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PA: Israel undermined peace process first with ‘unilateral moves’

Ma’an - 06/04/2014

BETHLEHEM – A spokesperson for Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel on Sunday of undermining the peace process first, minutes after Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the Palestinians of making “unilateral moves” that had harmed the talks.

Nabil Abu Rdeina told Ma’an on Sunday that “it was Israel who took unilateral steps to thwart the peace process,” pointing out that Israel precipitated the current impasse in the talks by refusing to release the fourth batch of veteran Palestinian prisoners jailed before the Oslo Accords as had been previously agreed upon.

Abu Rdeina added that Israel has continued to expand settlements in the West Bank throughout the peace process, which also constitutes a unilateral move to undermine hopes for peace.

The statements came immediately after Israeli prime minister Netanyahu responded to the growing negotiations crisis on Sunday, accusing Palestinians of undermining the talks through “empty declarations” and “unilateral actions” at the beginning of the weekly government cabinet meeting according to Israeli media.

Other Israeli officials also denounced the moves, with strategic affairs minister Yuval Steinitz going so far as to say that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas was “spitting” in Israelis’ faces by trying to join international rights conventions.

“Unilateral steps by the Palestinians will be answered with unilateral steps on our part,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying by Israeli news site Ynet, in his first public comments on the deterioration of talks in recent days.

“The Palestinians will get a state only though direct negotiations, and not through empty declarations, nor through unilateral actions that will only keep the peace agreement further away,” he added during the meeting.

The comments come after the Palestinian Authority submitted letters to accede to a number of international conventions after Israel failed to release a group of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails for more than two decades. Israeli leaders condemned the move, decrying Palestinian attempts at international recognition and potential intervention.

“Throughout these talks, we have taken tough steps and demonstrated willingness to continue executing difficult in the upcoming months as well to create a framework to allow ending the conflict.”

“Unfortunately, as we approached the talks’ deadline, the Palestinian leadership rushed to unilaterally join 14 international treaties. Thus the Palestinians significantly violated the agreements that were achieved. The threats to turn to the UN do not affect us. The Palestinians have plenty to lose in a unilateral step.”

Netanyahu’s comments followed remarks from other top Israeli politicians slamming the Palestinian Authority’s move.

Economy Minister and right-wing Jewish Home party chairman Naftali Bennett was quoted by Ynet as saying that the Palestinians “shut down the negotiations by unilaterally going to the UN against all agreements. This is a flagrant violation of the accords, including the Oslo Accords. The negotiations with the Palestinians, even though they only turned unilaterally to the UN, makes the State of Israel a shelter for extortion.”

“If the seller runs off with the merchandise, you don’t need to chase him — cash in hand — begging to buy his goods. In short, if they retract the UN application we’ll negotiate, and if they don’t the negotiations must stop.”

Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz joined the critical remarks against the Palestinians, and said: “Truth be told, (Palestinian President) Mahmoud Abbas is spitting in our faces, he tells us he is not interested in peace, he is willing to recognize the existence of the Jewish people and its right to its own state, and now he shuts down the negotiations,” according to Ynet.

“This Palestinian Authority exists thanks to us. Not only because of the Oslo Accords, but because of the funds we transfer them, and the security we give them. Otherwise, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as they control Gaza, would also taken down Abbas and take over Ramallah.”

The statements come amid a wider breakdown in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that followed Israel’s refusal to release the fourth batch of veteran Palestinian prisoners as promised as part of a trust-building measure to restart US-backed peace talks.

Peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians were relaunched in July under the auspices of the United States after nearly three years of impasse, but over the course of the talks Israel has announced plans to build thousands of homes in illegal settlements across the West Bank, angering Palestinian and US officials.

Israeli officials now fear that the Palestinian Authority may attempt to appeal to international bodies against Israeli policies.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.

April 6, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fatah official: Negotiations will fail, it’s time to resume resistance

Ma’an – 26/01/2014

BETHLEHEM – A Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will not be established within the coming 20 years, a member of the Central Committee of the Palestinian Authority’s ruling party Fatah said on Saturday.

Tawfiq Tirawi told Beirut-based al-Mayadeen satellite channel on Friday that “It is not possible under any circumstances that a Palestinian state will be established in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip 20 years from now.”

“Those who believe a state can be established are misled, as negotiations will bring nothing,” he added.

Tirawi urged the Palestinians to resume resistance in all aspects as a result.

“We have to resume action, as action can change many things. I mean resistance in all its aspects, but under a united Palestinian plan agreed by all factions including PLO factions and factions outside the PLO.”

The Fatah official highlighted that his movement had not dropped resistance as a choice including armed resistance. “That was reiterated in the movement’s sixth congress held in Bethlehem.”

The framework agreement which US secretary of state John Kerry is promoting will be refused by the Palestinians, added Tirawi.

Peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians were relaunched in July under the auspices of the US after nearly three years of impasse.

Israel’s government has announced the construction of thousands of housing units in illegal settlements since peace talks began.

January 26, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Official: PLO committee agrees on steps for joining UN bodies

Ma’an - 26/01/2014

BETHLEHEM – A political committee of 12 members representing the Palestine Liberation Organization’s various factions convened in Ramallah and agreed on recommendations to take the Palestinian plight to the UN and its various bodies, a PLO official said on Saturday.

Hanna Amirah, a member of the Executive Committee of the PLO, told Ma’an on Saturday that the committee recommended addressing the United Nations regardless of whether the ongoing peace talks make any progress or not, although he added that a date had not been set.

The goal of these recommendations, he said, is to enhance the Palestinian position. However, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO Executive Committee need to approve them before they can be put into effect.

The Palestinian Authority is currently trying to counter demands made by the United States and Israel, added Amirah.

He asserted that the recent suggestions made by the US Secretary of State John Kerry were completely unacceptable to the Palestinians.

He highlighted that the proposals made related to Jerusalem, to Israeli settlements, and to Palestinian refugees were unacceptable in particular as well as the proposed Israeli military and civilian presence in the Jordan Valley.

Earlier this week, PLO official Wasil Abu Yousif, who is a member of the PLO’s political committee, said the committee agreed on prerequisites the PA needs to fulfill before signing international conventions and joining UN agencies and different bodies.

It is of great importance, he added, that the PA joins the International Criminal Court because that will enable the PA to sue the Israeli occupation over war crimes and crimes against humanity.

January 26, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Number recently displaced by flooding in Gaza tops 10,000

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Ma’an | December 15, 2013

BETHLEHEM – Approximately 10,000 people have been forced to flee their homes due to widespread flooding in the Gaza Strip, according to a report released Saturday evening by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The numbers of displaced dwarf earlier estimates, as they take into account both the thousands who have sought refuge in Gaza shelters as well as those who have sought refuge elsewhere.

Previous estimates released by the Gaza government had measured only those who had sought refuge in official shelters, who at their peak reached above 5,000 but were estimated at around 2,234 on Sunday.

In a comprehensive report on winter storm Alexa’s effects on the Palestinian Territories, OCHA reported that as of Saturday at 9 p.m., 10,000 Gazans had been evacuated from their homes and had gone to either shelters or relatives’ houses.

The areas most devastated by the storm are “North Gaza and Gaza City where over 1,500 houses suffered damage due to water entering houses, damaging furniture and electricity networks.”

An infant died and 100 were injured in storm-related incidents throughout Gaza, the report said. Gaza government officials said on Sunday that two individuals had died, but did not mention any case involving an infant.

Schools throughout Palestine have been closed since Thursday, and according to OCHA 17 schools in Gaza have been converted into shelters, while five other schools have been rendered unusable due to flooding.

The report also discussed the effects of the storm, in conjunction with the Israeli occupation, on herding communities in the West Bank.

“Several herding communities had their structures demolished (by the Israeli authorities) one day before the storm hit, prompting the UN Humanitarian Coordinator to call again for a halt to demolitions due to their humanitarian impact,” the report said.

Additionally, “approximately 30 families living in ten Bedouin communities in the northern Jordan Valley require emergency assistance.”

Meanwhile, the report said farmers across Palestine have been hit with livestock and crop losses, further weighing on levels of food insecurity throughout the territories.

“In the West Bank, preliminary reports of damages to the livestock sector are emerging from Hebron, Bethlehem and Salfit. Bedouin and herding communities seem to be the most affected. Herders are expected to face increasing livestock fatalities and morbidity in the coming weeks.”

In Gaza, over 10 percent of the coastal enclave’s greenhouses and field crops were destroyed or damaged by winter storm Alexa, in addition to 50 animal pens, the report said.

“120,000 chicks and 200 heads of livestock died as a result of the weather.”

The Gaza Strip is currently under a state of emergency due to severe weather conditions caused by a historic storm front moving south across the Levant.

UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness said on Saturday that large regions of the Gaza Strip were a “disaster area” and called on the international community to lift the Israeli blockade in order to allow recovery efforts to proceed.

“Any normal community would struggle to recover from this disaster. But a community that has been subjected to one of the longest blockades in human history, whose public health system has been destroyed and where the risk of disease was already rife, must be freed from these man made constraints to deal with the impact of a natural calamity such as this,” he said in a statement sent to Ma’an.

Fuel shortages have caused daily life in the Gaza Strip to grind slowly to a halt since early November, cutting off access to basic necessities for Gaza residents.

Until Sunday, the Gaza Strip had been without a functioning power plant since the beginning of November, when the plant ran out of diesel fuel as a result of the tightening of a seven-year-long blockade imposed on the territory by Israel with Egyptian support.

The power station began operating Sunday after receiving a delivery of diesel that was purchased from Israel by the Palestinian Authority using funds donated by Qatar.

The plant was only reopened in 2012 after it was targeted by an Israeli airstrike in the 2006 assault on the Strip. The power plant generates around 30 percent of the Gaza Strip’s electricity supply, while the rest comes from Israel and Egypt.

Until July of this year, the tunnels to Egypt provided a vital lifeline for the territory amidst the otherwise crippling Israeli blockade. The blockade has been in place since 2006, and it has limited imports and exports and led to a major economic decline and wide-reaching humanitarian crisis.

In 2011 and 2012, however, the situation improved, as the tunnels to Egypt witnessed a brisk trade following the Egyptian Revolution.

Gaza Strip energy officials have blamed Egypt for destroying numerous tunnels linking the Gaza Strip and Egypt in recent months. They also blamed the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority for charging taxes on fuel too high for Hamas authorities to afford.

December 15, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hamas condemns agreement linking Red Sea with Dead Sea

Palestine Information Center – 10/12/2013

BEIRUT — The Hamas movement has expressed its total rejection of the agreement linking the Red Sea with the Dead Sea, considering it a normalization and legalization to the Israeli occupation.

Hamas warned of the agreement’s serious impacts on the Palestinian cause in light of the open Israeli war on the Palestinian people and holy sites.

In a controversial step, Israel, Jordan and PA signed in Washington an agreement linking between the Red Sea and Dead Sea.

Israeli officials have described the agreement as an historic development that could achieve Herzl’s dream, while environmental groups warned of its serious impacts.

The movement stressed that the PA is not entitled to give up or compromise on any inch of the Palestinian land or water resources, calling on Palestinian factions to refuse such agreements that strengthen the Israeli occupation.

The Islamic movement called on the Palestinian Authority not to take unilateral decisions in violation of the national consensus under the illusion of peace negotiations.


Palestinian NGO statement on the World Bank-sponsored Red-Dead Sea Canal

Palestine Center for Human Rights | November 1, 2013

The undersigned Palestinian NGOs call on the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to halt all forms of cooperation with the World Bank-sponsored Red Sea – Dead Sea Conveyance Project (RSDSCP) and to take an unequivocal public stance of rejection to the project.

It has become clear beyond doubt that the project is an unacceptable attempt to force the Palestinian population to consent to their own dispossession and to compromise on their own rights.

Any lack of a clear position by the Palestinian leadership on this outrageous project, any stand of ambiguity or positive criticism towards it, contributes to the impunity that for far too long has allowed Israel to appropriate Palestinian water and deny Palestinians their rights.

Five reasons why the RSDSCP must be rejected:

1. The project undermines Palestinian water rights and legitimizes Palestinian dispossession from the Jordan River. Israel unilaterally controls the flow from the upper Jordan River and prevents Palestinians from making use of their rightful share of the lower river’s water. This is the sole cause for the gradual disappearance of the Dead Sea. Instead of addressing Israel’s water theft, the project aims to maintain the unjust status-quo of the river and allegedly “save” the Dead Sea through large scale Red Sea water transfer.

2. The project attempts to replace the river’s natural fresh water appropriated by Israel from the upper Jordan River with desalinated Red Sea water sold at high costs to severely water-dispossessed Palestinians and at pitiful quantities. Even these sales remain merely an “option” and the World Bank studies plan to ‘supply’ only Jericho, which is currently the only water-rich place in the occupied West Bank. With every drop of water that Palestinians purchase, they capitulate to their own deprivation.

3. Neither the World Bank’s Feasibility Study (FS) nor its Environmental & Social Assessment study (ESA) address the grave damage to the West Bank Eastern Aquifer, currently the only source Palestinians have for water supply and development. The Eastern aquifer is rapidly depleting, and its water table is dropping at an alarming rate – both as a direct result of the shrinking Dead Sea. Consenting to the project entails closing an eye to the rapid destruction of the only other water resource in the Eastern West Bank. Instead, Israel should be held accountable for the damage it caused to this vital resource on which over 1 million Palestinians currently depend.

4. Far from “saving the Dead Sea”, the RSDSCP will actually destroy the unique features of the Dead Sea and its ecosystem. Under the project, the Dead Sea is slated to turn into a dead, engineered pool of Red Sea water and desal brines, destroying this Palestinian and world heritage site.

5. Both Red-Dead studies (FS & ESA) and the entire conduct of the World Bank lack credibility and transparency, and make a mockery of the alleged consultation and participation process. Throughout the process, the Bank has systematically turned a blind eye to Israeli violations of Palestinian water rights.

The Bank repeatedly and deliberately ignored key concerns expressed by Palestinians since the project’s inception and during the “consultation” meetings in severe breach of its very own Code of Conduct, as well as the project’s Terms of Reference.

In addition, the Bank management has so far refused to make public the results of the Feasibility and ESA studies. The World Bank’s actions are tantamount to a cover-up.

Palestinian civil society organizations reiterate their rejection of the Red Sea – Dead Sea Conveyance Project and invite Palestinians of all walks to demand that the PLO and the PNA honor their aspirations for self-determination and justice by voicing a clear, loud and unequivocal “No!” to the Red-Dead Sea scam.

This project can only result in further damaging and undermining Palestinian water rights and all cooperation with it should cease immediately. Reparation and compensation for past damages and respect for Palestinian water rights are long overdue and the only way forward.

Endorsing organizations and individuals:

1. Palestinian Environment NGO Network (PENGON)
2. MAAN Development Center
3. Palestinian Wastewater Engineers Group (PalWEG)
4. Stop the Wall
5. Palestinian Farmers Union
6. Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ)
7. Land Research Center
8. Media Environmental Center
9. Palestine Hydrology Group (PHG)
10. Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC)
11. Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UWAC)
12. Environmental Education Center (EEC)
13. Institute of Environmental and Water Studies – Birziet University
14. Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)
15. Palestinian Environment Friends (PEF)
16. Arab Center for Agricultural Development (ACAD)
17. Earth and Human Center for Research and Studies (EHCRS)
18. Palestinian Farmers Association
19. The Arab Agronomists Association (AAA)
20. Prof. Dr. Hilmi S. Salem, Palestine Technical University – Kadoorie (PTUK)
21. Clemens Messerschmid, Hydrologist
22. Prof. Dr. Samir Afifi, Environmental & Earth Sciences Department, Islamic University of Gaza

December 11, 2013 Posted by | Environmentalism, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

With Leaders Like These: Yet a New Threshold for Gaza’s Misery

By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | December 4, 2013

It is impossible to predict the future. But one can state with a degree of certainty that little good can possibly be awaiting Palestinians when their political leadership seems to value their ties with Israel more than the fate of Gaza and all of its inhabitants. An exaggeration? Hardly.

In an interview with Voice of Russia, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas replied to an ‘invitation’ by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak at the Israeli Parliament (Knesset). “If (Netanyahu) wants me to come and say the things I want to say, then I am ready to do it,” Abbas said, according to YNet and other media on November 23rd. However, he had no response to a call for unity by Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

“Let’s have one government, one parliament and one president,” Haniyeh said in a recent speech, as quoted by Reuters. A spokesman for Hamas’ rival, Fatah, Ahmed Assaf, dismissed the call for it “included nothing new.”

Sure, Hamas and Fatah have been engaged in a terrible factional conflict that continues to undermine Palestinian national unity, and the Palestinian cause altogether. But the timing of Haniyeh’s call and Fatah’s dismissal is particularly sensitive, for Gaza is suffering its worst energy crisis since the Israeli-Egyptian siege of 2007.

For weeks, Gaza has been flooded with sewage as a result of a severe energy crisis caused mainly by Egypt’s systematic destruction of hundreds of tunnels that served as Gaza’s economic lifeline. The cheap diesel fuel which normally helps 1.8 million people survive a very harsh and relentless siege and boycott isn’t being smuggled in from the tunnels anymore. Israel has ensured that there can be no alternative to the Egyptian fuel, thus the Gaza government was forced to shut down the strip’s only power station.

Gaza has a high threshold to suffering, so for a place as poor as Gaza to be hurting, this additional agony means that the humanitarian crisis is at its worst. Even before the most recent crisis, a comprehensive UN report last year said that if no urgent action were taken, Gaza would be ‘unlivable’ by 2020. Since the report was issued in August 2012, the situation has grown much worse. Considering the sea of sewage, one would argue that Gaza is already ‘unlivable’.

But for nearly one year, many had hoped that the dramatic political changes in Egypt could in fact bode well for Palestinians in general and Gaza in particular. Gaza was still bleeding from Israel’s so-called Operation Cast lead – the 22-day war of 2008-9 that killed over 1,400 Palestinians and wounded over 5,500 more. The war had destroyed much of Gaza’s poor infrastructure, and the siege made a complete recovery impossible.

Then there was the war of November 2012 – eight days of fighting that killed 167 Palestinians and six Israelis. As strange as it may sound, the second war was a source of hope for Palestinians. Back then, Egypt had a democratically elected president. Sure, Morsi at times seemed to behave as a lame duck president, but he sided with the Palestinians against Israel, and helped craft a ceasefire agreement that met more of Hamas’ terms than Israel’s. It was the first time that Palestinians felt that the Egyptian government was truly on their side since the Camp David agreement in 1979.

Morsi was under severe pressure from the US and his own military, generously funded by the US, to isolate Hamas. Although he didn’t do so, he was too weak to offer Gaza a sustainable solution to break the Israeli siege. The Rafah border crossing, however, was mostly open, and relations were in constant improvement.

But the ousting by General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi of Morsi on July 3rd changed all of that. The Egyptian military cracked down with vengeance by shutting down the border crossing and destroying 90-95 percent of all tunnels, which served as Gaza’s main salvation. The strip became more vulnerable than ever before. Its haggard infrastructure began falling apart, as Egypt, Ramallah and Israel watched, preparing for various outcomes. Cairo found in Ramallah a willing ally who never ceased colluding with Israel in order to ensure that their Hamas rivals were punished, along with the population of the strip.

The New York Times reported on November 21st that 13 sewerage stations in the Gaza Strip have either overflowed or are close to overflowing, and 3.5 million cubic feet of raw sewage find their way to the Mediterranean Sea on a daily basis. “The sanitation department may soon no longer be able to pump drinking water to Gaza homes,” it reported. Farid Ashour, the Director of sanitation at the Gaza Coastal Municipalities Water Utilities, told the times that the situation is ‘disastrous’. “We haven’t faced a situation as dangerous as this time,” he said.

Gaza’s only power plant has been a top priority target for Israeli warplanes for years. In 2006 it was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike, to be opened a year later, only to be destroyed again. And although it was barely at full capacity when it operated last, it continued to supply Gaza with 30 percent of its electricity needs of 400 megawatts. 120 megawatts came through Israel, and nearly 30 megawatts came through Egypt. The total fell short from Gaza’s basic needs, but somehow Gaza subsisted. Following the ousting of Morsi and the Egyptian military crackdown, the shortage now stands at 65 percent of the total.

It was precisely then that Haniyeh tried to reach out to Abbas. This time, his call for unity had a particularly urgent humanitarian dimension. Although willing to speak at the Knesset, Abbas had no consolatory words for Haniyeh. Instead, it was time for some cruel politics. The PA decided to end its subsidy on any fuel shipped to Gaza via Israel, increasing the price to $1.62 per liter from 79 cents. According to Ihab Bessisso of the PA, the decision to rescind Gaza’s tax exemption on fuel was taken because sending cheap fuel to Gaza “was unfair to West Bank residents,” according to the Times.

Reports by the Economist, Al Monitor and other media speak of Egyptian efforts to reintroduce Gaza’s former security chief and Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan to speed-up the projected collapse of the Hamas government. Al Monitor reported on November 21rst that Dahlan, a notorious Fatah commander who was defeated by Hamas in 2007, had met with General al-Sisi in Cairo. Evidently, the purpose is to oust Hamas. But the question is how? Some “suggest that a Palestinian brigade mustered in al-Arish could march on Gaza and, with Egyptian support, defeat the broad array of Hamas forces created in the last decade.”

No words can describe the deterioration of the moral standards of the Palestinian political elites. Even during particularly disgraceful episodes of their history, things had never sunk so low. In the meantime, Palestinians in Gaza continue to subsist in an atrocious reality, while pondering future possibilities. And with leaders like Abbas and Dahlan, little good can be expected.

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

December 4, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

After Gaza Power Plant Forced off, Humanitarian Conditions in the Gaza Strip Deteriorate

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights | November 9, 2013

Occupied Palestine – The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) expresses deep concern over the deterioration of humanitarian conditions of the civilian population due to the aggravation of the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip.

On Friday morning, 01 November 2013, the operation of the Gaza power plant was totally stopped due to the lack of fuel required for its operation.  PCHR is deeply concerned that the current crisis may impact the access of 1.7 million Palestinians to vital services, including the supply of drinking water, and that this crisis may result in the suspension of work in some vital sectors, such as health, sanitation and education.

According to PCHR’s follow-up of the chronic power crisis in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Energy Authority in Gaza announced that the operation of the Gaza Power plant was totally stopped on Friday morning, 01 November 2012. The Energy Authority claimed that its counterpart in Ramallah stopped the fuel supplies required to operate the power plant and its requested taxes on the price of fuel.  However, the Energy Authority in Gaza announced its inability to pay taxes on the price of the industrial fuel.  On the other hand, the Energy Authority in Ramallah refused to provide any new fuel supplies required for operating the power plant resulting in the total lack of fuel and the shutdown of the plant.

The shutdown of the Gaza plant power has left serious consequences on the humanitarian conditions of the Gaza Strip’s population due to the deficit in daily needs of power in Gaza.  The Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCO) in Gaza was forced to increase the hours of power outages on houses and vital facilities from 8 to 12 hours daily.  Thus, the schedule, which is applied, based on which power will be distributed for six hours and then cut off for 12 hours resulting in further deterioration in humanitarian conditions of the Gaza Strip’s population.  It should be mentioned that the power plant was providing around 65 megawatts during the years of its reparation and rehabilitation after being targeted and destroyed by Israeli forces in June 2006.  The power plant had worked since June 2012 to produce around 100 megawatts.  The Gaza Energy Authority stated that the electricity is provided to the Gaza Strip as follows: 120 megawatts from Israel and 27 megawatts supplied by Egypt.

The Gaza power plant has been suffering from a significant decrease in fuel supplies required for its operation coming from Egypt through tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border, as the supplies have almost completely stopped for around 2 months.  As a result, the Energy Authority in Gaza purchased fuel from Israel through its counterpart in Ramallah.  At that time, the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah exempted fuel purchases from taxes.  However, the Energy Authority in Ramallah demanded its counterpart in Gaza to pay the taxes on the fuel supplies due to the PA’s current financial crisis.  The Energy Authority in Gaza refused to pay those taxes claiming that it cannot afford paying them.

PCHR has been following the power crisis consequences in the Gaza strip since the power plant stopped operating after Israeli forces targeted and destroyed it in June 2006 resulting in catastrophic impacts on the power supplies in the Gaza Strip.  PCHR has been also following the impacts of the ongoing Palestinian political split, whose two parties failed to find solutions that take into account the best interests of Palestinian civilians in Gaza and stop the deterioration of humanitarian conditions and provide of their electrical power needs and fuel required to operate the Gaza plant power.  PCHR is deeply concerned over further deterioration of civilians’ humanitarian conditions as the power crisis has affected all civilians’ daily life needs and violated their right to access to basic and necessary services, including access to health facilities and to treatment, access to educational institutions, including schools and universities, and access to water services, including drinking water in homes and all other vital services.

Through continuous follow-up of the effects of the aggravation of the power crisis, PCHR has observed serious deterioration of the humanitarian situation from which the residents of Gaza are suffering:

·         About 1, 7 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip are facing deficiencies in all walks of their daily life, which have affected their basic needs, including health services, access to water, environmental health services and ability to meet the educational needs of school and university students.

·         The deterioration of health conditions in the health facilities of the Gaza Strip due to inability to compensate the shortage of electricity for long hours on one hand, and their inability to provide fuel needed to run the alternative generators in these facilities on the other hand, in addition to breakdown of many machines and medical equipment at hospitals and health facilities of the Gaza Strip.

·         Hundreds of patients in the hospitals of the Gaza Strip face serious health risks as the medical equipment are not run regularly, especially in the intensive care units and other medical units like heart and kidney units.

·         Local bodies, including municipalities and village councils, are unable to provide alternative fuel to ensure the workflow of their vital facilities serving the population of the Gaza Strip, including water and sanitation facilities. Citizens’ complaints started to resound because of their inability to get water in their houses, especially in high buildings.

·         Different bakeries in the Gaza Strip said that they partially stopped working due to the long hours of power outage and the shortage of the fuel needed to run the machines. One can notice overcrowding for long hours in front of bakeries in order to get the basic needs.

·         Educational facilities in universities and educational institutions are suffering serious disorder, which led to the inactivity of many educational laboratories and the postponement of some educational assignments due to electricity shortage and lack of alternative power sources. The aggravation of electricity crisis has coincided with the mid-term exams that started about a week ago in the schools and universities of the Gaza Strip. The majority of governmental schools is still without electricity and cannot provide the students with alternatives.

·         Hundreds of institutions and associations in the Gaza Strip had to postpone their activities and programs due to the electricity shortage all day and their inability to provide alternative power sources to run their machines and equipment.

·         The suffering of the population of the Gaza Strip has seriously aggravated, especially those living in high buildings and who depend on elevators in the ascending and descending from their apartments. Dozens of residents, including elderly people and patients with chronic diseases have been greatly affected.

PCHR is following the power crisis in the Gaza Strip with grave concern and:

1.       Calls on all concerned parties, including the Palestinian government in Ramallah, the Palestinian government in Gaza and the Electricity Distribution Company in Gaza to make efforts to provide the fuel needed to run the power plant and ensure its workflow with no cessation;

2.       Warns of the serious consequences of the stoppage of the power plant on all vital sectors, including the basic services for about 1, 7 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, like drinking water supplies, disruption of health facilities, including hospitals and medical centers, in addition to the sewage plants and educational sectors.

3.       Calls on the international community to pressure Israel, the occupying power according to international humanitarian law, to lift the illegal closure imposed on the Gaza Strip since June 2007, to fulfill their legal commitments towards the civilian population of the Gaza Strip and to ensure access to all the medicines, food, and basic services, including fuel supplies needed to run the Gaza Power Plant.

November 9, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

15 Palestinians have died since the resumption of negotiations

Palestine Information Center – 09/11/2013

AL-KHALIL — A statistics report prepared by Quds Press International news agency showed that fifteen Palestinians died since the resumption of the negotiations, three months ago.

The negotiation between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli occupation was resumed in Washington on July 30, for the first time after it had been frozen for three years. Yet the Israeli violations and attacks against Palestinian civilians and their properties and sanctuaries have continued.

The statistical report said that three Palestinians from the Jenin refugee camp died a few days after the resumption of the negotiating sessions, after being shot by Israeli forces.

The Israeli occupation forces have continued killing and attacking citizens and destroying Palestinian properties, indifferent to the ongoing negotiating sessions. On August 26, the IOF special forces committed a massacre in the Qalandiya refugee camp in Ramallah, wounding about 20 Palestinians and killing 3 others.

After the resumption of the negotiations, the Israeli army assassinated 4 Palestinian resistance fighters from the Qassam Brigades.

Quds Press’ report also pointed out that 3 Palestinian youths were killed during the last three months: Ahmed Tzazaah from the town of Qabatiya in Jenin after clashes with the occupation army, and Anas al-Atrash and Bashir Hababin after being shot by Israeli soldiers at Container and Za’atara checkpoints

The deliberate policy of medical neglect has also continued in the occupation jails and recently led to the death of patient captive Hassan al-Turabi from Nablus.

The PA has ignored Palestinian factions’ calls for ending the negotiations, in response to the occupation’s persistent crimes which have led in the past three months to the death of 15 Palestinians, detention of hundreds and displacement of large numbers of residents from their homes that had been confiscated or demolished, not to mention the Judaization projects that continue in Jerusalem unabated and the settlement plans which include the construction of more than 1,700 new housing units.

November 9, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment

BICOM and the peace process façade: On the views of the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre

By Hilary Aked, Tom Mills, David Miller and Tom Griffin | MEMO | November 4, 2013

Renewed ‘peace talks’ between Israeli and the Palestinian Authority officials have quietly been going on behind closed doors and a U.S.-imposed media blackout for three months now. Like all previous such exercises they will almost certainly break down without delivering justice or bringing peace.

Even though the Palestine Papers made it clear that the leaders of the PA, a creation of the Oslo process, have offered huge concessions in past rounds of talks, pro-Israel commentators are nonetheless pre-emptively rehearsing their arguments to blame the Palestinian side and obfuscate the fundamental longstanding issue: Israeli intransigence. A key – though little known – organisation engaged in this activity in British political circles is BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre.

‘BICOM: Giving peace a chance?’, a new report published by Spinwatch, subjects this organisation to detailed scrutiny for the first time. It concludes that BICOM, like Israel itself, seeks to maintain the façade of progress towards peace, but in practice exhibits deep disdain for international law.

BICOM was established in 2001 in the wake of the Second Intifada and increasing international exasperation with Israel. Looking back a decade later, its primary funder, the billionaire businessman Poju Zabludowicz, neatly articulated its raison d’etre: ‘We have learnt over the last 10 years… that the key to creating a more supportive environment for Israel in Britain is convincing people in this country that Israel seeks a lasting peace… As long as this argument remains credible then people will generally forgive mistakes and difficulties even if peace continues to be elusive’, he wrote.

So BICOM’s aim is not to contribute to peace, but to convince people that peace is what Israel wants. The professions of support for a two state solution BICOM issues seem to be little more than a rhetorical device to foster, in Zabludowicz’s words, a ‘supportive environment’ in which people will ‘forgive’ Israel for its ‘mistakes’.

The existence of a broad international consensus in support of Palestinian statehood is enough to explain why BICOM judges it must pay lip service to the abstract idea of a Palestinian state. But the devil is in the detail. Though BICOM poses as the voice of sensible centrism, its political positions, when subjected to scrutiny, are far from moderate. In practice BICOM opposes key tenets of international law that serve as the framework for implementing the recognised prerequisites of a Palestinian state. It echoes Israeli exceptionalism on the four key issues of the conflict: borders, settlements, Jerusalem and refugees. The following is based on an analysis of BICOM’s own statements.

After the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, the UN Security Council passed resolution 242 which called for Israel to end its occupation of territories captured during the war. Following the Israeli government’s unique interpretation, however, BICOM argues that the absence of either the word ‘the’ or ‘all’ from the English language version of resolution 242 when referring to ‘territories captured’, means that Israel need not withdraw to pre-67 borders. This, despite the resolution’s preamble clearly asserting the ‘inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war’.

On settlements too, despite international consensus on their illegality as articulated in UN Security Council resolutions and reiterated in 2004 by the International Court of Justice, BICOM stands by the Israeli government’s position which is, again, at odds with the international community. Israel disputes the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention which outlaws the transfer of civilians into the occupied territories. Indeed, whilst engaging in talks supposedly intended to demonstrate its commitment to achieving peace, Israel yet again announced more settlement construction and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a letter of solidarity to Israeli settlers in Hebron.

While BICOM, for obvious reasons, generally tries to avoid spelling out the extent to which its positions contradict with the requirements of international law, Luke Akehurst, who manages the BICOM spin-off group We Believe in Israel, has explicitly challenged the internationally accepted interpretation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. But more frequently, since Israel is in violation of so many laws and UN resolutions, BICOM simply dispenses with international legal principles as an explanatory framework. Instead its stances are frequently premised upon – and justified by way of reference to – what Israelis are ‘willing to contemplate’ or the ‘broad consensus in Israel’.

On Jerusalem, for example, BICOM asserts that ‘most Israelis would not be willing to contemplate’ Israeli ‘loss of Israeli sovereignty’ over the city. Thus it endorses the Israeli government’s unilateral rejection of the international political and legal consensus. BICOM’s attitude is illustrated in its use of language too. It euphemistically refers to settlements as ‘communities’ or ‘neighbourhoods’, to the West Bank as ‘disputed’ rather than occupied territory and calls the Jerusalem ‘the capital of Israel’ – though even the United States does not recognise this and therefore maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv.

On the thorny issue of the Palestinian refugees BICOM claims that in the 1948 war ‘there was no deliberate, co-ordinated Jewish policy to expel the Arabs’. This Zionist myth has long been disproved by Israel’s so-called New Historians, such as Ilan Pappe, who have shown convincingly that the contrary is in fact true. At any rate, the right of the approximately 700,000 refugees – and their descendants – to return to their homes is upheld in UN resolution 194. Yet BICOM’s take on the refugee issue appears, once more to ignore international law and UN resolutions. Instead it offers the legally insubstantial argument that ‘Israel does not believe it is responsible for resettling the refugees, believing their plight to be the responsibility of the Arab states that rejected the 1947 Partition Plan [and] started the war’.

Cutting to the heart of the situation is BICOM’s statement (again couched in terms of Israeli desires, not legality) that ‘no Israeli government will accept a solution that would allow millions of Palestinians to settle in Israel [as] this would effectively spell the end of the Jewish majority’. Even without reference to the return of refugees, BICOM’s research director, Toby Greene, writing in BICOM’s recently launched glossy publication ‘Fathom‘, speaks of a ‘demographic threat’ posed to Israel – and its self-definition as a Jewish state – by natural Palestinian population growth alone. This illuminates the underlying ethnic exclusivism in BICOM’s vision of ‘two states for two peoples’.

Just as the ‘peace process’ functions as a fig leaf for continuation of the status quo, BICOM’s lobbying activities – which focus on encouraging the British media to take what it paradoxically refers to as ‘the most objectively favourable line‘ – serve to ward off condemnation of Israel. This seems to be true amongst the strategically vital political elite at least, though grassroots trends show increasing pro-Palestinian feeling.

Ultimately it is symptomatic of the tenuous nature of democracy in the UK that by maintaining close relationships at the top – with the likes of the influential Labour and Conservative Friends of Israel groups – BICOM is able to inculcate in the political class the idea that Israel is a benign and reasonable actor in search of peace, while its underlying arguments and Israel’s actions, belie this narrative.

The report BICOM: Giving peace a chance? will be launched on the 7th of November. Register to attend the launch event here.

November 4, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

As Gaza Dies Slowly, Waiting Game is on

By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | October 8, 2013

Since the Hamas election victory in January 2006 — and particularly after the Hamas-Fatah clashes and split between Gaza and the West Bank in the summer of 2007 — Gaza has undergone a disturbing human experiment, whose toll is unprecedented in the history of the impoverished Strip.

The plotters involve the usual suspects, each with a clear set of objectives behind the isolation and targeting of Gaza. The US and Israel have worked tirelessly to divide Palestinians and derail any chances of a unified government, let alone a cohesive national project. This helped Israel achieve two objectives: Blaming Palestinians for a lack of leadership (as in ‘we don’t have a peace partner’) for the collapse of the so-called peace process and creating distractions as it continued with the construction of its Apartheid Wall and colonies throughout the Occupied Territories.

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) has assumed the role of the local collaborator and has done its outmost to undermine Hamas at every turn. The US has ensured that no unity agreement is signed between Hamas and the PNA’s ruling Fatah party and if any such agreement is ever reached, it will never be honored. Israel moved into Gaza from time to time to test the resolve of Palestinian resistance, to ‘teach Gaza a lesson’ and to ensure that Hamas’ reign comes at a heavy price. PNA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah was spoiled with much ‘aid’ and perks. Its officials are well paid, even when the rest of the Palestinians are not paid at all. According to VisualizingImpact.org, Palestinian politicians are the second highest paid in the world after Kenya, as a multiple of gross domestic product per capita.

Abbas, his officials and PNA security bosses have no reason to abandon such a sweet arrangement, especially if the other option will be to let go of their riches and embrace a national liberation project, the cost of which could be too high for pampered men to bear.

Isolated, lacking political savvy and out of options, Hamas made some costly mistakes, especially following the Arab upheaval that promised change, but threw the entire region into a high-stakes political gamble. Hamas became even more isolated, especially after the July military coup against Egypt’s first elected president. Mohammad Mursi, despite immense pressure, was much kinder to Palestinians in Gaza than his predecessor Hosni Mubarak, who was an important player in the Gaza experiment. His regime worked diligently to ensure that the siege on Gaza was complete and that an Islamic movement at his country’s doorsteps had no chance of proving politically viable.

The Mubarak regime played its role according to the script and greatly benefited too. For his tenacious efforts to contain ‘radical Islamists’ in Gaza, Mubarak was spared the sham democracy crusade launched by former US president George W. Bush. The US was and remains completely oblivious to numerous human rights violations carried out by Egypt’s security apparatus, the curtailing of freedoms and the brazen denial of basic rights of Egyptian citizens. US Congress seemed much more forgiving of Egypt’s abuses, compared to rights abuses carried out by other regimes — thanks in part to Egypt’s six-year-long crackdown on Gaza. Out of the four crossings that connect Gaza to the world, Israel is sealing three, while Egypt is choking the fourth and in the last two months, it has destroyed all tunnels that Gazans had dug to smuggle food and other urgent supplies. It is believed that some of these tunnels are also a source of arms that Palestinians in Gaza use in their war with Israel. As Gaza dies slowly, the waiting game continues. All parties — Israel, US, Egypt and the PNA and their regional allies are coordinating their efforts to ensure Hamas’ demise and PNA’s return to power.

In an article titled ‘Gaza: Crushed between Israel and Egypt’, Jonathan Cook wrote of a ‘cynical game’ that is on in full swing. The game expects the Egyptian military to destroy all tunnels and to close the Rafah border crossing for Israel to turn a blind eye to “Egypt pouring troops, as well as tanks and helicopters, into Sinai in violation of the 1979 peace treaty,” so that Gaza can become dependent on Israel’s ‘good favor’ once more. All of this is to “bolster the image of Abbas” and to present the PNA as a sane option as opposed to Hamas’ caustic policies.

Meanwhile, in the name of “national security”, Egypt seems to be planning something sinister as well. Apart from cutting Gaza off, its navy is attacking and imprisoning Gaza fisherman and its generals are constantly accusing Gaza of playing a role in the security unrest in Sinai. One of Egypt’s most prominent military leaders, General Ahmad Wasfi, warned “Gaza jihadists” in Kuwait’s Al Rai newspaper, saying he would “cut off the head of anyone who tries to threaten Egypt’s security”. This comes shortly after Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Nabeel Fahmy, threatened war on the Gaza Strip. More recently, Israeli daily Jerusalem Post cited a senior Egyptian source commenting to West Bank-based Ma’an news agency that “the Egyptian army has planned military attacks on specific targets in the Gaza Strip in the event that the security situation in the northern Sinai peninsula deteriorates”. According to the source, “Egyptian reconnaissance planes had photographed the potential targets”.

It is payback time as far as the plotters are concerned. Israel’s failed, albeit very violent wars on Gaza, fell short of eradicating Hamas or rooting out the Strip’s resistance groups. The US’s carrot-and-stick policies also failed as did most of US policies in the Middle East since the invasion of Iraq, if not even before. As for Abbas, his credibility is at an all-time low and the only reason he remains in charge is because Israel sees some benefits in his continued presence. But since the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government in Egypt, efforts have been renewed with earnest — this time involving all parties.

For months, there has been growing talk of a new “popular” movement in Gaza to topple Hamas. The movement is modeled after Egypt’s protests of June 29, which emboldened the military coup by Egypt’s strongman General Abdul Fatah Al Sissi. Hamas claims that several cells affiliated to Egyptian intelligence have been apprehended in Gaza. Protests are also planned for next month. “Hamas’ political rival, Fatah … is reported to be behind the new protest movement,” wrote Cook.

True, Hamas is now politically at its weakest, thereby creating an opportunity for its many enemies to make their move. But this is not just about Hamas. The ultimate aim is to remold Gaza, the heart of Palestinian resistance, and to turn the strip into an extension of its western-styled Ramallah under Abbas with its handsomely paid officials. If this goal is achieved, it will come at a very high price that will be exacted not just from Gaza, but from all Palestinians.

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

October 9, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

West Bank: Omens of a Third Intifada

By Malik Samara | Al-Akhbar | September 26, 2013

The reigning state of despair among Palestinians has been growing steadily since the end of the Second Intifada. Day after day, the Israeli occupation expands as the options for Palestinians, ostensibly represented by a new generation of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) eager to seek a “settlement,” grow narrower. The killing has not abated, nor the settlement movement and the Judaization of Jerusalem. The “peace process” track continues as a “strategic option.” But the streets have not come to a rest since the Second Intifada, as they didn’t after the First Intifada and during the period of the Oslo Agreement.

Although, the frequency of clashes and confrontations might have decreased, the revolution continues to simmer, awaiting a spark to ignite. Today the situation in the West Bank evokes the period leading up to the First Intifada. The pace of clashes is rising and military operations are intensifying, despite the project for peace.

Ramallah – In a matter of hours, attention shifted from the far north of the West Bank to the south. In Qalqilya in the north, a Palestinian citizen named Nidal Emer led Israeli air force pilot Tomer Khazan to an empty spot. He killed him, in order to swap his body with that of his detained brother. Nidal took the initiative, but ended up like his brother: in an occupation cell.In Hebron in the south, amid daily clashes between occupation forces and residents, a Palestinian sniper shot at stationed soldiers, killing one and injuring another. The occupation forces retaliated, closing the city and waging a sweeping campaign of arrests, but were unable to find the “unidentified shooter.”

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades – Knights of the Galilee, part of Fatah, claimed the operation in Qalqilya. Some people were optimistic about the movement’s return to special operations and the escape of the Fatah genie from the PNA’s bottle. However, its credibility was soon called into doubt the next day, when it issued another statement also claiming the Hebron operation, which had already been claimed by al-Asifa, part of Fatah-Intifada, which had split from the Fatah Movement in 1983.

On Israeli Radio 2, an Israeli security official spoke about the continuing security coordination between the PNA and Israel to capture the “killer” in Hebron. The father of the man from Qalqilya denounced his son to the station. “My son is a killer and deserves to be killed,” he said.

But it does not matter anymore. What matters is that Palestinian youth can take the initiative from outside of the quarreling factions and narrow interests of the political parties. Two soldiers were killed in less than 24 hours, something that has not happened since the Second Intifada, whose anniversary falls next Friday.

The details of the Hebron operation remain unclear, despite the maniacal security operation, which led to the arrest of a man close to 100 years of age for owning an Ottoman era rifle. The identity of the Hebron sniper is not yet clear, however, and the statements by the factions claiming the operation have not been verified.

Meanwhile, military experts in the occupation army have maintained that the sniper was professional and successfully carried out the operation in its three stages: locating the perfect spot, selecting a target, and the withdrawal of security. The sniper picked a soldier standing on open ground, so that the bullet would not ricochet behind him. However, the downside of the operation were the ensuing squabbles between the parties and their lack of credibility, exposed after contradictory statements were issued within less than an hour by two factions with a long history of political disagreements.This negative fallout also plagued the Second Intifada and was one of the most important factors in its collapse. However, the breadth and size of the clashes of last month, especially in the West Bank and Jerusalem camps, could herald a new uprising.

Amidst all the fury, a young group calling itself the Intifada Youth Coalition is calling for mobilization and protests to protect sacred sites next Friday, which coincides with the anniversary of the Second Intifada. A video made by the coalition is being widely shared on social media sites. In it, a young man calls for confronting the occupation on all fronts set to a song by Julia Boutros, Ya Thuwar al-Ard, which brings to mind the Second Intifada.

Despite differences between the factions, there is a general consensus rejecting negotiations. Several factions launched a popular campaign against the negotiations at a press conference in Ramallah, attended by all PLO factions.

Senior Fatah officials have also expressed their rejection of the negotiations process, including central committee member Abbas Zaki, who declared that negotiations were futile and called for “struggle and insisting on Palestinian constants.”

Even figures who had participated in the Oslo process have expressed, albeit timidly, their regret at signing the agreement, including Yasser Abed Rabbu and Ahmed Qorei. The head Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat went as far as complaining that “Israel is not fulfilling its obligations.”

However, this was not enough to inspire the Palestinian leadership to halt or even postpone negotiations for one day, despite the fact that three young men were martyred in Qalandiya. It did not even review the “legitimacy” of its choice, which contradicts the consensus of PLO factions, nor did it change its policies or strategies, which seem to be wholly focused on turning “Palestinian life into negotiations.”Seven martyrs have fallen since the beginning of the latest round of negotiations two months ago. They were all from the camps where the First Intifada erupted and caused the most trouble during the Second.

It is enough to see the sacrifices of Jenin camp, which was back in the headlines following the martyrdom of Islam al-Toubassi at the beginning of this week. The incident led to a limited military operation at the nearby Jalama checkpoint, before the PNA’s security forces managed to suppress the camp’s anger, prohibiting its residents from reaching the frontline areas.

But Jenin is the not the only camp where the revolution is still simmering. In Qalandiya, three Palestinians were recently martyred and clashes continue near the Qalandiya occupation checkpoint nearby. In al-Oroub and al-Fawwar camps in Hebron, clashes have been occurring on a daily basis with the occupation forces stationed nearby, far from the eyes of the media and the PNA’s forces.

Current conditions and factors do not provide Palestinians with any other option. Al-Aqsa mosque faces daily raids and there have been calls by Israelis for a million person march on the holy site to coincide with the anniversary of its storming by Ariel Sharon, which laid the ground for the Second Intifada.

Popular mobilization against Israel is also on the rise inside the 1948 territories, particularly in the Negev and the Triangle, which also coincides with the October 1 revolt that led to the martyrdom of 13 Palestinians from the occupied territories.

It seems the break out of a third intifada is only a matter of time. Friday could be the day the phoenix rises from the ashes.

The PNA Impedes the Intifada

The PNA has cloaked all options following Oslo under the guise of the “national project.” Anyone who objects or dissents falls outside this project. Under this slogan, the Palestinian resistance was liquidated in the West Bank, including the al-Aqsa Brigades, where the PNA’s forces are the only power on the ground. Any weapons not in its hands have become outlawed.The PNA suppressed all action against negotiations, supported by its wide popular base which follows the Fatah movement and the regional winds that put wind in its sails. The PNA has the money and media and is capable of manipulating the discourse. Sometimes it dons the robe of piety, accusing its detractors of debauchery and blasphemy, as it does with the PFLP, for example.

With Hamas, accusations of bartering with religion and extremism are mounted. Fatah’s minister of awqaf (endowments) unabashedly declared a fatwa for “revolution against Hamas” and forbade any opposition to the president in the West Bank.

In political differences it finds an opportunity to avoid facing reality, accusing others of instigating a crisis.

The bedlam following the killing of the two soldiers is the responsibility of Hamas, according to Fatah spokesperson Usama al-Qawasimi, who said that “Hamas’ credibility in the Palestinian street suffered a serious blow after the uncovering of their real schemes and their use of religion and resistance as a cover. If Hamas wanted to change the situation and aim for resistance, it has to start resisting in Gaza and to maintain the truce with Israel at gunpoint.”

September 26, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Oslo swamp after two decades

By Fayez Rasheed | Al Quds Al Arabi | September 18, 2013

The ill-fated Oslo Accords, signed 20 years ago, have only made Israel more arrogant and open about its disregard of the Palestinians’ national rights. Illegal settlements and their infrastructure now cover 80 per cent of the West Bank, leaving the Palestinians with just 12 per cent of historical Palestine. The occupation has left cities, villages and whole districts disconnected by the Apartheid wall; Jerusalem and its surroundings have been Judaised; the land of the Jordan Valley is being looted. Moreover, Israel is imposing more of its conditions on the Palestinians, including the condition of “recognising its Jewish character” and the power of the Palestinian Authority in its own land is becoming more and more limited. On top of all this, the geographical and political split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip is still in place, which is leading, by means of the Oslo Accords, to the decline of the Palestinian national project.

Israel’s main intention in signing the accords was to get the Palestinian representatives to abandon the armed struggle, which is what happened at the 1996 Palestinian National Council session in Gaza; US President Bill Clinton was present when the PNC voted for all the articles regarding armed struggle to be dropped from the Palestinian National Charter.

Furthermore, the Israelis wanted to limit the Palestinian revolution to specific geographic areas in the West Bank and Gaza, in order to monitor and control it more easily. I recall Yitzhak Rabin’s words in the Knesset shortly after the Oslo Accords were signed, when a fellow member asked him why Israel signed the agreement. His response was that Israel had gathered most of the Palestinians belonging to “terrorist” groups in one geographic area to make it easier to keep an eye on them. When Ehud Barak, who was the Army Chief of Staff at the time, was asked about how to solve disputes between the Palestinians and Israel he said, “We will resolve any contradiction according to the Israeli interpretation of the matter disputed over, because we are stronger.”

Israel wanted to see the Palestinian Authority created for two reasons:

  1. To solve the administrative and daily problems of the Palestinians in the occupied territories far away from Israel and its budget, thus easing the financial burden of the occupation. This way it was able to continue its occupation, but the international community, including the Arab world, would bear the expense of looking after the Palestinians.
  2. To establish Palestinian security institutions obliged to coordinate and cooperate with the occupation authorities, under American supervision, in order to prevent military operations against Israel.

The accords did not make any mention, at Israel’s insistence, of the creation of an independent Palestinian state. They only refer to a “self-administrating” state. The main issues of Jerusalem, the borders, refugees, water, etc., were postponed to what it called “final-status negotiations”. These issues should have been resolved by 1999 but, as Rabin said, “Appointments are not sacred.” Now we are in 2013 and these issues have still not been discussed. This, too, is part of Israel’s strategy to make sure that Oslo did nothing for the Palestinians; another Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir, told the Madrid Conference in 1991 that “we will prolong negotiations with the Palestinians for 20 years”; that is exactly what has happened.

All along, Israel as the stronger signatory, and the occupying power, has interpreted the terms of Oslo in its favour. When the Israelis re-entered the occupied territories in force in 2002, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced Oslo’s “death”, despite which the PA and its officials continued to declare that they would be sticking to it.

The final status discussions, if they ever take place, will be pointless, for Israel has already made it very clear that Palestinian refugees will never be allowed to return to their homeland; it will never withdraw fully from the territories it occupied in 1967; and Jerusalem is the “united and eternal capital” of Israel. As long as Israel is the top dog, this will be its position.

The Palestinians have made a number of strategic errors since Oslo. For a start, they have failed to read Israeli intentions, not least with regards to the illegal settlement programme. They have also limited the Palestinian struggle to popular resistance and negotiations. This is no way to alter the balance of power in order to convince the Israelis that its occupation must end.

In the creation of the Palestinian Authority, the leadership set up an alternative to the PLO as the representative of the people. This has led to the total neglect of Palestinian institutions across the occupied territories as well as the diaspora. Distanced from the people they claim to represent, this has meant that “leaders” such as Yasser Abed Rabbo could go to meetings with Israelis and unilaterally abandon, for example, the refugees’ right of return; and Ahmed Qurei could agree to link the Palestinian economy inexorably to that of Israel.

Moreover, the current round of negotiations has gone ahead even though the stated Palestinian condition of an end to Israeli settlement activity has not been met and the Judaisation of occupied Jerusalem continues apace.

For 20 years the Palestinians have been negotiating despite their utter foolishness, and delegations from both sides have attended “normalisation” meetings to promote contacts between the occupier and the occupied.

All of this is down to the lack of an honest broker in the search for peace and justice. Counting on the US in this role is pointless because no administration in Washington can ever be anything other than Israel’s main ally. Arab states, meanwhile, have almost totally abandoned any pretence of doing anything about the “Zionist enemy”. They have left the resistance movements to their own devices instead of backing them with material, financial and political support.

Any notion that the Palestinian Authority can lead us to the creation of an independent State of Palestine while it is still under occupation is delusional. In becoming an administrative authority and not a liberation movement the PA’s role is inconsistent with the national cause.

Many supporters of Oslo are positive about it. They point to Israel’s recognition of the Palestinian people, it’s acknowledgement of the PLO, the return of nearly half a million Palestinians to the occupied territories in 1967, the establishment of the PA as a prelude to the establishment of a state, the establishment of state institutions, and the failure of the Israelis to falsify the facts.

In response I say this: Israel’s recognition of the Palestinian people was the result of the armed Palestinian revolution, not of the Oslo Accords. If the First Intifada had been followed through then the establishment of an independent Palestinian state would have been a fact rather than a fanciful theory.

We must be honest and acknowledge that the PA was created to act as a vehicle for limited self-rule as determined by Israel, not to be the government of a state. In the interim, the Israelis have made sure that potential and actual Palestinian leaders strong enough to stand up to them have been assassinated. That is the reality.

This is the swamp that Oslo has put us in. It is possible to escape from this predicament by cancelling Oslo and announcing that the Palestinians are no longer bound by its terms. Israel has always ignored them so why can’t we? The legitimate armed struggle must be reinstated along with other forms of civil disobedience and disruption so that the occupation becomes once more a burden for the Israelis. If this requires the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority, so be it. The leadership got us into this swamp; the least they can do is help us to get out of it.

~

The author is a Palestinian writer. Translated by Middle East Monitor.

September 22, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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