Palestinian medical sources confirmed that the Palestinian woman, who was killed by Israeli army fire, on Wednesday, did not carry an explosive belt as the army claimed, but was instead five months pregnant, and “her only fault was walking the wrong route and not understanding Hebrew.”
The Israeli police and army tried to come up with various allegations, including the usual claim of “carrying a knife,” and then tried to claim that she “was wearing an explosive belt,” while the only thing she “carried” was her fetus.
The slain woman has been identified as Maram Saleh Abu Ismael, 24, a mother of two children; Sarah, 6, and Remas, 4. Her brother, Ibrahim Taha, only sixteen years of age, was also killed as he was walking with her, heading to Jerusalem, after she obtained for the first time, a permit to enter the city.
Contrary to the Israeli allegation that Maram “carried a knife,” and the second allegation of “carrying an explosive,” eyewitnesses said the two victims walked the wrong route while heading to the Qalandia terminal, as they took the route that is only used for vehicles, instead of the pedestrian path.
The soldiers then started shouting in Hebrew, a language neither Maram nor her brother understood, and the woman just froze from fear before the soldiers started firing at her, and when her brother rushed to rescue her, the soldiers shot him too, and both were left to bleed to death.
The two were tens of meters away from the soldiers, and contrary to military allegations, did not attempt to attack any soldier or officer.
Ahmad Taha, an eyewitness from Jerusalem said that after the soldiers shot the pregnant woman and her brother, they retreated a few meters back, and fired several additional live rounds on them, “confirming the kill.”
“There was no stabbing attempt, and no reason for the army to shoot, the soldiers shot them from a distance, and later fired more rounds to confirm the kill,” Ahmad said, “The soldiers then placed two knives next to the lifeless body of the pregnant woman, and shortly after that, the police published pictures showing three knives!”
Mohammad Ahmad, a bus driver who witnessed the shooting, said an Israeli soldier who was standing behind a large concrete block, shot the woman from a distance of more than twenty meters.
“Neither the woman, nor her brother, posed any threat to the lives of the soldiers,” Ahmad stated, “They were far away from the nearest soldier, and did not pose any threat to them – they just walked the wrong route.”
The slain brother and his sister are from Qotna village, northwest of occupied Jerusalem; Maram is Married and living with her husband and children in Beit Surik nearby village.
It is worth mentioning that a Palestinian ambulance rushed to the scene, but the soldiers closed the entire area, and prevented them from approaching the two Palestinians, who eventually bled to death.
More than an hour after the shooting, Israeli military medics placed the corpses of the two Palestinians in black bags, and took them away.
One day before this fatal shooting, a Palestinian man in his sixties nearly faced the same deadly fate when he walked this same wrong route, but when the soldiers started shouting at him he understood them because he speaks and understand Hebrew very well.
Hardly a day goes by without Israel accusing Palestinian leaders of incitement against the state and its citizens. They argue that such incitement was one of the triggers for the seven-month long uprising which has seen forty Israelis killed by Palestinians, mostly in knife attacks, and over two hundred Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces, many executed while posing no threat to anyone. Such accusations of Palestinian incitement extend all the way up to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He admitted recently that there is some incitement from the Palestinian side in his interview with Israeli Channel 2 TV. On other occasions, Saeb Erekat, General Secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and its chief negotiator has also accepted that there is some incitement from the Palestinians.
Incitement as far as Israel is concerned covers a wide spectrum, from calling those killed by Israel “martyrs” to objecting to repeated incursions by Jewish settlers into Al-Aqsa Mosque, and including the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign; seeking membership in international organisations such as the International Criminal Court; calling Israel out as an apartheid state; describing the horrific impact of the occupation to the UN General Assembly; and even reminiscing about the towns and villages (most of which have been wiped off the map by Israel) from where Palestinian refugees come and to which they long to return.
Israel has worked tirelessly to convince the so called “international community” to accept its definition of “terrorism” and make it cover any form of resistance that is quite legitimate, including throwing stones. Even attacks against Israeli soldiers maintaining an illegal occupation in Palestine are deemed to be “terrorism”. The international community now works according to Israel’s definitions and narrative and seems to require the victims, the occupied people, to be exemplary and simply curse their predicament but do nothing about it. How many victims of an acknowledged crime are required to protect the criminals? The Palestinians under Israeli occupation are.
The situation is the same across the Atlantic. US presidential candidates making their obligatory, embarrassing pilgrimage to the main pro-Israel lobby group conference, AIPAC, earlier this month joined in this nauseating spectacle of dancing to Israel’s tune. Their words were carbon copies of what an Israeli spokesman would say. They accused the Palestinians of raising their children to hate and of loving death more than life. Both are inaccurate and very racist accusations designed to pander to the lobby. Only Bernie Sanders skipped this festival of anti-Palestinian hatred and then took Clinton to task for barely mentioning the Palestinians in a recent debate between the two Democrat front-runners for the White House.
While Palestinians can understand why Israel trivialises the impact that the loss of their homeland in 1948 (the Nakba) and the occupation of the remaining 22 per cent in 1967 (they Naksa) have had on them, they cannot fathom how and why supposedly intelligent people like the presidential candidates can be so insensitive to this. The fact that they see the Palestinians as the villains and their Israeli colonisers and occupiers as the victims is like being stabbed in the heart. To call on them to submit to Israel’s brutal occupation is in itself a form of incitement.
If the Palestinians are guilty of incitement, then what does Israel’s 24/7 occupation amount to? What the Palestinians can do pales into insignificance when compared to Israel’s deliberate daily provocation and humiliation of subjugated people in the hope of a reaction, to which the so-called Israel Defence Forces (IDF) can “respond”. This provocation – and provocation is not a strong enough word to convey the impact it has — is the most significant incitement of young Palestinians to take matters into their own hands. If those calling on them not to react could put themselves in their position for even one day and be on the receiving end of what it is like to live under occupation, I am confident that they would understand why they might be driven to violence.
The list of examples of incitement by Israel is long.
When Zionists claim that historic Palestine belongs to the Jews and use this to argue not only that modern day European Jews with no connection to the land have a “right to return” but also deny the same right to Palestinian refugees driven out of their homes and land in 1948 by Jewish terror groups, that is incitement by Israel.
When Palestinian children are abducted in the night by the army of an occupying power; denied legal rights including representation; shackled when brought to court; and made to sign confessions in Hebrew, that is incitement by Israel.
When an Israeli armoured bulldozer accompanied by dozens of soldiers arrives and demolishes a Palestinian home in occupied East Jerusalem under the pretence of the lack of a building permit, then that is also incitement by Israel.
When illegal Jewish settlers protected by the security forces throw a family out of their home in Sheikh Jarrah, and move into it themselves, that is incitement by Israel.
When Israeli settlers break into the grounds of Al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of the security forces and claim that the mosque site is theirs, then that is incitement by Israel.
When Muslims are barred from reaching their holiest mosque in Palestine at the whim of the Israeli security forces, then that is incitement by Israel.
When homes are built for Jewish Israelis on Palestinian land and the owner’s movement is restricted to allow them freedom of movement, then that is incitement by Israel.
When the IDF fires tear gas canisters into Palestinian schools causing the children to suffocate or faint, then that is incitement by Israel.
When the occupying state takes over the main mosque in Hebron and divides it between Jews and Muslims, and determines when Palestinians can and cannot pray in it, then that is incitement by Israel.
When the occupation authority builds roads which encroach on Palestinian land for use by Jewish settlers only, then that is incitement by Israel.
When Jewish settlers terrorise the local population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and even murder Palestinians such as Mohammed Abu Khdair and the Dawabshe family under the protection of the IDF, then that is incitement by Israel.
When Israel lays siege to 1.8 million human beings in the Gaza Strip for ten years with no prospect of the blockade ending, then that is incitement.
When the occupiers use the most powerful and devastating weapons on earth, save for nuclear weapons, to kill and maim in war after war against the Palestinians in Gaza, then that is incitement by Israel.
As far back as 2006, PLO Secretary General Dr Erekat said, “The Israeli ministry of defence is telling its citizens to carry weapons when trailing in the occupied West Bank near Palestinian villages.” This, he added, is an outrageous case of incitement to violence against Palestinians that reflects Israel’s official policy and mindset. “It should be of grave concern to the international community.”
Israeli incitement goes right to the top. In the 2015 general election campaign Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu incited the Jewish population against Israel’s Palestinian citizens when he said, “Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves” as if they were a swarm of cockroaches. He was also accused of incitement by Palestinian citizens when he promised Israeli Jews, “We will dramatically increase law enforcement services in the Arab sector.” Netanyahu told the press at the site of a shooting that Israel “will open new police stations, recruit more police officers, [and] go into all the towns and demand of everyone loyalty to the laws of the state.” Israeli lawmaker Miri Regev incited against African refugees claiming, “Heaven forbid [that] we compare Africans to human beings.”
At a recent conference to counter the BDS movement, an Israeli minister called for the “civil targeted killing” of BDS leaders like Omar Barghouti. Even foreign political figures have been the subject of incitement as Saeb Erekat has noted. He strongly condemned the hateful Israeli campaign against Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom following her legitimate calls for an investigation into Israel’s extrajudicial killing of Palestinian civilians.
Those searching for a peaceful resolution to the injustice affecting Palestinian must recognise Israeli provocations and incitement as serious contributing factors to the violence. They cannot expect the occupied Palestinians, victims of Israel’s colonisation project, to turn the other cheek when slapped. That cheek is badly bruised and cannot take any more humiliation, provocation and, yes, incitement by Israel.
The Israeli Supreme Court has sentenced Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, to nine months in prison over charges of “inciting violence” in a religious sermon dating back to 2007, Anadolu reported on Monday.
The Israeli District Court in Jerusalem sentenced Sheikh Salah to 11 months in prison, giving him permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, which reduced the sentence to nine months.
Deputy Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, which was banned in November last year, Sheikh Kamal al-Khatib condemned the ruling against Sheikh Salah, describing it as “absolutely political” and aimed at keeping him far from Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
On 16 February 2007, Salah delivered a sermon in Wadi al-Juz in the Old City of Jerusalem. Over remarks in that sermon, the Israeli court charged him with “inciting violence” and “inciting hatred”.
In March 2014, the Magistrate Court charged Sheikh Salah with “inciting violence” over this sermon, but acquitted him of “inciting hatred” and sentenced him to eight months.
Then, the District Court called for charging him with “inciting hatred” and to sentence him to 18 to 40 months. In October 2015, it sentenced him to 11 months, giving him the permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Israeli authorities are furious after a UNESCO resolution stated that the Temple Mount and holy sites in Hebron and Bethlehem are an “integral part of Palestine.” The organization also criticized Israel, “the occupying power,” for planting fake graves in Muslim cemeteries.
Two tourist destinations, the Cave of the Patriarchs in the heart of the old city of Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem, are named in the paper as “Palestinian sites.” The draft decision by the UNESCO executive board on occupied Palestine was released April 11.
UNESCO “reaffirms that the two concerned sites located in… Hebron and in Bethlehem are an integral part of Palestine” and “disapproves the ongoing Israeli illegal excavations, works, construction of private roads for settlers and a separation wall inside the Old City of… Hebron, that harmfully affect the integrity of the site,” the statement says.
UNESCO slammed Israeli attacks on Muslims in the Temple Mount, which it only refers to by its Arabic name, Al-Haram Al-Sharif, and its holy site, Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The organization “strongly condemns the Israeli aggressions and illegal measures against the freedom of worship and Muslims’ access to their Holy Site Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al Sharif, and requests Israel, the Occupying Power, to respect the historic Status Quo and to immediately stop these measures,” the statement says.
Al-Aqsa Mosque became the flashpoint for bloodshed in 2015, amid mounting tensions over the holy site, sacred to both Muslims and Jews.
UNESCO called on Israel to stop “banning Muslims from burying their dead in some spaces and by planting Jewish fake graves in other spaces of the Muslim cemeteries.”
The group also criticized “the continuous Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip,” which causes an “intolerable number of casualties among Palestinian children,” as well as “the attacks on schools and other educational and cultural facilities and the denial of access to education.”
Israeli authorities have reacted with anger to the UNESCO document.
“This is yet another absurd UN decision,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, as cited by Israeli media.
“UNESCO ignores the unique historic connection of Judaism to the Temple Mount, where the two temples stood for a thousand years and to which every Jew in the world has prayed for thousands of years. The UN is rewriting a basic part of human history and has again proven that there is no low to which it will not stoop,” he added.
This is not the first UNESCO resolution that condemns Israel for aggression at holy sites in Jerusalem and the West Bank. In October 2015 the group issued a document which censured Israel for limiting Muslim access to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and reaffirmed that the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem are Palestinian sites.
The document was passed by 26 votes to six – those against being the US, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Estonia.
Meet five Palestinian children who go to school in the Old City of Jerusalem, in close proximity to Israeli settlers and armed forces. Each child describes their daily experience of unease and even bodily danger, as they travel to and attend school.
Hadeel, a tender-hearted young girl, walks her younger sister to kindergarten every morning before heading to her own school. She shares her fear that settlers will enter the building and kidnap her, as her school’s front door faces the entrance to an Israeli settler compound.
“The settlers could easily open the door and walk into our school. I’m afraid,” Hadeel states.
Hamza shows the camera a scar on his chest, the result of an Israeli soldier shooting him with a rubber-coated metal bullet. Israeli forces passing in a jeep likewise shot Ahmad’s father with a rubber-coated metal bullet as he was walking his son to school.
Rashad, a student at Riad Al-‘Aqsa school, explains the he dropped out for a while because of recent political unrest. Now that he has returned, Rashad faces regular harassment from Israeli settlers while walking or riding the bus. Sawsan Safadi, international and public relations director for the Palestinian Ministry of Education, affirms that absences like Rashad’s are quite common and hamper Palestinian children’s education.
Despite these hardships, Mohammad continues to pursue his love of theater, setting up street performances for his friends. “[W]hen I’m acting, nothing can bring me down. I act freely.”
This short film by Mouv Media, L.L.C. was produced by Defense for Children International – Palestine and War Child Holland.
Join a growing global movement fighting for accountability, increased protections, and justice for Palestinian children. You can make a difference. Join us: http://www.dci-palestine.org/donate.
Jerusalem, Occupied Palestine – The 10th of April is the last day of the demolition order on the home of the Totanji family. The family lives in the Sawaneh district in Wadi al-Joz, a village in East Jerusalem near the Old City, which Israel has declared as a ‘National Park’ area. This despite it having always been a residential area. The family received the demolition order over a year and a half years ago, but lost the appeal against the order last month. Today is the last day of the demolition order, which leaves the family fearing that their house maybe demolished tonight.
The house is single-story with 4 bedrooms. However, it is currently the home of 16 people including a 7 month old baby, the granddaughter of the owner of the house. As is the case with other Palestinian families in fear of house demolition, the family does not have any where else to go, and will leave their whole life behind if their house is demolished. Just seven months ago, one of Totanji sons had his house demolished in the same area. This fear of losing one’s home does not just apply to the Totanjis, but also to the rest of the residents in Palestine, due to the huge number of demolitions and demolition orders. In just the last week (31st March-6th April) 14 houses have been demolished in East Jerusalem and the West Bank by Israeli Forces.
Wadi al-Joz is located directly outside the Old City of Jerusalem in a vulnerable area. It is a neighbourhood that suffers from many demolition orders and subsequent demolitions. This is due to Israel declaring parts of the area around the Old City in Jerusalem as a ‘National Park’, to “protect the historical land.” The area covers a huge residential areas containing villages which are already overcrowded including Wadi al-Joz. In addition to the Totanjis, 13 other families in the Sawaneh district in Wadi al-Joz are also in danger of demolition. The information regarding the so called ‘National Park’ was only relayed to these families in the past two years. And whilst Israeli authorities claim that it was declared a park more than 4 decades ago, regardless, this declaration concerning annexed territory is in direct violation of international law.
The family is seeking an international presence to defer the demolition and deter the Israeli authorities. Internationals will be in the house from this evening and for the foreseeable future to prevent the demolition. There is a press conference planned tomorrow morning, 11am on the 11th of April 2016, to announce the opening of a protest tent outside the Totanji family house. The families and the community of Wadi al-Joz invites everyone to attend the protest and to lend coverage to this important event.
Wadi Al-Joz, neighbourhood of East Jerusalem
Across the Fire Station, behind the Central Market or “Hisbi”
From Damascus Gate, follow the Old City Wall towards the Mount of Olives and continue down into Wadi Al-Joz. The home is on a dirt road on the right before you begin to go up the hill to the Mount of Olives. It is about 10-15 minute walk from Damascus Gate. Alternatively, you can drive down from the Mount of Olives past the Ibrahimiya School. The dirt road is on the left at the bottom of the hill just opposite the paved road that goes right into Wadi al-Joz.
Totanji family contact
Aref Tatanji: +972-(0)-508-133-590 (Arabic)
Press conference contact
Nureddin Amro: +972-(0)-525-271-587 (Arabic and English)
ISM media contact
Background about home demolitions:
East Jerusalem: Key Humanitarian Concerns (UN OCHA, August 2014)
The Absentee Property Law in East Jerusalem and Its Implementation: A Legal Guide and Analysis (Norwegian Refugee Council, 2013)
Al-Aqsa imam arrested by Israeli occupation forces after Friday prayers; 6 Jerusalemites arrested in Silwan
Israeli occupation forces arrested imam Sheikh Mohammed Salim as he left the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on Friday, 8 April, accusing him of “incitement” in his speech delivered today at Friday prayers before 70,000 worshipers.
Feras al-Dabas, press spokesperson of the Islamic Waqf, was quoted in Al-Resalah as saying that despite the intervention of the director of the Waqf, Sheik Azzam al-Khatib, the occupation forces insisted on arresting Salim and had taken him to a detention center, without revealing his whereabouts.
This came as occupation forces arrested six Palestinian Jerusalemites from Silwan, confiscating a protest tent, in an attempt to stop a public Friday prayer in protest of ongoing Israeli occupation policies of repression against the people of Silwan, in particular a decision to demolish 50 homes in Silwan under the pretext of the construction of a garden. Occupation forces arrested Jalal Abbasi, Firas Abbasi, Musa Abbasi, Mohammed Abu Tayeh and Khaled Abu Tayeh and detained two vehicles, which were warned against delivering any plastic chairs to the protest tent.
Jawad Siyam, Director of the Wadi Hilweh Information Center was briefly arrested after attempting to stop the arrest of the five Palestinian youths, and later released. Despite the arrests and the confiscation of the protest tent, the public prayer in rejection of arrests, home demolitions and land confiscation went forward.
BETHLEHEM – The Israeli Knesset on Tuesday approved the first reading of a bill which would allow Israeli courts to hand down prison sentences to minors under the age of 14 — legislation critics say is targeted at Palestinian children.
A recent amendment to the bill, which would apply to children convicted of murder, attempted murder, and homicide, reportedly declared that the prison terms would be postponed until the accused minors turn 18.
If passed into law after two more successful readings in the Knesset, the legislation would apply to residents of Israel and occupied East Jerusalem, whereas Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are tried in military courts.
According to prisoners’ rights group Addameer, at least 108 Palestinian minors under the age of 16 were being held by Israel as of February.
“Unfortunately, terrorism does not have an age, and today there are no punishments matching the cruel reality we face,” The Jerusalem Post quoted Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked as saying on Sunday. “In order to create deterrence and change the situation around us, we must adopt the suggested new amendments to the law.”
Shaked first proposed the bill in November, after two Palestinian children ages 12 and 13 allegedly stabbed and injured an Israeli security guard on Jerusalem’s light rail near the illegal Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev.
An increase in violence in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel has led to the death of more than 200 Palestinians and nearly 30 Israelis since October, with a wave of small-scale attacks and attempted attacks, the majority carried out by Palestinian individuals on Israeli military targets.
Knesset member Yousef Jabareen of the Joint Arab List has criticized the bill as an affront to international law.
“Israel is a party to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, and this change contradicts Israel’s obligation to this convention,” the politician, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, told Ma’an.
The convention states that “the arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”
According to Jabareen, Shaked’s statements regarding the bill leave little doubt as to who will be the main targets of such legislation.
“This bill targets Palestinian children,” he said. “Of course the bill is written in objective terms, but everyone knows the context in which it is being presented, and I doubt it will be used in other contexts.”
“This is an integrant part of a wave of bills introduced in the past few months which are harshening punishments for Palestinian children and families, especially in East Jerusalem,” Jabareen added.
The MK notably mentioned a law passed by the Knesset in July which made penalties for stone-throwing more severe, allowing for stone-throwers to receive a 20-year prison sentence where intent to harm could be proven, and 10 years where it could not.
Jabareen said he believed the bill would likely pass into law.
“Unfortunately, in the current atmosphere, there is a good chance the bill will pass,” he said. “Even some opposition MKs support the bill.”
However, he expressed doubts that the legislation would effectively act as a deterrent.
“The (Israeli) government is attempting to oppress and suppress the Palestinian resistance, but everybody knows that without a serious proposal for advancing the political process, they are doomed to fail.”
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is set to vote on Thursday on whether to establish a database of businesses involved in Israeli settlements.
The UNHRC, meeting in its 31st session, will be considering four resolutions under Item 7, which focuses on the impact of the Israeli occupation on human rights in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories. Such resolutions are routinely adopted.
A resolution on Israel’s illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan, however, has reportedly upset European Union member states, in particular by calling for “a database of all business enterprises involved” in illegal settlement activities, which will be updated annually.
The database is presented as a follow up to an earlier fact-finding mission, which investigated “the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”
Middle East Monitor understands from sources familiar with the discussions taking place that European Union member states will either vote against, or abstain from, the resolution. The UK is reportedly expected to vote against, with significant pressure being applied on Palestinian officials to remove the paragraph establishing the database of businesses involved in settlement activities.
The resolution notes that “the settlement enterprise and the impunity associated with its persistence, expansion and related violence continue to be a root cause of many violations of the Palestinians’ human rights, and constitute the main factors perpetuating Israel’s belligerent occupation of the Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, since 1967.”
The resolution goes on to express concern that “some business enterprises have, directly and indirectly, enabled, facilitated and profited from the construction and growth of the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
The UNHRC resolution also notes that “products wholly or partially produced in settlements have been labelled as originating from Israel”, and that “private individuals, associations and charities in third States” are “involved in providing funding to Israeli settlements and settlement-based entities, contributing to the maintenance and expansion of settlements.”
As well as the database, the draft text urges all states to “provide guidance to individuals and businesses on the financial, reputational and legal risks, including the possibility of liability for corporate involvement in gross human rights abuses as well as the abuses of the rights of individuals, of becoming involved in settlement-related activities.”
On Monday, the UNHRC head from outgoing Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Makarim Wibisono, who presented his final report to the Council.
Among other recommendations, “he urged Israeli authorities to…halt the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements, to refrain from acts causing the forced displacement of Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and to urgently implement recommendations by the United Nations Children’s Fund with respect to the detention of children.”
The news media is abuzz today with reports that, speaking before the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, an annual gathering of rabid right-wing Israel supporters, a presidential candidate vowed to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
So who was it this time? Donald Trump.
So why is this news? It’s not.
Promising to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital and to move the American embassy there is part of Pandering 101 for Oval Office hopefuls. Every candidate in the past few decades knows this. It’s an easy vow to make, and no one ever pays any political price for inevitably breaking it (since half of Jerusalem remains occupied territory and actually moving the embassy there would be a clear violation of international law, which doesn’t recognize Israel’s claim over the historic city). Making such an absurd promise plays well to the writhing masses at AIPAC confabs, establishes one’s Zionist bona fides, and is a quick and easy way to offend indigenous Palestinians living under occupation, apartheid and blockade without actually flipping them the bird.
Nevertheless, the press continues to report on this blustery promise, no matter who utters it, as if it actually merits attention.
And Jeb Bush before him:
So did Mitt Romney in 2012:
The year before, while beginning her campaign for New York’s Senatorial seat, the then-First Lady Hillary Clinton weighed in on the matter herself:
In the mid-1990s, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and House Speaker Newt Gingrich similarly pandered like pros:
Before that, in 1992, the Clinton/Gore campaign hit the incumbent Bush administration for balking at the official recognition of “Israel’s sovereignty over a united Jerusalem.” Their campaign promised voters that “Bill Clinton and Al Gore will… support Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel.”
Even Mike Dukakis tacked to the right of both the outgoing Reagan administration and George H.W. Bush campaign in 1988:
Al Gore, who tried to win the Democratic nomination for president that year, reportedly said in September 1987 that “he would consider moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”
In April 1984, during a heated Democratic primary season, Walter Mondale and Gary Hart bent over backwards to assure voters in New York City that they too supported moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The New York Times reported at the time:
Walter F. Mondale said he had supported such a move for 20 years, and he asserted that Senator Gary Hart had changed his position on the issue five days ago. In the past two weeks, Mr. Hart has denied that he suddenly changed his position, but has said his position has ”evolved.” He has said firmly that if he became President, he would move the embassy to Jerusalem.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson is the only one of the three candidates who opposes moving the embassy. The Reagan Administration also opposes such a move because the status of Jerusalem has long been disputed and the United States does not support Israeli sovereignty over the city.
Despite efforts by New York Senator Daniel Moynihan and California Congressman Tom Lantos to introduce a bill mandating the move, Reagan was adamant about not moving the embassy, as such a divisive policy would, according to his Secretary of State George P. Shultz, “be very bad for the United States” and “damage our ability to be effective in the peace process.”
The pandering was so thick, however, that a month later the Reagan administration had to pretend to consider supporting the move in order to stave off losing votes in the upcoming election.
Though the bill eventually stalled, Los Angeles Times syndicated columnist Nick Thimmesch, who called the proposal “one of the dumbest ideas to be advanced in Congress this session,” lamented that “some of the election-year pandering in the Republic verges on the obscene” and credited the ill-conceived gambit to the lawmakers’ “blind obedience to the Israel lobby (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee).” That was October 3, 1984.
By 1986, another bill was introduced to move the embassy, this time brought to the Senate floor by Republican Jesse Helms.
But even in the mid-1980s, though, this was an old political ploy. The New York Times pointed out that the 1976 Democratic Party platform – on which Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale ran for office – declared:
We recognize and support the established status of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, with free access to all its holy places provided to all faiths. As a symbol of this stand, the U.S. Embassy should be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Before that, on March 17, 1972, Michigan Congressman Gerald Ford, then the Republican Minority Leader, told a Zionist Organization of America regional meeting in Cleveland that the Nixon Administration should transfer the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
Two years later, after first replacing Spiro Agnew as Vice President and then becoming President himself following Nixon’s resignation, Ford backtracked on his previous position. “Under the current circumstances and the importance of getting a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, that particular proposal ought to stand aside,” Ford said at his very first presidential press conference on August 9, 1974.
It’s been nearly 42 years since then and, sadly, while Palestine remains under brutal occupation, Israeli colonies continue to expand with impunity, and Palestinians are subject to ongoing oppression and violence, election-year pandering in the United States has become more obscene than ever.
JERUSALEM – The Israeli authorities early Friday shut down streets across Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem and detained four in preparation for the annual Jerusalem marathon, locals said.
Locals told Ma’an that a number of roads were blocked by iron barricades and buses, as thousands of Israeli runners joined in the marathon for the sixth year in a row.
Four residents of al-Issawiya neighborhood were detained prior to the marathon. Two of them, identified by locals as Fadi Matwar and Jad al-Ghoul, were reportedly warned against being in Jerusalem during the marathon.
Al-Issawiya popular committee spokesman Muhammad Abu al-Hummus, who was detained prior to the marathon last year, was also detained Friday morning.
Locals told Ma’an that Israeli intelligence also summoned Jihad Oweida, the secretary-general of the National Committee against Normalization. The committee has in the past been a vocal opponent of the Jerusalem marathon for going through occupied territory.
Participants in the marathon run through West Jerusalem as well as segments of Jerusalem’s occupied eastern half, including along the walls of the Old City and near other historical sites.
The marathon last year drew large numbers of Palestinian protesters to places where the run passes through neighborhoods under Israeli military occupation, with residents waving Palestinian flags and proclaiming slogans supporting Palestinian claims to Jerusalem.
East Jerusalem is internationally recognized as Palestinian territory, but Israel occupied it in 1967 and later annexed it in a move never considered legitimate abroad.
Friday’s marathon comes weeks before an annual marathon is expected to be held in Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.
This year will mark the fourth consecutive “Right to Movement” marathon, which is comprised of two 11 kilometer loops, as race organizers were unable to find a contiguous stretch of 42 kilometers due to Israeli military restrictions on Palestinian movement.
Five Palestinian companies warned of financial losses as Israeli occupation forces banned their products from being marketed in occupied Jerusalem, under political and economic pretexts, Palestinian sources reported Saturday.
A report identified the five companies as Hamouda, al-Jideedi, Arryan, distributers of dairy products, as well as Asslwa and Saniora, associated with meat products.
Hamouda company sources said that Israeli occupation forces have been banning the entry of their company’s products to occupied Jerusalem for a fifth day in a row, according to Al Ray. Hamouda explained that the unexpected move, by Israel, would cost the company heavy losses estimated in millions. Hamouda company constitutes 50% of the [affected] marketed products in Jerusalem.
The source explained that the Israeli decision came after a decrease in Israeli sales of the same products, in Jerusalem markets, due to dominance of Palestinian products. Israeli occupation authorities put this decision into action even though the Palestinian companies were licensed within the Israeli record.
The affected companies addressed the Civil Affairs administration and the Agriculture Ministry, to become acquainted with the reasons behind such decision, and the latter responded that the decision was unilateral and unexpected. The source said that Palestinian authorities are contemplating a suitable reaction to such a move.
Tareq Abu Laban, the General Manager of Marketing at the Ministry of Agriculture, noted that there are political reasons behind the Israeli decision, explaining that the Israeli side aims to force the PA to deal with Jerusalem as a part of Israeli state.
He added that the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture asked the Palestinian side to submit private export models in which they are identified as international exporter. He explained that this step implies political impacts under which the Palestinians are forced to recognize Jerusalem as an Israeli city.
In 2010, Israeli occupation authorities tried to pass a similar decision. But, international figures, as well as the Quarter Committee, thwarted the plan.