The following report appeared in the L.A. Times on August 27. The journalist is being generous to the Israeli government in saying that Israeli blockade is intended to ‘isolate and disarm Hamas’. It certainly hasn’t achieved either. What the sealing off of Gaza does achieve is the de-stabilising of the region and an increase in human misery, and things can only get worse unless there is fundamental change. Father Dave
U.N.: Gaza to be unlivable by 2020 unless serious action taken
The Gaza Strip will be drained of safe water to drink and perilously short on schools, homes and hospitals if serious action isn’t taken to help its booming young population, the United Nations said in a new report released Monday. The rising pressures could soon make Gaza unlivable, it warned.
The coastal Palestinian territory controlled by Hamas is expected to swell by half a million people by 2020, putting grave new pressures on an already strained area, the U.N. country team found.
Under an Israeli blockade meant to isolate and disarm Hamas, the Gaza economy "is fundamentally unviable," the U.N. says in its report. Though Israel eased the blockade somewhat two years ago and Gaza’s economy has recently grown, the territory remains heavily dependent on outside aid and illegal smuggling to survive. Nearly a third of its people are unemployed.
Israeli leaders say the blockade is needed to stop weapons from reaching Hamas, an Islamic militant group that has refused to recognize Israel. The blockade remains deeply controversial among aid agencies and human rights activists, who argue that it hurts ordinary Gazans.
Gaza is already suffering a shortfall of 71,000 housing units and as many as 250 schools. Over the next eight years, a projected population increase to 2.1 million from from 1.6 million would require roughly 800 hospital beds and 190 more schools on top of the existing shortfall, the U.N. found.
The boom would also necessitate more than twice as much electricity for Gaza, where people already face regular power cuts, and could irreparably damage the coastal aquifer that supplies almost all of the territory’s water. Palestinians in Gaza already consume far more water than flows back into the aquifer, depleting the water supply and causing salt water to leak in at troubling levels.
With more thirsty mouths to quench, the water source could be unusable in just four years and irreversibly damaged by 2020, the report says.
"The challenges will only become more acute, particularly if the current political status quo continues," the report says, adding, "As a heavily urbanized environment with little room for further growth, Gaza needs to be open and accessible to the world."
The following article appeared on the Ahlul Bayt News Agency (ABNA) website on September 1st. ABNA is an Iranian site and one could be forgiven for assuming that the article may be less than objective in portraying Ban Ki Moon’s pro-Iranian stance. Even so, if the quotes attributed to him are correct it is certainly clear that the UN chief does not buy into the narrative of the US and NATO with regards to either Syria or Iran.
Ban Ki-moon censures West’s threats against Iran’s nuclear energy program
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has praised Iran’s kudos in the global arena and lashed out at the West’s threats against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear energy program
At a press conference on the final day of the 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in the Iranian capital Tehran on Friday, Ban touched upon Iran’s nuclear issue and in a reference to the threats by Israel, the US and its Western allies against Tehran, he said, “I have condemned the threats by any member state to destroy or delegitimize another.”
“I have reminded the leaders … throughout the world to lower the volume and stop the provocation that can lead the area down a slippery slope of conflict,” he added.
“It is time for more reason and responsibility. I urge you all to resolve differences through peaceful means,” the UN chief pointed out.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the UN secretary general praised Iran’s cultural and historical grandeur and the country’s remarkable contributions to the humanity, saying, “Iran has enriched and nourished the human civilization for centuries. As a founding member of the United Nations, Iran has also greatly contributed to creative initiatives such as the ‘Middle East nuclear-weapons-free zone’ and ‘dialogue among civilizations’.”
He also lauded Iran’s continued efforts to assist the Afghan nation during the US-led war in country as well as “hosting and protecting millions of Afghan refugees.”
The UN secretary-general alluded to Iran’s rotational presidency of the NAM, adding, “This is a very important opportunity for Iran to not only raise its political profile in the international community, but also demonstrate their leadership to exercise a moderate and constructive role in the regional and international issues.”
Ban described his visit to Iran and participation in the NAM summit as “very useful and very constructive.”
The UN chief pointed to his constructive talks with the Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas in Tehran and expressed “frustration” over the standoff in negotiations between Palestine and Israel.
Referring to the ensuing crisis in Syria, Ban called on all the opponent parties to stop violence and urged the international community to facilitate diplomatic efforts and lend support to the efforts by UN-Arab League’s new peace envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, in an attempt to bring peace to Syria.
“All the parties must stop violence. All those players who may be providing arms to both sides — the government and the opposition — must stop. Any militarization of the situation will only prolong this tragic situation and will press the Syrian people into further misery,” the UN chief pointed out.
The following article appeared in the Jerusalem Post on the last day of August.
Things are certainly hotting up in the war of words between Israel and Iran. According to the article, Netanyahu’s strong words are a response to the ‘anti-Semitic diatribe’ of Ayatollah Khamenei at the ‘Non-Aligned Meeting’ summit that just concluded in Tehran.
Personally, I’m not sure what the term ‘anti-Semitic’ here is intended to refer to. ‘Antisemitism’ would suggest that Khamenei is condemning the Israelis on the basis of their race or ethnicity, wouldn’t it? If the reference is to the quotes from the Ayatollah’s speech that appear in the article, I can’t see anything ‘anti-Semitic’ in them. Certainly the Ayatollah is condemning the crimes committed against the people of Palestine by the Israeli government (and rightly so) but there is surely nothing racist about that in itself? Perhaps there was other material in his speech that was overtly racist? I am open to be convinced.
Perhaps it’s the term ‘Zionist regime’ that is being taken as being anti-Semitic? I’m not sure. Certainly when media commentators speak of the ‘Assad regime’ in Syria they are not being accused of being racist or ‘anti-Syrian’ or wanting the country of Syria to disappear from the map. Feel free to educate me with your comments if you understand this better than I do.
PM to ‘speak the truth’ on Iran in UN speech
After two-thirds of the world’s countries listened silently Thursday to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei launch an anti-Semitic diatribe against Israel at the Non-Aligned Meeting summit in Tehran, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced he would respond at the UN General Assembly next month.
“In Tehran today, the representatives of 120 countries heard a blood libel against the State of Israel and were silent. This silence must stop,” Netanyahu said.
“Therefore, I will go to the UN General Assembly and, in a clear voice, tell the nations of the world the truth about Iran’s terrorist regime, which constitutes the greatest threat to world peace.”
Khamenei, speaking to the NAM gathering that included UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said “an independent country with a clear historical identity called ‘Palestine’ has been taken away from its people through the use of weapons, killings and deception, and has been given to a group of people the majority of whom are immigrants from European countries.
“This great usurpation – which at the outset was accompanied by massacres of defenseless people in towns and villages and their expulsion from their homes and homeland to bordering countries – has continued for more than six decades with similar crimes and continues to this very day.”
Khamenei said the political and military leaders of the “usurping Zionist regime” killed the people, destroyed their homes and farms, arrested and tortured men, women and children, humiliated and insulted the Palestinians and tried to digest it all into the “usury-eating stomach of the Zionist regime.”
“Even now after 65 years the same kind of crimes marks the treatment of Palestinians remaining in the occupied territories by the blood-thirsty Zionist wolves.
They commit new crimes one after the other and create new crises for the region,” he continued.
Khamenei said the Zionists controlled the world’s media and were responsible for America’s “hateful image” in the region.
“Our standpoint is that Palestine belongs to the Palestinians and that continuing its occupation is a great and intolerable injustice and a major threat to global peace and security,” he said. Khamenei called for a referendum among all the Palestinians – “both the current citizens of Palestine and those who have been forced to immigrate to other countries but have preserved their Palestinian identity, including Muslims, Christians and Jews” – to chose the country’s political system.
Ban, whose presence at the parley is widely seen in Jerusalem as giving legitimacy to the Iranian regime, addressed the gathering and said he “strongly” rejected threats by one UN member state to destroy another, and “outrageous attempts to deny historical facts, such as the Holocaust.
Claiming that another UN member state, Israel, does not have the right to exist, or describing it in racist terms, is not only utterly wrong but undermines the very principles we have all pledged to uphold.”
His words, however, did little to soothe Israeli anger at his very participation in the event.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, at a gathering in Jerusalem marking 60 years of Israeli-Japanese ties, characterized the event in Tehran as “a march of folly and hypocrisy not seen since the 1930s. Against the background of all the threats to destroy the State of Israel, erase the State of Israel, attack Jews wherever they are, we see the representatives of 120 counties, with the UN secretary- general, come to Iran and give legitimacy to the regime of the ayatollahs.”
Liberman asked what Israel was supposed to understand from the willingness of so many world leaders to take part in the conference, and how this would impact on the future.
“How can we rely on them,” he asked. “What is the meaning of international guarantees of our security?” Liberman slammed the Palestinian Authority presence at the conference.
He said that a speech delivered by PA Foreign Minister Riad Maliki – accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing, apartheid and crimes against humanity – could have been written by Joseph Goebbels.
Maliki said Israel had stepped up military attacks against Palestinians and the sources of their livelihood.
“To the military attacks have now been added violent, provoking and inciting attacks by settlers through organized and systematic terror, which recalls the bloody events taken by the settler and armed gangs – like the Hagana and others – during the Nakba in 1948.”
Netanyahu, meanwhile, is scheduled to leave for the UN on September 27, immediately after Yom Kippur, and return to Israel on September 30, just before the onset of Succot.
Although there has been talk of a meeting at the UN with US President Barack Obama, no meeting has yet been officially announced.
Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey said Thursday that he did not want to be “complicit” if Israel chose to strike Iran’s nuclear program, saying a premature attack would dissolve the international pressure on the Islamic Republic, The Guardian reported.
Speaking to journalists in London, Dempsey said an attack would “clearly delay but probably not destroy Iran’s nuclear program,” but added that the “international coalition” pressuring Iran “could be undone if it was attacked prematurely.”
“I don’t want to be complicit if [Israel] chooses to do it,” he added.
The White House said on Thursday that it was closely studying a UN report that showed Iran has possibly expanded uranium enrichment machines and increased stockpiles of nuclear material.
“We are closely studying the details of the report, but broadly speaking it is not surprising that Iran is continuing to violate its obligations,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters when asked about the UN International Atomic Energy Agency’s quarterly report on Iran.
“As the report illustrates, we are in a position to closely observe Iran’s program,” he said.
The report showed Iran has doubled the number of uranium enrichment machines it has in an underground bunker. Carney said the US has made it clear to Iran that they have a limited window of time to stop its atomic work and diplomatic terms offered by the Western world will not remain open “indefinitely.”
Father Roy writes:
The report pasted below is in today’s news. It’s self-explanatory. I did a bit of highlighting in the first paragraph so that y’all can get the gist of the report with a mere glance.
Scroll down to the concluding paragraphs and you can read about the recent exchange of words between Palestine’s President Abbas and Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Peers, what do you have to say about the exchange? My off-line neighbor, George, with whom I frequently talk politics on the ground, describes Lieberman as a “raving lunatic” who should be denied the dignity of responses. George seldom hesitates to express his feelings. George thinks that I should be more honest with my feelings, also. It’s futile to argue with George, but I occasionally suggest that he learn the LOD (the language of diplomacy). I’ve offered to give him lessons.
Peers, one must never misunderestimate the efficacy of the LOD. Whatever it is that a person has to say, he or she can always find a nicer way to say it. It’s a true story we’re living, so let’s lighten up. Let’s have a good laugh at ourselves, just for fun, to start off the month of September. Remember the story of Ambassador Daniel Bernard which caused a media sensation in 1971? It was an international incident. Israel seeks head of French Envoy. It is alleged that France’s Ambassador to the Court of St. James was overheard making comments about “that shitty little country who could cause another world war” … while he was attending a cocktail party … wearing a tux and sipping gin … in London. Whatever happened to Ambassador Bernard? Does anybody know? Is he still in the French Diplomatic Service? Perhaps CMEP’s Warren Clark would know. Perhaps Paula, Dante’s grandmother, would know. Please read on.
P.S. Reminder…. Let’s mark our calendars. Benjamin Netanyahu will be in New York City from 27 September (Thursday) until 30 September (Sunday), and he intends to address the United Nations General Assembly.
Britain to Support PA Financially Despite UN Bid
British official confirms his country will not suspend financial aid to the PA even if it turns to the UN for recognition as a state.
By Elad Benari
Britain will not suspend financial aid to the Palestinian Authority if the latter submits a new application to the UN seeking recognition of Palestine as a non-member state of the General Assembly, a British official confirmed Friday.
The PA recently announced its intention to turn to the UN General Assembly for recognition as a state.
Speaking to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency on Friday, UK deputy-consul general in Jerusalem Ben Saoul highlighted that the British government would continue to support the PA financially until 2015 to help build a Palestinian state and support economic development.
Britain’s financial aid to the Palestinians is about $160 million per year, he said. A portion of this aid goes directly to the PA’s treasury, and the rest goes through UNRWA and non-governmental organizations.
The deputy consul-general said he met with representatives of European donor organizations to discuss the financial crisis in the PA. Ending this crisis, he said, is a top priority for Britain and for the European Union.
The PA government currently faces its worst financial crisis since its 1994 establishment. The PA’s labor minister recently warned that a shortfall in the delivery of aid from Arab donor nations means the PA will be unable to pay employees their July salaries or pay off debts it owes to private businesses.
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad warned several months ago that the Palestinian Authority may soon fail financially and cease to exist.
A PA economist predicted that the PA is on the verge of collapse, warning that the later it happens, the harder it will be.
Asked whether his country would vote for or against the new UN bid, Saoul did not give a clear answer, telling Ma’an, “We don’t want to jump to conclusions.”