Three Israeli suspects who have confessed to the gruesome killing of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was abducted in East Jerusalem and later burnt to death, are going to plead “temporary insanity”, according to Haaretz. Mohammed’s father guessed as much last week, when asked whether he trusted Israel’s judicial system: “I think they will say that [the murderers] were insane and give them a year or two and that’s all.”
That’s not because Hussein Abu Khdeir has incredible prescience; it’s because this is how it works in Israel. Palestinians who kill Israelis are terrorists, and Israelis who kill Palestinians are either heroes, if they are doing it in an official capacity, or deeply damaged individuals on the “fringes of society”, if they act on their own. Either way, they are not meaningfully held to account.
As Hussein also implies, the three, if convicted, will probably get a lenient sentence and then be pardoned when the fuss dies down in a year or two.
Notice also that the three other suspects arrested last week have been released, even though the police say they were part of the cell believed to have organised the kidnapping. So why not charge them with conspiracy to murder, or membership of a terrorist organisation, or one of the other charges that would be used if the suspects were Palestinian, including Palestinian citizens of Israel?
And here’s another question: how can we take seriously a claim of “temporary insanity” among an organised group (“a cell”) that has a wider membership and whose creation presumably predated the general mood of revenge that permeated Israeli society following news that three Israeli teens had been abducted on June 12? What was this cell organised to do if not to harm Palestinians? And if this is the case, how can “insanity” apply to the group collectively and how can it be termed “temporary”?
I expect none of these questions to be addressed, let alone answered, in the trial – assuming, of course, we get one and this is not hushed up in a closed hearing at which they are committed to psychiatric care.
Instead, Israeli officials will doubtless assent to the deranged notion of “insanity” propagated by the far-right legal group, Honenu, defending the three suspects. It says:
Given the crazy, abnormal situation in the country, it’s natural that among the many people who approach us, some have been emotionally scarred by the security situation or by difficult personal circumstances and responded accordingly.
Remember, “accordingly” here refers to a decision to abduct a child, force-feed him a flammable liquid and then set him on fire. Maybe “insanity” in this case has a much wider application than just to three individuals.
Shu’afat, Occupied Palestine – On the 4th July 2014, at least 2,000 Palestinian mourners gathered in Shu’afat for the funeral of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was kidnapped last week.
His mutilated body was later found in a forest on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The autopsy indicates that he was burnt alive. It is widely believed that the murder was carried out by extremist Israeli settlers.
Mourners gathered by the mosque and marched carrying the body to the burial ground. Initially the funeral organisers formed a human chain to separate mourners and the police to prevent violence. Later on, Israeli police clashed with Palestinians for around 12 hours.
It has been reported that at least 30 Palestinians were hurt by rubber-coated bullets while dozens more were treated for the effects of tear gas. 13 Israeli police officers were also injured. A field of wheat was also partly destroyed by fire, probably caused by tear gas canisters.
Throughout the demonstration, undercover police agents, who were also acting violently towards the police, abducted and violently assaulted at least 11 Palestinians, including Tarek Abu Khdeir, Mohammed’s cousin, who was filmed being beaten by police.
Later in the evening, local Palestinian residents took steps to remove the illegal light rail system which runs through their neighbourhood. Two French companies, Veolia and Alstom, are subject to an international boycott and divestment campaign due to their involvement in the project. The tram primarily services illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied East Jerusalem and thereby facilitates Israel’s illegal policies of colonization and ethnic cleansing.
Local Palestinian’s pulled up bricks and cement that hold the tracks in place and damaged the tracks using an angle grinder. Many local residents gathered round to express their support for this act of civil disobedience. One Palestinian resident in his 60′s said that the tram “is for the illegal settlements. Israel takes our land and kills our people…we want them [the Palestinian protesters] to rip it up and take it away completely…we want rid of it”.
The families of the three Israeli teens killed by their abductors have been the focus of a huge outpouring of national sympathy.
But what about the family of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir, who was burnt alive by his abductors? How have they been treated by Israel since the devastating news of Muhammad’s murder in Jerusalem last week?
Here, in short, is what has happened to them.
They have been subjected to a campaign, secretly waged by the Israeli police, to discredit them by suggesting that Muhammad was a closet gay and killed in a family feud.
The father and close relatives have been forced to submit to intense and distressing questioning in police cells from the Israeli security services, all in an attempt to give greater plausibility to their planted rumours with “confessions” from the family.
And now it emerges that a 15-year-old cousin of Muhammad’s, visiting for the summer from the US, was the victim in video footage of a savage beating by armed Israeli police. They kicked and punched him relentlessly after he was cuffed and lying on the ground. He is still under arrest, apparently without charge.
The US state department – so eloquent in denouncing the killing of the three Israeli teens – is apparently lost for words when it comes to the mistreatment of one of its citizens.
Here is the horrifying video of Tarek Abu Khdeir’s beating:
Is this what Netanyahu meant when he said of Israel’s response to the abductions: “The devil himself has not yet created vengeance for the blood of a small child”?
A shocking video, showing Israeli police officers savagely beating 15-year-old Palestinian-American Tarek Abu Khdeir – cousin of Mohammad Abu Khdeir who was burnt alive in East Jerusalem – has prompted outrage in the Palestinian community.
The video shows two officers striking the detainee, who was handcuffed and lying on the floor. One of the officers seems to be sitting on the Palestinian, while his colleague is kicking and punching him. The youth is eventually dragged away by the police.
The video of Tarek’s beating has surfaced as the funeral was held Friday for his cousin, Mohammad Abu Khdeir, who was kidnapped in the same area and burned alive.
The beating, shot from two different angles by people filming from their windows, took place on Thursday evening in Shuafat, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
One of the videos was broadcast on the Palestine Today television channel.
The second video posted on Facebook by Quds News Network shows the same incident.
Tariq has since been arrested and held without charge, according to his family and the rights group Addameer, as reports the Ma’an News Agency.
According to a police spokesman, the incident featured in the video occurred while six “masked rioters” were being arrested. Three of them were alleged to have been carrying knives.
“They resisted arrest and attacked the soldiers,” the spokesman said, adding that Molotov cocktails were hurled toward the police, an attack he described as “nearly fatal.”
Nevertheless, he said that the incident is being investigated. According to the spokesman, some 15 soldiers and police officers were wounded in the riots in East Jerusalem on Thursday.
Tensions rose after Mohammad Abu Khdeir’s body was found on Wednesday.
Since then, dozens were injured by rubber bullets, including six journalists, and three people suffered fractures after being assaulted by Israeli police officers, Ma’an reported.
According to the Palestinian Red Cross, 232 people have been injured in these clashes, six of them by live bullets, AFP reports.
Mohammad Abu Khdeir’s body was found on Wednesday in a West Jerusalem forest. A preliminary autopsy report shows that he was burned alive by his kidnappers, a senior Palestinian official said on Friday evening. Unrest has continued in East Jerusalem after the funeral.
Palestinians accuse right-wing Israelis of kidnapping and killing Abu Khdeir. The murder is thought to be a revenge attack in response to the killing of three Israeli teens, who were buried the day before.
Israeli police say the circumstances behind Mohammad Abu Khdeir’s killing remain unclear.
Initial autopsy reports reveal that 16-year-old Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir, was still breathing when he was burnt after being assaulted by his Israeli kidnappers.
Forensic studies found chars in the lungs, indicating that Muhammad was still breathing while he was being burned, according to WAFA. 90% of the child’s body was burned, varying from 1st to 4th degree in severity.
The child was also beaten on the head, as signs of beating and concussion were clear.
The Palestinian Forensic Center has taken samples and tissues from the body, to be submitted for further analysis before a final detailed report can be revealed, according to Arabs48.
16-year-old Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir was abducted from outside his home, in the Shu’fat district of occupied East Jerusalem, by a group of Israelis who forced him into a car and sped off.
The teen’s burned body was found hours later in a vacant lot in another part of the city, sparking protests in his home neighborhood which are ongoing at the time of this report.
Over 200 Palestinians have been injured by Israeli army fire in ongoing clashes with Israeli soldiers, in different parts of occupied Jerusalem and nearby towns, following the abduction.
His funeral was held Friday, amidst further clashes with Israeli forces.
A Palestinian child went missing in East Jerusalem early Friday, a local news site reported, two days after a teenager was kidnapped and killed by suspected settlers in the Israeli-occupied city.
Wafa News Agency said a 13-year-old boy was last spotted walking near a mosque in the neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz around dawn.
Witnesses told the agency that they saw a settler car driving in the area around the same time the boy went missing.
Israeli police were reviewing CCTV footage from cameras set up in the area to determine if the boy was kidnapped, the report added.
In a separate incident, a group of settlers Thursday night was reported to have tried to kidnap a seven-year-old Palestinian boy from his Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina.
Ma’an News Agency reported that family members of Mohammed al-Kiswani chased off four settlers who attempted to snatch the boy as he played outside after breaking Ramadan fast.
The incidents come as the family of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khudeir prepare to lay him to rest Friday, two days after he was kidnapped and killed in Jerusalem.
The charred remains of Abu Khudeir were discovered in a forest hours after his family reported him missing.
CCTV footage from Wednesday’s abduction shows suspected settlers forcing the teen into a car around dawn before speeding away.
Hundreds of Israelis had taken to the streets Tuesday chanting “death to Arabs” after the bodies of three Israeli settlers were discovered in the West Bank.
A Palestinian teenager from occupied east Jerusalem was kidnapped and killed early Wednesday, hours after Israelis rampaged through the city calling for Arabs to die in “revenge” for the deaths of three settlers by unknown assailants.
The killing of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khudair from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat sparked a wave of clashes in east Jerusalem where hundreds of angry young Palestinians demonstrated.
Quoting witnesses, army radio said the boy was seen being forced into a car in the city. Ma’an cited witnesses who said the car involved in the kidnapping was a Hyundai with three settlers inside.
A burned body was found shortly afterwards in another part of the city, the radio said, describing it as a “suspected revenge attack” for the kidnapping of three Israeli settlers from the southern West Bank on June 12.
Israel’s Ynet web site said the body, discovered in a forest in the area of Deir Yassin, was charred and showed signs of violence.
Ma’an also reported that the body had been burned.
Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas on Wednesday demanded Israel condemn the kidnapping and suspected murder.
“The president of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, demanded that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemn the kidnapping and murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khudair as we condemned the kidnapping of the three Israelis,” a presidential statement said.
A cousin of the missing youth who gave his name only as Mahmoud, said locals had tried to chase the car involved in the abduction immediately after the suspected settlers abducted the boy, but were unable to catch the fleeing car.
“They chased him in two cars through the village. The cars drove fast but they didn’t manage to reach them,” he told army radio.
Residents had filed a police complaint in recent days that someone in the same car had tried unsuccessfully to snatch a seven-year-old child.
Shortly after the kidnapping was reported, a body was found in a forest near Givat Shaul in west Jerusalem, the radio said, indicating it had been burned. It had earlier said there were signs of stab wounds.
Several hours after three Israeli settlers found dead Monday were buried on Tuesday, hundreds of Israelis rampaged through Jerusalem, stopping cars and the light rail and shouting “Death to Arabs,” police and witnesses said. Police said 47 people were arrested.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri confirmed they were investigating reports of a kidnapping and said they had found a body but refused to say whether the two incidents were connected. She did not give details on the victim’s identity.
“In the early hours of Wednesday morning, police received a report of a person being forced into a car in Beit Hanina,” Samri told AFP, referring to a well-heeled east Jerusalem neighborhood.
“Within an hour, a body was found in Jerusalem that has still not been identified. We are looking to see if there is a connection between the two incidents.”
Quoting witnesses, army radio said a black car had stopped next to a youth who was hitchhiking and he was forced inside. The car then took off.
Some time later, the family of the youth, who is understood to be around 16, reported him missing, it said.
The body was discovered in a forest in Givat Shaul in southwest Jerusalem. An AFP correspondent said police had sealed off a large area around the neighborhood.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a statement, urged police to “to swiftly investigate who was behind the loathsome murder and its motive.” He called on all sides “not to take the law into their own hands.”
Tensions were also high in the West Bank, where around 40 Palestinians were arrested in raids on Tuesday, the latest in a campaign by Israel to cripple Hamas there.
Four people were wounded by live bullets early on Wednesday in an Israeli raid in the Palestinian city of Jenin.
Near Hebron, Israeli forces destroyed the home of a Palestinian arrested on charges of shooting dead an off-duty police officer in the West Bank in April.
(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)
East Jerusalem, Occupied Palestine – Ziad and I met at a party at the University of Houston. Six months later Ziad proposed, saying, “I’m a Palestinian. I am only here to get an education. After graduating I’ll return home to Jerusalem. Come with me.”
We married the following year and moved to Jerusalem. For nearly 20 years we lived happily, raising a family and enjoying our lives together. But my fairy tale came to an end on the afternoon of June 11, 2010. In the morning we made plans to take our daughters to the beach that afternoon, Ziad never made it home.
The Israeli border policemen who shot and killed my husband declared that Ziad was a “terrorist” shot dead from a distance. But my husband was no terrorist. He loved life. He loved people and animals and he loved us, his family, with a passion. We had to conduct our own investigation to find out how my husband died.
The Israeli unit that investigates police killings failed to interrogate any of the many eyewitnesses to Ziad’s death and only questioned the border policemen involved in the killing. By gathering evidence and testimonies independently we learned the truth. Ziad, while driving home in his pickup truck, swerved into the opposite lane, where a group of border policemen were walking on the road. Ziad’s pickup truck brushed against two of the border policemen causing scrapes and bruises.
Unfortunately, Ziad can no longer tell us exactly what happened, but eyewitnesses reported that there was stone-throwing in the area and that Ziad’s windshield was hit by a stone. This description explains a big dent in Ziad’s front windshield and accounts for his swerve.
The Border Policemen opened a massive barrage of live fire at Ziad’s vehicle. Surrounding cars were hit and a little girl was injured. Ziad fled from the bullets to a nearby dead-end alleyway where his uncle lives. Three Border policemen ran forward firing into the alley.
Ziad leapt out of the truck and ran in the direction of his uncle’s house, but was shot in the back and fell injured to the pavement. While the commander of the unit, Shadi Heir al Din, reported that the “terrorist” had been neutralized, border policeman Maxim Vinogradov walked up to my husband and confirmed the kill.
Vinogradov put his M16 to Ziad’s head and fired two shots. According to an eyewitness, Vinogradov placed his boot on my husband’s neck when he shot him. The practice of confirming killings is illegal under international law.
Twelve days before Vinogradov killed my husband, he responded to a Facebook message voicing support for annihilating “Turkey and all the Arabs from the world” by saying, “I am with you, brother, and with the help of God I will start this.” This is just one of many similar posts. In his profile on a social network website, he describes as a hobby “hitting and destroying things,” his favorite food as “Arabs,” and his favorite sport as “Undocumented Arab Workers.”
My lawyers appealed to an Israeli judge to exhume Ziad’s body in order for an autopsy to be performed. As it was clear that the autopsy would reveal the fact that Ziad was shot from point-blank range, Vinogradov completely altered his original testimony because he “suddenly remembered” that as he was standing above Ziad he saw him move his hand and so had to shoot him in the head.
Despite Vinogradov’s misrepresentation and the fact that the investigations unit concluded that they “could not rule out that Ziad had swerved innocently and without the intention of running over the border policemen,” the case against Vinogradov and his commander was closed for lack of evidence.
My daughters and I have appealed to Israel’s Supreme Court, but when I asked the American Consulate to help me see to it that my husband’s killer stands trial they told me that their hands were tied since they had no jurisdiction in Israel. I disagree. Our government gives Israel more than $3 billion in annual military aid. It is our government’s responsibility to use its leverage with Israel to stop Israel from using these weapons to commit crimes.
The Israeli military has a history of ignoring the lives of Palestinians, and then supporting their killers. An example is the appointment of Brig. Gen. Roni Numa as the head of the Israeli army’s “Depth Corps” and the Military Colleges, as well as his promotion to major general, two weeks ago. This occurred despite the fact that the State Prosecutor’s Office and the Military Advocate General determined that, in 2001, Numa approved an operation in which Abdallah Jarousha, from Tul Karem refugee camp was shot in the back and killed in violation of the Israel Defence Forces’ rules of engagement. The criminal case in the matter was closed, though the Military Advocate General Corps noted in its decision that “in advance, the firing, as was approved, should not have been approved.” Roni Numa also changed his version of the events many times while the murder was being investigated, forgetting and then remembering that he had given the order. Like the case demanding accountability for my husbands murderer, the case Abdallah Jarousha’s family launched spent years in the Israeli courts, and despite an innocent civilian being murdered in cold blood ended, no Israeli was ever charged.
My husband was killed by a trigger-happy Israeli border policemen. They ought to face trial for both the crime and the cover-up. It’s time for the American government to step up, support American citizens such my daughters and I, and insist that Israel hold a proper trial.
Moira Jilani is an American citizen. She is the widow of Ziad Jilani who was killed by Israeli border policemen in 2010 while driving home. Moira and her daughters have appealed to Israel’s Supreme Court against the closing of the case against Ziad’s killers.
Reacting to antagonized Palestinian snowballing protests to her government’s decision on June 5 to reverse a 47-year old bipartisan consensus on describing eastern Jerusalem as “occupied,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on June 13 denied any “change in the Australian government’s position.”
On June 5, Australian Attorney-General George Brandis in a statement said: ”The description of East Jerusalem as ‘Occupied East Jerusalem’ is a term freighted with pejorative implications, which is neither appropriate nor useful.”
The new Australian terminology provoked Jordan, the third largest importer of Australian sheep in the Middle East, to summon Australia’s charge d’affaires, John Feakes, to convey its “concern” because “The Australian government’s decision violates international law and resolutions that consider east Jerusalem as an integral part of all Palestinian territories occupied in 1967.”
Similarly, the Australian Representative in Ramallah, Tom Wilson, was summoned by the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to convey “deep concern” because Brandis’ remarks “contradict all international resolutions.” They requested “official clarification.”
Bishop’s “no change” statement came in response. It was followed on June 14 by Prime Minister Tony Abbott who said, while on a trip to North America, that his government had made only a “terminological clarification.”
Australia still “strongly” supports the “two-state solution” and “there has been no change in policy – absolutely no change in policy,” Abbot said, but at the same time confirmed that, “We absolutely refuse to refer to occupied East Jerusalem.”
Abbot two days earlier stated that the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are in “truth … disputed territories.”
Canberra is showing no signs of backing down. Australian ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, on June 11 said Brandis’ reasoning could lead his government to similar official linguistic change on the West Bank.
“I think we just call the West Bank, ‘the West Bank,’ as a geographical entity without adding any adjectives to it, whether ‘occupied’ [the Palestinian position] or ‘disputed’ [the Israeli position]. We’ll just call it what it is, which is ‘the West Bank.’,” he told the Tablet. However, this is not official yet, he said.
“There has been no change in the Australian government’s position on the legal status of the Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem,” Bishop “clarified” in her statement. She was not convincing. The credibility of Bishop’s and Abbot’s denial of “change” could hardly be plausible.
It is a “radical change in the Australian position on Palestine,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said. The head of the Palestinian delegation to Canberra, Izzat Abdulhadi, said Australia’s new stance is “very provocative.”
On June 12, Arab and Islamic ambassadors from 18 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Indonesia, protested to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra.
Jerusalem is the permanent headquarters of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The organization was founded in response to the burning of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, by the Australian arsonist Michael Dennis Rohan in 1969.
The Australian on June 10 reported from Jerusalem that the 57-member OIC will hold a joint emergency meeting this month with the 22-member Arab League to decide their response to Australia’s “terminology” declaration.
Secretary General of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi sent Bishop a “letter of protest” requesting “official clarification,” his deputy Ahmad bin Hilli said last Monday.
Palestinians are on record to invoke the multi-billion annual Australian agricultural exports to the member states in the discussions. Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss told reporters last Friday that “we will work very hard with them … to maintain the trade,” but so far his government has shown no signs to that effect.
Bishop’s and Abbot’s “no change” statements tried to imply that their country’s policy has not changed and that if there was a change it is a linguistic one only.
Either case the change in “terminology” serves neither Australian nor Palestinian interests. Coming ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s upcoming visit to Australia this summer, to be the first ever sitting Israeli premier to visit Canberra, it serves only as a free of charge welcoming present.
However, coming on the 47th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory in eastern Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza Strip and in 2014, which the United Nations proclaimed an International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, the Australian “change of language” was “absolutely disgraceful and shocking,” according to the member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Hanan Ashrawi.
“Such inflammatory and irresponsible statements … are not only in blatant violation of international law and global consensus, but are also lethal in any pursuit of peace and toxic to any attempt at enacting a global rule of law,” Ashrawi was quoted as saying by the Times of Israel on June 6.
In fact, describing the Palestinian territories, eastern Jerusalem inclusive, as “occupied” is not only a Palestinian position.
The Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem has not been recognized by the international community and all 193 countries of the UN, including the U.S., refuse to have their embassies in Jerusalem because it would imply their recognition of the city as Israel’s capital.
Published by The Guardian on this June 11, Ben Saul wrote: “Calling east Jerusalem ‘occupied’ simply recognizes the near-universal legal status quo, namely that it is not sovereign Israeli territory.”
“Declaring that east Jerusalem will not be described as ‘occupied’ implies that Australia rejects the application of international humanitarian law … The term “occupation” is therefore not pejorative or judgmental.” Saul said, adding that “Australia’s new view … corrodes the international rule of law and violates Australia’s international law obligations” in accordance with the Geneva conventions to which both Australia and Israel are signatories.
The UN Security Council Resolution 478 on August 20, 1980 censured “in the strongest terms the enactment by Israel of the ‘basic law’ on Jerusalem,” affirmed “that the enactment of the ‘basic law’ by Israel constitutes a violation of international law” and determined “that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and in particular the recent ‘basic law’ on Jerusalem, are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.”
Ninety UNSC resolutions, let alone 40 others vetoed by the U.S., rule accordingly. Now Australia is the only other nation that joins and supports Israel in its violation of all these resolutions. Aside from Israel, it is also the only nation to change its language on the Palestinian Occupied Territories.
Australian linguistics in context
The Palestinian people are not known for their short memory. They view the Australian government’s “terminological clarification” in the context of the country’s recent pro-Israel changes of policy as well as in Australia’s historical anti-Palestinian policies.
Last month, Ambassador Sharma met in East Jerusalem with the Israeli Minister of Housing Uri Ariel, who is in charge of the illegal construction of the colonial settlements in the OPT.
In January this year, while on an official visit to Israel, Foreign Minister Bishop told the Times of Israel that she isn’t convinced that Israeli construction of illegal settlements in OPT is a violation of international law, and called international boycotts of these settlements “anti-Semitic” and “Hypocritical beyond belief.”
Last November, Australia failed to join 158 nations who supported a UN General Assembly resolution calling for an end to Israeli settlements or to join 160 countries which supported another resolution calling on Israel to “comply scrupulously” with the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
In November 2012, Australia abstained from supporting the UNGA recognition of Palestine as a “non-member observer state” by a vote of 138 to 9, rendering PM Abbot’s latest “clarification” that Australia still “strongly” supports the “two-state solution” a hollow statement.
Quoted by Emeritus Professor Peter Boyce AO, President of the Australia Institute of International Affairs in Tasmania, a 2010 study found that 78% of Australians were opposed to Israel’s settlements policy and only 22% thought Jerusalem should be recognized as Israel’s capital. More recently, at the time of the 2012 General Assembly vote on Palestinian non-member observer State status, 51% of Australians thought their country should vote “Yes” and only 15% “No.”
“Australia has had an important role in the establishment of the Israeli state” and it “stood alone among western governments in its uncritical alignment with Israel,” Professor Boyce wrote.
Certainly Boyce had history in mind. Australia in its capacity as the Chairman of the UN General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Palestine helped to push through the UN Partition Plan on November 29, 1947. It was the first UN member state to vote in favor of Israeli statehood and the first to grant Israel de-jure recognition when the U.S. recognized it de-facto only. Israel was also the first Middle East country with which Australia established diplomatic relations in 1949.
Australia had defended all Israeli wars on Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria as “in self defense,” especially the 1967 war in which it occupied more Palestinian territories and the lands of four Arab countries.
Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. firstname.lastname@example.org
‘I have a vision that suddenly all the Jewish people will come to live here… And if there were 10 million Jews here, we wouldn’t have to give up on anything.’
Reuven Rivlin was elected yesterday the tenth president of Israel. He has previously served as Speaker of the Knesset (2003-’06, 2009-’13), and has been a Member of Knesset since 1988. Hailing from PM Netanyahu’s Likud party, Rivlin also served as a minister in Ariel Sharon’s government (2001-’03). He will replace Shimon Peres when the latter’s term ends in July.
“I whole-heartedly believe that the land of Israel is ours in its entirety.”
“The communities in Judea and Samaria [Ed. referring to West Bank settlements] do not threaten our existence, they guarantee our existence.”
“Today, almost 20 years after Oslo, we can see clearly that the idea of separating the [Israeli and Palestinian] nations failed.”
“For some reason the settlement enterprise is being accused of being an obstacle to peace. Personally, I explain at each possible forum that the obstacle to peace is the objection by the Arabs to it and the fact that they do not want us here”.
Israeli citizens who marry Palestinians need to move to “the other side“.
“Dividing Jerusalem will bring disaster for the city. It cannot be that every time something is built in Jerusalem, the international community censures it. This constant criticism is a mark of disgrace for the international community.”
“We will not apologize – not for conquering Katamon or Jaffa or Tzfat, nor for liberating Hebron, and not for building Jerusalem our capital.”
“The residents here [in Migron settlement] are not thieves and are not trying to banish people from their land. They came here innocently, with the encouragement of the State of Israel.”
“There is no consensus in Israel regarding the two state formula. We will not, under any circumstances, allow the establishment of a neighbouring state that will be a genuine threat on our existence.”
“Zionism from its outset was a settlement movement. If we stop going on this path, how can we justify the faith that all of Zion belongs to us?”
“There are red lines that I as a democrat, say you cannot cross. I see it as defiance against Israel and Jerusalem as its capital as well as another protest against the historical narrative, a matter already pending before the High Court.” (Responding to a MK Tibi-proposed bill recognising Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state)
“I have a vision that suddenly all the Jewish people [from around the world] will come to live here… And if there were 10 million Jews here, we wouldn’t have to give up on anything.”
“If the Nakba is a tragedy, then the establishment of the State of Israel is a tragedy. The Palestinians experienced a catastrophe that was brought on by their leaders, but the establishment of the State of Israel is not the reason for it.”
“Terrorism is trying to paralyze and silence democracies fighting against it, exactly as was manifest in the world’s reaction to Israel’s counter-terrorist offensive Cast Lead in light of the Goldstone Report.”
“We miss [Rehavam Ze'evi's] clear, ideological voice, his leadership, his larger than life presence.”
Nazareth – In the celebratory atmosphere last week as the Palestinian unity government was sworn in, ending a seven-year feud between Fatah and Hamas, it was easy to overlook who was absent.
Hamas had agreed to remain in the shadows to placate Washington, which is legally obligated to refuse aid to a government that includes a designated terrorist group. The new Palestinian cabinet looked little different from its predecessor; Hamas’ input was limited to three independents, all in low-level ministerial positions.
And because this transitional government is still operating within the confines of Israeli occupation, the three ministers from Gaza were refused permits to travel to the West Bank for the swearing-in ceremony on June 2.
The appointment of a temporary government of technocrats is likely to be the easiest phase of the reconciliation agreed in late April. The deal has endured so far – unlike earlier agreements – because Hamas, in even more desperate straits than its rival, Fatah, has capitulated.
For that reason, the United States and most of the world hurried to offer their blessing. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, made dire warnings about the “strengthening of terror” and okayed 3,300 settler homes to punish the Palestinians.
A far trickier stage is still to come: the Palestinian cabinet under President Mahmoud Abbas needs to oversee a bitterly contested national election between Fatah and Hamas expected early next year.
The elections are seen as vital. Palestinians have had no say in who rules them since 2006, when Hamas was victorious. A year later, after brief and vicious fighting, Hamas and Fatah created separate fiefdoms in Gaza and the West Bank. Both need to prove their legitimacy at the ballot box.
Should voting take place, and Hamas win again, the US and others can be expected to boycott the new government – withdrawing desperately needed aid – as they did back in 2006.
But far more likely, Israel will not allow the elections to take place.
Eight years ago, in the months prior to voting, Israel initiated a wave of arrests of Hamas leaders in an attempt to stymie the democratic process. Israel also hoped to block voting in occupied East Jerusalem, which it considers part of its “eternal, indivisible” capital. But the White House – realising a ballot without Jerusalem would lack credibility – pressured Israel into grudging acquiescence.
Less well remembered is that Fatah quietly conspired with Israel to try to postpone the national vote. Fearing that Hamas would sweep the board, Fatah hoped to use Israeli intransigence in Jerusalem as the necessary pretext to delay the wider elections to a time more favourable to its candidates.
Netanyahu has already announced that he will not allow an election in East Jerusalem, as well as indicating that Hamas will be barred from running elsewhere. That is hardly surprising: Israel has spent the past eight years eradicating Hamas from Jerusalem by jailing its leaders or expelling them to the West Bank.
But Fatah’s behaviour in 2006 hints at an even bigger obstacle to consummating the reconciliation. The reality is that Hamas and Fatah have entered the process only out of mutual despair.
Hamas’ political and geographical isolation in Gaza has plumbed new depths since the Egyptian regime turned hostile. Blockaded on all sides, Hamas has seen its support erode as the enclave’s economic crisis has deepened. A deal with Fatah seems the only way to open the borders.
The credibility of Fatah and Abbas, meanwhile, has been steadily undermined by years of cooperation with Israel – all while the settlements have expanded – in the hope of extracting a concession on statehood. With little to show for it, Fatah is increasingly seen as Israel’s craven security contractor.
Abbas’ new strategy – creating a momentum towards statehood at the United Nations – requires that his government-in-waiting establish its democratic credentials, territorial integrity, and a national consensus behind the diplomatic option.
The priority for Netanyahu is not only to void the elections but to weaken the two sides’ commitment to unity by punishing them for their insolence. He can do so given Israel’s control over all aspects of Palestinian life.
Israel has begun not only with another glut of settlement building, but by declaring war on the Palestinian economy, refusing to accept shekel deposits from Palestinian banks, and by imposing collective daily blackouts on Palestinians for unpaid bills to Israel’s electricity company.
Abbas, now responsible for paying the salaries of tens of thousands of public employees in Gaza each month, will be even more vulnerable to Israeli threats to refuse to transfer tax and customs revenues. On Monday it was reported that Israel had also been lobbying foreign capitals to ensure the Palestinian president is held directly responsible for any rockets fired from Gaza.
Hamas faces a no less difficult period ahead. If it strays too far from Fatah’s dictates, it will be blamed for destroying the unity pact; but if it adheres too close to Fatah, it will lose its identity and risk being outflanked by more militant groups like Islamic Jihad.
Samah Sabawi, a political analyst, observed of the unity government: “What we need more than ministries and authorities is resistance and liberation.” The unity government – whether of technocrats or elected officials – will still operate within the limitations imposed by Israel’s occupation.
In fact, the unity government simply breathes new life into the illusion – created by the Oslo accords of two decades ago – that good governance by the Palestinian Authority can change the Palestinians’ situation for the better. In practice, such governance has entailed submitting to Israel’s security demands, a Palestinian obligation Abbas termed “sacred” last week.
As Sabawi suggests, an occupied people needs not better rubbish collection or street lighting but an effective strategy for resistance.
Palestinians will not benefit from a PA that polices the occupation simply because it becomes more “unified”. Rather, their struggle to attain real freedom will grow that bit more daunting.
JERUSALEM – A Palestinian man was injured late Friday after being hit by an Israeli stun grenade during a wedding in East Jerusalem, a local popular committee spokesman said.
Muhammad Abu al-Hummus told Ma’an that Israeli forces unexpectedly raided the village of al-Issawiya and fired stun grenades while crowds of Palestinians were participating in a traditional wedding march.
One man was hit directly in the forehead with a stun grenade and taken to the hospital, Abu al-Hummus said.
He added that no protests were taking place as the Israeli forces entered the town.