I can’t imagine any job in the world that would be more disheartening than being Palestine’s representative at the United Nations. Every morning you get up and plan the next statement to be brought before the General Assembly or the Security Council or whatever UN body you think can best be targeted. Every day you prepare statements, liaise with fellow delegates, and make the case for Palestine. And every day your efforts take you absolutely NOWHERE!
So Palestine has complained again to the UN about settlement expansion. What is the best that the Palestine can hope for? If they are lucky the UN will eventually issue a resolution condemning the Israeli government’s actions. And what will that achieve? The historical record is unambiguous. It will achieve absolutely NOTHING!
Recourse to diplomacy has been spectacularly unsuccessful for Palestine now for so many years, and yet what alternative does that leave us? Hamas can point to a number of things that they’ve achieved through the use of force. Is this really the alternative that the Israeli government is looking for? God help us!
UNITED NATIONS, June 14 (KUNA) — Palestine on Friday complained to the international community about the reported expansion of Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and urged the Security Council to urgently respond.
“We reiterate our appeals to the international community, including the Security Council, to act with urgency to uphold the law, to safeguard the rights of the Palestinian people, and to salvage the waning hopes for peace,” Palestinian Charge d’Affaires Feda Abdulhadi Nasser wrote in identical letters to the Security Council President (UK) and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
“The international community must firmly reject Israel’s empty, offensive pretexts and must be resolute in demanding a halt to all illegal Israeli practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem,” she said.
This, she added, must include an end to the settlement campaign, which is gravely diminishing the viability of the two-State solution and sabotaging the hopes for meaningful peace negotiations to be resumed to bring an end to this tragic conflict.
“To remain permissive of settlement activities, regardless of the manifestation, is to allow for the trampling of international law and the destruction of the two-State solution, with far-reaching consequences for the prospects for Palestinian-Israeli peace as well as for the region and for our global community,” she warned.
She also complained about the provocative statements by Israeli officials, including the Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon, who in recent media comments stated that “there will never be a Palestinian State” and suggested Jordan as an alternative.
These provocations, she argued, reveal the “true nature and intentions of the current (Israeli) Government, and which undermine the serious peace efforts of US Secretary of State John Kerry and regional and international partners.”Earlier in the day, Ban described as “worrisome” reports about continued Israeli expansion of settlements and urged Israel to freeze such activities which are in violation of international law.
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.
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.
It is extraordinary that while so much talk goes on about ‘recognising Israel’s right to exist’ (whatever that means) there has been very little talk in Israel up till now about ‘recognising Palestine’s right to exist’. Danny Ayalon should be congratulated for introducing some symmetry into the discussion.
Israeli official: Recognize Palestine
JERUSALEM, Feb. 9 (UPI) — Outgoing Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Saturday Israel should recognize Palestine’s new U.N. status if Palestine renounces terrorism.
Ayalon said Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should offer to recognize Palestine’s statehood at the United Nations in exchange for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas saying — in Arabic — he recognizes Israel’s right to exist while renouncing terrorism.
The remarks came as Netanyahu seeks to form a new government after his conservative Likud party lost seats in the Knesset.
Netanyahu, if he is to form a new government, will likely have to make concessions to moderates seeking to restart the peace process.
The Jerusalem Post said a three-way summit featuring Netanyahu, Abbas and U.S. President Barack Obama — and possibly including King Abdullah II of Jordan — is possible this year, depending on the outcome of a meeting planned this spring between Obama and Netanyahu.
Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to make his first trip to Israel next week.
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.
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.
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…
Wise words from James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute.
Certainly the US has run its course as a broker for peace in Israel/Palestine, and only seems interested in fueling the conflict in Syria! The question Zogby doesn’t address though is whether the leaders of the Arab states are really interested in doing anything different?
The UAE’s recent donation to Gaza is a good sign, and yet the leaders of the Arab states have had a generation and more in which to do something for the Palestinian people and have, for the most part, sat on their hands! And how much interest have Syria’s neighbors shown in bringing the warring factions to the table? They would be happy to see regime change and a consequent weakening of the regional power of Iran, but leaving Syria to burn accomplishes the same end with less effort!
Even so, the scent of the Arab Spring is still in the air and the citizens of the Arab world are tired of having their voices ignored. There may not be broad popular consensus on Syria but popular feeling with regards to the Palestinian situation is unambiguous! Perhaps 2013 will be the year that the Arab states finally take a stand for reconciliation and peace!
Arabs can act for Syria and Palestine
Before it’s too late, the Arabs must think with more forward vision about the capacities in their hands to press for positive regional change, writes James Zogby
During the next few months, the Arab world will have its hands full with problems requiring urgent attention. Chief among them are the ongoing crises in Syria and Palestine, both of which are fast approaching their respective “points of no return”. Instead of acting as spectators, enablers or waiting for the United Nations or the United States to provide solutions, there are practical steps through collective Arab action that might make a real difference.
The continuing tragedy of Syria will be front and centre for months to come, with both regime and opposition appearing determined to continue their “dance until death”. UN Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi’s dire warnings should be heeded. If no political solution is found, the situation will only worsen. With the regime increasingly desperate and brutal, and the opposition better armed but lacking control of some of its elements, the future promises only an accelerated casualty rate and a deepening of sectarian animosity.
Brahimi has tabled a plan that proposes a political process that transitions the government away from single party domination. The Russians have been given the responsibility for bringing the regime to the table. Key Arab states should assume the parallel responsibility of pressing the opposition to agree to a peaceful transition.
To date, opposition leaders have refused to consider any form of negotiations or compromise with the regime. While their anger at, and distrust of, the Al-Assad government is understandable, holding out for a decisive win is neither responsible nor a politically sound strategy. Given the reality of a divided Syrian polity, compromise and a transitional approach to change appear to be the wisest path forward.
The solution envisioned by Brahimi won’t provide a clear-cut victory for any side, but it will end the bloodletting and pave the way for a political solution that can bring real change and an end to authoritarian rule by the Al-Assad family. Arab states have leverage here since they are funding, arming and supporting the opposition. Instead of merely enabling more conflict, Arab states should use the leverage they have with their allies in Syria to take the lead in ending the killing and destruction, before the country collapses, fragments and/or the violence spills across the border destabilising an already fragile region.
This will not be easy — compromise never is, and success cannot be guaranteed. But it is the least horrible outcome to a terrible two-year long war that with time can only get worse and most certainly will not get better. Compromise will require leadership that, at this time, only Arabs can provide.
Another area where the region’s leadership must play an active and supportive role is in the effort to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace.
The Palestinian situation was near tragic four years ago and has not improved since. The Palestinian house remains in disarray, with leaderships in the West Bank and Gaza both physically and ideologically divided. Gaza, under the control of Hamas, continues to be strangled by an oppressive embargo. The West Bank itself is being slowly strangled by never-ending settlement growth, hundreds of intrusive and humiliating checkpoints, and an oppressive wall/barrier snaking in and out of Palestinian lands.
The failed paths chosen by Palestine’s two leaderships, though contradictory, are both flawed; Hamas has made a religion of “resistance” which has won nothing but death and hardship for Palestinians, insecurity in Israel and reinforcement for hardline Israeli policies. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority’s commitment to diplomacy and negotiations, while commendable, has become pointless, since negotiating without leverage (and without control over the constituency for which they are negotiating) becomes an empty exercise.
Meanwhile, the hardline Israeli government, hell bent on conquest, continues to act with impunity — expanding settlements and tormenting Palestinians under their control. The far right in Israel has come to define Israeli politics, while the “peace camp” has floundered.
If this dynamic remains unchecked, in short order one of two outcomes may occur: either Israel will complete its plan for the physical domination of the West Bank and the total transformation of Jerusalem — making separation into two states impossible; or there will be renewed violence with devastating consequences for the Palestinian people.
Our recent polling in Israel and among Palestinians both in the occupied lands and refugees in Jordan and Lebanon establishes that peace remains possible. The two publics, though divided on many issues, show important points convergence. What is required is a vision that can move opinion and leadership. These will not come from the US or Israel, and cannot come from the Palestinians. But leading Arab states can provide leadership that could alter the dynamic and change opinion.
The first priority must be to achieve Palestinian reconciliation, and the establishment of an effective and unified Palestinian government that can command both popular support and the respect of the international community. This will require more than a redux of the Mecca Accords. Up until now, Arab reconciliation efforts have focussed exclusively on political matters, with hollow threats of sanctions for the party that interfered with implementation. Instead of threats, the Arab leadership ought to create incentives for acceptance.
Clearly what both the West Bank and Gaza desperately need are job creation, infrastructure and capacity-building projects, as well as immediate relief. The Arabs already participate in international efforts to subsidise the Palestinian Authority budget and individual Arab states finance projects in both Palestinian territories. But these funds given this way merely serve to underwrite the two divided Palestinian leaderships, maintaining the unacceptable status quo. To move the reconciliation process forward, I would propose the creation of a massive multi-billion dollar “Peace and Reconciliation Incentive Fund” that would provide immediate relief and job-creating investment once the parties have agreed to, and taken steps to implement, a unity plan. The bottom line purpose of the fund would be to support the Palestinian people and to create the incentive and pressure for their divided leaderships to agree on a new government that, with Arab backing, is ready and able to make peace.
In addition, the Arab League, instead of merely reaffirming their 2002 and 2007 peace plan, would do well to enlarge upon it by putting, as it were, “meat on the bones”. They could, for example, spell out in greater detail for Israelis the types of investment and/or trade incentives that would accompany final peace and/or normalisation. And they could even create a staged sequencing (for example, with the signing of an Israeli-Palestinian framework, stage one will occur; with removal of settlements and checkpoints in compliance with agreement, stage two will occur, etc). Our polling shows that the Arab Peace Initiative has strong support among Palestinians and has the potential to positively change Israeli opinion. Spelling out, therefore, the benefits and vision that accompany final peace could be of benefit. If Arab leaders were then to “go on the road” selling their plan to world public opinion, it would have a tremendous impact in advancing peace and transforming the views of Arabs.
Promoting a peaceful transition in Syria, Palestinian reconciliation, and a comprehensive Middle East peace will not be easy. Demonstrating leadership, making a difference and changing the trajectory of history never is.