Mohammed Assaf is more than an entertainer! He is the hope for the future!
Palestinian youth, it seems, are taking their future into their own hands. They have been betrayed by their elders – smeared in corruption and bogged down in factional in-fighting. Young Palestinians are finding their own voice, and no voice is more outstanding than that of Mohammed Assaf.
As noted in the Daily Star article, the political heavyweights have each tried to cliaim Assaf for themselves. Mahmoud Abbas has named him “National Goodwill Ambassador”, and the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees named him their “UNRWA Youth Ambassador”.
But Mohammed Assaf seems quite capable of speaking for himself, and he is certainly a breath of fresh air in the stale and dying ‘peace process’ of Israel/Palestine.
GAZA CITY: Tens of thousands of jubilant Palestinians celebrated into the early hours of Sunday after a 23-year-old Gazan singer won the Arab Idol talent show, which has captivated millions across the Middle East since March. The meteoric rise of Gaza’s Mohammad Assaf to snatch the top prize in the pan-Arab singing contest sparked an unprecedented outpouring of joy across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, unifying an often divided public.
Assaf’s victory in the finals, held in Beirut and shown live on TV across the Arab world, marked the first such success for a Palestinian entertainer.
“Mohammad Assaf is the Arab Idol!” declared the presenter of the show, which is modeled on the British hit show Pop Idol. Confetti rained down on the cheering audience.
The handsome, tuxedo-clad vocalist immediately dedicated his win to “the Palestinian people, who have been suffering for more than 60 years from [the Israeli] occupation.”
He wins a professional recording contract and a 2013 Chevrolet Camaro.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas crowned him a national goodwill ambassador, and the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees named him their UNRWA Youth Ambassador.
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Richard Falk has never been one to pull punches. He simply states what everybody involved in the so-called ‘peace process’ has always suspected – that the ‘two-state solution’ has been dead in the water for many years.
It’s hard to know whether John Kerry really believes his efforts will make a difference. Certainly Mahmoud Abbas must no better. Meanwhile, as they play out their charade, the Palestinian people continue to pay the price.
Falk: Two-state solution presently obsolete
BEIRUT: Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine for the U.N. Human Rights Council, Thursday called the two-state solution “presently obsolete.”
Falk, who has drawn controversy in the past for his criticism of Israeli policies, was delivering the annual Constantine Zurayk Lecture at the American University of Beirut, speaking on the topic “Rethinking the Future of Palestine: Beyond the Two State Consensus.”
Falk did not completely rule out the two-state solution, saying, “Perhaps in the future it will again become a plausible political project.”
But for now Falk said U.S. President Barack Obama’s model of a two-state solution “continues the global mirage of a negotiation … is essentially a bridge to nowhere,” adding that “no image of an end-game solution at this time is possible as a viable political project.”
Since 2005, he has been the chair of the Board at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and taught at Princeton University for 40 years.
In the wake of the June 1967 war, Falk said, the situation can be characterized as one in which the Palestinians have lost, and the Israelis have gained.
“And they [the Israelis] have been able to do that behind the mirage that a two-state solution was in the cards.”
Using South Africa as an example, he highlighted the need to satisfy a number of political preconditions before a solution becomes a realistic possibility.
Saying that “conditions for a just peace do not presently exist,” Falk also noted, “I realize it’s discouraging to emphasize the prematurity of proposing a solution after 65 years.”
My feeling is that it is Abbas who should have resigned rather than Fayyad.
Abbas lost whatever credibility he had left when he kowtowed to Obama and Kerry in delaying Palestine’s application for membership to the International Criminal Court (ICC)! He is not the democratically elected leader of the Palestinian people and has no reason to delay an election beyond his unwillingness to let go of power.
Deep-seated animosity trumps Palestinian calls for unity
After Prime Minister Salam Fayyad resigned, Palestinian politicians immediately called for elections and a national unity government to reconcile bitter rivals Fatah and Hamas.
But entrenched animosity between the two sides, stretching beyond disagreement over Fayyad, suggested that any thaw in relations between Fatah and Hamas, which control the West Bank and the Gaza Strip respectively, would be slow.
In Fayyad’s first weekly radio address after resigning, the now caretaker premier called for “a general election as the only way to rebuild our political system and achieve our national goals,” namely statehood, which would first require intra-Palestinian reconciliation.
“Just as there is no state without Jerusalem as its eternal capital, there is no state without the Gaza Strip, a part that cannot be partitioned from it,” Fayyad said.
Hamas leaders met Friday in Doha, the base of the Islamist movement’s exiled leader Khaled Meshaal, saying they would discuss “Palestinian reconciliation and developments in the Palestinian arena following Fayyad’s resignation.”
A senior member of President Mahmoud Abbas’s secular Fatah party, meanwhile, called on his leader to “hold consultations with Palestinian movements to form a national unity government and set a date for elections.”
Azzam al-Ahmed said Fayyad’s resignation a week ago, after an announcement by the elections commission that it was ready to carry out elections should they be called, was “favorable to… forming a national unity government.”
But Abbas’s Thursday pledge to launch talks “in the near future” on forming a new cabinet, despite what officials say is a two-week deadline to do so, avoided giving an exact date as the president prepared for a tour to Turkey and Europe.
In Turkey for two days from Saturday, Abbas will meet Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who is set to visit the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip in May.
Fatah has openly criticized the Erdogan trip as fostering intra-Palestinian divisions.
“Any official, Arab, Muslim or foreign, who visits Gaza without reference to the legitimate Palestinian leadership is blessing and consolidating the division between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” Ahmed said in a separate interview with official Voice of Palestine radio on Monday.
And in a march in Gaza to mark Palestinian Prisoners’ Day on Wednesday, a speech by a Fatah-affiliated politician and an animated retort by a Hamas member underlined the root of the division between the movements.
Palestinian People’s Party member Talaat al-Safadi called for Hamas’s Gaza premier Ismail Haniya to step down also, prompting Hamas member Ashraf Abu Zeida to seize Safadi’s microphone and shout “Fayyad was an impostor, Haniya was chosen by the people!”
After Hamas won a landslide victory in a January 2006 Palestinian general election, the West mounted a boycott of the movement.
Bickering with Fatah culminated in the formation of a unity government in 2007 but that collapsed in bloody street fighting in Gaza just months later.
Hamas never recognized Fayyad’s authority as Palestinian premier, continuing instead to recognize Haniya.
The two movements signed a reconciliation deal in Cairo in 2011, pledging to set up an interim consensus government of independents that would pave the way for legislative and presidential elections within 12 months.
But implementation of the accord stalled over the make-up of the interim government, and a February 2012 deal signed by Abbas and Meshaal in Doha intended to overcome outstanding differences was opposed by Hamas members in Gaza.
Is this Mahmoud Abbas’ attempt to rescue his credibility after years of submissive acquiescence to his Israeli and US overlords? However we understand it, Abbas’ demand – the the Israeli Prime Minister provide an outline of his vision for a two-state solution – was entirely reasonable, and Netanyahu’s refusal to comply exposed his government’s peace talk as entirely disingenuous.
Palestinian president slams Israel for not presenting negotiations’ vision
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday slammed Israel for refusing to present its vision regarding the borders of the future Palestinian state.
Abbas made his protest during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in the West Bank city of Ramallah, a source told Xinhua.
“This doesn’t help prepare for new peace negotiations between the two sides,” Abbas said, adding that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “seems to be blocking the peace process and destroying the two-state solution through settlements.”
Abbas stressed that the negotiations should resume.
The source said Kerry’s efforts faced the first obstacle when Netanyahu refused to show his government vision for the process of the talks and halt settlement constructions in East Jerusalem.
Earlier in the day, a Palestinian official said the Palestinian leadership halted plans to join any UN organization to give time for Kerry’s mission.
“Kerry asked for two months appointed time to move forward the peace process before we go to the UN organizations, and we have agreed on this,” said Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riad Al- Maliki.
“If Kerry fails in this, we will not abide by our commitments and will start moving toward the international organizations and specialized agencies” for membership and to sign international treaties, Al-Maliki told Voice of Palestine radio.