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Dec. 16, 2014
Daily summary- Sunday, January 12, 2014
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President Abbas: no solution without east Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine; we will not recognize Israel as Jewish
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stressed on Saturday that Palestinians would not recognize the Jewish State of Israel and will not accept it.Abbas said in a speech at the presidential headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah hosting figures from Jerusalem: "will not recognize and will not accept Jewish Israel". Abbas said: "They (the Israelis) say that if we don’t recognize a Jewish Israel, there would be no solution, we say we will not recognize and accept that, we have a lot of arguments and many reasons to reject this discourse that is only two years old.” Abbas added "we told them and to the entire world that there are many reasons preventing us from this and we have presented our reasons to Israel."President Abbas ruled out a solution to the conflict with Israel without east Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine, saying: "without east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian State, there will be no peace between us and Israel.” (http://www.alquds.com/news/article/view/id/482694)
President Mahmoud Abbas considered the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their occupied land in 1948 as a marriage, as a personal right of Palestinian humans, i.e. he/she selects and decides what they want.Abbas said during the meeting that the right of return is a personal choice, no Authority, no Stat, no organization and no leaders can deprive human beings of their right.(http://paltimes.net/details/news/56701/%D8%B9%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B3-%D8%AD%D9%82-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D9%88%D8%AF%D8%A9-%D9%83%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B2%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%AC-%D8%AE%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%8C-%D8%B4%D8%AE%D8%B5%D9%8A.html)

Arab foreign ministers insist on a Palestinian State on the borders of 1967
Arab Foreign Ministers confirmed their insistence on the establishment of an independent Palestinian State on all the territories occupied in 1967 with east Jerusalem as its capital in accordance with the ArabPeace Initiative,rejecting the Israeli procedure, plans and policies aimed at changing the demographic and geographic realities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem.This came during a consultative meeting of the Arab ministerial delegation, held on Saturday in Paris with the Foreign Ministers of Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, Qatar and Kuwait. The meeting was called for by the Secretary-General of the Arab League Nabil Elaraby, a head of the delegation meeting with US Foreign Minister John Kerry on Sunday.(http://maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=664490)

Activists: the current negotiations are a repetition of the failed Oslo experiment
Participants in the Conference "together against racism and colonial occupation," organized by leftist forces in Hebron, emphasized that the ongoing peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis will not succeed and will not go beyond stalemate, as long as its governed by Israeli conditions and the hegemony of the US administration. Participants said in a statement issued at the conclusion of the Conference that the negotiations are a repetition of the Oslo experience that ended in failure.” Participants stressed that "the peace process must be based on the rejection of concessions affecting the Palestinian national rights, and upholding international legitimacy as the basis and reference for the solution (the right of return, self-determination, an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders, the issue of Jerusalem, the dismantling of settlements and the building of a national sovereign State).” (http://safa.ps/details/news/120200/%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%B4%D8%B7%D9%88%D9%86%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%81%D8%A7%D9%88%D8%B6%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D9%83%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%AC%D8%B1%D8%A8%D8%A9-%D8%A3%D9%88%D8%B3%D9%84%D9%88-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%B4%D9%84%D8%A9.html)

Official: Palestinian and Arab response to the Kerry proposals within 48 hours
A senior Palestinian official said on Sunday that Palestinian and Arab response to the proposals made by the Secretary of John Kerry to the leadership includes a comprehensive plan for a solution to all outstanding issues, through the ongoing negotiating meetings between the Palestinian and Israeli sides would be "within 48 hours". The official said in statements to “Qudsnet.com” that the Arab Ministerial Committee at the level of Arab Foreign Ministers will hold an emergency meeting tomorrow to discuss the proposals made by John Kerry, as President Abu Mazen demanded the Arab Ministerial Committee to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the proposals. The official added that “President Abu Mazen is waiting to see what will come out of this meeting to answer Kerry.” (http://qudsnet.com/news/View/262566/%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%A4%D9%88%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B1%D8%AF-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%81%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B7%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%8A-%D9%88%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D9%85%D9%82%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%AD%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%83%D9%8A%D8%B1%D9%8A-%D8%AE%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%84-48-%D8%B3%D8%A7%D8%B9%D8%A9/)

The European Union criticized new settlement plans: an obstacle to peace
The European Union expressed its concern yesterday after Israel announced building new housing units in settlements.EU Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton said in a statement: "the recent announcement by the Israeli authorities continue to settle in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem raises serious concerns."Ashton added that "settlements are illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace and could prevent the application of the solution (two states)."Ashton called on Israel to "stop any controversial new construction work, while "the current peace talks are a unique opportunity for Israelis and Palestinians alike."In Rome, the Italian Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement today that the decision of the Israeli Government to build new settlement units in occupied territories is “disappointing and raises many concerns.” (Al-Ayyam)

Israel continues to incite against President Abbas: more dangerous than Arafat
Israeli sources accused President Mahmud Abbas yesterday night of inciting the Palestinians to further violence and to follow the path of his predecessor, late President Yasser Arafat.Israeli Army Radio quoted political sources as saying that Abbas rejects the recognition of Israel as a Jewish State, what means that he rejects the reference of Israel’s establishment; making his position similar to Hamas and Palestinian militants, while he shows rigid and positions in all the issues in the negotiation threatening Kerry’s efforts with failure. The sources claimed that late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was ready to discuss all issues including a Jewish State, but Abbas is considered the most extreme Palestinian, with respect to the character of the State and its legitimacy, noting that the PA is making great efforts to delegitimize Israel in international forums.(Al-Ayyam)

Palestinians handed out candy to celebrate the death of Sharon
Palestinian citizens expressed their happiness and joy for the death of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, known as the "bulldozer" and associated with many of the massacres against the Palestinian people. Citizens distributed in the Gaza Strip candy at each other and burned pictures of Sharon, who is in charge of crimes and massacres against the Palestinians.However, some of them regretted he was not trailed before his death, while others questioned the possibility of doing so even after his death.(http://qudsnet.com/news/View/262565/%D8%B5%D9%88%D8%B1-%D9%81%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B7%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%B2%D8%B9%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%84%D9%88%D9%89-%D8%A7%D8%A8%D8%AA%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%A7-%D8%A8%D9%85%D9%88%D8%AA-%D8%B4%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%86/)

Al-Ama’ri and Al-Jalazoune roads closed in an act rejecting lack of services in the camps
Dozens of angry youths closed the Ramallah – Nablus road near Al-Jalazoune camp in the early hours of Sunday morning, and the Ramallah Jerusalem Street adjacent to Al-Ama’ri camp to protest lack of services in the camps, due to the continued strike of the UN Agency for Palestinian refugees’ staff, and the Agency's indifference to this strike.(http://maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=664499)

Chairman of Gush Etzion settlements demands to cease talks and rejected the idea of evacuating settlements
Israeli Channel 7 quoted Chairman Gush Etzion Council, extremistDavid Pearl, as saying that he strongly rejects the idea of evacuating settlements in any political settlement. Pearl called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to halt talks with the Palestinian side immediately, and called on the United States, especially John Kerry, to stop imposing pressure on the Israeli Government, which would result in consequences that effect Israel and its people.(http://pnn.ps/index.php/israel/78237-%D8%B1%D8%A6%D9%8A%D8%B3-%D9%85%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%B3-%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B7%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%BA%D9%88%D8%B4-%D8%B9%D8%AA%D8%B5%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%86-%D9%8A%D8%B7%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8-%D8%A8%D9%88%D9%82%D9%81-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%AD%D8%A7%D8%AF%D8%AB%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D9%88%D9%8A%D8%B1%D9%81%D8%B6-%D9%81%D9%83%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D8%AE%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%A1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B7%D9%86%D8%A7%D8%AA)

The European Boycott reduced exports of agricultural products from settlements in the Jordan Valley
Profits of settlers resulting from the export of agricultural products in the Valley decreased in 2013 by 14%, according to a report published today by the associated press stating "the role Britain and Scandinavia in the decreasing profit of settlers in the Jordan Valley.” This year is expected to have more decrease in profits because of European Union joining the boycott, which would cause enormous losses according to the chairman of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, David Elhayani. (Al-Ayyam)

Breaking into sections in Ofer
“Tadamon” Foundation said that Israeli units stormed on Thursday the majority of sections in Ofer prison. “Tadamon” lawyer Mohammad Al-Abed who visited the prisoners there, said: "the so-called ‘Eldror Unit’ of the Israeli prisons authority moved into most sections of Ofer prison and began an intensive inspection campaign for communications equipment and seized prisoners’ holdings and destroyed thing belonging to prisoners."(Al-Quds)

Settlers attack Palestinian vehicles near Al-Jalazoune camp; Israeli military force storm Aydah and two citizens arrested in Beit Fajjar and Hebron
An Israeli army force shot at a young Palestinian yesterday east of Jebalia in the Gaza Strip resulting in his injury, while settlers attacked a number of Palestinian vehicles at Al-Bireh – Jalazoune road.  In Aydah camp north of Bethlehem, Israeli forces shot at citizens and threw tear gas grenades resulting in the injury of some citizens. (Al-Quds)

Settler stabbed in the neck in Jerusalem
A settlerwas stabbed yesterday night in the city of Jerusalem. Israeli sources said that a Palestinian young man-apparently-stabbed and Israeli citizens age 30 years in the neck and fled toward street number 1.(Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)
Headlines
** Israeli forces close Bab Al-Amoud and Bab Al-Sahera after stabbing a settler (Al-Quds)
** Activities in solidarity with patient prisoners and our people in Yarmouk (Al-Quds)
** Ariel Sharon died after an eight years coma (Al-Quds)
** "Human rights": unfortunately (Sharon) died without facing justice (Al-Ayyam)
** Launching an international campaign to stop the humanitarian catastrophe in Al-Yarmouk refugee camp (Al-Ayyam)
** Syria: involving Palestinians in the crisis serves the interests of Israel (Al-Ayyam)
** Hunger kills a child and an old man in Yarmouk (Al-Ayyam)
** Sisi for the first time: my candidature for Presidency must be "asked by the people with authorization from the army" (Al-Ayyam)
** Wireless Internet access in the West Bank by the middle of the year (Al-Hayat AL-Jadida)
** Former Shin Bet Chief flees from Denmark following a request for his arrest (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida)
Front Page Photos
Al- Quds:1) Ramallah – President Abbas during meeting a delegation of Jerusalemites, 2) Ariel Sharon.
Al-Ayyam:1) President Abbas holding a Jerusalemite childe during receiving a Jerusalemite delegation in the Moqata’ah, 2) Beirut – Palestinian Mahmoud Srour, a survivor from the Massacre of Sabra and Shatillahreading Fateha at the Memorial after announcing the death of Sharon, 3) Al-Sisi supporters standing near his poster.
Al Hayat Al Jadida:1) President Abbas raising a Palestinian flag with a Jerusalemite child yesterday, 2) Children at Ein Helwi camp happy after announcing the death of Sharon, 3) a sit it in solidarity with Yarmouk camp in Ramallah.
Voice of Palestine Interviews
** Mahmoud Mubarak,Head of the popular committee at AL-Jalazoune refugee camp , on closing roads protecting the UNRA strike.
Q: We received a lot of telephone calls from citizens regarding closing these roads, what is the aim?
First of all the aim is to protest the situation in the camps, and protest the UNRWA staff strike for the 38 day today. Our children are in the streets for the 38th day now, there is a huge indifference from the UNRWA’s side and the government who is not trying to impose any pressure of the staff or the UNRWA to end the strike. Tis comes with a very difficult financial situation in the camps, the government stopped all receivables of the camps, and we feel ignored by the government and the UNRWA.
Q:With regard to the protest, are planning to continue, or is there going to be any escalation?
We have a set of activities until Tuesday, and we will have a meeting of the popular committees on Tuesday if nothing happens, the long the strike is the worse the situation in camps will become. We have patients, humanitarian cases, solid waste in the streets, un-employment, and no one cares for us, none of the ministers visited us, and this will lead to mote hatred of refugees towards the rest of society.
Q: What could be another way of protest other than blocking road and preventing citizens from reaching cities?
This is a message to all, for all to wake up and see how we live, they should take care of us in the refugees, and don’t we deserve kindness? They care for their children why they don’t care for our children also. We called on everybody to help but no one did.
** Imad Abhu Sunbol, Spokesman of the popular committees, on the UNRWA strike.
Q: Rage in the camps, is there any communication to solve the crisis?
Yes there are some communications, the president is involved with the government in contacting the UNRWA, and we hope this will lead to some results and solving the crisis, the situation is very bad in the camps, children are not attending schools for the 38th day now, and solid waste is spread in the street. We were surprised that the government decided that only 150,000 $ will be spent in camps this year, while this amount was spent in previous years only in one camp. the government should have issued an immediate aid to the camps until this crisis is over, we will continue with the protest until Tuesday in all West Bank cities, and close main roads for an hour each day, we have three demonstrations, one in Ramallah another one in Nablus and a third one in Hebron. We gave a lot, and we don’t deserve what is happening to us now.
Q: Are there any other goals behind reducing services in the camps by the UNRWA?
I accused the UNRWA and still accuse them that they are responding to American and Israeli pressures to stop providing services in the West Bank camps, since what is happening is happening inly in the West Bank, at a time when some of the UNRWA’s staff salaries reach $ 300,000 a year. And some reach $ 1,000,000 a year. These amounts should be spent on refugees and not on staff salaries.
** Issa Qaraqe’, Minister of Prisoners Affairs, on administrative prisoners in the Negev prison threatening to start a strike.
Q: Prisoners strike in the Negev prison are only regarding this prison or will be general?
Yes, the beginning will be in the Negev as I learned, this might lead to a wider strike, especially since there are contacts with administrative prisoners in Majedo and ofer, but the beginning will be in the Negev orison. This is due to the negative responses they received in protesting against administrativ3e detention. They gave the prison administration a chance for  a week but nothing happened and they decided to start a hunger strike. They are still boycotting Israeli courts since 25.10.2013, but this another escalation step.
Q: Some of the prisoners are being returned to Solitary confinement against the agreement from 4/2013.
Yes this is true, they returned to this policy against the agreement from 5/2012. At that time 17 prisoners were released from Solitary confinement. This is the most dangerous thing in Israeli prisoners, some prisoners spent more than 10 years in Solitary confinement.
** Reyad Al-Malki, Foreign Affairs Minister.
Q: Today is the meeting of Arab Ministers with Kerry, what will be the message they will convey to Kerry?
The message is clear, Arabs will not agree on anything that is not agreed on the Palestinians, we updated them with the latest developments, especially with regards to the latest remarks by the Israelis regarding  Jerusalem and the Jewish state, the Jordan valley etc… we talked about all of these yesterday to prepare for the meeting with Kerry, and he will hear from them what he heard from us.
Q: So the message is rejecting a Jewish state, Jerusalem is the Palestinian capital and refusing any Israeli security presence in the Jordan Valley.
Of course, this the Palestinian position and the Arab position, and he will hear from the Arab ministers exactly what he heard from us.
Q: is it anticipated that Kerry will change his proposals after hearing is from the Arabs or maybe announcing the failure of his efforts?
Sure, he will not announce a failure, he still has until April, and he thinks he can reach an agreement by April, so he is trying to use all these meetings to reach agreements. There are attempts by the Americans to pressure the Palestinians especially through the Arabs, but this will not happen, he should realize that he needs to make better proposals since the Palestinians positions are the same as the Arab positions.
Q: some news say that there are some threats reaching the Palestinian leadership if not agreeing on the proposals, is this true?
Not at all. I think that the American administration is not interested in threatening the Palestinian leadership especially now since they want us to continue with these efforts until the end, and if they want to reach an agreement they should work with both sides, any threat attempt will affect the American efforts. If we feel any attempt we will announce this and be supported by our people and Arab peoples.\
More Headlines
Taysir Khaled: Beit Hanina or Shu'fat the capital of the promised Palestinian State
Member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and leader of the Democratic front, Taysir  Khaled, rejected suggestions presented by US Secretary of State, John Kerry, in his latest visit on the status of Jerusalem, which he described as "very strange and dangerous."Khalid said in remarks on the social networking site "Facebook": "Kerry ignored that east Jerusalem is occupied since June 1967, and ignored when talking about a two-State solution referring to east Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine.” Khaled added: "Everything he came with was referring in the framework agreement that Palestinians have aspirations for a capital in Jerusalem, and recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine is something else entirely different." Khaled also said: "Capital in Jerusalem might be in Beit Hanina  or Shu’fat or maybe Issawiya, or other Palestinian neighborhood."(http://www.qudsn.ps/article/36385)
Activists close the PLO headquarters to protest its role in Al-Yarmouk crisis
A number of young activists closed today morning the PLO headquarters in the city of Al-Bireh, to protest what they described as a "failure" of the PLO towards the famine experienced by Al-Yarmouk camp in Syria, and for being besieging for 182 days.  Large security forces reached the place and besieged the young protestors, asking them to end the closure of the headquarters, but the young activists refused. (http://maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=664509)
Former head of Shabak leaves Denmark for fear of arrest
Former Head of Shabak Karmi Gilon, left the Danish capital Copenhagen on Saturday, returning to Israel for fear of arrest, after some applied for Danish police demanding his arrest.According to Haaretz former head of Shabakvisited Copenhagen to participate in the Jewish Film Festival, among the films presented at the Festival, a film showing Gilon, and at his arrival a Palestinian – European organization applied to the Danish police for his arrest over his responsibility for acts against the Palestinians. Haaretz said that the Israeli embassy in Denmark received this information  and moved immediately and decided that Gilon should leave Denmark immediately. (http://maannews.net/arb/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=664506)
Arab Press
Ariel Sharon: Enemy of peace

By Yousef Munayyer

Sharon's legacy is one of wanton destruction not just of Palestinian homes and lives, but of the peace process itself.

There are few individuals in the modern history of Israel/Palestine whose actions have been as consistently destructive as those of Ariel Sharon. Sharon, who died on January 11, had been involved in Israel's war machine as early as 1948. He was known for his cut-throat attitude on the battlefield, often with wanton disregard for civilian lives. Time and again, Sharon left some of the bloodiest marks on the history of Palestine.

Perhaps the earliest instance in this trend was the events of Qibya in 1953. Qibya is a Palestinian village in the West Bank, located close to the Green Line. In an Israeli attack on the village, led on the ground by Sharon, scores of homes were destroyed while civilians were still inside. The outcome was a massacre that left 69 Palestinians dead, most of whom were women and children.

The attack was internationally condemned and Israel scrambled to control the damage to its image following the massacre. The United Nations condemned the massacre and the US State Department said those responsible "should be brought to account and that effective measures should be taken to prevent such incidents in the future". None of the officials responsible were held to account, however. This culture of impunity would be a recurring theme - not only in Israeli history but in Sharon's history in particular.

The massacre at Qibya only foreshadowed what was yet to come at the hands of Sharon.

The significance of our disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process. It supplies the formaldehyde necessary so there is no political process with Palestinians.

Dov Weisglass, aide to Ariel Sharon,

Sharon's wanton disregard for civilian life was most pronounced in 1982 during the massacres at the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon. Israel, which had invaded and occupied southern Lebanon at the time, effectively controlled the area. In the camps, Israeli-allied Lebanese Phalangists entered and committed large-scale killings of the Palestinian civilian population, while Israeli forces guarded the perimeter. Sharon, who was then minister of defense, was once again at the center of a massacre of Palestinians.
Operating with impunity

An Israeli commission, led by the president of the Israeli Supreme Court, Yitzhak Kahan, found that Israeli forces were indirectly responsible for the massacre, and that Sharon himself bore personal responsibility - as he knew full well what would happen when the decision was made to permit the Phalangists to enter into the camp.

Among the recommendations of the Kahan commission report, which was accepted by the Israeli cabinet, was that Sharon should be removed from office and to never again hold a ministerial position. The Israeli prime minister at the time, Menachem Begin, refused to dismiss Sharon, and Sharon refused to resign. After continued outrage, Sharon left the defense ministry but remained in the cabinet as a minister without portfolio.

Sharon escaped accountability in Qibya and, despite heavy criticisms of his role in the Sabra and Shatila massacres, Sharon's career in public life did not end.

While he took a back seat for several years when the Likud party was led by Begin, Yitzhak Shamir and later Benjamin Netanyahu, Sharon eventually returned to the forefront of Israeli political life and campaigned for the premiership in 2000. During his campaign, then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was engaged in negotiations with Yasser Arafat, chairman of the PLO - talks mediated by US President Bill Clinton.

In a stunt aimed at attacking Barak for what Israelis on the right considered to be the blasphemous act of negotiating with Palestinians, Sharon made a very provocative visit to the Haram al-Sharif - Temple Mount - in Jerusalem, with a massive armed guard on September 29, 2000. The act, aimed at inflaming tensions and attacking his opponent Barak who was engaged in the "peace process", drew anger from Palestinians and Muslims around the world and triggered uprisings that would eventually become the second Palestinian intifada.

Palestinians living inside Israel joined in protest against Sharon's visit and Israel's occupation and claims over Palestinian land. They were quickly and brutally repressed by Israeli police, often with the use of live ammunition aimed at protesting crowds, which left 13 Palestinians dead and 1,000 hospitalized. Sharon had managed to pour fuel on the burning embers of occupation and discrimination on both sides of the Green Line.

Destructive tenure

The upcoming Israeli elections and the uprisings in the aftermath of Sharon's visit meant there was little chance for an already struggling "peace process" to move forward. Even though talks were scheduled to be held in Taba in 2001, too many variables existed for any party to invest in the process at that particular moment. It was then - and despite a recommendation that he should never hold a ministerial position again after Sabra and Shatila - that Sharon was elected as prime minister of Israel.

President Ronald Reagan, far more accurately describes Sharon in his diary in 1982, as 'the bad guy who seemingly looks forward to a war'.

His premiership, much like his history before that, was characterized by destruction and violations of international law. He presided over the single most significant period of Israeli settlement expansion, illegal under international law, since the Begin era. In addition to the construction of Israeli settlements, he oversaw the wide-scale punitive destruction of Palestinian homes. It was under his tenure as prime minister that the policy of demolishing the homes of Palestinians involved in attacks against Israelis was established. This policy was decried by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International as collective punishment: illegal under international law.
Later in his premiership and shortly before suffering a stroke, Sharon took the decision to remove Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip in a unilateral withdrawal. The removal of some 5,000 settlers living among 1.5 million Palestinians was simple mathematics for Sharon. The costs of protecting such a small number of settlers among so many Palestinians in such a small piece of territory far outweighed any benefits of being there. Plus, the maneuver could be spun to argue that Israel had made a concession to the Palestinians.

Of course, the departure of Israeli settlers from Gaza did not advance the peace process. Instead it worked to effectively freeze it and, according to one of Sharon's key aides at the time, that was precisely the plan. "The significance of our disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process. It supplies the formaldehyde necessary so there is no political process with Palestinians," Dov Weisglass, Sharon's aide, said at the time. "When you freeze the process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state," he added. "Effectively, this whole package called a Palestinian state, with all it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda."

The unilateral nature of the withdrawal meant that security coordination with the Palestinian Authority (PA) never happened. The Fatah-led PA found itself scrambling to fill a power vacuum left by the Israelis in an area where Hamas had significant sway and support. The events in the years that followed, including the political rise and election of Hamas, their eventual assertion of control in Gaza, and the ousting of the Fatah-led PA, meant that the West Bank and Gaza, the two territories of a would-be Palestinian state, were as separated as ever. Israel would continue to use this as an excuse not to make peace.

Sharon's legacy is a bloody one that did far more to destroy peace than to advance it. The Gaza withdrawal was mistakenly characterized as a goodwill move that reflected a genuine shift in Sharon's thinking, but the reality was far from that.

Former US President George W Bush received much criticism when he once called Sharon a "man of peace". One of his predecessors however, President Ronald Reagan, far more accurately described Sharon in his diary in 1982, as "the bad guy who seemingly looks forward to a war".

More often than not, in a life characterized by violence and slaughter, Sharon continued to find exactly what he was looking for - and it was anything but peace.(http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/01/ariel-sharon-enemy-peace-20141485425583722.html)


‘It is unbearable’ in Israel

By Musa Keilani

Arab reactions to the American Secretary of State John Kerry’s framework agreement have been both mystifying and misleading.

Since 1967, the Arab states have been asking Washington for more involvement in the Palestinian cause, since the United States is the only power that can exert some pressure on Israel to abide by the international legitimacy and withdraw from the occupied territories.

The press archives of His Majesty King Hussein indicate great hopes he and Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser had pinned on the White House to contribute to achieving peace in the region.

Many messages were sent through Saudi Arabia and Morocco during the last five decades asking Washington to resist the intensive pressure from the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), see the injustice inflicted on the Palestinians and help establish peace in the region.

It is in this respect that President George Bush Sr asked, in the 1980s, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to stop settlement activities in the West Bank or else Washington will cancel the $10 billion loan guarantees to Israel.   Shamir complied, and joined the Madrid peace negotiations in 1992.

It was an American president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who forced Israel, the United Kingdom and France to end their invasion of Egypt during the Suez crisis in 1956.

Kerry started his 10th round of talks with Arabs and Israelis, hoping to find a final cure to a festering wound in Jerusalem.

The initial response of the Arab media was to call for a total rejection of Kerry’s peace plan before it was even announced.

The Israeli press managed to manipulate the Arab public opinion to fall into the trap of being subservient to Haaretz newspaper, which succeeded in building an anti-Kerry campaign by publishing undocumented planned solution to the Palestinian refugee problem.

Even Iran, though a cautious calculator, fanned the flames of opposition, due to its reservation against Saudi Arabia’s supposed role in administering the holy basin of Jerusalem while excluding the 222 million Shiites who Tehran claims to represent.

According to Kerry’s framework plan, Israel will hand over to the Palestinians 92.8 per cent of the West Bank territory, which will be a great achievement for the American negotiator, an opportunity that will never be repeated for the Arabs, in case they refuse it now.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has a golden opportunity to stand courageously and say his mind in order to regain his political stature since 2006 when Hamas, his rival, won from him the Gaza Strip with its two million Palestinians.

Currently Abbas is even losing control of the 19 refugee camps in the West Bank, with their population of over a quarter of a million. The camps have become a fertile ground for drug smuggling, crime and racketeering in illicit commodities and arms.

A Palestinian statesman from Jerusalem once said that the refugees who fled in 1948 their villages while at the age of 20 died long time ago, since the average age is 65 among Arabs here. Their sons and siblings are no longer refugees.

In case a fair compensation is paid to the siblings who had never known their old villages, Abbas will be doing them a big favor.

It is in this respect that what happened to former mayor of Bireh, Abdel Jawad Saleh, has to be narrated.

He was deported by the Israeli occupation authorities for his political activities. Following the Oslo accords, he was allowed back to stay there. Then, in a big surprise, he came back to Amman to settle permanently, saying: “It is unbearable there.”

The Palestinian “right of return” has its own symbolic emotional value, but cannot be applied on the ground due to lack of water to drink, shortage of accommodation, absence of job opportunities and because “It is unbearable there”, as Saleh said.(http://jordantimes.com/it-is-unbearable-in-israel)

Sharon’s legacy lives on

By OSAMA AL SHARIF

For decades the name of Ariel Sharon elicited the most negative reactions from Palestinians and Arabs. He was the embodiment of evil associated with Israel’s military; the conqueror of Arab armies and the facilitator of horrific massacres carried out against hapless Palestinian civilians in Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Lebanon. But Sharon, who died Saturday after spending the last eight years in a comma, was much more than a controversial Israeli general. In the latter years of his life he became a powerful political force that changed the map of Israeli politics.

Sharon was an Israeli war hero, the last in a generation that helped realize the Zionist dream in Palestine. He was known for his military brilliance, but also for his impetuous and reckless actions. His role in the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, the occupation of Beirut and the massacres in Palestinian refugee camps will forever remain an indelible part of his divisive legacy.

Sharon believed in greater Israel and supported the colonization of occupied Palestinian territories. For years he was at the forefront of those critical of the peace process and the Oslo Accords. He was a hero to the settlers and an enemy of the Israeli left which favored a two-state solution and the creation of an independent Palestinian state. He was the exact opposite of another Israeli general and war hero: Yitzhak Rabin.

He was also a calculating politician. His provocative visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque in 2000 triggered the second Palestinian Intifada and brought the peace process to a halt. Few months later he became prime minister and head of the newly formed Kadima Party. He deliberately sabotaged the peace process with the Palestinians and re-occupied the West Bank holding Palestinian President Yasser Arafat prisoner in his Ramallah compound. The rest is history.

It is believed that Sharon had his own vision for a unilateral final solution with the Palestinians. He built the notorious separation wall, snaking through the West Bank and representing the new borders of Israel with the Palestinians. He took the bold decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip, realizing that holding on to that region had no real value for Israel.

Had he not succumbed to a brain stroke in 2006, Sharon would have enforced his own plan on the Palestinians, withdrawing from populated areas, annexing settlements and burying the two-state solution forever.

But his vision may still survive. His party is no longer as effective but Israel is now governed by a right-wing government whose outlook on peace with the Palestinians does not differ much from what Sharon had in mind. Today the peace process struggles with the same difficult issues that Sharon wanted to resolve unilaterally. Benjamin Netanyahu’s positions on East Jerusalem, refugees, borders, security and Palestinian rights are almost identical to those of Sharon. The difference is that Sharon, as a former general, would have moved to liquidate the Palestinian issue without hesitation.

Sharon’s legacy as a right-wing fighter and politician continues today. His death will revive his views and inspire politicians to carry on with his vision for a unilateral solution. Sharon never believed in a peaceful and just settlement with the Palestinians or with Israel’s Arab neighbors. He had rebuffed the Arab Peace Initiative. He believed in Israel’s military might and regional superiority as the only requirements to guarantee its survival. It is difficult to say that his views had died with him. His extremist approach to challenges will survive him. (http://www.arabnews.com/news/507716)

Israel may have raised its pitch, but the story isn’t over yet

By James Zogby

At this point we have no idea what John Kerry, the US secretary of state, is going to propose to the Israelis and Palestinians. Because no comprehensive peace agreement is within reach, we are told that the secretary is working, instead, on a “Framework Agreement”. Precisely what this document will look like, what it will include, say, and propose to do is still unclear.

Will it merely lay out the issues to be resolved? Will it define the gaps that separate the sides and propose US “bridging proposals?” Will it be issued by the US or will it be signed by the Israeli prime minister and the PLO chairman? There are, at this point, no answers to these questions because the effort remains a work in progress. That is all we know.

Despite the refusal of Washington to release any information, the US press has been filled with accounts telling a very different story. Early on there were reports that the US had fully embraced Israeli concerns on most issues, including: security needs in the Jordan Valley, the insistence that there be no “right of return” for Palestinians, and the demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish State”.

If everything was going so swimmingly for Israel, how are we to account for their behavior last week? When Mr. Kerry met Mr. Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister attempted to turn their joint press event into a session bashing the Palestinian leadership, accusing Mahmoud Abbas of embracing terrorists and engaging in incitement, questioning whether Israel had a genuine “partner” in the search for peace. Mr. Kerry was apparently taken aback by this intemperate and uncalled for display of vehemence. But that wasn’t the end of the Israeli counterthrust.

During this same period, Mr. Netanyahu, speaking before various audiences in Israel, announced that he would not sign any agreement that included a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem or call for an evacuation of controversial Israeli colonies in Hebron and Beit El. A few days earlier, a group of ministers in Mr. Netanyahu’s cabinet passed a motion to submit legislation to the Knesset calling for the annexation of the Jordan Valley. They followed this vote with a visit to that region’s settlements pledging their intention to retain control over the area.

Meanwhile, Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition partner, Naftali Bennet, took the extreme position of announcing that his party would leave the government in the wake of any agreement that required Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories. Mr. Netanyahu’s partner, foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, while praising Mr. Kerry’s effort as the “best proposal we can get,” added that he would not accept the “right of return” for even a single Palestinian refugee. Mr. Lieberman also conditioned his support by positing the notion that the “land swaps” with the Palestinians should involve ceding Israel’s largely Arab “Little Triangle” to the new Palestinian entity. At week’s end, Mr. Netanyahu put the “icing on the cake” by announcing tenders for the construction of 1,400 new housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

If the earlier press accounts are right and Mr. Kerry’s efforts have largely endorsed Israel’s positions on most issues, then how do we account for this all-out assault? It can’t be that Mr. Netanyahu was merely shoring up his political position by preparing his base for eventual concessions, since the combined rhetorical onslaught only served to make concessions more difficult. For the same reason, it is unlikely that the entire effort was designed by Mr. Netanyahu in order to demonstrate to the US secretary the precariousness of his domestic political situation. It may be that Israelis have most of what they want, but want more. They may be pressing the US to force a framework on the Palestinians that is more of surrender than an agreement. But the combined demands they have put forward would make the “framework” a bad joke, one that would destroy the chances for any peace arrangement. Given how much the US has invested in this process, it is unlikely that they would conclude it by issuing such a document.

A more plausible explanation is that Mr. Kerry is quite serious and is pushing hard to come up with a framework that advances peace and this has caused some real discomfort on the Israeli right.

A rule of thumb I’ve learnt in politics is that when, in the midst of private negotiations, one side starts yelling the loudest and then takes its complaints and demands to the press, that’s the side that’s losing.

This is not to say that I am optimistic or even hopeful. The way forward remains a long and tortuous path. I can’t imagine that the Palestinian leadership will surrender and accept a framework agreement that signs away their basic rights. I also cannot believe that the US will offer a proposal that will be rejected outright by Palestinians and Arab public opinion, at large. The US is aware that there is too much at stake in the region and is not interested in fuelling more discontent.

That is why it is best to take a deep breath and not overreact to rumors and the hyper-ventilations of the Israeli right. This story is not over yet.(http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/israel-may-have-raised-its-pitch-but-the-story-isnt-over-yet#full)
Opinions
... What’s after the Israeli and Palestinian clear positions?
Al-Quds Editorial
President Abbas was very clear yesterday when speaking to the delegation of the popular Jerusalemite delegation, when confirming official positions of substantive issues, and said he will not recognize Israel as a Jewish State, and that no one has the right to waive the right of return and that Jerusalem must be the capital of the Palestinian State, stressing that Jerusalem does not mean suburban outside the wall, as some say, but all of Jerusalem occupied in 1967.
On the other hand, Netanyahu's positions are also clear, he rejects any mentioning of Jerusalem in the framework agreement proposed by Foreign Minister, John Kerry, he also opposes the establishment of a Palestinian capital in any part of the city even if this resulted in blowing up the negotiations, he also insists on the continuation of Jewish settlement and the recognition Jewish Character of Israel.
So we are facing two very clear positions and there seems to be no possibility of any compromise, in this case, what is the purpose of continuing the negotiations, and what are the objectives that Kerry is trying to achieve...Etc…
Kerry’s shuttle visits to the region and frequent contacts with Arab states, and talks about proposals he presents, while he understands as we all know, that he will not be able to make any real penetration.
Washington must understand that the whole world including the United States itself recognizes the West Bank including east Jerusalem as occupied territory, and that any agreement that does not include Jerusalem will never happen, as President Abu Mazen confirmed yesterday, as this is the position of our people of all sects and political forces, and when Washington realized this, it must exercise pressure on Netanyahu not to destroy the peace process, since the peace that it seeks through  Kerry and others require a stand like this in order to get out of the  vicious circle of negotiations, and all those concerned with stability and reject violence and extremism in the region should support the Palestinian position and stand against the Israeli arrogant attitude.
We Palestinians and those of the Arabs who are with us, should also be aware that clear position, and no concession of rights is of the utmost importance and responsibility, but this consistent position needsreal action, it is not enough to reject settlement, while settlement is increasing, it is not enough to say that we will not compromise on east Jerusalem as a capital of a Palestinian State in full, while they work to Judaizing the city and change its geography and displace its people and falsify its history. We also wonder if positions are that clear,  what motivates continuation of negotiations that constitute the official cover of all Israeli rejected practices?
Our consistent positions require reassessment of the overall situation, and taking the necessary decisions to support our positions and stop their expansion.(Al-Quds)
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