Africa Today | 09-20-2011
Politically it’s difficult, if not impossible, to find a Palestinian who is against the idea of having an independent and recognized state. Nevertheless, the picture becomes more complex when concrete and legal considerations are discussed.
“The real question here is why one announces the creation of a Palestinian state when most of its people are refugees that depend on foreign aid of UN agencies like UNRWA or of the European Union; when there are daily problems with the checkpoints, the settlements and their ongoing growth. Today there are 600,000 settlers living in the West Bank settlements and the number continues to growing“, noted Amjad, a legal adviser to the Bethlehem-based Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights.
The Alternative Information Center (AIC) spoke with Amjad about the Palestinian UN initiative and its possible impact on Palestinian refugees and their internationally recognized right to return.
Creating a state under a foreign military occupation is unsustainable?
“Not necessarily. There are independent states that were occupied by foreign powers. There could still be an independent entity while being occupied. These are two things that, eventually, could go hand in hand. But the question is what would be the benefit of declaring such a state. If we look at the daily life of the Palestinians, so far we can’t see any changes for them. When we look at the advantages and the disadvantages this move can have, on the side of disadvantages we could list a lot of fears, while on the side of advantages we really cannot find any.”
As many Palestinians, Amjad would have wanted more internal debate before going to the UN. Numerous issues are misunderstood and the Palestinian Authority (PA) misinforms about others. The most unfortunate misunderstanding, according to him, is the belief that the state of Palestine would be able to petition the International Criminal Court or similar UN organs if the majority of the General Assembly recognizes it. “In a strict legal level, this is not true”, he warned.
“Palestine could be recognized as a state within the UN, but could be denied entrance to the International Criminal Court because that tribunal could decide that Palestine is not really a state. To give an example, some years ago Palestine tried to become a member of the World Trade Organization and was denied membership because it lacks effective control over its territory…Today, even after recognition, the state of Palestine wouldn’t have effective control over its territory”, concluded the Palestinian lawyer.
With this argument in mind, he assured that if Palestine is recognized as a permanent observer in the UN General Assembly –“the most realist scenario today”-, this new Palestinian state will have, effectively, almost the same rights and obligation as the Palestine Liberation Organization today. “If we compare the Vatican (the only permanent observer state in the General Assembly today) with the PLO, they have basically the same rights”, he highlighted.
But even if there would be nothing to gain from the current UN bid, there could be something to lose. Amjad’s and Badil’s greatest fear is that the new Palestinian state will not have, as the PLO has, an internationally recognized mandate to represent all the Palestinian people, including the refugees scattered throughout the world and their right to return, as established in 1948 by UN Resolution 194.
“Legally speaking, the future Palestinian state could try to claim the right to return of the Palestinian refugees, but the question would be one of returning to which area. When we talk about the refugees from 1948 or from 1948 to 1967 within the area that is today the state of Israel, could the future Palestinian state claim the right to return to a foreign entity or would it be limited to claiming the right to return to its own entity, meaning a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders, in the best case scenario? If the second was the case, then a large majority of the Palestinian refugees would be excluded, since there were displaced from their homes in what today is Israel”, the legal advisor warned.
As Amjad pointed out repeatedly throughout the interview, nothing is certain at this point. “There’s no historical and legal precedent for this”, he explained. There are best case scenarios, worst case scenarios, realist scenarios and improbable scenarios, but in none of them, according to Badil’s research, there is a real victory for the Palestinians.”
In his first speech at the UN, President Obama stated that he prohibited torture and ordered Guantanamou prisons closed. He also said he will work to cut the nuclear arsenal of the US and Russia and move towards a world without nuclear weapons. He said that peace must be pursued by actions of all nations working together and that the era of unilateralism is finished. He said he will work aggressively to advance peace based on two states: Israel and Palestine. He said, “America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements”. All were big fat LIES. And now comes Obama with new lies in front of the UN and at this International day of peace. Here he shows Palestinian leaders did not give him any briefing on history. I hope any Palestinian leaders should object strongly and with facts and figures to these misstatements [my brief comments in brackets]:
“Let’s be honest: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. [false] Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. [correct but this should be balanced by explaining that 10 times more Palestinians were butchered] Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. [Israelis teach hate 100 more times than the other way around and hate of the colonizer to the colonized is not the same as the reverse]. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. [That is nonsense; Israel wiped Palestine including 530 villages and towns and now is the fourth strongest country plus having you Obama and Congress as its lackeys]. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile, persecution, and the fresh memory of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they were. [Irrelevant and highly emotional: just study the history of Nazi-Zionist collaboration to see how absurd to link Apartheid Israel with “The Jewish People”, itself a mistaken term no more valid than concepts of “The Christian People” or “The Muslim People”]. These facts cannot be denied [they are regurgitation of Zionist myths, irrelevant facts, and half truths]. The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland [a racist apartheid state based on land theft and ethnic cleansing; is that your definition of success?]. Israel deserves recognition [no it does not, Israel deserves to be faced with the truth and pressured to transform just like Apartheid South Africa]…
All who meet with him to go back and read his first speech in the UN should level with Mr. Obama. Perhaps they should give him a gift: a copy of Prof. Naseer Aruri’s excellent book titled “Dishonest Broker” about the destructive role of the US.
Perhaps what might awaken some sense of shame in Obama is for him to be given his own words uttered less than 2 years ago:
“The choice is ours. We can be remembered as a generation that chose to drag the arguments of the 20th century into the 21st; that put off hard choices, refused to look ahead, and failed to keep pace because we defined ourselves by what we were against instead of what we were for. Or, we can be a generation that chooses to see the shoreline beyond the rough waters ahead; that comes together to serve the common interests of human beings, and finally gives meaning to the promise embedded in the name given to this institution: the United Nations.”
Hypocrisy and double standards are standing naked and exposed more than ever thanks to the Arab spring and the corruption of political leaders from Netanyahu to Obama to the Arab leaders that do not follow their conscience. In Palestine and the rest of the Arab world, the forces of status quo fight the forces of change tooth and nail. Human rights and democracy cannot be used as tools in some countries and violated in others. The US administration for example says the leadership in Syria lost its legitimacy and must step aside. In Yemen and Bahrain the same politicians merely mumble useless words like “different parties should resolve their differences”. The reason is obvious: the Israel lobby. The Arab people hate what the Zionists had done and continue to do to fellow Arabs (7 million of us Palestinians are now refugees or displaced people). Arabs are prevented by their own dictatorial governments from providing direct help to liberate Palestine. The US thus acts not in its own interests or in defense of any liberal or democratic ideals but largely in defense of apartheid and racism that is distilled in this state called Israel.
Hypocrisy will be more evident at the United Nations these coming few days. It is already evident in the use of bullying by the US administration to other countries to force them to not vote for a Palestinian state. This bullying will remind us of how they bullied in 1947 to get the unjust resolution recommending partition of Palestine against the wishes of its people (contrary to UN Charter and the right of self-determination). Hypocrisy will also be evident in Netanyahu’s speech in the UN that will say to the world: Israel wants peace and “why are we at the UN when Israel and the Palestinians can negotiate directly.” After decades of direct negotiations between slaves and heavily armed masters, excuse the world for not believing you. Mr. Abbas (whose term as president of the “Palestinian authority” long expired) will give a speech where he will again reiterate that Palestinians renounced violence and want their own state on the borders of 1967 under the US government parameters (which recognize demographic changes including that 500,000 colonial settlers sit on the best parts of the West Bank). Here in Palestine, the people want him to 1) consult with them and rebuild the PLO with direct elections to the PNC, 2) that if and when he then goes to the UN as a real representative to the Palestinian people that he tells them about our concerns and the historic and current injustice that we are subjected to. I am afraid neither will happen. In fact he explicitly stated that he does not want to “delegitimize Israel”; this means he accepts the racist Zionist project as legitimate. Netanyahu will present a false/concocted history that mixes a religion with nationality and claims rights while delegitimizing Arabs and Palestinians at every turn. Abbas’s speech will likely validate that narrative. Netanyahu will talk about security (for the colonial occupiers) while Abbas may not even touch on security for the native people but will again emphasize we are “peaceful in protesting/gatherings.” Indeed today there were hundreds of gatherings throughout the West Bank cities that organizers said would show support for Abbas.
Who will address the fact that the Palestinian people were subjected to the largest armed robbery in the last 100 years accompanied by massacres and ethnic cleansing? Who will mention that the value of hard assets alone stolen by the Zionist project exceed $30 trillion? Who will speak of the over 60,000 Palestinian civilians massacred or the hundreds of thousands who were injured or jailed? Who will explain to those gathered in New York that International law recognizes the right of such native people to resist including by armed means? Who will explain to world leaders that 99.99% of the people resisted by methods of popular unarmed resistance (see my book “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of hope and empowerment”, Pluto Press)?
Before 1991, Israel was largely ostracized around the world for committing these injustices against the native Palestinians. But unfortunately, acceptance of Israel mushroomed when Mr. Yasser Arafat listened to people like Mahmoud Abbas and went down the path of the disastrous Oslo accords. Dozens of countries then established diplomatic, business, scientific and even military cooperation with the apartheid state. Israel just also joined CERN, the European nuclear organization. Is it possible to abandon the trap of Oslo that legitimizes colonialism? Is it possible to stop begging for a statelet in parts of the West Bank and Gaza by going to the UN to marginally improve bargaining positions between a jailer and a jailed people? Is it possible to build-up boycotts, divestments, and sanctions and real popular resistance (not mere gatherings in Al-Manara square) to apply pressure that insists on the right of return for all refugees first and foremost? Politicians worry that admitting mistakes and changing course would bring them down or they lose privileged positions. But let me ask you how a position of a key Palestinian leader like Abbes would be if he gave a speech with total honesty telling his people something along these lines:
“We went into Oslo with good intentions, it was supposed to last for five years and give us a state in all of the West Bank and Gaza. For the past nearly 20 years it did not work, our refugees are still refugees and Israel doubled its settlement activities and killed the two-state solution. Now I recognize that we lapsed in our judgments not only about our colonizers but also about the US and some other Western Countries who have strong Zionist lobbies. Because of this, I am stepping down soon. My fate will be up to the Palestinian people and I will work hard to obey their just demands for change. In the coming few weeks we in Fatah will work together with all political factions to create a transition body to prepare and run elections for the Palestinian National Council to represent all Palestinians around the world (in diaspora and on both sides of the Green line). This PNC council will be bound by the original charter of the PLO that calls for a democratic pluralistic state in all of Palestine among other things unless the new representative PNC decides to change elements of such a charter. By going back top the people, we join the era of the Arab spring…”
Or imagine if Obama got the courage to go to the American people and say that he has demanded a settlement freeze and rollback based on International law to achieve real and just peace but that a strong lobby in Washington ensures that US foreign policy is held hostage to Israel. What will happen to the statute of such politicians? What happened when President Nasser admitted mistakes and took responsibility for the Naksa of 1967? What happened to president Eisenhower when he asked Israel to get out of Gaza and the Sinai in 1956 (and Israel complied)? While we are not the same it is also good to reflect on our own history. What happened between 1929 and 1939 to the 30+ Palestinian factions then in operation (some of them had tried and failed in their accommodationist/moderate stances with the British)? Decency can be done by political parties and by politicians but it seems to be absent at the UN this week. But history shows that peace is achieved in spite and not because of politicians. We will have to again rely on ourselves (the people) to change history. Starting a new chapter on this International day of peace may not be such a bad idea.
On failure of us Palestinians to challenge “leaders”
When will the Arabs Resist? A panorama of desolation. By Prof. Edward Said
As a reminder: the PLO charter
State of recognition: Whether the UN grants the PA status as a state or refuses to do so, either outcome will be in Israel’s interest
Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities in occupied Palestine. He serves as chairman of the board of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People and coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Sahour He is author of “Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human rights and the Israeli/Palestinian Struggle” and “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of Hope and Empowerment”
Hanan Ashrawi, who is part of the Palestinian delegation at the UN, reacted angrily to President Obama’s UN address. Here are some quotes from a Ha’aretz interview in Hebrew that took place immediately after the speech (Barak Ravid, “Palestinian Anger Over Obama Speech at the UN” (original title), Ha’aretz (Hebrew))
I did not believe what I heard, it sounded as if the Palestinians were occupying Israel. There was no empathy for the Palestinians, he only spoke of the Israeli problems.
He told us that it isn’t easy to achieve peace, thanks, we know this. He spoke about universal rights – Good, those same rights apply to Palestinians.
[The Americans] are applying enormous pressure on everybody at the UN, they are using threats and coercion. I wish they would invest the same energy in an attempt to promote peace, not threats.
Ahmad Tibi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli parliament, who is in NYC with the Palestinian delegation, was also interviewed by the newspaper. He echoed Ashrawi when speaking about the Obama address:
It is possible to think after hearing the President’s speech today, that the Israelis were demanding a state from their Palestinian occupiers.
Avoiding [mentioning] the ’67 borders was biting and clear.
His message is continued suffering for the Palestinians, accompanied by long and perpetual negotiations with Netanyahu.
The fact that Tibi, who is an Israeli politician, traveled with the PA delegation to the UN is viewed by many as controversial in Israel. Many Israelis take a very dim view of cooperation between Palestinians from Israel, with officials in the territories; they see it as disloyalty to the state. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s the way they think.
Both Tibi and Ashrawi insisted that despite the pressure, the Palestinians will go forward with the UN resolution as planned. According to an AP report, Mahmoud Abbas says that he will not agree to a delay in voting for the statehood resolution despite pressure from the US and France.
More of the same pro-Western, imperial puppets.
The United States has welcomed the formation on Thursday of an umbrella group of Syrian opposition figures, the self-proclaimed Syrian National Council. Ahmed Ramadan, Bassma Kodmani, Abdulbaset Seida speak as a group of Syrian opposition members announce a Syrian National Council in Istanbul, Turkey, September 15, 2011.
Bassma Kodmani is based in France (writing books in French and, oh look, connected to the Ford Foundation) Bassma Kodmani is Executive Director of the Arab Reform Initiative. She is also senior adviser on international cooperation to the French national research council (CNRS). From 1999 to 2005 she headed the Governance and International Cooperation Program at the Ford Foundation office for the Middle East and North Africa. Here she had special responsibility for initiating and supporting joint Israeli-Palestinian projects,
Bassma-Kodmani Special Advisor, Oxford Research Group Advisory Council, Carnegie Middle East Center
Mohamad Abu Ramadan – Aspen Institute / Middle East Strategy Group …The Aspen Institute Middle East Strategy Group (MESG) “supports pragmatic economic and policy initiatives that tangibly advance prospects for peace in the Middle East. The group’s membership includes prominent American, Palestinian and Israeli business leaders and policy makers. MESG is chaired by former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Hagel, and Palestinian and Israeli businessmen Samer Khoury and Idan Ofer. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Aspen_Institute_/_Middle_East_Strategy_Group Group Members Mohamad Abu Ramadan
Abdulbaset Seida – WHO IS THIS FRAUD? AN AUTHOR WHO HAS GIVEN LECTURES AT NONE OTHER THEN THE ULTRA-RIGHTWING, ZIONIST, NEOCON HUDSON INSTITUTE … SEE….Syria: Challenges and Opportunities for the New Administration Thursday, March 26, 2009. Abdulbaset Sieda, Ph.D., is an educator and author of numerous books, including Forgotten Seasons of Continual Sufferings: The Kurdish Question in Syria. (and close friend of dr radwan ziadeh a leading spokesperson for Syria opposition who comes from chattam house(riia)and iiss an imperial British military think tank)see… http://thenakedfacts.blogspot.com/2011/05/syria-proof-of-conspiracy.html
One of the best kept secrets lately has been the complete list of congress members that visited Israel during their recent ‘break.’
My ‘con,’ Republican Diane Black, 6th district Tennessee, zionist states of America, was one of them.
As a freshman congressperson it is no surprise that she had to make the obligatory trip, meet with the criminals in charge and let them know she is with them all the way. There seems to be no other way to secure a long term congressional career and Mrs. Black knows it.
What’s odd is that Diane kept her trip to Israel about as hidden as could be. To the best of my knowledge she did not announce it publicly in advance. It was a reported 9 day visit where for all intents and purposes she just disappeared. Upon her return she has not posted anything about this ‘educational’ trip paid for by the AIPAC subsidiary The American Israel Education Foundation on her official government web site or her Facebook page. No press release, no nothing except for one apparent tweet that few saw. One might get the impression that she was trying to hide her trip from her constituents. Why would that be Diane?
What is also odd is that the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal, the newspaper in the largest city in Diane’s district did not find her trip to Israel newsworthy. Neither did the nearby Nashville media including the Tennessean or any of the local tv or radio stations. The secret has been safe with no debate anywhere to be found among the middle Tennessee area residents.
A statement that was found from Black is “My Trip to Israel” on an obscure site Tennesseans Watching Federal and State Government and as far as I can tell not re-posted anywhere else.
Black, number 25 on the list of wealthiest congresspersons, is a low key zionist supporter. She is not required to shout from the rooftops her loyalty to the apartheid illegitimate state in her overwhelmingly non-jewish but fairly significant christian zionist populated district. She just needs to deliver the votes in Congress as needed.
The Palestinian initiative for statehood recognition in the UN will get no support from Mrs. Black. The wishes of the Israeli criminal ‘leaders’ will dictate her foreign policy votes and war mongering stance.
Once again I’m ashamed to have a congressperson who will represent Israel’s and of course big corporate interests ahead of those of the folks of Tennessee. We’ll even go so far as to call her a traitor, a tea party traitor. The best we can hope for is that her first two years in Congress will also be her last.
Yahoo blocks users from sending e-mails about the OccupyWallSt.org website with a message claiming “suspicious activity”
Thinking about e-mailing your friends and neighbors about the protests against Wall Street happening right now? If you have a Yahoo e-mail account, think again. ThinkProgress has reviewed claims that Yahoo is censoring e-mails relating to the protest and found that after several attempts on multiple accounts, we too were prevented from sending messages about the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations.
Over the weekend, thousands gathered for a “Tahrir Square”-style protest of Wall Street’s domination of American politics. The protesters, organized online and by organizations like Adbusters, have called their effort “Occupy Wall Street” and have set up the website: www.OccupyWallSt.org. However, several YouTube users posted videos of themselves trying to email a message inviting their friends to visit the Occupy Wall St campaign website, only to be blocked repeatedly by Yahoo. View a video of ThinkProgress making the attempt with the same blocked message experienced by others (click full screen for a better view of the text):
ThinkProgress tried other protest websites, like AmericansforProsperity.org and TeaPartyPatriots.org, and both messages were sent smoothly. However, emails relating to the OccupyWallSt.org protest were blocked with the following message (emphasis added):
Your message was not sent
Suspicious activity has been detected on your account. To protect your account and our users, your message has not been sent.
If this error continues, please contact Yahoo! Customer Care for further help.
We apologize for the inconvenience.
ThinkProgress has sent a request for more information to Yahoo, and will post any reply once we have received it with Yahoo’s explanation for its apparent censorship.
It’s not the first time Yahoo has been accused of political censorship. Yahoo officially partners with the repressive Chinese regime to provide the government with access to emails related to groups viewed as dissidents. An explosive investigation by Der Spiegel found that Yahoo provided Chinese authorities with access to emails from journalists, and the snooping resulted in the same journalists being sent to prison camps.
The Occupy Wall Street protests have continued, but if you own a Yahoo e-mail account, you might not know about it.
We’re continuing to monitor Yahoo’s mail service and have now been able to send messages containing the phrase “Occupy Wall Street” and its website on some Yahoo accounts. On other accounts, however, Yahoo is still blocking the messages.
Yahoo’s customer care Twitter account acknowledges blocking the emails, but says it was an unintentional error:
“We apologize 4 blocking ‘occupywallst.org’ It was not intentional & caught by our spam filters. It is resolved, but may be a residual delay.”
Yahoo’s main Twitter account adds:
“Thanks to @YahooMail users & @ThinkProgress for catching problem w/ #Occupywallst.org mail. Prob is fixed, but there may be residual delays.”
The Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled by Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah has ordered all mosques to join its campaign in support of Abbas and the PA’s bid for UN membership.
An official letter posted on the website of the PA’s religious affairs ministry, in Arabic, and dated 20 September 2011, states the following:
Pursuant to the instructions of His Excellency, brother Dr. Mahmoud, Sidqi al-Habbash – may God save him – the Minister of Awqaf [Islamic foundations] and Religious Affairs, the following instructions should be issued to the muezzins [those who make the call to prayer], to praise God immediately after the completion of the expected speech of His Excellency President Abbas/President of the State of Palestine on Friday, 23 September 2011.
This is to express thanks to God for His favors, imploring Him to grant success to the Commander President Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine, and to guide his steps on the path to realizing the hopes of our people and the return of all our legitimate rights by the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
The letter is signed by Sheikh Khamis Mahmoud Abada, who is identified as “Assistant Undersecretary for Islamic outreach and guidance.”
In recent years, supported by the United States and Israel, the PA has imposed a strict regime of control on all West Bank mosques. This was supposedly to stop “extremists” – particularly Abbas’ rival and erstwhile coalition partner Hamas – from using the mosques for political purposes.
How ironic then that the supposedly “secular” PA so blatantly uses the mosques to promote a political leader who lacks any democratic legitimacy and accountability and to give his policies that enjoy no national consensus a veneer of divine legitimacy instead.
The misuse of mosques in this manner comes on the day when the PA staged a rally in downtown Ramallah in favor of the UN bid, instructing – according to media reports and eyewitnesses – PA employees to take paid time off work in order to attend.
NABLUS — A 14-year-old Palestinian was hurt by Israeli forces on Tuesday during clashes with settlers in Asira Al-Qibliya village south of Nablus, witnesses and medics said.
Medics said Israeli forces shot Aref Aref in the back, during confrontations which erupted after dozens of settlers marched on the village. AFP said he was hurt by a tear-gas canister.
A journalist, Ayman An-Noubany, was also injured by a rock, medics said, adding that they were both taken to Rafedia Hospital in Nablus.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said forces used “riot dispersal means” to respond to clashes in the village. She was not aware that any teenagers were shot at, but said a Palestinian man was injured “probably by a rock hurled by an Israeli civilian.”
Palestinian fire fighters said they extinguished a blaze in the garden of a home in Asira Al-Qibiliya. The fire was believed to have been sparked by a tear gas grenade, a civil defense report said.
Volunteers from a watchdog committee set up to document settler attacks said around 40 settlers tried to raid Asira Al-Qibiliya, and that they were protected by Israeli forces.