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It seems that Mahmoud Abbas cannot delay elections any longer! He is not the elected leader of the Palestinian people and he no longer has the support of the international community now that Fayyad has gone. Truly his time has come!

Father Dave

Mahmoud Abbas

Mahmoud Abbas

source: www.khaleejtimes.com…

Palestine unity govt talks begin: Abbas

RAMALLAH – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday announced the start of talks on forming a national unity government, the official Wafa news agency said.

The announcement came on the last day of the statutory two-week period after the April 13 resignation of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad from the Palestinian Authority that governs the West Bank.

The consultations will take place “in accordance with the Doha Declaration and the timetable set up by the Palestinian leadership in meetings in Cairo on the reactivation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation” in February, Abbas told the news agency on a visit to Italy.

Abbas urged all Palestinian movements to cooperate so he can issue two decrees, one on forming a unity government “composed of two independent personalities” and a second fixing a date for elections, Wafa reported.

Sami Abu Zuhri, spokesman for the Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip, said that “any government must be formed in accordance with the reconciliation agreement and in consultation and agreement with Hamas”.

“There has been no consultation with Hamas on this matter so far,” Abu Zuhri said, warning against “any unilateral steps”.

Hamas and Fatah have repeatedly failed to bridge their political differences despite signing an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation agreement in 2011. There have been no substantive moves to implement the accord.

Hamas rejects the interim peace accords which Fatah leaders signed in the 1990s with Israel. Peace talks between Israel and Abbas have been stalled since 2010 over Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank.

Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation said Palestinian basic law required forming a new administration because of Fayyad’s resignation.

“Abbas’s step has thrown the ball into Hamas’s court to agree on a date for holding elections and they will be responsible for the failure if they do not accept,” Abu Youssef said.

 

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We can only hope that the fact that this boy is an American citizen might help draw international attention to the flagrant human rights violations committed on a daily basis by the IDF.

It is tragic that the rest of the world only wakes up when it’s ‘one of their own’ that is being persecuted, but that’s the way it is. Rachel Corrie is an obvious case in point. She’s not the only brave, young woman to give her life for the cause of peace in Israel/Palestine but she may be the only young, blond American to have done so. As such her death has been the cause of a far greater outcry against the injustices of the Israeli occupation than any number of similar Palestinian deaths.

I’m guessing that the Israeli forces had no idea that this boy was a U.S. citizen when they arrested him. What surprises me though is that he wasn’t given preferential treatment once this was discovered! The authorities must have known he was an American by the time they extended his period of detention. Is this a deliberate ‘up yours’ from the Israeli courts to the United States? If so, it’s unlikely to be well received on American soil.

Father Dave

Mohammed Khalek (Image via Defense of Children International - Palestine)

Mohammed Khalek (Image via Defense of Children International – Palestine)

source: www.policymic.com…

Israeli Troops Arrest 14-Year-Old U.S. Citizen Without Warrant, Beat Him, Deny Lawyer

On Friday, Israeli soldiers arrested a 14 year-old Palestinian American from his home in the West Bank during an overnight raid. Israeli soldiers arrested the minor, who has been identified as Mohammed K., due to his alleged involvement in throwing stones at passing Israeli vehicles on a nearby highway. According to his father, Abdelwahab Khalek, Israeli soldiers broke into his house during the night, blindfolded Mohammed, tied his hands and roughened him up as he was escorted into a vehicle that drove him to a nearby police station where he was interrogated. The Israeli soldiers did not allow Abdelwahab Khalek to accompany his son to the police station or meet him while he was being interrogated.

Randa Wahbe, advocacy officer at Addameer (Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association) stated that “Mohammad was arrested without a warrant, denied access to an attorney, and interrogated without the presence of a parent.” He added, “There is also evidence that he was mistreated during his arrest and transfer. It is difficult to find a right that was not violated.” This week an Israeli court allowed an extension to Mohammed’s detention and interrogation period.

The main reason why the story has been deemed newsworthy by the mainstream media is because Mohammed is a U.S. citizen. Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCI (Defense for Children International)-Palestine said that “this case is exceptional only because the child happens to also have U.S. citizenship.” Night-time raids and subsequent arrests of children in the West Bank is a customary and almost daily activity for the Israeli soldiers.

According to the DCI-Palestine, 6,700 Palestinian children were arrested by Israeli forces between 2000 and 2009. In 2009 the total number of children held in detention was 423. By 2010 this number had dropped to 280.

Other than the large number of children held, the UN, various humanitarian groups, and numerous NGOs have expressed a great deal of concern regarding the way in which these arrests are made and the way the detainees are handled. According to a UNICEF report released this year, arrests are almost always made during the night, between midnight and 5 a.m. Children are blindfolded, their hands are tied with plastic ties and they are subjected to verbal and physical abuse in front of their families while being transported to a detention facility and while being interrogated. UNICEF argues that this treatment is inconsistent with Israel’s international obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It has demanded that Israel soldiers make arrests only during daylight hours, take greater care during strip searches and allow detainees access to their parents, a lawyer, medical care, proper food, and sanitary necessities.

On the other hand, stone-throwing incidents by Israeli settlers on Palestinian civilians in the West Bank are seldom reported and almost always go unpunished. In an incident in March, several Palestinian buses carrying fifth and sixth grade girls back from a field trip was attacked by Israeli settlers, severely injuring an 11-year old girl in the process. According to Yesh Din, an organization that closely monitors Israeli acts of violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, of the 688 complaints filed by Palestinians against Israeli acts of violence between 2005 and 2011, only 9% resulted in an indictment.

While the Israeli forces continue to operate at will with vehement disregard to international humanitarian laws and regulations, attempts by the UN and numerous humanitarian groups have proved useless in curtailing these violations. UN resolutions and continuous demands by the international community with regard to curbing Israeli injustice in the West Bank not only with regard to the treatment of Palestinian children, but also the demolition of Palestinian buildings and the illegal Israeli-sponsored settlements, have resulted in absolutely no alterations in behavior on Israel’s part and virtually no repercussions for the Israeli state or the government.

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The following article by veteran Israeli journalist and peace activist, Amira Hass, has generated a storm of controversy. Many Israelis think that this time she has gone too far – encouraging violence, inciting murder, etc. 

Hass herself is committed to non-violence. As an Israeli though who has spent considerable time living in Gaza and West Bank, she understands the frustrations of a subjugated people, and she understands that such frustrations will inevitably bubble over, one way or another.

Father Dave

Amira Hass

Amira Hass

source: www.haaretz.com…

The inner syntax of Palestinian stone-throwing

It would make sense for Palestinian schools to give classes in resistance: how to build multiple ‘tower and stockade’ villages in Area C; how to behave when army troops enter your homes; how to identify soldiers who flung you handcuffed to the floor of the jeep, in order to submit a complaint.

Throwing stones is the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule. Throwing stones is an action as well as a metaphor of resistance. Persecution of stone-throwers, including 8-year-old children, is an inseparable part − though it’s not always spelled out − of the job requirements of the foreign ruler, no less than shooting, torture, land theft, restrictions on movement, and the unequal distribution of water sources.

The violence of 19-year-old soldiers, their 45-year-old commanders, and the bureaucrats, jurists and lawyers is dictated by reality. Their job is to protect the fruits of violence instilled in foreign occupation − resources, profits, power and privileges.

Steadfastness (Sumud) and resistance against the physical, and even more so the systemic, institutionalized violence, is the core sentence in the inner syntax of Palestinians in this land. This is reflected every day, every hour, every moment, without pause. Unfortunately, this is true not only in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza, but also within Israel’s recognized borders, although the violence and the resistance to it are expressed differently. But on both sides of the Green Line, the levels of distress, suffocation, bitterness, anxiety and wrath are continually on the rise, as is the astonishment at Israelis’ blindness in believing that their violence can remain in control forever.

Often hurling stones is borne of boredom, excessive hormones, mimicry, boastfulness and competition. But in the inner syntax of the relationship between the occupier and the occupied, stone-throwing is the adjective attached to the subject of “We’ve had enough of you, occupiers.”

After all, teenagers could find other ways to give vent to their hormones without risking arrests, fines, injuries and death.

Even if it is a right and duty, various forms of steadfastness and resisting the foreign regime, as well as its rules and limitations, should be taught and developed. Limitations could include the distinction between civilians and those who carry arms, between children and those in uniform, as well as the failures and narrowness of using weapons.

It would make sense for Palestinian schools to introduce basic classes in resistance: how to build multiple “tower and stockade” villages in Area C; how to behave when army troops enter your homes; comparing different struggles against colonialism in different countries; how to use a video camera to document the violence of the regime’s representatives; methods to exhaust the military system and its representatives; a weekly day of work in the lands beyond the separation barrier; how to remember identifying details of soldiers who flung you handcuffed to the floor of the jeep, in order to submit a complaint; the rights of detainees and how to insist on them in real time; how to overcome fear of interrogators; and mass efforts to realize the right of movement. Come to think of it, Palestinian adults could also make use of these lessons, perhaps in place of their drills, training in dispersing protests, and practice in spying on Facebook posts.

When high school students were drafted two years ago for the campaign of boycotting settlement products, it seemed like a move in the right direction. But it stopped there, without going further, without broadening the context. Such lessons would have been perfectly in tune with the tactics of appealing to the United Nations − civil disobedience on the ground and defiance of power in diplomacy.

So why are such classes absent from the Palestinian curriculum? Part of the explanation lies with the opposition of the donor states and Israel’s punitive measures. But it is also due to inertia, laziness, flawed reasoning, misunderstanding and the personal gains of some parts of society. In fact the rationale for the existence of the Palestinian Authority engendered one basic rule in the last two decades − adaptation to the existing situation. Thus, a contradiction and a clash have been created between the inner syntax of the Palestinian Authority and that of the Palestinian people.

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So many in the ‘West’ forget that the native Christians of Israel are almost all Palestinians.

The numbers of Christians in the ‘Holy Land’ though is getting smaller all the time. This is not because of tensions with their Muslim neighbors but on account of the Israeli Occupation of Palestine that affects Christian and Muslim alike. The only difference is that Christians tend to find it easier to emigrate.

Father Dave

Entry of Christ into Jerusalem (1320) by Pietro Lorenzetti

Entry of Christ into Jerusalem (1320) by Pietro Lorenzetti

source: www.haaretz.com…

Palestinians add national meaning to Palm Sunday in Jerusalem

By Amira Hass

A Christian pilgrim holds a Polish national flag as others hold palm fronds during the traditional Palm Sunday procession on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem’s old city, March 24, 2013. Photo by

The traditional Palm Sunday procession, marking the beginning of Easter week for Catholic and Protestant Christians, was tinged with Israeli-Palestinian politics in Jerusalem on Sunday.

Thousands of Christians gathered at noon in the courtyard of the Bethphage Greek Orthodox Church on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, where Jesus is said to have begun his entrance to Jerusalem five days before his crucifixion. Many carried palm or olive branches as they made their way to the Old City.

In Bethelehem, meanwhile, mostly Palestinian worshipers gathered in the Nativity Church in Bethlehem, traditional site of Jesus’ birth, clutching olive branches and bouquets as they sung in praise.

For years the Jerusalem procession was attended mainly by non-Palestinian pilgrims, but in recent years the Christian communities in the West Bank and Gaza have made their presence felt, encouraged to do so by the Palestine Liberation Organization.

This year the Palestinians stressed their presence by carrying placards bearing the name of an Arab community, the distance of the community from Jerusalem and the word “Palestine.” Many waved small Palestinian flags, marching among groups of pilgrims from the Philippines, Ethiopia, Germany, Italy and other countries.

One banner, which caused Hebrew and Arab speakers to smile sadly, was a large replica of an entrance permit ostensibly issued by the Civil Administration that read: “The purpose of the permit: Christian holiday. Valid: March 19-May 11. Name: The Palestinian People. ID number: 1948.”

PLO officials hoped the banner would raise awareness among Christians regarding the difficulties Christian Palestinians typically encounter when wishing to visit the holy sites in Jerusalem.

According to the PLO officials, in many communities only half the requests by some of the 50,000 Palestinian Christians were approved, at most.

The office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, however, said it rejected, on security grounds, only 192 of the 19,000 requests it received.

Filed under Uncategorized by on . Comment#

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Father Roy writes:  

AIPAC’s annual policy conference in Washington is scheduled for 3-5 March.  The conference schedule will emphasize "the Iranian threat":  Netanyahu : Only military sanctions will stop Iran.  Let’s bear in mind that Iran has never threatened to attack anybody, only to defend itself if attacked.  The highlights in the following article are mine.  

Peace, Roy

source: www.haaretz.com……

No Obama or Netanyahu, but AIPAC conference still looking to make noise

For the first time in at least seven years, neither the U.S. president nor the Israeli prime minister will attend. In addition, for the second year in a row, no mention of the Palestinians, negative or positive, appears on the conference’s legislative agenda. 

WASHINGTON – Next week’s annual AIPAC policy conference in Washington may be as notable for what — and who — is missing as what is planned.

For the first time in at least seven years, neither the U.S. president nor the Israeli prime minister will attend. In addition, for the second year in a row, no mention of the Palestinians, negative or positive, appears on the conference’s legislative agenda.

Instead, the agenda will focus on the Congress enacting legislation that would designate Israel a “major strategic ally” of the United States — a relationship not enjoyed by any other nation — and on facilitating a U.S. green light should Israel decide to strike Iran. Should the measures being considered by the Senate and the House of Representatives pass, it would constitute the most explicit congressional sanction for military action against Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.

An official with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who spoke on condition of anonymity said the thinking behind this year’s theme is the twin urgencies of what appears to be an accelerated Iranian nuclear program and turbulence in Syria and Egypt, both Israel’s neighbors. The official also said AIPAC remains as committed as ever to advancing the two-state solution and noted that the peace process did not feature on the legislative agenda of last year’s conference, either.

Both emphases dovetail with recent signals from the Israeli government that talks with the Palestinians are not going anywhere soon, and that Iran is the largest looming threat in the region.

The absence of both President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be due to external circumstances more than anything else.

Obama will be visiting Israel just two weeks after the conference — his first visit to the Jewish state as president — obviating the need for the president to deliver another Israel policy speech at AIPAC. In his stead, the administration is sending Vice President Joe Biden, who will address the conference on Monday morning. Obama has been at four of the last six AIPAC conferences.

For his part, Netanyahu is still trying to cobble together a coalition government following Israel’s Jan. 22 elections, in which the prime minister’s Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu faction was weakened. Netanyahu will deliver a video message to AIPAC; Ehud Barak, Israel’s outgoing defense minister, will address the conference in person.

Democratic and Republican leaders in both houses of Congress also will address AIPAC.

Despite the absences, AIPAC expects 13,000 activists, including 2,000 students, to attend the conference — a number commensurate with last year’s record-breaker. AIPAC officials say the number is more remarkable in 2013 because it’s not an election year.

The AIPAC official interviewed by JTA said that part of what motivates the push to name Israel a major strategic ally is an appeal to maintain defense assistance funding, averaging more than $3 billion annually, at a time when both parties are seeking ways to drastically cut spending.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrote congressional appropriators last week to warn that across-the-board “sequestration” cuts due to kick in Friday — unless the White House and Congress achieve a compromise — will hit Israel funding, among other things.

“This is no time to cut aid to an ally,” the AIPAC official said. Conferring major strategic ally upon Israel “would mean that the United States and Israel would work together on a cooperative basis on missile defense, homeland security, energy independence, medical research and innovation and military technology,” the official said.

The push to name Israel a major strategic ally comports with a longstanding preference among some leading Republicans to tweak apart assistance for Israel from other foreign aid, which the conservative wing of the party advocates slashing.

The overriding consideration in such a designation, however, was Israel’s increasingly close security ties with the United States, in the Middle East and across the globe, where the two nations have collaborated on cyber-security issues, the AIPAC official said. The major strategic ally legislation will be introduced in the House and Senate in the coming days.

Separately, a nonbinding resolution that would call on the president to support Israel “if it is compelled to act against the Iranian nuclear threat” will be introduced in the Senate. The House will consider legislation that would authorize the president to sanction any entity that trades with Iran.

The conference schedule heavily emphasizes the Iranian threat, Middle East turmoil and the perceived need to intensify further the U.S.-Israel security alliance. There are a few sessions dealing with the Palestinian issue — some with a pronounced skeptical tone when it comes to the peace process.

“Why, despite persistent efforts and an acknowledgment of the general outline for such an agreement, have the parties failed to attain a negotiated peace?” reads the promotional material for one session.

This year’s “AIPAC action principles,” to be considered by the array of American Jewish groups that makes up AIPAC’s executive committee, mention the Palestinians only in the context of keeping them from advancing toward statehood outside the confines of negotiations but do not explicitly endorse the two-state solution. Most of the principles address the security relationship, as they did last year.

Missing also, however, from the AIPAC legislative agenda is any effort to limit U.S. funding of the Palestinian Authority. AIPAC had pushed such efforts in December, after the U.N. General Assembly vote in which the Palestinians gained boosted recognition as a non-member state, but they fell by the wayside in part because of mixed signals from the Israeli government.

The conference runs March 3-5, ending with the annual AIPAC lobbying blitz on Capitol Hill next Tuesday.