Dec. 16, 2014
Daily summary - Friday, January 10, 2014
AL MALKI TO AL AYYAM: WE WILL PRESENT A UNIFIED ARAB STANCE TO KERRY ON JERUSALEM, SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS AND ‘THE JEWISHNESS OF ISRAEL”
Minister for foreign affairs Riyad Al Malki said he thought it was highly unlikely that US Secretary of State John Kerry would propose a draft framework agreement to the foreign ministers of the Arab Peace Initiative follow-up committee during his meeting with him on Sunday. He said such a plan would probably first be put to the Palestinians and Israelis. He did say, however, that the Arab ministers would put forth a united response to various issues during the meeting, especially on Jerusalem and on Israel’s demand for the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Malki said he believed Kerry would offer the meeting a briefing on what had been achieved during the sessions and the issues that were discussed in addition to the positions of both sides. Malki also said he did not know if Kerry would ask the Arabs to amend the Arab Peace Initiative regarding accepting Israel as a Jewish state, but said this was something the foreign ministers would take into consideration when they meet on Saturday ahead of their meeting with Kerry.
Malki said Kerry was intent on keeping the Arabs informed of the American position in order to gain their support for his efforts.(Al Ayyam)
BREAK IN OF AL AQSA, SHELLING ON GAZA AND THREE INJURIES IN DHEISHEH CAMP
Israeli occupation soldiers and settlers continued their attacks on residents and properties yesterday in various areas of the Palestinian territories. In Khan Younis, two people were injured when an Israeli missile hit their motorcycle. In Jerusalem, according to the Aqsa Institute for Waqf and Heritage, 24 settlers broke into the Aqsa Mosque from the Moroccan gate under Israeli police protection, in addition to 45 soldiers who also broke into the compound. At the same time 16 members of Israel’s intelligence services conducted a tour of the compound and of the Qibali mosque and Marwani prayer house. Also yesterday morning, Israeli troops raided the Dheisheh refugee camp, injuring three people including Ibrahim Obeid, 24, who was shot with a ‘dum-dum” explosive bullet in the thigh. He is now in critical condition. Three others were arrested.
Israeli forces also uprooted olive trees and saplings planted several months ago in a natural reserve east of Yatta, in the Hebron area, issuing an order for the reserve to be demolished.
In Sinjil, settlers attacked the homes of two women, writing racist slogans on the walls and on the village mosque.
Also yesterday, a Jewish youth threw chlorine into the face of a Palestinian girl at a light rail station in West Jerusalem before escaping. The girl was not injured. Demolition orders were also handed out to homes and facilities in the Jordan Valley (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
EXTREMIST JEWISH SLOGANS CALL FOR EXPELLING CHRISTIANS FROM THE COUNTRY
Extremist Jews wrote racist slogans in black on the Notre Dame Christian center at New Gate in occupied Jerusalem, calling for the expulsion of Christians from the country. According to a reliable sources to Qudsnet, several days ago Christians were shocked at slogans written on Notre Dame last at night in black. They called the police and filed a complaint. He said the police were quick to cover up the graffiti before sunrise in order to conceal the crime; however a Palestinian youth took pictures before they were able to do this. Christians in Jerusalem say they reject such racism and would remain in the country in spite of Zionist extremists. (http://qudsnet.com/news/View/262452/صور-شعارات-يهودية-متطرفة-تطالب-بطرد-المسيحيين-من-البلاد/)
SETTLEMENT CONSTRUCTION UNDER THE PRETEXT OF UNCOVERING ARTIFACTS; ISRAELI GOVERNMENT FUNDS EXCAVATIONS IN HEBRON
Israeli sources said yesterday that archeological excavations had begun last Sunday in Tel Rumeida in the center of Hebron aimed at establishing a so-called “archeological tourist park” near the settlement enclave. According to the Israeli daily Haaretz, the settlement committee in conjunction with the Israeli antiquities authority and the Ariel university formed a delegation and began the diggings, which are being funded by the Israeli ministry of culture and civil administration at a value of NIS7 million. The excavations are slated to continue throughout 2014. The antiquities authority is an official Israeli government body. According to the newspaper, the area of excavations spans across six dunams of land, which used to be harvested by the Palestinian Haykal family up until the start of the second Intifada, who were tenants of the land, registered as Jewish. After the Intifada, the family was prohibited from entering the land.
Israeli leftist organizations see the diggings as settlement expansion. One archeologist, Yonah Mizrahi from the organization Emik Shaveh said the diggings in Tel Rumeida were just another case of an archeological site being used in the service of the political conflict, citing the City of David and Susiya as other examples.(Al Quds)
MARCH OF CAMPS IN RAMALLAH IN PROTEST OF UNRWA’S POLICIES
For the eighth day in a row, six UNRWA employees have been on hunger strike in the UNRWA headquarters in Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem and are now in difficult health conditions. Meanwhile, dozens of employees participated in a march in Ramallah yesterday in protest of what they said was the ongoing policy of disregard that UNRWA shows for its employees. The hunger strikers said they would continue their strike until their demands are met and services are fully provided to refugees. One hunger striker, Fadi Ayyoubi said no UNRWA employee had come to visit them even though scores of UNRWA employees come to the solidarity tent every day. (Al Quds)
AL AHMAD: HANIYEH ASKED FOR A POSTPONEMNET; EGYPT REFUSED ANY MEETING IN WHICH HAMAS PARTICIPATES
Fatah central committee member Azzam Al Ahmad, who is in charge of the reconciliation file in the movement, said yesterday that he would visit the Gaza Strip to meet with deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh within the next few days in an attempt to end the split and push the course of Palestinian reconciliation forward. Al Ahmad said he held a lengthy phone call with Haniyeh at the request of President Abbas to set a date for his visit to Gaza, but added that Haniyeh asked that the meeting be postponed for a few days so that he could deliberate with Hamas officials.
As for why the meeting would not be held in Egypt, Ahmad said because Egypt refused to hold any meeting which would entail Hamas entering its territory, especially after the Egyptian decision to declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. This is in spite of the fact that Egypt still maintains that it sponsors Palestinian reconciliation, but added that Hamas is still not ready for it. Ahmad also said that Fatah did not have to ‘match Hamas’ latest conciliatory moves because Hamas was the party that suspended the reconciliation process. He also said that Hamas’ steps were ‘nothing new” because the seven Fatah officials released from Hamas prisons had almost finished their sentences and were in jail on charges of being informants for the government in Ramallah. (Al Quds)
PEACE NOW CALLS FOR THE REMOVAL OF A RANDOM SETTLEMENT IN THE WEST BANK
The Israeli organization Peace Now called for the removal of the Yesh Kadish settlement outpost in the northern West Bank in light of the recent events that transpired between settlers from this outpost and Palestinian villagers. The organization said it sent a letter on Wednesday to the Israeli defense minister calling on him to remove the illegal outpost whose soldiers had repeatedly attacked their Palestinian neighbors. The letter cited last Tuesday’s incident in particular when the settlers were beaten and detained by Palestinians from Qusra before being evacuated by the Israeli army. Israeli police said seven settlers who entered the village with plans to uproot trees were placed under house arrest for five days. Peace Now said the outpost, which was illegal even by Israeli law, posed a threat to Palestinian inhabitants in neighboring villages. (Al Ayyam)
ISRAEL SAYS SHOT DOWN UNMANNED PLANE BELONGING TO HAMAS
Israel radio quoted Palestinian sources yesterday which said that the Israeli army shot down an unnamed plane for Hamas last Monday. The radio claimed the army shot down the plane while it was flying over the evacuated settlement of Nitzarim in the southern Gaza Strip, saying the reasons for bringing down the plane were still not clear. Israeli security source said, according to the radio, that the plane was brought down with special technology which had been developed in Israel in response to the ‘threat’ posed by unmanned planes in Hamas’ and other Palestinian organizations’ possession. (Al Ayyam)
UNRWA: RESIDENTS OF YARMOUK CAMP ARE VICTIMS OF LACK OF FOOD
UNRWA said yesterday that the residents of the Yarmouk camp in Damascus were ‘greatly suffering” while official media sources charged ‘terrorists’ with blocking aid from reaching them. Since September, at least 15 people have died from hunger because of the ongoing siege on the camp, which began when opposition fighters took over the camp over a year ago. UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness said that the severe lack of food coupled with the absence of medical attention has led to the death of women during childbirth. He added the children were the victims suffering the most from the lack of food, saying they sustain on stale vegetables and pieces of meat and spices soaked in water. He called on the Syrian authorities and other parties to open the camp to allow in food and medicine. The Syrian regime said ‘terrorist’ elements had prevented the entry of shipments of goods for 20,000 people in the camp including 5,000 portions of food (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
ACTIVISTS DEMONSTRATE IN AL BIREH AGAINST CONFERNCE OF PALESTINIAN AND ISRAELI PEACE ACTIVISTS
Activists demonstrated in front of an Al Bireh hotel in protests of a joint Palestinian-Israeli conference organized by Israeli-Palestinian peace activists. The demonstrators called the conference ‘normalization with the occupation.” The activists, part of a group called “boycott your occupation” tried to shut down the conference but anti-riot police prevented them from storming the building, surrounding dozens of the activists. The conference was held in the City Inn hotel and was secured by Palestinian police. The activists held up placards reading “normalization is treason to the homeland” and “Inside are Israeli officers who killed our children,” closing off the main road with barricades and burning tires. The conference was held under the slogan “people make peace”. (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
THE PRESIDENT: THE IDEA OF POPULATION EXCHANGE WITH THE ‘TRIANGLE’ IS PROVOCATIVE AND WILL BE IMMEDIATELY REJECTED
President Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday that the idea of a population exchange with the Triangle inside the Green Line has not yet been brought up in negotiations, but said it was a ‘provocative” idea. He added that if it was brought up, the Palestinian position was clear, saying ‘our response would be a complete and immediate rejection.” During a meeting with Arab MK Ahmad Tibi, Abbas also reiterated the Palestinian position on rejecting the recognition of a Jewish state. (Al Quds)
*Employee union: Strike continues, we condemn targeting of union (Al Quds)
*Occupation presents charge sheet against child (Al Quds)
*WAFA monitors racism in Israeli press (Al Quds)
*Factory for drug manufacturing uncovered in Tulkarm (Al Quds)
*The cabinet: permanent peace achieved through national rights (Al Quds)
*During visit to Arab capitals, Kerry recruits support for framework agreement and builds regional alliances against Iran (Al Quds)
*B’Tselem: Occupation forces accompany settlers and protect them during their attacks on Palestinians (Al Ayyam)
*Sharon’s health condition is “hopeless” (Al Ayyam)
*Israeli army reveals large presence of Iranian immigrants in its intelligence (Al Ayyam)
*Woman stabbed to death by her husband in Kufr Deek (Al Ayyam)
*Tayseer Khaled: No breakthrough in negotiations; Kerry’s threats to PA is political blackmail (Al Ayyam)
*Israeli circles attack Kerry: he is not delving into the root of the conflict (Al Hayat Al Jadida)
|Front Page Photos |
Al- Quds:1) Hebron: one of the settlement buildings being constructed on Shuhada’ street, where the Israeli government announced the funding of an archeological garden in the heart of the city; 2) Jalazoun camp: demonstrators burn tires during a demonstration in support of UNRWA employees
Al-Ayyam:1) Tuktuk cycle that was hit by Israeli shelling; 2) armed men in Falouja take over an army car belonging to the Iraqi army
Al Hayat Al Jadida:1) boys stand around the Tuktuk cycle hit by Israeli shelling in Khan Younis; 2) Demonstrators outside the hotel
Israel decides to build 1,400 new settlement units
The Israeli housing ministry published tenders today for the construction of 1,400 new settlement units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank days before Secretary of State John Kerry is to return to the region. The Hebrew-language website Walla said 600 of the units would be built in Ramat Shlome in East Jerusalem; the other 800 units will be distributed to settlements in the West Bank. (http://maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=664141)
Occupation authorities present charge sheet against a child
DCI-Palestine said yesterday that Israeli authorities filed a charge sheet against a 12-year old child from Hizma. According to the organization, Israeli occupation forces arrested the child, Mustapha Khatib, on January 6, even if he is only a sixth-grade student. On the second day of his arrest, the Israeli prosecution called for an extension of his detention for three days until a charge sheet could be brought against him. The court gave the prosecution two days after which it filed a charge sheet, requesting that Khatib be sentenced to two months in prison and slapped with a fine anywhere between NIS2,000 – 4,000. His lawyer secured his release on bail for NIS7,500; the child must remain under house arrest until his trial is over. He can only leave his home from 6:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. to go to school. (Al Quds)
WAFA monitors racism in Israeli media
The official Palestinian news agency, WAFA, published a report on Israeli incitement and racism against Palestinians and Arabs in the media over the period between 27-12-2013 and 3-1-2014. The most significant findings are as follows: In Yedioth Ahranoth on 27/12 an article by Hagai Segal, a settler claimed that Palestinians harass Jews for ‘sport’ saying that they throw rocks in the winter more than in the summer because “they have more time”. In another publication, NRJ, one writer said that because of “Palestinian hatred and incitement” there is the occupation,” adding that Abu Mazen should have ‘jumped at the chance to sign an agreement.” Finally, in “Israel Today” on December 30, writer Rubin Barko criticized the American pressure on Israel to release pre-Oslo prisoners and not to release Jonathon Pollard, calling the Palestinian prisoners “killers and terrorists” who would only encourage more Palestinian and Muslim terrorism.” (Al Quds)
Palestinian nationhood: End the politics of compromise now
By Stuart Rees
If Palestine is to become a genuine nation state, Palestinians and their supporters must replace the politics of compliance and compromise with a politics of unity and assertiveness.
This was the conclusion drawn from discussions with academics and politicians from Arab countries including significant Palestinian leaders from Hamas and Fatah, plus a mix of European diplomats and European civil society activities attending the Second Annual Conference of Arab Strategic and Policy Research Centers held in Doha, Qatar last month.
Politics of compromise
The first form of politics deceived onlookers and embedded injustice. The British government's Balfour Declaration of 1917 encouraged colonisation and gave cues to Israelis to follow suit.
International law has been a building block in peace negotiations but hardly anyone has taken notice. In Doha, Palestinian lawyer Diana Buttu argued that the casuistry of international politics has enabled Israeli governments to disparage international law, create their own legal frameworks and thereby justify the siege of Gaza, the mistreatment of prisoners and the continued confiscation of land.
European politicians and diplomats have played compromise games, believing too much in the Oslo Accords, allowing the US to pose as an independent third party. Only recently has the European Union insisted on the illegality of the Israeli settlements and encouraged the boycott of people and products from stolen lands.
A mismatch between public opinion in support of the Palestinians' cause and politicians' compliance with Israel's wishes has guaranteed no end to the occupation, and no likelihood of conditions to create a Palestinian nation. In Doha, increases in support for Palestinian nationhood were reported from Spain, France, Germany and Britain. In Australia, polls also show a majority of Australians supporting the Palestinian cause, yet in its claim that Israel is not an "occupying power" and should not be forced to comply with the 1949 Geneva Convention, Prime Minister Tony Abbott's government displays complete indifference to international law.
The passage of the on again off again peace negotiations has been a farce, the Israelis never taking them seriously, the Palestinians poorly represented, the Americans partisan in Israel's interests yet pretending to be neutral.
In Doha, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat explained that in US Secretary of State John Kerry's initiated peace talks, "The Americans seem to want to solve a problem but the Israelis have no intention of reaching a settlement." The danger is that under the spell of "compromise whatever the costs'" the Obama Administration seems prepared to force any deal.
Politics of unity
A crucial step towards Palestinian political coherence and unity is to bring Hamas into the fold. Since Hamas' success in the 2006 elections, the cruel and stupid US and European response was to refuse to talk to the winners of that election and to collude with Israel in the siege of Gaza. There is no example in history where an individual, an organisation or a nation state has been driven into a corner, isolated, humiliated, punished and in consequence has said, "Thanks for the way you have treated me, I have learned my lesson, I will now comply with all you ask."
For decades, the US and Israeli policies have been served by dividing the Palestinians into the West Bank, Gaza, refugees, blue and green card holders, employees of UNRWA or the UNHCR, citizens confined to different spaces, with different identities and different loyalties. Aided by such divisions, Israeli peace negotiator, former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, is reported to have told her Palestinian opposite number, "You can have a state as long as it does not include Gaza."
At the Doha conference a young Palestinian woman insisted, "The issue is my identity. I am not a refugee. I am not from Hamas. I am not from the PA. I am a Palestinian."
I asked Usama Hamden, head of Hamas international relations since 2009, whether the appalling conditions of daily living in Gaza make it unlikely that the citizens of that besieged land could turn their attention to the politics of nationhood? In an echo of the familiar notion that the personal is the political, he explained that the daily struggle to survive was part of a movement to secure Palestinians' human rights. "We have always had to struggle to survive. Only the severity of the conditions is different now."
Hamden argued that the greatest obstacles to Palestinian unity were external not internal. Israel's determination never to allow a viable Palestinian state is aided by the distractions of the Syrian civil war and by the Egyptian military government's hostility to Palestinians.
In an informal conversation, the leader of Hamas, Khaled Mishal, appeared to agree with points made by Professor Richard Falk, that soft power - dialogue, diplomacy and well informed, world-wide public opinion - was the way to end both siege and occupation and promote the Palestinians' cause.
The years since the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993 were characterised by a pretence that progress was being made towards peace. This deception only increased the political power and landholdings of Israel and confirmed the powerlessness of Palestinians.
Politically unified Palestinians and their supporters could and should expose this deception and with the help of the world-wide Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, emphasise the international law base of Palestinians' rights to self-determination.
The vision of a multicultural, democratic Palestinian state, distinguished by respect for the rule of law, can be advocated by all nations but in particular by a coalition made up largely of European countries, the EU and influential Arab leaders. Such a vision, such a coalition must be led by the Palestinians themselves. (http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/01/palestinian-nationhood-end-politics-compromise-now-20141872748334615.html)
A year of solidarity
By Richard Falk
In a little noted initiative, the UN General Assembly on 26 November 2013, voted to proclaim 2014 the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People was also requested to organise relevant activities in cooperation with governments, the UN system, intergovernmental organisations, and significantly, civil society.
The vote was 110-7, with 56 abstentions, which is more or less reflective of the sentiments now present in international society. Among the seven opponents of the initiative, in addition to Israel, were unsurprisingly its three staunchest supporters, each once a British colony: the United States, Canada, and Australia, with the addition of such international heavyweight states as Micronesia, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. Europe and assorted states around the world were among the 56 abstentions, with virtually the entire non-West solidly behind the idea of highlighting solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for peace with justice based on rights under international law.
Three initial observations: those governments that are willing to stand unabashedly with Israel in opposition to the tide of world public opinion are increasingly isolated, and these governments are under mounting public pressure from their own civil societies that seek a balanced approach that is rights-based rather than power-dominated; the West, in general, is dominated by the abstaining governments that seek the lowest possible profile of being seen as neither for or against, and in those countries where civil society should now be capable of mobilising more support for the Palestinian struggle; and the non-West that is, as has long been the case, rhetorically in solidarity with the Palestinian people, but has yet to match its words with deeds, and seems ready to be pushed.
What is also revealing is the argumentation of UN Watch and others that denounces this latest UN initiative because it unfairly singles out Israel and ignores those countries that have worse human rights records. Always forgotten here are two elements of the Israel-Palestine conflict that justify singling it out among others: Israel owes its existence, to a significant degree, to the organised international community, starting with the League of Nations, continuing throughout the British Mandate of Palestine, and culminating with the Partition Plan of 1947, as set forth in UN General Assembly Resolution 181.
The latter overrode the decolonising principle of self-determination with a solution devised and imposed from without; such antecedents to the current Israel-Palestine situation also expose the colonialist foundations of the current struggle, as well as call attention to the settler colonial elements that are associated with Israel’s continuous expansion of territorial, resource, and ethnic claims far beyond what the western-dominated international community had proposed, and then approved of, after the end of World War II.
To be sure there were delicate and complex issues all along that make this problematic role of the international community somewhat more understandable. Up to 1945, there was a generalised acceptance of European colonial administration, although in the Middle East colonial legitimacy was balanced for the first time against an obligation by the colonial powers to prepare a dependent people to stand eventually on its own, an ambivalent acknowledgement of the ethos of self-determination if not yet in the form of a legal norm. This affirmation of self-determination, as an alternative to colonial rule, was the special project of the American president Woodrow Wilson, who insisted that such an approach was a moral imperative, especially in dealing with the regional aftermath of the Ottoman Empire that had long ruled over many diverse ethnicities before WW I.
Beyond this, the Jewish experience during the reign of fascist regimes throughout Europe, culminating in the Holocaust, created a strong empathetic urge in Europe to endorse the Zionist project for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. As is known, this empathy, although genuine in many quarters, also exhibited a deferred sense of guilt on the part of the western liberal democracies that had done so little to challenge the genocidal policies of Hitler and the Nazis, refusing to act at all until their national interests were directly engaged by German aggression.
European support was also forthcoming because the Zionist-proposed solution for the “Jewish problem”, which has long been present in Europe, could be enacted elsewhere, that is, at the expense of non-Europeans. However, this elsewhere was far from empty and was coveted by others for various reasons. Palestine was a land long lived in mainly by Arabs, but also by some Jews and Christians, and associated centrally with the sacred traditions of all three monotheistic religions.
Normally, in the modern world the demographics of residence trump biblical or other claims based on claims of national tradition, ethnic identity, and ancient historical presence. Yet, despite these factors there were ethical reasons in the aftermath of such extreme victimisation of the Jewish people as took place in continental Europe during WW II to lend support to a reasonable version of the Zionist project as it had evolved in the years since the 1917 Balfour Declaration, even if from a variety of other perspectives it was deeply unfair to others and disruptive of peaceful relations and throughout its implementation produced an unfolding catastrophe for most non-Jewish Palestinians.
Taking account of this historical and moral complexity, what seems evident is the failure of the UN to carry out its responsibility in a manner that was effective and responsive to the human circumstances prevailing in Palestine. The UN’s overall record is quite disappointing if considered from the perspective of accommodating these contradictory clusters of consideration in a manner reflective of international law and global justice.
The military prowess of Zionist forces in Israel inflicted a major defeat on the Palestinian people and neighbouring Arab governments, and in the process expanded the territorial dominion of Israel from the 55 per cent decreed by the UN in its partition plan to 78 per cent, where the Green Line established an armistice arrangement in 1948. Such an outcome was gradually endorsed by a geopolitical consensus, exhibited through the admission of Israel to the UN without any solution to the underlying conflict, leaving the Palestinians out in the cold and allowing Israel to constitute itself within borders much larger than those the UN had a mere year earlier decreed as fair.
This situation was further aggravated by the 1967 War in which Israel occupied all of the remaining territory of historic Palestine, purporting even to annex East Jerusalem while greatly enlarging the area of municipal Jerusalem by incorporating land belonging to the West Bank. Since 1967, this Palestinian territorial remnant has been further decreased by the massive settlement phenomenon, including its network of settler-only roads, carried out in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, by the separation wall constructed and maintained in defiance of the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, and by a variety of moves to change the demography of East Jerusalem.
In other words, Israeli forces on the ground in what had been Palestine have undermined the vision set forth in the partition plan, which was itself a controversial UN solution to the conflict that was rejected by Palestinians and by neighbouring countries.
Despite much propaganda to the contrary, the Palestinian leadership has over most of the period of their struggle shown an unusual readiness to abandon maximal goals and put forward proposals in recognition of the realities of a situation that had become unfavourable for the realisation of their earlier hopes. Palestinian willingness, expressed formally since 1988, to accept Israel as a legitimate state within the Green Line borders of 1967, remains more than 25 years after its articulation an unacknowledged and unreciprocated major initiative for peace. That such a proposal has been ignored and continuously undermined by Israel with de facto western acquiescence and in the face of feeble UN rhetorical objections displays the inability of the UN to fulfil its responsibilities to the people of Palestine.
As might be expected, Palestinians have long become disillusioned about the benefits of having UN authority and international law on their side. Over the years, the backing of international authority has failed to bring about an improvement in the life circumstances and political position of the Palestinian people. The UN is helpless, and designed to be helpless, whenever a UN position is effectively resisted by a combination of military force and geopolitical alignment. Israel’s military capabilities and American geopolitical leverage have completely nullified the expressed will of the United Nations, but have not overcome the sense of frustration or excused the organisation from its failure to act responsibly towards the Palestinian people.
In the light of this background, the wonder is that the UN has done so little to repair the damage, not that it has done so much, or more than it should in relation to Israel/Palestine. Arguably, yes, there are a variety of other situations in which the abuse of human rights has been worse than what is being attributed to Israel, but the rationale for focussing on Palestine is not only a question of the denial of rights. It is also an issue of fundamental justice, of the seemingly permanent subjugation of a people, partly due to arrangements that were devised and endorsed over a long period of time by the organised international community.
Yet, witnessing the dire current emergency plight of the people of Gaza, it would be perverse to contend that the human rights challenges facing this large and vulnerable Palestinian community are not among the worst abuses in the entire world, making us wonder anew why the UN seems unwilling and unable to do more.
We can hope at the dawn of 2014 that the UN will be vigorous in giving the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People a political meaning that goes beyond words of empathy and support. There is an opportunity to do more. The UN resolution calls for working with civil society. Recent moves in America to join boycotts of Israeli academic institutions and in Europe to hold corporations responsible under international law for dealing commercially with Israeli settlements have been major successes of civil society activism, being led by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign that has the important legitimating virtue of Palestinian leadership and backing. The UN can help build a momentum in the global solidarity movement that encourages non-violent militant forms of coercive action that alone will give solidarity a good name.
Palestinians are starting to win the legitimacy war that is being waged against unlawful Israeli policies and on behalf of the attainment of Palestinian rights. The turning point in world public opinion can probably be traced back to the way Israel waged the Lebanon War of 1982, especially the avowed reliance on disproportionate force directed at residential neighbourhoods, especially in south Beirut, a tactic that became known as the Dahiya Doctrine.
The tipping point in shifting the Israeli collective identity from that of victims and heroic underdogs to that of the lawless perpetrators of oppressive warfare against a totally vulnerable people came in Operation Cast Lead, a sustained assault with high-technology weaponry on the people of Gaza for three weeks at the end of 2008. After these developments, the Palestinians were understood more widely to be a victimised people engaged in a just struggle to gain their rights under international law and needing and deserving an international movement of support to offset Israeli hard power and geopolitical dominance.
Israeli leaders and think tanks try their hardest to discredit this Palestinian legitimacy war by falsely claiming that it is directed against the legitimacy of Israel as a state, rather, as in fact is the case, against the unlawful policies of the Israeli state. This is a crucial difference, and the distinction seems deliberately obscured by Israeli propaganda that has inflated what Palestinians are seeking so as to make their activism appear hyperbolic, with unreasonable and unacceptable demands, which makes it easier to dismiss than by addressing critically the Palestinian grievances in their actual form.
It is to be hoped that the International Year of Solidarity in its work clarifies this distinction between Israel as a state and Israeli policies. Within such a framework the UN will deserve credit for contributing to victories throughout the world that advance the agenda of the legitimacy war being waged by and on behalf of the Palestinian people, and by so doing, move the debate somewhat closer to the realisation of a just and sustainable peace for both peoples.(http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/5089/21/A-year-of-solidarity-.aspx)
Many political pundits rushed to judge Kerry’s latest visit as a failure. No one is quite sure why this description was given to it. Before this trip there were nine others. Were these failures? And is the judgment that this last one was a failure based on the premise that it marked the end of American sponsorship of the negotiations? In both cases, the answer is no. The negotiations are an ongoing process and a glitch in one of them does not mean failure. Hence, the absolute proof of its failure or success is in the end in terms of its purpose. Furthermore, America’s sponsorship has been ongoing for years and has succeeded, from the American perspective, and perhaps from Israel’s as well. Before the US sponsorship, the confrontation was clear-cut, between the occupation and the Palestinian people. After their intervention, there is much less clarity in terms of the international community and also in terms of the burdens of the occupation. The sponsorship was successful in that it minimized the security fear of Israel and was able to penetrate the fortress of Arab boycott of the Zionist state. Under American sponsorship and under the cover of negotiations, Israel was able to gradually devour Palestinian land that would have been difficult to conquer in one go.
Judging the success of the negotiations depends in the end on their ability to achieve the purpose for their existence. Was the purpose of the negotiations to reach a political solution in the conventional meaning of the word? Clearly, that was not Israel’s goal and neither was it the goal of the American administrations. Based on its convictions and its practical policies, it is clear that Israel would never accept the existence of a Palestinian state with even the minimum components of a state, because this is terrifying to them.
The American administration, furthermore, was never serious in reaching such a solution if we look at its policies towards Israel which counter any approach to reach a solution through international law and standards. Many well intended people have been shocked at American stances, which have increasingly rewarded Israel each time it take a decision in violation of international law. And each time a war is waged, it makes a solution that much more difficult. Such stances cannot be indicative of America’s seriousness in being a sponsor that would help reach a real solution.
Perhaps the best example of this is the US’ stance towards settlements, which have proven over the years to be abortive of any kind of settlement, and also of its use of military and financial support. The United States has always been very vigilant in using this support with other countries according to its contentment or anger with them. That is, all countries except Israel, where the money flowed in every time they breached international laws.
The success or failure, once again, is based on the goals of the negotiations. (http://www.alkhaleej.ae/studiesandopinions/detailedpage/a73b2f38-b50a-41a0-ae98-599b115548c9)
Has the Israeli “peace camp’ lost its effectiveness?
The protest carried out by Palestinians against a meeting of Palestinian and Israeli peace activists in Ramallah yesterday, brings back to the fore the issue of the so-called Israeli peace camp or the diminishing presence of it, especially since so many Israelis are now leaning more to the right and extreme right in some cases.
This ‘peace camp’ – which sometimes used to be called ‘doves” played an important role during the period before Oslo. There were contacts between its leaders and PLO officials during the 80s, which paved the way for the subsequent recognition of the PLO and for negotiations between the two sides after that. It finally led to the signing of the Oslo Accords, the interim agreement signed in Washington in 1993.
However, the right-wing surge that took hold after the establishment of the PA and what is known as the ‘hilltop movement” in the West Bank, which reached its peak with the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, led to a setback and waning of the Israeli peace camp and its activists. Then, with the outbreak of the second Intifada, Israeli peace organizations did not dare lift their heads with confidence and power liked they used to do in the past in the face of the right wing extremists. they were not even in a position to defend their ideas and principles, which rightists branded as treason and collaboration with the Palestinians.
With the exception of a few reports issued by some Israeli left wing organizations about settlements and Israel’s occupation measures in the occupied territories, the activities of these ‘active’ organizations can be summed up in their solidarity with Palestinian protests against the wall, helping Palestinian farmers reach their fields and harvest their crops and confronting settlers who try to prevent these residents from reaching their land.
These are all positive activities that the Palestinians highly appreciate. However, the political role of this peace camp has lost much of its weight over the past decade. Nothing is more indicative of this than the percentage of their representation in the Knesset and the ability of the right wing and extremist parties to reach seats of power since 2001 until today.
This begs the question of what led to the dwindling of the political role of Israeli leftist movements. Many in Israel are even wondering if there ever was a role for this movement in the first place. And why didn’t these activists defend their positions and approaches more passionately, which they believe are beneficial to Israel first and even before being beneficial to the Palestinians?
The Israeli left does not hide the fact that it wants to serve the Zionist project through its adoption of the project for a Palestinian state; their goal is to preserve the ‘Jewishness” of Israel and to prevent the implementation of one bi-national state. This intersects with the goals of the Palestinian national movement, which was supposed to help reinforce the activities of the Israeli peace camp. However, the setback in the role of this peace camp actually helped the Israeli left to further cling to the occupation and actively confront the two-state solution and transform it – through settlement expansion – into a mere mirage, impossible to achieve.
Is it possible that Israeli peace activists will be able to reprise their old role, or does history not repeat itself and they no longer have any real impact on the course of events and developments regarding peace and a just solution to the Palestinian cause? (Al Quds)
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