called for presidential and legislative elections before September, in a move which was rejected by Hamas at the time.
"The consultations resulted in full understandings over all points of discussions, including setting up an interim agreement with specific tasks and to set a date for election," Egyptian intelligence said in a statement on Wednesday.
The deal, which took many officials by surprise, was thrashed out in Egypt and followed a series of secret meetings.
by Ramzy Baroud
“Dear Mary,” wrote Italian justice activist Vittorio Arrigoni to a friend. “Do you (know who) will be on the boats?... I’m still in Gaza, waiting for you. I will be at the boat to greet you. Stay human. Vik.”
“Mary” is Mary Hughes Thompson, a dedicated activist who braved the high seas to break the Israeli siege on Gaza in 2008.
Vittorio Arrigoni, or Vik, was reportedly murdered by a fundamentalist group in Gaza, a few hours after he was kidnapped on Thursday, April 14. The killing was supposedly in retaliation for Hamas’ crackdown on this group’s members. All who knew Vik will attest to the fact that he was an extraordinary person, a model of compassion, solidarity and humanity.
Arrigoni’s body was discovered in an abandoned house hours after he was kidnapped. His murderers didn’t honor their own deadline of thirty hours. The group, known as the Tawhid and Jihad, is one of the fringe groups known in Gaza as the Salafis. They resurface under different names and manifestations, for specific – and often bloody - purposes.
“The killing prompted grief in Gaza, but also despair,” read an op-ed in the UK Independent on April 16. “Not only was Arrigoni well known and well liked there, but it escaped no one that this kidnapping was the first since that of the BBC journalist Alan Johnson in 2007.”
But how do you exact forgetfulness from Palestinians? (ActiveStills)
By Ramzy Baroud
Palestinian citizens of Israel must have been proud of the fact that their collective tenacity always proved stronger than any Israeli attempt at dislocating them from their rightful historical narrative. Now, they are being told to cease and desist from commemorating al-Nakba, the Catastrophe of 1948, which saw the brutal seizure and depopulation of most of Palestine in order to construct the Israeli ‘miracle’.
Currently estimated at a fifth of the population of today’s Israel, Palestinians with Israeli citizenship have endured appalling treatment for decades. As Muslims and Christians, they have been regarded as an anomaly in what was meant to be a perfect Jewish utopia governed by the laws of democracy. This is the quandary that Israel has never mastered, as the non-Jewish citizens of Israel have represented a major obstacle to that vision.
The question of what to do with Palestinian citizens of Israel has long haunted Israeli politicians. Discriminatory laws, unlawful seizure of land and even violence have all failed to deter Palestinians from demanding equality and exposing the moral inconsistency of Israel’s selective democracy and dubious history. More, all attempts at fragmenting Palestinian national identity – through different sets of laws for Palestinians in Israel, East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and millions in Diaspora – were hardly enough to disfigure the innate sense of solidarity and belonging that Palestinian communities felt towards one another. When Palestinian activists gather in Jerusalem, Algiers or London, one fails to trace borderlines, the details of identity cards, or any other desperate forms of classification used by Israel. When Palestinians meet, Israel’s divisive laws prove frivolous.
Palestinian political unity is ever so urgent. (Via Aljazeera)
By Mikail Jubran
During the past couple of weeks we have witnessed a somewhat stall of the Arab spring. An ongoing civil conflict that is raging in Libya pits the 'ancien regime' against a rag-tag rabble of self-proclaimed freedom fighters who thought that international intervention would guarantee their success. It appears they may have miscalculated terribly the tenacity of their well-entrenched opponent. Now, even Syria is showing signs of popular revolt. While this new Arab Order may appear to be in some disarray, among the Palestinians a simmering anger percolates. This fury could be about to spill over into popular rage.
One stark fact confronts the Palestinian leadership and that is they never faced a more seminal moment in time. While there is always hope for the future, the Palestinian people need to search for it and seek it in the right places. They should no longer allow themselves to be blinded by their own ideological hallucinations and obsessions. The Palestinian Authority is fearful of their own population, who has been closely watching the explosive events in their backyard.
By RAMZY BAROUD
A dear friend of mine from Gaza told me that he hadn’t slept for days. “I am so worried about Egypt, I have only been feeding on cigarettes and coffee.” My friend and I talked for hours that day in early February. We talked about Tahrir Square, about the courage of ordinary Egyptians and about Hosni Mubarak’s many attempts to co-opt the people’s revolution. We were so consumed by the turmoil in Egypt that neither of us even mentioned Gaza.
The siege on Gaza – and on the whole of Palestine - is a constant factor that unites most Palestinians. However, the genuine solidarity that the people of the Gaza Strip felt when Egyptians took to the streets on January 25 surpassed even the political urgency around the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Ordinary Gazans danced the night away when Mubarak was removed from power on February 18. Although lifting the siege is a Palestinian priority, those who raised Egyptian flags, shed tears and subsisted on coffee and cigarettes for nearly three weeks were hardly making the connection between the siege and Mubarak. While Mubarak was loathed to the core – his decision to block the Rafah border at a critical time victimized thousands - the bond that united Egypt to Palestine runs much deeper than the sins of a senile dictator, or even a terrible siege.
Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh listens as moderator Stanley Heller further answers audience members' questions at the Oliver Wolcott Library's Community Room.
By RICKY CAMPBELL
LITCHFIELD — There were no fireworks, and no picket signs or megaphones. There was only a room full of listeners during Dr. Mazin B. Qumsiyeh’s lecture Thursday at the Oliver Wolcott Library.
Dr. Qumsiyeh’s presentation focused on his latest book, “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment”, which addresses his ideals on human rights in Palestine, media activism, public policies and popular, non-violent resistance. The event was sponsored by Middle East Crisis Committee of New Haven(MECC).
Sitting front and center at the discussion was Rabbi Joseph I. Eisenbach — who voiced his opposition of the event the day before. He was one of nearly 70 people listening as Dr. Qumsiyeh delivered a speech on non-violent resistance, humanitarianism and the hope that some day all people in the Holy Land can live together harmoniously. While some in the audience snickered at the thought, Dr. Qumsiyeh was a bit more optimistic.
“I like looking at the glass as half full,” he said near the beginning of a slideshow that was part of the presentation.
Woman killed and dozens injured in explosion caused by bomb left in a bag near Jerusalem's main bus station.
A 60-year-old woman died and 30 others were injured in the attack in West Jerusalem [Reuters]
A bomb has struck a crowded bus stop in West Jerusalem, killing at least one person and wounding 30 in what authorities said was the first major attack in the city in several years.
Scores of ambulances converged on the area near the central bus station in the Jewish neighbourhood, as rescuers removed bloodied people from the area on stretchers on Wednesday.
Al Jazeera's Nisreen El-Shamayleh, reporting from Jerusalem, said that one person, a 60-year-old woman, died following the explosion.
"There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Israeli police blamed armed Palestinian groups," our correspondent said.
A large explosion in the centre of Jerusalem has caused casualties, according Israel Army Radio.
The explosion occurred near the main bus station of the city, the Israeli ambulance service said.
One person is reported killed, although this is not confirmed, and 20 injured.
The blast caused by explosive device, not a suicide bomber; four people were reportedly seriously hurt; the entrance to the city has been closed, and ambulances and police forces were arriving at the scene.
By Khalid Amayreh
It is amply clear that Israel is extremely worried about the direction that Arab revolutions might take with regard to the apartheid entity, especially its ethnic-cleansing designs vis-à-vis the Palestinian people.
During the recent Egyptian revolution which deposed the tyrant Hosni Mubarak, Israel and its Zionist and Masonic tentacles in Europe and North America pressured government circles to do whatever could be done to shield and preserve the decadent Mubarak regime, but of course to no avail.
Behind the curtain, Israeli and Zionist circles enlisted US Congress and the White House to press and pressure the Egyptian armed forces to violently suppress and even repress the massive protests all over Egypt, demanding liberty and deliverance from the claws of the Zionist puppet regime.
Indeed, Israeli officials, who never stop babbling about democracy and its sublime values, would have been more than happy watching the Egyptian regime's security forces, baltajiya or hired thugs behave very much like the mercenaries and thugs of the Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi have been behaving in recent days, namely massacring peaceful demonstrators demanding liberty.
None the less, it was sufficiently clear from the beginning that the power of the Egyptian people would eventually prevail, and that even the army, with its complicated calculations, wouldn't be able to do certain things, as demanded or wished by Washington and its real Zionist master, 8000 kilometers eastward.
Eventually, the Zionist thugs in Tel Aviv had to resign to the fact that Mubarak and his regime would be trashed to the dustbin of history and that Israel's man or men in Cairo were no longer in charge.
Yes, the army is still in charge for the time being, which probably gives Zionist supremacists a certain though temporary solace. However, it is clear that a new dawn has broken in Cairo and that this dawn is definitely not to Israel's liking. In fact, the would-be new rulers of Egypt hate Israel and Zionism and view the Zio-Nazi entity as a real and nefarious enemy, pure and simple.
But this doesn't mean that the Zionists and their allies are giving up. The shipyard dogs from Washington to Tel Aviv are warning about the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the need to exclude these moderate Islamists from any post-Mubarak government.
The democratic revolutions sweeping North Africa have put paid to Tel Aviv's elaborate web of lies about the Arabs, writes Ramzy Baroud*
When the Libyan people took on their reviled dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, Israeli officials seemed puzzled by the alarming and unprecedented trend of popular awakenings in the Arab world.
Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has claimed that these awakenings are only proof of the "weakening" of the Arabs -- even at a time when the international consensus points to the opposite conclusion.
According to the Israeli daily, Haaretz, Lieberman has claimed, "the Arab world is becoming increasingly weakened."
Worried perhaps that all rational analyses will show how Israel's decade-long aggression has been a major contributing factor to instability in the Middle East, Lieberman decided to dismiss the notion altogether. "Whoever thinks that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is part of the problem in the Middle East is trying to escape reality," he said.
It must be a strange "reality" Lieberman subscribes to, but he isn't the only Israeli official that sees the world through such tainted logic.
Livni on behalf of Israel takes on the mantle of a world leader who, together with other democratic nations like the U.S., must guide the nations of the world through these perilous waters of upheaval by designing a “democratic code” to ensure that new democracies adhere to the Israeli/United States dictates. How convenient and how duplicitous.
Apartheid Wall: this is the beacon that is Israel. (ActiveStills)
By William A. Cook
'Calls for democracy … stem from …an inner hunger for freedom.' -- (Tzipi Livni, Washington Post, 2/24/11)
A beacon is a signal fire, a warning light to guide one out of darkness; as the former Foreign Affairs Minister for Israel noted in late February, “These are days of momentous change in the Middle East …” Courageous thousands demand their rights as human beings, she intones, there is an inner hunger for freedom abroad in the land. But those courageous thousands have lit a fire that is a beacon for Israel, if it heeds it, a warning that it alone of all the states in the Middle East could be left defying the peoples’ demands for human rights and freedoms. Yet Livni, and Edward Koch last week, went to the media not to announce that Israel would alter its treatment of the Palestinians, they simply ignored the existence of the Palestinians; in the words of Edward Koch, “These uprisings clearly demonstrate that it is not the issue of Israel that is rocking the Arab world, but the presence of arbitrary and repressive regimes.” (Newsmax.com, 3/1/11).
How convenient. Israel alone stands immune from the repression and arbitrary policies of the abusive regimes that face the multitudes in the streets. Indeed, Livni charitably intones that “The values and experiences of the Jewish people demand that we embrace the promise of real democratic change, not merely express concern about uncertainties associated with it.” Certainly in these uncertain times Israel can be a beacon to warn those who have an “inner hunger for freedom” that there are dues to pay before they can be granted such freedoms because “world leaders are required to shape events so that our collective aspirations, rather than our fears, become reality.” Translated, Livni on behalf of Israel takes on the mantle of a world leader who, together with other democratic nations like the U.S., must guide the nations of the world through these perilous waters of upheaval by designing a “democratic code” to ensure that new democracies adhere to the Israeli/United States dictates. How convenient and how duplicitous.
Robert H. Serry, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefs the Security Council
24 February 2011 – A senior United Nations official today called for “credible and effective international intervention” to break the impasse in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, noting that a negotiated solution would help stabilize a Middle East currently in ferment.
“I must in all frankness report low confidence and trust of the parties in each other and in international efforts to help them overcome their differences,” UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry told the Security Council in a regular monthly briefing.
“Since our last meeting, the Middle East has been witnessing dramatic political transformations – but stagnation in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations,” he said in a reference to the popular uprisings that have already ousted Presidents Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia, and have roiled a host of other countries from Algeria and Libya in the west to Yemen and Bahrain in the east.
“The parties are unlikely to overcome the deficit of trust without a credible and effective international intervention in the peace process.”
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A top Fatah leader and former Palestinian intelligence official called Saturday for a "day of rage" against America after the Obama administration blocked a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements.
Tawfik Tirawi said Palestinians would protest next Friday, a week after the US directed its UN ambassador to kill the draft Security Council resolution even though the 14 other members of the 15-nation council voted in favor.
Tirawi told Ma’an that the move amounted to "blackmail" and exposed the true face of America as well as the extent to which its role in the Middle East peace process harmed Palestinian interests.
The current status quo is ripe for another Intifida.
By Nicola Nasser
The international Quartet of the US, EU, UN and Russia on Middle East peace and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) seem set on an agenda that perceives September 2011 as an historical political watershed deadline. Among the partners to the Quartet – sponsored Palestinian – Israeli “peace process,” practically deadlocked since the collapse of the US, Palestinian and Israeli trilateral summit in Camp David in 2000, only the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu seems adamant to set a completely different agenda that renders any endeavor by the Quartet to revive the process a non – starter, thus dooming the September deadline beforehand as another missed opportunity for peace making.
Denying they are containment measures aimed at political survival to avert potential Palestinian simulation in the aftermath of the regime changes in Egypt and Tunisia, the PLO is bracing for what it declares as indeed “the” watershed deadline in September 2011 that would make or break its decision to resume as a partner to the “peace process.” The PLO is reshuffling its negotiations department as well as the cabinet of the self-ruled Palestinian Authority (PA) and has called for presidential, legislative and local elections by next September to empower itself with electoral legitimacy ahead of that deadline, encouraged by what the Quartet perceives as a “really important moment of opportunity,” in the words of the Quartet’s representative the former UK prime minister Tony Blair, which is an “opportunity” created by the Arab popular uprisings that so far have swept to the dustbin of history the Tunisian and Egyptian regimes, both considered for decades major pillars of the Middle East “peace process.”
From Mazin Qumsiyeh in Occupated Palestine:
Who wrote this and when: "I have been keeping up with the situation in Egypt, and as you know this is one of the most important issues in world today. It will determine whether we live in peace or whether we will die in war. Naturally my sympathies are with Egypt, rather than with the Western Colonial and imperial powers."
Answer: Martin Luther King, Jr., letter to Jimmy Bishai, 7 January 1957 in context of tripartite (France, England, Israel) aggression on Egypt (http://www.qumsiyeh.org/martinlutherking). A translated version of a 50 years old comic book relating the non-violent civil disobedience movement of Martin Luther King, Jr. was distributed throughout Tahrir Square in Egypt.
In Egypt on 11 November 1918, Saad Zaghloul and other grassroots leaders asked the new British occupation forces to permit the development of an Egyptian leadership with a view to independence. When this was rejected, these leaders collected over two million signatures which endorsed a new leadership anyway. The British responded by arresting the leaders and this led to general strikes and massive demonstrations; a popular uprising. This accelerated in 1919 and continued until 1922 when the British finally allowed the formation of an Egyptian constitutional government, albeit ruled by a monarch friendly to British interests. But today, the Egyptian people will only accept a government of and by the people.
By Nasser Abu Bakr
RAMALLAH -- The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank on Saturday announced plans to hold elections by September, running into immediate opposition from its Hamas rivals in Gaza.
The Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee's call for presidential and legislative polls comes amid stalemate in Israeli-Palestinian talks and the political upheaval in Egypt, a key player in peace efforts.
People in Palestine will trust US stewardship once again if Obama applies consistent political standards to PA leaders.
By Fadi Elsalameen
A Palestinian man burns the US flag during a protest in support for Egyptian demonstrators in Ramallah [Reuters]
A wave of popular uprisings in the Middle East is sending a clear message to those in power − and those who aspire to be in power − in the Arab world. Together with the release of several sets of leaked secret documents, they are making it clear that one should never bet on America’s horse.
"America's horse" is the Arab leader who is backed by the United States and given a license to rule however he deems appropriate, as long as he doesn’t threaten Israel's security or other American interests in the region. In return, he is allowed to abuse human rights and deny his people economic and political rights. With America’s sanction, and under the banner of fighting Islamic fundamentalism, he can crush any opposition that arises.
Protesters in Egypt and Tunisia can learn from events in Palestine, the region's barometer for reform
By Sam Bahour
Current events in Egypt and Tunisia have the entire region and beyond glued to their television sets. The all-too-spoken-about Arab street has risen, seemingly from the dead. But while it is satisfying to see a dictatorial head of state being ousted by his own people, it is far too early to rejoice.
What we are witnessing is the removal and replacement of leaders, not an upgrading of the political systems that allowed someone like the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to remain in power for 30 years and then have the audacity to position his son to succeed him, while the Egyptian people sank into deepening poverty. Unrest across the region will force these reactionary regimes to make some minimal changes, such as introducing term limits, which should have been done decades ago. But these knee-jerk legislative changes are solely aimed at persuading the demonstrators to go home.
Likewise, no one should belittle the fact that hundreds of thousands of average citizens are challenging their governments in the streets. This is not like demonstrations as we know them in western countries. It is the real thing. Serious conviction – and sustained repression – is the prerequisite to get many people to challenge a police state that ignores even the most basic human rights.
A man with Egyptian flags in Ramallah. The pictures from Cairo brought the demonstrators out. Photo by: Reuters
By Amira Hass
We are still preoccupied with demonstrations and their dispersal in this part of the world. After the immediate shock and anger died down last Wednesday, however, one could not help but notice the European, mainly French, scent that wafted from Al-Manara Square in Ramallah where the Palestinian Authority once again suppressed a demonstration of support for the Egyptian people that evening. A few hours earlier, in the same streets, supporters of Fatah had held an undisturbed demonstration in support of the Egyptian government and President Hosni Mubarak.
In the past three years, two experienced French security experts have been working with the Palestinian Special Police Force. They have turned it into one of the best trained, disciplined and equipped of all the Palestinian security forces, according to the European Union's Police Mission in the Palestinian Territories (also known as EUPOL COPPS ), which has been training the local force since January 1, 2006.
"The SPF is the main anti-riot and crowd control section within the Palestinian Civil Police," states the Internet site of EUPOL COPPS.
Palestinian officials are largely focused on ensuring American aid.
By Ramzy Baroud
As Palestinians are becoming increasingly confident about the authenticity of the Palestine Papers - 1,600 leaked documents that Al Jazeera began publishing on January 23 - they can also find little to be proud of in their contents.
According to Palestinian political commentator Mazin Qumsiyeh, the PA’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat “comes out basically pleading and begging sometimes and other times using the presence of Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran to try and convince (American and Israeli) officials.” If the conduct of PA officials is not outright betrayal of the rights of their people, then it is, at best, degrading political groveling in exchange for factional gains.
Others have convincingly argued that such demeaning behavior is also indicative of the true nature of the negotiations. Palestinians are, in fact, the party desperate for a peace agreement, while the Israelis insist on arrogantly refusing all Palestinian initiatives – which often even surpass Israel’s and the US’s declared expectations. “The documents put to death the idea that Israel has no Palestinian ‘partner for peace,” argues US author and professor, Stephen M. Walt. They also “expose the bipartisan and binational strategy that Israel and the United States have followed under both Bush and Obama: to keep putting pressure on the Palestinians to cut a one-sided deal.”
Israeli negotiators, including Tzipi Livni, proposed "swapping" some of Israel's Arab villages into a Palestinian state.
Israel's separation wall cuts through the middle of Baqa, dividing it into two villages. [Gregg Carlstrom/Al Jazeera]
By Gregg Carlstrom
Baqa al-Gharbiyya, Israel – This sleepy agricultural village, an hour’s drive northeast from Tel Aviv, feels worlds apart from Israel’s commercial capital. Garbage lines many of the narrow, rutted streets, symptoms of the lower level of government funding bestowed upon the town; unemployed men mill about, complaining that Israel’s policies have hurt the local economy.
Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s hard-right foreign minister, has proposed annexing this and other Arab villages to a future Palestinian state. Their inhabitants would be stripped of their Israeli citizenship unless they were willing to leave their land and swear a “loyalty oath” to the state.
His plan is deeply unpopular here and in nearby villages. Despite the discrimination most Arabs experience in Israel, they say few will renounce their Israeli citizenship to become Palestinians.
"I’m here in this state now," said Jamil, the owner of a small bakery near one of the town's green-domed mosques. "My family has been here since before 1948. I don’t want to go out to Palestine. I don’t like the wars, I have problems with the [Israeli] government, but a Palestinian state? No."
The Palestinian chief negotiator labels leaked documents as "pack of lies".
Mahmoud Abbas says he keeps the Arab League updated on all details of the negotiations with Israel [EPA]
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat has dismissed the documents released by Al Jazeera that show private offers by PA officials to Israelis on contested issues than previously revealed as "a bunch of lies".
In an appearance on Al Jazeera shortly after the documents were released on Sunday, Erakat said the Palestinian leadership had "nothing to hide" and dismissed most of the report as lies.
He said that the information shown contained mistakes and inaccuracies and that his words were taken out of context and he was misquoted.
"I have always said that east Jerusalem is part of Palestine.
"No body has given up anything, I have shown Jerusalem Map on Al Jazeera a year ago. The land exchange principle was discussed before," Erakat said.
The overwhelming conclusion one draws from this record is that the process for a two-state solution is essentially over.
By Robert Grenier
It has been an American mantra throughout the many years of the peace process that both sides must take “risks for peace.” Those risks have taken different forms over time, but the most compelling risk for both Israelis and Palestinians has been a domestic political one: So long as the prospect of peace has remained a hazy dream, no one could object to it compellingly; but just begin to seriously consider the hard compromises necessarily involved, and it becomes clear to important constituencies on both sides that they will lose. To accept and politically manage those realities: That is the essence of “risks for peace.”
The Palestine Papers include a rendering of the Israeli land swap map presented in mid-2008 to Mahmoud Abbas.
By Gregg Carlstrom
The Palestinian Authority proposed an unprecedented land swap to the Israeli government, offering to annex virtually all of the illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem.
Not only did the Israeli government offer no concessions in return, but – as The Palestine Papers now reveal – it responded with an even more aggressive land swap: Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert wanted to annex more than 10% of the West Bank (including the major settlements in Ma’ale Adumim, Ariel and elsewhere), in exchange for sparsely-populated farmland along the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Click here for a map of the proposal.
The Israeli offer is documented in a Palestinian rendition of what’s colloquially called “the napkin map,” a rendering of which is revealed for the first time in The Palestine Papers.
The chief Palestinian negotiator appears disconnected from his own people and his wider Arab and Muslim constituency.
By Daud Abdullah
One of the most shocking revelations of The Palestine Papers obtained by Al Jazeera relates to the demographic and territorial concessions that the Palestinian Authority was willing to give on Jerusalem.
The papers show that not only did PA negotiators demonstrate a willingness to accept Israel’s annexation of all the settlements in Jerusalem, except Jabal Abu Ghneim (Har Homa), but that they were also willing to disown parts of the besieged Arab neighbourhoods in the city. Worse still, Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator, displayed clear "flexibility" regarding the sovereignty on the Haram al-Sharif.
As Ahmed Qurei described the PA's concessions on East Jerusalem settlements, this was “the first time in history that we make such a proposition; we refused to do so in Camp David.”
For their part, the Israelis, during negotiations in 2008, refused to return to the point at which the Camp David talks collapsed in July 2000. Udi Dekel, the head of the Israeli team, pointed this out in a May 29, 2008 meeting with Samih al-Abid, the PA's map expert:
“Since 2000, something happened in those 8 years. So we are not at the same starting point. You started a terror war on us and we created facts on the ground. This is the reality that we live in today, so we can’t go back to Camp David. Circumstances changed considerably since then.”
The PA's chief negotiator suggested unprecedented compromises on the division of Jerusalem and its holy sites.
Erekat proposed a "creative" solution for the Haram al-Sharif in a private meeting with US envoy George Mitchell.
By Clayton Swisher
Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator of the Palestinian Authority (PA), had suggested unprecedented compromises on the division of Jerusalem and its holy sites, the Palestine Papers obtained by Al Jazeera show.
Minutes of negotiations at the US State Department in Washington DC indicate that Erekat was willing to concede control over the Haram al-Sharif, or Temple Mount, to the oversight of an international committee.
The highly controversial issue of who controls the Haram al-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary), home of the Al Aqsa mosque - Islam’s third holiest site - has been a major sticking point during decades of negotiations between Israelis and the Palestinians.
Israel calls the Haram al-Sharif the “Temple Mount” because Jews believe it was the site of the Second Temple destroyed during Roman times. In recent years, Jewish settler groups – some with close ties to the Israeli government – have advocated building a “Third Temple", which would necessitate the destruction of the existing Muslim holy sites.
Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna reports from Jerusalem on plans to annex illegal Israeli settlements
PA offered to concede almost all of East Jerusalem, an historic concession for which Israel offered nothing in return.
By Gregg Carlstrom
Ramat Shlomo, Israel – For all the international controversy over construction at this quiet settlement in north Jerusalem, there is little of it in evidence.
Meeting Minutes: Trilateral - United States, Israel and Palestine
The controversy came last year, when the Jerusalem municipality approved 1,600 new housing tenders while Joe Biden, the US vice-president, was visiting Israel. But construction has yet to begin, and residents of this settlement – populated mostly by Orthodox Jews, a group with one of the highest birth rates in Israel – say politics are interfering with family life.
“It shouldn’t be a question of politics,” said Avraham Goldstein, a student waiting at a bus stop in the settlement. “People need to build, they want to have their families nearby. There are more than 18,000 people here. And Ramat Shlomo is obviously part of Jerusalem.”
The US responded to the Ramat Shlomo announcement with anger; Biden said it "undermines the kind of trust we need" to restart talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
But The Palestine Papers reveal that Israel had no reason to halt construction in Ramat Shlomo. That’s because Palestinian negotiators agreed in 2008 to allow Israel to annex this settlement, along with almost every other bit of illegal construction in the Jerusalem area – an historic concession for which they received nothing in return.
Key Palestinian politicians featuring in The Palestine Papers.
Role: Chief negotiator, Palestinian Authority
Erekat has served as a Palestinian negotiator since the early 1990s, and has been the chief negotiator of the Palestinian Authority (PA) for the last two years.
He first attained prominence in the early 1990s, when he represented the PA at the Madrid Conference and negotiated the Oslo Accords. He has taken part in every major negotiation since, including the Camp David summit in 2000 and the Taba summit the following year.
Erekat occurs in these documents more frequently than anyone else: He represents the Palestinian Authority at 116 meetings with Israeli, American and European officials, and is involved with dozens of e-mails, internal memos and reports.
Erekat lives in the West Bank city of Jericho. He was educated in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Role: Former prime minister; former Palestinian Authority chief negotiator
Qurei served as the Palestinian prime minister from 2003 until early 2006, when his Fatah party was defeated by Hamas in parliamentary elections. During his tenure in office, he clashed with then-president Yasser Arafat over control of the Palestinian security forces.
The majority of these documents cover the period after Qurei left office, when he assumed the role of the Palestinian Authority's chief negotiator. He is one of the PA's chief interlocutors with the Israelis, appearing often alongside Saeb Erekat in meetings during the Annapolis process in late 2007 and 2008.
By the end of 2008, his role is greatly diminished; his last appearance comes in a September 2008 meeting with Israeli general Udi Dekel. The Palestine Papers suggest that his reduced status was the result of political infighting within the PA.
Qurei was born in the Jerusalem suburb of Abu Dis, and has been a member of the Fatah party since the 1960s. He spent time living in exile with Arafat in Beirut and Tunis. Qurei was heavily involved with the Madrid Conference and the negotiations that led up to the Oslo Accords.
Key Israeli politicians and negotiators featuring in The Palestine Papers
Role: Former Israeli foreign minister; current opposition leader and head of Kadima party
Livni has served in the Knesset (Israeli parliament)since 1999. She has held a variety of cabinet posts, including stints as housing minister, agriculture minister and justice minister.
She was the foreign minister and Israel's lead negotiator during the key years covered by The Palestine Papers. She represented the Israeli government during dozens of meetings before and after the Annapolis conference, usually appearing with Tal Becker, her senior adviser.
Livni lost her post as foreign minister in 2009; her Kadima party won the most seats in Israel's parliamentary elections, but failed to assemble a governing coalition. She has been serving as Israel's opposition leader since then.
Livni was born in Tel Aviv. She served for a time in Israel's Mossad spy agency, then left to attend law school; she practiced commercial law for a decade before entering politics.
Role: Former Israeli prime minister
Olmert was the prime minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009, when many of the key events described in the Palestine Papers took place. He spent much of his professional career in politics: Olmert was first elected to the Knesset in 1973 and remained a member for 20 years, rising through the ranks of the Likud party. He then served two terms as the mayor of Jerusalem before returning to the Knesset in 2003 and assuming the post of prime minister in 2006.
His domestic popularity remained quite low for much of his time as prime minister. His handling of the 2006 Lebanon war was deeply unpopular in Israel; tens of thousands of people staged a rally in 2007 to demand his resignation. He was also dogged by persistent allegations of corruption, for which he was eventually indicted after leaving office.
Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister, was Israel's main negotiator during Olmert’s time in office. Olmert himself appears in only a handful of these documents, mostly in notes preceding or following his one-on-one meetings with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.
Key American politicians featuring in The Palestine Papers
Role: Obama administration's special envoy to the Middle East
He was appointed as envoy just two days after Barack Obama was sworn in as the US president, and left for the Middle East within a week of his appointment. He has made more than a half-dozen trips to the region since then, and has met repeatedly with Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and others.
He previously served as the chair of an international fact-finding mission created by Bill Clinton, the former US president. The report offered three suggestions for restarting the stalled Israeli-Palestinian "peace process": a halt to violence; a series of "confidence-building measures," particularly the end to Israeli settlement growth; and a resumption of negotiations.
Mitchell was the chief mediator during the Northern Ireland peace talks held during Clinton's term in office. He chaired the negotiations that led to the Good Friday Agreement.
Mitchell held a variety of roles before being appointed envoy, including three terms in the United States Senate.
Role: United States' Secretary of State between 2005 and 2009 under George Bush
Before her confirmation as Secretary of State, Rice, 56, was Bush's National Security Adviser during his first term.
Rice stated that the September 11, 2001 attacks were rooted in "oppression and despair" and that the US should advance democratic reform and support basic rights throughout the greater Middle East.
Her emphasis on supporting democratically elected governments faced challenges as Hamas captured a popular majority in Palestinian elections in 2006, and influential countries including Saudi Arabia and Egypt maintained authoritarian systems with US support.
Throughout her tenure as Secretary of State, Rice made numerous fruitless attempts to impose the Road Map to peace in the Middle East, a plan originally outlined by Bush in a speech in 2002 in which he called for an independent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel.
Her diplomatic performance in the Middle East and at home in the US earned her the nickname of "Warrior Princess", reflecting strong nerve and delicate manners.
A chronology of key events in the Middle East conflict from 1999 onwards, the time span of The Palestine Papers.
May: Ehud Barak of the Labour Party is elected prime minister under the One Israel banner.
July: The Camp David summit between Barak, and Yasser Arafat, the president of the Palestinian Authority, aimed at reaching a "final status" agreement, fails after Arafat refuses to accept a proposal drafted by the US and Israeli negotiators.
September: Second initifada begins after Ariel Sharon, the Israeli opposition leader, visits the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
February 6: Sharon is elected the leader of the Likud party and refuses to continue negotiations with Arafat.
June 1: A Hamas suicide bomber attacks a nightclub, killing 21 Israelis, mainly teenagers, and injuring more than 100.
December: Sharon sends troops into Ramallah, shelling and surrounding the Palestinian Authority's West Bank headquarters; Arafat is unable to leave.
We've compiled a list of the most frequently-used terms from The Palestine Papers.
The Palestine Papers were intended as internal notes, and so they make heavy use of jargon, acronyms and abbreviations. We've compiled a list of the most frequently-used terms.
Acronym / Definition
AMA Agreement on Movement and Access
API Arab Peace Initiative
BATNA Best alternative to a negotiated agreement
CBM Confidence-building measure
CEC Central Elections Committee
GOI Government of Israel
KSCP Kerem Shalom crossing point
LO Liaison office
MB Muslim Brotherhood
MF Multi-national force
MFA Israeli ministry of foreign affairs
NAD Negotiations affairs department
NSU Negotiation support unit
NUG National unity government
PA Palestinian Authority
PG Presidential Guard
PLC Palestinian Leadership Council
PS Permanent status
PSN Permanent status negotiations
RCP Rafah crossing point
RM Road Map
SPB State with provisional borders
SSR Security sector reform
SWG Security working group
TOR Terms of reference
WG Working group
Al Jazeera has obtained more than 1,600 internal documents from a decade of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
By Gregg Carlstrom
Over the last several months, Al Jazeera has been given unhindered access to the largest-ever leak of confidential documents related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are nearly 1,700 files, thousands of pages of diplomatic correspondence detailing the inner workings of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. These documents – memos, e-mails, maps, minutes from private meetings, accounts of high level exchanges, strategy papers and even power point presentations – date from 1999 to 2010.
The material is voluminous and detailed; it provides an unprecedented look inside the continuing negotiations involving high-level American, Israeli, and Palestinian Authority officials.
By Hussein Agha and Robert Malley
During the last two years, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has suffered serious setbacks. Other than for a brief, fleeting moment, Israelis and Palestinians have had no direct political contact and there is little hope, for now at least, that this will change. Any faith Israelis and Palestinians may have in the possibility of an agreement is collapsing.
Benjamin Netanyahu; drawing by John Springs
The US, sponsor of that process, has seen its credibility badly damaged. The Obama administration was repeatedly rebuffed—by Israel, from whom it had demanded a full halt in settlement construction; by Palestinians it pressed to engage in direct negotiations; by Arab states it hoped would take steps to normalize relations with Israel. An administration that never tires of saying it cannot want peace more than the parties routinely belies that claim by the desperation it exhibits in pursuing that goal. Today, there is little trust, no direct talks, no settlement freeze, and, one at times suspects, not much of a US policy.
The Palestinian flag flies from the building housing the Palestine Liberation Organization's diplomatic mission in Washington on January 18, 2011.
The Palestinians have raised their flag on top of the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) diplomatic mission in Washington in a symbolic move that will surely anger US government officials.
“We are proud to see the flag,” said the chief Palestinian envoy, Maen Areikat, who raised the flag on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.
Zionists act to control and manipulate and we must continue to calmly resist.
By Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh
After I finished my last book on popular resistance in Palestine over the past 130 years, I became certain that political Zionism will fail and that Palestinian refugees will return to their homes and lands. My certainty is based on the lessons of history in Palestine and lessons from similar struggles like South Africa, Vietnam, and Algeria. Some of the peculiarities that will be critical for our success are:
- The incredible and inspiring history of the local popular resistance: The subtitle of my book is "A history of hope and empowerment". Over 200 forms of popular resistance are practiced including a wide spectrum of what we call in Arabic Sumud. Resistance is the main thing that stood in the way of the Zionist project. Five and a half million Palestinians still live in the dreamed of "Eretz Yisrael".
- The logarithmic growth of the boycotts, divestments and sanctions movement. In five years alone (2005-2010), we achieved more than what we were able to achieve in BDS movements in South Africa from the 1950s to the 1980s.
- The unrest in Algeria and Tunisia tell us that the era of backward selfish undemocratic Arab leadership will (and must) come to an end. There are tremendous intellectual resources in the Arab world that can then be unleashed to build a vibrant society (at levels of culture, economics, scientific, etc.)
Once the darling of Ramallah, Mohamed Dahlan is in the crosshairs of Fatah's old guard leaders, writes Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank
A Palestinian woman stands next to her demolished house in Jerusalem's Givat Hamivtar neighbourhood
A Fatah security panel has been questioning former Fatah strongman Mohamed Dahlan in connection with allegations that he had been plotting to overthrow Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. Dahlan denied any wrongdoing, blaming the "rumours" on "political enemies and envious detractors".
Fatah didn't issue a formal statement on the outcome of the two-hour questioning session, but unofficial sources in Ramallah spoke of a "growing estrangement" between Dahlan and "the presidency institution and those who call the shots [within Fatah]."
Strongman Mohamed Dahlan
According to some Fatah sources, Dahlan, a member in Fatah's Executive Committee, has already been stripped of many of his privileges and denied access to classified information. It has also been rumoured that he has been asked to leave the West Bank and make no contacts with PA security agencies.
Fervor of recognitions is back, championed by PA leader Abbas.
By Ramzy Baroud
When late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat read the Declaration of the Palestinian Independence just over 22 years ago, Palestinians everywhere were enthralled. They held onto his every word during the Palestinian National Council (PNC) session in Algeria on November 15, 1988. The council members incessantly applauded and chanted in the name of Palestine, freedom, the people and much more.
Back in Nuseirat, a refugee camp in Gaza, a large crowd of neighbors and friends watched the event on a small black and white television.
Abbas threatened to use diplomatic options.
By Mohammed Mar'i – Ramallah
The Palestinian Authority (PA) will present the UN Security Council (UNSC) with a draft of a resolution declaring statehood in the coming days, a senior Palestinian official said on Wednesday.
Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said in a press statement that the resolution is scheduled to be filed when Bosnia takes the UNSC's presidency in January.
9 December, 2010
By Khalid Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem
There have been some rumors of late alleging that Hamas is willing to recognize Israel in exchange for the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem.
Some anti-Hamas websites indulged in more than a small amount of gloating and disinformation, effectively celebrating Hamas's alleged ideological turnabout.
Moreover, some Fatah spokesperson seized on the rumors, claiming that Hamas and Fatah were now on equal footing.
Even Hezbutahrir (the Islamic Liberation Party) which is notorious for trying to catch faults with Hamas, has castigated the Islamic movement for following the path of Fatah and abandoning the path of Islam!
The truth of the matter is that for Hamas recognition of Israel, the Zionist entity which claims Palestine as an exclusive national Jewish homeland, remains an ultimate and inviolable red line.
Which means that the Islamic Liberation Movement will never ever recognize the illegitimate entity called Israel.
By Joshua Keating/ Foreign Policy
Friday, December 3, 2010
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his transformative Foreign Minister Celso Amorim are still making news in their last month in office, announcing today that Brazil would recognize the Palestinian state along the 1967 borders. Here's the (Google-translated) statement from the foreign ministry:
The initiative is consistent with Brazil's historical willingness to contribute to the peace process between Israel and Palestine, whose direct negotiations are currently suspended, and is in line with UN resolutions demanding the end to the occupation of Palestinian territories and building an independent state within the borders of June 4, 1967.
The decision does not imply abandoning the conviction that are essential negotiations between Israel and Palestine in order to achieve that mutual concessions on the central issues of the conflict.
Brazil reaffirms its traditional position of favoring a democratic Palestinian state, geographically cohesive and economically viable, living in peace with Israel. Only a democratic Palestine, free and sovereign will meet the legitimate demands for Israeli peace with its neighbors, security on its borders and political stability in its surrounding region.
All work hard to keep the issue alive, no thanks to the PA.
By Stuart Littlewood – London
The other day I looked back with sadness on how nothing had changed for the better since my last trip to Palestine three years ago. On that occasion I also visited Gaza, an experience indelibly etched on my memory.
The situation there only goes from bad to worse - intolerably worse. But if I'm dispirited, heaven knows how the average Palestinian must feel as a result of the incompetent leadership they have had to endure these last 63 years… a leadership which failed to coherently argue and convey the justice of the Palestinian cause and never bothered, even to this day, to formulate and put into action an effective communications plan to win freedom.
The Israelis, though accomplished propagandists, are not very bright. In the battle for hearts and minds they have a violent story to tell and a lousy reputation to defend. And it’s getting worse every day. In their greed they score potentially damaging own-goals and leave the moral high ground to their victims.
Seemingly to deflect attention from its documented war crimes in Gaza, Israel is accusing the Palestinian resistance in the Strip of using prohibited weapons, writes Saleh Al-Naami
Construction vehicles begin building a barrier some 50km north of the southern city of Eilat, to seal off part of the Jewish state's border with Egypt
From Rafah, at the southernmost point in the Gaza Strip, Mohamed Al-Hassan, 39, headed to a psychiatric health centre in Gaza City on Saturday with his daughter Arwa, aged seven. She appears to be suffering severe psychological stress after she woke up last week to the sound of massive explosions as Israeli military jets shelled farming areas near her district with bombs weighing more than one ton. Arwa's family home shook with every explosion and the windows shattered, causing the child to wet herself, suffer night frights, and be unable to concentrate. These are the same symptoms she suffered for over a year after the end of the war on Gaza, when her district was also targeted by Israeli bombers.
“There can be no Palestinian state without Gaza and we’re not seeking, therefore, to establish a separate entity in the Gaza enclave or any kind of emirate nor empire here. The government in Gaza is an elected government and is committed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, democracy, pluralism, respect of women and their freedom, protection of public rights and non-interference in private life." Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh
Ahmed Yousef is the undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Gaza Strip and a former senior political advisor to Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
Accusations that Hamas is marketing fundamentalism and extremism in Gaza are false. There is no "Talibanization" of Gaza. Such a claim is based on Israeli propaganda and the deliberately distorted accounts of those in Gaza who are politically and ideologically opposed to the government of Ismail Haniyeh.
It is true that some individuals in the interior and religious affairs ministries have acted in an overzealous or misguided manner driven by their own concern to preserve what they see as the culture of the community, but their actions were not on the basis of any governmental decision or a ministerial policy. In fact, on a number of occasions the government directly intervened to reverse some of these misguided decisions.
Palestinian society is inherently conservative, and the values that govern people's lives are mostly drawn from Islam. The proper way to correct the kind of public behavior which can threaten those values should be addressed through the existing educational frameworks of the family and the mosque.
Unfortunately, the combination of an Israeli misinformation campaign and the misguided actions of a few overzealous individuals who see themselves as the guardians of public morality provides the Western media with the kinds of stories that feed common stereotypes they have of Islamists. Hamas is falsely portrayed as a fundamentalist and extremist movement intending to launch an Islamic emirate in the Gaza Strip.
The campaign of defamation began immediately after the bloody events of June 2007 which were presented as a military takeover of Gaza. Since then, the allegations and accusations have intensified with terms such as "Hamastan" and "emirate of darkness" used by some in the media to vilify the efforts of the Haniyeh government to provide security and essential services for the people of Gaza.
Fatah-Hamas reconciliation must begin with a vow to stop violating the human rights of those they compete to represent.
By Lamis Andoni
The Fatah-Hamas rift has polarised Palestinians [GALLO/GETTY]
Hamas and Fatah have resumed reconciliation talks in a bid to heal the rift that has led to the Israeli occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip being governed by two separate bodies.
Previous meetings have failed to unite the two groups, whose differences have brought about the most serious schism in Palestinian history. There is nothing so far to indicate that this latest round of talks, taking place in the Syrian capital Damascus, will be any different.
But the suspension of talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), as the latter continues to demand that Israel stop building illegal Jewish settlements, has provided an opportunity for the gap between Hamas and Fatah to be bridged.
Palestinians everywhere will 'thank Netanyahu for bringing them together.'
By Jonathan Cook - Nazareth
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, is in the United States this week, but few observers expect an immediate or significant breakthrough in the stalled peace talks with the Palestinian leadership.
In public, Mr Netanyahu maintains he is committed to the pledge he made last year, shortly after he formed his right-wing government, to work towards the creation of a demilitarised Palestinian state.
But so far he has proved either unwilling or unable to renew even a partial freeze on Jewish settlement building in the West Bank -- a key condition set by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, for reviving the negotiations.
Most of Mr Netanyahu's cabinet, including Avigdor Lieberman, his foreign minister, barely conceal their opposition to Palestinian statehood. Instead, Mr Netanyahu has imposed a precondition of his own: that the Palestinians recognise Israel as the state of the Jewish people.
Ramadan Shallah, Secretary General of Palestinian Islamic Jihad
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad's Secretary General Ramadan Shallah
Palestinian Islamic Jihad has warned against any Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, saying that any attack would permeate through all the occupied territories.
Speaking on the martyrdom anniversary of the movement's founder, Fathi Shaqaqi, the group's Secretary General Ramadan Shallah said on Friday that a fresh Israeli onslaught on the impoverished coastal sliver will spread through all the "cities and villages where Zionist dwellers reside," IRNA reported.
Shaqaqi, who was assassinated in 1995 by Israel's spy agency, Mossad, in Malta, established the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in 1987.
In actual fact, nothing is changing – except for the insistence by some that it is.
By Ramzy Baroud
Democracy in the Middle East continues to be a hugely popular topic of discussion. Its virtues are tirelessly praised by rulers and oppositions alike, by intellectuals and ordinary people, by political prisoners and their prison guards. Yet, in actuality, it also remains an illusion, if not a front to ensure the demise of any real possibility of public participation in decision-making.
Bahrain was the latest Arab country to hold free and fair elections. It managed a reasonable voter turnout of 67 percent. The opposition also did very well, winning 45 percent of the seats. In terms of fairness and transparency, the Bahraini elections could serve as an excellent example of how ‘things are changing’ in the Middle East. More, they might provide Western leaders, such as US President Barack Obama an opportunity to commend the contribution of American guidance to ‘progress’ in the region.
In actual fact, nothing is changing – except for the insistence by some that it is. Arab governments have made two important discoveries in the last decade.
The Palestinian leadership is looking for side exits from a moribund peace process that appears set to collapse, writes Khaled Amayreh in the West Bank
Increasingly frustrated by US inability -- or unwillingness -- to force Israel to end its decades-old military occupation of Palestinian territories, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is preparing a list of alternatives that would forestall the looming breakdown of US-sponsored talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The Obama administration has been saying that the only path the Middle East peace process should take is of direct bilateral talks between the two sides. However, under the rubric of direct or indirect talks, Israel has continued unrelenting settlement expansion schemes in the West Bank and especially in occupied East Jerusalem, often flying in the face of American and international calls for a new settlement moratorium that would allow for the resumption of peace talks.
The PA, itself coming under strong public pressure to adopt a stronger position vis-à-vis Israeli intransigence and arrogance, has vowed to boycott already precarious talks if the Binyamin Netanyahu government refuses to freeze settlement building. For its part, the Israeli government has vowed to go on building more settlements, which Palestinians and international observers argue will destroy any remaining possibility for the creation of a viable and territorially-contiguous Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 borders.
The entire peace process is based on the assumption that a viable Palestinian state will be created alongside Israel. But constant and unmitigated Israeli land grabbing in the occupied territories, the presumed future home of the would-be Palestinian state, is underscoring the precariousness of the peace process and the near impossibility of establishing a real Palestinian state.
Unable to convince the US to exert pressure on Israel, mainly due to the immense influence of the American Jewish lobby on US policy on the Palestinian issue, the visibly weak Palestinian leadership has been consulting with key Arab states, such as Egypt, for the purpose of putting up a joint diplomatic Arab plan to force Israel to stop its strident settlement expansion plans.
According to PA officials, the first alternative being contemplated is to try to persuade the Obama administration to recognise a Palestinian state in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem if Israel refuses to stop settlement expansion. "For the time being, we are focusing on the first option, namely negotiations," PA leader Mahmoud Abbas was quoted saying late last week.
However, it is highly unlikely that a weakened US administration would be in a position to recognise a Palestinian state based on vague borders. Israel views the occupied territories as "disputed" rather than "occupied" land, and successive US administrations have more or less refused to take a final and committed stand on the issue, insisting that "border problems" should be ironed out and resolved in bilateral talks.
Hence, it is unlikely that approaching the US to recognise a Palestinian state would work, especially given the strong opposition to such a plan inside the administration, namely from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. If the US said "No" to Palestinian solicitations to obtain American recognition for a declared Palestinian state, the PA and its Arab allies would reportedly switch to a second alternative -- asking the UN or the UN Security Council to recognise a Palestinian state.
A resolution to that effect by the UN, however, would have little practical effect in being added to dozens of UN resolutions demanding Israel to end its occupation of Arab land and terminate and reverse its illegal measures, including the building of settlements on occupied territories, all of which stand ignored by Israel. Similarly, a draft-resolution demanding Security Council recognition of a prospective Palestinian state is likely to be vetoed by the US.
If this alternative too failed (and it is widely expected it would), the PA -- probably under Egyptian advice -- would call for the convening of an international peace conference. However, such a conference would be anathema for Israel, which would reject it outright.
Israeli officials and leaders, displaying much arrogance, have said repeatedly they would not allow other nations or a group of nations to dictate Israel's borders. In other words, Israel would reject and ignore any effort by the international community to force it to adhere to the rule of international law regarding the occupied Palestinian territories. Egypt strongly favours the idea of holding an international peace conference, believing it an inevitable requirement for genuine peace.
Indeed, Egyptian officials have voiced mounting frustration with Israel's prevarication and stonewalling policies, with one Egyptian official quoted as saying that the impasse in the peace process must end in order to ensure Palestinian rights. "An international summit would redefine the fundamentals and the borders of a Palestinian state that would be erected on the territories occupied in June 1967, with or without Israeli settlements."
The Egyptian official added that in any case something has to be done to keep the current peace process alive and to prevent its collapse. Meanwhile, some believe that the various parties to the peace process only have an interest in keeping the process symbolically alive, rather than seeing it succeed in achieving its stated goals.
Regardless, there is no doubt that revisiting old alternatives reflects more Palestinian and Arab frustration vis-à-vis American failure to pressure Israel than it does the formulation of an enhanced Palestinian-Arab position that would make a real difference in the peacemaking process as a whole. Meanwhile, with every day that passes Israel keeps up its intensive settlement expansion schemes, pushing any prospective settlement further away.
In addition, the continued drifting to jingoism and racism in Jewish-Israeli society means that reaching a dignified resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict will be much more difficult than before. Last week, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, spiritual mentor of the ultra-fundamentalist Shas Party, was quoted as saying: "God created non-Jews like donkeys so that they will serve Jews." And: "The only real function of non-Jews is to serve Jews. This is why God keeps them alive."
Yosef is not a marginal figure in Israel. He has hundreds of thousands of followers and he is often described as a "kingmaker" regarding his personal influence on various Israeli governments. Still, Yosef's fascist-like comments didn't raise any eyebrows in Israel, neither in the government, nor among intellectuals, and not even in the media. This is not news, but it is telling.
For video click here.
There is now "no chance" for a two-state solution in Palestine. So said Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian member of Israel's parliament, the Knesset, in an interview with The Electronic Intifada (EI) on 29 October in Chicago.
"The reality goes more toward the one state solution," Zoabi said, "whether a democratic one-state solution, or a binational one-state solution."
Elected in 2009, Zoabi represents the National Democratic Alliance, and is the first woman to be elected on the list of an Arab party in Israel.
"We are struggling for a normal state," Zoabi explained, "which is a state for all of its citizens, [in] which the Palestinians and the Israeli Jews can have full equality. I recognize religious, cultural and national group rights for the Israelis, but inside a democratic and neutral state."
PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas meets with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit and Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman in Ramallah October 28, 2010.
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an, Nov. 1, 2010 -- Egypt has proposed a joint Arab initiative to bring Palestinian demands for statehood to the United Nations, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) chief negotiator Saeb Erekat has told Ma'an.
He told Ma'an Radio that one aim of this plan, which he said is close to being finalized, would be to force Israel to stop expanding West Bank settlements before resuming negotiations.
Erekat said the idea of approaching the UN stemmed from the US government's failure to stop Israel from expanding settlements.
"When we talk about alternatives, this doesn’t mean failing [in the] talks; we want them to succeed," Erekat said. "The issue is not easy and negotiation is a tool that is used to solve problems, not a goal in itself. If Israel made the talks fail, then we will go to the other options."
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh
Palestinian democratically elected Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has denounced the international community's silence on the ongoing Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip.
"The arrival of the Viva Palestina Lifeline 5 convoy, organized by the UK-based charity Viva Palestina, in Gaza is a blow to the Israeli siege and international organizations which remain silent," Haniyeh said on Friday.
He further pointed out that the convoy "represents condemnation of the [UN] Security Council and the international community, which remain quiet on the siege. It carries support for the Palestinian position of holding onto their land and rights.”
"There will be no recognition of a Jewish state, because the occupation is void," he noted.
Though the detail is unclear, the PLO leadership is airing the notion of offering "historic" concessions to Israel to bring it along the path of peace, writes Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah
The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) has expressed willingness to offer Israel far-reaching concessions in return for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state in all or most of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Some of the offered concessions constitute clear abandonment of Palestinian national constants and other long-standing Palestinian positions.
Earlier this week, PLO Secretary Yasser Abed Rabbo said in an interview that his organisation would be willing to recognise Israel as a Jewish state if Israel agreed to give the Palestinians a state based on 1967 borders. "We would be willing to recognise Israel as whatever the Israelis want, even as a Chinese state," said Abed Rabbo.
The remarks infuriated most Palestinians, including many Fatah leaders, who urged PA leader Mahmoud Abbas to fire Abed Rabbo. The leaders of the Arab community in Israel were especially upset by Abed Rabbo's statements, with one of them -- Mohamed Barakeh -- also urging Abbas to dismiss Abed Rabbo. "He has no right to interfere with the fate of Arab citizens of Israel. He doesn't represent them; this is none of his business."
Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP
Negotiations between two unequal parties cannot succeed. Success in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations requires a reasonable balance of power, clear terms of reference and abstention of both sides from imposing unilateral facts on the ground. None of that existed in the talks that were re-initiated in September.
Much like previous rounds of talks, these negotiations were dominated on one side by an Israeli government that controls the land, roads, airspace, borders, water and electricity, as well as the trade and economy of the Palestinian side, while possessing a powerful military establishment (now the third military exporter in the world) and a robust gross domestic product, which has tripled in the last decade.
This same Israeli “partner” now also boasts a general public that has shifted dramatically to the right, and to which an apartheid system for Palestinians has become an acceptable norm. On the other side is the Palestinian Authority — one that paradoxically holds little real authority, and exists as a sort of fiefdom within the Israeli matrix of control. Further debilitating the P.A. is a protracted internal Palestinian division, total dependence on foreign aid and a decline of democracy and human rights. Finally, the Palestinian Authority is constantly pressured to provide security for its occupier while failing to provide any protection whatsoever to its own people from that same occupier.
DAM: "We Can’t Go To Syria, But Our Music Can"
21 October 2010
Day two of the Taybeh Oktoberfest, the internationally renowned beer festival. Its late and the amber nector is loosening tongues. MC Tamer Nafar addresses the audience in English. “Scream if you do not speak Arabic,” he calls. A few people shout, and he raises his voice. “Come on, come on! Yala, yala! Scream if you do not speak Arabic!” He wins over a few meek foreigners, and their voices blend with those of the mainly Palestinian audience, who are eager to join the call-and-response game. DAM is requesting audience interaction, specifically asking their foreign audience to learn Arabic syllables during the next song. Their call is a demand for understanding.
Suhell teaches the audience Arabic phonemes during a song.
It’s a call beyond a song. The three-person act is a product of a mixed background, with influences from both sides of the Wall. Mahmoud Jreri and brothers Tamer and Suhell Nafar were raised in slums of Lod, a mixed Jewish and Arabic town, 15 km from Jerusalem. When Lod was conquered in 1948 by Israel, nearly all of the Arabic population was expelled from their homes. The current population is mostly Jewish, with the Arabic community struggling to maintain a marginalised existence amidst racism and continual pressure to leave their homes.
OCCUPIED RAMALLAH -- Palestinian National Initiative leader Mustafa Barghouthi called for the "immediate declaration of an independent democratic Palestinian state" on all territories occupied by Israel in 1967 in response to failed negotiations.
Speaking to reporters in Ramallah, Barghouthi proposed a set of initiatives to "surpass the intractable impasse in the so called peace process," which he described as "meaningless and damaging" while Israeli settlement building continues.
The declaration calls on "all states, governments and international institutions recognize the Palestinian state and its borders immediately," as well as lobbying the UN General Assembly to issue a recognition of the state on 4 June 1967 and "a demand that Israel end the occupation of its land, borders, airspace, and water resources, removing all illegal settlements from Palestinian territories."
Barghouthi further called for "punitive action against Israel should it continue its occupation of the Palestinian state," following the declaration of the state.
This time the Palestinian president may make good his resignation threats, reports Khaled Amayreh from Ramallah
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has signalled his intention to resign as PA chairman. A visibly desperate Abbas told reporters earlier this week that "soon you will not be speaking with me in my capacity as president". A Palestinian journalist travelling aboard the presidential plane reported that Abbas told him and other reporters that "this is the last time you will be travelling with me as president of the PA".
Abbas has threatened to resign on a number of occasions yet he has remained at the helm of both the PA and Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). More importantly, he has maintained his position as the leader of Fatah.
But sources close to the decision-making process in Ramallah now intimate that Abbas is more disillusioned than ever with the "futility and pointlessness" of the peace process and that he may well depart "in order to retire with his dignity intact".
Many Palestinians criticise Abbas, often harshly, for indulging in an open-ended process that has diluted the Palestinian cause and allowed Israel to drag the Palestinians into a maze of secondary details. Others, especially within the Islamic movement, have accused him of surrendering Palestinian sovereignty to regional powers -- a not too subtle allusion to Egypt.
The Palestinian leader's latest thoughts of resignation come amid a stark crisis besetting Palestinian-Israeli talks following the all-out resumption of Israeli settlement activities.
By Samantha Jean-Baptiste
Columbia launched the first-ever Center for Palestine Studies in the United States on Thursday night, and organizers said that, despite limited funds, they are pushing forward.
The center, which will run out of the University’s Middle East Institute in Knox Hall, was created by a group of faculty with the goal of promoting and advancing Palestine studies in a wide range of subjects, from politics to the arts.
“Columbia has one of the most distinguished faculty of people that work on Palestine studies, and it was some sort of a logical outgrowth of that community,” Brinkley Messick, co-director of the Center for Palestine Studies, said.
The Middle East Institute is over 50 years old on campus, but this center is the first of its kind.
The center was also created in honor of former professor Edward Said, who taught at Columbia for 40 years before his death in 2003 and is widely known for his book “Orientalism.”
“He was one of the most prominent scholars of the late 20th century in literary criticism and public intellect, and one of his main interests was the question of Palestine,” Messick said. “He drew people to the University in his day, and that legacy is still alive, and that too fed into the realization that there was a very substantial community of scholars here that could well benefit from and contribute to a new center.”
Jewish musician Daniel Barenboim (L) and Palestinian-U.S. writer Edward Said shake hands after their joint news conference in Oviedo, northern Spain on October 25, 2002. Barenboim and Said recieved the 2002 Prince of Asturias Award for Concord. Columbia University, where Said taught for 40 years, is opening a Center for Palestinian Studies Thursday, honoring the legacy of Said, who died in 2003. (Photo: REUTERS / Alonso Gonzalez)
By Joseph Picard
Already recognized as one of the world's great educational institutions and a bastion of academic freedom, Columbia University steps to the forefront once again on Thursday, as it becomes the first American university to house on campus a center dedicated to Palestinian studies.
"The corpus of writings is huge. There is a whole world of art and culture," said Brinkley Messick, chair of the Anthropology Department at Columbia and co-director of the new Center for Palestinian Studies.
"The corpus just hasn't been organized," he said. "That is what the center will bring. It will become the repository of sources, organizing and coordinating materials, and opening an academic space for inquiry into Palestinian history and literature and art, all aspects of Palestinian culture."
The center will be publicly launched at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 7, 2010 in 309 Havemeyer Hall on Columbia's main campus. The CPS will be a part of the university's Middle East Institute. All of the funding for the center is from the university through the Middle East Institute.
Messick explained that the center honors the scholarly legacy of Edward Said, a Palestinian and world-renowned scholar of comparative literature, who taught at Columbia for 40 years. Said died in 2003.
A teenager sits above the Toez Indigenous Reserve at dusk. Photo: Anna Baltzer)
By Anna Baltzer - Lopez, Colombia
"They only see our water, our land, our trees. They don't care about us. They want the land -- without the people on it."
These words are not of a Palestinian farmer but of Justo Conda, governor of Lopez Adentro Indigenous Reserve in southwestern Colombia, whose community was repeatedly threatened with displacement under former president Alvaro Uribe Velez. Uribe, recently appointed by the United Nations to investigate Israel's fatal attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, has a notoriously horrific track record on human rights. Less explored are the clear parallels between his government's mistreatment of indigenous peoples of Colombia and Israel's abuses of the indigenous people of Palestine.
According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Colombia has one of the largest populations of internally displaced people in the world, numbering as many as 4.9 million. According to the Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement more than 286,000 Colombians were uprooted from their land in 2009 alone. Approximately ten percent of the Colombian population has suffered forced displacement, many of them indigenous communities, afro-Colombian descendants of former slaves, and campesinos (farmers).
Like Israel, Colombia is the largest recipient of US military aid in its hemisphere. Six billion US tax-dollars over the past ten years have placed Colombia third in the world for US military assistance, after Israel and Egypt. Armed with US weapons and political backing, Uribe's government and other armed actors have forced out millions through extrajudicial assassinations and terror tactics, clearing the way for the exploitation of natural resources by the government and multinational companies. Always in the name of security and the "War on Terror," Colombian soldiers have burned villages, ransacked homes and destroyed the livelihoods of communities who have taken the radical decision of staying on their own land.
RAFAH (Ma'an) -- A 25-year-old Palestinian journalist from the southern Gaza Strip has been granted a journalism award from Norway.
The award is funded by the Norwegian Union of Journalists, Norwegian weekly newspaper Morgenbladet, Norwegian People’s Aid and individuals.
In a statement, the Norwegian committee described recipient Mohammed Omer, from Rafah, as "a voice for the voiceless, for the population of Gaza that has too often been forgotten by the world community."
Omer runs the website Rafah Today, and has contributed to The Nation, New Statesman, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and Inter Press Service, among others.
Ain al-Hilweh is the largest, most heavily armed and most violent Palestine refugee camp in Lebanon. Home to around 75,000 Palestinian refugees and their descendants, Ain al-Hilweh, or Beautiful Eyes, was built on the site of a former British World War II army base just outside the southern port city of Sidon [Credit: Hugh Macleod]
On Sharia Bustan Yahoudi - Jewish Park Street, named after the Jews who used to live around Sidon - the irony of their address is only one among a litany of indignities suffered by the refugees. Unable to gain citizenship, they live in limbo. The government has passed a law allowing them to claim free work permits for employment in the private sector, but they remain barred from over 70 professional jobs [Credit: Hugh Macleod]
For slide show of Ain al-Hilweh click here.
By Hugh Macleod
Israel may be urging Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to continue faltering peace talks despite refusing to renew a freeze on illegal settlement building, but in the tinderbox Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon life is defined by an issue neither side has ever publically expressed any willingness to compromise over: The right of Palestinian refugees to return home.
"No-one can negotiate on our right to return to Palestine. There is only one country called Palestine and we will never return there except by resistance to Israel," says Abu Yousef, a fighter with the Palestinian faction Ansar Allah.
After twenty-two years of getting nowhere but further screwed to Israel’s apartheid wall on the West Bank and strangulated in Gaza, it is now time for the Palestinians to adopt a new strategy, which I most respectfully recommend here for them to consider: Sign nothing and let Israel collapse! Recently it was reported that the United States’ own Central Intelligence Agency predicted the collapse of Israel within twenty years. My most respectful advice to the Palestinians is to let Israel so collapse!
Thursday, 30 September 2010 16:30
By Francis Boyle
PalestineOn November 15, 1988 the Palestine National Council (P.N.C.) meeting in Algiers proclaimed the Palestinian Declaration of Independence that created the independent state of Palestine. Today the State of Palestine is bilaterally recognized de jure by about 130 states. Palestine has de facto diplomatic recognition from most of Europe. It was only massive political pressure applied by the U.S. government that prevented European states from according to Palestine de jure diplomatic recognition.
Palestine is a member state of the League of Arab States and of the Islamic Conference Organization. When the International Court of Justice in The Hague—the so-called World Court of the United Nations System—conducted its legal proceedings on Israel’s apartheid wall on the West Bank, the World Court invited the State of Palestine to participate in the proceedings. In other words, the International Court of Justice recognized the State of Palestine.
Palestine has Observer State Status with the United Nations Organization, and basically all the rights of a U.N. Member State except the right to vote. Effectively, Palestine has de facto U.N. Membership. The only thing keeping Palestine from de jure U.N. Membership is the implicit threat of a veto at the U.N. Security Council by the United States, which is clearly illegal. Someday Palestine shall be a full-fledged U.N. Member State.
Al-Shabaka policy brief
By Nadia Hijab
How can Palestinians ensure their rights are protected and fulfilled if an agreement is reached?
Many commentators expect the direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians to fail. But there is a much worse scenario: What if they “succeed?” The United States appears determined to push for a framework agreement within a year and both Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA), are aiming for that goal. Such an agreement, U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell explained in a September 2 press conference, would be more than a declaration of principles but less than a peace treaty. In it, the two sides would reach the “fundamental compromises” necessary for a peace accord. Like its predecessor, the Obama administration has already indicated that the accord would still have to be fleshed out and then implemented over the course of several years – which virtually ensures that it will be delayed if not derailed as happened to past peace accords.
If the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and PA were unable to secure a sovereign state and rights through U.S.-brokered negotiations with Israel between 1993 and 2000, when they were in a much stronger position, they are highly unlikely to do so today with such a badly skewed Israeli-Palestinian power dynamic. Instead, next year is likely to see a grand ceremony where Palestinian leaders will sign away the right of return and other Palestinian rights in an agreement that would change little on the ground. The plan of the PA’s appointed prime minister, Salam Fayyad, to declare a Palestinian state in 2011 could unwittingly contribute to this outcome by providing the appearance of an “end of conflict” while the reality remains unchanged. If the rest of the world sees that the government of “Palestine” is satisfied with international recognition and a U.N. seat, they will be happy to move on to other problems leaving the Palestinians at Israel’s mercy.
The PFLP was founded in 1967.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine announced in a press conference on September 25, 2010 that it was suspending its participation in the PLO Executive Committee in response to Abu Mazen's return to negotiations and the illegitimate "approval" of the EC for this dangerous action.
At a press conference held in Ramallah led by Deputy General Secretary Comrade Abdel-Rahim Mallouh and Political Bureau members Comrades Khalida Jarrar and Omar Shehadeh, the Front warned of the serious consequences and repercussions of the policy of concessions and appeasement to the U.S. and Israel.
The press conference issued a statement, as follows:
A policy statement issued by the Central Committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
To the masses of our Palestinian people struggling in Palestine And the Diaspora...
To the masses of our glorious Arab Nation...
We make this statement today in light of our full national and historical responsibility and a high level of consciousness of the great risks to our people of current political developments on the Arab and Palestinian level. In light of the action of the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization to return to direct negotiations with the government of the Zionist entity under the auspices of U.S. imperialism, the Central Committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine convened an extraordinary meeting to discuss all of these developments, which determined the following:
First: The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine has firmly adhered to a categorical rejection of Oslo since 1993, and warned early of its dangerous approach and its disastrous consequences for the Palestinian cause, the PLO program and charter, and the Palestinian national struggle. The decision to return to direct negotiations is one that has failed for nearly two decades now. It is an affront to the blood of our people shed in the Al-Aqsa Intifada 2000 and represents the persistence of the PLO leadership to continue the devastating Oslo path, despite its devastating effect on our people. This development places the Palestinian cause in the hands of U.S. imperialism and Zionism, holding it accountable to their dictates, which aim at the liquidation of the inalienable historic and national rights of our people, particularly the right of return for refugees, the right of self-determination, and the right of citizenship and presence on the land of Palestinians in the 1948 occupied areas of Palestine. The direct negotiations also help to break the growing international isolation of the Zionist entity, to protect its leaders from accountability and consequences of their crimes and slaughter, and to circumvent the growing international solidarity with our people and their rights. They provide a cover for the occupation practices and policies of settlement building, land confiscation, displacement, siege, detention, imprisonment and killing; further erode our Palestinian national position and national constants; and contribute to the deepening of the disastrous internal Palestinian division.
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- In an apparent attempt to realize Palestinian reconciliation, Hamas called on de facto Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to pull out of “pointless talks” with Israel, end security coordination with occupation forces, and stop persecuting Hamas supporters in the West Bank.
The group said in a statement on Tuesday: “We call on Mr. Mahmoud Abbas and the Oslo group to immediately stop pointless negotiations, end all forms of security coordination with the Zionist occupation, recognize the failure and frivolousness of their political choices, adopt a political program that protects constants and rights, and earnestly tend to achieve a national Palestinian reconciliation.”
By Khalid Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem
The reaction of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to the latest Zionist provocations, including the all-out settlement expansion drive in the West Bank, has been disastrous and calamitous.
Abbas has issued a plethora of conflicting statements, some signaling his willingness to remain engaged in the so-called "peace process" with Israel. This is despite the fact that Israel keeps trampling on that damned, whoring process, if only by embarking on more settlement building, and more land theft at the Palestinians' expense.
This is not a minor matter. The occupied territories are the proverbial disputed piece of cheese which Israel keeps devouring around the clock to the extent that most Palestinians are justifiably worried that no territories will be left for establishing a viable and territorially contiguous state that is worthy of the name. Some, including this writer, believe that it is already too late for Palestinian statehood.
Egypt has tried for months to mediate an agreement between Hamas and Fatah [AFP]
Hamas and Fatah officials meet in Syria in their latest attempt to restart reconciliation talks that stalled in October.
High-level officials from Hamas and Fatah have launched the latest of several efforts to restart stalled talks between the two Palestinian factions with a "friendly" meeting in the Syrian capital.
Khaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of Hamas, hosted Fatah representative Azzam al-Ahmad at his office in Damascus on Friday. The two men said their groups would "hold a meeting shortly" to outline a deal, and then travel to Cairo "to sign a reconciliation agreement".
"An agreement was reached for a course and the steps to be taken toward reconciliation," the two men said in a joint statement.
By Khalid Amayreh in Ramallah
The European Union (EU) is considered the main donor and bankroller of the Palestinian Authority (PA), an entity that more or less lives off Europeans’ tax payers. Hence, the EU is supposed to have certain leverage on PA domestic policies, including the extent to which the Ramallah-based government is committed to human rights and civil liberties.
Unfortunately, the EU has done next to nothing in terms of urging the PA to conform with internationally-observed human rights standards. The fact that the PA, a virtual police state without a state, continues to be a serious human rights violator, shows that the EU may not really be sufficiently concerned about the status of human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories.
By Khalid Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem
It is crystal clear that Israel, the arrogant, fanatical and belligerent Jewish state is trying hard to undermine Turkey. Israel feels that its hegemony in the Middle East is being challenged by Turkish efforts to reassert the country’s national interests by enhancing relations with Islamic neighbors and also by courageously opposing Israeli ethnic cleansing and other manifestly criminal policies against the Palestinians.
In recent days and weeks, Israel has been quite furious about the recent referendum in Turkey which granted the government additional powers to assert real democracy and prevent the recurrence of military coups.
The Turkish republic had witnessed three military coups against democratically-elected governments the last of which took place nearly 30 years ago, when the military introduced draconian constitutional amendments making the anti-Islam military establishment effectively above the people’s will.
In the mid 1990s, the Turkish military forced the popular Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan to resign amid suspicions that the conservative premier was trying to re-Islamize Turkey.
The Israeli media has been quite vociferous about “losing Turkey” as if that country of 75 million people were supposed to be a banana republic subservient to Israel. Moreover, Israeli commentators, affiliated with fanatical Zionist circles, have urged the Israeli government to envisage ways and means to “overcome” the “growing Turkish threat”!
DAMASCUS, (PIC)-- Hamas representative in Lebanon Osama Hamdan stated that the resignation of de facto president Mahmoud Abbas would not be a disaster, but it would be a way out of the inter-Palestinian crisis.
In a statement to the Palestinian information center (PIC) on Wednesday, Hamdan said that regardless of all attempts by some to defend him, Abbas and nobody else is primarily and fully responsible for the internal division and the concessions made on the Palestinian rights, so his departure from the Palestinian Authority (PA) would be welcomed by the Palestinian people.
'No' seems too simple and too harsh, considering the gravity of the situation.
The Obama administration cannot be serious about a lasting peace while continuing to play the same nonsensical good guys/bad guys, carrot and stick political games that were also employed by Bush.
By Ramzy Baroud
One key difference between Hamas and its rival, the Fatah movement in the West Bank, is that Hamas is accountable to a much more complex set of priorities and expectations. While Fatah is effortlessly co-opted, Hamas remains confined by ideological standards and the stringiest political space. Although, on one hand this represents Hamas’ greatest strength, on the other it shows just how truly arduous is its political undertaking.
The difference is relevant in light of the resumption of talks between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington, followed by another round of talks in the Middle East. Both once more raised the question: can Israel and Fatah achieve peace without Hamas’ involvement?
"The idea of a two-state solution in Palestine is finished. Israeli settlements in the West Bank and their attendant infrastructure have made a viable and independent Palestinian state impossible. The settlements, moreover, cannot be undone. Their existence obviates the need for formal Israeli annexation: The de-facto annexation of the West Bank has already taken place. The only remaining solution is a single, unified, bi-national state."
By Robert Grenier
The George W. Bush administration had a phrase for it: "Catastrophic success." As part of the planning process before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, a comprehensive list of potentially disastrous unintended consequences of a successful military campaign was drawn up. Though initially there was considerable relief when none of the developments on the list came to pass, it eventually became apparent that the list - which failed to anticipate a string of supremely unwise post-invasion decisions - was far too short.
Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, may soon be wishing he had drawn up such a list - and paid attention to it - many years ago. For the consequences of his own - and his party's - catastrophic success are becoming manifest.
GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian government of Ismail Haneyya has condemned the Israeli military attacks against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, warning of further escalation.
Government spokesman Taher Al-Nunu said in a press release on Thursday that the Israeli shelling and murder in the Strip coincides with media escalation and field tensions in an apparent intention to escalate military aggression.
By Khalid Amayreh in occupied Palestine
A prominent rabbi from a settlement in the West Bank has informed Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that there can be no real peace in occupied Palestine or the wider Middle East without the involvement of Hamas, the Islamic Palestinian liberation movement.
The Rabbi, Menahem Fruman, met with Erdogan in Istanbul a few weeks ago.
Fruman believes that since Hamas more or less represents Islam, there can be no lasting peace between Jews and Muslims without recognizing the central role of Islam in peace-making in the region and the world at large.
Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar
Prominent Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar has criticized the "weak" negotiating team of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the ongoing direct talks with Tel Aviv.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Zahar blamed the negotiators' weakness on acting PA Chief Mahmoud Abbas's backtrack on his pledge not to return to the negotiating table before a halt to Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, Ma'an news agency reported.
The Ramallah-based PA gave in to the US pressure to engage in face-to-face talks with the Israeli regime without any pre-conditions -- a decision that sparked furor across Palestinian territories where the move was viewed as a submission to the will of Washington and Tel Aviv.
Kairos: 'A Moment of Truth: A Word of Faith, Hope and Love'.
By Timothy Seidel
Much is said about Palestine-Israel. There is no shortage of reporting, analysis, and opinion. And there is no shortage of expressions of personal commitments to ‘peace’. One need only glance at recent headlines to discover this, especially with another push to reinvigorate the ‘peace process’.
But there is also much that is not said. For example, in many reports of Israel’s attack on an aid flotilla headed to Gaza earlier this year there was a glaring absence of a back story. Why are basic relief supplies needed in Gaza?
No reference to Israel’s occupation of Gaza. No reference to the fact that the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza—the majority of whom are refugees—live in what is essentially the world’s largest open-air prison. No reference to the denial of access to needed services and economic opportunity with over 70 percent living in poverty, dependent on food aid.
This is the most recent interview with Khaled Mesh’al who, since 1996, has been the Chairman of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) Political Bureau. After the assassination of Hamas leader Abdul ‘Aziz Rantisi in 2004, Mesh’al became the overall leader of the movement.
In this interview with the Jordanian Al-Sabeel newspaper in July 2010, Mesh’al lays out the policy direction of Hamas on a number of critical issues: negotiations with Israel, international relations, Jews, Christians, women, among other issues. The interview – which was conducted over many hours – has been received as significant in the Arab world and is regarded as a clear indication of positions that Hamas wants to pursue, especially with regard to future attitudes towards Israel. It is an important piece articulating, in their own words, the perspectives of Hamas’ leaders, and is critical reading for all observers of the Middle East, and all policy-makers for whom the Middle East is important. The Afro-Middle East Centre (AMEC) translated this interview into English to make it accessible to a wider audience, and allow for greater understanding – especially in the English-speaking world – of the political perspectives of a movement which has become one of the most important role-players in the Middle East today.
Do you reject, in principle, negotiations with the enemy? If negotiations could not be conducted with the enemy, is it possible to do so with a friend? Does Hamas reject the principle of negotiations outright, or do you reject its form, conduct and results?
This is definitely a thorny and sensitive issue, and many people prefer to avoid any discussion of it, and tend not to take any clear position on it for fear of negative reactions or misinterpretations. The sensitive and critical nature of this issue is compounded by the dark shadows that are cast as a result of the bitter experiences of Palestinian-Israeli and Arab-Israeli negotiations. People are influenced by these experiences, and are extremely sensitive towards the idea of “negotiations”, particularly with regard to the collective mind and mood of the nation. There is now, in many quarters, loathing for and aversion towards the concept of negotiations. This is quite understandable and natural, but this does not preclude tackling the issue thoroughly and sorting through matters carefully so as to set every detail into context, God willing.
It is indisputable that negotiating with the enemy is not rejected, either legally or rationally; indeed, there are some stages during a conflict among enemies when negotiations are required and become necessary. Both from a rational perspective and from legal logic, it is true that negotiations as a means and a tool may be acceptable and legitimate at certain points in time, and rejected and prohibited at other times; that is, it is not rejected in itself nor is it rejected all the time.
In Islamic history, in the era of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and in subsequent ages – at the time of Salahuddin [Saladin], for example – negotiation with the enemy was conducted, but within a clear framework and a specific philosophy, within a context, vision, rules and regulations governing this negotiation. This is in stark contrast to the wretched approach taken by those negotiation professionals who consider it a way of life and the sole strategic option in the service of which all other options are ruled out.
If resistance itself, honourable and esteemed as it is, is a means and not an end, does it make sense to make negotiations an end, an only option and a constant approach, rather than being a means and a tactic to fall back on when necessary and when the context requires it?
The concept in the Qur’an is clear, when God Almighty says: “And if they incline to peace, incline (you also to peace), and trust in God.” This implies that negotiation is acceptable, reasonable and logical for us as advocates of a just cause when the enemy is forced to resort to it, when they come to us ready for negotiation and for paying the price, and to respond to our demands. However, if we seek it desperately and consider it our only option, then we will be the ones paying the price. Those who are forced to negotiate are those who usually pay the price. Hence God Almighty says in another verse: “Do not weaken and call for peace when you have the upper hand.”
Will there ever be a seat at the negotiating table for Ismail Haniya?
Excluding Hamas from current and future Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations is an exercise in futility, Larbi Sadiki writes
Sidelining Hamas in any process to craft genuine peace between Israelis and Palestinians is a glaring omission tantamount to ignoring an elephant in the room.
Whether it is Obama's or the UN's negotiating room, pretending something of that size absent is an exercise in futility. Hamas is definitely an elephant with many tales. Telling some of these tales recounts the Islamist movement's rise to power against all odds.
Palestinian Authority security forces on Wednesday used force to prevent dozens of Palestinians in Ramallah from voicing their opposition to the US-sponsored direct talks with Israel.
By Ali Abunimah
Salam Fayyad’s embrace by the U.S. and Israel doesn’t change the fact that millions of Palestinians languish under occupation and in poverty.
Rabbi Kenneth Chasen is the latest to offer a glowing report of the Palestinian-state-in-the-making supposedly being built by Salam Fayyad, a political unknown until he was boosted from obscurity by the George W. Bush administration and installed as the unelected “prime minister” of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.
But the booming businesses and sleek glass towers Chasen raves about in Ramallah are part of a mirage, a narrative in which a docile Palestinian leadership “reforms” Palestine from within, making little or no noise about the ongoing depredations of Israeli occupation.
Chasen may be pleased that Fayyad barely uses the word “occupation,” but that doesn’t make the occupation any less real for the millions of Palestinians who suffer under it. As B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights group, reported last month, Israeli settlements now control 42% of the West Bank. Virtually all of the Jordan Valley is off limits to Palestinians as Israel tightens its grip under the cover of a “peace process” that perpetually goes nowhere. In July alone, Israel demolished 141 homes and buildings belonging to Palestinians in the West Bank, the highest number since 2005, according to Human Rights Watch.
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