Monday, January 31, 2011

Doesn't the West Bank have Facebook?

Don't the Al Jazeera on-the-scene reports about the riots in Egypt spark thoughts of uprising among unemployed Palestinians in the West Bank?

By Akiva Eldar
The riots began in Silwan, spread to Sheikh Jarrah, moved on to Shuhada Street in Hebron and reached their peak in Ramallah. College students and the jobless, along with former Hamas prisoners and embittered Fatah activists, took over the Muqata. Masses of people bearing placards condemning the occupation marched toward the settlement of Psagot. A small group of soldiers who were stationed along the way took fright and fired live bullets at the protesters. News about the death of 10 youths inflamed the Arab towns in the Galilee and the Triangle region, and the outrage spread to Jaffa and Ramle. The Israel Defense Forces seized control of the territories and restored military rule. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas announced his resignation and dismantled the PA.

A hallucination? The product of a wild imagination? If only. Just last week, who among us anticipated the earthquake that has since rocked Egypt? Are the residents of Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah and Shuhada Street, who are living under foreign occupation, in a better situation than the Egyptians suffering under a cruel regime? Don't the students at Birzeit University have Facebook accounts?

Don't the Al Jazeera on-the-scene reports about the riots in Egypt spark thoughts of uprising among unemployed Palestinians in the West Bank (especially since the unemployment rate in the West Bank is 16.5 percent, compared to 9.7 percent in Egypt )? And don't the lucky ones, who have permits to stand in a packed line at the roadblock in the wee hours of the morning to get a day of work at a Jewish construction site, understand that even Arabs can revolt against infringement of their basic rights?

Israel Shaken as Turbulence Rocks an Ally

JERUSALEM — The street revolt in Egypt has thrown the Israeli government and military into turmoil, with top officials closeted in round-the-clock strategy sessions aimed at rethinking their most significant regional relationship.

Israel’s military planning relies on peace with Egypt; nearly half the natural gas it uses is imported from Egypt; and the principle of trading conquered land for diplomatic ties began with its 1979 peace treaty with Egypt. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has met with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt more than with any other foreign leader, except President Obama. If Mr. Mubarak were driven from power, the effect on Israel could be profound.

“For the United States, Egypt is the keystone of its Middle East policy,” a senior official said. “For Israel, it’s the whole arch.”

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because Mr. Netanyahu has ordered his ministers and their officials to stay publicly silent on Egypt while events there play out.
Many analysts here said that even if Mr. Mubarak were forced to leave office, those who replaced him could maintain Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, since it is the basis for more than $1 billion in annual aid to Cairo from Washington and much foreign investment.

But others noted that the best-organized political force in Egypt is the Muslim Brotherhood, which is hostile to Israel and close to Hamas, the Palestinian rulers in Gaza whose weapons-smuggling the Egyptian government works to block.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Israel fears a future minus Mubarak

THE possible fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak confronts Israel with the possibility that its own geopolitical situation in the region could sharply deteriorate. 

by: Abraham Rabinovich 
 
Egypt under Mubarak has been the major force for stability in the region since the signing of the Israel-Egypt peace agreement more than three decades ago in the wake of the Yom Kippur War.

Mubarak, who served as Egypt's air force commander in that war, made a point of honouring the deal and nurturing civil relations with Israel's leadership even though many of his countrymen, seculars as well as Islamists, object to relations with the Jewish state.

The peace treaty with Egypt provided legitimacy for Jordan to make peace with Israel as well and permitted other Arab countries to establish formal or informal contacts with it. Mubarak was personally active in trying to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and Israelis saw him as an honest broker.
Peace with Egypt, which has the largest army in the Arab world, permitted Israel to substantially reduce the burden on its own armed forces, from the budget to the number of years that reservists are required to serve. For more than 20 years, the Israeli army has not factored in possible war with Egypt in drawing up its annual budget. The large sums thus saved could be diverted to economic and social programs.

And then everything changed…......


The photographs are as stunning as they are inspiring. The world is now totally focused on the democratic rebellion in Egypt. President Hosni Mubarak, the dictator who Israel relies on for its current unassailable position, sends out the army to deal with demonstrators and what happens? The soldiers, including officers, joined with them, hugging them, kissing them, shaking hands and sharing posters and banners calling on Mubarak – a coward and autocrat in the pocket of the US and Israel – to resign, and demanding democracy.

Mubarak is finished so he no longer really needs to be afraid. The millions he has socked away in Swizz banks will serve him well unless someone assassinates him before he can spend it. No, the people who should be terrified are those in the Israeli government and political elite who for decades have treated Palestinians with racist brutality – worse than anything experienced under Apartheid in South Africa – with complete impunity.

The arrogance of Israel – and its delusional certainty that it can prevail virtually forever with its policies – is suddenly confronted by a new reality that all the colonial genius of the country could not and did not anticipate. The tens of thousands of Egyptian – and Jordanian and Algerian and Yemeni – citizens demanding democracy are calling Israel’s bluff. For decades Israel has been able to ridicule and thumb its nose at the nasty little dictatorships of the Arab world – arguing that only Israel was democratic.

The implication was clear: wouldn’t it be great of all the Arab states were democratic. Of course nothing could be further from the truth. What has kept Israel protected during its decades of illegal occupation, the seizure of Palestinian land and resources and its military adventures against Iran, Syria and Lebanon – along with unlimited US support – is the certain knowledge that the corrupt and morally bankrupt regimes surrounding it would never dare risk a confrontation.

No more. Overnight this comforting picture is in doubt. Nothing frightens Israel more than the prospect of democratic Arab regimes actually responding to the will of their populations – a will that includes dealing with the oppression of the Palestinian people. And while it may not be at the top of their lists of demands it is always there – a powerful and humiliating symbol of Israeli power and intransigence. It gnaws at the heart of every Arab with even a modicum of nationalist sentiment. If these regimes become democratic it is only a matter of time that they will be obliged to deal with the Palestinian question.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Egypt’s uprising and its implications for Palestine

With the power shifting to the Arab people and away from their regimes, Arab governments may not be able to remain as silent and complicit as they have for years as Israel oppresses Palestinians.

 

Ali Abunimah


http://latimesphoto.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/la-fg-29egypt01.jpg

We are in the middle of a political earthquake in the Arab world and the ground has still not stopped shaking. To make predictions when events are so fluid is risky, but there is no doubt that the uprising in Egypt — however it ends — will have a dramatic impact across the region and within Palestine.

If the Mubarak regime falls, and is replaced by one less tied to Israel and the United States, Israel will be a big loser. As Aluf Benn commented in the Israeli daily Haaretz, “The fading power of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s government leaves Israel in a state of strategic distress. Without Mubarak, Israel is left with almost no friends in the Middle East; last year, Israel saw its alliance with Turkey collapse” (“Without Egypt, Israel will be left with no friends in Mideast,” 29 January 2011).

Indeed, Benn observes, “Israel is left with two strategic allies in the region: Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.” But what Benn does not say is that these two “allies” will not be immune either.

Over the past few weeks I was in Doha examining the Palestine Papers leaked to Al Jazeera. These documents underscore the extent to which the split between the US-backed Palestinian Authority in Ramallah headed by Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction, on the one hand, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, on the other — was a policy decision of regional powers: the United States, Egypt and Israel. This policy included Egypt’s strict enforcement of the siege of Gaza.

If the Mubarak regime goes, the United States will lose enormous leverage over the situation in Palestine, and Abbas’ PA will lose one of its main allies against Hamas.
Already discredited by the extent of its collaboration and capitulation exposed in the Palestine Papers, the PA will be weakened even further. With no credible “peace process” to justify its continued “security coordination” with Israel, or even its very existence, the countdown may well begin for the PA’s implosion. Even the US and EU support for the repressive PA police-state-in-the-making may no longer be politically tenable. Hamas may be the immediate beneficiary, but not necessarily in the long term. For the first time in years we are seeing broad mass movements that, while they include Islamists, are not necessarily dominated or controlled by them.

AS THE DOMINOES FLOW TOWARD ISRAEL

Ultimately it comes back to Israel, a nation that defies the continuous cries from the United Nations to abide by international law, to heed the decisions of the International Court, to accept the efforts of the UN to investigate its actions so the rule of law can prevail, to see that force is not the way to peace in the mid-east, that subjugation of the people of Palestine rings from Lebanon to Algeria like a knell awakening the world to the suffering imposed on those shackled by the Eurocentric colonial mind of the 19th century.

By William A. Cook 

 

While the people of the mid-east rise in protest against their respective American supported dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, with the American-Israeli attempts to control Lebanon on the brink of chaos and collapse, and the “peace negotiations” between the Palestinians and the Israelis torpedoed by both Netanyahu and Abbas, the confusion at the State Department could be eased if it spent some time reviewing the United States’ prior efforts to control the people of the mid-east, especially in Iran. It’s one thing for the Secretary of State and the President to reiterate America’s purported policy on human rights and another to acknowledge the hypocrisy of it.

After all, our policy appears clear, “We have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and free of corruption; and the freedom to live as you choose. These are human rights, and we support them everywhere,” Mr. Gibbs said, speaking on behalf of the President. America supports human rights everywhere, with words …  as our dutiful TV channels give Gibbs, Crowley, Clinton and Obama extensive time to demonstrate … but there are no words directed at the Palestinian people’s rights.

How strange to watch our CNN talking heads, especially the Israeli trained Wolf Blitzer, former editor of AIPAC’s in house “Near East Report,” stuttering before the cameras as he recalled the fall of the Shah of Iran, America’s staunch ally for 25 years, as a direct result of similar riots by Iranian civilians, and the resulting loss of America’s control in Iran. He failed to mention that our friend had subjugated the Iranian people beneath the boots of his SAVAK mercenaries that protected his elegant life style while the people suffered under his despotic regime. Then as now our Presidents spoke of America’s support of human rights neglecting to mention the CIA’s overthrow of the elected nationalist (1951) Mohammed Mossadegh as Prime Minister.

Why should Blitzer express such concern? Why see danger lurking in the streets where the people of Tunisia and Egypt have gone to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with pseudo-democratic governments that hold rigged elections to ensure the continuation of their dictatorial rule propped up by American tax dollars so readily evident in the labels on the gas canisters (made in America) hurled at them by the police mercenaries who benefit from those same tax dollars? Perhaps because Blitzer knows, though he does not say it, that the Shah was the first mid-east dictator to recognize Israel, and with his loss Iran has become the number one “existential enemy” of that militaristic state. Perhaps he realizes that the “new” Iraq has an umbilical cord to Iran, that Afghanistan remains and will remain unfettered by America’s dictates, and that Syria continues to maintain meaningful control in Lebanon despite the efforts of the Israeli-American alliance to destabilize it. Perhaps he sees that the fall of Mubarak will mean that Egypt will no longer be a puppet of the Israeli state, and then perhaps Jordan will follow, and the dominoes will tumble one upon the next toward Israel leaving it standing naked before the world, delegitimized by the people of the mid-east dictating in their own way that tolerance of bought regimes is not the way to democracy and human rights.
Ultimately it comes back to Israel, a nation that defies the continuous cries from the United Nations to abide by international law, to heed the decisions of the International Court, to accept the efforts of the UN to investigate its actions so the rule of law can prevail, to see that force is not the way to peace in the mid-east, that subjugation of the people of Palestine rings from Lebanon to Algeria like a knell awakening the world to the suffering imposed on those shackled by the Eurocentric colonial mind of the 19th century.

The Obama administration has a chance to right this silent complicity that gives license to Israel to violently control the people of Palestine and perhaps thereby save the state of Israel from itself. Lebanon has brought forward to the United Nations Security Council a resolution that would force the council to address Israel’s illegal occupation and revert to Resolutions 181 and 242 that define the two states that should exist in Palestine. All Obama needs to do is abstain. That silent protest against AIPAC and the Neo-Cons would declare what no other President since WWII has been able to assert, that America’s policy on the prohibition of illegal settlements cannot be ignored and that America’s “…unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and free of corruption; and the freedom to live as you choose. These are human rights, and we support them everywhere,” remains the true foundation of America’s commitment to international law and human rights.



William A. Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California and author of The Rape Of Palestine: Hope Destroyed, Justice Denied, Tracking Deception: Bush Mid-East Policy and The Chronicles Of Nefaria. He is editor of MWCNEWS. The Plight of the Palestinians: a Long History of Destruction by Dr. William A.

 

Good riddance, 'peace process'

Don't lament the end of negotiations that put Israeli demands, backed almost unconditionally by the U.S. and at the expense of basic Palestinian rights, first and foremost.

By Josh Ruebner

Aaron David Miller, a former Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" point person in the George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, is correct to assert in his Jan. 26 Times Op-Ed article that the recent cache of formerly secret documents on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations leaked to Al Jazeera "are bound to have a chilling effect on a process already in the deep freeze."

He errs, however, in lamenting the potential demise of a U.S.-sponsored "peace process" that is premised on Israel's demands, not Palestinian rights.


"As harmful as these leaks are to Palestinians, the Israelis don't look very good either," Miller notes. The Palestine Papers, as the leaks are known, portray Palestinian negotiators bending over backward to concede their rights, with Israel pocketing the concessions while demanding even more.

Friday, January 28, 2011

ARABS, OH ARABS, REVOLT AGAINST AMERICA’S TYRANTS

The greatest jihad is to speak the word of truth to a tyrant.”

–Beloved Prophet Muhammad

By: Mohamed Khodr



Hosni Mubarak of Egypt --Next

One down, twenty one to go.   

The young man who burned himself alive in Tunis, Mohamed Bouazizi, was a university graduate prevented by police from selling fruit and vegetables to make a living    He committed suicide to protest the loss of his humanity under Ben Ali’s tyrannical rule.

His death sparked a revolution in Tunis and awakened the minds and souls of oppressed Arabs across the region who sprang to the street to revolt against their own American owned and run tyrants.  Ben Ali was one of America’s favorite  brutal Arab tyrants who for decades oppressed his people, denied their humanity, freedoms, and abused at will and whim their human rights.   He embezzled billions of the people’s money for himself, his wife, family, and cronies.   At the end he could not withstand the power of a spontaneous mass uprising demanding his removal.  He escaped like a frightened mouse from the unleashed peaceful wrath of his subjugated subjects.

The light of this young man’s fire has lit a spark across the Arab world where people overcame their fear and apathy to demand their freedom from their American owned and run tyrants.  From Algeria to Egypt; from Yemen to Jordan, from Lebanon, Syria, to Palestine, the streets are alive with the sounds of humanity long deprived of their most basic needs: freedoms, jobs, housing, an education, health care, clean water and sewage systems, electricity, and above all safety and security from multiple and brutal security services who only serve to protect the monarchs and military dictators
The Wikileaks papers proved the treasonous inhumane surrender of these tyrants to the will of America, a nation whose foreign policy in turn is surrendered to Israel.    America and Israel have massacred millions of Arabs under the pretext of security and war on terrorism.   To secure their power Arab tyrants have given a free hand to both imperial powers to commit genocide against those who seek freedom from their oppressive hegemony, occupation, and destruction of lives and property.

Thus these American tyrants have engulfed in whole without any conscience that all who oppose Israel in the region such as Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas, are also a threat to their power.   Hence, protecting Israel’s security means protecting their own.   Because these entities do not submit and surrender to the imperialism of Israel and America they are called “terrorists”.   But murderous dictators who do are “moderate regimes”.  That’s why to these tyrants Iran is their primary enemy that must be attacked and bombed, not Israel, that is Judaizing Jerusalem, threatening Al Aqsa mosque with destruction, or massacring  Palestinian children who go through the cracks of the Apartheid Wall to go to school.

THE REVOLUTIONARY WAVE

 Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen – is the West next?

The revolutionary wave now sweeping the world will not exempt America, in spite of the myth of  “American exceptionalism.”

 

 



 

By Justin Raimondo

 

It started, of all places, in Tunisia, a land of sunny beaches and sleepy walled cities – the first stirrings of a revolutionary wave that, before it’s crested, may reach American shores.
The spark flared first in the small town of Sidi Bouzid, in central Tunisia, where Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old graduate student, was accosted by the authorities for selling produce in the souk – the equivalent of a farmer’s market –  without a license. Bouazizi, like many in emerging economies, could not find a job in his field – or any other field – and so was forced to resort to hawking olives and oranges to support his family of eight. The officials reportedly humiliated him, and when he went to city hall to try to go “legal,” they wouldn’t even let him in the door. These are the circumstances that led to his now famous act of self immolation: in protest, and in full view of passersby, he stood in front of city hall, poured lighter fluid on himself – and struck a match.

This spark set off a prairie fire still burning its way across the Middle East, a conflagration born of boiling resentment and red-hot anger directed at the authorities that has already spread to Egypt and Yemen, and shows every sign of flaring up well beyond the region. As a global economic downturn punctures the delusions of economic planners and technocrats worldwide, the bursting of the bubble brought on by unrestrained bank credit expansion is generating a political tsunami that promises to topple governments from North Africa to North America.

Egypt is the perfect candidate for what we might call the Bouazizian revolution – a US-supported kleptocracy ruled by a coalition of the military, the technocrats, and Washington, with the overarching figure of Hosni Mubarak – now 82 – presiding over it all. As in Tunisia, one of the key issues is the succession: rumors that the Egyptian dictator was planning to pass power on to his son, Gamal, fueled popular fury against this latter-day Pharoah. In both cases, the state is controlled by a single party – in Egypt, it is the National Democratic Party — still resting on the long-ago laurels of an anti-colonialist uprising, and since reified into a bureaucratic incrustation on the body politic.

Another similarity – which, somehow, most commentators have failed to note – is that all these upsurges are against regimes that have enjoyed practically unqualified US military and political support. Tunisia’s Ben Ali was a favorite of George W. Bush’s, and the Tunisian tyrant continued to enjoy support from the Obama administration. US aid to the regime hovered in the  $20 million range, all of it in military, “anti-terrorist,” and anti-narcotics detection sectors, and was slated for an increase in FY 2010. Egypt, of  course, is the linchpin of US-friendly countries in the region, and Yemen is the latest battleground in our never-ending “war on terrorism.”

Just follow the money. The American taxpayers have shelled out an average $2 billion-plus per year to our Egyptian sock puppets since 1979. As for  Yemen, as Warren Strobel points out, “U.S. aid to Yemen increased significantly in fiscal year 2010 to about $67 million, and is due to increase in the current fiscal year to $106 million.” That’s not counting $170 million in military aid. This gravy train is undoubtedly the single largest income stream flowing into the country: Yemen, in short, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the US government. The same can fairly be said about Egypt.

On her January surprise visit to Yemen, Hillary Clinton is said to have “gently chided” Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh to loosen his tenacious grip on the country’s political life, but as she got on the plane to depart she stumbled and took quite a fall – prefiguring the probable fate of Saleh, and, indeed, the various US puppet regimes in the region. The US is taking the same approach to Egypt, where demonstrators are demanding the resignation of Mubarak and being murdered in the streets: oh, but don’t worry, says White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, the Mubarak regime is “stable” in spite of it all.

This is arrant nonsense: Mubarak will follow Ben Ali into exile soon enough. Gamal has already packed up and fled to London with his family – and, reportedly, 100 pieces of luggage! The Egyptian authorities deny it, and the Guardian reports news of the son’s flight “appears to be wishful thinking.”

Palestinian killed after settlers open fire in West Bank village

Incident comes only a day after police confirmed Palestinian reports saying that a Palestinian youth was shot to death by an unidentified Israeli citizen.

Uday Qadous at a Nablus-area hospital, where he died from gunshot wounds (photo: Popular Committee)
A 17 year-old was shot today, leaving him in critical condition. A 19 yr old was shot & killed yesterday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Palestinians youth was killed and another wounded early Friday after settlers reportedly opened fire at a village north of the West Bank city of Hebron, only a day after a Palestinian youth was shot and killed by an unidentified Israeli citizen near Nablus.

According to preliminary Palestinian reports, the incident occurred after dozens of settlers from the settlement of Bat Ayin descended on the village of Khirbet Safa in the early morning hours and confronted some of the locals.

The confrontations reportedly resulted in the setters opening fire at the crowd, leaving one Palestinian lightly wounded and another in critical condition. The two were evacuated to a hospital in Beit Jala near Bethlehem, where one of them, a 17-year-old succumbed to his wounds.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sharp rise in Palestinian home demolitions

 
 
video
Nayaf Oweida and his family once had a place to call home. Like many Palestinians whose homes were demolished by Israel, the Oweida family now lives in a small tent next to the rubble their home once stood.


A report conducted by the Israeli organization B'tselem reveals demolitions of Palestinian homes by Israel's Civil Commission tripled in 2010 in the occupied West Bank. Last year, 472 Palestinians including 223 minors lost their homes. In 2009, 217 Palestinians, along with 60 minors were victims of home demolitions. Palestinians say the dramatic rise of Palestinian homes razed in 2010 is attributed to the increasing pressure by Jewish settlers seeking to preserve land in the Occupied West Bank and in Jerusalem, al Quds in order to create a Jewish majority.


In addition, Seventy-eight structures in East Jerusalem, including 24 homes, were demolished by the Israeli authorities in 2010, according to the UN.

Israeli settlers shot dead a Palestinian in a confrontation in the West Bank on Thursday

Palestinians carry the body of Oday Kaddous, 19, after he was brought to a hospital in the West Bank city of Nablus January 27, 2011. REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini


Residents said Israeli settlers fired at 19-year-old Oday Kaddous after approaching him and his cousin in a field near the town of Nablus, giving no further details. Hospital officials said he had been shot in the chest.
An Israeli police spokesman said they were checking the report of "a disturbance between groups of Israelis and Palestinians" and the report that a Palestinian had been shot.
Jewish settlers and Palestinians often clash in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, though such confrontations have been relatively rare in recent months.


Source: reuters.com

DON’T GET MAD, PALESTINIANS. GET EVEN.

Bypass Israel and its twisted backers and deal direct with those responsible, the United Nations.

By Stuart Littlewood

See this embarrassment as your big chance – a God-sent opportunity to sweep away the shameful Palestinian Authority and make a fresh start.
Bypass Israel and its twisted backers and deal direct with those responsible, the United Nations.
Don’t think that you are the only ones with traitors in your midst. We too have our quislings. They have given away our sovereignty to the EU and Brussels, sold off our national assets to foreign corporates and shackled us to the evil US-Israel ‘axis of greed’. They have even abused the trust and loyalty of our troops by committing them to illegal wars that have nothing to do with defence of the realm and everything to do with advancing the crazed ambition of foreign “allies” to get their dirty mitts on other people’s resources.

Following the latest revelations, courtesy of Aljazeera, about the antics of PA negotiators behind closed doors, the PA’s normally invisible man in London, Manuel Hassassian, made a surprise appearance on the BBC’s Newsnight programme. He explained that the negotiations in question (involving Condoleezza Rice, the then-US secretary of state and Tzipi Livni, the then-Israeli foreign minister) were not considered to be negotiations at all. They were “an exchange of ideas, informal talks”.

Hassassian said: “Always the Palestinians have been the underdog. We never had a symmetrical relationship in terms of negotiations. All the time we have been dictated to by the US government and the Israelis because they have had the upper hand.”
Welcome, then, to the brave new world of Palestinian negotiations, where  the underdog sits down to asymmetrical talks, which are not serious talks, and gives away his most important bargaining chips before the real asymmetrical talks begin… knowing full well that they are strictly non-negotiable.

IDF commander involved in shooting bound Palestinian evades jail term

Despite prosecution's request for active prison service, IDF court rules Lt. Col. Omri Burberg will not be eligible for an upgrade in military rank for two years and cannot serve in a commander position for one.

video

An Israel Defense Forces court on Thursday rejected the prosecution's request to jail a commander involved in shooting a bound Palestinian at close range in the West Bank city of Na'alin two years ago.
According to the sentence issued by the court, Lt. Col. Omri Burberg will not be eligible for rank promotion for two years and is forbidden from serving as a commander for one year.

Burberg was convicted in July after he was caught on tape holding a blindfolded and bound prisoner and ordering a soldier, Staff Sgt. Leonardo Korea, to fire a rubber bullet at his leg.
The prosecution had sought an active prison sentence for Burberg and had demanded that he be demoted.

Burberg and Korea were both charged with unbecoming behavior after a military-police investigation into the affair and convicted in July.
Burberg was transferred following the incident from his post in Battalion 71 to the armored corps training grounds at Tze'elim.

In response to those relatively light charges, four civil-rights organizations petitioned the High Court of Justice on behalf of Abu Rahme, requesting that the court order the Military Advocate General to change the charge to something more serious.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Palestinian people betrayed

The leaked papers published by Al Jazeera show how craven Palestinian leaders are and how willing they were to sell out their people's rights. Yet all they had to offer wasn't enough for Israel.

A massive archive of documents leaked to Al Jazeera and Britain's Guardian newspaper offers irrefutable proof that years of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians have been an empty sham. The papers make clear that the time has come for Palestinians and anyone interested in the cause of justice to abandon the charade of official diplomacy and pursue other, more creative and nonviolent paths toward the realization of a genuine, just peace.

The leaked documents, assuming they are genuine — and both Al Jazeera and the Guardian say they have authenticated them — are behind-the-scenes notes from a decade of negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel. On issue after issue, they show Palestinian

The papers give the lie to Israel's claim that it yearns for peace but lacks a Palestinian "partner." And they reinforce the sense that Israel has gone along with these negotiations only to buy time to expropriate more Palestinian land, demolish more Palestinian homes, expel more Palestinian families and build more colonies for the exclusive use of Jewish settlers in militarily occupied territory, thereby cementing new realities on the ground that would make a Palestinian state a geophysical impossibility.
 

Anyone who doubts this has only to skim through the leaked papers, which show Israel spurning one gaping Palestinian concession after another. And this was Israel not under Benjamin Netanyahu but under the supposedly more liberal Ehud Olmert and his foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, who claimed they were committed to the peace process. In shameless abjection, the Palestinian negotiators prostrated themselves and surrendered essentially every major objective for which their people have struggled and sacrificed for 60 years, only for the imperious Israelis to say again and again, no, no, no.

Clearly, all that the Palestinians have to offer is not enough for Israel.


The major revelation from the documents, indeed, is the illustration they furnish of just how far the Palestinian negotiators were willing to go to placate Israel.


Men like Saeb Erekat,
Mahmoud Abbas and Ahmed Qurei — the lead Palestinian negotiators in all these years — are of a type that has come forth in every colonial conflict of the modern age. Faced with the overwhelming brute power with which colonial states have always sought to break the will of indigenous peoples, they inhabit the craven weakness that the situation seems to dictate. Convinced that colonialism cannot be defeated, they seek to carve out some petty managerial role within it from which they might benefit, even if at the expense of their people.

'US complicit in Israeli attack on Flotilla'

video

The 2010, May 31 Israeli attack on the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla was carried out with US assistance, so it is only natural that the U.S. would support an Israeli commission investigating it, says Stephen Lendman writer and radio host from Chicago.

"There is no question that it was in alliance, complicit alliance between Washington and Israel," Lendman says in an interview with Press TV's U.S. Desk on Tuesday.

"Whatever Israel does it is a joint effort by Washington and Israel."

Israeli commandos carried out a "brutal and illegal" attack in international waters attacking "unarmed, peaceful, non-violent humanitarian activists" and leveled all kinds of bogus claims against them, he added. 

"It was nothing but a pack of lies; they were people simply wanting to break an illegal blockade."

The only commission that supported Israel is its own commission which was observed by former death squad members from Ireland and Canada, Lendman noted.

Turkey and the UN Human Rights Council have their own commissions which have rightfully condemned the Israeli raid calling it "cold-blooded murder."

The Palestinian cause has been betrayed. But no more

These stooge negotiators have acted as tools for the repression of their people. We in Hamas must seize back the initiative







By :Osama Hamdan

The revelations about the conduct of the Middle East peace process made by al-Jazeera and the Guardian over the past few days have shocked people around the world, but they did not surprise the membership of Hamas. They simply confirm what many of us have been warning against for nearly two decades.

Negotiating peace on the basis of the Oslo accords was, right from the start, conducted by two unequal parties. The PLO representatives, the weaker of the two sides, had no real cards to bargain with and ended up offering concessions that gave away basic national Palestinian rights. Their main aim has been to remain in power, preserve their role in the process, and maintain the special status and privileges accorded to them as individuals in exchange for collaborating with the occupiers. Consequently they allowed the Israelis to use them as stooges and tools for the repression of the Palestinian people.

Not only do we know for sure that these documents are authentic, but their authenticity has been endorsed by a good number of officials from the PLO and Palestinian National Authority, including some former members of the negotiation team.

The Palestinian negotiators named and quoted in these documents have betrayed their people and the Palestinian cause. We are in no doubt that, as a result of these revelations, they have lost their credibility for good. It is unthinkable that the Palestinian people will ever approve any deal concluded with the Israelis by this team of negotiators, for they will always be suspected of selling out and of betraying the cause. The Palestinian people can never believe that what these individuals pledge in public reflects how they bargain or deal in private.

One cannot but conclude from this shameful episode in the history of our people that these negotiators were willing to make such unthinkable and unacceptable concessions because they simply lacked any genuine affiliation to the people they claimed to represent, or any belief in the cause on whose behalf they claimed to negotiate. In fact they were neither elected by the Palestinian people nor mandated by its elected representatives to engage in this process. The only mandate given them was the one emanating from the US-led world order that has always conspired against our people and sided with our oppressors.

THE REALITY OF ZIONISM

Anti-Zionism does not equal Anti-Semitism, and the repetition of this is getting as old as the accusation itself.

By Jonathan Azaziah

1. World opinion is to be divided into two categories. The first category is the category of governments, and the second category is the category of citizens. In the framework of the first category, the overwhelming majority of governments have supported the Israeli massacre of the Freedom Flotilla, because the majority of governments are under the influence and/or subversion and/or control of the Zionist lobby. In that same framework, whatever government officials have offered a condemnation of the ‘attack,’ have not specified who exactly they’re condemning, and this, as aforementioned, is the result of the Zionist lobby. Again, in the same framework, the minute amount of government officials that have actually condemned Israel itself, their condemnations ring hollow, for they will not be backed up with action. In the framework of the second category, it is becoming increasingly evident, that populations of the world, Muslim and Jewish, Christian and Hindu, Black and White, Latino and Asian, lower-class and middle class, have lost their patience with the constant tyrannical, genocidal, and quite frankly, insane behavior of the illegal occupational entity known as Israel. The people are tired of forking over their tax dollars to a state that murders, steals, occupies, rapes, tortures, imprisons for no reason, and now, pirates, when their money could go to their failing social and economic crises. The people are tired of another people, just like them, being unjustly treated in a fashion worse than animals, for 62 years. The people are weary of their governments who continue to lend their irrational, unwavering support to this criminal fraud of a nation. The people, finally, seem to understand the severity of the crimes against the Palestinians, and it seems, they finally want an end to it. When world opinion isn’t divided into these two diametrically opposed categories, then that phrase, is simply a generality being used to mislead on behalf of Israel and its cohorts in America and Britain.

MI6 drew up plans for crackdown on Hamas

Asked for internment of leaders, replacement of imams

Tony Blair meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah last June

British intelligence helped draw up a secret plan for a wide-ranging crackdown on Hamas which became a security blueprint for the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), leaked documents reveal. The plan asked for the internment of leaders and activists, the closure of radio stations and the replacement of imams in mosques.

The disclosure of the British plan, drawn up by the intelligence service in conjunction with Whitehall officials in 2004, and passed by an Occupied Jerusalem-based MI6 officer to the senior PA security official at the time, Jibril Rajoub, is contained in the cache of confidential documents obtained by Al Jazeera TV and shared with the Guardian.

Criticism

The bulk of the British plan has since been carried out by the West Bank-based PA security apparatus which is increasingly criticised for authoritarian rule and human rights abuses, including detention without trial and torture.
The British documents, which have been independently authenticated by the Guardian, included detailed proposals for a security task force based on the UK's "trusted" Palestinian Authority contacts, outside the control of "traditional security chiefs", with "direct lines" to Israel intelligence.

It lists suicide bombers and rockets as issues that need urgent attention.
Under the heading "Degrading the capabilities of the rejectionists", the MI6 Palestinian Security Plan recommends "the detention of key middle-ranking officers" of Hamas and other armed groups, adding: "We could also explore the temporary internment of leading Hamas and PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] figures, making sure they are well-treated, with EU funding."

Among the newly released confidential PA documents is an extraordinary account of a 2005 meeting between Israel's then defence minister, Shaul Mofaz, and the PA's interior minister, Nasser Yousuf.

Referring to Hassan Al Madhoun, a commander in the armed Fatah-linked Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades who was held responsible by Israel for a suicide attack the previous year, Mofaz asked Yousuf: "We know his address ... Why don't you kill him?" Yousuf replied: "The environment is not easy, our capabilities are limited." Israel killed Madhoun a few months later in a drone missile attack on his car.

U.S. hails Israel for justifying massacre


The U.S. State Department has described Israel's attempt at justifying the excessive use of force against the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla aid convoy and the killing of nine Turkish nationals as a "credible and impartial" effort.

The praise came on Monday after an Israeli investigation panel declared Tel Aviv's military attack on the Freedom Flotilla as "legal" under international law.

"We think that this is an independent report, credible and impartial and transparent investigation that has been undertaken by Israel," State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said.
This is while an independent Turkish committee investigating the same incident concluded on Sunday that "the Israeli Army used excessive force against the Mavi Marmara (the lead ship of the six-vessel fleet).”


Israeli commandos attacked the convoy in international waters on May 31, killing nine Turkish activists and injuring about 50 others.

The Israeli assault on the aid convoy provoked an international outcry, prompting Knesset members to set up a commission to investigate the legality of the raid as well as Israel's blockade of Gaza.
HIGHLIGHTS
Crowley told reporters that UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon's panel remains the "primary forum for the international community to review the incident." But he called the completion of the first part of the Israeli probe "an important step," as it looked to the release of the second part over the next few months.

"And it will contribute to the broader process that continues through the (UN) secretary-general," he added.

The assault earned Israel international censure, prompting Knesset members to appoint a commission headed by former Judge Jacob Turkel to examine both the military operation's legality and Israel's blockade. 

The first part of the panel's report, released Sunday, claimed that the Israeli soldiers who took part in a raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla last May which resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish citizens had acted in self-defense.

This is while the activists aboard the ships were unarmed and said they were merely attempting to peacefully deliver aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip. Moreover, they were attacked in international waters.

Canada, Qatar clash over Palestine reference

By Anca Gurzu 

Qatari officials have publicly blasted Canada, accusing it of throwing a wrench into a three-day summit between G8 and Arab countries last week by refusing to include a Palestine reference in the final statement.

Although Canadian officials have said negotiations are still ongoing, the incident has highlighted mounting friction between Canada and the region, relations with which were already strained because of the country's dispute with the United Arab Emirates and its staunchly pro-Israel policies.


Launched at the G8 summit in 2004 in Sea Island, the Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative is a multilateral program aimed at "enhancing an open and inclusive dialogue between governments and civil society on issues of political and economic reform and human development" in order to create partnerships and foster open dialogue to advance the progress and development of the region, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.


Much like the G8 has numerous ministerial meetings and summits, the Initiative's main event is a Forum of the Future, which aims to bring together about 20 countries from the North Africa and the Middle East region, G8 members and hundreds of representatives from civil society and business groups. Each year's forum is co-chaired by the G8 president and a nation from the region, with the two nations expected to issue a joint statement highlighting that year's work.


On Jan. 13, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon was in Doha to co-chair the 7th Forum of the Future. However, a joint statement wasn't released because, according to the state-run Qatar News Agency, Canada "insisted that the statement should exclude a paragraph on the Palestinian issue."


Although the exact details of the contested paragraph remain unknown, Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmad Bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud said the paragraph "on the Palestinian question is important and sensitive, pertaining to the Palestinian cause, the borders of the Arab territories occupied in 1967 and related UN Security Council resolutions."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Embarrassed by their impotence

“THE principal question for Israelis,” Hussein Agha and Robert Malley write in the latest edition of The New York Review of Books, “is no longer how to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians. It is why and at what cost.”

Their article coincides with revelations, through leaks of secret documents obtained by news network Al Jazeera and shared with The Guardian, that representatives of the Palestinian Authority have in the past decade offered unprecedented concessions to the Israeli side — including the annexation of all but one Jewish settlement in occupied East Jerusalem — that have been spurned by their so-called negotiating partners.

“For 17 years, the peace process has been fuelled by illusions,” Agha and Malley write. “Bilateral negotiations have cultivated the pretence that Israelis and Palestinians are equal parties when they are not. US involvement has fed Palestinian delusions and shielded Israel. The international community’s treatment of the PA as a quasi state has not brought Palestinians closer to statehood. It has deceived Palestinians about what to expect from the world and corrupted their politics.

“Throwing money at the Palestinians has not ended their occupation but made it more palatable: it has reduced Israeli costs and created a Palestinian culture of dependency, diverting Palestinian energy from addressing their predicament to financing it. The illusions helped perpetuate the status quo.”

The status quo has, of course, never been static. With dogged consistency, Israel has over the years been creating ‘facts on the ground’ by establishing and expanding settlements on occupied territory. Such activity is clearly illegal under international law, but that has rarely deterred the policy-makers of what is often described as the only democracy in the Middle East.

But as Avraham Burg, a former speaker of the Israeli parliament, put it earlier this month in the context of a mass protest in Tel Aviv against threatened curbs on civil and human-rights organisations, “Israel is not a democracy any more. Technically it is, but the foundations of democracy — liberty, equality — are under threat. The rabbinical fatwas and political harassment are red lights. If we don’t stand up now, tomorrow it will be too late.” Burg has been described as the leading light behind the Democratic Camp, a network of Jewish and Arab human rights and left-wing groups that organised the protest. Israeli and Palestinian flags were waved in tandem and slogans on placards included the declaration that “Jews and Arabs will not be enemies.”

The rally was addressed by, among others, Meir Sheetrit, a representative of the Kadima party founded by Ariel Sharon. He declared that the proposed legislation to investigate rights groups would be tantamount to “taking a brick out of the wall of democracy”. And party leader and former foreign minister Tzipi Lvini — who figures prominently in the leaked documents as an ostensibly implacable negotiator — has been quoted as saying that an evil wind is blowing across Israel.

That wind has, in fact, been blowing for a long time. And Lvini has been a part of it. She is now the leader of an opposition that has lately been marginally bolstered by Ehud Barak’s decision to quit the Labour Party, taking four MPs with him into a new entity while the remainder are no longer part of Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition. Lvini is also the successor to former Kadima chief Ehud Olmert, who, once he relinquished his role as prime minister and was sidelined on account of corruption charges, publicly declared that he supported a two-state solution on the grounds that the only alternative was a single apartheid state.

The Al Jazeera leaks have been dismissed as fabrications and half-truths by the likes of leading Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, which is hardly surprising given that the documents reveal the extent to which he has been willing to kowtow to the Israelis alongside former PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei. Their desperation was clearly evident in concessions that could not publicised because the vast majority of Palestinians would consider them unacceptable — and for good reason.