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Peres, Ashton defend Abbas after attack by Israeli FM

Al Manar

Israeli President Shimon Peres came to the defense of Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday after Israel’s far-right foreign minister called the president an obstacle to peace, Ma’an news agency reported.

“Abbas and Prime Minister (Salam) Fayyad are serious leaders that want peace and are working to prevent violence and extremism in our region,” said Peres in public remarks.

“We must continue to negotiate peace with them in order to achieve full peace that will end this long conflict,” he said in a meeting with “Seinfeld” actor Jason Alexander, a member of “One Voice”, an international movement promoting a two-state solution.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who heads an ultra-nationalist party in the governing coalition, said in a briefing to reporters on Monday that Abbas was blocking any progress towards peace.

“If there is an obstacle that could be removed it’s Abu Mazen,” he said, calling on Abbas to resign. “He threatens he will hand back the keys,” Lieberman said, referring to the Western-backed Abbas’s warnings in the past that he would quit unless a statehood deal could be achieved. “It’s not a threat, it’s a blessing.”

There was no indication that Lieberman’s fiery remarks reflected any change in Israeli government policy, and they elicited no response from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu has called on Abbas to resume negotiations, which collapsed 13 months ago in a dispute over Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank, and abandon a unilateral bid for UN recognition of a Palestinian state.

Lieberman’s remarks drew Palestinian anger and condemnation by a spokesman for UN Middle East envoy Robert Serry, and from European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, on the eve of a new push by international mediators for renewed talks.

Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for Ashton, said on Tuesday Lieberman’s remarks were “regrettably not helpful to create the environment of trust conducive to negotiations.”

PLO official Saeb Erekat told Voice of Palestine Radio, “we consider this tantamount to a call for the physical assassination of (Abbas).” “This is criminal incitement. We called the American administration, we sat with our friends in the Russian Federation and the European Union,” Erekat said.

UN spokesman Richard Miron, meanwhile, called the comments “deeply troubling”. Speaking for the UN’s envoy in Jerusalem Robert Serry, Miron said the remarks seemed intended to “delegitimize” the president.

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PA Security arrest 7 Hamas supporters & a document reveals Abbas discussed the overthrow of Arafat with Preres

PA Security arrest 7 Hamas supporters

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– PA security forces arrested 7 Hamas supporters in Nablus and al-Khalil, five of them after being freed from Junaid jail in Nablus.

In Nablus district, the PA Preventive Security arrested freed captive Zahi Kusa after raiding his home last night. He already spent a number of long spells in jail.

In a step to circumvent a court ruling that stipulates the release of a number of political prisoners, the preventive security re-arrested on Saturday Darwish Saqer, Rami Isa and Ahmad Mar’i immediately after releasing them from Junaid prison in Nablus.

The same security agency had re-arrested Morsi Ziada and Samer Odeh immediately after their release from Junaid prison on Friday evening. The five detainees are students and graduates of the Najah University in Nablus and have been detained on several occasions by the PA security.

The preventive security also arrested Wael Abu Khazma and Adi Bari from their homes in Nablus on Thursday, just one day after being released from Junaid prison.

The preventive security presented the cases of nine political detainees, including the seven who have been re-arrested recently, at a Nablus court.

The PA security is still detaining Muthanna Eshteyya from the village of Tel and barring his mother from visiting him or even send him some clothes.

In al-Khalil district, the PA preventive security handed Mikdad and Mujahid, the sons of MP Muhammad Abu Juhaisha summonses to attend on Monday at their headquarters in Tarqumia.

The PA General Intelligence also arrested Amjad Qazzaz from the Dura on Friday, he is a former captive in occupation jails and he was detained by preventive security for eight months.

Qazzaz was summoned by the PA general intelligence three times during the past two weeks, before he was arrested on Friday.

In Tulkarem, district, a number of people were summoned by PA security on the backdrop of attending celebrations for the freed captives. Amongst those summoned were Abdullah Awad, Muhammad al-Hamshari and Amer Bashir.

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Secret document reveals .. Abbas discussed the overthrow of Arafat with Preres

Amman, (PIC)– Hebrew media revealed on Sunday a secret document in the shape of minutes of a secret meeting between the then Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas, who was the PA Prime Minister at the time.

Yediot Ahranot, which published part of the document, said that such documents will embarrass Abbas. The document, which will be published soon along with other documents in a book about former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, is about a secret meeting between Abbas and Peres and during which they discussed the overthrow of Arafat.

According to the writer of the report, Abbas and Peres used to make secret contacts behind the back of Yaser Arafat.

The document also reveals that Abbas told Peres that by having these secret contacts he was putting his life on the line. “If this meeting was to become known, count me as dead,” Abbas told Peres.

He further told Peres: “Israel should stop praising me so that my election chances are not impaired”.

According to the document, Abbas describes Arafat as a non-realistic man and asked the Israelis to convince the US to finance the PA when he gets elected.

“Sharon, biography of a leader” is a book written by Sharon’s son, Gilad Sharon, in which he draws on documents, letters and meeting minutes in his father’s personal archive.

Why was the PA hosting American Kabbalah tourists in Nablus?

by Steve Bell

by Michelle Gyeney, The Electronic Intifada

The message cut through the narrow passageways and abundant staircases of Nablus with remarkable speed on 11 August: a huge group of tourists was on their way to the city, and the governate was in desperate need of local, English-speaking tour guides to lead these invitees throughout Nablus. In exchange for 100 shekels (about $30), each guide was expected to lead his or her group through the Ottoman-era Old City as well as to religious sites such as Joseph’s Tomb and Bier Yacob church — and, most importantly, to refrain from political discussion of any kind throughout the day.

Official guests of the Palestinian Authority, the 1,200 students of the Kabbalah International Center in Los Angeles — wearing matching white t-shirts bearing Arabic, English, or Hebrew messages of peace — streamed into Nablus throughout the day and ended their visit in the downtown area where the visitors took part in the inaugural launch of “Peace and Freedom Day.” As part of this new Nablusi celebration, governor Jibril al-Bakri, his deputy Anan al-Ateera, and a number of other community officials spoke about the need for peace and statehood and then led the crowd in singing peace-related songs. While the Nablus governate was the official coordinator of the day, several of the roughly 100 Palestinian participants, including tour guides, organizers and volunteers, were quick to suggest that the invitation for the Jewish mysticism group came at the behest of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

The themes of peace and freedom were discussed without reference to their political context and were simply described as abstract concepts that Palestinians should have the right to enjoy. Ironically, the organizers’ emphasis that guides not discuss political issues with their groups was, in and of itself, an affront to Palestinian freedom. Further complicating the matter was the logistical impossibility of leading people through the Old City, which was a bastion of the resistance movement and bore a heavy civilian burden during both intifadas, without referencing politics.

Indeed, the physical appearance of Nablus’ Old City remains visibly altered as the result of years of Israeli invasions. Even today, the 1,000-year-old buildings of the Old City still bear the signs of invasions and the military’s devastation. In all likelihood, this blanket ban on discussing what really happens in Nablus under Israeli occupation sought to disguise the politics of the visiting Kabbalists themselves.

Thinly-veiled “gestures of peace and unity”

Browsing the event page for the Kabbalah International Center’s current trip is particularly telling. Labeled “Israel 2011 with Rav and Karen Berg,” their itinerary not only designates the West Bank cities of Hebron and Nablus as “Israeli,” but also refers to Nablus as “Shechem,” the Canaanite and biblical name most often appropriated by the Zionist movement to indicate that the city is part of the ancient territory of Samaria rather than modern Palestine. The group heralded its time in Nablus as “a day hosted by the Palestinian Authority in Shechem in a gesture of peace and unity,” and these themes were made the focus of the day, but one cannot help but wonder: if politics were made taboo and the group itself makes use of Zionist language, then whose idea of peace and unity was on the table?

A recent Ma’an News Agency article on the event, as well as governate representatives, referred to the participants as “international activists” attending a “peace rally,” but upon further inquiry, both claims appear highly suspect (“Hundreds of international activists at Nablus peace rally,” 12 August 2011).

While the official message of the visit may well have been “peace and freedom,” the cooperation between the PA and Israeli forces to ensure a sufficient security detail for the conspicuous caravan of 25 luxury buses — as well as the PA’s blatant disregard for the Kabbalist group’s own politics — emphasizes the PA’s continued normalization with Israel rather than any display of international unity with Palestinians. As so few Palestinians were actually present, aside from bemused onlookers, it is difficult to see with whom these internationals had hoped to express their solidarity.

The PA’s continued cooperation with Israel

More than anything, the “Peace and Freedom Day” visit raises many questions. Why would a group of 1,200 “activists” with a pre-scheduled visit to the West Bank cities of Nablus and Hebron, both of which are hotbeds of political activism against Israeli occupation and settler-colonialism, gain unfettered access to the occupied West Bank while international human rights activists, academics, professionals and even casual tourists are often forced to conceal any trips to the other side of Israel’s wall for fear of detention or deportation?

Most recently, the Israeli government denied entry to hundreds of “flytilla” activists at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv simply because they declared their true destination was the occupied West Bank. In contrast, these student-guests of the PA in “Shechem” were not only welcomed with open arms by Israeli and Palestinian officials alike, they were provided with a full security escort by Palestinian security forces during their visit to Palestinian Authority-administered areas of the West Bank. Even though the group visited Hebron and Nablus, it viewed both as part of Israel, which appears to have made all the difference for navigating the Israeli government’s often arbitrary entrance requirements.

The Israeli government and its forces have actively helped, rather than impeded, the group’s visit, casting further doubt on the motivations of Nablus’ Kabbalist guests. This is in sharp contrast to its typical treatment of Palestinian, international and Israeli activists, who are more likely to face checkpoints, detention, tear gas or worse. It stands to reason that despite the declarations of the PA, these students were not activists at all — especially not in the eyes of the Israeli government.

Furthermore, at a time when the PA is facing an intense financial crisis, shouldering the costs of such a seemingly absurd event raises further questions about the PA’s governance decisions. A little more than a month before its impending United Nations statehood declaration, the PA has proven once again that it does not have the interests of the average Palestinian at heart. In fact, the PA has shown that it values continued cooperation with Israel and the international community more than it does peace or freedom for the Palestinian people.

Michelle Gyeney is researching the policy incoherence of development practice in Palestine and writes from the West Bank.

Silenced evidence in Hariri’s assassination -Part III

by Eslam al-Rihani, Al Manar

In the third episode of this investigative file, Yurgen Kulbel deals with new facts, reveals new evidence in the investigation, silenced evidence.

In the exclusive interview with Al-Manar Website, the German forensic expert discussed the hypothesis that Syrian intelligence service – in cooperation with the pro-Syrian Lebanese intelligence – had planned for the crime and its execution.

He unfolded another chapter of the evidence related to the “same signatures that were left after the murder of both Hobeika and Hariri. This chapter has been also blacked out by the international investigation.

Pointing out the impossibility of excluding any hypothesis regarding the apparatus behind Hariri assassination, Yurgen Kulbel considered the hypothesis that Syrian intelligence had carried out this operation ‘possible’. “Yet, if we adopt it, this means the capacity of those apparatus is high enough, so it can mislead intelligence apparatus, like the CIA and the Mossad. This approach is non-sense due to the tremendous technology material capabilities of major intelligence services in satellites and others, which the Syrian intelligence lacks and cannot even dream of them,” Kulbel said.

SAME SIGNATURES

The German expert noted “it is necessary to start from the fact that the assassination of Hariri and Hobeika were carried out by professionals who have the high technical skill unavailable for any other intelligence or mafia apparatus.” Here, we mention again the jamming device, the technology which is only available for Israeli and Swiss experts.

“On the day when Hobeika was assassinated, three booby-trapped cars were waiting for the green line, i.e. three teams were charged of parking their cars in different places to ensure the explosion,” Kulbel added.

The expert stressed Hobeika’s murder on Jan 24, 2002 had the same signatures of Hariri’s assassination three years later.

He believed that perpetrators could paralyze “the strict security measures and technical means adopted by each of the two victims.”

In the interview, Kulbel mentioned that Hobeika had owned an insurance company, “thus he knew all what related to security matters.” Hariri had also built his own fixed security network around himself. “Perpetrators could overcome those two barriers, and I think they were aware of them before the assassination time,” Kulbel added.

“ISRAEL” DECIDES, LF EXCUTE

The German expert expressed beliefs the impossibility of ignoring the common between assassinating Hobeika and Hariri in terms of the explosive materials, noting it is normal to state the explosives of February 14 were more powerful than those of January 24.

Kulbel went on to say that both operations were carried out by remote control, where the street in which Hobeika was targeted had been closed due to construction works until shortly before the time of assassination, just like the case of Hariri.

Kulbel also drew attention to that some parties – which were not known before – had declared responsibility for the operations, i.e. Abu Ades in Hariri’s case and ‘Lebanese for Free and Independent Lebanon in Hobeika murder.

“Immediately after assassinating Hobeika, fingers were pointed at Israel, starting from the then Lebanese president Emile Lahoud, to the then PM Rafik Hariri, and even Marwan Hamade who declared that Israel had no desire to keep any witness of its crimes,” Kulbel said.

“Israel was the first suspect in this crime, as well as the Lebanese Forces – particularly its radical wing – because a pro-Geagea group made in 1991 an attempt to assassinate Hobeika. Lebanese authorities also revealed in 1998 a conspiracy of former LF intelligence agents who were seeking for eliminating Hobeika, Ghazi Kanaan and Elias El-Murr,” Kulbel continued.

He clearly stated that it is really possible to accuse former LF members of killing Hobeika, because they were afraid of him to declassify their roles. “Investigations indicated this fact through decisive evidence.”

Moreover, it is noteworthy to mention that the words of Yurgen Kulbel bring to mind what the American journalist Wayne Madsen had revealed in his interview with the Russian Television (RT). Madison said that Vice USA President was running criminal cells aiming at eliminating certain figures in Lebanon and Afghanistan, mainly Elie Hobeika and Rafik Hariri. It is known about the USA that it sponsors Israel.

Wayne Madsen Video:

See also:
Silenced Evidence in Hariri’s Assassination – Part I
Silenced Evidence in Hariri’s Assassination – Part II

Silenced evidence in Hariri’s assassination – Part II

Al Manar

In this second episode, new facts are revealed. The German forensic expert who affirmed the Israeli nationality of the jamming device producer, which Hariri had bought, continues to unfold other proofs.

In the exclusive interview with Al-Manar Website, Yurgen Kulbel revealed some information which the international investigation had ignored deliberately, “or inadvertently,” he said with a sarcastic laugh.

“The explosion extent and its impacts show the logistic and tactical strategic level of the crime planners and perpetrators. This kind of crime cannot be carried out overnight, for it requires tactical and material preparations, well-trained and reliable elements, in addition to the close monitoring of the victim to track his movements,” he noted.

“I conducted investigations and made interviews with many personalities that talked about connections of the Israeli Mossad with some Lebanese parties which have a history of assassinations and eliminations carried out against their political rivals during and after the Lebanese civil war,” Kulbel told Al-Manar Website.

“Yet, investigators had ignored this information, just like they ignored the data and proofs held by Hezbollah and revealed by the Secretary General Sheikh Hasan Nasrallah,” Kulbel added.

UNIT ‘504’

In his interview, Kulbel pointed out to the Unit ‘504’, for which he devoted a full chapter in his book.

“Unit 504 was formed by the Israeli military intelligence. It is considered a mini-Mossad apparatus specialized in recruiting informers in Arab countries. During the period of Israeli occupation of Lebanon, (which lasted 18 years) this unit had managed a large network of collaborators in Lebanon and was responsible for the leadership of Lebanon South Army. It was re-formed after the year 2000, where members are proud that all matters of crime, from espionage to murder, are their specialty,” he wrote in ‘Hariri Murder.’

The German expert mentioned in his book as well words of an American-Israeli right-wing extremist Murray Cal about those recruited within this unit, saying “they are well-prepared to guerilla warfare, murder, infiltration and using of the latest methods in the preparation of car bombs.”

GUARDIANS OF CEDARS, LEBANESE FORCES

Citing his own sources, Kulbel noted in the interview that members of the ‘Unit 504’ had traveled to Cyprus to prepare to infiltrate into many Lebanese regions.

“Those sources informed me that plans prepared by Etienne Saqr – leader of the Guardians of the Cedars – aimed at renewing cells amongst the Christian youth, and that some kind of mobilization was carried out by the Lebanese Forces within ranks. There are security reports which revealed that Ghassan Touma – one of Lebanese Forces commanders – had left the United States to Cyprus, in order to launch mobilizing communications in Lebanon,” the forensic expert noted.

Later in the interview, Kulbel quoted the manager of “Lebanese Foundation for Peace” Naji Najjar as saying to an Israeli newspaper about close relations connecting Lebanese Union in Exile – opponent to Syria – with the Lebanese opposition at home.

The forensic expert cited what Najjar had said to confirm that members of Lebanon South Army and the Lebanese Forces who were in exile, are working for the Unit 504.

Kulbel pointed out that the massive attacks and explosions took place after Hariri’s assassination should be involved in investigations for being carried out – in the first place – in the areas of Christian residential.”

SUSPICIOUS CALL

“If we look closely, we’ll find out that not only means and capabilities weren’t at the disposal of the Syrian intelligence and the Lebanese security apparatus, but they were also not available for the Israeli Mossad. Yet, assassination was committed in cooperation with other agents, like the ‘secret fighters’ of the Guardians of the Cedars or the Lebanese Forces, for instance. This decisively shows a high criminal capacity at that time, which is still available,” Kulbel went on to say.

This point of view is prompted by the fact that return to Lebanon was banned for many of those parties’ members, for being condemned to commit war crimes or to cooperate with the enemy.

“Thus, those people were interested in creating a completely new political regime in Lebanon. For this reason they established what was known by’ Lebanese Resistance in Exile’,” Kulbel believed.

“In addition to that, there is another point to which attention should be paid: the Shin-Beit – responsible for internal security in Israel – which attached to its ranks a special unit of the South Lebanon Army, because its members speak an Arabic similar to the Palestinian dialect,” Kulbel continued.

“One can remind here the alien dialect of the unknown caller who called Al-Jazeera news network after Hariri’s murder. Ghassan Ben Jeddo – the then director of Al-Jazeera Bureau of Beirut – stated then that the caller was speaking bad Arabic. He was Arabic-speaking of foreign accent,” Kulbel concluded.

To be continued …

In Part III:
Similarities between Hobeika’s murder and Hariri’s assassination.

Silenced Evidence in Hariri’s Assassination – Part I

Confused strategy: How the PA sold out Palestinian unity

by Steve Bell

by Ramzy Baroud, source

If you happen to be a Palestinian government employee, chances are you will receive only half your usual salary this month. The other half will only be available when international donors find it in their hearts to make up for the huge shortage of funds currently facing the Palestinian Authority (PA).

With a deficit standing at around $640 million, the PA government of Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad is experiencing one of its worst ever financial crises. However, the Palestinian economy is not a real economy by universally recognized standards. It survives largely on handouts by donor countries. These funds have spared Israel much of its financial responsibility as an occupying power under the stipulations of the Fourth Geneva Convention. They have also propped up a Palestinian leadership that tries to secure its own survival by serving the interests of major donors.

The funds, however, are now drying up. This could be due to a political attempt to dissuade PA President Mahmoud Abbas from seeking recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN next September. PA officials have been greatly angered by the shift, blaming donor countries – including Arab countries – for failing to honor their financial commitments.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, Secretary-General of the PLO, spoke of an ‘unprecedented’ crisis to Voice of Palestine Radio. “The situation has become very complicated for the Palestinian Authority because of the failure of the Arab countries to fulfill their financial promises.”

Fayyad suggested it was an ‘irony’ that the current crisis comes at a time when the PA had reduced its reliance on foreign aid by almost half – from $1.8 billion in 2008 to $970m – according to the Jerusalem Post. Now, even this half is being slashed, as only $331m of the pledged $970m has been received.

Top PA officials are yet to openly connect the dots between the withholding of funds and the political reality in Palestine. Fayyad insisted that “the crisis does not cast doubt on our preparedness for the establishment of the state,” while Abed Rabbo asserted that the crisis would not halt PA efforts to seek an independent statehood along pre-1967 lines.

The PA undoubtedly understands the financial cost of any political adventure that is deemed unfavorable to Israel – especially since they are constantly reminded of the ‘historic ties’ and ‘shared values’ that unite Israel and the United States.

One such reminder was the huge margin at the US House of Representatives in July 2007. It was an “overwhelming 406-6 vote,” reported AFP, where US lawmakers “warned the Palestinians that they risk cuts in US aid if they pursue UN recognition of a future state not defined in direct talks with Israel.” The message echoed another vote on a similar resolution in the US Senate.

Such unquestioning support for Israel by the US serves to make life much easier for Israeli diplomats. They now need to focus less on the US than on European countries that have promised to back the PA statehood initiative.

The PA is of course very vulnerable to threats, despite their insistence to the contrary. Once the US and others start to wave the withholding-of-funds card, any solid PA political program usually falters into perplexing and even self-defeating political babble. The lack of certainty in the PA’s political language could be attributed to fear that a single decision to withhold funds coupled with an Israeli decision to hold taxes collected on behalf of the PA, the government would not last for more than mere weeks.

One ought to remember that the West Bank and East Jerusalem are Occupied Territories. Deprived from even a semblance of territorial sovereignty and presiding over a donation-based national economy, the PA has no political independence outside the permissible margins allowed by the US and Israel, countries that are hell-bent on defeating the Palestinian national project.

The PA has been grappling with this strange situation since its inception in 1994. Being a guardian of Palestinian national interests and simultaneously satisfying Israel’s political interests and US expectations is an impossible feat. That enigma has almost always been settled at the expense of the Palestinians themselves. The latest casualty has been the unity deal signed between Hamas and the PA’s ruling party, Fatah, in Egypt on April 27.

The unity was essential for a cohesive political program to be formed towards Palestinian rights and possible statehood. When the agreement was officially signed early May, it was assumed that various committees would be able to quickly finalize the process aimed at setting a date for future elections and bringing to a complete end the four-year feud between the two factions.

However, a counter Israeli strategy was immediately forged. On May 4, as Palestinians celebrated their unity, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led the counter campaign from London. “What happened today in Cairo is a tremendous blow to peace and a great victory for terrorism,” he told reporters (as reported by Reuters). The US echoed Netanyahu’s foreboding words, EU countries responded ‘cautiously’, and the arm-twisting began.

Once again, Abbas and the PA were faced with a dilemma around priorities. National unity in Palestine was to suffer yet another blow. “The Palestinian president does not want to wage two diplomatic battles for recognition of an alliance with the Islamic militants and for a U.N. nod to statehood at the same time,” said a PLO official (as quoted by the Associated Press and Ha’aretz).

The UN vote “would be a largely symbolic step that the Palestinians hope will nonetheless improve their leverage against Israel,” according to the AP report. ‘Symbolic’ maybe, but is a priority that Abbas feels comes ahead of urgently needed national unity and a unified political program.

Meanwhile, PA forces – trained and armed by the US and in constant coordination with the Israeli army – reportedly arrested 68 Hamas members in recent weeks, according to a report by Maan News Agency, citing a Hamas statement.

While Abbas is now leading a diplomatic mission to drum up support for his UN initiative, Fayyad is trying to collect funds to prop up the PA economy for a few more months. Meanwhile, Palestinian national unity – without which Palestinians will remain hopelessly fragmented and vulnerable to external pressures and foreign priorities – remains merely ink on paper.

– Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).

We are Liberating Palestine … Yes We Are!

The continuation of very good satire- A Trilogy: The Road to “Independence” (1): We are Negotiating … Yes We Are!

A Trilogy: The Road to “Independence” (2)

by Reham Alhelsi, A voice from Palestine

Liberation is an art; an art we excel at. We liberated Jericho, we liberated Ramallah, we liberated Bethlehem, we liberated Jenin, we liberated Nablus, we liberated three-quarters of Hebron, we liberated a few bits here and there and we will liberate Jerusalem. Which “Jerusalem” we mean? Don’t ask, it’s complicated. We liberated some 7% of the West Bank without the need of an army or any “resistance” other than our definition of “resistance”. We liberated 7% of the West Bank through the negotiations everyone is criticizing. We liberated 7% of the West Bank and are encouraging everyone to come and join us in liberating another 7%, then we will have 14% of the West Bank, not of historic Palestine. Historic Palestine is another story, it needs a lot of 7%s and we don’t have the time, we are too busy building a state on the liberated 7% – of the West Bank- the original 7% we liberated. We ask our American patrons to continue supporting our liberation process. We ask our European friends to continue financing our liberation process. We ask our Arab brothers to continue cheering and applauding our liberation process. We invite our Israeli partners in peace and negotiations to continue negotiating with us and asking us for more concessions. They can negotiate with us on the already liberated 7% if they want, we won’t mind because we heart negotiations. Modern liberation is an art; a fine art, an art very few understand. It is the art of selling your rights to the highest bidder in the name of “ending the conflict”. It is the art of shaking the hands of your killer in the name of “peace”. It is the art of joining forces with your enemy against your brother. It is an art only the “civilized” understand. Forget liberation through armed resistance, forget liberation through popular resistance. Today, liberation is achievable through concessions and two-year road maps to statehood. And if liberation is your goal – and you have only 2 years time to achieve that goal – just follow our refined and re-adjusted definition of liberation and you will get your state.

Liberation is an art: the art of “see nothing, hear nothing, say nothing”. We turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to Israeli actions against our people. We hide the minute Israeli soldiers enter a town, a village or a refugee camp. We stand still and watch every time Zionist militias kill a Palestinian child or demolish a Palestinian home or build a new Zionist colony. Liberation requires resistance, requires action and the best form of action is no action. Our people want resistance, they want us to resist the occupation, but why won’t they understand that inaction is a form of non-violent resistance? Why won’t they understand that inaction is the perfect type of resistance, a form everyone will love, mainly our Israeli partners in peace and negotiations; just watch as your nation is being slaughtered and don’t act! And with our silent resistance, our inaction, we are shaking the grounds of Israel. With our inaction we are liberating Palestine! And while we are busy liberating Palestine, why do our people criticize us when we don’t act every time Israeli soldiers kill a Palestinian child or demolish a Palestinian home or build a new Zionist colony? Don’t they realize that any action on our side would make us unfit to be the “brave” who made the “peace”? We need to show the Israelis we are real partners for peace, that we are the partners they have long waited for, that our goals are theirs, that their wish is our command. And while we are busy liberating Palestine, why do our people criticize us when we don’t go complain and condemn Israel every time Israeli soldiers kill a Palestinian child or demolish a Palestinian home or build a new Zionist colony? Don’t they realize that it makes us look like crying little babies every time we go and condemn? Don’t they realize if we start condemning Israeli human rights violation, we will need a 24-hour team to do that and won’t have time to liberate them and build our state? It’s enough to condemn once every six months, that’s the allowed maximum. This is called cooperation, this is called “taking and giving”; we help hide their crimes and they give us the approval to set up new firms, import the latest BMWs, give us permits to go to Tel-Aviv. So, if you happen to pass a murdered Palestinian child just pretend he/she is sleeping, and if you pass a demolished Palestinian home pretend it is being renovated and if someone mentions Jerusalem, just remember that the place was exchanged for a title and a red carpet, and never mention it again and with time people might forget it ever existed. And for God’s sake, stop criticizing us, while we are busy liberating you, for going back to negotiations again and again and again. Negotiating is resistance, and you people keep calling for resistance, asking us to resist and we are resisting; we are resisting the occupier with our unshakable stand that negotiations are the only way no matter what Israel does, no matter what Israel says, no matter what the whole world says. Can’t you see we are embarrassing Israel by insisting on going to negotiations when they don’t even want to give us a tiny road in “Samaria”? We are resisting the occupier every time we kneel down to negotiations, make it our god and our holy book. Do you want them to stop our monthly salaries? Do you want our bank accounts to go in the minus? Do you want them to deny us travel permits? Do you want them to send us packing and back to our lousy 2-room apartments in some Arab capital?

Liberation is an art: the art of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. We provoke our brothers and sisters, incite against them and call them the enemy. We discredit, attack and oust every voice that speaks against us, every voice that criticizes us or exposes us. We discredit, attack and oust all, individuals or group, who seek to delegitimize us, for no one is legitimate but us; we are the chosen ones, even though we were not chosen, we are the elect ones; even though we were not elected. We cut off the monthly salaries of those who refuse to obey our orders to go to the streets and march in our support. We cut off the monthly allocations of other factions who dare to criticize us and refuse to obey our orders. And while we are busy liberating Palestine, why do our people criticize us for refusing to talk to other Palestinian factions while rushing to hug Israelis? Do you people expect us to stand with our enemies, those who want to take away the power, the villas and the money from us? And we need those travel permits, we need to go to Tel Aviv, Geneva and Washington. We call for “unity” while spreading disunity, and we agree to “unity” before starting a new round of accusation so we can blame the others for breaking the “unity”. We say out loud that we choose “unity” with our brothers and sisters but secretly assure our partners in peace and negotiations that the disunity shall prevail. And when our rivals finally see the light, fear losing what little power they have, fear losing the salaries and the transactions, we set the agendas and make it clear for them; we and our partners in peace and negotiations give the orders and you obey. We set up sites, call them “independent”, finance them from under the table so they spread our version of events, our “truth” and discredit, attack and incite against other political factions, groups and individuals, against all other voices that disobey us. We hold media conferences with bought pens and conduct imaginary polls by false experts all assuring the people that the Palestinian street is on our side, that lies are being spread about us by collaborators who serve regional powers, by media outlets that are owned by Zionists. We send our people to get media training, in propaganda, from our Israeli friends, send them to Tel Aviv to take lessons in how to build the new Palestinian, re-programme him/her to accept the new facts on the ground, to use the rights words, the rights terms, to accept the new definition of resistance, our definition of resistance, the definition our partner in peace and negotiations, our American, European and Arab patrons and friends have formulated especially for us, because we are special. We install representatives all over the world, trained by our partners in peace and negotiations, and instruct them what to say when foreign media asks about the Zionist colonies, about the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem, about the siege of Gaza… we blame it all on our political opponents, on our own brothers and sisters, and relieve our partners in peace and negotiations of any responsibility and any criticism. We call everyone a radical: radical left, radical right, radical east, radical west, radical middle, radical Islamists, radical communists, radical socialists, radical nothing, and we are the only ones who are moderate, the only ones who seek peace, Israeli-style peace.

Liberation is an art: the art of “accept what you are given today, because it might not be there tomorrow”. We thank our Israeli partners in peace and negotiations for their generous offers, we offer them more concessions to show our gratitude for accepting to welcome us in Tel-Aviv, for rolling the red carpet for us and calling us “moderate”, for allowing us fake posts and titles. We don’t raise the ceiling of our demands because we don’t want to distress our partners and if they insist we make more concession, we obey. We appear on local TV stations, give interviews to local newspaper and speak in local gatherings and stress that we will never concede, we will never give up on any of our national constants, on any of our rights, and insist that they are legitimate rights, and then we hop into BMW’s and rush to Tel Aviv to emphasize our loyalty and obedience, and we hop into planes and rush to Washington to emphasize our loyalty and obedience. And while we are busy liberating Palestine, why do our people criticize us when we agree to land swaps? What’s wrong with helping Israel achieve its goal and become a pure Jewish state? We should assure our partners in peace and negotiations that we will do all we can to stop being a demographic threat to them, we have to protect them from little Palestinian children being born every day in the dozens, for they have enough threats as it is from besieged people wanting to live, from unarmed protesters yearning for freedom. Our goal is a state in two years, so if they want East Jerusalem, let them have it, for we have Ramallah with all its ministries, the hotels, the NGOs and not to forget the Noble Muqata’a, and one capital for our future state is more than enough. If they want the settlement blocks, let them have them, for we will get Im Il-Fahim in return, and a bunch of outposts with little cute caravans and we will build our own cities, a hundred tiny Rawabis for the elites and the sons of the elites. If they want the Jordan Valley, let them have it, and in return we will get the casino, and become the Monaco of the new Middle East. We don’t need agricultural land, we will build an industrial state, one to compete with Germany and Japan. And while we are busy liberating Palestine, why do our people criticize us when we sign one concession after the other? If our partners in peace and negotiations want 10% of the 20% of Palestine we are begging for, let them have it, and in return we will have tiny bits of An-Naqab desert, the tiny bits no one wants. Isn’t An-Naqab part of Palestine, and every part of Palestine is sacred to us, and we never reject any crumbs thrown our way. These crumbs are the basis of the Palestinian state, the state that will be born out of the ashes of Palestinian villages demolished and Palestinian children massacred: a state that will be independent from its people and dependent on every donor penny and on every Israeli nod…. a state that will be independent from its people and dependent on everything and everyone else…. a state for the “new Palestinian”, and the not so “new Palestinians” can find themselves another planet to live on. And while we are busy liberating Palestine, why do our people criticize us when we accept to give up 80% of Palestine? Don’t you understand that if we had accepted what they offered us in 1947 we would have had a state… if we had accepted what they offered us in 2000 we would have had a state… if we had accepted whatever crumbs were thrown at us, we would have has a state by now. Stop telling us that even if we accept what they offer us, they will ask for more concessions. So what? We will comply and we will accept whatever they offer us, because they might get upset and not offer it again. We have to show them that we are the long-wished for partners and isn’t this what partnership is all about? They offer and we take. We accept whatever they offer us because our aim is to build a state, even if in the end they offer us only the Holy Muqata’a as our state. All we want is a state and what makes a state but a president, a prime minister, a cabinet and a red carpet?

Liberation is an art: the art of “talk about everything and nothing”. We are masters in diversion. Whenever Israeli terrorist attacks happen, whenever Palestinians are massacred, whenever Jerusalemites are expelled from their homes, whenever Zionist colonies expand and whenever we raise the level of our collaboration with the occupier, we rush to talk about everything but the occupation, everything but the collaboration, everything but the concessions. Whenever Zionist colonists attack olive harvesters, uproot trees and destroy land, whenever Israeli occupation soldiers raid homes, kidnap children and beat up unarmed activists, whenever new colonies are built for aliens from Russia, Canada, Antarctica and Mars, we rush to condemn the “unity” that is failing, the other Palestinian party that is refusing to abide with the “unity” deal and we swear that “unity” with our brothers is more important than negotiations, that “unity” is stronger than any threats, and behind closed doors we unite with our partners in peace and negotiations and swear no other alliance. Whenever we help bury evidence condemning Israel, whenever we vote in support of protecting Israeli war criminals from international courts, whenever our complicity in Israeli war crimes and in covering up these crimes is exposed, we rush to talk about Jerusalem that is threatened, that is being Judaized, we rush to condemn settlements and settler violence, we drive by refugee camps and wave from our armoured Mercedes. We are the masters of diversion, the masters of deception, we answer no questions, we give no solutions, we comply to no local inquiry or national committee. With us, A becomes B and B becomes Z. Whenever there is popular rage over the massacres that have become daily, the Judaization of Jerusalem, the expansion of settlements, the siege that is strangling a whole population, we talk about the division among us, about those who refuse to shake our hands and we call for “reconciliation”, we accuse the “others” of diverting the news to avoid unity talks, we talk about the “others” using Jerusalem to discredit us. Whenever there is popular rage over our corruption, our loaded bank accounts, our villas and summer houses, our VIP cards and Tel-Aviv permits, we talk about Jerusalem that is forever ours, about outposts that will be removed, about refugees that will return, about our determination to end the occupation and build a state. Whenever there is popular rage over the concessions we are making, our repression of our people, the sell-out of the refugees and their rights, the state that is a fiction, our meeting with Zionist war criminals and leaders of Zionist militias, our running to negotiations, our security coordination with the occupiers, our protection of the Zionist terror gangs that roam Palestinian towns and villages and hunt Palestinian children and burn olive fields and homes, we tell people not to worry about Jerusalem being ethnically cleansed house by house, not to worry about the settlements growing and growing and reaching the moon, because we will be liberated in two years. We talk about outside regional powers that work to undermine Palestinian independent decision, we talk about the unity we yearn, the one people we are, the reconciliation some avoid, we talk about the “resistance” we are re-defining, we talk about the prison-within-prison state we are seeking, we talk about liberation through negotiations, we talk about everything and nothing, we blame everyone else for everything we do, but we never blame or condemn our partners in peace and negotiations. And while we are busy liberating Palestine, why do our people criticize us when we defend Israel, cover up its war crimes? Don’t they understand that we need to protect our friends, our partners in peace and negotiations, those who keep us in power? We need to join hands with the friends who will be generous enough to allow us a state in Ramallah, a casino in Jericho and an elite-only Bantustans a la Rawabi. We need mobile networks so you can contact us when you need protection from the groups of darkness come to incite against us or against our partners in peace and negotiations. We need Mercedeses so we can parade in front of your over-crowed refugee camps and show you what it’s like to play the game our way. We need cash flowing into our bank accounts, so we can reward those who believe in us and our chosen path.

Liberation is an art, the art of “it’s my way or no way”. We decide the outline, we outline the do and don’t. We talk about liberation, mention the word freedom a million and one times, but condemn our people to a life in slavery. We mention the word state two million and one times, but condemn our people to a life in concentration camps. We swear our support to popular resistance, because everyone else loves it nowadays, everyone else calls for it nowadays. We organize popular conferences and become their patrons, we give speeches and declare that popular resistance is the answer, is the key to freedom and to the coming state. But when our people decide that popular resistance is the way to liberation, when our people decide that the time has come for another popular Intifada, we denounce the Intifada, denounce popular resistance, denounce resistance as a whole and declare that we won’t allow any Intifadas, whether armed or non-violent, declare that we won’t allow any demonstration, whether small or large, declare that we won’t allow any form of protest, whether a sit-in, a march or even a song that might upset our partners in peace and negotiations, that might make them feel “threatened” by us or might make them doubt our sincere intentions and doubt our suitability for the role of partner. And while we are busy liberating Palestine, why do our people criticize us when we denounce resistance and declare we will never throw even a paper clip at Israeli occupation soldiers? Don’t they realize that it is our duty to show the world that we are cool, peaceful people and follow the modern adjusted definition of “resistance”, the one approved by our Israeli, American and European friends, approved by the rest of the free world, the adjusted definition of “resistance” that deprives us of our legitimate rights, of our national aspirations, of our freedom, of our dignity, the adjusted definition of “resistance” that states that occupiers can stamp on the hearts and souls of the oppressed to which the oppressed should reply: Thank you, do you have more? We do our best to stop demonstrations against the occupation, we detain anyone who marches towards an Israeli checkpoint, or even thinks or protesting in the vicinity of a Zionist colony. We prohibit protests against our policies and against security coordination with our partners in peace in and negotiations. We threaten employees with their salaries and force them to march in our support and in support of the concessions we are making, we organize marches in support of our partners and fellow dictators. We employ our security apparatus, trained by the occupation, for the safety of the occupation and its terrorist militias. And while we are busy liberating Palestine, why do our people get angry when we crack down on their protests against the occupation, when we prevent them from reaching Jerusalem, when we kidnap them upon orders of the occupation, when we torture them for resisting the occupier? Don’t they realize that the safety of the occupier means salaries at the end of the month? Don’t they understand that the safety of the occupier means that we can build imaginary towns aka Bantustans, create industrial zones aka slavery centres and declare a fake state aka a prison within a prison? Don’t they realize that Jerusalem is outside our future state limits, beyond our future borders, and that anyone who wishes to liberate Jerusalem is “free” to go there and demonstrate there, if they are allowed in? We encourage the boycott of products of Zionist colonies in the West Bank, but are vehemently against a boycott of all products of the Zionist entity, even if our economy is destroyed by the occupier, even if our shops and homes are drowning in the products of the occupier, even if our products rot at the occupier’s checkpoints, even if our fields, farms and factories are demolished and bombarded by the occupier, even if our natural resources are stolen by the occupier right under our very noses. We declare Palestinian homes and shops “settlement-products-free” but fill our villas, our offices and our conference rooms with Israeli products. And if a Zionist colony moves the administrative offices of its factories to occupied Haifa or occupied Bisan, then we remove it from our boycott list. We are good partners in peace and negotiations and we don’t boycott the occupier, we only boycott the Zionist colonists who embarrass us by selling their products openly in our towns and villages. Those who do it secretly are another story. And while we are busy liberating Palestine, why do people criticize us when we hide the minute Israeli occupation soldiers enter a town, a village or a refugee camp? Why do they criticize us when we escort Zionist colonists into the heart of Palestinian communities? Why do they criticize us when we patrol the roads of Palestinian towns and villages in the company of Israeli military vehicles and intelligence jeeps or when we parade in front of refugees camps and work as human shields for Israeli occupier? Why do they criticize us when we join the occupier in the hunt of Palestinians and or when we hide while they extra-judicially execute Palestinians? Don’t they realize that it’s one of our duties, our main duties, to protect the Israeli occupier, our one and truly partner in peace and negotiations, and make way for them to do their job? They allow us to do our job and steal, build imaginary cities and states, and we should allow them to do their job and kill, demolish, detain, steal and expel. Why don’t our people realize that once and for all: the security of the Israeli occupier is our religion! It’s called peace of the brave and we are the brave, for accepting what no Palestinian would ever accept, for giving up what no Palestinian would ever give up.

Liberation is an art, the art of “what is yours is mine and what is mine is mine alone”. We hold a conference and beg for money in the name of our people. We are liberating Palestine and liberation is a costly business. We want to build a state, we want to build more five star hotels for the international experts and consultants who come to sell us talk for a piece of the pie, we want to build more casinos for wealthy Israelis who are transforming our land into a pure-Jewish state, we want to build more Rawabis for the elite of the elite, for those who suffer while negotiating, while signing concessions, while travelling from one world capital to another to give talks. Travelling is hard work and talking is hard work and getting all your expenses paid so you speak in the name of people who never delegated you is extremely hard work. We threaten people into selling us their lands for very low prices so we can build cities for the elite, so we can build small Dubai replicas, for those who sacrifice their lives in negotiating with our partner in peace and negotiations, those who refuse to keep silent and choose to serve their masters and negotiate, those who believe that negotiating is a duty, a sacred duty, that very few are willing to sell their homeland for. We widen Wadi In-Nar road, make a real highway out of it, make it something just out of the movies, so Palestinians travelling that road can forget there is a Jerusalem. We install sun-energy street lights so Palestinians will be dazzled by the sun and not see the colonial cancer that is devouring Palestine. We tour the world and collect money for the people who are being brutally oppressed while we watch and refuse to take action as per Oslo at al, for Jerusalem that is being Judaized while we watch and refuse to take action as per Oslo at al, for Gaza that is being besieged while we watch and refuse to take action as per Oslo at al, for the land that is being massacred while we watch and refuse to take action as per Oslo at al. We allow private businesses for a share of the pie, and create quasi-state companies and firms, call them private and independent and employ consultants who served us well in the negotiating teams. We know they only abandoned the ship of negotiations after they milked the negotiations cow dry and after they built villas that compete with ours from which they preach and attack the negotiations. But it is okay if they criticize us openly now that they are no longer part of the negotiating team, what really matters is that they keep silent about the cash we and they make from private businesses. So why do our people criticize us when we divide the shares between us, it’s all a matter of business and everyone is selling and buying, even some of your work-with-them-during-the-day-and-criticize-them-at-night preachers. Is it our fault if what reaches our people in the end is a big null? A huge nothing? We, the representatives of the Palestinian people, have many bills to pay, many planes to catch and many hotels to stay in, and playing your representatives is really tiresome and expensive; all the travels, the speeches, the dinners, owning villas and summer houses. And while we are busy liberating Palestine, why do our people criticize us when we wear Armani suits and appear on TV screens to give interviews to Israeli TV, CNN and Al-Arabiya or Al-Jazeera. Don’t they understand that we are liberating Palestine and it’s our duty, as representatives of the Palestinian people, to show the world that we are no more the savages wearing kuffiyyas and lousy “I love Palestine” T-Shirts, but that we are civilized and wear suits and boots expensive enough to feed a hundred families a hundred days? We threaten people with their salaries before religious feasts, before school begin, every month, every day and night. We force employees to go out to the streets in our support and in support of our concessions and threaten them with their jobs and salaries if they refuse. We treat employees according to their political affiliation, if you are one of us, you get a monthly bonus because you are one of the good guys, those our partners in peace and negotiation appreciate. To the others we deliver dismissal notices. We tell syndicates they have the right to strike and to protest, and when they do strike we rush to the higher court to stop their strikes and to punish them. For how dare they demand “reasonable” salaries so they can feed their families? Don’t they see that while they only work 7 hours a day, we work 24/7 non-stop in their service? We travel the whole world, are forced to stay at five star hotels, just to negotiate and sell-out their rights? Why do they get angry if the one hundred and one security apparatuses we have get paid firstly, regularly and receive higher salaries than those with a hundred university degrees and with a thousand years of professional experience? Aren’t these security apparatuses the ones who protect us, work for our safety from the forces of the darkness, help escort and protect our partners in peace and negotiations? They are the “new Palestinians”, the protectors of our wealth, the worst nightmare to anyone who disagrees with us and the guardians of the coming state.

Palestine: Farmers fired on in Gaza, PA collaboration, & warning against Israeli activities in OJ

IOF troops open fire at Palestinian farmers

KHAN YOUNIS, (PIC)– Israeli occupation forces (IOF) opened machinegun fire at Palestinian farmers and their fields east of Khan Younis, south of the Gaza Strip, on Sunday morning.

Palestinian sources said that the soldiers, stationed on the eastern borders of Khan Younis opened heavy machinegun fire as warplanes hovered overhead.

They said that the farmers fled their fields due to the intensive shooting, adding that no casualties were reported.

The IOF troops consistently raid or fire at border areas in the Strip.

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Settler killed, three injured in Nablus shooting

NABLUS, (PIC)– A Jewish settler was killed, and three others were wounded in a shooting near Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus city in the northern West Bank, Reuters reported early Sunday morning.

The shooting took place when a group of “Jewish worshipers” passed near the Yousuf’sTomb area, Reuters said, adding that the settlers sustained moderate to serious injuries.

Sources in the Israeli army said the shooters fired at several cars of settlers while they were at the site.

The sources said the settlers were present to perform religious rituals but had not coordinated with the Israeli army beforehand.

Witnesses told the Palestinian Information Center that military patrols stormed Nablus city from the eastern region and were stationed at the place of incident. They have closed the area to comb it.

Our correspondent in Nablus reports that several Palestinians residing near Yousuf’sTomb near Nablus, including an elderly man and a child, have been injured after massive Israeli forces stormed the area and violently clashed with locals.

Our correspondent adds that the invading force has been firing live ammunition and tear gas canisters at Palestinian youth and at houses in the area. They have also tightened procedures at military checkpoints surrounding the city, closing some of them and declaring the area around the scene of incident a closed military zone.

The Israeli occupation force (IOF) has set up a military checkpoint at area 17 north of Nablus and has banned civilian entry to the city through it. Operations in schools near the site have also been suspended.

Governor of Nablus province Jibrin al-Bakri has condemned the shooting and said security services have opened investigations during a radio interview. He added that details would be announced “clearly”.

Bakri said: “No one is entitled to strain the security environment in the city of Nablus.”

According to the Israeli daily Yediot Ahranot, Israel has assigned blame to elements from the Palestinian security services for the shooting after a verbal altercation with settlers that intruded the tomb area.

Palestinian Authority security agency officials have confirmed the formation of an Israeli-Palestinian investigation committee supervised by the US into the circumstances of the incident.

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Islamic-Christian commission warns against Judaization activities in J’lem

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– The Islamic-Christian commission for the support of Jerusalem and holy sites warned of the escalating Judaization and settlement activities in occupied Jerusalem.

Secretary-general of the commission Hasan Khater appealed to the Arab and Islamic worlds to stand by Jerusalem people and help them to confront the Israeli occupation’s scheme aimed to expel them from their holy city.

In a press release on Saturday, Khater noted that there is no strategy for strengthening the Jerusalem people’s steadfastness at the Palestinian official level, but the opposite is happening, where they are forced to work and live outside their city.

For his part, preacher of the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem Sheikh Jum’ah called on the Arab and Muslim nations and the world’s free people not to forget Jerusalem which is exposed to daily Israeli massacres targeting its identity, history and indigenous people.

Sheikh Jum’ah noted that the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) imposes heavy taxes on the merchants of Jerusalem and hefty fees on the natives who want to get building permits, while it builds thousands of settlement units for Jewish settlers in order to bring about a demographic change.

He added that the IOA is now besieging Jerusalem with settlements and outposts in order to Judaize it and separate it from its Palestinian surrounding.

The IOA has demolished hundreds of Palestinian homes, especially in Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, Shuafat, Issawiya districts resulting in the displacement of thousands of Jerusalemites, withdrew thousands of IDs from them, prevented religious and national figures from entering the holy city or the Aqsa Mosque, initiated a systematic campaign to obliterate Arab and Islamic landmarks and sites in Jerusalem, the preacher affirmed.

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Thousands of Palestinians attend 9th Aqsa child festival

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– More than 15,000 Palestinians from occupied Jerusalem and the 1948 occupied lands attended on Saturday the ninth festival of the Aqsa child and the third drawing contest for kids in the Aqsa Mosque’s courtyards.

Deputy head of the Islamic Movement in the 1948 occupied lands Sheikh Kamal Al-Khatib expressed his extreme delight to see such crowds attending this event to show their attachment to their holy sites.

For his part, head of the higher Islamic commission Sheikh Ikrima Sabri urged in his speech the participating parents and teachers to break the barrier of fear inside the hearts of their children and students and familiarize them with the Islamic values of courage and honesty.

The festival included songs, poetry and awards for the winning boys and girls in the drawing contest.

We are Negotiating … Yes We Are!

by Khalid Bendib

A Trilogy: The Road to “Independence”

1. We are Negotiating … Yes We Are!

by Reham Alhelsi, A voice from Palestine

Forget everything you learned about negotiations, forget how you used to “negotiate” with your sibling for the last piece of cake, or with your parents for an increase in your pocket money, or with your friends for a spin in their new car or with your co-workers for relieving you of that annoying report you had to write. Forget everything you read about negotiations, forget about countries negotiating to close a “peace deal”, forget about colonizers negotiating “who gets what” of the natural resources of colonized countries, forget about international firms “negotiating” the destruction of local businesses. Forget all that. For we, the representatives of the Palestinian people, the representatives installed by no other than the “world police” aka the US … we, the representatives backed by no other than the “defender of democracies and free elections” aka the EU … we, the representatives in the service of the “light unto nations”, “the oasis of democracy and peace” aka Israel … we, the guards of the revolution, the makers of the storm, the liberators … are proud to present to you the new rules of negotiations; rules that will guarantee those among you suffering from presence of a conscience a quick heart attack, and the ones suffering from lack of a conscience a bank account in Switzerland, a villa in the south of France and a VIP card for a non-stop at Israeli checkpoints. Well, let’s say for a not-so-often stop at Israeli checkpoints.

If your partner in peace and negotiations demands that you give up your claim to 80% of your historic homeland, just nod and say: no problem. If your partner in peace and negotiations then demands that you give up your claim to 20% of the 20% of what is left to you of your historic homeland, just nod and say: no problem. If your partner in peace and negotiations further demands that you give up your claim to 60% of the 20% of what is left to you of your historic home, just nod and say: no problem, want more? And if the people, whose rights you were installed to sell out, are furious, if they denounce what you are doing, demand you go to hell and announce that you have no right whatsoever to negotiate away their homeland, then – in a furious voice and with an angry face – deny their accusations, accuse them of listening to outside forces and tell them that they don’t love Palestine as much as you do… and if they still don’t believe you, just whine a little bit, tell them some poem about a storm that will liberate Palestine and make it clear to them that the aim of all these negotiations is to liberate Palestine, but don’t tell them what “Palestine” you mean. Tell them that the aim of all these negotiations is to liberate Jerusalem, but don’t tell them what “Jerusalem” you are talking about. And if they insist, tell them the aim is to liberate Al-Manarah, to liberate Al-Midbaseh, to liberate the noble Muqata’a and the few bits here and there. If they still don’t get it, send your American trained, European financed, and Israeli approved militias to make them see the light.

If your partner in peace and negotiations informs you that they will continue building homes for the Zionist colonists they are importing from Europe, Asia, Africa, America, the North Pole and Mars and will continue planting them on your land, the land you are supposedly negotiating to “liberate”, just nod and assure them it’s really no big deal. Show them your good will and that you are sincere in your pursuit for peace by giving up vast parts of Jerusalem, Nablus and Hebron, tell them they can keep the colonies, for you are going to build new cities in Duwwar Is-Sa’a and in Baba Il-Zqaq. And don’t forget to give them the bill because everything has its price; the piece of land you are “negotiating” over, the olive field you are “negotiating” over, the stone you are “negotiating” over and even the grain of soil you are “negotiating” over. Don’t bother with those whose land will be confiscated, just appear on TV or give interviews and threaten your partner in peace and negotiations with indirect talks and if they still refuse to stop the settlement activity, threaten them with secret talks and more concessions. And if your people denounce your inactions in the face of land theft, if they denounce your collaboration with the occupier and your betrayal of their rights, if they denounce your love affair with the negotiations with their oppressor, if they cry out: our land, our homes, our rights … just tell them it’s alright because once negotiations are finally concluded – don’t mention that the possibility of this ever happening is actually 0% – and when we are finally allowed our own tiny bit of a state somewhere on planet earth, or better yet our own little cluster of disconnected islands, we shall build better residential areas, grandiose ones for you, so don’t cry over a piece of land, or over an olive field or over a 1000 year old home. Tell them you will give them new modern 2-bedroom apartments in return, overlooking dump sites of Israeli colonies. What more could a person wish for? And until that day when our tiny bit of a state is born, those kicked out of their homes can enjoy sleeping in tents under the blue sky, enjoy outdoor camping, life in the wilderness and remember the good old days of the Nakba when the majority of their people were expelled from their homes and lived in tents. It’s a good way to connect, explain to them, to experience the Nakba over and over and over again. And if they point to one of your villas, just tell them it is your hard work, has nothing to do with what part of Palestine you sold or what Palestinian right you relinquished. Tell them it is just money you found in a well, a magic well called: negotiations.

If your partner in peace and negotiations demands that you recognize their entity, the one that was built on the bodies on your parents and grandparents, just nod and sign the papers without hesitation. It doesn’t matter that with your signature you are giving up over 80% of your historic land, it doesn’t matter that you are acknowledging a terror entity build on the blood of the people you claim to represent. Nothing matters as long as you keep repeating: Negotiations, negotiations, negotiations are the way to get ourselves a state. And if your partner in peace and negotiations goes one step further and demands that you recognize their entity as a “Jewish” one, just nod and say: why not! It’s not our business what they call themselves, it’s their internal issue, and even when they keep interfering in our internal issues and keep dictating our internal policies, we won’t interfere in their internal issues, so are the orders. Don’t give a damn about your people who are steadfast in the face of tyranny, racism and terror since 1948, for you have other uses for them; you will exchange them later for Jerusalem and get more people to enjoy oppressing. And don’t be disappointed at all if despite all your recognition of the “noble, democratic, Jewish, moral” Zionist entity, that despite all your concessions, your partner in peace and negotiations still refuses to recognize your one-day-in-the-far-away-future-to-be “state” … don’t be disappointed at all if despite all your concessions, your partner in peace and negotiations still refuses to recognize any of your rights except the right to be their slaves and killing target … still refuses to even recognize your right to exist as a people. Don’t be disappointed, don’t worry, don’t be bothered, just negotiate.

If your partner in peace and negotiations demands that you renounce your right to defend yourself, the legitimate right of every occupied nation, hurry up and change your national charter. And if that is not enough, hurry up and rewrite the history of your people, redraw the geographies of your homeland, introduce new curricula for Palestinian children teaching them of a state to be called Palestinian; a ghetto, a semi-state, a petite Palestine minus Haifa, Yaffa, Akka and Ar-Ramleh, minus Jerusalem and Al-Jalil, minus all that is between Ramallah and Bethlehem and Nablus, minus the lands and the valleys and the hilltops, minus the destroyed villages and the stolen fields and the dried up water-wells, a Palestinian state minus 80% of Palestine. Introduce new curricula for Palestinian children teaching them of a history to be called “modern Palestinian history”; rewrite the history of an ancient people who were for thousands of years one with the land that gave them their name, introduce a history minus Deir Yasin, Kufr Qasim and Ad-Dawayma, minus Mohammad Jamjoum, Fouad Hjazi and Ata Az-Zir, minus Ghassan Kanafani and Naji Al-Ali, minus Dala Al-Mughrabi and Mohammad Al-Aswad and Yahia Ayyash and all those who wrote the word Palestine with their blood, minus Dal’ouna and Ataba, minus Mish’al and Jafra, minus the old city of Jerusalem, Nazareth, Beisan, Akka, Ras Il-Naqurah and Im Il-Rishrash. And after you delete one historic Palestinian national constant after the other, and after you erase the names of hundreds of Palestinian villages and the names of thousands of martyrs, and after you denounce every Palestinian revolt, every Intifada and every protest, after doing all this and more your partner in peace and negotiations still demands that you punish your people for dreaming of freedom, for wanting a just peace, while your partner in peace and negotiations continues to sing of terrorism and continues oppressing your people, massacring them and honouring war criminals, just nod and ask for the price, because negotiations is but a business. And if your people cry out in anger tell them that resistance is not good for their health, tell them oppression makes them strong, makes their children strong, teaches them to withstand hunger and pain and loss so they may be prepared for the loss of what has remained of Palestine. Don’t make the mistake of asking your people for their opinion, for what do they know about negotiations? What do they know about real “resistance”? To insist on negotiating when the whole world thinks you are a fool for doing so is the true “resistance”. To insist on negotiating while your partner in negotiations is killing your people, stealing your land and spitting in your face is the true “resistance”. Tell them, assure them, convince them, with force if necessary, that you will continue to carry the burden and negotiate on their behalf, for you don’t do it for yourselves; no, you do it for the new state to come, for the multi-dollar businesses you and your partners in peace and negotiations will be running, for the “few” extra millions in certain bank accounts, for the new exquisite villas in newly build luxury neighbourhoods, for those who believe in negotiations as the road to “liberate Palestine” and swore to die negotiating.

If your partner in peace and negotiations keeps repeating Jerusalem is one and theirs, if your partner in peace and negotiations keeps repeating Jerusalem will never be divided and demands that you forget Jerusalem, that you wipe it out of your vocabulary, that you wipe it off your map and out of your people’s memory, just sign a secret agreement and agree to their demands and change the maps, the names and the history, delete the ancient Quds with its old city, with its old wall, its Salah Iddin Street, its Musrara, Wadi Il-Joz, Silwan, Ras Il-Amoud … and rename Abu Dees and Al-Izariyyeh as Al-Quds, for what difference does it make if you present your people with a new modified Jerusalem; one consisting of a few towns and villages outside the old city walls and renamed as Al-Quds? And while doing that continue the work on preparing your new capital: Ramallah with its noble Muqata’a, continue making it a Palestinian Paris or Dubai, an oasis in the midst of overcrowded refugee camps, poverty-stricken villages, destroyed fields, illegal colonies. And don’t forget to tell your people: we will never give up on Al-Quds, we will liberate Al-Quds. And whatever you say, don’t mention that you already agreed to turn a blind eye to the Judaization and ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem, act blind and deaf when European and American colonists occupy Palestinians land, when they attack Al-Aqsa, when they demolish Palestinian homes and when they expel Palestinians from the city. And when your people object, denounce your schemes and shout: Jerusalem is one, Jerusalem is ours, Jerusalem is not a number of suburbs outside the old city walls, hold up conferences and give talks and confirm the right of Palestinians to the tiny part of Jerusalem that is termed “East Jerusalem”. Stamp on the table and stress that you will rather die that give up Al-Aqsa and the old city. Don’t bother much with people’s anger, outrage and indignation, for they are too busy defending themselves from daily Israeli attacks to understand that it is Abu Dees ash-Sharif the new Al-Quds, that the huge parliament building was built there for a reason, that the agreement was signed early on, and the exchange was made early on; an exchange agreed on in secret and denounced in public!

If your partner in peace and negotiations orders you to be blind, deaf and mute while they bomb refugee camps, raid villages and besiege cities, just obey orders. If your partner in peace and negotiations orders you to leave your posts and become invisible while they massacre your people, kidnap children from their homes and beat women at checkpoints, just pretend you were called to conduct operations in another area. If your partner in peace and negotiations orders you to do their dirty job for them and oppress your people, just lend them a hand and relieve their terrorist army of some of the countless military oppression operation. If your partner in peace and negotiations demands that you denounce your own brothers and sisters and oppress them, just provoke a conflict and point to your brothers and sister of other political affiliations and accuse them of being the ones behind the occupation, of being the oppressors, of being the enemy. And if the people you claim to represent condemn you for joining hands with the enemy against your own people, tell them you are joining hands with the “light unto nations”, with Gods own “chosen people” against the “violent people”, against “radicals from the right, the left, the east and the west”, against “despicable terrorists”, against Palestinian Muslims, against Palestinian Christians, against Palestinian Jews, against Palestinian leftists, against Palestinian atheists, against every Palestinian who is against you and your negotiations and your concessions, against the people of Palestine. And if your people still don’t get it, cut off their salaries, let them hunger, isn’t it their fault for defying you and not consenting to the concessions you are making on their behalf? Torture them and detain their mothers and sisters, let them rot in cells, and when they are released ask your partner in peace and negotiations to kidnap them and complete the joined work. And when you face trouble controlling the angry people, just ask your partner in peace and negotiations to send their undercover terrorists to subdue your people, to massacre them while in their beds, to blow up their homes over their heads, but don’t forget to disappear from the scene before action takes place so you “denounce” it later. That’s cooperation and good partnership. That’s what a partner in peace and negotiations is for!

And whatever cries of rage you hear from the people you are supposedly representing, whatever cries of anger you hear from the people on whose behalf you are carrying out the charade of negotiations, in whose name you are collecting money in donor conferences and stacking it in your bank account and on whose behalf you are building a stadium and a casino in exchange for giving up the old city of Jerusalem … Just don’t listen, don’t care and don’t bother … Just negotiate, negotiate, negotiate till “Negotiation” itself packs and leaves you with your partner in crime.

Till September: The PA’s Meaningless Deadlines

by Steve Bell

by Ramzy Baroud, source

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his supporters in the Fatah party want us to believe that dramatic changes are underway in the occupied Palestinian territories.

This is part of a strategy intended to offset any public dissatisfaction with the self-designated Palestinian leadership in the West Bank. The PA hopes the ‘news’ will create enough distraction to help it survive the current climate of major public-regime showdowns engulfing the Middle East.

Anticipating a potential popular uprising in the occupied territories – which could result in a major revamping of the current power, to the disadvantage of Abbas – the PA is now taking preventive measures.

First, there was the resignation of the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Ereka on February 12. Erekat was clearly implicated in negotiating, if not squandering, Palestinian rights in successive meetings with Israeli and American officials. This was revealed through nearly 1,600 leaked documents, which Aljazeera and the Guardian termed the ‘Palestine Papers’.

Erekat was hardly representing himself, as he readily gave away much territory, including most of Jerusalem. He also agreed to a symbolic return of Palestinian refugees to their land, now part of today’s Israel. By keeping his post, the entire PA ‘peace process’ apparatus would have remained ineffective at best, and at worst entirely self-seeking, showing no regard whatsoever for Palestinian rights.

With Erekat’s exit, the PA hopes to retain a margin of credibility among Palestinians.

Erekat, who made his entrance to the world of ‘peace process’ at the Madrid peace conference in 1991, opted out in a way that conceded no guilt. He claimed to have left merely because the leak happened through his office. The PA expects us to believe that, unlike other Arab governments, it functions in a transparent and self-correcting manner. Erekat wants to be seen as an “example of accountability”, according to the Washington Post (February 16). He claimed: “I’m making myself pay the price for the mistake I committed, my negligence. These are the ethics and the standards. Palestinian officials need to start putting them in their minds.”

The message is neatly coined, although it belittles the real issue at stake. This has caused much outrage in Palestinian intellectual, political and public circles. Negligence is one thing, and relinquishing a people’s rights is another entirely.

Two days after Erekat’s departure, the PA cabinet in the West Bank also suddenly resigned. The cabinet had met earlier that day, and its Prime Minister Salam Fayyad then submitted his resignation to President Abbas. The latter, in turn, accepted the resignation and immediately reappointed Fayyad to form a new government. An exercise in futility? Of course, but for a good reason.

The resignation was merely tactical. It aimed at quelling the current popular discontent and preventing it from spilling over into street protests. But it was also tactless, for it reintroduced the very man who formed the old government to assemble a new one. If indeed Fayyad’s political performance was lacking – and thus deserving of rebuke and mass resignation – then what is the point of putting the same man in charge of yet another phase of inefficiency and ineffectiveness

The dramatic move was meant to show the people that the PA did not need a popular uprising to initiate reforms and change. Fayyad was reappointed because he is valuable to the current political structure of the PA, and he’s also the most trusted Palestinian official as far as the US is concerned.

Then, on top of all this, the PA cleverly set September as a deadline for elections in the occupied territories. This date acquired a compounded value when Western officials began assigning other great expectations to September as well. One such call was made by EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, who expressed her hopes – along with those of the ‘international community’ – that a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians would be reached by September.

Based on the current political reality – a rejectionist Israeli front, a Palestinian front that is polarized and largely self-seeking, and a US-led Western front that is incapable of doing much more than pressing the Palestinians for more concessions – we know only too well that no peace will come in September.

Abbas, a pragmatic man by his own admission, knows this as well. The September deadline is largely aimed at creating further distraction. If all eyes are focused on that date, there will be no need to worry about the here and now.

But September is also not too far off, a reality that calls for some early steps. Hamas expectedly rejected the call for elections without a platform of political and territorial unity. Why should Hamas get involved in another election if any unfavorable outcome will only bring further punishment to the Palestinian people? A sound concern, of course, but that rejection allowed Abbas, on February 17, to condition the elections based on Hamas’ participation. In other words, Hamas is once more positioned as the hurdle that stands between the Palestinians and unity, political normalcy and democracy. Now Hamas will be continually derided for delaying the ‘Palestinian national project’, until September leisurely arrives and disappears, leaving behind no mark of meaningful change.

Abbas and his trusted men already know the outcome of this endeavor. In their defense, the strategy also has little to do with September, elections or Hamas’ position. It is aimed at deepening the divide among Palestinians, and distract from the main problem, which is the fact that the PA serves no purpose other than managing the administrative side of the Israeli military occupation. The PA is devoid of any national value to the Palestinian people, and only serves the interests of those involved in subjugating them. The Palestinians are now required to move past this dismal political moment and seek an alternative – an all-inclusive, representative and truly democratic institution to lead the next stage in their fight for freedom.

The PA wants to stall until September. But will Palestinians wait that long?

– Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, LondonS).

The economic mirage in the West Bank – Ramallah

MEMO

Ramallah in the West Bank is seen as a beacon of economic success and the symbol of economic development as the Palestinian Authority has pursued peace with – Israel. As a sprawling metropolis has begun to develop and the sound of construction can be heard echoing across the city, Ramallah is viewed as evidence of economic progress in the West Bank. This is despite the fact that the West Bank remains in the grip of a military occupation and is stifled by checkpoints, settler-only roads and the apartheid wall. The economic strangulation of the whole West Bank has worsened as Israeli “security” incursions increase and illegal settlements thrust deeper into occupied Palestinian territory. With the growth of industry in the city, Ramallah has become an economic mirage oft cited by Israel’s supporters against criticism of the occupation.

Peddling the myth of economic peace

During a recent Foreign and Commonwealth Office questions session in the House of Commons, Conservative MP James Clappison cited the economic development of Ramallah as an example of the prosperity in the West Bank and a sign of improvement. Foreign Secretary William Hague responded by pointing out that Ramallah is not representative of the overall situation in the occupied West Bank.

Politicians such as Clappison and Louise Ellman (Labour) often seek to justify and defend Israel’s continuing occupation of the Palestinian Territories by citing Ramallah as an example of what happens with improved relations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. Yet whilst Ramallah is used as an exemplar in this way, it belies its own fortunes; alongside the construction of new homes and buildings stand refugee camps, home to Palestinian refugees from the Nakba of 1948 as well as the 1967 war. However, internationally, politicians have pedalled the message that peace in the region will really take root with the development of economic harmony between Israel and Palestine in the guise of the Palestinian Authority (based in Ramallah) as the main interlocutor in the stalled peace process.

During Tony Blair’s premiership and in the run up to the elections in Palestine of 2006, the G7 nations called for greater economic co-operation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Ed Balls MP, then a minister in HM Treasury, said that he believed that “economic regeneration [would be] a catalytic agent for peace”. At the time there were calls to rebuild infrastructure in the West Bank, create jobs and open borders in order to regenerate the Palestinian community. Since then, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for an “economic peace” to exist between Israel and Palestine. This would, of course, provide a convenient substitute for a real agreement between the two parties, sparing Israel the trouble of having to address the numerous abuses it commits with its occupation. The hope of many in the international community was that economic development would create a prosperous economy which would alleviate the social problems facing the Palestinians living under the illegal occupation. Yet Israeli restrictions on such development have continued even though the theory is that economic regeneration will act as a driving force for peace and social justice. The Palestinian economy is one of the many victims of the illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territories, despite claims that industrial and commercial development in Ramallah is much more than a facade.

Ramallah’s bubble

Ramallah is, in fact, a bubble within the Palestinian economy of the West Bank just waiting to burst. As the home of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Legislative Council, as well as numerous government and political buildings, Ramallah has been the beneficiary of international financial investment. For example, £112 million has been given by the Britain’s Department for International Development between March 2008 and 2011 to fund a general government and civil society project. With the growth of Ramallah as the political and administrative centre of the West Bank the city has attracted a growing population with people moving there from across the West Bank in search of work. This population shift has led to the growth of the private sector so that Ramallah has slowly but surely become the economic centre of the West Bank. New buildings have cropped up across the city to house newcomers, businesses and other commercial and financial ventures. Indeed, visitors to the city in July 2010 commented that the growth in construction since their previous visit post the second intifada inspired comparisons with the building boom in the United Arab Emirates.

Although much of the economic development is funded by international support, it is significant that Ramallah has seen large investment from expatriates who have poured money into the city. It is this expatriate investment which is the catalyst for the construction projects that have gathered pace over recent years. Walking around Ramallah, one is faced with features found in many other modern cities, such as bowling alleys, hotels, restaurants and cafes, as part of the new cosmopolitan feel that the city is encouraging. The international luxury hotel chain Movenpick expects to open its first Palestinian branch in Ramallah.

Nevertheless, the mayor of Ramallah noted in an interview with the American Task Force of Palestine that whilst the growth is welcome Ramallah is not the “new Jerusalem”, and herein lies the problem. While the city appears to come into its own, the hope of the Palestinian people remains that Jerusalem will be the future capital of a Palestinian state. Ramallah, though, remains separated from Jerusalem by the network of Israel roadblocks and checkpoints, the apartheid wall and other Israeli incursions into the OPTs which make travel between the two cities very difficult. What should be a ten-minute journey between the two cities is now subject to so many barriers placed by the Israeli “partners for peace” that the trip can take many hours, dependent largely on the whims of the soldiers at the checkpoints.

In the aforementioned interview Ramallah’s mayor described the occupation and settlement of the West Bank, illegal under international law, as a hindrance to the economic growth of the city; the “political situation” inhibits growth. However, displaying the resolve present in the city she noted that despite the occupation the Palestinians would continue to encourage the growth of the city and not allow the occupation to stifle them. The occupation has undoubtedly hindered growth beyond Ramallah’s boundaries; businesses cannot trade with other parts of the West Bank because transport between cities, towns and villages is hampered by the wall, the settler-only roads and the numerous checkpoints and roadblocks. Inevitably, as exports and imports are rendered nigh on impossible by the occupation, so too are business and commercial aspirations stifled, with a calamitous effect on the workforce.

Thus, Ramallah remains in its own economic bubble and while the International Monetary Fund expects the economy in the West Bank to experience an 8 – 10 percent growth, the real time effect will be minimal as poverty remains high, with an estimated 60 per cent of the population living below the official poverty line.

The economic truth

In a World Bank ranking of 156 countries relating to the ease of doing business, Palestine was ranked at 135. Unsurprisingly, the World Bank reported that Palestine remains one of the most difficult countries for business, despite some growth in the economy of the West Bank (boosted mainly by Ramallah’s statistics). Despite the huge natural resources available in the West Bank the agricultural sector amounts to only 17 percent of the labour force; 68 percent is based in the service industry. The World Bank described the illegal occupation of the West Bank as having created “a fragmented set of social and economic islands or enclaves cut off from one another” which has choked the Palestinian economy. It noted that the “apparatus of control… affect(s) every aspect of Palestinian life including job opportunities, work and earnings”.

As a result of the continuing occupation the Palestinian economy has remained solidly reliant upon international aid. In 2008 foreign aid investment was estimated at approximately $1.8 billion; that’s around $487 per Palestinian per year in the West Bank. With the Palestinian Authority one of the main employers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, a huge number of people are reliant upon the international “development” aid which funds the PA to pay their wages. Though there have been numerous calls for the PA to develop its own funding sources, it remains a victim of the occupation as much as the rest of the West Bank economy, unable to focus on its own domestic economic agenda as it pursues a peace settlement and negotiations with Israel, its officials “salary slaves” beholden to the occupying power. The West Bank economy remains in the grip of the Israelis who exert full control over the occupied territories. In November 2010, the Portland Trust reported that the World Bank had yet again increased its funding to the PA by $40 million. Yet despite the input of international aid the West Bank economy remains a casualty of the occupation.

Poverty in the West Bank – crisis point

In June 2010 the European Commission funded a report by Save the Children which declared that some of the poorest areas in the West Bank were worse off than those in the Gaza Strip, which has been blockaded illegally by Israel (with Egyptian help and Western support) ever since the election of Hamas in 2006. Despite the on-going blockade and the destruction caused during Israel’s infamous Operation Cast Lead which is as yet unrepaired, some parts of the West Bank have been so severely damaged by Israel’s occupation that children living in these areas face harsher living conditions than their peers in Gaza. The worst areas according to Save the Children were those in Area C – the area of the West Bank under direct Israeli administrative control; infrastructure has been damaged and the Israeli authorities have refused permission for its redevelopment.

As illegal settlements expand across the Occupied Palestinian Territories the land left to the Palestinian population must rely on virtually non-existent water supplies, as Israel has used its control of the water table to divert the supply and availability of water away from Palestinians towards its own population and the illegal settlers. Israel has also imposed restrictions on land use which means that only minimal agriculture can be developed. Agricultural produce is then faced by export restrictions imposed by the occupying forces. It is the lack of access to fresh agricultural produce which was suggested as a reason for the malnourishment of children in Area C in the EC-funded report. Save the Children commented that a lack of fresh food was the reason for so many Palestinian children being ill, which is ironic given that the region is extremely fertile and has an abundance of agricultural produce; Israel is one of the EU’s main trading partners for agricultural produce despite its appalling human rights record. The favourable EU-Israel trade agreement allows Israeli produce favourable import export tariffs, even when a great amount of produce appears to come from illegal settlements; companies such as Agrexco maintain dominance over the fruit and vegetable market in the EU. Yet in the Save the Children study 44 percent of the children suffered from diarrhoea and nearly 50 percent of the families received no international humanitarian assistance to combat poverty or ill-health. The survey estimated that 79 percent of the population in Area C lacked sufficient food; the figure in the Gaza Strip is 61 percent.

As homes, schools and roads remain unrepaired due to the Israeli authority’s refusal to grant building permits and permission for repair work, the infrastructure across the West Bank continues to deteriorate. It is Israeli whims which have led to a purely man-made poverty across the West Bank and it is more or less condoned by the international community. While Israel strangles the wider Palestinian economy and maintains its military occupation, governments in the West point ostrich-like to Ramallah as a beacon of economic success, concluding that if Ramallah has managed to develop so effectively then the wider West Bank situation cannot be as bad as critics claim.

This is where the danger lies, because the development of Ramallah is part of a massive deception reported faithfully by the media and cited by politicians as the model. It should be obvious that this cannot be a true reflection of the overall situation in the West Bank as long as areas of the West Bank are worse than those of the “prison camp” of Gaza, as British Prime Minister David Cameron described it last year. It is the myth of economic success which conceals the truth – Israel is continuing to inflict its torturous occupation by every which way it can, including the destruction of the Palestinian economy.

Ramallah is a useful mirage for the Israeli authorities but behind the façade of economic peace and stability the Israeli government continues to colonise the land it is occupying illegally. The international community has been blinded by the limited economic success of Ramallah, while the rest of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip remains constricted in the most brutal way imaginable.

Abbas keen on relations with the US despite its bias in favor of “Israel”

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– De facto president Mahmoud Abbas insisted on his relations with the US despite the blow dealt to him by Washington last night, when the latter used the right of veto over a UN security council’s resolution against Israel’s settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian lands.

Abbas said his authority would never boycott the American administration despite its bias in favor of Israel.

The resolution garnered 14 votes in the 15-member council.

In another context, director of the chamber of commerce and industry in occupied Jerusalem Azzam Abu Assaud said the Fatah-controlled Palestinian authority (PA) and its de facto government did not give due importance to Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque.

Abu Assaud affirmed that in a speech during a symposium on Jerusalem held Saturday in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

He stressed that the PA and successive government had provided the Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem with only four percent of the budgets allocated for them so far.

The Palestinian official also noted that the PA ministry of religious affairs does not take care at all of the Aqsa Mosque, especially the Dome of Rock, while the Jews are embarking on Judaizing the holy city through a number of steps including the seizure of Palestinian property and real estate.

The negotiators made no effort to defend and uphold the right of return

by Dr. Daud Abdullah, source

At a meeting with the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, on 18 February 2008, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner commended the Palestinian approach on the refugee issue, describing it as “wise”. This plaudit was only given after the Palestinian negotiators had confirmed their distinction between recognition of the right of return in principle and its actual implementation. Any agreement founded on this basis would, of course, move the Israelis one step closer toward realizing their dream of a pure “Jewish state”.

Kouchner did not stop at praising the Palestinian negotiators; according to Al Jazeera’s Palestine Papers he encouraged them to communicate their position to the people directly affected, the refugees themselves: “Implementing the right of return would not mean asking Israel to allow the return of millions of refugees.”

The international consensus and resolutions on the subject indicate that the right of return is an individual, not a collective, right which cannot be removed by a third party. It is also understood to mean that refugees have a right to repatriation, restitution and compensation, although for many years the Palestinians have been called upon by western mediators to accept the latter two only, and relinquish the right to repatriation. In other words, no return to their “homes and property” as advocated by UN resolution 3236 (1974).

Every aspect of the proposal lauded by the French is offensive. It seeks to compound the injustice of expulsion with the injustice of permanent exile. To the seven million Palestinians in the diaspora any such agreement would be the ultimate injustice inflicted on them; not only by the Israelis, but also by their own leadership.

When Ehud Olmert made his offer to Mahmoud Abbas on 31 August 2008, Israel’s position was confined to recognition of Palestinian “suffering”; there was no recognition of Palestinians’ rights. Yet, it was the PLO which later summarized the offer in an internal confidential memo stating that Israel would in the preamble of the future agreement “acknowledge the suffering of – but not responsibility for – Palestinian refugees”.

Shortly before that, on 26 March 2008, the Negotiations Support Unit (NSU) communicated the talking points for a meeting with the Israeli negotiator, Tal Becker, regarding the recognition of refugee rights. That document included this: “The PLO will pursue the recognition of all refugees’ rights and their satisfaction with particular care, especially since these are individual rights. The Palestinian leadership is however ready to negotiate their implementation in order to accommodate to the two-state solution.”

The document recommended “an explicit reference to the principle of the recognition of the right of return to ensure that the refugees themselves ‘buy into’ the agreement. However, the provision referring to this right would also stress that the desire for return will have to be adapted to current realities and the objective of the two-state solution. In practice, return would be limited to Israel’s absorption capacity.”

If Israel could not allow the return of the Palestinian refugees because it has a limited “absorption capacity”, why didn’t the Palestinians insist that Israel abrogates its Law of Return, which affords the right to Jews anywhere in the world to migrate to Israel and be guaranteed automatic and full rights of citizenship? It appears, therefore, that there was a certain convergence of interests between the two parties to enable Israel to preserve its Jewish identity and demographic majority.

On 22 January 2008, at a meeting attended by Ahmad Qurei’, Dr Saeb Erekat and Salah Ilayan on the Palestinian side, and Tzipi Livni on the Israeli side, Livni’s position was clear: “I don’t want to deceive anybody. There’ll be no Israeli official whether from the Knesset or the government or even the public who will support the return of refugees to Israel.”

Moreover, Livni had on more than one occasion emphasized her preference for a population exchange that would facilitate the removal of Palestinians from Israel to the proposed Palestine state. Here, it must be recalled that there are within Israel itself more than 250,000 Palestinians who were driven from their homes and villages in 1948 and have, until today, been denied the right to return, even though they still live in the Zionist state.

The fact that Israeli negotiators refuse to acknowledge, and of which the Palestinians fail to remind them, was that Israel was admitted into the UN on condition that it allows the refugees to return to their homes (UN resolution 273, 1949).

The general thrust of the Palestinian Papers suggests that ultimately Palestinian refugees will be settled either in the Palestinian state or elsewhere, but not in the “homes and land” from which they were expelled in 1948 which are now inside Israel. The negotiators on both sides are clearly guilty of trying to confuse the individual right of return with the collective right to self-determination. In principle, neither right should be curtailed at the expense of the other. The right of the individual must be preserved, irrespective of the outcome of the collective struggle for self-determination.

Instead of upholding the right of return as an inalienable right, meaning one which is not subject to negotiation, debate or review, in a confidential paper the PLO negotiators discussed an international mechanism to resolve the refugee issue and absolve Israel of its obligation to allow them to exercise their right: “An international mechanism shall be established, with the participation of Palestine, Israel, the host countries and other stakeholder countries and entities] [I: the parties have agreed to invite the United States, in coordination with them, to establish and lead an international mechanism]”

The Palestinian leadership, it seems, has a very short memory, for when the 1978 Camp David accord left it up to Egypt and Israel to resolve the problem of the Palestinian refugees by “agreed procedures”, the UN declared “that the Camp David accords and other agreements have no validity in so far as they purport to determine the future of the Palestinian people and of the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967”.

The very notion that Palestinian return was made dependent on an agreement meant that Israel was effectively granted a veto in this matter. The General Assembly declared further that: “The validity of agreements purporting to solve the problem of Palestine requires that they lie within the framework of the United Nations Charter and its resolutions on the basis of the full attainment of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.” [33/28, December 1978]

Any agreement undertaken by the Palestinian negotiators that seeks to undermine or compromise the right of the refugees to return to their homes would be null and void. While they discuss with the Israelis the terms of compensation, without repatriation, individual refugees must themselves resist this surrender of their rights, because their sons and daughters may want to return. In this regard, Article 8 of the Fourth Geneva Convention is clear: “Protected persons may in no circumstances renounce in part or in entirety the rights secured to them by the present Convention.”

The revelations contained in the Palestine Papers on the refugees are the latest in a series that began after the 1993 Oslo Accords, all engineered and promoted by the same persons. They reflect a determined and concerted effort to jeopardize this right. Starting with the Abu Mazin-Yossi Beilin document of October 1995 to the Geneva accord of October 2003, the reader discerns a pattern of proposals devised to obstruct and deny the exercise of the right of return. It is inexplicable, therefore, that despite all the legal guarantees in their favour, the Palestinian representatives have not made the slightest effort to take advantage of them. Instead, they have chosen to rely on their personal “creative” skills and the goodwill of the Israelis and Americans, both of which have been demonstrably inadequate. Given the imbalance in the political relationship between the parties, the only way to ensure the restoration of Palestinian rights is to adhere to international legality.

Dr Daud Abdullah is the director of the Middle East Monitor – an independent media research institution founded in the United Kingdom to foster a fair and accurate coverage in the Western media of Middle Eastern issues and in particular the Palestine Question.

PA agrees to pay compensation for death of settlers while Israeli crimes continue against the Palestinians

PA agrees to pay compensation for death of Jewish settlers

RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Palestinian Authority has agreed to compensate the families of two Jewish settlers killed in a resistance operation 15 years ago, Israeli Radio said Tuesday.

The compensation will go to the families of Efrat and Yaron Ungar who were shot dead by Palestinian resistance fighters while driving through the Beit Shemwesh area. They had filed a $116 million lawsuit against the PA in a Rhode Island court.

The PA settled to pay an undisclosed amount of compensation.

Israel has made no efforts to pay compensation for the treacherous killing of thousands of Palestinians.

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Settlers uproot olive tree saplings, IOF troops raid southern Gaza

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– Jewish settlers uprooted dozens of olive tree saplings in Beit Ummar village, north of Al-Khalil, on Monday, local sources reported.

They said that settlers pulled out 250 olive tree saplings which were planted only a few days ago in a solidarity campaign with farmers whose lands are located near the Karmi Tzur settlement.

Israeli occupation forces (IOF) assaulted farmers in the same area injuring two of them including a 15-year-old boy.

The IOF soldiers also rounded up four Palestinians over the past 24 hours two in Al-Khalil and two in Yabad, south of Jenin, after searching many homes in the village.

In the Gaza Strip, IOF troops raided an area east of Khan Younis, south of the Strip, firing indiscriminately and bulldozing lands.

It’s time for those who hold the keys to their homes to rise up

Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, source

The issue is not that documents giving details of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority were leaked by Al Jazeera and the Guardian. We all had a general picture of the positions taken by Palestinian negotiators in front of Israel. Such positions were already subjected to strong criticism for being excessive, especially the concessions made over the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. Rejection of these concessions has been emphasised in conferences, statements and demonstrations over a number of years.

However, the leaks revealed the true picture of the submissiveness of the negotiators, how low they could get, and the shameless way in which they begged the Israelis for little more than a mini-state with citizens gathered in isolated cages and Palestinian refugees abandoned along the “road map to peace”. For this, the negotiators were rewarded with great jobs and villas in Abu Dis or Jericho; in the meantime, the question of Palestine, including Jerusalem and the right of return, could go to hell.

That is the real issue and scandal; it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back. After displaying great patience for 18 fruitless years since the disaster of Oslo, it is time for the Palestinian refugees to have their own people’s revolution.

After the death of Yasser Arafat, who held fast to the constants of Palestinian rights despite many mistakes and his corrupt inner circle, we were stuck with the group that even the Israeli enemy did not consider worthy of assassination, as was the case with Abu Jihad (Khalil al-Wazir) and Abu Iyad (Salah Mesbah Khalaf) and others; in fact, the Israelis probably saw the benefit in keeping them alive. Thus, the Palestinian “Vichy” Authority carried out its primary mission as a subcontractor for Israel; it was less costly than the mercenaries of Blackwater and more responsive.

So responsive, in fact, that we find the following: The primary issue for Palestinians, the right of return of the refugees, has been dropped from the agenda, to be held in reserve as a potential “bogey” in discussions. The Al Jazeera leaks reveal that Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat (who has now told the BBC that he has resigned his position) said that the Palestinian offer to Israel was to give the refugees the option of a symbolic return to Palestine, whereby in reality only a few thousand would do so, or a change of exile from, for example, Argentina to Chile, or a move from Ein El Hilweh refugee camp in Lebanon to Balata refugee camp in the West Bank. The first axiom in the heart of every Palestinian, and in international law, is that the right of return for Palestinians is achieved only by the return of refugees “to the land or house or place that they, or their families, were expelled from in 1948 and were not allowed to return to”.

That negotiator’s option is a gimmick. The right of return is an inalienable individual right that cannot be negotiated away; any refugee is entitled to use it at any time possible as it does not have an expiry date. Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides for the right of anyone to leave their country and return to it; this is not subject to international agreements or negotiations and no one can cancel it.

The suggestion that Jerusalem and the Old City could be given up is unforgiveable, even if decorated with pseudo-respectability by an international committee to manage the Noble Sanctuary. If international law has rejected such a concept, how can those who say they represent the people of this Holy Land accept it?

As far as land exchange is concerned, it is a national, legal and geographical sin. Israel does not own the land which it occupied in 1948 west of the armistice line in any case, so how can it propose to exchange it with land east of the armistice line which it occupied in 1967 and does not own? Land exchange is a clear violation of the Palestinian National Charter which stipulates that the land of Palestine is one and is indivisible. It is ironic that the League of Nations Mandate itself required that Palestine remain indivisible. Are the Palestinian negotiators less patriotic than Britain which allowed mass immigration of Jews into Palestine pre-1948? If the Israeli side decides to accept the Palestinian offer will the Palestinian Authority hold a referendum on the illegal division of the land? And if the people of Palestine reject the proposed exchange, which is almost certain as long as the referendum is not fraudulent, what will the international position be?

The Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian National Council, which selects the leadership of the former, are the most important achievements of the Palestinian people. We did not win any wars, despite the sacrifice of thousands of lives, and yet we won world recognition. But those sitting on the chairs of the PLO and PNC for a quarter of a century no longer represent the world’s 11 million Palestinians, half of whom were born after the disaster of Oslo and three-quarters who live in the Diaspora. Only 18% of Palestinians live under the police state of the Palestinian Authority which watches their every move in case they think of resistance to Israel’s occupation, and cuts off their livelihood if they object to PA policies.

The Palestinian Authority grew so that it devoured the PLO and left it in place to give a veneer of legitimacy when necessary. Some Palestinian institutions pre-date the PA, such as education, health and municipalities. Those which came into being along with the Authority, such as the security forces, political negotiator teams and PR/media departments, are paid for, and influenced by, the Israeli occupation and the United States, with EU support.

The whole Palestinian Authority and its operations have to be placed in context; in order to understand why it raises such concerns, we have to look at the roots of the problems it is supposed to address. The occupation of Palestine did not begin in 1967; it started in 1948, with the Nakba (Catastrophe) of the creation of the state of Israel and the beginning of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The first goal of the refugees, who now represent three-quarters of all Palestinians, was to return to their homeland. In 1950, the first refugees’ conference was held in the Gaza Strip, the only part of Palestine which did not fall under Israeli occupation or Jordanian annexation; the priority was to return home through a national programme to include resistance and the popular representation of refugees, plus a national education scheme. This resulted in the formation of the “Executive Committee of the Refugees’ Conference” which represented the refugees until the establishment of the PLO in 1964. It was this Committee which was behind the establishment of the first legislative council in Gaza in the early sixties, and sent its first delegation of refugees to the United Nations in 1961.

In the years after the Nakba foreign aid was no reason to abandon basic rights, with direct or indirect bribes‪; nor was it necessary to lecture refugees about political realities, as is the case nowadays. Early refugees burnt food supplies in UNRWA ‪(United Nations Relief and Works Agency‪) warehouses when foreign aid was offered in exchange for giving up their homeland‪. They were made of sterner stuff in those days.

It was not surprising, therefore, that after the long journey of the national movement which ended tragically with the Oslo Accords the right of return movement again came to prominence. Today, it is a major force and most effective in foreign capitals around the world, including some Arab countries, with around a million active members representing seven million refugees.

This figure for the number of refugees includes those displaced in Palestine in 1948 who stayed in their own country, which is now called Israel, and who remain an integral part of the Palestinian people; their leaders languish in Israeli prisons. Despite being key players in the right of return campaign, the PLO, unfortunately, ignores them and ruled them out of “negotiations” with the Israeli occupation authorities. The organisation should have paid heed to the first signs of neglect of the refugee issue during the negotiations, wherein it has been notable by its total absence from the discussions.

During the international conferences sponsored by Canada in the late nineties (I attended some of them myself), defenders of the right of return were individuals and from national groups, and were up against the Israelis and some individuals appointed by the Palestinian Authority, some of whom remain in their posts to this day. This situation should have been stopped before it began by those who remained of the old Palestinian National Council, but the burden was put on the popular committees for the right of return, which have played a great role wherever the Palestinian Diaspora is found.

Returning to the roots of the problem has become an urgent necessity after 18 years of Oslo’s deception and wasting nearly a quarter of a century in a national struggle that has produced national institutions with no credibility among the people.

There must now be a people’s revolution fuelled by those who still hold the keys to their homes in occupied Palestine from which they were expelled in 1948. They are the rightful owners of the land on which Israel is built and it is they who have endured the loss of their homes and those dear to them who have been martyred in the struggle for justice.

We, the Palestinian refugees, therefore call for the following:

1. The removal of the discredited Oslo negotiators from their positions without delay, and a clear de-legitimisation of their previous agreements, actions and statements.

2. A new conference for “the key holders” and their representatives from all over the world, to defend their homeland of Palestine and create a “Refugee Council”.

3. The current Palestinian National Council, which lacks legitimacy by virtue of fact and its inability to play any role over the past two decades, to convene and dissolve itself prior to the election of a new National Council representing all Palestinians everywhere (including those in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948, who should have a special arrangement), with a commitment to the original Palestinian National Charter. It is unacceptable for the current authorities to obstruct a Preparatory Commission for the elections, or to claim that such elections are difficult or impossible because they do not know the whereabouts of all Palestinians. These are flimsy excuses aimed at perpetuating the (unacceptable) status quo.

4. The new National Council should establish a national court to hold accountable all those who have had a role, since the Oslo agreements, in the violation of basic national issues, collaboration with the Israelis, and political and financial corruption.

The committees for the right to return around the world have called for a political programme to include the points mentioned above. All Palestinian refugees so interested are requested to send a message to the Right of Return Conference; no right is lost as long as there are people demanding and needing it‪.

The author is the founding president of the Palestine Land Society and an honorary adviser to the Middle East Monitor. This article is a translation from the Arabic which appeared in Al Quds Al Arabi, 9 February 2011.