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Saturday, October 31, 2009

"... Halutz's hubris did damage in Lebanon ..."


"Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon said Saturday that the IDF Chief of Staff who replaced him, Dan Halutz, made a number of serious mistakes during the Second Lebanon War.
"What happened with Dan Halutz was a tragedy. He was an excellent chief of the IAF and deputy chief of staff. But it was his hubris that did most of the damage in Lebanon," Ya'alon said during a cultural event in Beersheba.
He stressed that IDF officials must remain humble. "We as generals need to maintain our humility and know our limitations," Ya'alon added.
He said leadership based on setting a personal example was the best way to foster trust. "But officers in the army see only corrupt political leadership. When there is no personal example, it trickles down into the army," the former chief of staff said.
Ya'alon added that Operation Cast Lead should have taken place sooner than it had. "I believe that offence is the best defense. In military operations today, we must transfer the dilemmas to the other side so it can consider whether to continue its provocations or not," he said.
Ya'alon also spoke about Turkey, and said Israel was keeping track of its policies with concern. "Their tendency is to look eastward, to Iran and Syria. This necessitates an analysis of the situation on our part," (Read: bite the bullet & shut up!) he said."

Posted by G, Z, or B at 12:09 PM

Abbas ...."unity or bust"


Reuters, here
"Abbas has no intention of going down in history as the man who legitimized the permanent and possibly fatal division of the Palestinian independence movement.

But he has called an election for January that could be a nail in the coffin of Palestinian unity, assuming his Islamist political rivals in control of the Gaza Strip are serious about their threat to ban the vote on their territory.

The outcome of an election held in the West Bank but not in the Gaza Strip would be "worse than the two Koreas," said Zakaria al-Qaq, an expert on national security issues. "Here we would see a total rupture for a long period of time," Qaq said. Gaza would be cut off and the West Bank would end up as little Gazas, with "transportational continuity rather than territorial continuity."

So why would Abbas take such a gamble?

...Analysts said Abbas has made Palestinian unity his priority goal and chosen the election deadline as his strategy. He is using it to persuade Hamas to make peace with the Fatah movement and end the deep split in Palestinian ranks.

"Abbas is aware that as long as he negotiates with Israel while he's not in control of Gaza, the Israelis won't give him anything," said Bassem Zubeidi, political analyst at Birzeit university in the West Bank. After all, he points out, "they didn't concede anything when the Palestinians were united."...

If Hamas still reject a deal, Abbas can condemn them for putting their factional interests above those of 4 million Palestinians, but he will have to live with the ramifications..."

Posted by G, Z, or B at 11:49 AM

Elections under siege

{Egyptian paper-resistance (man)} by Fouad Ayyash-Al

Abbas’s acceptance of the Egyptian-mediated reconciliation deal with Hamas is only because that deal presents new ways for him to destroy his opponents, writes Azmi Bishara, source

If the Palestinian resistance factions are to agree to the Egyptian-brokered reconciliation agreement, the Quartet (the US, Russia, EU and UN) must pledge to respect the results of elections regardless of who wins and not to subject the Palestinian people to another blockade if the winner is Hamas. This condition is not directed at Egypt. Nor does it suggest that the proposed agreement should be reopened for discussion. It simply means that unless the relevant international parties abide by it the agreement will amount to nothing but an attempt to eliminate the resistance with its own approval.

Even if the Palestinian people overlooked the question of the elections being held under occupation as a way to marginalise the struggle for independence and divert energies into an internal battle, it is still their right to demand an international commitment to the abovementioned condition. After all, they have held internationally monitored elections before and were collectively punished for the results. On top of this, the next elections will be held under the conditions of an economic blockade and a refusal to reconstruct what was damaged during the Israeli war on Gaza; which is to say under threat.

If the Quartet, which is responsible for the blockade, does not commit itself to the abovementioned condition it will be conveying the following to the Palestinian people: “You must vote for the Oslo team and grant it the confidence to negotiate on your behalf. This is not because it merits your confidence for political, moral and national reasons, or because you favour security coordination arrangements with Israel, or because you approve of the Oslo team in any way at all. You will vote for them because if you don’t you will be subjected to a relentless and merciless blockade that the official Arab order will do nothing to prevent and, indeed, will probably contribute to perpetuating. Let the blockade that has been strangling Gaza for several years now be your guide.”

We do not expect those who play the electoral game while the swords of Palestine’s enemies hang over the heads of Palestinian voters to feel awkward or ashamed. That would be too much to ask at this juncture. However, we do ask them not to preach too much to us about democracy. These are not elections. They are a way to exact a pledge of allegiance at gunpoint, aimed not just at the voters, but also at their children who are entirely blameless. This is why resistance movements are not put to the vote before independence, or before the defeat of the occupation is immanent. Why should the people cast their votes for an independence movement while a foreign occupation is pointing a gun at their heads? Resistance demands sacrifices from resistance fighters, but it does not generally require ordinary people to choose, in an electoral process, between resistance and food for their families.

The proposed reconciliation agreement contains another main point that is repeated in every section, which is that the Palestinian Authority (PA) president is to be the undisputed supreme authority. Under the proposal, this makes him the authority over the electoral commission, over the national reconciliation committee, and over the supreme security board. The PA president is one of the prime symbols of the rift that has shaken the Palestinian people. Indeed, he is even conspicuous within that handful of the most unpopular and most provocative figures in Palestinian politics. Symbolically at least, the provision stipulating his authority is inappropriate at this juncture following his scandalous behaviour in Geneva.

PA leaders would probably approve the Egyptian reconciliation proposal sight unseen even if it were a 1,000-page tome instead of a 28-page document and even if it detailed at length the ways and means for liberating Palestine. To these leaders, the agreement is only a preamble to one thing: elections. These have been dissolved in a syrup of saccharine phrases that include not only “national unity” but also “preservation of the arm of resistance”. But it is not a reconciliation agreement. A climate for reconciling with the “evil emirate”, as the enlightened PA president put it, does not exist to begin with. What is proposed is an instrument for reaping the fruits of the blockade and war against Gaza. The PA president has openly refused to reconcile with Hamas. But he will agree to the reconciliation agreement because it will give him the instruments to eliminate Hamas in another way.

The reason that the PA will approve the agreement without serious discussion, even though it disapproves of a large portion of it, is because of two provisions, after which all the rest is words. The first is the reconstitution of the security agencies in Gaza as they stood before the last elections. The second is new elections before lifting the blockade on Gaza and repairing the destruction wrought by Israel’s war. The purpose of elections under such conditions is not reconciliation and concord but the “elimination of the effects of the wicked coup” waged by Hamas.

Naturally, the Oslo team will not be happy if the next elections are held under the same conditions that governed elections in 2006. These are people who refused to hold new presidential elections after the term of the incumbent came to an end and whose demand for deferring presidential elections was upheld by an Arab League resolution. Still, they are looking forward to elections, not because they favour the electoral process in principle but because they are counting on two critical factors. The first is the effects of the blockade on Hamas and the national unity government, compounded by the effects of Israel’s war. The second is the existence of a government in Ramallah that has not been subject to the attrition of economic siege and that, on the contrary, is receiving financial support from the US and Europe, in spite of the fact that that government was not popularly elected and is illegitimate. These two factors combined, they believe, should be sufficient to inform Palestinian voters who to cast their ballots.

The proposed elections are nothing more than a massive bid to falsify the will of the Palestinian people. Indeed, there is only one way that the resistance factions can confront this and that is to insist upon international commitment to honour and uphold the results of the elections and, simultaneously, to adhere to national principles and the right to resist while exhibiting proper democratic behaviour. This, however, will require some fundamental changes in the behaviour that has prevailed in the ruling authority in Gaza. On the other hand, if Hamas refuses to sign the reconciliation agreement and elections go ahead “unilaterally”, as the Oslo team has threatened, this will achieve nothing but to further entrench the division between the West Bank and Gaza, since Ramallah can not force the results of such elections on Gaza. Unilateral elections will only confirm that the Oslo team’s aim is not reconciliation.

The US and Europe, of course, know what “normal” elections mean and fear that their silence over the Egyptian proposal will be taken as assent. George Mitchell, therefore, put it bluntly. The US has not approved the Egyptian proposal and insists upon the Quartet’s three conditions: a halt to violence, commitment to previously signed agreements, and recognition of Israel. This means that the conditions of the blockade still prevail, and that the US, via the statement of a senior official, has cautioned the Palestinian electorate. At least they issued a warning.

Now, if we were to allow for some good intentions we could argue that perhaps the US does not understand the tricks of Arab oratorical politics. Maybe it doesn’t realise that what Arab politicians tell each other does not mean much; or, more precisely, that their words mean much as instruments of influence and manoeuvring, but very little as binding texts. They can pen an agreement sealing unity and wake up the following day as though it never existed, as Nuri Al-Maliki demonstrated recently with regards to the strategic cooperation agreement with Syria. Of course, it is a different matter when foreign powers, even hostile ones, are concerned. Here the Arabs are as fervent in their dedication to their commitments as they are lax in their dedication to their commitments to each other, as is the case with many other matters related to the respect for rights, other cultures, and the domestic interactions between clans and sects. It is a different world when sects, clans, tribes and petty kings loom in the background behind the façades of states and formal treaties; different sets of laws come into play.

One can imagine an American official asking his Palestinian or Arab counterpart, “How can you sign a paper like that, which contains such expressions as ‘the preservation of the arm of resistance’ and ‘the duty of the security forces is to resist [who, one might wonder]‘ yet no reference to abiding by agreements struck with Israel or renouncing violence, let alone recognising the said state?” Then we can picture the Arab or Palestinian smirking at the American’s ignorance. “All that’s just words and formulas that we had to fine tune in lengthy talks so that we could come up with a document to sign,” he says. “What counts is rebuilding our security agencies and getting through elections day. Then, let come what may. Look at what’s happening to Hamas in the West Bank, at anyone who has the audacity to question the PA and its agreements with Israel.”

The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah founded a self-serving regime that thrives under the perpetuation of the occupation, the Judaisation of Jerusalem, the marginalisation of the cause of Palestinian refugees and security coordination with Israel. It is also a regime of terror, unlike any regime the Palestinians have known, even under direct occupation. This regime parrots the Western liberal adage as to how communists and Nazis used democratic processes to get to power and then abolished them. The saying was wielded against Islamist movements several times towards the end of the 20th century. Apart from the case of Sudan (which has, indeed, demonstrated the more dangerous trends in the Islamist movement and which was opportunistic in the way it reached and exercised power), the very contrary of the clichéd warning has been the rule so far in Arab countries: the opponents of Islamist movements refused to recognise the results of polls or prevented elections from being held if they felt that these movements had a chance to win.

The Palestinian case offers a classic instance of an electoral victory won by an Islamist movement and of the loser refusing to recognise that victory. In this case, outside powers intervened to overthrow the winner and to prevent him from rising again. Meanwhile, the government in Ramallah, which enjoys Arab and international recognition, is not an elected government. It is an appointed one, with US and Israeli approval and facilitation. The people in that government have quite a bit of nerve to claim that the Islamist resistance will use the elections to reach power then overthrow the electoral process when none of them were even voted into power to begin with. Rather, they took over power with the aid of foreign intervention after an electoral process that was internationally recognised as free and fair, but whose results were not to their liking.

"We're not getting through"

"We're not getting through"

In McClatchy's, here

After three days of encounters with America-bashing Pakistanis -- who rejected her contention that the U.S. and Pakistan face a common enemy -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday that "we're not getting through."

Prominent women and tribesmen from the North West Frontier Province delivered the same hostile message that she'd heard the two preceding days from students and journalists: Pakistanis aren't ready to endorse American friendship despite an eight-year-old anti-terrorism alliance between the countries and a multi-billion dollar new U.S. aid package.

Clinton put her case directly to the public Friday in televised appearances in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, fielding angry questions about the alleged activities of U.S. contractor Blackwater in Pakistan, the tough conditions that came with a $1.5 billion-a-year American aid package and alleged U.S. favoritism toward Pakistan's archenemy, India.

One tribesman bluntly told her: "Your presence in the region is not good for peace." "We are fighting a war that is imposed on us. It's not our war. It is your war," journalist Asma Shirazi told Clinton during the women's meeting. "You had one 9-11. We are having daily 9-11s in Pakistan."....

While Pakistanis are opposed to religious extremists, polls have shown a general refusal to acknowledge that al Qaida and its allies are directing the bloodshed.

Many ordinary people appear willing to believe a claim that the Pakistani Taliban made Friday that Blackwater had carried out a devastating car bombing of a market this week in the northwestern city of Peshawar that killed more than 100 people. Pakistani officials previously had pinned the blame on Islamic militants...

"There is a war going on" was the justification Clinton offered for the missile strikes on suspected militants, saying she couldn't comment further as it was a military-to-military issue..."

Posted by G, Z, or B at 6:54 AM

Ethically Cleansed - The case of Nick Griffin and the BBC-Guest Post By Sarah Gillespie


Friday, October 30, 2009 at 09:16PM Gilad Atzmon

‘Nick Griffin is right to say London is not his city. London is a welcoming, tolerant, cosmopolitan capital’ Boris Johnson, Conservative Mayor for London

‘I would ask you to again, unless you’re going to condemn the former chief rabbi Jonathan Sacks for writing a book: ‘Will our Grandchildren be Jewish’, then don’t call me a racist, or some kind of wicked bigot’. Nick Griffin interviewed Independent 4th July 2009

All week the British media have been deliberating over whether or not the BBC should have hosted Nick Griffin. In actual fact we need Nick Griffin to save us from looking in the mirror. It is us the collective, that is complicit in genocidal crimes and institutional intolerance. We the British electorate, are implicated in the death of millions of brown-skinned foreigners in remote lands. As long as we endorse killing in the name of democracy and universalism, as long we cite ‘women’s rights’ as a reason to drop bombs on Afghani women, then we are the ultimate pathological bigots.

With so much blood on our hands we had to make Nick Griffin the Nazi de Jour. Watching him booed and pilloried on Question Time last week was like a disturbing combination of the Opera Winfrey Show and the Adolf Eichmann Trial. The BNP have been around for over 60 years in various guises. They have been consistently ostracized by mainstream media and politicians. Yet Griffin’s debut on Question Time transformed a conventional news program into a pantomime courtroom watched by 8 million viewers. Liberals on the Left and Right were united in a unanimous outpouring of BNP-bashing. As the media frenzy unfolded it became clear that there was something to be gained from despising the ‘repugnant, slimy’ (Daily Mail) Nazi.

The purpose of his BBC appearance was certainly not to hear Griffin ’speak freely’ or to discuss a national ideology that is gaining more and more support amongst Brits. And it doesn’t seem to have delivered BBC Chief Executive Mark Thomson any closer to his holy grail of ‘impartiality’. What it did achieve, however, was a potent diversion from the encroaching reality of our own phobias, fears and murderous inclinations. After all, it was Jack Straw’s party that launched an illegal war in Iraq killing 1.5 million Iraqis. In the light of mounting Western barbarism against Afghanis, Pakistanis, Iraqis and Palestinians, not to mention the curtailing of civil rights for British born Muslims, Griffin provides a conduit for British inhumanity and hypocrisy. He personifies the bigotry we despise in ourselves.

Why does the left support indigenous national movements in far away places but fail to support their ‘compatriots’ at home?

It may be possible that Griffin has managed to get as far as he has because he skillfully plays with semantics in a way that detonates empty liberal rhetoric. His use of the term ‘indigenous Britons’ for instance highlights the gap between the explicit meaning of ‘original people’ and the implicit meaning of ‘abused people.’ Lefty Westerners lavish the term ‘indigenous’ upon Aborigines, Indians or Palestinians and historically have campaigned for their rights, recognition and sovereignty. Yet, irrationally, Westerners cannot apply the term to white Celts and Anglo Saxons. We fetishize differences between others in far-flung corners of the globe. Yet when economic migrants and refugees move next door, necessitating a share of resources, space, hospital beds and jobs, the tribalism we pretend to celebrate in World music and ethnic jewelry, is airbrushed out of existence. We do not bestow the same empathy upon unemployed John Smith of Hartlepool that we extend to impoverished populations of foreign lands. To do so would reveal that multicultural rhetoric is there, not in spite of British supremacy, but because of British supremacy.

Here is a clue embedded in Boris Johnson’s post Question Time statement:-

‘The secret of (Britain’s) long-term success is its ability to attract the best from wherever they are and allow them to be themselves – unleashing their imagination, creativity and enterprise’.

Wow, it sounds wonderful. I want to live in that Britain, the one that is a magnet for entrepreneurs, artists and iconoclasts. However Boris Johnson omits 2 things. How does he feel, I wonder, about ordinary immigrants who like many people I know and love, contribute absolutely nothing of note to society and simply survive. How does he aim to incorporate immigrant job seekers and single mothers into his well-oiled multi-faceted Nation of productivity? One can only assume that, according to Johnson’s criteria, mediocrity, bad luck or a simple lack of ambition, will not guarantee you a warm welcome in Blighty. Secondly, if Johnson is right and the British do indeed cream the finest minds from nations crippled by a legacy of imperialism, civil unrest and famine, what does that say about our ethics? Johnson basically describes the golden age of the British Empire with the added bonus that it is now the colonised, instead of the coloniser, that does the schlepping.

Multiculturalism and Tolerance

When Nick Griffin refers to loosing his ‘British identity’ I must admit I scratch my head and wonder what he’s referring to. The BNP’s appropriation of the Winston Churchill motif doesn’t exactly clarify matters. It is well known that Churchill’s mother was an American decedent of French Huguenots who probably would have preferred coq au vin to fish and chips. Churchill’s mother was no more English than Genghis Khan. The formidable cultural critique and playwright, Bonnie Greer even reiterated the rumor that Churchill’s mum was part American Indian. Yet it doesn’t matter. The symbolism of Winston Churchill remains intact. Despite Churchill’s decision to annihilate German cities and fry hundreds of thousands of civilians, he remains a potent signifier of ‘Britain under siege’. Though, given New Labor’s credentials it’s easy to see why they want him back.

Griffin may be a despicable biological determinist who will only be content when the population of Britain looks as if it has been bleached, but for the disgruntled, dispossessed patriots who vote BNP, there is genuine longing to preserve something, a consolidated sense of who they are, a unity, a feeling of belonging.

What that might mean in real terms is hard to pin down. While America is cheered by its imaginary notion of freedom, and France prides itself on its pragmatic model of socialism, the British love to see them selves as a tolerant nation. Tolerance is something we think we do well. Yet the word ‘tolerance’ betrays the opposite of what it aspires to. It means ‘to endure’, to ‘put up with’. It is not exactly loving. Tolerance is cultivated precisely as a repost to animosity and tribalism. It is a lovely, utopian concept that evolved like a pearl around the invasive grit of globalization and surging Diasporas. But really it means ‘putting up’ with something you cannot understand. Westerners might try to accept Muslims but they fail and get stuck with the tricky job of pretending they do.

Subsequently Liberals are engaged in charade of pseudo acceptance. No one demonstrates this hypocrisy better than the delightful Jack Straw who famously advocates stripping Muslim Women of their right to wear a veil. In reality, to enshrine this in law would create an entire generation of agoraphobic Muslim British women who would be loathed to step outside their front door. Jack doesn’t particularly care about this. He just wants Muslims to be more like him. I would suggest that, should the day arrive when Muslim women are denied their veil, Jack Straw should be forced to attend Parliament wearing nothing but his Marks and Spencer’s knickers. It is precisely because Straw is a practicing bigot that he requires our ‘Nazi de jour’ as his punch bag.

Bizarrely enough Griffin has come out as a die-hard Zionist. So he has something in common with New Labor after all. Griffin thinks that if, like George Galloway, he makes a few philo-semitic statements, then mainstream voters will come running. Pro-Israeli pandering is vital for any party’s electability. Obama needed AIPAC and Labor needed ‘Labor Friends of Israel’. However, for parties on the fringe, it does not guarantee a seat in public office. Indeed British Jews don’t buy Griffin’s Zionism and neither do British gentiles (aka indigenous Britons). It is clear his pro Jewish stance is a ‘fig-leaf’. It would seem likely that Griffin prefers Jews out of Britain. He certainly seems keen to secure the ‘Islamaphobic vote’ but it is safe to assume that for Griffin, Zionism is just another word for repatriation.

The only pertinent form of prejudice in Britain today centers not on biology but ideology. The recent riots that erupted across England were carried out by new groups (English Defense League and Stop the Islamification of Europe) who’s only mission is to stamp out ‘Islamification’. These groups don’t have a problem with Asians, blacks or any kind of Semite. They are not driven by ethnic divide. They just don’t like Islam. They are worried about the implementation of Sharia law. They are worried that British Muslims cannot fight in a British army against their brothers in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq. They are worried that multiculturalism, pluralism and tolerance has created a breeding ground for jihad on their soil.

For Liberals it is extremely problematic to contemplate sovereignty while routinely obliterating the sovereignty of others. Still, as a BBC Radio 4 addict, I had hoped and expected the BBC would have used this opportunity to perform a master-class in real tolerance and openness. If there was a reason behind the invitation of Griffin, the BBC should have had made sure that the case in favor of the ‘indigenous British’, was presented by some leading intellectuals who can present an argument. As it is, the voice of unemployed, pissed-off John Smith from Hartlepool was not allowed to be heard. We can only guess what he has in his mind. Instead, Question Time jettisoned their established format of reasoned debate and disintegrated into a shallow spectacle of hysteria and verbal abuse. In a week that saw the most debilitating industrial action Britain has had for a over decade, in a week that saw war criminal Tony Blair preening himself to become President of the EU, it would have been nice to have some real questions on Question Time, but there were none. And there were certainly no answers. There was just a parody of free speech. What could have been a genuine celebration of tolerance proved nothing more than a demonstration of hypocrisy. We the British have blood on our hands. Let us look at it. Let us beg forgiveness. Let us have the insight to take responsibility.

The International Bureau of Double Standards-Guest Post by Anthony Lawson


Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 09:05AM Gilad Atzmon

Demonstrating that the continued attacks being made on Iran, by presidents, prime ministers and the mass media, are smokescreens for the real danger to world peace: Israel and more lies about weapons of mass destruction.

Commentators from the mainstream media accept just about anything that is fed to them, by the White House or favoured politicians, and repeat it, like parrots, to their mass audiences, whether the information is accurate or not.

"The International Bureau of Double Standards" is, of course, a euphemism for the way that the New World Order operates, and, unless we all learn to see through the lies, half truths and damaging innuendo, we will only have ourselves to blame for the way our futures and those of our children are affected.

Water authority warns of groundwater depletion in Gaza

Water authority warns of groundwater depletion in Gaza

[ 31/10/2009 - 08:34 PM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian water authority has warned Saturday of the depletion of underground water supplies in the Gaza Strip within the next 10 years, calling for taking serious action to save these supplies.

In a report, the water authority said that Gaza suffers from an annual water deficit up to 70,000,000 cubic meters as a result of the natural increase in Gaza population who live on the coastal aquifer to meet their needs of water.

It pointed out that the overlap between the Mediterranean Sea and the aquifer caused a high rate of salts in water in addition to high concentration of nitrates due to the leakage of sewage and irrigation water into it.

The water authority affirmed that 90 to 95 percent of groundwater used for domestic purposes is not fit for human consumption and do not conform with the standards set by the WHO for the quality and quantity of drinking water, the thing which poses a serious threat to human health in Gaza.

The authority added that the average per capita water consumption in Gaza is about 80 liters a day which is equivalent to half of the per capita water consumption recommended by the WHO.

Regarding the West Bank, the water authority explained that the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) do not allow the Palestinians to have access to more than 20 percent of groundwater in the three basins that exist in the West Bank.

It said that the bulk of the Palestinian share in the West Bank are obtained from the eastern basin, which contains a high proportion of salt, pointing out that the average per capita consumption of this water does not exceed 60 liters per day and declines in some areas to 20 to 30 liters per day.

Human rights center vows to sue Israeli leaders as war criminals everywhere


[ 31/10/2009 - 08:17 PM ]

Shabeh is a method of torture used routinely by the Israeli occupation

GAZA, (PIC)-- The Gaza-based Palestinian center for human rights has vowed Saturday that it would relentlessly work to prosecute Israeli leaders accused of committing war crimes against the Palestinian people even before international courts.

The center added, the Israeli penal code couldn’t bring justice to the Palestinian victims simply because it was blatantly biased in favor of the Israelis, stressing that justice must take its course and that Israeli war criminals must be punished.

The pledge of the center came after a Dutch court rejected a complaint filed by a Palestinian victim against former Israeli security officer Ami Ayalon for torturing him although the prosecution presented “strong” evidence against the accused.

“The decision of the court was shocking, it shocked the plaintiff, his lawyers, and all those who trusted the honesty and transparency of the Dutch judicial system”, the center stressed in a statement it issued in this regard, and a copy of which was obtained by the PIC.

“Despite this serious setback, the center and its legal partners would spare no effort in suing Israeli leaders suspected of committing war crimes and of torturing Palestinian citizens in Israeli detention centers… it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that the Israeli law is biased against the Palestinians, and that justice couldn’t be achieved through such law, and that is why we opted to go to international courts authorized to decide in such cases”, the center explained.

Moreover, the center revealed it was of the opinion that the court’s decision was politically motivated, and that the court was embarrassed by the presence of Ayalon in Holland, but underlined that lawyers of the victim Khalid Al-Shami were mulling their next legal steps.

“The rights of Mr. Shami must be respected and protected, and thus, all the defendants accused of torturing Palestinian captives must be held accountable”, the center highlighted.

According to the center, lawyers of Shami complained that the Dutch general-prosecutor failed to open an investigation over the case during the visit of Ayalon to Holland last May 2008, adding that the council of general prosecutors in Holland was discussing the legal status of Ayalon and whether he enjoys diplomatic immunity.

“It took the council 21 days to decide that Ayalon doesn’t possess any diplomatic immunity, but that decision was very late because the Israeli intelligence officer had already left Holland when that decision was announced”, the center revealed.

Shami accused Ayalon and the Israeli Shabak prosecutors of torturing him, exposing him to very low temperature, and of tying his hand and feet to a small chair for long times.
The center also quoted the victim saying that he was prosecuted by a military court without any legal representation, and that he was placed in solitary confinement after he was forced to sign on a blank paper.

“The torture sessions had indeed inflicted on Shami permanent disabilities” the center confirmed.

Bahar: Hamas is not afraid of engaging in fair elections in West Bank

Bahar: Hamas is not afraid of engaging in fair elections in West Bank

[ 31/10/2009 - 03:12 PM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Ahmed Bahar, the first deputy speaker of the Palestinian legislative council, stated Friday that his Movement does not fear to fight the elections, but the security instability and political arrests carried out by the Palestinian Authority (PA) against resistance fighters and women do not allow fair elections to take place in the West Bank.

During a cultural evening held in support of the Aqsa Mosque, Dr. Bahar added that his Movement would achieve a landslide victory if free and fair elections were held in the West Bank, noting that the Hebrew and international newspapers, and all opinion polls confirmed that Hamas enjoys wide popularity in the West Bank.

He underlined that the Palestinian people have the capacity to move the Palestinian cause towards victory and cited as an example the Palestinian young men who were honored recently for memorizing the holy Qur’an within three months, describing their success as one of the triumph stations.

At the end of his speech, the deputy speaker stressed that Hamas would remain steadfast in the path of resistance and loyal to the Palestinian cause and the blood of martyrs.

Jewish settlers attack Jerusalemite family with firearms, metal tools


[ 31/10/2009 - 10:16 AM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Five Palestinians of one family were wounded on Friday when a group of armed Jewish settlers attacked their homes in Beit Safafa, south of occupied Jerusalem, local sources reported.

Ismail Salah, one of the house owners, said that they were preparing to go to the Friday congregation when 12 Jewish settlers came aboard a vehicle and attacked them with their guns and metal tools.

He said that the settlers frequently assault them in a bid to scare them out of their homes, which they claim are theirs.

Ali Salah, 95, and anther 89-year-old woman were injured as a result of the beating along with a teen and two others including a 60-year-old man who was hit with a bullet in his right hand.

The homes are owned by Ali Salah along with his sons, Ismail, Mohammed, Mahmoud and Ahmed. They provide shelter for 55 persons 30 of whom are less than 12 years old.

The settlers claim that they purchased the five houses from their Armenian owners.

In Al-Khalil, a popular committee organized a sit-in on lands in Yatta village on Friday to protest the repeated Jewish settlers' attacks coming from the nearby Susia settlement.

A tent was pitched on the land for three days with the help of locals, peace activists and foreign supporters.

The CIA no longer trusts Jews—and for good reason


The chickens are coming home to roost. Or soon will be.

Case one: Earlier this month, "60 Minutes" featured the case of Adam Ciralsky, an observant Jew fired by the CIA.

During the segment, a CIA official said the agency believes the Israeli government has a program that recruits religious American Jews to spy on the United States.

Ciralsky himself said the agency subjected him to "ethnic profiling" and suspected him of spying for Israel.

You know what? Tough.

I bow to no one in my condemnation of anti-Semites. And if, in fact, anti-Semitism is at all in operation here, that must be stopped and those who engage in it, fired.

But I'm not so sure anti-Semitism is at play here, as quick as some Jews are to believe that.

What's really happening here, to my mind, is that the chickens have come home to roost.

Let's face it. If there is suspicion about Jews working at the CIA, it's understandable. Let's face it. If Jews, especially religious Jews, are feared to be working for Israel, we deserve it.

For we have done so much to make the suspicions seem justified.

No, I'm not talking about Jonathan Pollard. One lousy, rotten apple shouldn't spoil the barrel for the rest of us. What I am talking about is how the Jewish community has seen the Pollard case and reacted to the Pollard case.

In a word, the Jewish community's behavior has been nothing short of shameful.

Almost all Jews, and even more sickeningly, almost all Jewish organizations have taken up Pollard's cause. They have called for his release and have either stated or implied that anti-Semitism is keeping him in jail.

They say that even though President Clinton, Israel's best friend ever, has said that Pollard should not be released because he did so much damage to U.S. national security.

Don't like or trust Clinton? How about the fact that every single top administration official has said the same thing. How about the fact that every single top congressional official, including Republicans such as Newt Gingrich, has said the same thing. How about the fact that Les Aspin, Clinton's first defense secretary and one of Israel's best friends, has said the same thing.

Now, you either have to believe that every top American official -- Democrat and Republican, civilian and military, executive branch and legislative -- is an anti-Semite or you've got to recognize that Pollard did such overwhelming harm that all agree he must be punished by staying in prison the rest of his life.

Still, most American Jews call for his release and excuse, if not justify, his actions. Doing that most loudly and strongly are right-wing Jews, right-wing both politically and religiously.

And so, why shouldn't the CIA have reason to be suspicious. If we, as a community, had shown how much we abhor Pollard, we would have sent one kind of signal. Instead, we've sent a very different kind of signal.

After all, how many Jews have I heard say, "Well, he was doing it for Israel" -- as if that made it OK or at least not so bad, as if doing it for Israel is any kind of excuse or explanation or factor.

But to many Jews, it is. And that is why the chickens have come home to roost and why the CIA has reason to think twice about Jews who are religious or have ties to Israel.

Case two: I didn't think it could get this bad. I didn't think my friends on the right-wing could sink so low. But they have. And the chickens are going to come home to roost big time on this one.

As we all know, Israel and Syria are involved in negotiations that will probably involve Israel giving up the Golan Heights, a prospect many Jews are not very happy about.

It's their right to be upset. And it's their right to voice their views and to try to convince the Israeli government not to do it. They have that right as Jews and as lovers of Israel.

But there is a line, a line that American Jews have no right to cross. Ever. No matter what.

And that line is fighting the Israeli government via the American government.

That is out of bounds. That is so harmful to Israel in such fundamental ways that it is unbelievable any American Jew would do that.

But a bunch of right-wing American Jews did just that earlier this month. What they did was go to Capitol Hill to lobby legislators to oppose U.S. support for a peace deal between Israel and Syria.

Reading about that took my breath away. Here are Jews, who probably think of themselves as the ultimate lovers of Israel, going to American politicians to urge them to be against something the elected government of Israel deems is in Israel's best interest.

How dare they? It is one thing to express their views within the Jewish community, one thing to try and influence Israeli public opinion and policy. But for American Jews to go to Congress to tell it to oppose the Israeli government is an act almost treasonous in nature.

Yes, I know that's a harsh charge, but it is appropriate for those who try to get Congress involved in a Jewish family disagreement.

Think of the signal it gives, the message it sends. And think of what it may mean for Israel in the future.

The one thing that has been true and consistent during Israel's first 50 years is that Congress has known the American Jewish community is behind it all the way. Sure, they know we fight among ourselves, but they also know those fights stop at the borders of Washington.

Do the right-wingers really think changing that scenario is best for Israel.

I can already hear the chickens.

Chicago Jewish News.

Report: 4,524 Palestinians detained by Israel since the start of this year

Report: 4,524 Palestinians detained by Israel since the start of this year

[ 31/10/2009 - 10:59 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- Researcher in prisoners’ affairs Abdelnasser Farwana reported Friday that he documented 4,524 Israeli arrests of Palestinian citizens since the start of 2009, 412 of them took place in October.

Farwana said that the West Bank and Jerusalem witnessed the kidnapping of 3,456 citizens, while 1,068 others were kidnapped in Gaza, mostly during the last war, noting that there were children, women, patients and elderly people among those who were kidnapped this year.

He also pointed out that the arrests declined in the Gaza Strip after the war, where 68 cases have been documented since the end of the war until end of October.

The researcher said that his current report is on the total number of arrests and not on the number of citizens who were arrested during this year.

In another context, the Palestinian center for human rights said in its weekly report that the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) wounded during the last week 41 Palestinian citizens in the West Bank, including five journalists, eight women and one child.

The report also underlined that the IOF troops carried out 25 incursions in the West Bank and one in the Gaza Strip, during which they kidnapped 47 Palestinians.

The report touched on the Israeli violations committed against Palestinian fishermen in Gaza and farmers in the West Bank as well as the policy of demolishing homes in occupied Jerusalem.

Ministry of prisoners condemns physical assault on two Palestinian detainees

[ 31/10/2009 - 09:54 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- The Palestinian ministry of prisoners’ affairs on Friday strongly denounced the Israeli prisons authority (IPA) for deliberately humiliating and physically assaulting Palestinian prisoners during the last week, stressing that this is a consistent revenge policy pursued by the Israeli occupation especially against Gaza prisoners.

Information director of the ministry Riyadh Al-Ashqar said that the IPA deprives Palestinian prisoners of all rights stipulated in relevant laws and even deliberately humiliate and maltreat them while they are in chains.

Ashqar noted that the special military units in Israeli jails severely beat two Palestinian prisoners last week, one during his presence in solitary confinement and the other after he left a court hearing.

For its part, Al-Ahrar center for prisoners’ studies told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that it obtained a number of pictures illustrating Israeli troops of Nahshon unit physically and verbally assaulting and beating prisoner Mohamed Abu Jamous after leaving a court hearing held recently.

The center pointed out that the assault happened when Abu Jamous left the Israeli high court in occupied Jerusalem on the 30th of September while his hands and feet were shackled in chain, adding that the soldiers of Nahshon units forced him to strip for search and then started to kick and beat him all over his body.

It added that the soldiers threatened the prisoners with death if he filed a complaint about what happened to him.

UNGA to discuss Goldstone report on Wednesday

UNGA to discuss Goldstone report on Wednesday

[ 31/10/2009 - 09:42 AM ]

NEW YORK, (PIC)-- The UN General Assembly is to hold a session on Wednesday 4/11 to discuss the Goldstone report that was tabled by a UN fact finding mission on Israel's war crimes during its war on Gaza.

General Assembly spokesman Jean-Victor Nkolo said on Friday that the Libyan ambassador to the UN and the current UNGA chairman Ali Al-Tureiki decided to hold the session on Wednesday after receiving requests from the Arab and the Non-Aligned groups at the UN.

The UN human rights council had endorsed the report prepared by the committee led by the South African Justice Richard Goldstone and asked the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to table a report on implementation of the Goldstone recommendations by March next year.

Ban Ki-moon, for his part, had criticized Israel in a press conference last Wednesday for obstructing the reconstruction of Gaza Strip.

"I urge Israel to accept the UN reconstruction proposals as set forth, recognizing that the only true guarantee of peace is people’s well-being and security", he added.

Another setback for the US Empire?


It appears that President Zelaya has won something of a victory in his struggle to return to the Presidency of his country: the putchistas have agreed to let him return to power to complete his mandate. President Zelaya reportedly expressed "satisfaction and optimism". Does that mean that all is well in Honduras now? Absolutely not.

While I don't have any details about this, I am confident that the deal between Zelaya and the putchistas included a blanket immunity from prosecution for all those involved in the coup - from Micheletti himself down to the thugs in uniform who assaulted demonstrators. At this phase, such a concession on Zelaya's side was probably inevitable, but it also shows that nothing has been solved. Furthermore, AP describes the deal as a "power sharing agreement" - which probably means that all the key positions (military, police, etc) will remain in the hands of the coup leaders.

There will now be an election and we can be sure that the US-backed putchistas will do everything in their power, whether legal or illegal, to get rid of Zelaya.

Still, this agreement is, I believe, a rather substantial setback for the US Empire. If anything, the standoff between the coup regime and the entire Latin American continent - with the notable exception of the US-backed regime in Colombia - has shown that the entire continent can close ranks an oppose Fascist takeovers.

The standoff around the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa has also served to further alienate "moderate" countries such as Brazil, of course, but also Argentina and Chile. As for the core countries of the resistance against the US Empire (Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador), they appear fully vindicated in their stance against the coup regime and the opening of new US military bases in Colombia.

Whatever the outcome in Honduras, the US Empire is clearly loosing the battle for South America. The coup in Honduras is a mess, if only because of the length of the standoff and the rhetorical zig-zags of Hillary Clinton on who is to blame for the situation. The only thing the Obama Administration has "achieved" since it came to power is to further alienate Latin Americans and Uncle Sam's last and only ally on the continent - Colombia - will find itself even more isolated than before.

As for Zelaya, one would hope that he will not be deceived by his tactical victory: his situation is still dire. The USA as a long history of subverting far more stable government than the one which will temporarily stay in power this Fall. There is no way Zelaya can tackle this threat on his own and his best, if not only, chance is now to get substantial political and security assistance from abroad. This will be very hard to do right under the collective noses of the CIA & Co., but it is nonetheless essential.

But most importantly, Zelaya now needs to appeal to the people of Honduras and tell them that each and every one of them must do everything he or she can to preserve democracy in Honduras. The example of the 2002 coup in Venezuela must always be heeded: only the massive rejection of Carmona and his thugs by the people of Venezuela prevented a Fascist military regime from maintaining its grip on power.

US imperialism in Latin America has always relied only wealthy landowners, international corporations, death squads, assassins and terrorists. The resistance to Uncle Sam must therefore rely on the one powerful force it has on its side: the people. If Zelaya is not deceived by all sorts of promises and threats which will now come his way and if he succeeds in playing the "peoples card" correctly - he will probably prevail. But time is running out and he must take action very rapidly.

The Saker

Posted by VINEYARDSAKER: at 6:07 AM


October 31, 2009

shir l shalom...bloody The 4th of November 1995 is known as ‘The Day The Music Died’ in Israel. It was on that day that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered in cold blood just minutes after singing the praises of peace, a photo of the blood stained sheet music which was taken from his pocket can be seen at left….

The words to the song can be seen HERE
It was not only Yitzhak Rabin that was murdered that day, it was the Oslo Agreements as well. Since that time the right wing has usurped power in Israel making the concept of a real peace nothing more than a distant dream, but one that we hold onto and work towards nevertheless.
A new technology enables viewers to get a clear view of what transpired on Nov. 4th, 1995: The three bullets that changed history, the video from that evening can be viewed HERE….
A Ynet report can be read below…
Special: Video of Rabin’s murder as never seen before
(Video)Twelve years after, new technology enables viewers to get a clear view of what transpired on Nov. 4th, 1995: The three bullets that changed history
“On November 4th, 1995, the prime minister was murdered.” This was the headline we awoke to, as if to a nightmare. The three bullets fired at the prime minister during the peace rally changed the face of Israel forever. Each of us harbors that moment within us, the moment we heard of the murder at the square.
Twelve years on, the enhanced video now clearly shows the moments of the murder.
It was 9:40 pm, and the security personnel accompanied the participants of the peace rally down the back stairs of the municipality building on the way to the prime minister’s car. At first, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres descended the staircase waving to the crowd with a smile. The prime minister descended next, with an assured step.
Suddenly out of the darkness the image appeared. The door of the prime minister’s car had already been opened. Rabin approached the back seat; the first shot was sounded, then another and another.
Yitzhak Rabin’s last steps were captured by the lens of Ronny Kempler’s camera. Now, thanks to new technology, for the first time viewers can see exactly what happened at the square on that night: The unbearable ease in which the prime minister was murdered from point-blank range.
(Ben Heine © Cartoons)

Remembering my friend Yitzhak Rabin
Written by Bill Clinton
Throughout history, human beings have found meaning in our lives through positive identification with what we know: our family, our tribe, our community, our nation, our culture, our politics, our religion – and by negative reference to “others.”
In the 21st century, as our world grows increasingly interdependent, and local challenges and opportunities relate increasingly to the groups we once knew as “them,” the walls that divide us are getting thinner, less important, and ever more transparent. We are compelled to expand the definition of who is “us,” and shrink the definition of who is “them” understand that, as important as our differences are, our common humanity matters more. The inability to embrace this fundamental value lies at the heart of peace and conflict throughout the world today, and of course in the Middle East.
Yitzhak Rabin understood this. My friend knew that the Middle East is highly interdependent, that there could be no final military victory: it would come only through peace and reconciliation based on our shared humanity. He worked tirelessly to forge a just, secure, and lasting peace with the Palestinians, and his ultimate sacrifice proved it.
While the events of the last several years have delayed the dream for which Yitzhak Rabin sacrificed his life, they in no way undermine the logic of his vision, the power of his faith, or the beauty of his gifts to us. Since his life was taken, we have seen the resolution of seemingly intractable conflicts in other regions of the world. In each instance, the parties decided that their interdependence compelled them to lay down their arms and embrace a concept of security through dialogue and cooperation, based on respect for our interesting differences, and the possibility of cooperation rooted in shared values, shared benefits, and shared responsibilities.
No one was more committed to the security of Israel than Yitzhak Rabin. No one understood better that maintaining that security requires a resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians, and a commitment to share a peaceful future with them.
In this spirit, the words of the late King Hussein at Yitzhak Rabin’s funeral resound as powerfully today as they did several years ago:
“Let us not keep silent. Let our voices raise high to speak of our commitment to peace for all times to come. And let us tell those who live in darkness, who are the enemies of life and true faith, this is where we stand. This is our camp.”
We must remember and honor both Yitzhak Rabin and his mission. The future must belong not to those who live in darkness, but to those who stand with Yitzhak Rabin for life and peace.
Both of the above posts are from the archives

Israel Envoy to UN: Human Rights Council Betrayed its Own Values

Israel Envoy to UN: Human Rights Council Betrayed its Own Values
Readers Number : 23

31/10/2009 Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Professor Gabriela Shalev said on Friday at the organization's weekly assembly that the UN Human Rights Council had betrayed the very values and principles it was established to protect.

Shalev spoke after the assembly was issued the Rights Councils' annual activity report, which includes the Goldstone report findings that accuse Israel of war crimes during the Gaza offensive in December 2008.

Friday's discussion preceded the upcoming deliberation on Wednesday at the UN assembly regarding the report's conclusions. Shalev accused the council of constant and exclusive discrimination against Israel and said that more than half of the council's meetings have dealt with condemning Israel for one reason or another.

Shalev also said that the council “has approved more resolutions critical of Israel than resolutions criticizing any other UN member country.”

In regard to the report compiled by the South African former Judge Richard Goldstone, Shalev said that it is a reminder that the UN rights council is dominated and used by countries obsessed with demonizing Israel and its democratic nature.

The ambassador concluded by saying that “the basic human rights of thousands of innocent people are violated throughout the world on a daily basis, but the council has and remains silent to their plight.”

Last week Palestinian diplomats in Geneva pushed to bring forward the UN Human Rights Council debate on the war crimes committed by Israeli occupation forces as stated in the Goldstone report.

Ibrahim Khraishi, the Palestinian Authority's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said the request for an urgent meeting was prompted by violence in occupied Jerusalem that he blamed on Israel and which he also wants discussed.

Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority agreed to delay debating the UN report on the conflict until March. The decision led to street protests by Palestinians and condemnation around the Arab world. "We deferred, so we were expecting that the Israelis should respect in some way human rights, but this act of aggression against people, against the human rights and humanitarian law, is unbelievable," Khraishi said.



October 31, 2009 at 8:58 am (Associate Post, Corrupt Politics, Israel, Palestine)


Plans for an election are impractical at best, argues Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank

As if the stalled and nearly moribund peace process between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel didn’t face enough problems, PA President Mahmoud Abbas dropped a bombshell this week when he called for “presidential and legislative elections” to be held in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem on 24 January.

The decree is more than problematic since Abbas’s Western-backed regime in Ramallah has no control over East Jerusalem, which Israel considers part of its “eternal, united capital” and the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas.

Moreover, whatever semblance of authority the PA regime has in the West Bank is completely subject to Israeli whim. This means that if Abbas is serious about holding elections in the three separate territories on the designated date, he will have to coordinate the elections with both Israel and Hamas.

Israel has already indicated that it won’t automatically grant Abbas permission to hold elections in the West Bank and there are serious doubts that the most right-wing government in Israel’s history would allow elections to take place in East Jerusalem. Unless, of course, Israel obtains the right political price from the weak PA; in other words, an undertaking to abandon the Goldstone Report.

As to Hamas and other Palestinian factions, the reactions are ranging from total rejection to deep reservations.

Rejecting the call as a pressure tactic on Hamas to sign the Egyptian-mediated reconciliation document, Hamas leaders challenged Abbas, arguing that the PA leader’s term in office has expired and that he wouldn’t be able to organise genuine election without the Gaza Strip. “Holding elections in the West Bank alone is a definitive prescription for a national disaster,” said Ismail Radwan, a Hamas leader and spokesperson in Gaza.

Similarly, the Islamic Jihad organisation dismissed Abbas’s election decree as “an exposed attempt to perpetuate the Dayton princedom” in the West Bank. The allusion here is to the American General Keith Dayton who trains and oversees PA security forces.

Even the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is a founding member of the PLO, has shown its consternation. The group’s acting leader, Mahmoud Mallouh, has argued that regaining Palestinian national unity is more important than holding elections.

To be sure, Abbas didn’t say he was completely abandoning reconciliation efforts with Hamas. He argued though that organising elections on the designated date was a “legal and constitutional imperative.”

Hamas and many Palestinian intellectuals ridicule this argument, which gives the impression that the PA is an independent and sovereign state with an established constitution when in fact the PA regime, especially in the West Bank, is a little more than a mere sub-contractor for the Israeli occupation authorities. After all, it is the Israeli army, not the PA, that controls every street and corner of the West Bank.

It is not clear if Abbas is bluffing in order to outmanoeuvre and circumvent Hamas, or if he really means it. If the latter, the direct and indirect ramifications of holding elections in the West Bank without the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip would deeply and negatively affect the Palestinian political arena as well as American-led peace efforts.

Indeed, the outcome of an election in which less than half of eligible voters would participate is not going to have much credibility, will further exacerbate the Palestinian crisis, and may lead to an irreversible rupture between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

As to the American-led efforts to resume peace talks between the PA and Israel, which have so far achieved no progress, it is amply clear that these efforts will have to be more or less frozen if Abbas is serious about holding elections. After all, continuing to indulge in a manifestly barren peace process (barren in light of the bitter experience of years of fruitless negotiations with the Olmert government) would seriously undermine Abbas’s efforts to woo the Palestinian public to elect him “president” for a second term.

More to the point, if elections are to be held on the designated date, Fatah would have to display a radical discourse and reassert its commitment to the Palestinian constants, including the two cardinal issues of Jerusalem and the right of return for Palestinian refugees uprooted from their former homes and villages when Israel was created more than 60 years ago. It might even resort, at least as an electioneering tactic, to asserting its commitment to armed struggle against Israel.

For what it’s worth, this would have a negative impact on the peace process as it would undermine the Obama administration’s ability to realise the increasingly illusive goal of establishing a viable Palestinian state in the occupied territories.

Last week, US President Barack Obama called Abbas, assuring him that he would see to it that an independent Palestinian state is established. Obama didn’t say when such a state would see the light of day, nor did he mention anything about American efforts to get Israel to freeze Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank. Abbas would do well to remember that president George W Bush made similar undertakings which came to naught.

Obama was supposed to give a foreign policy address this week that would reveal new American ideas for making progress in the stalled Middle East peace process. It is not clear if the nonevent had anything to do with Abbas’s decision to hold elections in January.

What is clear though is that Abbas is visibly disillusioned, even to the point of despondency, as all American pledges and promises to get Israel to freeze its frantic seizure of Palestinian land are shown to be false. One Palestinian official said in confidence that the president’s mood is “very depressive”. He also described US peace efforts as the “biggest act of deception”. “If Obama with all his power can’t bring Israel to freeze the building of even one building in East Jerusalem, would it be reasonable on our part to expect him to wrest East Jerusalem from Israel, allow for the repatriation of the refugees and at the top of all of this establish a viable and territorially contiguous state for us?”

This week, the Israeli media reported that Abbas was seriously considering submitting his resignation on the grounds that he had no achievement whatsoever with which he could impress Palestinian voters during the election campaign.

The unconfirmed report alerted the Obama administration which hastened to assure Abbas that the US would take a number of unspecified measures to boost Abbas’s standing among his people.

However, the American undertaking seems to be largely rhetorical, since any achievement by Abbas would require serious Israeli concessions in the West Bank. This seems highly improbable, at least for the time being, given the composition and ideological nature of the current Israeli government.

An exit from the narrow horizons facing Abbas could take the form of a certain concession to Hamas by Fatah, probably in coordination with Egypt. But even this wouldn’t be desirable from the American viewpoint since the restoration of Palestinian unity would likely radicalise the overall Palestinian stance and make the Palestinians more determined in their demands for a total Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied in 1967.

Al-Masri further argues that the conflict between Fatah and Hamas is first and foremost “political, not constitutional in nature”, which he says requires a political solution. “Failing to understand this reality could lead to national political suicide and a total capitulation to Israeli dictates. Abbas is dead wrong if he thinks that the Palestinian negotiating position vis-à- vis Israel would be better in the absence of national unity.”

End Water Siege

Water Water Everywhere, Nor Any Drop to Drink

October 27, 2009 - Amnesty International is not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.

Amnesty International has accused Israel of denying Palestinians the right to access adequate water by maintaining total control over the shared water resources and pursuing discriminatory policies.

These unreasonably restrict the availability of water in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and prevent the Palestinians developing an effective water infrastructure there.

“Israel allows the Palestinians access to only a fraction of the shared water resources, which lie mostly in the occupied West Bank, while the unlawful Israeli settlements there receive virtually unlimited supplies. In Gaza the Israeli blockade has made an already dire situation worse,” said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s researcher on Israel and the OPT.

In a new extensive report, Amnesty International revealed the extent to which Israel’s discriminatory water policies and practices are denying Palestinians their right to access to water.

Israel uses more than 80 per cent of the water from the Mountain Aquifer, the main source of underground water in Israel and the OPT, while restricting Palestinian access to a mere 20 per cent.

The Mountain Aquifer is the only source for water for Palestinians in the West Bank, but only one of several for Israel, which also takes for itself all the water available from the Jordan River.

While Palestinian daily water consumption barely reaches 70 litres a day per person, Israeli daily consumption is more than 300 litres per day, four times as much.

In some rural communities Palestinians survive on barely 20 litres per day, the minimum amount recommended for domestic use in emergency situations.

Some 180,000-200,000 Palestinians living in rural communities have no access to running water and the Israeli army often prevents them from even collecting rainwater.

In contrast, Israeli settlers, who live in the West Bank in violation of international law, have intensive-irrigation farms, lush gardens and swimming pools.

Numbering about 450,000, the settlers use as much or more water than the Palestinian population of some 2.3 million.

In the Gaza Strip, 90 to 95 per cent of the water from its only water resource, the Coastal Aquifer, is contaminated and unfit for human consumption. Yet, Israel does not allow the transfer of water from the Mountain Aquifer in the West Bank to Gaza.

Stringent restrictions imposed in recent years by Israel on the entry into Gaza of material and equipment necessary for the development and repair of infrastructure have caused further deterioration of the water and sanitation situation in Gaza, which has reached crisis point.

To cope with water shortages and lack of network supplies many Palestinians have to purchase water, of often dubious quality, from mobile water tankers at a much higher price.

Others resort to water-saving measures which are detrimental to their and their families’ health and which hinder socio-economic development.

“Over more than 40 years of occupation, restrictions imposed by Israel on the Palestinians’ access to water have prevented the development of water infrastructure and facilities in the OPT, consequently denying hundreds of thousand of Palestinians the right to live a normal life, to have adequate food, housing, or health, and to economic development,” said Donatella Rovera.
Israel has appropriated large areas of the water-rich Palestinian land it occupies and barred Palestinians from accessing them.

It has also imposed a complex system of permits which the Palestinians must obtain from the Israeli army and other authorities in order to carry out water-related projects in the OPT. Applications for such permits are often rejected or subject to long delays.

Restrictions imposed by Israel on the movement of people and goods in the OPT further compound the difficulties Palestinians face when trying to carry out water and sanitation projects, or even just to distribute small quantities of water.

Water tankers are forced to take long detours to avoid Israeli military checkpoints and roads which are out of bounds to Palestinians, resulting in steep increases in the price of water.

In rural areas, Palestinian villagers are continuously struggling to find enough water for their basic needs, as the Israeli army often destroys their rainwater harvesting cisterns and confiscates their water tankers.

In comparison, irrigation sprinklers water the fields in the midday sun in nearby Israeli settlements, where much water is wasted as it evaporates before even reaching the ground.

In some Palestinian villages, because their access to water has been so severely restricted, farmers are unable to cultivate the land, or even to grow small amounts of food for their personal consumption or for animal fodder, and have thus been forced to reduce the size of their herds.

“Water is a basic need and a right, but for many Palestinians obtaining even poor-quality subsistence-level quantities of water has become a luxury that they can barely afford,” said Donatella Rovera.

“Israel must end its discriminatory policies, immediately lift all the restrictions it imposes on Palestinians’ access to water, and take responsibility for addressing the problems it created by allowing Palestinians a fair share of the shared water resources.”

Agha: AI report ascertains IOA robbery of Palestinian water resources

[ 31/10/2009 - 08:35 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- Dr. Mohammed Al-Agha, the minister of agriculture in the Gaza Strip, has said that the Amnesty International's report on the Israeli occupation authority's (IOA) exploitation of Palestinian water resources is an important document that should be used in suing the IOA.

Agha, in a terse statement on Friday, said that the AI document should be utilized by the Palestinians to demand compensation and file lawsuits at international courts over the IOA robbery of their water.

He pointed out that the Gaza Strip is in need of 200 million cups of water annually, adding that water is being transferred from the West Bank to Gaza to overcome the shortage there.

The London-based AI said in a report that the IOA was curbing the Palestinians' use of their own water resources while allowing its settlers to tap whatever quantities of water they wish from those resources.

The report published last Tuesday said that the Israeli individual's water consumption is four times more than that of the Palestinian individual.



October 31, 2009 at 8:45 am (Associate Post, Ethnic Cleansing, Israel, Occupation, Palestine, Religion, zionist harassment)

Despite Israeli denials, Muslim officials on the ground confirm Jewish extremists are escalating plans to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque, writes Khalid Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem

Government-backed Jewish religious extremists have stepped up their efforts to seize a foothold at Al-Aqsa Mosque esplanade in East Jerusalem, ostensibly in order to erect there a Jewish temple.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is one of the three holiest Islamic sanctuaries. The other two are the Sacred Mosque in Mecca and the Prophet Mohamed’s Mosque in Medina in Saudi Arabia.

On Sunday, 25 October crack Israeli soldiers stormed the Al-Aqsa site, firing rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades and tear gas canisters at Muslim worshipers. The troops also savagely beat Palestinian worshipers, including women and children. The paramilitary police, known as the Border Guard, also briefly shut off the Noble Sanctuary (the 141,000-square metre court housing Islamic holy places), barring Muslims from accessing the site.

More than 20 were injured, some badly, and dozens of others arrested. The Israeli occupation authorities also cut off electricity to the Old City of Jerusalem, including Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The new violation of the holy site by Israeli forces followed a call by Muslim leaders in Jerusalem alerting inhabitants to go to the mosque and maintain a presence there to repulse a fresh attempt by Jewish extremists to storm the Noble Sanctuary and seize a foothold to practise Jewish rituals. Jewish extremists, along with some government officials, hope that persistent provocations at the exclusively Islamic holy site will allow them to worship at the site and eventually build a Jewish temple.

Many Jews believe that the ancient Temple of Solomon stood where Al-Aqsa Mosque was built more than 1,300 years ago. Destroying Al-Aqsa Mosque and building a Jewish temple in its place is said by some extremists to be a condition for the second coming of Christ.

In recent days and weeks, Talmudic extremists placed a huge menorah — a Jewish religious symbol — opposite the Dome of the Rock Mosque. Other extremists erected at the same place a model of the so-called Temple of Solomon. Israeli occupation authorities made no effort to stop the manifestly provocative acts.

Meanwhile, the religious Zionist camp in Israel, which spearheads anti-Islam provocations at Al-Aqsa esplanade, held a meeting in West Jerusalem during which Jews were urged to descend to the Islamic holy place and wrest it from the hands of the “goyem” (a derogatory epithet for non-Jews). The meeting was attended by several prominent rabbis affiliated with the settler movement, as well as several Knesset members and other extremist leaders.

Following the meeting, a statement issued called on Jews to maintain a presence at the “Temple Mount” to prevent Arabs from turning the site into “a theatre of violence”. Participants urged Jews interested in “changing the status quo at the Temple Mount” to “work more and speak less” and to carry out their task “quietly and through subterfuge”.

Earlier, the Israeli media reported that Israel was planning a “major archaeological excavation under Al-Buraq Court”, renamed “the Western Wall plaza”. Historically, the place had always been part of Al-Aqsa Mosque until the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem in 1967. The excavation, Muslim leaders argue, could seriously destabilise the foundations of Al-Aqsa Mosque and other nearby historic Muslim structures. Israeli officials pay little or no attention to Muslim protests and often invoke the mantra that Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal and undivided capital.

Adnan Al-Husseini is the head of the Supreme Muslim Council, the body overseeing and running the Haram Al-Sharif compound. He accuses Israel of “planning to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque by way of digging subterranean tunnels in its vicinity.”

“When they speak to the media or meet with some Muslim officials from Turkey or Egypt and Jordan, they assure them that everything is fine and that the Islamic holy site faces no danger. However, we who live here and see things with our eyes on a daily basis are sure 100 per cent that Israel’s ultimate goal is the demolition of the mosque and the building of a Jewish temple.” Al-Husseini added: “Are we to believe Israeli lies and mendacious denials or our own eyes?”

Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, another prominent Muslim official at Jerusalem’s Noble Sanctuary, described the situation as “very, very dangerous”. “The Israeli authorities are trying to desensitise Muslim public opinion in the hope that Muslims at a certain point would accept a partitioning of this Islamic holy place. But, of course, this will never ever happen.”

“They want to take over Al-Aqsa Mosque step by step as they did with the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron following the massacre of 1994.” There Israeli occupation authorities partitioned the mosque, one of the most ancient in occupied Palestine, between Jews and Muslims, giving Jews the lion’s share of the ancient structure where the patriarch Ibrahim (Abraham) is believed to be buried. (In Islam, Ibrahim, Isaac, Jacob and other Israelite prophets are also considered Muslim prophets).

Muslims never accepted the partitioning, stressing that the mosque was an Islamic site of worship for more than 1,300 years.

On Al-Aqsa, demonstrations have taken place in several Muslim countries, calling on Muslim governments to take proactive steps against Israel, including severing diplomatic ties. However, it is highly doubtful that token protests by Muslims will deter Israel and stop extremist Jewish groups from pursuing their designs against the main symbol of Islam in occupied Palestine and the Levant region.

Indeed, it is quite likely that this crisis, which is a ticking bomb, will reach a critical point. One foreign observer in Ramallah remarked that “the peace process is nearly dead even without this powder keg surrounding Al-Aqsa Mosque. All I can say is that I foresee a lot of trouble and violence ahead.”