Gaza Strip

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This is a significant breakthrough! According to this article that appeared in the Jerusalem Post, both Fatah and Hamas are agreed upon the need for a non-violent intifada.

In point of fact, Palestinians have been using non-violent means to pursue their goals for the greater part of their struggle, despite popular perceptions to the contrary – protests, hunger strikes, boycotts, etc. Even so, this is the first time though that both Palestinian factions have publicly agreed on this as a matter of policy.

Father Dave

source: www.jpost.com…

Abbas and Mashaal agree on peaceful intifada

By KHALED ABU TOAMEH

PA president says he hopes US would play larger role in peace talks, adds Washington can’t ignore UN upgrade of PA status.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas at PLO meeting in West Bank, January 29, 2013. Photo: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokma

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said over the weekend that he was in favor of a peaceful and popular resistance and that he and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal have reached agreement on the need for a peaceful intifada.

The two met in Cairo during a recent conference of Islamic countries.

Speaking during an interview with Al-Arabiya TV, Abbas said that he fully supported demonstrations against the security barrier and settlements, as well as Palestinian attempts to establish outposts in the West Bank, but stressed his opposition to violent measures.

“Armed resistance is banned,” he stressed. “This is a law and it is forbidden. It is also forbidden in the Gaza Strip.”

Abbas said that even Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad supported his call for peaceful protests.

The PA president said that the PA security forces in the West Bank have been arresting Palestinians who smuggle weapons from Israel.

“They smuggle weapons from Israel, including M-16 rifles and explosives,” he claimed. “These weapons could destroy my country. What am I going to do with all these Israeli weapons?” Turning to the prospect of negotiations with Israel, Abbas said that he did not expect a new government to change Jerusalem’s policy toward the peace process.

Abbas said he still did not know when US President Barack Obama would visit the region.

However, Obama’s visit to the region was a “significant indication that could revive the peace process, which has been completely frozen over the past four years,” he said.

The PA president said that the US would not be able to ignore the recent UN vote in favor of upgrading the Palestinians’ status to non-member state.

“America can’t say now that it does not recognize the UN vote,” Abbas said.

The Palestinians, he added, do not expect any change in the Israeli government’s policy in wake of last month’s general elections.

Abbas said that the Arab Spring has distracted attention from the Palestinian issue. Nevertheless he said, there was still a chance to achieve peace in the Middle East.

Commenting on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to entrust MK Tzipi Livni, head of The Tzipi Livni Party, with the task of negotiating with the Palestinians, Abbas said: “The question is whether he [Netanyahu] personally believes in the peace process? I hope that things have changed now. I also hope that the US will play a larger role than before.”

Abbas claimed that Netanyahu, unlike his predecessor, former prime minister Ehud Olmert, had refused over the past four years to discuss final-status issues with the Palestinians.

Abbas said he dispatched a Palestinian delegation to Washington to exchange views with US administration officials ahead of Obama’s planned visit to the region. He said the delegation would hold talks in Washington about the settlements and about Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Abbas said the Palestinians wanted the Americans to know that these were their demands for the resumption of the peace talks with Israel

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According to the report from Gulf News posted below, the UAE has donated fifty million dollars to Gaza. Apparently the donation has been specifically targeted for the building of a city for released prisoners!

Is this a sign of where the Arab world is moving? The UAE has given its support to the Hamas government in Gaza and by-passed Mahmoud Abbas and his government in the West Bank. Meanwhile, according to this report from Al Jazeera, Abbas has again threatened to disband his Ramallah-based administration if Israeli settlement-expansion continues.

Once again it seems that the militant route taken by Hamas is paying dividends while cooperative path taken by Abbas leads only to a dead end. This does not portend well for Israel or for the world at large.

Father Dave

source: gulfnews.com…

UAE donates $50 million to Palestine

Gaza: The UAE has donated $50 million to build the Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan city in Gaza strip for released Palestinian prisoners.

The donation was announced by Yousuf Sabhi Al Ghariz, Minister of Public Works and Housing in Gaza’s government.

Al Ghariz praised the prominent and massive role played by the UAE in supporting the Palestinian people, as well as its support and solidarity for Palestine’s justified cause.

He extended his heartfelt thanks to the UAE President, government, and people for the donation.

 

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Haaretz journalist Yoel Marcus put it well: “If patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, then anti-Semitism is the last refuge of the occupier.”

Jeffrey Blankfort went further: “I have been attacked as a “self-hating Jew”, as an anti-Semite, but it does not matter to me because I consider the accusation of anti-Semitism to be the first refuge of scoundrels. Patriotism is the last refuge, anti-Semitism is the first.”

Perhaps Mr Falk should take it as a compliment that he has been labelled as ‘anti-Semitic’ and a ‘self-hating Jew’. He is in excellent company. Even so, these vitriolic attacks take their toll (as I myself well know) and it’s hard to imagine the personal pain that it must have  caused Falk to have this labelled pinned on him by no less a figure than Ban ki-Moon!

Falk’s response is thorough and credible, but will it lead to an apology from his high-profile accusers? Probably not, but the rest of us will hold him in our prayers.

Father Dave

Ricahrd Falk

Richard Falk

source: richardfalk.wordpress.com…

An Open Letter of Response to CRIF (Conseil Représentif des Institutions Juives de France)

I am shocked and saddened that your organization would label me as an anti-Semite and self-hating Jew. It is utterly defamatory, and such allegations are entirely based on distortions of what I believe and what I have done. To confuse my criticisms of Israel with self-hatred of myself as a Jew or with hatred of Jews is a calumny. I have long been a critic of American foreign policy but that does not make me anti-American; it is freedom of conscience and its integral link with freedom of expression that is the core defining reality of a genuinely democratic society, and the robust exercise of these rights are crucial to the quality of political life in a particular country, especially here in the United States where its size and influence often has such a large impact on the lives and destiny of many peoples excluded from participating in its policy debates or elections.

It is always difficult to negate irresponsible accusations of this kind. What follows is an attempt to clarify my honestly held positions in relation to a litany of charges that have been given currency by a defamatory campaign conducted by UN Watch ever since I was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to be Special Rapporteur for the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in 2008. What follows are brief attempts at clarification in response to the main charges:

–the attacks on me by such high profile individuals as Ban ki-Moon, Susan Rice, David Cameron were made in response to vilifying letters about me sent to them by UN Watch, and signed by its Executive Director, Hillel Neuer. The contention that Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, also attacked me is misleading. She regretted the posting of a cartoon on my blog that had an anti-Semitic cartoon, but she took note of my contention that it was a complete accident and that the cartoon was immediately removed when brought to my attention;

– UN Watch charges that I am biased and one-sided in my treatment of Israeli behavior, and cites Susan Rice and others for support, as well as noting my failure to report on violations by Hamas, Fatah, and the Palestinian Authority. I can only say once more that I am trying my best to be objective and truthful, although unwilling to give in to pressure. I did make an effort in my initial appearance before the Human Rights Council to broaden my mandate to take account of Palestinian violations, but was rebuffed by most of the 49 governmental members of the Council for seeking to make such a change, and reasonable grounds were advanced for not changing my mandate. I have noted Palestinian violations of international law wherever relevant to the assessment of Israeli behavior, as for instance in relation to the launch of indiscriminate rockets. Palestinian abuses of human rights of Palestinians under their control while administering portions of Occupied Palestine is outside my mandate, and I have no discretion to comment on such behavior in discharging my responsibilities as Special Rapporteur.

It is my view that Israel is in control of the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, and is primarily responsible for the situation and the persistence of the conflict, especially by their insistence on undertaking provocative actions such as targeted assassinations and accelerated settlement expansions.

I would grateful if this account of my actual views and beliefs can be circulated widely in response to the CRIF repetition of the UN Watch attacks.

Richard Falk

29 December 2012

Read the complete letter on Richard Falk’s blog: richardfalk.wordpress.com…

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This is a powerful statement, issued by 52 persons of international standing, including Nobel Peace laureates Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Perez Esquível, former Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters, Directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker, international best-seller Naomi Klein and co-drafter of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Holocaust survivor Stéphane Hessel. The full list of signatories is below the statement.

Stéphane Hessel

Stéphane Hessel – co-drafter of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Holocaust survivor

Now is the time for a military embargo on Israel!

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”  – Nelson Mandela

Horrified at the latest round of Israeli aggression against the 1.5 million Palestinians in the besieged and occupied Gaza Strip and conscious of the impunity that has enabled this new chapter in Israel’s decades-old violations of international law and Palestinian rights, we believe there is an urgent need for international action towards a mandatory, comprehensive military embargo against Israel. Such a measure has been subject to several UN resolutions [1] and is similar to the arms embargo imposed against apartheid South Africa in the past.

Israel’s unchecked belligerence and persistent denial of basic human rights and self-determination to the Palestinian people call for a concerted effort by international civil society to force world governments to end the links of complicity. This impunity has allowed Israel to continue its occupation, colonization and denial of Palestinian refugees their UN-sanctioned rights.

While the United States has been the largest sponsor of Israel, supplying billions of dollars of advanced military hardware every year, the role of the European Union must not go unnoticed, in particular its hefty subsidies to Israel’s military complex through its research programs. Similarly, the growing military ties between Israel and the emerging economies of Brazil, India and South Korea are unconscionable given their nominal support for Palestinian freedom.

Military ties with Israel have fueled relentless acts of aggression. Israel continues to entrench its subjugation of Palestinians while provoking or initiating armed conflict with its neighbors in the region.

Israel’s attempt to justify this kind of illegal use of belligerent and disproportionate military force as “self-defence” does not stand up to legal — or moral — scrutiny, as states cannot invoke self-defence for acts that serve to defend an unlawful situation which they have created in the first place [2].

We therefore support the call from Palestinian civil society for an urgent and comprehensive military embargo on Israel as an effective, non-violent measure to stop Israel’s wars and repression and to bring about Israel’s compliance with its obligations under international law. This is now a moral and legal imperative to achieve a just and comprehensive peace

________________________________________

[1] See, for example UN General Assembly Resolution 3414 (1975): “[the UNGA] Requests all states to desist from supplying Israel with any military or economic aid as long as it continues to occupy Arab territories and deny the inalienable national rights of the Palestinian people”. www.un.org….UKEIxYdyGSo

[2] According to the basic tenet of international law, ex injuria non oritur ius (a legal right or entitlement cannot arise from an unlawful act ) www.definitions.us…

***

Initial List of Signatories (alphabetical order):

Udi Aloni, filmmaker, Israel

Anthony Arnove, editor and writer, US

Etienne Balibar, academic, France

Robert Ballagh, artist and president of the Ireland Institute for Historical and Cultural Studies, Ireland

Walden Bello, academic, author and member of Senate, Philippines

Shyam Benegal, director and screenwriter, India

John Berger, author, critic, UK

Howard Brenton, playwright and screenwriter, UK

Judith Butler, academic, United States

Clayborne Carson, Director, Martin Luther King, Jr. Research & Education Institute, Stanford University, USA

Noam Chomsky, academic, USA

Caryl Churchill, dramatist, UK

Angela Davis, scholar and author, US

Raymond Deane, composer, Ireland

Danilo Dolci, sociologist, Italy

John Dugard, professor of international law, South Africa

Felim Egan, artist, Ireland

Adolfo Perez Esquível, Nobel Peace Laureate 1980, Argentina

Dror Feiler, musician and artist, Sweden

Don Andrea Gallo, presbyter, Italy

Charles Glass, journalist, US

Margherita Hack, astrophysicist, Italy

Denis J. Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary-General (1994-98), Ireland

Stéphane Hessel, diplomat, Holocaust survivor and co-author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, France

Tor B Jørgensen, Bishop, Norway

Christian Juhl, member of Parliament, Denmark

Ronnie Kasrils, politician, South Africa

Aki Kaurismäki, screenwriter and film director, Finland

Marcel Khalife, musician, Lebanon

Naomi Klein, writer and activist, Canada

Paul Laverty, filmmaker, UK

Taeho Lee, Secretary General, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, South Korea

Ken Loach, filmmaker, UK

Vibeke Løkkeberg, actress and director, Norway

Mike Leigh OBE, Director, UK (Palm D’Or 1996)

Jean-Marc Levy-Leblond, academic, France

Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate 1976, Ireland

Michael Mansfield, lawyer, UK

Miriam Margolyes, actress, UK

Cynthia McKinney, politician, United States

Saeed Mirza, filmmaker, India

Luisa Morgantini, former president of the European Parliament

Bjørnar Moxnes, member of Oslo city council

Suzanne Osten, writer and director, Sweden

Nurit Peled, professor of language, Israel

John Pilger, journalist, author, filmmaker, Australia

Ahdaf Soueif, writer, Egypt/UK

Alice Walker, author, US

Roger Waters, musician, UK

John Williams, musician, UK

Vincenzo Vita, senator, Italy

Slavoj Zizek, philosopher, Slovenia

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More words of wisdom from brother Uri (founder of Gush-Shalom), and even some humour this time: “Each of the two sides is now celebrating its great victory. If they organized just one joint celebration, a lot of  money could be saved.”

Of course there is really nothing to laugh about in the aftermath of this violence. The dead are being buried, the families are grieving, the hostility has increased, and, as Avnery points out, there has been a power-shift towards radicalism! What a senseless waste of human life!

Father Dave

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery

Once And For All!

THE MANTRA of this round was Once And For All.

“We must put an end to this (the rockets, Hamas, the Palestinians, the Arabs?) Once and For All!” – this cry from the heart was heard dozens of times daily on TV from the harassed inhabitants of Israel’s battered towns and villages in the South.

It has displaced the slogan which dominated several decades: “Bang And Finish!”

It did not quite work.

THE BIG winner emerging from the cloud is Hamas.

Until this round, Hamas had a powerful presence in the Gaza Strip, but practically no international standing. The international face of the Palestinian people was Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian National Authority.

No more.

Operation Pillar of Cloud has given the Hamas mini-state in Gaza wide international recognition. (Pillar of Cloud is the official Hebrew name, though the army spokesman decreed that the English name, for foreign consumption, should be Pillar of Defense.) Heads of state and droves of other foreign dignitaries made their pilgrimage to the Strip.

First was the powerful and immensely rich Emir of Qatar, owner of Aljazeera. He was the first head of state ever to enter the Gaza strip. Then came the Egyptian prime minister, the Tunisian foreign minister, the secretary of the Arab League and the collected Arab foreign ministers (except the one from Ramallah.)

In all diplomatic deliberations, Gaza was treated as a de facto state, with a de facto government (Hamas). The Israeli media were no exception. It was clear to Israelis that any deal, to be effective, must be concluded with Hamas.

Within the Palestinian people, the standing of Hamas shot sky-high. The Gaza Strip alone, smaller than an average American county, has stood up to the mighty Israeli war machine, one of the largest and most efficient in the world. It has not succumbed. The military outcome will be at best a draw.

A draw between tiny Gaza and the powerful Israel means a victory for Gaza.

Who remembers now Ehud Barak’s proud declaration in the middle of the war: “We shall not stop until Hamas gets on its knees and begs for a cease-fire!”

WHERE DOES that leave Mahmoud Abbas? Actually, nowhere.

For a simple Palestinian, whether in Nablus, Gaza or Beirut, the contrast is glaring. Hamas is courageous, proud, upright, while Fatah is helpless, submissive and despised. Pride and honor play a central role in Arab culture.

After more than half a century of humiliation, any Palestinian who stands up against the occupation is the hero of the Arab masses, in and outside the country. Abbas is identified only with the close cooperation of his security forces with the hated Israeli occupation army. And the most important fact: Abbas has nothing to show for it.

If Abbas could at least show a major political achievement for his pains, the situation might be different. The Palestinians are a sensible people, and if Abbas had come even one step closer to Palestinian statehood, most Palestinians would probably have said: he may not be glamorous, but he delivers the goods.

But the opposite is happening.  The violent Hamas is achieving results, the non-violent Abbas is not. As a Palestinian told me: “He (Abbas) has given them (the Israelis) everything, quiet and security, and what did [or “does”] he get in return? They spit in his face!”

This round will only reinforce a basic Palestinian conviction: “Israelis understand only the language of force!” (Israelis, of course, say exactly the same about the Palestinians.)

If at least the US had allowed Abbas to achieve a UN resolution recognizing Palestine as a non-member state, he might have held his own against Hamas. But the Israeli government is determined to prevent this by all available means. Barack Obama’s decision, even after re-election, to block the Palestinian effort is a direct support for Hamas and a slap in the face of the “moderates”. Hillary Clinton’s perfunctory visit to Ramallah this week was seen in this context.

Looked at from the outside, this looks like sheer lunacy. Why undermine the “moderates” who want and are able to make peace? Why elevate the “extremists”, who are opposed to peace?

The answer is openly expressed by Avigdor Lieberman, now Netanyahu’s official political No. 2: he wants to destroy Abbas in order to annex the West Bank and clear the way for the settlers. 

AFTER HAMAS, the big winner is Mohamed Morsi.

This is an almost incredible tale. When Morsi was elected as the president of Egypt, official Israel was in hysteria. How terrible! The Islamist extremists have taken over the most important Arab country! Our peace treaty with our largest neighbor is going down the drain!

US reactions were almost the same.

And now – less than four months later – we hang on every word Morsi utters. He is the man who has put an end to the mutual killing and destruction! He is the great peacemaker! He is the only person who can mediate between Israel and Hamas! He must guarantee the cease-fire agreement!

Can it be? Can this be the same Morsi? The same Muslim Brotherhood?

The 61 year old Morsi (the full name is Mohamed Morsi Isa al-Ayyad. Isa being the Arab form of Jesus, who is regarded in Islam as a prophet) is a complete novice on the world stage. Yet at this moment, all the world’s leaders rely on him.

When I wholeheartedly welcomed the Arab Spring, I had people like him in mind. Now almost all the Israeli commentators, ex-generals and politicians, who uttered dire warnings at the time, are lauding his success in achieving a cease-fire.

THROUGHOUT THE operation I did what I always do in such situations: I switched constantly between Israeli TV and Aljazeera. Sometimes, when my thoughts wander, I am unsure for a moment which of the two I am looking at.

Women weeping, wounded being carried away, homes in shambles, children’s shoes strewn around, families packing and fleeing. Here and there. Mirror images. Though, of course, Palestinian casualties were 30  times higher than the Israeli ones – partly because of the incredible success of the Iron Dome interception missiles and home shelters, while the Palestinians were practically defenseless.

On Wednesday I was invited to air my views on Israel’s Channel 2, the most popular (and patriotic) Israeli outlet. The invitation was of course withdrawn at the last moment. Had I been on air, I would have posed to my compatriots one simple question:

Was It Worthwhile?

All the suffering, the killed, the injured, the destruction, the hours and days of terror, the children in trauma?

And, I might add, the endless TV coverage around the clock, with legions of ex-generals appearing on the screen and declaiming the message sheet of the prime minister’s office. And the blood-curdling threats of politicians and other nincompoops, including the son of Ariel Sharon, who proposed flattening neighborhoods in Gaza City, or even better, the whole Strip.

Now that it is over, we are almost exactly where we were before. The operation, commonly referred to in Israel as “another round”, was indeed round – leading nowhere than to where it started.

Hamas will be firmly in control of the Gaza Strip, if not more firmly. The Gazans will hate Israel even more than before. Many of the inhabitants of the West Bank, who throughout the war came out in their thousands in demonstrations for Hamas, will vote in even greater numbers for Hamas in the next elections. Israeli voters will vote in two months as they intended to vote anyhow, before the whole thing started.

Each of the two sides is now celebrating its great victory. If they organized just one joint celebration, a lot of money could be saved.

WHAT ARE the political conclusions?

The most obvious one is: talk with Hamas. Directly. Face to face.

Yitzhak Rabin once told me how he came to the conclusion that he must talk with the PLO: after years of opposing  it, he realized that they were the only force that counted. “So it was ridiculous to talk with them through intermediaries.” 

The same is now true for Hamas. They are there. They will not go away. It is ridiculous for the Israeli negotiators to sit in one room at the Egyptian intelligence service HQ near Cairo, while the Hamas negotiators sit in another room, just a few meters away, with the courteous Egyptians going to and fro.

Concurrently, activate the effort towards peace. Seriously.

Save Abbas. As of now, he has no replacement. Give him an immediate victory to balance the Hamas achievements. Vote for the Palestinian application for statehood in the UN General Assembly.

Move towards peace with the entire Palestinian people, including Fatah and Hamas – so we can really put an end to the violence,

ONCE AND FOR ALL!

More Avnery articles online: zope.gush-shalom.org……