palestine

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Surely this was always one of the key rationales behind Palestine’s push for an upgrade to ‘non-member state’ status with the United Nations. Now Palestine is able to take Israel to court!

The quoted official Israeli response is dismissive to the point of contempt! ‘The lady protesteth too much, methinks!’ Evidently this has been what Israel has been fearing!

Father Dave

source: en.tengrinews.kz/politics_sub/Tribunal-calls-on-ICC-to-probe-Israeli-crimes-in-Palestine–17850/…

Tribunal calls on ICC to probe Israeli ‘crimes’ in Palestine

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) called Sunday for the International Criminal Court to investigate “crimes” committed by Israel in the territories as it wrapped up four years of investigation, AFP reports.

Meeting in Brussels, the people’s tribunal, which has no legal status but aims to draw international attention to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, said it would “support all initiatives from civil society and international organisations aimed at bringing Israel in front of the International Criminal Court”.

Since Palestine was awarded observer status at the UN in November, it can now file complaints against Israel with the ICC.

The tribunal also called on the ICC to recognise Palestinian jurisdiction and for an extraordinary session of the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid, set up for South Africa, to this time examine the Israeli case.

Previously presided by the French resistance hero and Holocaust survivor Stephane Hessel, who died on February 27, the RToP is modelled on the Russell Tribunal on Vietnam, a private investigative body which examined American foreign policy during the Vietnam War, named after the British philosopher Bertrand Russell.

RToP members include prominent rights activist Angela Davis and ex-Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters.

Since it was set up in 2009, the tribunal has gathered evidence from experts and witnesses to make 26 recommendations on Sunday, in its fifth and final session after previous meetings around the world.

These include “further criminal investigations of corporations aiding and abetting Israeli violations” and the “establishment of an international committee of former political prisoners to campaign on prisoner issues”.

Members of the tribunal also criticised Israel’s main ally, the US, but also the UN and the European Union for policy that was “complicit” in what it says are Israel’s violations of international law.

The tribunal also called for a boycott on imports of goods produced in West Bank settlements.

Israel dismissed the conclusions which it said had no real weight.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP: “They can write what they like, they only represent themselves. It’s a private body with no legal or political weight and has moral weight only among its members.”

“It has no political or legal significance, it is an ideological and propaganda document that people write for their like-minded friends.”

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Hopes are running high world-wide that the new Pope will bring sweeping changes both within the church and to the church’s relationship with other religious and political bodies. At such a critical juncture for the future of Palestine, the leaders of both Fatah and Hamas in Palestine will be keen to establish a positive relationship with the new Pontiff. 

Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, was somewhat of a failure when it came to Palestinian rights. While the Vatican was always supportive of Palestinian statehood, Pope Benedict made an unfortunate statement in 2006 about the history of Islamic violence that put a lot of Muslims offside. Moreover, being German and growing up in the Nazi era, Benedict was constantly on the back foot with regards to Israel.

Hopefully the new Pope will bring in a new era, but we must not count our chickens before they hatch. It is worth remembering that it is not the Pope but the Curia who control the church, and the Curia has not changed (not yet, at any rate).

Father Dave

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

source: www.al-monitor.com…

The New Pope and Palestine

By: Daoud Kuttab for Al-Monitor Palestine Pulse

What concerns people the most is the political direction that the leader of the world’s more than 1 billion Catholics will take on issues such as women’s rights, relations with other faiths and foreign policy.Electing the leader of the world’s Catholic faithful is always an unpredictable affair. The choice of Argentina’s cardinal, now Pope Francis, has lived up to the mystery.

Palestinians and peoples of the Middle East have been searching hard in the new pontiff’s history to try and figure out where he will stand on the issues that are of concern to them.

Two issues were prominently talked about in this regard. The Jesuit background of the new pope was quickly picked up as a sign that the new leader of the Catholic Church will pay attention to socio-economic issues and not just theological ones.

In the Middle East, Jesuits are known to have established schools of higher education and other projects supporting the poor. His coming from a non-European country (apparently the first time in a millennium) also ensures, many believe, a more internationalization of the Vatican.

The Palestinian leader who congratulated the new Pope was naturally quick to invite the Holy Father to visit the birthplace of Christianity. The congratulatory cable to the Vatican included an invitation to the pontiff to visit Bethlehem. Pope Benedict, as well as Pope John Paul, had visited the Holy Land, including an important visit to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.

The Vatican has generally been supportive of Palestinian rights and the need to end the occupation of Palestine. But equally the leaders of the Catholic Church have placed tremendous efforts to improve relations with Israel and also with world Jewry.

A recent agreement between the Vatican and Israel was signed that resolved a number of issues regarding Catholic holy sites in Jerusalem and the status of priests in Jerusalem and the area. Some felt that Vatican gave too much to the Israelis, especially allowing them control over the Last Supper room.

The compromise in which the Vatican will retain a symbolic seat on the table was seen as too much of a compromise to an occupying power that took sovereignty by military control.

The Vatican’s auxiliary bishop in Jerusalem, William Shomali, a Palestinian, told the National — an English language newspaper based in Abu Dhabi — that  he hoped the new leader would continue with the church’s policy of addressing the difficulties facing Christians in the region, especially in countries such as Iraq, where many have been forced to flee because of sectarian fighting.

Bishop Shomali also expressed optimism that Pope Francis’ Argentine nationality could help breathe new life into the Israel-Palestinian peace process because, he said, Argentina “was a friend of the people of the holy land.”

But perhaps the most important issue of interest in the region is the possibility and potential of Catholic/Christian relations with Muslims. Pope Benedict caused a rift in relations with a statement in 2006 in which he quoted an anti-Muslim thinker’s statement on Islam.

The head of Islam’s leading higher educational institute, Al-Azhar, was quick to welcome the new Pope Francis and has called for change. “We are hoping for better relations with the Vatican after the election of the new pope,” said Mahmud Azab, an adviser to Ahmed al-Tayyeb, grand imam of Al-Azhar.

Arab Christians, while dwindling in numbers, are still an important influential group on Arab nationalism and intellectualism. Christians in areas such as Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine will be looking closely as to what the Catholic Church under Pope Francis will say and do in order to stem the migration epidemic and to encourage remaining Christians to stay in their countries.

Palestinian Christian leaders have been insisting that the emigration problem is turning holy sites and churches into dead rather than living stones. The need to encourage and empower this dwindling group is much bigger than their percentages in society.

Daoud Kuttab is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor‘s Palestine Pulse. A Palestinian journalist and media activist, he is a former Ferris Professor of journalism at Princeton University and is currently the director general of Community Media Network, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing independent media in the Arab region. Active in media-freedom efforts in the Middle East, Kuttab is a columnist for The Jordan TimesThe Jerusalem Post and The Daily Star in Lebanon, and has co-produced a number of award-winning documentaries and children’s television programs. 

Read more: www.al-monitor.com…

 

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Russia has proven to be the new power-player  in the Middle East of late, much to the annoyance of the US and the European Union. It was Russia that prevented the US and NATO from openly arming the rebels in Syria. Now Russia is affirming support for the State of Palestine!

Of course Russia’s role in Syria has been entirely dictated by self-interest as the last Russian military facility outside the former Soviet Union is located in the port of Tartus in Syria, and exists there due to the goodwill of the current Syrian government. Mahmoud Abbas has no similar point of leverage.

Father Dave 

Dmitry Medvedev

Prime Minister of Russia – Dmitry Medvedev

source: http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_03_14/Medvedev-for-cooperation-with-Palestine/

Medvedev for cooperation with Palestine

At a meeting between Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and President of the Palestine Autonomy Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow, Mr. Medvedev said that Russia will always support the efforts of Palestinian leaders to make Palestine a strong and modern state.

He added that Russia is ready to cooperate with Palestine to settle its conflict with Israel, as well as to cooperate with it in the economic and humanitarian spheres.

In his turn, Mr. Abbas said that Palestine’s cooperation with Russia would be much broader if Palestine becomes a sovereign state.

Earlier, Mahmoud Abbas met with President Putin.

During his meeting with the President of the Palestinian autonomy Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said that he hopes for a successful settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Mr. Putin said that Russia will do everything that may depend on it to stabilize the situation in the Middle East.

In his turn, Mahmoud Abbas praised the current level of Russian-Palestinian relations and said that there is every reason to believe in further progress in these relations.

The Russian President noted that Russia and Palestine have long-standing traditions of good relations.

Palestine expects to start peace talks with Israel this year to reach a political settlement through the establishment of two states, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said.

“We hope that substantive peace talks with Israel will begin this year. While these hopes are perhaps not very great, nevertheless, we expect sooner or later to achieve a political settlement based on the principle of the establishment of two states,” Abbas said at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin outside Moscow on Thursday.

read the rest of this article here: http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_03_14/Medvedev-for-cooperation-with-Palestine/

 

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‘Palestinians for Dignity’ have a point! President Obama’s two terms in office have thus far given the Palestinian people absolutely nothing to celebrate!

While the proposed trip to the West Bank might be interpreted as an indication that the American President takes the Palestinian people seriously, the US did indeed vote against statehood for Palestine at the UN last year and have repeatedly declared that they are the Occupier’s staunchest ally!

If Obama does enter Palestine accompanied by an Israeli security team he will not be coming as a friend but as a symbol of the Empire that powers the Occupation!

Father Dave

Obama in Cairo in 2009

The days of promise: Obama in Cairo in 2009

source: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=305821

Palestinian activists: Obama non grata in Palestine

By KHALED ABU TOAMEH

Group called “Palestinian For Dignity” plan demonstrations in protest of Obama’s planned visit to the West Bank.

Palestinian activists said over the weekend that they would hold demonstrations in protest against US President Barack Obama’s planned visit to the West Bank later this month.

A group called “Palestinian For Dignity” called for “huge demonstrations” against Obama and US policies “supportive of the occupation.”

The group said that Obama was “persona non grata in Palestine” because of US military, financial and diplomatic aid for Israel.

“We call upon our people to demonstrate against receiving he who considers himself Israel’s No. 1 ally,” the group said in a statement. “We also call for demonstrations against the idea of returning to the negotiations [with Israel.”

The group said that Obama’s planned visit to Ramallah “comes at a time when our prisoners are on hunger strike and weeks after the death of prisoner Arafat Jaradat in interrogation cells.”

The group said that it was naive to think that US policy toward Israel has changed during Obama’s term.

It also reminded Palestinians that the US had voted against the PA request for upgrading the Palestinians’ status to nonmember observer at the UN in November last year.

In a related development, Hamas and Islamic Jihad called on Palestinians to prevent Obama from visiting the Aksa Mosque in Jerusalem.

The two groups said they were opposed to Obama’s visits, especially if he is accompanied by Israeli security officials.99

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This is an important essay by Gilad Atzmon. Certainly his central claim – that the Palestinian solidarity movement is being hijacked by a Judeo-centric agenda – will be more true in some areas than others.

There will always remain some groups that are  outrightly anti-Semitic. Even so, Atzmon is surely correct – that the Zionist narrative that so dominates mainline media has had a significant influence in shaping Palestinian activism worldwide.

Is there a path back? Atzmon hopes so, but he doesn’t give us any details as to where to start.

Father Dave

source: http://www.redressonline.com/2013/03/time-for-palestine-solidarity-movement-to-liberate-itself/

Time for Palestine solidarity to liberate itself

By Gilad Atzmon

The Palestine solidarity movement is being hijacked and forced to swallow a Judaeo-centric agenda that has nothing to do with the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to return to their homeland from which they were ethnically cleansed.

Palestine solidarity activists are increasingly required to subscribe to the Judaeo-centric notion that Jews and Jewish suffering are uniquely special; that Jews alone are like no other people; that the Jewish holocaust is like no other genocide; and that racism comes in degrees of vileness depending on who the victims are, with anti-Semitism being worse than any other form of racism because it targets Jews.

Conversely, according to this Judaeo-centric worldview, when it comes to the Palestinians the exact opposite is the case.

We are expected to believe that, unlike the Jews, the Palestinians are not special at all and are just like everyone else. Palestinians, we are now required to believe, are not the victims of a unique, racist, nationalist and expansionist Jewish nationalist movement. Instead, we are told to agree that, as with Native Americans and Africans, the ordeal of the Palestinian people is the result of run-of-the-mill 19th century colonialism – just more of the same old boring apartheid.

So, we are instructed to swallow the racist notion that Jews, Zionists and Israelis are exceptional, like no one else, while Palestinians are always, somehow, ordinary, always part of some greater political narrative, always just like everyone else. Their suffering is never due to the particularity of Jewish nationalism, Jewish racism or even the domination of US foreign policy by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). No, the Palestinian is always the victim of a dull, banal dynamic – general, abstract and totally lacking in particularity.

read the rest of this article here: http://www.redressonline.com/2013/03/time-for-palestine-solidarity-movement-to-liberate-itself/