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Tag Archives: Israeli politics

Israeli Minister Says Lieberman ‘on His Way Out”

{Lieberman's statements...} by Ra'ed Khalil-Al Baa'ith newspaper-Syria

Al Manar

04/03/2010 Knesset members and Israeli ministers on Wednesday refused to publicly comment on the affair and demand that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman resign. Many of the politicians explained that they would not address the affair due to their “long friendship with Lieberman”.

Nonetheless, the political arena has resumed its speculations over the expected changes in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition in case of an indictment against the foreign minister.

The state prosecutor said Wednesday that a decision on the matter would be made within a few weeks, and that if an indictment were to be filed, the Israeli foreign minister would resign from the government.

“Most of us are keeping quiet because of the perception that Lieberman is finished,” a government minister said. “There is no reason to talk about him now or call on him to resign. He is on his way out in any case.”

It is still unclear who will replace Lieberman if he is forced to resign. Sources close to Netanyahu reiterated Wednesday evening that the Foreign Ministry portfolio belonged to Yisrael Beiteinu and that the party would have to make the decision on Lieberman’s replacement. “The political power is in their hands,” said an associate of the prime minister.

One of the options raised is that Daniel Ayalon will remain deputy foreign minister and that the prime minister will be in charge of Israel’s foreign affairs. Another option is that Ayalon would be promoted to foreign minister, or that Netanyahu and Lieberman would agree on a different person to serve as foreign minister.

As for the coalition’s stability, politicians have estimated that Yisrael Beiteinu will remain part of the coalition even if Lieberman is indicted. The Israeli foreign minister himself declared several weeks ago that he would resign from his party’s leadership in case of an indictment, but that his party would remain part of the coalition until the end of its term.

Since Lieberman is considered the party’s only “landlord”, who is solely responsible for the number of the party’s Knesset seats, it is unlikely that he will cease his involvement in the party’s affairs completely.

However, Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov and Knesset Member Faina Kirshenbaum have been mentioned as possible candidates to replace Lieberman, despite embarrassing reports on Misezhnikov’s personal life. Minister Uzi Landau has also been mentioned as a potential candidate to head the party if Lieberman is forced to retire.

In this context, Israeli daily Haaretz published a report on Thursday in which it attacked Lieberman after it mentioned the all the different posts he has held, however the report added that no one in the Zionist entity would remember him in these posts. Haaretz said, “He (Lieberman) has been director general of the Prime Minister’s Office, national infrastructure minister, transportation minister and strategic affairs minister – but not really. Nobody remembers these jobs because there is nothing to remember. There is no achievement that can be attributed to him.”

The report concluded that “Lieberman will be remembered as a disgrace due to the evil spirit he has introduced into Israel, our home, ever since his star rose.”

Tony Blair: Israeli officials were part of decision to invade Iraq

by Saed Bannoura, IMEMC , February 20, 2010

In his recent testimony to the UK Committee investigating the Iraq war, British Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted that Israeli officials influenced and participated in the decision by the US and UK governments to attack Iraq in 2003.

During testimony regarding his meetings in Texas with then-US President George W. Bush in 2002, Blair stated, “As I recall that discussion, it was less to do with specifics about what we were going to do on Iraq or, indeed, the Middle East, because the Israel issue was a big, big issue at the time. I think, in fact, I remember, actually, there may have been conversations that we had even with Israelis, the two of us, whilst we were there. So that was a major part of all this.”

Professor Steven Walt, co-author of the book ‘The Israel Lobby’, wrote an op-ed following Blair’s admission describing how he and co-author John Mearsheimer were attacked by the US media and by right-wing lobbyists for Israel when they made that claim in 2003. Now, Walt says, he feels vindicated because Tony Blair himself has had to admit publicly the extent to which the invasion of Iraq by the US, the UK, and other armies, was influenced by Israel’s strategic interests in the region, and Israeli officials themselves.

Walt stated, ” Professor Mearsheimer and I made it clear in our article and especially in our book that the idea of invading Iraq originated in the United States with the neoconservatives, and not with the Israeli government….We also pointed out that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other Israeli officials were initially skeptical of this scheme, because they wanted the U.S. to focus on Iran, not Iraq. However, they became enthusiastic supporters of the idea of invading Iraq once the Bush administration made it clear to them that Iraq was just the first step in a broader campaign of ‘regional transformation’ that would eventually include Iran.”

The two Harvard professors were vehemently attacked at the time by many prominent Jewish leaders in the US, who accused Mearsheimer and Walt of anti-Semitism for their ‘preposterous’ claim that Israeli officials had any impact at all on the US and UK governments’ decision to attack Iraq.

In his recent op-ed, Professor Walt also noted that the attacks against him and Professor Mearsheimer were made despite many articles and statements by prominent Jewish organizations and writers in the US. In one example, he referred to an editorial in the Jewish newspaper Forward, published in 2004, which stated, “As President Bush attempted to sell the war .. in Iraq, America’s most important Jewish organizations rallied as one to his defense. In statement after statement community leaders stressed the need to rid the world of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. Some groups went even further, arguing that that the removal of the Iraqi leaders would represent a significant step toward bringing peace to the Middle East and winning America’s war on terrorism”.

The editorial also noted that “concern for Israel’s safety rightfully factored into the deliberations of the main Jewish groups.”

No apologies have been made to Professors Walt and Mearsheimer by any of the groups or individuals who attacked them, even after British Prime Minister Tony Blair recently admitted that Walt and Mearsheimer’s claims were true.

Armed Israeli settlers open fire at Palestinian farmers in Beit Ummar town

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)– A number of Palestinian farmers on Sunday afternoon miraculously survived a gunfire attack by a bunch of armed Israeli settlers near the town of Beit Ummar, north of Al-Khalil.

Palestinian local sources said that the settlers were from Bat Ayin settlement in Gush Etzion and deliberately opened fire at farmers Mohamed Abdelqader and Ibrahim Adi along with their sons during their presence in their agricultural lands pruning trees.

Other local sources reported on the same day that dozens of Israeli settlers from Shiloh settlement escorted by troops hurled stones, amid offensive remarks, at Palestinian cars traveling by in Ramallah street in Nablus, adding that they destroyed a bus belonging to Al-Tamimi company.

In a separate incident, the Hebrew radio claimed that the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) rounded up Sunday evening two Palestinian young men possessing explosive devices near the village of Tayasir in Jenin.
It also said that the IOF kidnapped four Palestinian citizens wanted by Israel on Monday in Ramallah, the village of Jalbun in Jenin, and the town of Beit Ummar in Al-Khalil.

The Israeli police detained on Saturday and Sunday 170 Palestinian workers in the West Bank at the pretext of their presence in the 1948 occupied lands without permits and arrested 18 Israelis because they provided assistance to them.

The Israeli police claimed that four of those workmen were sent to interrogation centers after it was found that they were wanted by Israel, while the others were transported to the West Bank after pledging not to return to the 1948 occupied lands.

The Israeli police detain every month hundreds of Palestinian workers, who suffer from poor living conditions and are neglected by human rights organizations.

Another Israeli tunnel towards Al Aqsa Masjid-cartoon

{Israel digs a new tunnel towards Al Aqsa-Netanyahu: I demand the International community to take decisive steps against the tunnels spread between the Gaza strip and Egypt} by Ala Al Laqta-Palestine newspaper-Palestine

{"Israel" digs a new tunnel towards Al Aqsa-Netanyahu: I demand the International community to take decisive steps against the tunnels spread between the Gaza strip and Egypt} by Ala' Al Laqta-Palestine newspaper-Palestine

“Israel” digging tunnel near Al-Aqsa Mosque

Gaza where humanity, morals and laws were worth less than dirt on the ground: Israelis confess their crimes

Taken from almanar

Taken from almanar

Israeli soldiers admit ‘shoot first’ policy in Gaza offensive, The guardian
The link to video

Anonymous testimonies collated by human rights group also contain allegations that Palestinians were used as human shields

Israeli soldiers who served in the Gaza Strip during the offensive of December and January have spoken out about being ordered to shoot without hesitation, destroying houses and mosques with a general disregard for Palestinian lives.

In testimony that will fuel international and Arab demands for war crime investigations, 30 combat soldiers report that the army’s priority was to minimise its own casualties to maintain Israeli public support for the three-week Operation Cast Lead.

One specific allegation is that Palestinians were used by the army as “human shields” despite a 2005 Israeli high court ruling outlawing the practice. “Not much was said about the issue of innocent civilians,” a soldier said. “There was no need to use weapons like mortars or phosphorous,” said another. “I have the feeling that the army was looking for the opportunity to show off its strength.”

The 54 anonymous testimonies were collated by Breaking the Silence, a group that collects information on human rights abuses by the Israeli military. Many of the soldiers are still doing their compulsory national service…

Israel launched the attack after the expiry of a ceasefire designed to halt rocket fire from Gaza and crush the Islamist movement Hamas, which controls the coastal strip.

Witnesses described the destruction of hundreds of houses and many mosques without military reason, the firing of phosphorous shells into inhabited areas, the killing of innocents and the indiscriminate destruction of property.

Soldiers describe a “neighbour procedure” in which Palestinian civilians were forced to enter suspect buildings ahead of troops. They cite cases of civilians advancing in front of a soldier resting his rifle on the civilian’s shoulder.

“We did not get instructions to shoot at anything that moved,” said one soldier. “But we were generally instructed: if you feel threatened, shoot. They kept repeating to us that this is war and in war opening fire is not restricted.”

Many testimonies are in line with claims by Amnesty International and other human rights organisations that Israeli actions were indiscriminate and disproportionate.

Another soldier testified: “You feel like a stupid little kid with a magnifying glass looking at ants, burning them. A 20-year-old kid should not have to do these kinds of things to other people.”

The testimonies “expose significant gaps between the official army version of events and what really happened on the ground”, Breaking the Silence said.

“This is an urgent call to Israeli society and its leaders to sober up and investigate anew the results of our actions.”

Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, said: “Criticism directed at the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) by one organisation or another is inappropriate and is directed at the wrong place. The IDF is one of the most ethical armies in the world and acts in accordance with the highest moral code.”…

Israeli soldiers reveal the brutal truth of Gaza attack

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem, the independent

Israeli troops were repeatedly encouraged by officers to prioritise their own safety over that of Palestinian civilians when they embarked on the ground invasion of Gaza in January, according to the first direct testimonies of soldiers who served in the operation.

The picture that emerges from the testimonies, which have been seen by The Independent, is one of massive fire power to cover advances and rules of engagement that were calculated to ensure, in the words attributed to one battalion commander, that “not a hair will fall of a soldier of mine. I am not willing to allow a soldier of mine to risk himself by hesitating. If you are not sure, shoot.”

The first eye-witness accounts of the war by serving Israeli reservists and conscripts describes the Israeli use of Palestinian civilians as “human shields”. They detail the killing of at least two civilians, the vandalism, looting and wholesale destruction of Palestinian houses, the use of deadly white phosphorus, bellicose religious advice from army rabbis and what another battalion commander described to his troops as “insane firepower with artillery and air force”. The reports amount to the most formidable challenge by Israelis since the Gaza war to the military’s own considered view that it conducted the operation according to international law and made “an enormous effort to focus its fire only against the terrorists whilst doing the utmost to avoid harming uninvolved civilians”…

They tell how:

* Unprecedentedly loose rules of engagement were put in place to protect Israeli troops. One soldier said his brigade commander and other officers made it clear that “any movement must entail gunfire”. He added: “I don’t remember if the brigade commander said this or someone else. I’ m not sure. No one is supposed to be there. If you see any signs of movement at all, you shoot. These, essentially, were the rules of engagement. Shoot if you like if you are afraid or you see someone, shoot.” Another soldier said his battalion commander had said the operation was not “a limited confrontation such as in Hebron, and not to hesitate if we suspected someone nor feel bad about destruction because it is all done for the safety of our own soldiers… if we see something suspect and shoot, better hit an innocent than hesitate to target an enemy”. One soldier said the “awareness of each soldier going in is simply… a light finger on the trigger. You see something and you’re not quite sure? You shoot”.

* Houses were systematically demolished. Despite official accounts that homes were only destroyed for strictly “operational” reasons, one reservist, a veteran of the conflict in Gaza since before 2005, said “I never knew such fire power” used by tanks and helicopters for the “constant destruction” of houses. The soldier said that some houses had been destroyed for normal operational reasons, such as because they had been booby trapped or used by militants to fire from, or had contained tunnel openings. But he said others were destroyed for the “day after” – to make a “very large” area “sterile”, to allow better “firing capacity, good visibility and control” once the operation was over. This meant, demolishing houses “not implicated in any way, whose single sin is that it is situated on a hill in the Gaza strip” .

* A civilian man between 50 and 60 who was unarmed but carrying a torch was shot dead after the unit’s commander ordered his soldiers not to fire warning shots but to hold their fire until he was 50m away. The soldier said the company commander announced over the radio after the incident: “Here’s an opener for tonight”. The soldier said that the commander was challenged over why he had not authorised deterrent fire when the man was further away: “He didn’t agree and couldn’t give a damn, and finally the guys felt that even if they could take this up with the higher echelons it wouldn’t be effective.” Another soldier said his unit commander shot dead an old man hiding with his family under the stairs of a house. While the soldier said that the killing of the man was a mistake, it had happened as the unit entered the house using live fire.

* Palestinian human shields – or “johnnies” as they were termed by soldiers on the ground – were suborned to enter surrounded houses ahead of troops, including houses known to contain armed militants. One account corroborates the story of one such human shield that was exposed in The Independent, that of Majdi Abed Rabbo in Jabalya in northern Gaza, who was ordered three times to enter a house to report on the condition of three armed Hamas militants inside.

* Military rabbis prepared troops for battle. One soldier said an army rabbi had “aimed at inspiring the men with courage, cruelty aggressiveness, expressions as ‘no pity. God protects you. Everything you do is sanctified’… there were specific scenarios discussed… but from the context it was pretty obvious he came to tell us how aggressive and determined we need to be, that we must win because this is a holy war”. Leaflets distributed at military synagogues had stated that “the Palestinians are like the Philistines of old, newcomers who do not belong in the land, aliens planted on the soil which should clearly return to us”.

* Mortars – rarely if ever used in Gaza before – were widely deployed. They included 120mm mortars of the sort that killed up to 40 civilians outside the UN el-Fakhoura school in Jabalya which was being used as a shelter, and in a nearby house. One soldier explained that while “with light arms you’ve got an 80 per cent chance of hitting the target with your first shot, with mortars it is much less”. Another said: “I finally understood. We were firing at launcher crews in open spaces. But it didn’t take much to aim at schools, hospitals and such. So I see I’m firing literally into a built-up area. I don’t know to what degree it was still inhabited because the army made considerable attempts to get people to leave. But I understand that… [tails off].”..

Houses that troops occupied were vandalised. One testimony stated: “One of the soldiers… opened the child’s bag… he took out notebooks and ripped them. One guy smashed cupboards for kicks out of boredom. There were guys arguing with the platoon commander before we left the house why he wouldn’t let them smash the picture hanging there…” A reservist soldier said that there was a “big difference between the way we treated the contents of the house and the way the regulars did. The regulars wouldn’t take care even of the most basic sanitary stuff like going to the toilet, basic hygiene. I mean you could see that they had defecated anywhere and left the stuff lying round”….

“It got to the point where we would try to report to field intelligence about a figure sticking out its head or a rocket being launched, and the girl [at field intelligence] would ask, ‘Is it near this or that house?’ We’d look at the aerial photo and say, ‘Yes, but the house is no longer there’. ‘Wait, is it facing a square?’ ‘No more square.’… Later I went in to the look-out war-room and asked how things worked, and the girl-soldiers there, the look-outs, resented the fact that they had no way to direct the planes, because all their reference points were razed… It’s highly possible that now the pilot will bomb the wrong house.”

On the rules of engagement

“[The Brigade commander] went so far as to say this was war and in war, no consideration of civilians was to be taken. You shoot anyone you see. I’m paraphrasing here, not literally quoting, but the gist of the matter was very clear.”

On the rabbinate’s role in the conflict

“The rabbi said we are actually conducting the war of ‘the sons of light’ against ‘the sons of darkness’. This is in fact a statement with highly messianic language… It turns the other side as a generality into ‘sons of darkness’ while we become ‘sons of light’. There is no differentiation which we would expect to find between civilians and others. Here is one people fighting another people, with all the messianic implications. But that’s the point: this is also religious propaganda. In other words, the army is not a revival meeting. They do not put on a uniform in order to be Judaized.”

On soldiers’ responsibility

“Anything we did there, we’d answer ourselves: there’s no other choice, but this is how we shirk our responsibility. You bring yourself to this kind of deterministic situation, a moment that I have not chosen, where I no longer have any responsibility for my own actions. Even if your choice is the right one, you must admit you chose it. You have to admit you chose to go into Gaza. As soon as you did, you’ve brought people into a moral twilight zone, you’ve forced them to handle dilemmas and part of that confrontation failed. As soon as you say ‘there is no other choice’, you’re shirking your responsibility. Then you don’t need to investigate, to look into things.”

The whole testimonies are present in the original link

Israeli Soldiers Testify: We Used Gazans as Human Shields!

by Batoul Wehbe, al manar

15/07/2009, …The soldier, a staff sergeant, said that in his unit and others, Palestinians were often sent into houses to determine if there was anyone inside. “The practice was not to call it ‘the neighbor procedure.’ Instead it was called ‘Johnny,'” the soldier said, using Israeli military slang for Palestinian civilians. The Israeli occupation employed this practice extensively during the second intifada, before it was outlawed by the High Court of Justice in 2005.

In an incident his commanders told him about, three “armed militants” were in a house. Attack helicopters were brought in. “They … again sent the [Palestinian] neighbor in. At first he said that nothing had happened [to the armed men],” the soldier said. “Again they brought in attack helicopters and fired. They again sent in the neighbor. He said there were two dead and one still alive. They then brought in a bulldozer and began to knock the house down on him until [the neighbor] entered.” The soldier said he had been told that the only militant remaining alive was captured and turned over to the Shin Bet security service.

The Golani soldier also testified that his commanders reported incidents in which Palestinians were given sledgehammers to break through walls to let the army enter through the side of houses. The army feared that the doors were booby-trapped.

The soldier said he had heard of other instances in which Palestinian civilians were used as human shields. One time, for example, a Palestinian was put at the front of an Israeli military force with a gun pointed at him from behind…

SHOOT FIRST, WORRY LATER!

Moreover, a number of Israeli occupation soldiers who took part in Israel’s recent Gaza aggression were quoted by Breaking the Silence group as saying that they were urged by commanders to shoot first and worry later about sorting out civilians from combatants. Accordingly, they say, the force went into Gaza with guns blazing.

The 112-page report by Breaking the Silence includes testimonies of 30 soldiers “who served in all sectors of the operation”.

“Better hit an innocent than hesitate to target an enemy,” is a typical description by one unidentified soldier of his understanding of instructions repeated at pre-invasion briefings and during the 22-day war, from Dec. 27 to Jan. 18.

“If you’re not sure, kill. Fire power was insane. We went in and the booms were just mad,” says another. “The minute we got to our starting line, we simply began to fire at suspect places. In urban warfare, anyone is your enemy. No innocents”…

UMBRELLA OF FIRE

The report repeats charges denied by Israel that white phosphorus was fired indiscriminately into Gaza streets. It cites “massive destruction was unrelated to any direct threat to Israeli forces” and “permissive” rules of engagement.

One soldier said that his unit had received an order to “ignite” an area. “The way to do that was to actually fire phosphorus shells from above,” he said. “What the phosphorus does is to let out an umbrella of fire over the target and naturally that ignites the whole house.” The results of a white phosphorus bombardment were “upsetting” another soldier said, “because in training you learn that white phosphorus is not used, and you’re taught that it’s not humane”.

The report also mentions armored bulldozers razing whole areas including gardens, and olive and orange groves. “We didn’t see a single house that was intact … that was not hit. The entire infrastructure, tracks, fields, roads, was in total ruin. The D-9 (bulldozer) had gone over everything,” the report quotes a soldier as saying.

Israeli Soldiers in Gaza Describe a ‘Moral Twilight Zone’

by Dion Nissenbaum, source

…In filmed testimony and written statements released Wednesday, more than two dozen soldiers told an Israeli army veterans’ group that military commanders led the fighters into what one described as a “moral Twilight Zone” where almost every Palestinian was seen as a threat.

Soldiers described incidents in which Israeli forces killed an unarmed Palestinian carrying a white cloth, an elderly woman carrying a sack, a Gazan riding a motorcycle, and an elderly man with a flashlight, said Breaking the Silence, a group formed by army reservists in 2004.

Any Palestinian spotted near Israeli troops was considered suspect. A man talking on a cell phone on the roof of his building was viewed as a legitimate target because he could’ve been telling militants where to find Israeli forces, the group quoted soldiers as saying…

Two soldiers from the Givati brigade who served in Zeitoun told the story of shooting an unarmed civilian without warning him.

The elderly man was walking with a flashlight toward a building where Israeli forces were taking cover.
The Israeli officer in the house repeatedly ignored requests from other soldiers to fire warning shots as the man approached, the soldiers said. Instead, when he got within 20 yards of the soldiers, the commander ordered snipers to kill the man.

The soldiers later confirmed that the man was unarmed.

When they complained to their commander about the incident, the soldiers were rebuffed and told that anyone walking at night was immediately suspect…

“Phosphorus was used as an igniter, simply make it all go up in flames,” one soldier said.
A second soldier – said by the reservists’ group to have been in a tank brigade stationed in the Atatra neighborhood – told Breaking the Silence that at least one officer fired unauthorized white phosphorus mortars because it was “cool.”…

One soldier, who served in an infantry reserve unit of the Negev Brigade near Netzarim, said they were repeatedly told by officers to raze buildings as part of a campaign to prepare for “the day after.”

“In practical terms, this meant taking a house that is not implicated in any way, that its single sin is the fact that it is situated on top of a hill in the Gaza Strip,” said one soldier.

“In a personal talk with my battalion commander he mentioned this and said in a sort of sad half-smile, I think, that this is something that will eventually be added to ‘my war crimes,” he added…

The testimony matches with that of nine Palestinian men who told McClatchy last winter that Israeli soldiers forced them into battle zones during the offensive in their northern Gaza Strip neighborhood.

One Palestinian, Castro Abed Rabbo, said Israeli soldiers ordered him to enter buildings to search for militants and booby traps before they sent in a specially trained dog with high-tech detection gear.

Two other Palestinian men told McClatchy that Israeli soldiers used them as human shields by forcing them to kneel in a field during a firefight as they exchanged fire with Gaza fighters.

“I was down on my knees and they fanned out in a ‘V’ behind me,” Sami Rashid Mohammed, a Fatah-leaning former Palestinian Authority police officer, said in an unpublished interview in February. “It wasn’t more than 10 or 15 minutes of shooting, but it was so scary.”

One of the Israeli soldiers interviewed described the offensive was necessary.

“We did what we had to do,” he said. “The actual doing was a bit thoughtless. We were allowed to do anything we wanted. Who’s to tell us not to?”

One Israeli reservist said a brigade commander gave them stark orders as they were preparing for combat.
“He said something along the line of ‘Don’t let morality become an issue; that will come later,'” the soldier said. “He had this strange language: ‘Leave the nightmares and horrors that will come up for later – now just shoot.”…

(McClatchy special correspondent Cliff Churgin contributed to this article from Jerusalem.)

Raping Sovereignty: Forcing Non-Consensual “Peace” in this Era of “International Consensus”

By Dina Jadallah-Taschler, from ramallahonline

Proclamations (and delusions) of sovereignty in the Arab world create and necessitate resistance. As a political concept, sovereignty means the independence and power to exercise control over a political and territorial entity free from external interference. But in this age of selective and externally-defined “democracy,” of “fighting terrorism,” of “international consensus,” and of “globalization” and its concomitant neo-liberal privatizing “reforms,” how can any Arab state or an aspiring-to-be-a-state like Palestine be sovereign?

The reality or non-reality, as the case may be, of sovereignty in the Arab world is especially frustrating. Sovereignty in Arabic is generally described as sulta or siyada. But descriptively, it also extends to kingship (mulk), hegemony (haymana), control (saytara), and rule (hukm/tahakkum). (1) In ancient times, the legitimacy underlying sovereignty originated in a (claimed) divine right (2) – and we still see extensions of that today in non-constitutional monarchies in the Arab world, which as a region, has the most monarchical regimes of any other place in the world. Elsewhere however, that concept of sovereignty went out of style hundreds of years ago.

Especially in this post- axis-of-evil Arab world, the reality of sovereignty within a state much more resembles mulk and tahakkum than it does a more social-contract type of relationship between citizens and their governments. Internally, and legally-speaking, it is assumed (but increasingly contested) that the sovereign has the right to exercise exclusive control over subjects (de jure). I use “subjects” intentionally because Arab people are under no delusions whatsoever about being considered citizens. Yet the “exclusive” control has been contravened and more than willingly abdicated by Arab governments repeatedly, for example in cases of prisoner renditions. As for the practical (de facto) application of sovereignty within, the Arab state compels its subjects to obey in one of two ways. One is by the intelligence (mukhabarat) and internal police and military outfits. Another is by borrowing from Western methods of rhetorical control. Arab governments use terms that may imply democracy or republicanism or claim to stand for the sovereignty of the people, but the reality is distant from those claims. True to Western Orwellian speech, the words have been thoroughly eviscerated and denuded of their meanings. This may have serious implications for the subjects’/public’s habit to obey.

Externally, the concept of sovereignty usually requires that other states recognize the power of a ruler/government over subjects/citizens as legitimate. In a situation where there is imperialism, the imperialist believes that power is derived from the ability to exert and extend control of the strong state over a weaker party, basically denying the sovereignty of the local individual and/or state for the “good” of the whole. We see parallels of that in the conduct of US foreign policy in the Middle East, especially concerning the protection of energy resources and of Israel. Rhetoric like “protecting our way of life,” “freedom,” “energy independence,” “security,” and “stability” are all examples of the greater “good” of the world being served by hegemonic interventions. As I will illustrate below, this has led to even more enhanced dependency and is therefore increasing instability, the very opposite of the hegemon’s intent.

The Case of Egypt and the Occupied Territories

First, an Egyptian court on 4/3/2009 ruled that the Camp David Agreement that was signed between Egypt and Israel in 1978 is not unconstitutional. A lawsuit had been filed by an Egyptian lawyer and member of Parliament who argued that the agreement contradicted Article 58 of the Egyptian constitution regarding state sovereignty over and defense of all national territory. The treaty specified that two-thirds of Sinai be weapons-free and it also changed the legal status of the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of ‘Aqaba from Egyptian territorial waters (which they technically are) to international ones. In rejecting his claim, the court said that on this matter, “sovereignty” was beyond the jurisdiction of the court and that the question of sovereignty was the exclusive domain of the state. (Al-Jazeera, 3/30/09) Most recently during the Israeli assault on Gaza, despite proclamations of sovereignty over Egyptian territories, the Egyptian government turned a blind eye to Israeli bombing of the border area of Egyptian Rafah and also allowed the stationing of foreign forces in the Sinai to counter any potential Palestinian spillover effect.

Second, two days later, on 4/5/2009 another Egyptian court voided the ruling of a lesser court to halt shipment of Egyptian natural gas by a private investment company to Israel at significantly below-market preferential pricing. (Al-Jazeera 4/1/09) A similar non-jurisdiction justification was given. The court refused to circumscribe the actions of the state due to a very narrow definition of the legitimate locus of sovereignty, locating it within the government’s foreign policy making arm and not with the Egyptian people or even with the state writ large. This illustrates the precedence given to external political powers as well as the subservience of Egyptian economic interests to those powers. It also negates the sovereign control of the Egyptian people and even the state (given that the company in question is private) to their own national resources. Even though these examples are more blatant confirmations of state attitudes that were previously disguised, the implications are enormous. Does sovereignty have any meaning left when Egyptians do not own or control what is rightfully theirs? And, what has the state become if not an agent of foreign control, i.e. an extension of foreign sovereignty?

Third, right next door to Egypt in the Occupied Territories, Saeb ‘Ereiqat, head of the PLO negotiations committee, and a member of the Palestinian Authority (Sulta –please excuse the term, as it is a bit of a stretch considering that there is a forty plus year Occupation with no end in sight) delivered Quartet diktats. He told Hamas that while they don’t need to explicitly accept Israel’s right to exist, they must join the PLO and must accept all the previous treaties signed by the (unrepresentative and hegemonically appointed) PA with Israel. ‘Ereiqat added that this would allow Palestinians to “co-exist with the international community,” i.e. “consensus.” (Al-Jazeera 3/30/09) In other words, he was telling Hamas, which Israel could not topple with its military machine, nor could Dahlan and the PA topple them with their “special forces” and attempted coup, that they must implicitly and surreptitiously accept the three main demands of the Quartet/international community/consensus. These demands, applicable only to the Palestinians, effectively mean the nullification of any hope of future Palestinian sovereignty, since they must give up resistance, recognize “Israel’s right to exist” thereby denying their own inherent rights to statehood and self-determination and accepting the usurpation of their land and rights; and also must wait for the world and Israel to tell them what their fate will be. (Just like they did pre-1948, and post-1948 when Palestinian “leaders” relied on Arab leaders to save them.) None of the treaties, including the Oslo Agreements, promise Palestinian statehood or sovereignty. So in short, they must accept Occupation, and maybe then the consensus community will consent and give it a pretty new name, along with the bribe/“financial and economic development aid” to make it all palatable. (3)

Fourth, and in a similar vein to the natural gas controversy in Egypt described above, the Palestinians too are dealing with their own controversy regarding the development of natural gas deposits for delivery to Israel by a private “investment” company that had granted the concession to British Petroleum (majority stakeholder) via a contract signed with Finance Minister Salam Fayyad of the PA. (4) It is important to note that the private investment company, Consolidated Contractors International Company is not Palestinian. It is based in Athens and is owned by two Lebanese families, Sabbagh and Khoury. Israel (Sharon) tried to contest Palestinian legal ownership of the deposits, and when that failed, Tony Blair intervened on behalf of Israel to scuttle initial plans to deliver the gas to Egypt instead of to Israel. (5) Until now Israel wants to lay claim to the offshore gas fields and integrate them via pipelines that connect to their other energy installations, most notably in Haifa.

Fifth, for their part, the dominant powers show increasing disregard for maintaining even the semblance of “sovereignty” for the subservient states of the Arab world. That is why a blatantly racist and fascist government like the one Netanyahu just announced (Al-Jazeera 4/1/09) can be accepted, supported and legitimated internationally. Likud, Labor, and Yisrael Beiteinu are all one big happy family now as the masks have fallen off of the ostensibly (but deceptively) more “moderate” and “pro-peace” parties. They are now holding hands with a party whose leader wants to expel Israeli Palestinian “Arabs” and also has a (leaked) secret agreement with Likud to increase the settlements in Occupied East Jerusalem. I mean, really, how much more moderate can moderate get?

Looking at the specifics (if one can call the extremely vague Israeli politico-diplomatic discourse as such) of Netanyahu’s government’s “peace proposal” to the Palestinians, it quickly becomes apparent that Palestinian “sovereignty” is not even a remote possibility in this proposed “peace.” Netanyahu did not speak about a Palestinian state (two-state solution formula), but he is offering some economic support and limited self-rule if and when the PA is able to combat “Islamic terrorism” and “extremism” (as if Israel and the US were successful in that department) and accept Israel’s “right to exist.” Absent is a concomitant obligation on Israel. Not only is it the perpetrator of so much terrorism in the Arab world, but it is also a categorical (although that is often veiled in diplomatic sweet-talk) rejectionist of Palestinian sovereign statehood. And the only reason Netanyahu’s government is insisting that Palestinians must adhere to signed international treaties (thank you PA), is because, all these “negotiated agreements” are hegemonic diktats. Ironically, but not surprisingly, Israel, the PA (all protestations to the contrary not-withstanding) and the “moderate” Arab states are all now members of the “international consensus” and speak the same threatening language against the targets of that consensus, for example Hamas and, when convenient, Iran.

“Consensus” Eviscerates “Sovereignty” and “Peace”

For their part, the “consensus” dominant powers continue to try to preserve and extend their means of control over the Middle East in various ways. Ideologically (and propagandistically), the terminology and framing of issues is repeated ad naseum: for example, “international consensus/legitimacy,” “economic reforms/growth,” and “globalization”. Politically and diplomatically, organizations and proposals are touted as having the best interests of the populations in mind: for example, the “Quartet,” the Saudi-sponsored ever-available “2002 Arab Peace Proposal,” and the Egyptian midwived Palestinian “reconciliation talks.” And, economically, the granting or withholding of resources is quite powerful and effective: for instance, the multi-string and contingent “aid” for “reconstructing” Gaza or for paying the salaries of the functionaries and “security forces” of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

But the public knows now more than ever that sovereignty is denuded of any meaning. Palestinians know and fear (and increasingly resist) that their aspirations of liberation, statehood, rights, economic growth and democracy are threatened by this new world of international “consensus” and “legitimacy.” For what does it mean to have a national economically sovereign strategy when the “Authority”/government economy is funded externally, and circumscribed and strangled, forced to submit to conditions from donors, and forced to submit to “technocratic” (appointed), “transparent” and “independent” oversight committees and institutions? What does it mean to have sovereign territorial and political control when fair elections are internationally denounced and subverted (Hamas, 2006) and when the “Authority” appropriates the right to speak for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories – and completely ignores the millions in the Palestinian diaspora (al-shataat) and “negotiates” treaties that are only tools of hegemonic control? All of these are increasingly exposed as false to the Palestinians and to the general Arab public.

But the good news is that there is potential in this reality and in this knowledge. For Arab governments’ “sovereign” ineptitude functions counter-intuitively when it induces poverty, subservience and humiliation. It feeds public resentment at their own governments as well as hegemonic powers and their policies in the region. It feeds Resistance.

– Dina Jadallah-Taschler is an Arab-American of Palestinian and Egyptian descent, a political science graduate and also an artist. Contact her at: dina.jadallah.taschler@gmail.com.

See footnotes in original source.

No Israeli government is for peace

So the new Israeli government is not for peace but this statement is inherently false it should be “no Israeli government is for peace” if we can even talk about peace with an occupying force. These “analysts” and politicians sometimes make me feel like I live in some alternate universe. All Israeli governments are the same whether the far right who are openly racist killers or the other discreet ones who pretend to be the “left”.

Why do you sell people false dreams and hope? This is one of the cruelest things you can do to people who have lived an injustice. The Israeli actions are continuous repetitions of previous ones. The Palestinian cause is not a chapter of history yet, it is an ongoing struggle over decades. What happened to the Palestinians decades ago is being  repeated with their grandchildren and great grandchildren who are being evicted and replaced by settlers, their loved ones imprisoned or killed, and their houses destroyed. For a Palestinian everyday is a nakba because he/she has to fight against the same things that happened more than 60 years ago. While rulers who have their bellies a meter in front of them sit around a table pretending to solve the numerous problems that face their citizens while they can’t even agree among themselves.

People who stopped an invasion of settlers protected by 2500 armed policemen by their bodies and mere stones in Umm al Fahm are not only defending their homes and land rather they taught us a lesson that we can’t succumb to the unjust rule of “might is right”. Lets face it there is no happy ending for all in this conflict because occupation should never be accepted.

They can’t take that away from me: “settlers” stealing Palestinian land from under our feet

By Salah Adarbeh-Jordan

By Salah Adarbeh-Jordan

This is an eye opener and insightful article about the sequence of Israeli theft of Palestinian lands. The author’s way of describing Jerusalem helps you form a mental image of it, which helps you view it as she does. You can see some pictures by clicking the original link.

by Reham Alhelsi (from Palestinian think tank)

Commemorating 60+ Years of the Systematic Murder of Palestinian Land. The first part of a three part series for Land Day.

As I stood on the roof and watched Jerusalem stretch in front of me, with the sun reflecting on the golden Dome, I felt angry and felt how unfair the world is. I was born in Jerusalem, went to school there and practically grew up there knowing almost every corner, every street and every alley in it. I have more memories in Jerusalem than any other place in the world, all cherished ones. But now, I am not allowed into the city anymore because I am Palestinian. As I stood there, with tears in my eyes, I envied every Palestinian with an American or European passport, because they can come and visit Jerusalem. I envied every foreigner who can visit the city whenever they choose. I even envied the birds singing on the cypresses before me, because they could fly over Jerusalem and fill their eyes with its beauty and their lungs with its air. In my childhood, Jerusalem was the only major Palestinian city I knew well and loved. In the eyes and mind of a child, to me Ramallah was a cold city, Bethlehem was the “village” nearby, Nablus and Hebron were the places “to visit my uncles in Israeli prisons” and Jericho was too hot. Only Jerusalem was perfect: with its bustling Old City, the old bus station, Salah Al-Deen Street, Al Musrarah, the walk to the Notre Dame, the walk down Wadi Al-Joz and up to Al-Tur and the walk up to Ras El Amoud. I walked on the roof and saw the mountains on the Jordanian side, clearly visible during mild weather. Late afternoons, coming back home from school, one would witness a breathtaking sight going down the steep street in Sawahreh: a marvellous mixture of simple houses, some with old traditional domed roofs, barley fields or olive groves spreading against a curtain of mountains. Between the mountains and the last of the houses a strip of blue was visible. We always thought it to be the Dead Sea. Well, I personally still like to think of it as the Dead Sea. It was a combination of colours that rarely showed itself, but when it did, it was truly breathtaking.

To the south I could see Mount Herod in the distance. I have watched this artificial mountain since my childhood and always wondered at its shape. It always looked far away to be reached, but at the same time so close, an integral part of the view surrounding my home. I used to think about the impossibility of climbing that mountain, because it had steep sides, one would keep slipping and would never reach the top. I did “climb” that mountain years later, during the work on a TV documentary on Bethlehem. During the 2002 IOF invasion of the West Bank, my parents told me that Israeli fighter jets used to pass over Sawahreh on their way to Bethlehem. After a few minutes, the sound of explosions would rock the sky, as the IOF bombarded Bethlehem and the surrounding towns, villages and refugee camps. Since hearing this, every time I see Mount Herod I can’t help thinking of Israeli jets on their way to destroying yet another part of Palestine and kill innocent unarmed civilians. In Sawahreh, Israeli jets roaring in the sky were always a common thing. Some of Sawahreh’s vast lands had been confiscated for so-called “security reasons” and were used as a training area for the IOF. We would often hear sounds of explosions and the house would shake, or hear Israeli jets coming and going. One time, my sister, my brother and I thought that they were preparing for war, and since we had no army of our own, had no jets or tanks or bombs to protect ourselves, we held a meeting to decide on the best way to protect the family. The only solution we could think of was to build an underground shelter. I don’t know where we got the idea of a shelter from, since Palestinians have no shelters, but most probably from one of those WWII films the Israeli TV kept showing. We did start digging, using our hands and small pointy stones, but realized after a while what a lengthy and hard process that was, and instead decided that in case a war does break out we would use the water well as a shelter, i.e., after removing all the water.

One would think what a beautiful view, Jerusalem on one side, Bethlehem on the other with mountains and an imaginary sea in the background. Unfortunately, this scenery is interrupted by the Jewish illegal settlements Maale Adumim and Kidar, spreading themselves on Palestinian hills. Many Palestinian villages and town are surrounded by illegal Jewish settlements. Some are surrounded by settlements from one, two or three sides. Others are surrounded by illegal settlements and the Apartheid Wall. Sawahreh is surrounded by the illegal settlements of Maale Adumim from the northeast and Kidar from the east and by the Apartheid Wall from the west. Kidar settlement is the closest to us. Before the first intifada, Kidar settlers used to come and walk through our main street, among Palestinian houses. So sure they were of themselves, acting as if the land belonged to them. I remember once we were playing in the land, when a group of settlers walked up the street. We stopped playing and just watched them. I didn’t understand settlers and settlements much at the time, but I remember knowing that these people had no right to walk on our streets. We used to spend our holidays in Dheisheh refugee camp, where the IOF would shoot to kill little children, and then we would come back to Sawahreh, where settlers were walking our street. Those close to Kidar used to sell home-made white cheese and yoghurt to the settlers, who thought us too quiet and peaceful, so they called us “Kiryat Shalom” or the village of peace. It was something I always felt ashamed of, knowing that the settlers thought us too peaceful to bother with, while their army and their fellow fanatic settlers were attacking Dheisheh and killing people there. If the illegal settlers of Kidar were so very interested in peace with us, why did they steal our lands to expand their settlement, knowing that our livelihood depended on these lands? You can’t have peace with your occupier, because the only peace they will offer you is a masquerade, not a real and just peace. In Palestine, power cuts are a regular thing, and whenever we had no electricity and had to study using candle light, which often hurt our eyes, I used to look through the window and watch Sawahreh, Abu Dees and Ezariyyeh drown in complete darkness, while Kidar and Maale Adumim would be lighted like a Christmas tree. Even as a child this made me think of how unfair the situation was and that these settlers and these settlements don’t belong here.

I remember as a child how “far away” Maale Adumim seemed. But as I grew up, so did the illegal settlement. The danger of this expansion never really registered in my mind until one night I dreamt that I opened the window of my bedroom to find myself looking into the courtyard of a Jewish house. The settlement had eaten the land all the way from where it stood till our house, and our house and the land surrounding it was next. I woke up sweating and my heart beating fast. So real was the threat, I realized at the time, that I knew it was not a mere nightmare. The next day I went at the back of the house to the spot where one could get a direct view of Maale Adumim and tried to calculate how much time we had before my nightmare became reality. I thought we still had time to act, but I was mistaken. Since the 1990’s the settlements have been expanding and are eating more Palestinian land at an unprecedented pace. In this area there are several illegal Jewish settlements such as Maale Adumim, Alon, Almon, Kidar, Kefar Adumim and Mishor Adumim, with a combined population of some 40,000 settlers. The largest, Maale Adumim was established in 1975 on confiscated Palestinian land and lies 14 km to the east of Jerusalem. It has a population of 35,000 illegal Jewish settlers and a jurisdictional area of 50 km². Road networks have been also established to connect Maale Adumim and neighboring settlements with Jerusalem and with the Jordan Valley. Palestinian land would be confiscated, declared a “closed military zone” and later used for illegal settlement expansions.

On the day of my arrival to Palestine for a short visit, I watched in shock as I passed Maale Adumim at how huge it has become. Within the space of two years, since my last visit, it had doubled in size, to say the least. Standing there on the mountain top, with a wall surrounding parts of it, it reminded me of a fortress from the middle ages. Although I am a fan of fortresses, this one brought only anger and disgust. The lands opposite it, which I distinctly remember were planted with olive trees, had become bare land, the trees uprooted and the land destroyed to make way for more illegal settler houses and roads. At the entrance to Maale Adumim stood a single olive tree, as huge as life and older than any illegal settler on this land. It was clear that this tree had been uprooted from some Palestinian field, maybe even from our confiscated land, and replanted here. Macabre, I thought and could only shake my head at the sad view of that lonely olive tree. Olive trees are like Palestinians, they grow in groups, surrounded by family and friends. That tree stood there alone, a reminder to every Palestinian that this is what the so-called peace process had done to us, and that if this process is allowed to go on, every single Palestinian will end up like that tree, alone and uprooted.

The plan to expand Maale Adumim, known as the “E-1” Plan, which was initiated by Rabin in 1994 and approved in 1999, led to the confiscation of yet more Palestinian land. This Plan is an important part of the “Greater Jerusalem” scheme, which includes Maale Adumim, Beitar, H´Givat Ze’ev, Gush Etzion, the Ariel bloc, the Hashmonain bloc and the Jordan Rift, and aims at annexing large areas of the West Bank to Jerusalem. This plan expands the jurisdictional boundaries of Maale Adumim and its satellite settlements to the Israeli Jerusalem municipal boundaries, linking Jerusalem with surrounding settlement blocs and linking the Maale Adumim bloc with with other settlement blocs such as Pisgat Ze’ev, Pisgat Omer, Neve Ya’acov and the French Hill. Also, a wall is being built around Maale Adumim and its satellite settlements, which will completely encircle East Jerusalem and 61 km² of Palestinian land. The “E-1” Plan aims to completely cut off Jerusalem from the rest of the Palestinian Territories, disconnecting the geographic contiguity of Palestinian Territories by dividing the West Bank into two parts, thus ensuring that no viable Palestinian state would ever come to existence. Last year, roads were paved and a bridge, main junctions, public squares, police stations, checkpoints and side walls were built in the “E-1” area. This area will cover some 13,000 dunums confiscated from Palestinian villages around Jerusalem and is to house an additional 15,000 illegal settlers. Two Israeli-only roads will connect settler roads southeast of Bethlehem with roads to the northeast, including connecting Maale Adumim and other Jerusalem settlements with the Ramot Ashkol settlement. For the construction of these roads, tens of houses in Sawahreh, Abu Dees and Al Tour are to be demolished. To prevent Palestinians from entering Jerusalem or using Road Nr. 1 that passes through the E-1 and Road Nr. 60 that passes through East Jerusalem, an “alternative” road is being constructed for Palestinian use and is to connect the Southern West Bank with its Northern part. For the construction of this road, the IOF issued a military order in 2007 confiscating 1,128 dunums of Palestinian land from villages between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim, i.e. Sawahreh, Abu Dees, Nebi Musa and Al Khan Al Ahmar.

Blocking the southern entrance of Sawahreh is the “Container” checkpoint, which is now being expanded to become a permanent border-like crossing. Passing the checkpoint, one would not imagine what beautiful landscape lies behind the Israeli stone blocks and control tower. Locally, we call it “Barriyeh”, the wilderness or the prairies. Green meadows decorated with red poppies wherever one looks. My favourite spot there is a low area, surrounded by hills and naturally-formed stone structures. Here, running was not possible because of the tall vegetation that covered the place. We would imagine ourselves swimming and race each other or play hide and seek. Then, when we would feel hungry, we would have something to eat under the olive trees. Relics of family history decorate caves in that area and cherished memories of childhood lie behind the checkpoint, making them off-limit to us. The last time I went there was just before leaving for Germany and I had not set foot again. Our lands there, including the olive fields, which were a source of income for my family, were confiscated in 2003. Today, only those few who originally had their houses behind the checkpoint are allowed in, but no one knows how long before their houses will be demolished for some reason or other so as to close the area completely.

The “Container” checkpoint is a passage between the north and the south of the West Bank. It is one of more than 630 Israeli checkpoints and road barriers all over the West Bank, aiming to restrict Palestinian movement on Palestinian land. Travelling to the south, one would have to take the “Wadi Al-Nar” road. Wadi Al-Nar, the Valley of Fire, is most probably called so because of its steepness and the danger of driving there. It was a dirt road connecting Sawahreh with Ubediyyeh, rarely used except maybe by villagers travelling on donkeys. With the signing of the so-called peace process, Jerusalem was closed to most Palestinians and this road was used instead as a link left between the south and the north. If one is stuck behind a truck on that road, the meaning of “Valley of Fire” becomes clear, for when driving up the road, one has the continuous feeling that the truck will turn over any minute and everything behind that truck would be squeezed underneath it. As children we would follow the shepherds with their herds whenever we could. We would eat figs, search for snake nests in caves and play at the old ottoman stone circles. Every time we were there on the hills, we would go exploring a bit further. It was mostly steep hills, where we learned to slide slowly down a hill, using our left foot as a break. Here, there were no illegal settlements and no IOF soldiers, or at least they were not visible. When it was time to go home, instead of taking the direct way, we would go all around the hills, passing the “sacred river” to the old Sawahreh houses and further back home. The “sacred river” as we called it, was a small “river” running through the Wadi Al-Nar. Greenery was along both sides of this river, giving it a genuine river look, like those we used to see in cartoons. The vegetables growing around the riverbanks were double the size of the ordinary vegetables we would buy from the supermarket. Later, and to our great disappoint, we found out that the reason for the extraordinary growth of these vegetables was the waste water. This “sacred river” was actually the flow of waste water from Maale Adumim and other settlements in the area. Not only was their waste water contaminating our lands, their solid waste was being dumped and burned on our lands as well. Several studies have shown that illegal Settlements comprise a major environmental threat. Waste water and industrial waste from settlements is dumped on Palestinian lands, contaminating the soil and the water supply. Palestinian plans to treat waste water are usually rejected by Israel, and in one incident Israel insisted that a treatment facility for Tulkarem be built on the other side of the Green line, for no other reason than to use the treated water for its own interest.

During my last visit to Palestine, I wanted to see these hills again and enjoy the beauty of a Palestine that was free of illegal settlements and IOF checkpoints. It was late afternoon and as I looked around me I saw Mount Herod in the distance, with Palestinian villages decorating the hills all the way from there to Jerusalem. And opposite them, Palestinian hills extended all the way to meet the Jordanian mountains in the horizon. There was no Apartheid Wall, no IOF checkpoints and no settlements. Although I knew they were there, breaking the natural bond between Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, they were not visible from where I stood. I saw the old stone houses with the traditional domed roof, a herd of sheep with a shepherd who was playing the flute, the sunset adding a magical touch to the whole landscape, and there, at that moment I felt what it would feel to live in a truly free Palestine. I started taking photos and wondering how long before the Israelis would wipe out this landscape and all traces of Palestinian existence here. I went home, thinking that the Palestine I grew up in is not the Palestine of today. The Palestine of today is the rest of the so-called peace process with its illegal settlements, the Apartheid Wall, the IOF checkpoints and “Herrenstraßen” that are eating Palestine from inside, like a cancer, destroying the land piece by piece. I remembered that lonely olive tree in front of Maale Adumim and hoped that those still disillusioned by the “peace process” would wake up and act before it was too late.

Devouring Jerusalem

by Al Jazeera: Israeli settlement building threat in West Bank

by Khalid Amayreh (Palestinian think tank)

In its increasingly rabid efforts to consolidate control of traditionally Arab-East Jerusalem, Israel this week moved to suppress Palestinian cultural activities associated with the city being declared the capital of Arab culture for 2009.

On 19 March heavily armed paramilitary police violently dispersed a meeting at the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem, confiscating posters, leaflets, placards and computers.

Israeli police also raided schools, social clubs and community centres to foil activities celebrating Arab culture in the occupied city which Israel considers its “united and undivided capital”.

Several organisers, including East Jerusalem lawmaker Hatem Abdel-Qader, were arrested on charges of disturbing peace.

Israeli security forces cordoned off East Jerusalem by deploying soldiers at all entrances to the city. They turned back visitors, including several delegations from Arabian Gulf states, including Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Frustrated by the draconian Israeli measures the Palestinian Authority, the main organiser of the festivities, decided to transfer the main event to Bethlehem, a few kilometres south of Jerusalem. Hundreds of PA officials, foreign dignitaries, religious leaders and diplomats arrived on 21 March to listen to a speech by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas reasserted his commitment to establishing a viable Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital, on all Palestinian land Israel occupied in 1967.

“We will continue to reject the Israeli policy of Judaising Al-Quds Al-Sharif [Jerusalem]. And we will not hold peace talks with any Israeli government that rejects the two-state solution,” said Abbas, alluding to Israeli designate-Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu.

The Palestinian leader, who recited a few verses of the Quran pertaining to the status of Jerusalem in Islam, pointed out that Jerusalem was the key to peace in the region and the world, saying that peace will not prevail unless and until the Israeli occupation ends completely.

Addressing the Arab-Muslim world, Abbas said: “I urge our Arab and Muslim brothers to come to the rescue of Jerusalem, protect Jerusalem from the act of rape to which the city is being subjected… Jerusalem is being Judaised by force, its Arab identity is being obliterated, its history is being falsified, its people are being oppressed and tormented. Its homes are being demolished. Jerusalem is the beginning and the end, it is the ultimate address of peace. Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.”

Addressing Israel, Abbas said: “Peace can’t be made through the building and expansion of settlements, brute force and military insolence. What happened in Gaza recently reflects the Israeli mindset, and with such a mindset, it is clear there can be no peace.”

Abbas’s desperate but defiant words epitomised the situation across the occupied Palestinian territories but especially in Jerusalem, where Israel is planning to destroy hundreds of Palestinian homes.

The planned destruction of the Silwan neighbourhood in the heart of the city has been described by PA officials as “demographic decapitation”.

“They are indulging in ethnic cleansing in broad daylight. They are chasing Palestinians out of their homes. They are trying to decapitate Arab existence in East Jerusalem, step by step, home by home, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, while they continue to lie about their desire for peace,” said Rafiq Al-Husseini, a senior aide to Abbas.

Asked by Al-Ahram Weekly what the PA was going to do to prevent Israel from carrying out the wholesale destruction of the Silwan neighbourhood [the goal is to build a park and recreational facilities for Jewish settlers in the surrounding areas], Al-Husseini said the PA would try to mobilise the international community to stop Israeli crimes.

During her recent visit to the occupied territories US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the planned demolitions as “unhelpful” and “incompatible with Israeli commitments under the roadmap”.
Israeli officials were unimpressed by Clinton’s warnings. Jerusalem’s Jewish mayor, Nir Barkat, described her words as “a lot of air”, claiming she had been misled by the Palestinians.

Barkat, an extreme right-winger, vowed to destroy Arab homes en masse, saying that “what we do in our capital is none of America’s business”.

Israeli efforts to obliterate the Arab-Islamic-Christian identity of Jerusalem began immediately after 1967. Four days after seizing the city Israeli army bulldozers razed the Maghariba and Sharaf neighbourhoods. The Palestinian inhabitants of the two neighbourhoods were expelled at gunpoint. Two mosques, two religious schools or Zawiyas and 135 houses were destroyed.

Several months later Israel seized the Harat Al-Maghariba for “public use” and built a large plaza in front of the Buraq — the Wailing or Western — Wall. The heart of Al-Maghariba and the adjacent, smaller Harat Al-Sharaf were both Islamic Waqf (religious endowment) properties dating back to the time of Salaheddin Al-Ayoubi (Saladin).

According to Palestinian sources Israel has demolished as many as 700 homes in the old town alone, forcing many inhabitants to seek shelter outside the boundaries of the city, e.g. in the West Bank.

Since 1967 Israel has confiscated 34 per cent of East Jerusalem for “public benefit” and designated 44 per cent of the occupied Arab town as “green space”. Nine per cent of the city was confiscated for the purpose of building settlements, leaving only 13 per cent of the original, built up Arab area, for the Palestinians.

In addition Israel has adopted a number of aggressive measures aimed at forcing the town’s Arab inhabitants to leave. These include imposing excessive taxes on real estate, including homes, withholding vital municipal services from Jerusalem’s Arabs in order to force them to relocate and denying residency rights to as many as 20,000 Arabs living in the city.

The Israeli authorities have continued to deny Arabs building licences, exacerbating a housing crisis in the Old Town and surrounding Arab neighbourhoods.

The systematic destruction by Israeli municipal authority of “illegally-built” homes pushed thousands of Jerusalemites to the brink of despair.

Adnan Al-Husseini, the nominal Palestinian governor of Jerusalem, described Israeli measures in Jerusalem as a “full fledged demographic war”.

“The Israeli goal is very clear. It is to force as many Palestinians as possible to leave the city and sell their property to Jewish interests.”

Al-Husseini said Israel was following a variety of tactics to achieve its strategy, including psychological and economic pressure, heavy taxation, physical coercion and harassment and financial incentives to force Arabs to sell their properties. Jerusalemite Arabs were clinging to their city, he said, despite Israeli efforts to curtail Arab demographic growth.

The Palestinian population of Jerusalem has grown extensively since the beginning of the occupation in 1967. Today, the total population of Jerusalem (East and West) is estimated at 720,000, including 475,000 Jews (66 per cent) and 245,000 Arabs (34 per cent).

As many as 260,000 of the Jewish population of the city (54.7 per cent) are living in 34 colonies established in and around East Jerusalem since 1967.

Maali Adomim, Pisgat Zeev, Har Homa and Gush Itzion are among the largest of these settlements.
Israeli demographic experts predict the Palestinian population will make up 40 per cent of the town’s total population by the 2020. It is to forestall this possibility that Israel has been making frantic efforts to confiscate more Arab land in order to build Jewish settler units.

According Israeli sources tenders for building more than 25,000 settler units have been issued since the Annapolis conference in 2007.

Earlier this month the Israeli group Peace Now revealed that the Israeli government was planning to build more than 73,000 units in the occupied West Bank, most of them in existing settlements surrounding East Jerusalem.

The group, which monitors settlement expansion in the West Bank, said the new plans would lead to the doubling of the Israeli settler population and scuttle any prospects for the creation of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state.

Among the most dangerous and explosive aspects of Israel’s efforts to Judaise East Jerusalem is the ongoing excavation and digging beneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine.
According to Waqf officials, digging beneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque is seriously undermining the foundations of Islamic shrine and the nearby Dome of the Rock.

Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, head of the Supreme Muslim Council in Jerusalem, warned that it was only a matter of time before a “major disaster” occurred as a result of Israeli diggings in the vicinity of the Haram Al-Sharif (Al-Aqsa Mosque) esplanade. He accused the Israeli authorities of constructing subterranean tunnels beneath Islamic holy places without any consideration for the safety of Islamic shrines. “I can say without the slightest exaggeration that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is facing the danger of collapse as a result of these excavations.”

Islamic Palestinian leader Raed Salah was even more dramatic in voicing his concerns. “The Al-Aqsa Mosque is facing urgent danger. A medium earthquake could cause the collapse of the mosque.”

Salah was arrested by Israeli police on Monday, 23 March, charged with “disturbing the peace” and “inciting against Israel”.

In recent years the Israeli security authorities have allowed extremist Jews to enter the Haram esplanade and perform Jewish prayers and other rituals.

In 1967 the Israeli army chief rabbi, General Shlomo Goren, tried to convince a commander of the conquering forces, Uzi Narkis, to blow up the mosque “once and for all”.

The story was told by Narkis shortly before his death in 1997 and quoted by Avi Shlaim, an Israeli historian, in The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World.

“There was an atmosphere of spiritual elation. Paratroopers were milling around in a daze. Narkis was standing for a moment on his own, deep in thought, when Goren went up to him and said ‘Uzi, this is the time to put a hundred kilograms of explosives in the Mosque of Omar and that’s it, we’ll get rid of it once and for all.’ Narkis said ‘Rabbi, stop it.” Goren then said to him, ‘Uzi, you’ll enter the history books by virtue of this deed.’ Narkis replied, ‘I have already recorded my name in the pages of the history of Jerusalem.’ Goren walked away without saying another word.”

Two weeks later the Israeli occupation army seized the key to one of the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque (the Moroccan Gate).

Numerous efforts by Jewish extremists to destroy the Islamic shrine have been reported over the years.

Gaza 2009: De-Osloizing the Palestinian Mind

March 13, 2009
By Dr. Haidar Eid

Not only have the whites been guilty of being on the offensive, but by some skilful manoeuvres, they have managed to control the responses of the blacks to the provocation. Not only have they kicked the black, but they have also told him how to react to the kick. For a long time the black has been listening with patience to the advice he has been receiving on how best to respond to the kick. With painful slowness he is now beginning to show signs that it is his right and duty to respond to the kick in the way he sees fit.
– Steve Biko

One of the most important outcomes of the Gaza massacre (2009) has been the unprecedented tremendous outpouring of popular support for the Palestinian cause; something the signatories of the Oslo accords (1993) must have not been happy with. The return of the pre-Oslo slogans of liberation, as opposed to independence, have, undoubtedly, created a new dilemma, not only for Oslo political elites, but also for the NGOized, Stalinist Left.

The process of “Osloization”i.e, a combination of corruption, Ngoization, and a selling-out of revolutionary principles and sloganeering, fused with the fiction of the two-prison solution, has been dealt a heavy blow in the 2006 elections. Judging from statements made, not only by PA officials, but also by the Left, and even the Hamas government, the ultimate goal of the current river of blood has become the establishment of a Palestinian state in any dimension, i.e. the two-state solution. The contradiction between the tremendous international support, the revival of the BDS campaign, the outpouring of demos against Apartheid Israel and its war crimes against the Palestinians of Gaza, and the reiteration, by most political orgs, of the two state mantra is a strong indication of the need for an alternative program that makes the De-Osloization of Palestine its first priority.

In order to understand the Oslo Accords and the extreme damage they have caused to the Palestinian cause, one needs a historical contextualization of the so called “peace process”, or rather what many critical thinkers have called the peace industry. This understanding is a necessary step towards a process of De-Osloization, a term I will get back to at a later stage.

The Oslo accord was claimed to be the first step towards self-determination and an independent state. But it is clear now, 16 years after the famous hand shake on the White House lawn, that no state in the short run will be established because of the mere fact that Oslo simply ignored the existence of the Palestinian people as a people. In other words, these accords have offered Zionism what it has always been striving for. Golda Meir’s infamous statement that there are no Palestinians is a case in point here.

And yet, to claim that ‘Oslo’ and ‘Camp David’ were great missed opportunities and ‘breakthrough’, and that the so-called ‘peace process’ was in track until the Palestinians (i.e. colonized victims) blew it is a deliberate ideological distortion of reality claimed in order to prepare Palestinians for more concessions. Real comprehensive peace was not created in Oslo and Washington; rather what was created is an American/Israeli plan to resolve the conflict after the destruction of Iraq and the collapse of the Soviet Union and their attempt to construct a “new Middle East”—to use Condoleeza Rice’s words–a Middle East characterized by imperialist-Zionist hegemony and supported by despotic regimes. The Oslo accord was born dead because it did not guarantee the minimum national and political rights of 10 million Palestinian. As long as there are refugees, cantons, detainees, blockade, settlements, ‘legal torture’ of prisoners, dispossession, assassinations and occupation, comprehensive peace cannot be achieved. It is an illusion in the minds of those who signed the Oslo accords.

These accords have led to the creation of a limited “administrative autonomy” in the Gaza Strip and some parts of the West Bank. The local population was given “the right” to form an authority that they could call “national.” Now the question is what makes the PNA (Palestinian National Authority) beyond questioning? What is the ‘legitimate’ ground upon which it was established? Very simple: The Oslo Accords. It has now become very obvious that despite the famous hand shakes on the White house lawn and in Annaplois, and the optimistic talk of the ‘New Middle East,’ these accords, in contradistinction with UN and Security Council resolutions, have not guaranteed the establishment of a sovereign, independent Palestinian state, or the return of the refugees, nor even the demolishment of the Jewish settlements, and compensation for those Palestinians who have lost—and still losing—their homes, lands and properties; nor the release of all political prisoners, or the opening of all checkpoints, which have become daily nightmares for residents of the WB and GS; …etc. In spite of all the hand shakes, kisses, and friendly press conferences, Israel launched one of the bloodiest wars in the history of the conflict against the civilian population of Gaza, killing in 22 days more than 1400 people, including 438 children, 120 women, 95 old people, 16 medics, 5 journalists, 5 foreign women, and in which it destroyed more than 40.000 institutions and houses, leaving many families homeless. That, of course, was not mentioned as an objective of the Oslo Accords, but nothing either was mentioned in them that would prevent such bloodletting from taking place.

This is the political reality that Palestinian officials who signed the agreement do not like to be reminded of. In fact, what has been created in parts of Gaza and the West Bank is a very strange entity—an apartheid-type Bantustan endorsed by the international community. Gaza 2009, therefore, is the mirror-image of Oslo. When we bear in mind that 75-80% of Gazans are refugees, the results of 2006 elections become more comprehensible not only in its anti-colonial context, but also in socio-political terms. What Oslo has created in Gaza, and the West Bank for that matter, is literally two different worlds, both of which have been led by undemocratic institutions, many security apparatuses, a Third Worldish military court (commended by the Clinton administration), corruption, mismanagement, inefficiency and nepotism—to mention but few (neo)colonial qualities.

By winning the 1948, 1956 and 1967 wars, and by getting international, Arab and Palestinian recognition, Israel–as an Apartheid settler-colonial state—has hoped to move into a new stage; a stage that requires the formation of ‘new consciousness’ amongst colonized Palestinians. Herein lies the danger of Oslo; Osloization, within this neo-Zionist context, means the creation of a new paradigm through which you wash out the consciousness of your supposed enemy-the ‘Other’-and replace it with a one-dimensional mentality, through the construction of a fiction (two states for two peoples) whose end is unattainable. Even the fascist Lieberman has started singing the same song.

Put differently, to aim at creating the two-state Palestinian is to aim at creating false consciousness led by assimilated intelligentsia, some of whom have a revolutionary past record. Singing the slogans of “the two state solution,” “two states for two peoples,” “return to the 1967 borders,”–or even “a long-term Hudna” (as proposed by Hamas) — is intended to guarantee the subordination and conformity of the Palestinians, especially those with revolutionary ideas. Gone are the right of return of 6 million refugees and their compensation, and the national and cultural rights of the indigenous population of Palestine 1948.

This goal, however, never sees the antithesis it creates as a result of displacement, exploitation, and oppression; it ignores the revolutionary consciousness that has been formulated throughout the different phases of the Palestinian struggle. Nor does it take into account the legacy of civil and political resistance that has become a trademark of the Palestinian struggle. Hence the necessity of the formulation of Palestinian alternative politics. To be conscious of the corruption of the Palestinian Authority, and of the huge class gape that the Oslo Accords have created has definitely been the beginning of De-Osloization represented in the Al-Aqsa uprising and the outcome of the 2006 elections. This is an oppositional consciousness that the signatories of Oslo did not take into account. Both events represent an outright rejection of the Oslo Accords and their consequences.

The Gaza Strip, however, is seen by the PA as one of three building blocks of an independent state, although it is geographically separated from the second block, i.e. the West Bank. The third block is, Jerusalem, is under total Israeli control. None of the Palestinians in the occupied territories believe that the ‘semi-autonomous’ zones in the GS and the WB -that is, the ones that fall under category A—can lay the foundation for an independent state. What Oslo has led to is, in fact, a South Africa. When black South Africans needed to move from their townships to big ‘white’ cities, they needed to get a ‘pass’. During ‘peace time,’ Palestinians, not only those who work in Israel, but also those who wanted to visit the WB form Gaza, or vice versa, needed to apply for a ‘permit’. Beside the permit, Palestinians needed a so-called ‘magnetic card,’ which is a computer card that has a password to its holder’s security file. No one could work in Israel, or visit the WB, or even go to a hospital inside the ‘green line’ without a ‘permit’ and a ‘magnetic card’. If one was granted such invaluable cards, one was still not allowed to visit any other area except the one s/he was entitled to visit. If one was ‘caught’ at another area, one’s permit and card were confiscated immediately, not to mention the torture one was exposed to. Nowadays, no one is even given such luxurious ‘permits’ and cards. How was apartheid South Africa different?

The tribal chiefs of the South African Bantustans used to believe that they were the heads of independent states. Luckily, the ANC, despite its many compromises with the National Party, had never accepted the idea of separation and Bantustans. The official Palestinian leadership on the other hand, at the end of the millennium, boasts of having laid the foundation for a Bantustan, claiming it to be an independent state in the make. Undoubtedly, this is the ultimate prize Zionism can offer to its ‘Other’ after having denied her/his existence for a century, and after that same ‘Other’ has proved that she is human. For Zionism’s continued presence in Palestine, the ‘Other’ must be assimilated and enslaved without her/ him being conscious of her/his enslavement. Hence the granting of ‘semi-autonomous’ rule over the most crowded Palestinian cities, and hence the logic driving the Oslo Accords.

Oslo, then, brought an unprecedented level of corruption into Palestine; and security coordination with Israel, under the supervision of—irony of ironies—an American general, has become the norm. Repeating the two-state mantra, carrying the Palestinian flag, singing the national anthem and— more importantly—recognizing Israel, regardless of the rights of two thirds of the Palestinian people, are what Oslo is all about.

The lesson we learn from Gaza 2009 is to harness all effort to fight the outcome of the Oslo Accords, and to form a United Front on a platform of resistance and reforms. This cannot be achieved without dismantling the PA and realizing that ministries, premierships, and presidencies in Gaza and Ramalah are a façade not unlike the South African Independent Homelands with their tribal chiefs. The classical national program, created and adopted by the Palestinian bourgeoisie has reached its end unsuccessfully. Most political forces, including the governing party in Gaza, fail to explain how 6 million Palestinian refugees will return to the Israeli State of the Jews and an independent Palestinian state will be created at the same time.

Hence the necessity for an alternative paradigm that divorces itself from the fiction of the two-prison solution, a paradigm that takes the sacrifices of the people of Gaza as a turning point in the struggle for liberation, one that builds on the growing global anti-apartheid movement that has been given an impetus by Gaza 2009. De-Osloizing Palestine is, therefore, a precondition for the creation of peace with justice.

Haidar Eid is an independent political commentator.

Some input into the Israeli mind: internal analysis and actions

You can try to unravel the criminal mind of the Israelis when you listen to their own talk and see the despicable actions they force on people. Disturbing but not shocking for them to do inhumane behavior.

Haaretz: Everyone Agrees that War in Gaza Was a Failure
by Hanan Awarekeh

12/03/2009 Israeli daily Haaretz published on Thursday a report saying that all the Israeli officials agree on one point, it doesn’t matter whether the officials were leftists or rightists since they agree on one thing: Gaza war was a failure.

The report says, “The recent war in Gaza was a failure. The bon ton now is to list its flaws. Flip-floppers say its “achievements” were squandered; leftists say the war “should never have started” and rightists will say the war “should have lasted longer.” But on this they all agree: It was a blunder.”

“Of course, the war’s blunder was just as serious as its predecessors, but because we did more killing than being killed, because we caused more damage than we sustained, there’s nothing deemed worthy of investigation.”

The Haaretz report continues, “It was all in vain: no progress made, no goal achieved, nothing. Deterrence wasn’t reestablished, arms smuggling into Gaza was not stopped, Hamas was not weakened and abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit was not freed. On these facts we all agree.”

“Moreover, we paid a huge price: Hamas is stronger, the hurt Palestinian people are even more hateful toward us, and Israel is viewed as a pariah in world public opinion, with rioting on a basketball court in Ankara where an Israeli team played and the banning of spectators from Israel’s Davis Cup tennis encounter with Sweden in Malmo, as the last of the rogue states.”

It added, “Nobody has to answer for all this, neither the politicians who launched this crazy war nor the army commanders who were their contractors. No one will be impeached, never mind tried in court. Israel’s aggressive and violent war machine won’t even suffer a tiny dent.”

“And what of the cheerleaders who sat on the sidelines of this hellish nightmare? Perhaps we should at least hold them accountable? They sat in their television studios and at their newspaper desks. Oh, how the commentators were excited and stirred excitement. They goaded and urged, pushed and applied pressure, begging for more and more war. For months they had been clamoring for their “wide-scale operation,” their hearts’ desire. When their wish came true they cheered in support and whistled in excitement,” Haaretz continued.

The report continued criticizing those “cheerleaders” saying, “They appeared at their studios with their mouths still covered with foam left over from their previous successful horror show, the Second Lebanon War. The retired generals and Tarzan commentators, whose coverage of the war in Lebanon was an abominable failure, recycled the same clichés and propaganda dictates. No one considered replacing them after their previous failure. They learned nothing and forgot nothing, and the vast majority of us nodded thoughtlessly at their words, as though they came from above.”

It added, “The deja vu is striking: Again, just like after the Second Lebanon War, they suddenly became the war’s biggest critics, only after it already ended – a matter of timing. Showing no remorse and much vanity, they now shamelessly admit that the war whose praises they sang has failed. Why did it fail? Because we didn’t kill enough people, they explain. If we would have given it a little push and killed 200 more children or massacred 500 more women, then we would have achieved victory. None of them are asked what would have happened had the war continued. Would Shalit have been freed? Would Hamas have waved the white flag? Would the Palestinian people have joined the Zionist movement?”

The Haaretz report concludes, “Now, get ready for the next treat. They’ve already begun to clamor for a new war in Gaza or Lebanon, whichever comes first. When they get what they ask for they will return to their studios. In the beginning they will offer their support for the war, and then come out against it. No one will hold them accountable for their vile acts, and there will be nothing new under the sun.”

Israeli court orders Palestinian to demolish his own home or face penalty
[ 10/03/2009 ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)–The Israeli district court in occupied Jerusalem has ruled that Adel Tamimi, a Jerusalemite, should knock down his own home in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The court said that if Tamimi did not tear his own home down he would have to pay for the expenses of its demolition in addition to serving six months in jail.

Tamimi said in a statement, “How can I destroy the house in which I lived for 17 years with my own hands! Where will I go with my family? I have paid all fines with the hope of obtaining a construction permit but to no avail”.

He said that the land is owned by his family and that he had the required documents to prove it.
The Israeli occupation authority bans construction or even maintenance of Palestinian homes in occupied Jerusalem’s Old City in a bid to empty the holy city from its indigenous population and replace them with Jewish immigrants.

“Israel” annexing East Jerusalem, says EU

{Judiazation-Arab and international silence} by Issam Ahmed-Palestine

{Judiazation-Arab and international silence} by Issam Ahmed-Palestine

by Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem, The Guardian, Saturday 7 March 2009

A confidential EU report accuses the Israeli government of using settlement expansion, house demolitions, discriminatory housing policies and the West Bank barrier as a way of “actively pursuing the illegal annexation” of East Jerusalem.

The document says Israel has accelerated its plans for East Jerusalem, and is undermining the Palestinian Authority’s credibility and weakening support for peace talks. “Israel’s actions in and around Jerusalem constitute one of the most acute challenges to Israeli-Palestinian peace-making,” says the document, EU Heads of Mission Report on East Jerusalem.

The report, obtained by the Guardian, is dated 15 December 2008. It acknowledges Israel’s legitimate security concerns in Jerusalem, but adds: “Many of its current illegal actions in and around the city have limited security justifications.”

“Israeli ‘facts on the ground’ – including new settlements, construction of the barrier, discriminatory housing policies, house demolitions, restrictive permit regime and continued closure of Palestinian institutions – increase Jewish Israeli presence in East Jerusalem, weaken the Palestinian community in the city, impede Palestinian urban development and separate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank,” the report says.

The document has emerged at a time of mounting concern over Israeli policies in East Jerusalem. Two houses were demolished on Monday just before the arrival of the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and a further 88 are scheduled for demolition, all for lack of permits. Clinton described the demolitions as “unhelpful”, noting that they violated Israel’s obligations under the US “road map” for peace.

The EU report goes further, saying that the demolitions are “illegal under international law, serve no obvious purpose, have severe humanitarian effects, and fuel bitterness and extremism.” The EU raised its concern in a formal diplomatic representation on December 1, it says.

It notes that although Palestinians in the east represent 34% of the city’s residents, only 5%-10% of the municipal budget is spent in their areas, leaving them with poor services and infrastructure.

Israel issues fewer than 200 permits a year for Palestinian homes and leaves only 12% of East Jerusalem available for Palestinian residential use. As a result many homes are built without Israeli permits. About 400 houses have been demolished since 2004 and a further 1,000 demolition orders have yet to be carried out, it said.

City officials dismissed criticisms of its housing policy as “a disinformation campaign”. “Mayor Nir Barkat continues to promote investments in infrastructure, construction and education in East Jerusalem, while at the same time upholding the law throughout West and East Jerusalem equally without bias,” the mayor’s office said after Clinton’s visit.

However, the EU says the fourth Geneva convention prevents an occupying power extending its jurisdiction to occupied territory. Israel occupied the east of the city in the 1967 six day war and later annexed it. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The EU says settlement are being built in the east of the city at a “rapid pace”. Since the Annapolis peace talks began in late 2007, nearly 5,500 new settlement housing units have been submitted for public review, with 3,000 so far approved, the report says. There are now about 470,000 settlers in the occupied territories, including 190,000 in East Jerusalem.

The EU is particularly concerned about settlements inside the Old City, where there were plans to build a Jewish settlement of 35 housing units in the Muslim quarter, as well as expansion plans for Silwan, just outside the Old City walls.

The goal, it says, is to “create territorial contiguity” between East Jerusalem settlements and the Old City and to “sever” East Jerusalem and its settlement blocks from the West Bank.

There are plans for 3,500 housing units, an industrial park, two police stations and other infrastructure in a controversial area known as E1, between East Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, home to 31,000 settlers. Israeli measures in E1 were “one of the most significant challenges to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process”, the report says.

Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said conditions for Palestinians living in East Jerusalem were better than in the West Bank. “East Jerusalem residents are under Israeli law and they were offered full Israeli citizenship after that law was passed in 1967,” he said. “We are committed to the continued development of the city for the benefit of all its population.”

Source

More Jerusalem evictions by Israelis: 36 Palestinian families

by AbdaAllah Darqawi-Al Dustour newspaper-Jordan

by Abda'Allah Darqawi-Al Dustour newspaper-Jordan

Thursday March 05, 2009
by Ghassan Bannoura

The Israeli Jerusalem municipality handed out demolition orders for 36 additional Palestinian families in the city on Thursday.

The families live in two buildings located at the Al Abasiya neighborhood just out side Jerusalem’s old city.
The orders gave the families 10 days to evacuate their homes. On Wednesday when the Israeli municipality issued orders to demolish 55 more homes, owners of the homes near the old city set up a protest camp.
Akkram Joweless is one of these home owners at the camp: “Its main goal is to get the attention of the entire world on this Israeli Judaization of Jerusalem and the Israeli plans against us, the rest is in the hands of God.” Joweless said.

Last week Israel issued demolition orders for 88 homes in the Al Bustan neighborhood, located immediately south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem’s old city.

Thousands of Palestinians could become homeless. Local activists fear that more orders will be issued for Palestinians soon. The Israeli municipality says all of those homes are built without the required permission.
Since Israel occupied the city of Jerusalem in 1967, the authorities have rarely given Palestinian residents permission to build homes. The Israeli government has continued to build Jewish settlements in and around Jerusalem, an act which contravenes international law.

Source

The ethnic cleansing of Al quds (Jerusalem)-video

By Al jazeera’s Jacky Rowland

As Dangerous as Netanyahu

{Your turn-Left/Right} by Eli Saliba-Al Watan newspaper-Qatar

{Your turn-Left/Right} by Eli Saliba-Al Watan newspaper-Qatar

By Hasan Afif El-Hasan

The Palestinians in the occupied lands and the refugee camps must have been puzzled by those Palestinian leaders’ declarations and commentators’ peppy articles lamenting the loss of the butchers of Gaza, Kadima-Labor coalition, to the Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu coalition. Have the Palestinian leaders in the West Bank established mystical bonds with the butchers of Gaza who became their only accepted partners for peace? I can’t see the teensiest difference between the policies of the two camps. If there is any difference, it is that unlike Kadima and Labour leaders, Netanyahu practices what he preaches. Netanyahu is a dangerous leader but Olmert, Livni, Peres and Barak are no less dangerous. The only competition among these leaders is the level of the horrors inflicted on the Palestinians and the blood wantonly spilled under their leaderships.

When Peres was the minister of defense under Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin he helped Gush Emunim movement followers launch several settlements next to the Arab population centers in the West Bank. For the Gush Emunim members, the right of the Jewish people to Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is nonnegotiable. At Peres order, the Israeli army provided water and electricity for Elon Moreh settlers and the military invited the settlers to establish a settlement at the military camp inside the Arab village of Kufur Qadum. The Israeli military declared the main road to the village as Jews-only-road and its Arab residents had to build new road leading to their homes and schools.

Peres personally helped establish Ofra settlement in the West Bank. In 1996 Peres approved and defended the shelling that killed and injured hundreds of Lebanese civilians who had taken refuge at a Fijian UNIFIL compound in Qana village. According to the Human Rights Watch, the death toll was 116 and the injured exceeded 120. And at the recent World Economic Forum in Switzerland, Peres defended Israel’s 22-day offensive against the Palestinian people in Gaza that killed hundreds of children and women and destroyed the civilian infrastructures of the ghettos where 1.5 million live under complete siege imposed by Israel.

While Gaza had been under siege and its population was starved the unrepentant Peres said in the Forum “There is no siege against Gaza…..Why do they fight us? There was never a day of starvation in Gaza”. Peres is a sociopath liar and a war criminal, and that does not make him and his cohorts moderates.
How can the Palestinian leaders refer to Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barak and Olmert as moderates? The trio followed a policy of terrorizing the Palestinians who have been under occupation for forty years, building and expanding settlements, Judaisation of Jerusalem, confiscating Arab lands and building the apartheid wall.
They carried out the barbarous massacres of the starved and besieged survivors of the 1948 Nakba in Gaza. And they deny the right of return for the refugees living in camps since 1948.

Under Olmert municipal administration in Jerusalem, Arab land was confiscated; public land was sequestrated; Olmert fostered Jews only settlements; and he cordoned off the city Arab inhabitants from their West Bank hinterland. Mayor Olmert and Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered the excavation of the so called “Hasmonean Tunnel” under the Muslim Haram Asharif shrine to facilitate movement of Israelis directly from the Western Wall area to Haram Asharif. The act is part of the plans to Judaize the character of the whole area. And on September 28, 2000, Olmert accompanied Sharon, a man anathematized by the Palestinians as “the butcher of Sabra and Shatila”, in the provocative walking visit to Haram Asharif that triggered the second intifada.

Netanyahu is not the first to ally himself with Avigdor Lieberman the leader of Yisrael Beiteinu Party. Ehud Olmert struck an alliance on October 23, 2006 with Lieberman who became a minister of strategic affairs and a deputy prime minister in Olmert cabinet. Lieberman called for stripping Arab Israelis of their citizenship to make Israel more Jewish, executing lawmakers for talking to Hamas and blanket-bombing of Palestinian population centers, gas stations and banks.

Even before Gaza massacres, Ehud Barak has lots of Palestinian blood on his hands. As a commando, Barak is widely presumed that he personally assassinated many Palestinians including the poet intellectual Kamal Nasir in 1972 and the Palestinian political nationalist Salah Khalaf (Abu Iyad) outside Tunis in 1991. Like Netanyahu, each of Peres, Olmert and Barak declared himself uncompromising on the issue of Jerusalem and the control of Israel’s security borders defined as the borders of historical Palestine.

Much has been written and aired by the US news media and the Israeli propaganda machine about a generous offer to Yassir Arafat by then Israeli Prime Minister Barak and US President Clinton in 2000 Camp David II negotiations. Here are some facts. The Palestinian state offered by Barak would be divided into small lots without territorial continuity or sovereignty. Barak stood firm on maintaining Israel’s sovereignty over the large Jewish settlement blocs that is home to more than 80 percent of the Jewish settlers in the West Bank. The thousands of the settlers who would be evacuated would have to remain under Israeli protection until arrangements could be made to relocate them. Barak map annexed the central Givat Ze’ev/Pisgat Ze’ev/Ma’aleh Adomin bloc dividing the West Bank in two; and Efrat/Etzion/Betar Ilit bloc in the southwest of Jerusalem severed any coherent connection between Bethlehem and Hebron. The annexed areas also included the large settlement of Ariel and some small satellite settlements next to the Palestinian City of Nablus. And the offer keeps under Israel’s control the Jordan River valley and the West Bank underground aquifer.

Yitzchak Shamir appointed Netanyahu as deputy foreign minister in his 1988 government and following Shamir’s defeat in 1992, Netanyahu was selected chairman of the Likud party. Like Olmert, Livni, Peres and Barak, Netanyahu is a strong believer in the Zionist ideology. The central theme of his book, “A Place among the Nations: Israel and the World”, is the right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel (Palestine) in its entirety. He argues that it was the Arabs who had usurped land from the Jews in Palestine, not the other way around; and Israel for its own self-protection must retain security control over all the territory of Palestine.

Benjamin Netanyahu has clinched the nomination to head a coalition that has been described by Arab commentators as a far-right coalition as compared to that of Tzipi Livni-Ehud Barak. Netanyahu has a peculiar plan for peace with the Palestinians. He calls it the “economic peace” plan which does not end the Israeli occupation. It offers the Palestinians a limited autonomy that allows them to police their own population centers while Israel controls borders, air space and its military continues to control overall security. In return, Netanyahu promises improvement of the Palestinians economic conditions by building industrial zones in the occupied lands that would employ Palestinians. He never specified who would finance the industrial projects and who would own them. But since Israel never assumed economic responsibility for the Palestinians under occupation, we can be certain that his proposed industrial projects requires the international community to foot its bill as it has been financing the occupation without holding Israel any responsibility for it.

In Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan, Israel would keep and expand the settlements; East Jerusalem would remain part of Israel; and no refugees would be given the right of return to their homes in Israel proper. He effectively is offering the status quo plus employment for the Palestinian labor as the solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Netanyahu has been firm and consistent in his opposition to ending the Israeli occupation. He is a racist by ideology and actions, so as Shimon Peres, Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak. All Israeli governments, the so called moderates and the right-wing share the same policy toward the Palestinians. Netanyahu’s vision of the Palestinian self-rule of disconnected non-sovereign enclaves in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is not different from the two-state solution offer made by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his Foreign Minister Livni after 12 months of continuous negotiations and fifteen years after Oslo. Shaul Mofaz, Kadima’s number two leader wants his party to join the Likud government under Netanyahu because there is little disagreement between the two parties.

These realities suggest none of the major parties in Israel is for just peace; and the current situation in the occupied land is the natural outcome of a conflict between a weak oppressed occupied people struggling for survival against a strong militant occupier with one of the most powerful armies in the world, a nuclear arsenal, unconditional backing of the world only super-power and ideology of conquest.

-Born in Nablus, Palestine, Hasan Afif El-Hasan, Ph.D. is a political analyst.

Source