February 2013 Archives

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Things are moving forward for the Palestinian leadership!  While Egypt’s President, Mohamed Morsi, proclaims justice for Palestinians as the foremost issue for the Islamic world, more European countries come on board in recognising the full statehood of Palestine!

This is a victory both for the government in Gaza, who hosted a visit by Morsi recently, and for Mahmoud Abbas, who had Palestine’s status in the United Nation upgraded. The stage now seems well set for the formation of a unity government. This is something Israel has worked hard to prevent but, according to this press release, the details of that government are being worked out in Cairo today!

Father Dave

source: www.israelnationalnews.com…

Cyprus Gives ‘Palestine’ Full Diplomatic Status

Cyprus upgrades its relations with the Palestinian Authority to full diplomatic mission status, will open a “Palestinian embassy”.

By Elad Benari

Cyprus has given the “state of Palestine” an embassy, even though it still says that a “Palestinian state” needs to be established through negotiations with Israel.

AFP reported Cyprus said on Friday it has upgraded its relations with the Palestinian Authority to full diplomatic mission status, one of just eight European Union countries to do so.

The decision was announced by the Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis during an official visit by the Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki.

“I informed my Palestinian counterpart of the decision of the government to upgrade the status of the Palestinian diplomatic representation in Cyprus from that of a Diplomatic Mission to that of an Embassy of the State of Palestine,” Marcoullis told reporters, according to AFP.

She said that this “important decision” was in line with the recognition of a Palestinian state in 1988 by Cyprus, and follows seven other EU members that have recognized a Palestinian State — Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.

A Cyprus Representation Office opened in Ramallah in 2009.

Malki said the decision sent a “very important message,” adding, “We hope this courageous step taken by Cyprus will be taken by others in the European Union.”

Read this article in full here: www.israelnationalnews.com…

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Father Roy writes:  

Our new Secretary of State appears to be on a mission to resolve the issues in the Holy Land.  So is President Obama.  You’ll notice that I highlighted Yitzhak Benhorin’s analytical error.  

Peace, Roy

John Kerry

John Kerry

Kerry determined to resolve conflict

Analysis: Unlike Obama, top US diplomat has not lost faith in stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process

Yitzhak Benhorin

WASHINGTON – Despite the fact that many people believed Obama would take his revenge on Netanyahu for his blatant intervention in the American elections and try to influence the results of the Israeli elections, the US president did not intervene. But the establishment of the next Israeli government is another matter. Officials in Washington openly expressed their satisfaction with Yesh Atid’s success, with many in the US capital saying that the Israeli public was not as extreme as some were making it out to be.

Now, according to the Americans, Israel needs to form a coalition that will allow it to conduct peace negotiations. The US is not intervening in the coalition talks themselves, but it has clarified to the person who is in charge of the talks that it will not allow the diplomatic process to be put on the back burner. This is why new Secretary of State John Kerry phoned Netanyahu and Abbas as soon as he was sworn in. He also held several other phone conversations to discuss burning issues with the foreign ministers of Japan, Canada and Turkey, but the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at the top of his agenda.

On Friday CNN reported that Kerry plans to visit Israel and Egypt in the coming weeks. The visit may be postponed in order to give Netanyahu ample time to form a coalition, but the message is clear – Kerry plans to work personally to jumpstart the peace process, and he will certainly visit the region more than his predecessor Hillary Clinton did.

Kerry is focused, say those who have spoken to him about the Middle East, and about Israel in particular. He is 18 years older than Obama, and unlike the president, he has been familiar with Israel since the Six Day War and was even involved in the peace process (Oslo Accords and the Madrid Conference). He is sentimental when it comes to Israel and is interested in everything that goes on in the Jewish state. He is very warm towards Israel, in part due to his grandfather’s Jewish background and due to the fact that his brother Cameron converted to Judaism and is an active member of the Jewish community.

“I will never step back from my commitment to the State of Israel (or) from the plight of Palestinians,” Kerry said during his Senate confirmation hearing. During a visit to Israel two years ago, Kerry met with a group of Israeli intellectuals and pundits, in addition to his meetings with senior officials. It is said that he likes to listen and learn. The first conversation he held after being sworn in was with former Secretary of State George Shultz.

Read the rest of this article here: www.ynetnews.com…

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The day of US-Israeli hegemony in the Middle East may well be drawing to a close. The United Nations decided not to wait for Uncle Sam to broker a deal before declaring Palestine a nation state, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and its member states seem ready to take the initiative in seeing the Israel-Palestine impasse resolved.

The role of Egypt’s President Morsi has been crucial in recent months – visiting Gaza and now hosting the OIC meeting – and now Bangladesh has joined the chorus, demanding full statehood for Palestine.

Of course both Obama and Kerry are putting a renewed effort into restating their ‘peace process’ but have they left their run too late?

Father Dave

source: bdnews24.com…

‘Back a sovereign Palestine’

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni has called upon the Muslim world to support Palestine in ‘a result-oriented’ way to make it a sovereign state that Bangladesh backs ‘unequivocally’.

She made the call while speaking at a special session titled ‘Israeli Settlements on Occupied Palestinian Land’ on Sunday during the 12th Islamic Summit Conference of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Cairo.

According to a media release, Dipu Moni reiterated “unequivocal support of Bangladesh for a fully sovereign Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

“She called upon all OIC member states to extend support to Palestine in a more useful and constructive manner with a result-oriented approach,” it said.

The Bangladesh Foreign Minister condemned the repression of Palestinians by Israeli authorities “through cold-blooded policy of settlements in the occupied land of Palestine that is a glaring affront to the values of human rights and human conscience.”

read the rest of this article here: bdnews24.com…

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Ramzy Baroud’s analysis is depressingly realistic – “Until Palestinians find an alternative to this sorry trio of Israel-US-PA peacemakers, all they can expect is more of the same.” Mahmoud Abbas’ achievement of enhanced UN status for Palestine is soon to become another “footnote” in the struggle for justice, he says, as violence, settlements and the daily grind of the Occupation continues as usual.

But perhaps the ‘alternative’ is closer than Baroud thinks? The UN vote certainly reflects the growing international support for Palestine, and that vote has been followed up with tangible signs of support from numerous countries (Cyprus being the latest example). The Muslim world seems to be coming together in their support (as indicated in the latest statements from Bangladesh) and there are no shortage of alternative peace-brokers.

Father Dave

source: english.alarabiya.net…

Bulldozers and more talks: Paving the road for Palestine’s new status quo

By Ramzy Baroud

Despite much saber-rattling by Israel and the U.S. administration and hyped-up expectations by the Palestinian leadership, the recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state late last year is on its way to becoming yet another footnote in protracted conflict that has endured for 65 years.

Only hours after the announcement, Israel had its own announcement to make: the building of a new illegal settlement (according to international law, all of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are illegal) in Palestinian land. The area is called the E-1 zone by Israel. A couple of European countries responded with greater exasperation than usual, but soon moved on to other seemingly more pressing issues. The U.S. called Israel’s spiteful move “counterproductive”, but soon neglected the matter. Palestinian activists who tried to counter Israel’s illegal activities by pitching tents in areas marked by Israel for construction were violently removed.

Mutual interest?

Mahmoud Abbas’ PA is at a standstill in the same pitiful possession. It continues to serve as a buffer between occupied, ethnically cleansed and rightfully angry Palestinians. Its existence would not have been possible without Israel’s consent. Fiery speeches, press releases and conferences aside, the PA has affectively sub-contracted part of the Israeli occupation – as in maintaining Israel’s security for example –in exchange for perks for those affiliated with the PA. Examples of these privileges include easier access to business contracts or jobs. It is this symbiosis that constantly averts any serious confrontation between Israel and the PA. Both parties would lose if the status quo were seriously hampered. For Israel to reclaim its responsibilities as an Occupying Power under international law would be a huge financial and political burden that could impede its settlement constructions in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. In fact, Israel is able to maintain all the benefits of military occupation without much cost. For Abbas, shutting down the PA conglomerate would mean financial and political suicide for the branch of Fatah politicians affiliated with him.

Thus some clever manifestation of the ‘peace process’ show must be found that would help both parties save face – Israel to finish its settlement plans and the PA to sustain its enterprise.

In fact, Israel’s decision on Jan 30 to release $100 million of taxes and tariffs collected on behalf of the PA (which it has withheld, some say robbed to punish the PA for its U.N. bid) was possibly a prelude to the resumption of the same ongoing peace charade. According to an Israeli official cited by AFP, the transfer was a “measure to ease the financial crisis faced by the Palestinians,” ironically manufactured by Israel. That gesture of ‘good will’ is likely to be harnessed into some ‘confidence building measures’ in hopes of resetting the entire ‘peace process’ game.

Read the rest of this article here: english.alarabiya.net…

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The following statement has come from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem – a branch of the Catholic Church

source: en.lpj.org…

Holy Land Coordination: Final Communiqué 2013

Since the Bishops of the Holy Land Co-ordination gathered in January 2012, the people in this region have lived through dark and dramatic events: conflict in Gaza and southern Israel; civil war in Syria, which has resulted in huge numbers of refugees pouring into other countries and putting an enormous strain on their resources; and increasing polarisation within Israel and Palestine. These developments have caused profound anxiety for all in this region, for the Israelis, Palestinians, Jews, Muslims, and particularly for the dwindling Christian population. This year we met Christian communities in Gaza, Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Madaba and Zarqa. In the Cremisan Valley we heard about legal struggles to protect local people’s lands and religious institutions from the encroachment of the Security Barrier (“the wall”). We promise to continue urging our respective governments to act to prevent this injustice. We heard moving testimony from religious women involved in the care of migrant workers, trafficked persons and prisoners.

Our faith was enriched by the strength and fortitude of the people we met: those with whom we shared in a vibrant celebration of Mass in Zarqa in Jordan; those who care for the vulnerable, like the refugees from Syria and Iraq fleeing terror and violence; those struggling in the face of oppression and insecurity across the countries that make up the Holy Land. We are inspired to promote a just peace and call upon Christian communities in our home countries and people of goodwill everywhere to support the work undertaken in this region to build a better future. Good examples are two agencies we visited: Catholic Relief Services in Gaza and the Caritas refugee programme in Jordan.

We are also called to recognise and tell others how faith in God brings light into the lives of people in the Holy Land. One of the ways in which this happens is the Church’s commitment to education, a tangible investment in the future. Nowhere is this more evident than in the University of Bethlehem, where we were struck by the stories from students, and the American University of Madaba in Jordan. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI called upon staff and students in the region to be builders of a just and peaceful society composed of peoples of various religious and ethnic backgrounds.

With the local Bishops, we encourage practical support for the vulnerable, the formation of young people and every effort for the promotion of peace. We encourage Christians to come on pilgrimage to the Holy Land where they will experience the same warm hospitality we received. We shall work hard to persuade our respective governments to recognise the root causes of suffering in this land and to step
up their efforts for a just peace. We echo the call Pope Benedict made recently in his speech to the Holy See’s diplomatic corps: “Following Palestine’s recognition as a non-member observer state of the United Nations, I again express the hope that, with the support of the international community, Israelis and Palestinians will commit themselves to peaceful co-existence within the framework of two sovereign
states, where respect for justice and the legitimate aspirations of the two peoples will be preserved and guaranteed. Jerusalem, become what your name signifies! A city of peace, not one of division”. In the words of one of the Psalms, which we prayed together each day: “for the peace of Jerusalem pray” (Psalm 122, v.6).

Signatories to the Final communiqué:
Archbishop Richard Smith – Edmonton, Canada
Archbishop Joan-Enric Vives – Urgell and Andorra, Spain
Bishop Gerald Kicanas – Tucson, USA
Bishop Stephan Ackermann – Trier, Germany
Bishop Michel Dubost – Evry, France
Bishop William Kenney – ComECE Representative
Bishop Peter Bürcher – Reykjavik,Nordic Bishops’ Conference