Friday, December 31, 2010

Palestinian village pleads for electricity, water

Palestinian residents of Jub al-Dib have been asking Israel to connect them to infrastructure since 1988. Civil Administration requires layout plan to do so
Yair Altman

As 2011 approaches, one Palestinian village appears stuck in the Middle Ages. Jub al-Dib, located in the section of the West Bank under Israel's jurisdiction, has no running water or electricity, and the authorities don't seem to care.
Some 160 people reside in the village, located just a few kilometers from the settlements of Tekoa and Nokdim, of them 75 under the age of 18.
But while the settlements enjoy all of the benefits of modern life, residents of Jub al-Dib light candles after the sun sets in order to provide children with light by which to study. They have no refrigerators or electric heaters, either.

Judaization of Jerusalem includes "defacing walls of the Old City"

Judaization of Jerusalem includes "defacing walls of the Old City"
The Al-Aqsa Foundation stressed that the heritage of Jerusalem is largely Arab and Islamic; Israeli efforts to claim an elusive "Hebrew history," it says, "are doomed to failure".
A leading Palestinian foundation has accused the Israeli occupation authorities of defacing the walls of the historic Old City with Jewish symbols, including stone reliefs of models of the proposed temple. The Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage has said that the Judaization policy is part of ongoing crimes against history, civilization and Arab and Islamic heritage in Occupied Jerusalem carried out by the state of Israel.

In a press release, the Al-Aqsa Foundation said that stones in the wall have been changed under the pretext of "repair and maintenance". However, they have not been replaced by "blank" stones; the Israelis have used stones carved with specifically Jewish symbols. This, claims the Foundation, is an attempt to destroy the city's Arab and Islamic heritage; the Israelis, it claims, "have no right to touch these monuments, let alone make such significant changes". Parts of the Old City wall at Bab Al-Amoud (Damascus Gate) and in the south-west section, as well as Bab Al-Gadid have been affected. Israel, it is claimed, has also Judaized district names in the Old City, calling one area "Serious Army", for example.
The Al-Aqsa Foundation stressed that the heritage of Jerusalem is largely Arab and Islamic; Israeli efforts to claim an elusive "Hebrew history," it says, "are doomed to failure". It has called on the Islamic and Arab world to pay more attention to initiatives to preserve the nature of Jerusalem. It also called for the protection of the Holy City's history in order to save the integrity of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Some observers point to the existence of Israeli organisations dedicated to the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Dome of the Rock Mosque, and the building of a temple in their place as evidence of the real intention behind Israel's Judaization programme in Jerusalem.

Source :

Will 2011 Become 1848?

by Philip Giraldi

Violence erupted throughout Europe in 1848, a time that was later dubbed the “year of revolution.”  Though the motives and perpetrators varied from country to country and even from region to region, the frequently violent protests sought major changes in the status quo, to include political emancipation and economic reform.  The revolutionaries were eventually suppressed by use of military force, but the ideas of national rebirth and political change lived on to resurface in Italy, Germany, and France later in the century.

What drove the revolutionaries was the principle that the old system that had for centuries regulated the lives of Europeans was broken beyond repair.  The old land-based economy had produced starvation and the control of the political structure by what amounted to oligarchies in most countries meant that few felt any kind of connection to the state, which was increasingly seen as a taxation machine backed up by the brute force of soldiers. Alexis de Tocqueville described the turmoil in his native France as "society was cut in two: those who had nothing united in common envy, and those who had anything united in common terror."

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Another Gaza war?

By Sherine Tadros 

On Thursday, as I hurried into Gaza, that was the question everyone was asking – from news editors in Doha, to the guy who carries luggage through the Erez terminal, to the Hamas official who took my passport details. 
 If the donkeys in Gaza could talk this is what they would be asking: Is there going to be another war? 
Maybe because I was there during the last assault people see me as a bad omen in Gaza ... but there is real cause for concern. 
Last week the strip witnessed the most violent few days since the end of the war, with Israel killing several fighters and dozens of mortars and rockets being fired towards southern Israel [one lightly injured an Israeli teenage girl].
From discussions with Hamas and military wings in Gaza, the good news is, it doesn't look like another war will happen right now. The bad news: is it is likely to happen.

On Palestine, the US is a rogue state

Nations covering 80-90% of the world's population recognise Palestine as a state. The US, subservient to Israel, stands out

John Whitbeck

John Whitbeck

Palestinian protesters

 On 17 December, Bolivia extended diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine within its full pre-1967 borders (all of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem). Coming soon after the similar recognitions by Brazil and Argentina, Bolivia's recognition brought to 106 the number of UN member states recognising the state of Palestine, whose independence was proclaimed on 15 November, 1988.

While still under foreign belligerent occupation, the state of Palestine possesses all the customary international law criteria for sovereign statehood. No portion of its territory is recognised by any other country (other than Israel) as any other country's sovereign territory and, indeed, Israel has only asserted sovereignty over a small portion of its territory – expanded East Jerusalem – leaving sovereignty over the rest both literally and legally uncontested.

In this context, it may be enlightening to consider the quality as well as the quantity of the states extending diplomatic recognition.
Of the world's nine most populous states, eight (all except the US) recognise the state of Palestine. Of the world's 20 most populous states, 15 (all except the US, Japan, Mexico, Germany and Thailand) recognise the state of Palestine.

The struggle for East Jerusalem

Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem are waging a campaign of popular resistance against Israeli land confiscation.

Half way down a hill, sandwiched between Jerusalem's Hadassa hospital and Hebrew University, sits the compact and overcrowded occupied East Jerusalem village of Issawiya.
Before crossing the makeshift police checkpoint of concrete block obstacles at the edge of the University and entering the neighbourhood – which resembles more of a besieged West Bank refugee camp than a Jerusalem municipality – there is a clearly marked 'Dead End' street sign. On the main road leaving towards the hospital on the other side of the neighbourhood there is a wall of concrete cubes blocking any traffic, leaving just a narrow space for pedestrians to cross.

Although the Jewish dominated Hebrew University has expanded onto Issawiya's land, the picture of Jerusalem from both places couldn't be more different. While Israeli students attend classes oblivious to life beyond the 'dead end', Israeli security forces have orchestrated a campaign of regular night time arrest raids against Issawiya residents in an effort to halt growing popular resistance to segregation, home demolition and land confiscation.

The recent Israeli home demolitions, increasing the pressure on the already squeezed Palestinian community, have given rise to local youth organising ruckus street demonstrations, clashing with Israeli police and border guards at the neighbourhood checkpoints. Now the campaign has expanded and the youth of Issawiya have been joined by Israeli anti-occupation activists.

Jewish settlers desecrate mosque

NAZARETH, (PIC)-- Jewish settlers attacked and desecrated a mosque in Rubin village near Ramle city in 1948 occupied Palestine in an attempt to change it into a Jewish synagogue, the Aqsa foundation for endowment and heritage said.
It added in a press release on Tuesday that the fanatic Jews broke into the mosque through one of its doors and destroyed part of the wall before entering and writing racist slurs on its walls and drew the Star of David on the mosque's dome with the word Judaism written inside it in English.
The foundation said that the Jews had candles and other tools with them and offered Jewish rituals in yet another attempt to seize control of the mosque and turn it into a synagogue.


Never again? Elderly Palestinian women called “whores” on Yad Vashem tour, while racism explodes across Israel

The only image of a Palestinian inside Yad Vashem depicts the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem sig heiling Nazi troops. (Photo: Max Blumenthal)
This week, a group of elderly Palestinian women were escorted to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance museum to learn about the Jewish genocide in Europe. At the entrance of the museum, they were surrounded by a group of Jewish Israeli youth who recognized them as Arabs. “Sharmouta!” the young Israelis shouted at them again and again, using the Arabic slang term for whores, or sluts.
The Palestinians had been invited to attend a tour arranged by the Israeli Bereaved Families Forum, an organization founded by an Israeli whose son was killed in combat by Palestinians. They were joined by a group of Jewish Israeli women who, like them, had lost family members to violence related to the conflict. Presumably, both parties went on the tour in good faith, hoping to gain insight into the suffering of women on the other side of the conflict.
Unfortunately, the Palestinian members (who unlike the Israelis live under occupation and almost certainly had to obtain special permits just to go to Yad Vashem) learned an unusual lesson of the Holocaust: A society that places the Holocaust at the center of its historical narrative — that stops traffic for two minutes each year on the national holiday known as Yom Ha’Shoah — could also raise up a generation of little fascists goose-stepping into the future full of irrational hatred.

1,100 Palestinian Children Detained During 2010

File (photo from a report, PA Detainees' Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqe claimed that these arrests are reflecting the systematic attacks that Palestinian youth suffer in the Occupied Territories on the daily basis.

He also stressed that during 2010 the higher number of detentions were made in the occupied East Jerusalem, about 500, and Hebron, stressing that children were often put under house arrest.

In addition, the report also denounced other practices that the Palestinian children suffer from the Israeli army, especially, its use as human shields.

According to Defence of Children International - Palestine, since April 2004, 16 Palestinian children suffered from this practice, although it is considered illegal by both international and Israeli law.

Recently, two soldiers from the Givati Brigade became the first soldiers to be charged and convicted of using a child as a human shield. The two soldiers were demoted from the rank of staff sergeant to sergeant and each given a three-month suspended prison sentence.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Two Years After Gaza War, Gaza Remains Sealed-Off, Suffering Continues

Ahmed Zourob receives dialysis treatment at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Because of the siege, his level of treatment is inadequate and he can no longer obtain the medication he needs (PCHR)
Ahmed Zourob receives dialysis treatment at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
Because of the siege, his level of treatment is inadequate and he can no longer
obtain the medication he needs (PCHR)

December 27, 2010, marks the two-year anniversary of the beginning of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s 23 day offensive on the Gaza Strip. This offensive – the single most brutal event in the history of the occupation – was characterised by systematic violations of international law. Its aftermath has been characterised by pervasive impunity.

In total, 1,419 Palestinians were killed. 83% of the dead – the overwhelming majority – were civilians, the so-called ‘protected persons’ of international humanitarian law. A further 5,300 were injured, and public and private property throughout the Gaza Strip was extensively targeted and destroyed.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) notes that in the two years since the offensive there have been no concrete steps taken towards the fulfilment of victims’ legitimate rights to the equal protection of the law and an effective judicial remedy. Customary international law and the treaty-based obligations which all States have entered into are unequivocal: if a war crime has been committed, those responsible must be investigated and prosecuted in accordance with international standards. They must be held to account.

Helen Thomas: Thrown to the wolves

Helen Thomas, who once occupied a front-row seat in the White House briefing room, has been completely ostracized due to some inelegantly-put remarks about Israel captured on film by provocateurs [EPA]

In 1960, I was fixated on emulating the courageous media personalities of the times, from Edward R. Murrow to a distinctive figure I came to admire at presidential press conferences - a wire service reporter named Helen Thomas.
In recent years, my faith in the power of dialogue in politics has been severely tested - as, no doubt has hers - in an age where diatribes and deliberate demonization chills debate and exchanges of opposing views.
Once you are labeled and stereotyped - especially if you are denounced as an anti-Semite - you are relegated to the fringes, pronounced a hater beyond redemption, and even beyond explanation.
As the legendary Helen Thomas soon found out.

The rise of a legend
As a member in good standing of an activist generation, I saw myself more as an outsider in contrast to Helen’s distinctive credentials as an insider, as a White House bureau chief and later as the dean of the White House Correspondents' Association.
Yet, beneath her establishment credentials and status, she was always an outsider too - one of nine children born to a family of Lebanese immigrants in Winchester Kentucky, who despite their Middle East origins were Christians in the Greek Orthodox Church.
She became a woman who broke the glass ceiling in the clubby, mostly male, inside-the-beltway world of big egos and self-important media prima donnas.
Her origins were more modest. She grew up in an ethnic neighborhood in Detroit.
Helen received her bachelor's degree from Wayne State University in 1942, the year I was born. Earlier this year, her alma mater, of which she had taken so much pride in her achievements, canceled the award in her name.

A fall from grace
The withdrawal of her name from the prominent award was a striking gesture of cowardice and submission to an incident blown out of proportion that instantly turned Helen from a 'she-ro' to a zero.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center put her on their top ten list of anti-Semites after angry remarks she made about Israel went viral and exploded into a major story.

Israel accused of discrimination in occupied areas


ISRAEL IS discriminating against Palestinians living in the occupied territories by depriving them of water, electricity and roads while providing a luxurious lifestyle for Israelis living in illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.
In a 166-page document entitled Separate and Unequal, Human Rights Watch describes the “two-tier system of laws, rules and services that Israel operates for the two populations in areas of the West Bank [and East Jerusalem] under its exclusive control, which provide preferential services, development and benefits for Jewish settlers while imposing harsh conditions on Palestinians.”
Human Rights Watch argues: “Such different treatment, on the basis of race, ethnicity and national origin” is “not tailored to meet national security goals” and “violates the fundamental prohibition against discrimination under human rights law”.

These discriminatory practices affect most profoundly the 490,000 Jewish settlers and 420,000 Palestinians living in areas under Israel’s total control, East Jerusalem and 60 per cent of the West Bank.
Between 2000-2007, 94 per cent of Palestinian requests for building permits there were rejected. Consequently, when Palestinians constructed, repaired or renovated homes, mosques, clinics, schools, animal pens, wells, cisterns, water pipes and electricity poles, the Israelis often issued stop work or demolition orders.

“In contrast,” the group states, “in several cases where Jewish settlers have built buildings, roads, and other infrastructure – and entire settlement outposts – without necessary permits, Israeli authorities did not demolish the buildings, but retroactively approved their construction.”
Human Rights Watch says more than 100 settlement outposts – in addition to 133 authorised settlements – have been built without the required permits but few have been dismantled.
In East Jerusalem, Israeli zoning regulations allocate 25 per cent of the land for Israeli settlements but only 13 per cent for Palestinian construction.

Jerusalem’s master plan provides for the maintenance of a 70-30 ratio of Jews to Palestinians in the city, but this had reached 65-35 in 2008 and was expected to become 60-40 in 2020. Therefore, it holds Israel plans to “alter the demographic balance in Jerusalem ... by lowering the number of the city’s Palestinian residents” by refusing building permits and cancelling residence permits.
The group says 31 per cent of Palestinians living in areas ruled exclusively by Israel have been displaced since 2000.

In the remaining 40 per cent of the West Bank, administered by the Palestinian Authority, Palestinians live in isolated, disconnected enclaves where they are denied freedom of movement and access to their land and are not permitted to develop infrastructure needed to sustain their communities.
Since an occupying power is prohibited in international law from transferring its citizens into an occupied territory, Human Rights Watch argues that Israel should withdraw the settlers from the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
It recommends that the US should deduct the amount spent on settlements, at least $1.4 billion a year, from the $2.75 billion in aid extended annually. The EU, a major market for settlement exports, is asked to ensure that settlement goods are not given preferential tariff treatment.

Israeli army: leave Khirbet Tana or else

by Cecile Gault 

Palestine Monitor 

Last week, the Israeli army ordered the inhabitants of a small shepherd village near Nablus to vacate the premises because their homes were to be demolished. The village was destroyed, but Khirbet Tana’s men are still there, every day welcoming PA officials and NGO and international organisations’ workers coming to assess the rebuilding costs. They sleep in the mosque - the only structure that was left standing - and in makeshift tents, leaving their fate, in their own words, ‟in the hands of God.”

JPG - 212.9 kb

What remains of the village’s elementary school
Khirbet Tana had already been demolished twice before, one time in July 2005 and another one just about a year ago, in January 2010. In both instances, the village was rebuilt, mostly thanks to funding from international NGOs. Tana’s people are used to the process by now. This time around, though, the situation is a bit different. Just a few days ago, Israel issued a warning to the 35 families living there, threatening to seize their sheep and remaining property should they still refuse to leave the area permanently and try to rebuild again. According to Ghassan Douglas, the PA official responsible for handling problems related to settler activity and home demolitions, it is the first time that the threats are this serious.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rabbis' wives urge Israeli women: Stay away from Arab men

A new letter signed by 30 women suggests that girls who date non-Jews will be cut off from their 'holy race'.


A letter urging Jewish women not to date non-Jewish men has been published by a group of rabbis' wives. The letter comes on the heels of a rabbis' letter published earlier this month urging Jews not to sell or rent properties to non-Jews.
The new letter, signed by 30 rabbis' wives, says, "For your sake, for the sake of future generations, and so you don't undergo horrible suffering, we turn to you with a request, a plea, a prayer. Don't date non-Jews, don't work at places that non-Jews frequent, and don't do national service with non-Jews."

The letter was organized by the organization Lehava, which claims to "save daughters of Israel" from what it calls assimilation. Lehava also took part in the recent demonstrations against selling or renting homes to non-Jews.

The group operates a shelter for women who leave their Arab partners and educate the public on what it calls the dangers that arise from contact between Jews and Arabs. The organization also called for the boycott of the Gush Etzion branch of the supermarket Rami Levi, where Arab and Jewish workers are on shift side-by-side.

Israel to Boycott UN Summit Against Racism

Israel announced it will boycott a 2011 UN summit commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Durban declaration against racism.

 (photo from

Israel motivated its decision on the basis that the Durban conference has been a platform for "anti-Semitism and attacks against Israel".

The Foreign Ministry pointed out that Israel will not take part to the 2011 summit as long as it is defined as part of 'the Durban process’. Despite its non-participation, the Israeli government plans to monitor the planning of the 2011 event in a move to confront what it perceives as the "actual racism" prevalent around the world.

The UN General Assembly voted, in September, to hold the 10th anniversary conference. The event will cover racism and racist discrimination, including Israel's policies in the Occupied Territories.

The Israeli state was called "racist" in Durban in 2001 for its discriminatory policies. Israel walked out of the conference, at that time, due to alleged "anti-Semitic undertones and displays of hatred for Israel and the Jewish world".

Israel also boycotted the second 'Durban conference', held last year, in Geneva. Canada, the US and Australia joined the boycott arguing that the conference had turned into a platform for attacking Israel.


Outrage continues over Israeli rabbis' racist decree

Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler, The Electronic Intifada,

 An Israeli protestor in Jerusalem holds a sign reading "1935 is here" in reference to when Nazis prevented Jews from living alongside other Germans. (Oren Ziv/ActiveStills)

BAT YAM (IPS) - Emotions are running high in this working class town on the Mediterranean adjacent to Tel Aviv, the Israeli metropolis that has long been the symbol of liberal laissez-faire Israel. Principally, anti-Arab emotions: racism is on the march.

A number of small, yet vociferous, anti-Arab demonstrations have taken place here recently in the wake of a national uproar triggered by a religious ruling signed by 50 rabbis forbidding the renting of homes by Jewish Israelis to "non-Jews." The signing rabbis are from all around the country and from Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Their target is Israel's Palestinian Arab citizens who number 1.3 million, about a fifth of the Israeli population.

Bat Yam Mayor Shlomi Lahiani said that the latest demonstration by right-wing activists, that included members of the Knesset, Israel's parliament, and where there were calls to "keep Arabs out of our town," amounted to "inciting hate and racism."

"Arabs are equal citizens and must be treated as such," Lahiani told IPS. Racist actions would "not be tolerated," he declared.

Demonstrators have held up placards proclaiming "Jews, let's win -- daughters of Israel for sons of Israel."

Israeli Settlers Set Fire to Agricultural Lands and Attack Farmers Near Nablus

File (photo from

According to local sources, there were some 37 settlers from the nearby Yitzhar settlement, who arrived in the village divided in four separate groups and started harassing farmers.

The burning of the lands came after an argument between local farmers and the settlers in the Ein Ash-Sha’ira area, south of the village.

While the farmers protested against the incursion of the settlers, one of the groups set fire to fields and fled, village council member Hasan Ziyada claimed.

Source :

Expulsion of Bedouins in Israel's Negev Desert

God-TV helps Israel oust Bedouin

by Jonathan Cook

Half a million trees planted over the past 18 months on the ancestral lands of Bedouin tribes in Israel's Negev region were bought by a controversial Christian evangelical television channel that calls itself God-TV.
A sign posted a few kilometres north of Beersheba, the Negev's main city, announces plans to plant a total of a million trees over a large area of desert that has already been designated “God-TV Forest”.

The Jewish National Fund, an international non-profit organisation in charge of forestation and developing Jewish settlements in Israel, received $500,000 from God-TV to plant some of the trees, according to the channel's filings to US tax authorities last year.
A coalition of Jewish and Bedouin human rights groups have denounced the project, accusing God-TV and the JNF of teaming up to force the Bedouin out of the area to make way for Jewish-only communities.

No one from God-TV was available for comment, but in a video posted on its website, Rory Alec, the channel's co-founder, said he had begun fundraising for the forest after receiving “an instruction from God” a few years ago. He said God had told him: “Prepare the land for the return of my Son.”
Standing next to the “God-TV Forest” sign, Alec thanked thousands of viewers for making donations to “sow a seed for God”, adding: “I tell you Jesus is coming back soon!”
Part of the forest has been planted on land claimed by the Aturi tribe, whose village, al-Araqib, is nearby.
Al-Araqib has been demolished eight times in recent months by the Israeli police as officials increase the pressure on the 350 inhabitants to move to Rahat, an under-funded, government-planned township nearby.
Earlier this year, Joe Stork, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division, criticised the repeated attempts by Israeli authorities to eradicate the village and displace its residents.

“Tearing down an entire village and leaving its inhabitants homeless without exhausting all other options for settling long-standing land claims is outrageous,” he said.
Human Rights Watch and other international human rights groups have criticised Israel for harsh measures taken against the people of al-Araqib and the other 90,000 Bedouin who live in Negev villages that the Israel refuses to recognise. They accuse the government of trying to pre-empt a court case moving through Israeli courts aimed at settling the Bedouin ownership claims.

'Shin Bet tortures prisoners and denies access to lawyers'

As many as 90% of Palestinian prisoners are denied this basic right despite civilian and military legislation, says study produced by Public Committee Against Torture and Palestinian Prisoners' Society.

Amira Hass  

 Amira Hass

As many as 90 percent of Palestinian prisoners being interrogated by the Shin Bet security service are prevented from consulting with an attorney, even though civilian and military legislation state clearly that such prohibition should be rarely applied, according to a report published by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and the Palestinian Prisoners' Society.

The Shin Bet says it has legal clearance to keep certain detainees from lawyers.
According to Dr. Maya Rosenfeld, the author of the study, during prolonged periods when prisoners are kept from meeting with lawyers, the Shin Bet utilizes interrogation methods that run contrary to international law, Israeli laws and Israeli commitments to avoid such methods.

Among these interrogation methods are tying prisoners for a long time to a chair with their hands behind the back, sleep deprivation, threats (usually of harming family members ), humiliation and being kept for long periods in unsanitary cells.

The Shin Bet has refused in the past to provide data on the numbers of prisoners who are prevented from meeting with a lawyer.
A petition filed by the human rights group Yesh Din and the Movement for Freedom of Information in March 2009 is still pending.
In the absence of official data, The Public Campaign and the Prisoners Society carried out research and cross-referenced their information with different sources in order to estimate the numbers of prisoners who are prevented from meeting with lawyers.
According to estimates of the authors, out of 11,970 Palestinians the Shin Bet admits to interrogating between 2000 and 2007, the numbers of those whose right to an attorney was blocked ranged between 8,379 to 10,773.

Attorney Irit Ballas of the Public Committee, who authored the epilogue of the report, entitled "When the Exception Becomes the Rule," says the relevant data for the years 2008-2010 suggests that the scope of this phenomenon has not been reduced.
Prisoner access to counsel is considered a basic right in Israeli law. Preventing such access is considered out-of-bounds and the maximum period such prohibition can be in effect, in security related cases, is 21 days. In Israeli military law, the minimum time permissible is 15 days and the maximum is 90 days.

Palestine: recognising the state

International lawyer and author analyses the quality as well quantity of the states that recognise Palestine.
On December 17, Bolivia extended diplomatic recognition to the State of Palestine within its full pre-1967 borders (all of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem).

Coming soon after the similar recognitions by Brazil and Argentina, Bolivia's recognition brought to 106 the number of UN member states recognizing the State of Palestine, whose independence was proclaimed on November 15, 1988.

While still under foreign belligerent occupation, the State of Palestine possesses all the customary international law criteria for sovereign statehood. No portion of its territory is recognized by any other country (other than Israel) as any other country's sovereign territory, and, indeed, Israel has only asserted sovereignty over a small portion of its territory, expanded East Jerusalem, leaving sovereignty over the rest both literally and legally uncontested.

In this context, it may be enlightening to consider the quality as well as the quantity of the states extending diplomatic recognition.

Of the world's nine most populous states, eight (all except the United States) recognise the State of Palestine. Of the world's 20 most populous states, 15 (all except the United States, Japan, Mexico, Germany and Thailand) recognise the State of Palestine.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Right-wing Israelis parade through East Jerusalem sparking clashes

Israeli Knesset (Parliament) members with the orthodox Shas party marched through the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem Monday, accompanied by Israeli police and right-wing settlers. The police blocked local Palestinian residents from reaching their homes, and fired tear gas and rubber-coated bullets, injuring six.

The 'visit' to Silwan comes in the midst of dozens of pending demolitions of Palestinian homes in the neighborhood, as part of the Israeli Jerusalem municipal plan for the area known as the 'E1 Plan', in which the Silwan neighborhood will be emptied of its Palestinian residents and replaced with Jewish-only housing and a Biblical amusement park for tourists.

The Israeli right-wingers who came to Silwan Monday stated that they wished to show support for a group of settlers who illegally occupied a Palestinian home in the neighborhood several weeks ago. The settlers attempted to claim control of the house, while the Palestinian family they illegally evicted remain camped out on the street in front of their ancestral home.

'Peace with Palestinians, forbidden'

n a further blow to peace in the Middle East, Israel's foreign minister has ruled out a comprehensive agreement with Palestinians as “impossible” and “forbidden.” 

“It's not only that it is impossible” to reach an overall agreement, the Associated Press quoted Avigdor Lieberman as saying on Sunday. “It is simply forbidden,” he told a conference of Israeli diplomats.

Labeling the Palestinian Authority (PA) as illegitimate, Lieberman urged that instead of a full peace deal, Tel Aviv seek a long-term, interim agreement on security and economic matters.

The remarks by Israel's hawkish foreign minister come nearly two months after US-brokered talks between Tel Aviv and the PA broke down three weeks after they were launched in Washington.

The direct negotiations, strongly opposed by the Palestinian public and major resistance groups, hit a dead-end when Israel refused to heed repeated international calls to extend a partial settlement freeze after it expired on September 26.

Palestinians have long demanded a halt to the construction of Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, including East al-Quds (Jerusalem), as a pre-condition to any negotiations.

They argue that otherwise a two-state solution would be unfeasible. 


First ever encyclopedia documenting the Gaza war released Sunday

  26gaza_war_2009_27.jpgThe “creativity” studies and training foundation released Sunday the first ever electronic encyclopedia that documents Israel’s late 2008 early 2009 war on the Gaza Strip to mark the war’s second anniversary as it approaches.
The encyclopedia, dubbed “the Gaza Holocaust”, is the product of drawn out efforts by the foundation’s strategic research and studies center, said foundation head Mohammed al-Madhoun. “More than 120 of the foundation’s field researchers contributed to this remarkable work, as well as many more from research centers, rights foundations, and ministries.”
The idea, sparked at the time of Israel’s aggression, was to document the suffering and crimes that occurred during the war. “The encyclopedia contributes to the decay of Israel’s legitimacy in the framework of a battle that stripped Israel of its moral and humanitarian legitimacy.”
The reference book attempts to correct the past mistake of not recording Israel’s crimes. “The encyclopedia therefore protects history from being falsified, and provides a reliable reference with voice and picture.”

The name “the Gaza Holocaust” or for Arabic version was part of the name battle that Israel had been playing in an attempt to monopolize names. The named heroic disaster was therefore named the holocaust.
Madhoun called on media agencies to deliver the encyclopedia to every household in the world. “The encyclopedia should be translated into English, and then continued to be developed and supported with more data and documents.”
He added that the reference followed a new approach in documenting history and building cases against criminals in light of the current information revolution.

Israeli activist sentenced to 3 months in prison for protesting Gaza wa

Of all the criminals involved with the 2008 Gaza war, an Israeli leftist will be going to jail for riding his bike against the war in Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv Magistrates court judge Yitzhak Yitzhak convicted Israeli leftist Jonathan Pollak of illegal assembly for his participation in a January 2008 Critical Mass ride against the siege on Gaza and then sentenced him to three months imprisonment that will begin on January 11th, 2011. Pollak was the only one detained at the said protest, and was accused of doing nothing other than riding his bicycle in the same manner as the rest of the protesters. The conviction activates an older three-month suspended sentence imposed on Pollak in a previous trial for protesting the construction of the Separation Barrier. An additional three month prison term was also imposed for the current conviction, which will be served concurrently. His imprisonment is part of a clear strategy of silencing dissent in the Israeli left.

The drums of war are heard again in Israel

Ilan Pappe 

The drums of war are heard again in Israel and they are sounded because once more Israel's invincibility in is question. Despite the triumphant rhetoric in the various media commemorative reports, two years after 'Cast Lead', the sense is that that campaign was as much of a failure as was the second Lebanon war of 2006. Unfortunately, leaders, generals and the public at large in the Jewish State know only one way of dealing with military debacles and fiascos. They can be redeemed only by another successful operation or war but one which has to be carried out with more force and be more ruthless than the previous one with the hope for better results in the next round.

Force and might, so explained leading commentators in the local media (parroting what they hear from the generals in the army), is needed in order to 'deter', to 'teach a lesson' and to 'weaken' the enemy. There is no new plan for Gaza – there is no real desire to occupy it and put in under direct Israeli rule. What is suggested is to pound the Strip and its people once more, but with more brutality and for a shorter time. One might ask, why would this bear different fruits than the 'Cast Lead Operation'? But this is the wrong question. The right question is what else can the present political and military elite of Israel (which includes the government and the main opposition parties) do?

Child arrested for throwing stones in East Jerusalem

While the third picture below shows the young man who was arrested in the background, it's difficult to tell if he was engaged in thorwing stones from the instant that was captured. The young child on the scooter to his right does not make the read any easier. Guilty or not, it would be terribly hard to see a child in one's family be taken away by authorities.

Ammar Awad / Reuters

Palestinian Ahmad Daana, 12, looks out from a police vehicle, as his mother
and brothers (reflected in the window) watch, after Israeli police detained him
on suspicion of throwing stones during clashes in the East Jerusalem
neighborhood of Silwan, Dec. 26.

Ammar Awad / Reuters

The uncle of 12-year-old Palestinian Ahmad Daana pulls his hand as
Israeli police detain him on suspicion of throwing stones during clashes
in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan, Dec. 26.

Kobi Gideon / EPA

Palestinian youths hurl stones towards Israeli police in the Silwan
neighborhood of East Jerusalem, on Dec. 26, as Israel deploys more
police and riot police near the Jewish settlement building of
Beit Yonathan, in advance of the settlers being evicted.

Ammar Awad / Reuters
Israeli police detain 12-year-old Palestinian Ahmad Daana on
suspicion of throwing stones during clashes in the East Jerusalem
neighborhood of Silwan, Dec. 26.


An Open Letter from Gaza: Two Years after the Massacre, a Demand for Justice

We the Palestinians of the Besieged Gaza Strip, on this day, two years on from Israel's genocidal attack on our families, our houses, our roads, our factories and our schools,  are saying enough inaction, enough discussion, enough waiting – the time is now to hold Israel to account for its ongoing crimes against us. On the 27th of December 2008, Israel began an indiscriminate bombardment of the Gaza Strip. The assault lasted 22 days, killing 1,417 Palestinians, 352 of them children, according to main-stream Human Rights Organizations.  For a staggering 528 hours, Israeli Occupation Forces let loose their US-supplied F15s, F16s, Merkava Tanks, internationally prohibited White Phosphorous, and bombed and invaded the small Palestinian coastal enclave that is home to 1.5 million, of whom 800,000 are children and over 80 percent UN registered refugees. Around 5,300 remain permanently wounded.

This devastation exceeded in savagery all previous massacres suffered in Gaza, such as the 21children killed in Jabalia in March 2008 or the 19 civilians killed sheltering in their house in the Beit Hanoun Massacre of 2006. The carnage even exceeded the attacks in November 1956 in which Israeli troops indiscriminately rounded up and killed 275 Palestinians in the Southern town of Khan Younis and 111 more in Rafah.
Since the Gaza massacre of 2009, world citizens have undertaken the responsibility to pressure Israel to comply with international law, through a proven strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions. As in the global BDS movement that was so effective in ending the apartheid South African regime, we urge people of conscience to join the BDS call made by over 170 Palestinian organizations in 2005. As in South Africa the imbalance of power and representation in this struggle can be counterbalanced by a powerful international solidarity movement with BDS at the forefront, holding Israeli policy makers to account, something the international governing community has repeatedly failed to do. Similarly, creative civilian efforts such as the Free Gaza boats that broke the siege five times, the Gaza Freedom March, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and the many land convoys must never stop their siege-breaking, highlighting the inhumanity of keeping 1.5 million Gazans in an open-air prison. 
Two years have now passed since Israel’s gravest of genocidal acts that should have left people in no doubt of the brutal extent of Israel’s plans for the Palestinians. The murderous navy assault on international activists aboard the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in the Mediterranean Sea magnified to the world the cheapness Israel has assigned to Palestinian llife for so long. The world knows now, yet two years on nothing has changed for Palestinians.
The Goldstone Report came and went: despite its listing count after count of international law contraventions, Israeli “war crimes” and “possible crimes against humanity,” the European Union, the United Nations, the Red Cross, and all major Human Rights Organizations have called for an end to the illegal, medieval siege, it carries on unabated. On 11th November 2010 UNRWA head John Ging said, “There's been no material change for the people on the ground here in terms of their status, the aid dependency, the absence of any recovery or reconstruction, no economy…The easing, as it was described, has been nothing more than a political easing of the pressure on Israel and Egypt.”
On the 2nd of December, 22 international organizations including Amnesty, Oxfam, Save the Children, Christian Aid, and Medical Aid for Palestinians produced the report 'Dashed Hopes, Continuation of the Gaza Blockade’ calling for international action to force Israel to unconditionally lift the blockade, saying the Palestinians of Gaza under Israeli siege continue to live in the same devastating conditions. Only a week ago Human Rights Watch published a comprehensive report "Separate and Unequal" that denounced Israeli policies as Apartheid, echoing similar sentiments by South African anti-apartheid activists.
We Palestinians of Gaza want to live at liberty to meet Palestinian friends or family from Tulkarem, Jerusalem or Nazareth; we want to have the right to travel and move freely.  We want to live without fear of another bombing campaign that leaves hundreds of our children dead and many more injured or with cancers from the contamination of Israel’s white phosphorous and chemical warfare.  We want to live without the humiliations at Israeli checkpoints or the indignity of not providing for our families because of the unemployment brought about by the economic control and the illegal siege.  We are calling for an end to the racism that underpins all this oppression.
We ask: when will the world’s countries act according to the basic premise that people should be treated equally, regardless of their origin, ethnicity or colour – is it so far-fetched that a Palestinian child deserves the same human rights as any other human being? Will you be able to look back and say you stood on the right side of history or will you have sided with the oppressor?
We, therefore, call on the international community to take up its responsibility to protect the Palestinian people from Israel’s heinous aggression, immediately ending the siege with full compensation for the destruction of life and infrastructure visited upon us by this explicit policy of collective punishment. Nothing whatsoever justifies the intentional policies of savagery, including the severing of access to the water and electricity supply to 1.5 million people. The international conspiracy of silence towards the genocidal war taking place against the more than 1.5 million civilians in Gaza indicates complicity in these war crimes.
We also call upon all Palestine solidarity groups and all international civil society organizations to demand:
- An end to the siege that has been imposed on the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a result of their exercise of democratic choice.
- The protection of civilian lives and property, as stipulated in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law such as The Fourth Geneva Convention.
- The immediate release of all political prisoners.
- That Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip be immediately provided with financial and material support to cope with the immense hardship that they are experiencing
- An end to occupation, Apartheid and other war crimes.
- Immediate reparations and compensation for all destruction carried out by the Israeli Occupation Forces in the Gaza Strip.
Boycott Divest and Sanction, join the many International Trade Unions, Universities, Supermarkets and artists and writers who refuse to entertain Apartheid Israel. Speak out for Palestine, for Gaza, and crucially ACT. The time is now.
Besieged Gaza, Palestine

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Lieberman: The Turks are liars, PA is illegitimate, and Netanyahu is unrealistic

Foreign Minister slams PM's attempt to achieve peace with PA within a year, says Palestinians will always find a reason not to sign peace deal and calls Turkey's demand for apology 'chutzpah.'


Avigdor Lieberman unleashed a string of vitriol Sunday attacking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling the Turks liars, and labeling the Palestinian Authority as illegitimate.

At a conference of Foreign Ministry diplomats, Lieberman said that it would be impossible for Israel's governing coalition to consolidate a unified foreign policy acceptable to each member.
"Within the reality of the current political situation and the current coalition, it is not possible to present a real policy that would be accepted to everyone," he said. "If we were to present a policy program, the coalition simply would not exist anymore.
Lieberman also criticized Netanyahu, saying that his attempt to achieve a peace agreement with the Palestinians that would tend to all core issues within a year is simply unrealistic.
"Even if we offer the Palestinians Tel Aviv and a retreat to 1947 borders, they will find a reason not to sign a peace agreement with us," Lieberman told over 170 Israeli diplomatic officials.
Lieberman insisted yet again that the only option is a long-term interim agreement and said that he has an alternative plan that has so far been shelved. "I am ready to present this plan at any moment, but the plan is very different than what other government officials are talking about these days," he said.
Lieberman added that Israel would react to diplomatic efforts by Palestinians to push for international recognition of a Palestinian state. Recently, five Latin American countries including Brazil and Argentina announced their recognition in a sovereign state of Palestine within 1967 borders.
"There is no need to enter a dispute with the Palestinians. We have a policy of sticks, not only carrots," said Lieberman. "It's not in the interest of the Palestinians to continue these moves and if we would have to deal with it, we will."

The Israeli military has ordered a Palestinian protest leader from east Jerusalem to leave the city by late afternoon.

Palestinian protest leader ordered to leave Jerusalem for four months

IDF makes rare use of 1945 law to bar East Jerusalem resident from capital; Adnan Jith's appeal rejected but his lawyer plans to take the case to the Supreme Court.


Adnan Jith- Emil SalmanThe Israel Defense Forces on Sunday ordered a Palestinian protest leader to leave his residence in East Jerusalem and barred him from the capital for a period of four months.
Adnan Jith, a resident of the East Jerusalem village of Silwan, was summoned last month by local police who handed him a letter signed by Ma'ayan Cohen, the top legal adviser for the Home Front Command warning him of the imminent order.
"On November 25, security forces presented the military commander with defense-related material regarding your activities in the Jerusalem sector," the letter read. "In light of the information contained herein, the military commander, the Home Front Commander [Maj. Gen. Yair Golan], is considering making use of the authority granted to him - and to order your removal from the Jerusalem city limits and its environs for a period of four months."
Jith appealed the order within the proscribed two weeks, but said that the Defense Ministry rejected his petition and instructed him to leave Jerusalem by 5 P.M. on Sunday. Jith's lawyer, Rami Othman, said he plans to appeal the case to Israel's Supreme Court before the deadline expires.
This expulsion marks a rare instance in which a military officer has ordered the enforcement of an emergency law that was introduced in 1945, when the British ruled pre-state Palestine. The law allowed the authorities to expel a resident from his hometown without the need for a criminal indictment or evidence that would indicate illegal activity.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

We need peace in the Middle East, not just process.

The Elders

Israeli-Palestinian negotiations must be grounded in international law
and human rights – defi
ne borders and address security issues first.

For nearly two decades, there have been peace processes in the Middle East but no peace. In our recent visits to four countries across the region and the occupied Palestinian territory, we heard a consistent message: people want peace, but are sceptical about the process and have little faith in the international community to deliver.
There is now an opportunity to reassess the entire approach to the negotiations. The flawed U.S. effort to secure from Israel another partial freeze on settlement-building, in exchange for generous inducements, as a way of resuming direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders has failed.
We now urge a renewed effort, firmly based in international law and respect for human rights, aimed at defining boundaries between Israel and a new Palestinian state and addressing security issues, without neglecting the other issues at the core of the conflict. Without such focus, we may see the possibility of a two-state solution slipping even further away.
Our primary purpose is to help bring peace and security to Israel and its neighbours.
We therefore call on governments and citizens around the world to insist that future negotiations are based on the following:
  1. Universal human rights and respect for international humanitarian law must apply equally to all.
  2. The occupation must end, and the aim of negotiations should be to define the boundaries of a future Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, including its capital in East Jerusalem. Such an accord could entail, if agreed, a one-to-one land swap to allow for minor adjustments. Initial negotiations should also aim at security arrangements in which both Israelis and Palestinians have confidence.
  3. The remaining final status issues can be addressed more effectively once there is an agreement on borders and security.
  4. Israeli settlements are illegal and all settlement activity must halt throughout the occupied Palestinian territory including in East Jerusalem.
  5. Israel must lift its illegal and inhumane blockade of Gaza and stop the demolition and seizure of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
  6. Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza must end all human rights violations against political critics and rivals.
  7. Israel's right to exist must not be denied. Incitement and calls for the destruction of Israel must not be tolerated.
  8. The Arab Peace Initiative must serve as the basis for normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab world.
Towards a two-state solution and regional peace
Israelis and Palestinians must ultimately agree to a solution, but they cannot do it alone.
The international community must help them reach that agreement through fair and robust mediation and by reconfirming prior agreements, UN Security Council resolutions, international law and human rights principles.
Citizens must step up pressure on their leaders.
As Elders, we will do all we can to persuade governments around the world to apply a rights-based approach to this terrible conflict and to turn the focus of initial negotiations to border and security issues.
We have already given our support to non-violent protest and creative civil action for peace. We will continue to do so – in person when we can and in spirit when we cannot.
Without a strategy that can deliver a peace agreement based on a two-state solution, Palestinians will continue to live under Israeli occupation, millions of Palestinian refugees will continue to live without hope and Israel’s survival and security remain under threat. If there is no real progress, more violence is the likely outcome.
Our greatest wish is that the Middle East will achieve lasting peace, stability and prosperity for all its people.
The Elders

East Jerusalem: who is responsible for the violence?

BY: Tali Nir
When the topic of East Jerusalem comes up, for many of us the first association is violence. Whether we picture Palestinian children throwing stones or Israeli security forces shooting tear gas, violence always seems to boil over in this area.
Against this backdrop, Silwan neighborhood resident Samir Sarhan was shot and killed by an Israeli security guard in September. As could be expected, furious demonstrations staged by Silwan residents were met with harsh police reactions.
During a tear-gas attack against the demonstrators, Muhammad Abu-Shara, a 14-month old baby, died in his Isawiya home. His parents claimed that gas seeped through his window and choked him to death. While the guard thought to be responsible for the shooting was put under house arrest a few hours after the incident, many Palestinian adults and children have been arrested in this neighborhood in the following weeks; many have been held in detention for days.
These events – which ended in discriminatory enforcement of the Law – were difficult but not surprising to those of us who know the policies in East Jerusalem and the everyday life of residents there.
A report that we at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) published recently, entitled Unsafe Space, details the many ways in which the presence of Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem neighborhoods impacts the lives of Palestinians.

Gaza victimized by double standard

by Ann Wright

As a long swath of Israel’s coast was consumed by a raging fire earlier this month that killed more than 40 people, the world quickly came to Israel’s aid. The Europeans sent planes and equipment, and the Americans helped, too. New York’s renowned fire department shipped much-needed retardant to the Eastern Mediterranean, and even the fire brigades of Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians sent help to their one-time enemies and current occupiers, respectively.
The Turkish government joined the outpouring of help, despite Israel’s May 31, 2010, attack on a Turkish-flagged ship in an international flotilla heading to Gaza with humanitarian aid and the murder of nine of its citizens (including one dual American-Turkish citizen) by Israeli commandos in international waters.
In essence the dangerous fire somehow brought out the best in the region and in the international community.
While no sane person would wish for anything but a speedy extinguishing of the flames that battered Israel, there is a disturbing inhumanity to the generous international reaction to Israel’s woes and international policies for the Palestinians in Gaza. Where was the international community when Gaza was burning after Israel’s 22-day attack in 2008 and 2009 that killed more than 1,300, wounded some 5,000 and left about 50,000 homeless? In that case, political disagreements trumped human misery, and the policy continues today, with the entry and exit of people and goods entirely controlled by the Israeli military.

Gaza continues under a vise-grip-like siege enforced by the Israeli army, navy and air force. This ongoing blockade, which is supported explicitly and tacitly by the West, has gone on for almost five years and generally prevents Gazans and many of the things they need from coming or going freely — unless, that is, one considers the trickle of people and goods that the Israeli army micro-manages as an indicator of well-being and freedom.

The Palestinian 'legitimacy war'

Civil movements have led to positive changes on a global level in the past, setting a precedent for the BDS movement.


There has long been advocacy of the idea that judges in national courts could help strengthen the implementation of global norms by extending the reach of national law, especially for serious crimes that cannot be otherwise prosecuted. 
The authority to use national courts against piracy on the high seas was widely endorsed, and constitutes the jurisprudential basis for what has come to be known as 'universal jurisdiction,' that is, regardless of where a crime was committed or the national identity of the alleged perpetrator or victim, a national court has the authority to attach its law. 
This reliance on universal jurisdiction received a strong shot in the arm as a result of the war crimes trials at the end of War War II against surviving German and Japanese political and military leaders, a legal framework institutionalised internationally in 2002 as a result of the establishment of the International Criminal Court. 

Collective justice

The underlying rationale is that aggressive war, crimes against humanity, and severe violations of the law of war and international humanitarian law are crimes against the whole of humanity, and not just the victim state or people. Although the Nuremberg Judgment was flawed, 'victors’ justice,' it generated global norms in the form of the Nuremberg Principles that are considered by international law consensus to be universally binding. 
These ideas underlie the recent prosecution of geopolitical pariahs such as Saddam Hussein or Slobodan Milosevic, and several African tyrannical figures. But when it comes to the lead political actors, as understood by the American-led hegemonic hierarchy, the leadership of the rest of the world enjoys impunity, in effect, an exemption from accountability to international criminal law.
It is a prime instance of double standards that pervades current world order, perhaps, most prominently illustrated in relation to the veto power given permanent members of the UN Security Council or the Nonproliferation Regime Governing Nuclear Weaponry. Double standards severs any link between law as administered by the state system on a world level and pretensions of global justice. The challenge for those seeking global justice based on international law that treats equals equally is to overcome in every substantive setting double standards and impunity. 
The world of sovereign states and the United Nations have not been able to mount such a challenge. Into this vacuum has moved a surging global civil society movement that got its start in the global fight against colonialism, especially, the Vietnam War, and moved forward dramatically as a result of the Anti-Apartheid Campaign. 

The power of solidarity 

Various instruments have been relied upon, including boycott, divestment, and sanctions solidarity movements, informally constituted citizens’ war crimes tribunals (starting with the Russell Tribunal during the Vietnam War, and extended by the Permanent Peoples Tribunal in Rome, and in 2005 by the Iraq War Tribunal that held 20 sessions around the world, culminating in a final session in Istanbul), civil disobedience in various forms, especially refusals to serve in military operations that violate international law.