U.S. urges Israel to reverse planned West Bank land appropriation

Reuters reports: The United States sees Israel’s announcement on Sunday of a land appropriation for possible settlement construction in the occupied West Bank as “counterproductive” to peace efforts and urges the Israeli government to reverse the decision, a State Department official said.

Israel laid claim to nearly a thousand acres (400 hectares) in the Etzion settlement bloc near Bethlehem, a move which an anti-settlement group termed the biggest appropriation in 30 years and a Palestinian official said would cause only more friction after the Gaza war.

“We have long made clear our opposition to continued settlement activity,” the U.S. official said. “ This announcement, like every other settlement announcement Israel makes, planning step they approve and construction tender they issue is counterproductive to Israel’s stated goal of a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians.” [Continue reading...]

facebooktwittermail

Abbas may push for deadline to end occupation

The New York Times reports: President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority may use the global stage of the annual General Assembly here in a few weeks to publicly demand a deadline for ending Israel’s occupation, according to his ambassador, while expecting that the Israelis — and almost certainly their American allies — will oppose that demand.

“He wants the international community to agree on a date,” the ambassador, Riyad H. Mansour, said. Mr. Mansour called the demand part of what he described as a new strategy by Mr. Abbas to unilaterally advance the goal of Palestinian independence and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after a litany of frustrations, notably the collapse of American-brokered talks with Israel this year.

Mr. Abbas also is apparently hoping that the Palestinian Authority’s role in helping to halt the 50-day war in Gaza between Israeli forces and Hamas militants, achieved last Tuesday with an Egyptian brokered cease-fire agreement, has infused his position with new vitality and leverage.

If Mr. Abbas is denied an occupation end date, Mr. Mansour said, he will use the Palestine observer state status at the United Nations, an upgrade won nearly two years ago over Israeli and American objections, to make the occupied territories even more like the independent state he has sought.

The most coercive measure available to him is to make Palestine a member of the International Criminal Court, opening the way for possible prosecutions of Israeli actions as an occupying power. [Continue reading...]

facebooktwittermail

Israel plans to expropriate 988 acres of West Bank

AFP reports: Israel announced Sunday it will expropriate 400 hectares (988 acres) of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, angering the Palestinians and alarming Israeli peace campaigners.

The move to seize the land, in the Bethlehem area in the south of the territory, is the biggest of its kind in three decades, Peace Now said.

“On the instructions of the political echelon… 4,000 dunams at Gevaot (settlement) is declared as state land,” said the army department charged with administering civil affairs in occupied territory, laying down a 45-day period for any appeal.

It said the move stemmed from political decisions taken after the June killing of three Israeli teenagers snatched from a roadside in the same area, known to Israelis as the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. [Continue reading...]

facebooktwittermail

Desmond Tutu — My plea to the people of Israel: Liberate yourselves by liberating Palestine

Archbishop Desmond Tutu writes: The past weeks have witnessed unprecedented action by members of civil society across the world against the injustice of Israel’s disproportionately brutal response to the firing of missiles from Palestine.

If you add together all the people who gathered over the past weekend to demand justice in Israel and Palestine – in Cape Town, Washington, D.C., New York, New Delhi, London, Dublin and Sydney, and all the other cities – this was arguably the largest active outcry by citizens around a single cause ever in the history of the world.

A quarter of a century ago, I participated in some well-attended demonstrations against apartheid. I never imagined we’d see demonstrations of that size again, but last Saturday’s turnout in Cape Town was as big if not bigger. Participants included young and old, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, blacks, whites, reds and greens … as one would expect from a vibrant, tolerant, multicultural nation. [Continue reading...]

facebooktwittermail

The occupation is a political problem needing a political solution — not a humanitarian band-aid

Taghreed al-Khodary, former Gaza correspondent for the New York Times, said in an interview: Ending the siege is not a “Hamas demand.” It is the people’s demand. Gaza is still under occupation — it is an open jail. Israel always says, “We withdrew, we gave them land to control…” I am always shocked when I hear this line repeated by someone on CNN. The borders are completely controlled by Israel, the sea is completely controlled by Israel. The airspace is completely controlled by Israel. The crossings are completely controlled by Israel, aside from one crossing, controlled by Egypt—and this is now closed as well.

My father had cancer. Because he knew people, he managed to go to Israel to get treatment, but most others cannot. When he died two months ago while getting his cancer treatment in Israel, only my mother was allowed by Israel to join him. None of his daughters or brothers were permitted to join him. Imagine dying far away from your loved ones…the occupation is cruel.

What is happening in Gaza and throughout the occupied territories is not primarily a humanitarian issue, although there are devastating humanitarian side effects: It is a political issue. Focusing only on the humanitarian issues is a pretext not to have to come up with a long-term political solution.

facebooktwittermail

Palestinians in #Gaza don’t want #Hamas to give up the fight

David Kenner writes: Why can’t the two sides reach a compromise? Why wouldn’t Hamas agree to an extension of the cease-fire, when its civilians and infrastructure are bearing the lion’s share of the damage?

And then you come to Gaza. The horror stories seek you out: The man living in a crowded United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) refugee camp who hasn’t had the money to repair his house since it was damaged in the 2012 war; the 7-year-old girl who interrupts an interview to interject that her father has been killed; the exhausted general manager of Shifa Hospital, who spoke mournfully about how his staff was performing surgeries in waiting rooms because all of the operating rooms were full.

These people all said that this war was easily the worst of the three conflicts with Israel since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007. And all of them maintained that Hamas should continue striking Israel until its demands are met.

For these Gazans, the roots of their support for Hamas lie in the fact that they simply have so little left to lose. Sitting in his office in Gaza City, Raji Sourani, the director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, ticks off the statistics showing how impoverished this tiny territory was even before the war: 50 percent unemployment, 80 percent of households below the poverty line, and 90 percent dependence on international organizations that provide food and aid.

“We have become a nation of beggars. That’s not us — we are a people with dignity and with pride,” he said. “If you want to have isolation from the outside world, bombing, [and] destruction … that means you want to create extremism. Chapeau [respect] for Hamas that we don’t have either [the Islamic State] or al Qaeda. It’s a miracle.” [Continue reading...]

facebooktwittermail

Global protests in solidarity with Palestinians — #GazaDayofRage

facebooktwittermail

To end violence, end the occupation

Charlie Rose in conversation with Nadia Bilbassy-Charters, Khaled Elgindy, Rula Jebreal and Yousef Munayyer. Starts at 15 minutes 40 seconds.

facebooktwittermail

Is another Intifada possible in the West Bank?

Ahmad Kittaneh was shot by Israeli soldiers on Thursday night during the largest protest in the West Bank since the Second Intifada. He and almost died. From his hospital bed he told Dalia Hatuqa, protest “is a national duty for every one of us.”

In the last two weeks, three separate attacks on Israelis took place in the West Bank and Jerusalem, and two Palestinian men participating in separate protests in villages near Tulkarem and Ramallah were shot dead. These skirmishes, coupled with the massive protests that Kittaneh took part in, have left many wondering if they were witnessing the beginning of a formal Intifada — or if the uprising would just patter out over time.

“What I saw the other day were people finally rising up,” Kittaneh insisted. “The numbers were huge. I don’t think we can go back from this.”

While the immediate motivation for these flare-ups may be the Gaza bombardment, it’s undeniable that a change in West Bank dynamics has also played a major role. With the temporary trappings of a quasi state-let slipping away — the peace process at a standstill, economic stagnation setting in — the only part of the window dressing that remains are the PA’s security forces whose main job, as far as regular Palestinians are concerned, is to protect Israel. This harsh reality is now in stark relief since Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad left office roughly a year ago.

“People are coming to the conclusion that maybe what was taken by force cannot be returned except by force,” said Mazin Qumsiyeh, a Bethlehem-based activist and university professor. “There has been significant upheaval and anger. It’s hard to determine the future, but the Palestinian psyche is changing, and we may be closer to a revolution against the PA, which is needed as well.” [Continue reading...]

facebooktwittermail

Collective punishment in Gaza

Rashid Khalidi writes: Three days after the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched the current war in Gaza, he held a press conference in Tel Aviv during which he said, in Hebrew, according to the Times of Israel, “I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”

It’s worth listening carefully when Netanyahu speaks to the Israeli people. What is going on in Palestine today is not really about Hamas. It is not about rockets. It is not about “human shields” or terrorism or tunnels. It is about Israel’s permanent control over Palestinian land and Palestinian lives. That is what Netanyahu is really saying, and that is what he now admits he has “always” talked about. It is about an unswerving, decades-long Israeli policy of denying Palestine self-determination, freedom, and sovereignty.

What Israel is doing in Gaza now is collective punishment. It is punishment for Gaza’s refusal to be a docile ghetto. It is punishment for the gall of Palestinians in unifying, and of Hamas and other factions in responding to Israel’s siege and its provocations with resistance, armed or otherwise, after Israel repeatedly reacted to unarmed protest with crushing force. Despite years of ceasefires and truces, the siege of Gaza has never been lifted.

As Netanyahu’s own words show, however, Israel will accept nothing short of the acquiescence of Palestinians to their own subordination. It will accept only a Palestinian “state” that is stripped of all the attributes of a real state: control over security, borders, airspace, maritime limits, contiguity, and, therefore, sovereignty. The twenty-three-year charade of the “peace process” has shown that this is all Israel is offering, with the full approval of Washington. Whenever the Palestinians have resisted that pathetic fate (as any nation would), Israel has punished them for their insolence. This is not new. [Continue reading...]

facebooktwittermail

Ilan Pappé: Israel has chosen to be an apartheid state — with U.S. support

facebooktwittermail

Interview with Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal

(I will post the complete interview once it’s available on PBS.)

facebooktwittermail

Channel 4 News: Today’s ‘day of rage’ in the West Bank

facebooktwittermail

Mustafa Barghouti: ‘The Intifada has started’

At Mondoweiss, Martin Gajsek reports: Fireworks burst at the separation wall, lighting the heads of Israeli soldiers who are poised ready with loaded guns. Overhead, flare guns also brighten the scene at Qalandia checkpoint, quickly followed by shots from Israeli snipers that race into the burgeoning crowd. In the middle of the haze and chaos Palestinian politician Dr. Mustafa Barghouti is clear in his definition of the events unfolding around him, “The Intifada has started. This is the Intifada! Peaceful and nonviolent but as you have seen, they encountered us with gunshots,” Barghouti told Mondoweiss. Amidst his words, molotov cocktails hit the military watchtowers, while young men scrambled by in a desperate attempt to get the wounded out of the line of fire.

At around 9 p.m. last night, the streets of Ramallah started to flood with Palestinian protesters, all of them heading in the same direction — Qalandia Checkpoint. One of the biggest protests the West Bank has seen since the end of the second Intifada took place, with a march of several thousand Palestinians towards the checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem. The march was to demonstrate solidarity with the people in Gaza who have been under heavy bombardment for the past two weeks. That bombardment has been part of Israel’s latest military incursion, Operation Protective Edge, and has resulted in the death of over 800 people. Conservative figures state that at least 70% of the casualties are civilian, among them nearly 200 children. [Continue reading...]

facebooktwittermail

Live free or die: Palestinian unity resurrected

Muftah: As the death count in Gaza crept even closer to 1000 today, it seemed the imprisoned, ghettoized residents of the Strip were more alone than ever. But their Palestinian brothers and sisters in Occupied East Jerusalem and West Bank sent them a strong and clear message tonight:


According to reports, between 10,000-30,000 Palestinians are marching from Ramallah to Jerusalem, in what some have described as the biggest protests in the city since the Second Intifada. The protest began from a refugee camp outside Ramallah, and featured various political factions united under the Palestinian flag.


The protests represent the legacy of current brutalities combined with a history of on-going dispossession, the Israeli government’s on-going relentless and merciless siege against 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza together with decades of Israeli occupation, which have featured oppression of every imaginable kind. [Continue reading...]

facebooktwittermail

#48KMarch to Jerusalem — start of the Third Intifada?

facebooktwittermail

Israel provoked this war — Obama must end it

Henry Siegman writes: There seems to be near-universal agreement in the United States with President Barack Obama’s observation that Israel, like every other country, has the right and obligation to defend its citizens from threats directed at them from beyond its borders.

But this anodyne statement does not begin to address the political and moral issues raised by Israel’s bombings and land invasion of Gaza: who violated the cease-fire agreement that was in place since November 2012 and whether Israel’s civilian population could have been protected by nonviolent means that would not have placed Gaza’s civilian population at risk. As of this writing, the number killed by the Israel Defense Forces has surpassed 600, the overwhelming majority of whom are noncombatants.

Israel’s assault on Gaza, as pointed out by analyst Nathan Thrall in the New York Times, was not triggered by Hamas’ rockets directed at Israel but by Israel’s determination to bring down the Palestinian unity government that was formed in early June, even though that government was committed to honoring all of the conditions imposed by the international community for recognition of its legitimacy.

The notion that it was Israel, not Hamas, that violated a cease-fire agreement will undoubtedly offend a wide swath of Israel supporters. To point out that it is not the first time Israel has done so will offend them even more deeply. But it was Shmuel Zakai, a retired brigadier general and former commander of the IDF’s Gaza Division, and not “leftist” critics, who said about the Israel Gaza war of 2009 that during the six-month period of a truce then in place, Israel made a central error “by failing to take advantage of the calm to improve, rather than markedly worsen, the economic plight of the Palestinians in the [Gaza] Strip. … You cannot just land blows, leave the Palestinians in Gaza in the economic distress they are in and expect Hamas just to sit around and do nothing.” [Continue reading...]

facebooktwittermail

Israel’s right of self defense

Daniel Levy writes: Israeli self-defense does not include the right to (again) kill hundreds of Gazan civilians, to bomb hospitals or even to warn people to evacuate buildings when there is nowhere for them to go. The Israeli government’s attempt to a priori blame Hamas for all losses and thereby absolve itself of responsibility for casualties cannot be accepted.

Take a step back from this latest escalation. Most Gazans are refugees, their roots lie in the war and expulsion of 1948. From 1967 they lived under direct Israeli occupation and under blockade ever since, almost for the past decade.

Israel is not offering Gazans “quiet for quiet.” When Hamas ceases to fire, when it is “quiet,” Israel returns to normality, but Gazans remain cut off from the world, denied the most basic daily freedoms we take for granted.

Step further back to the West Bank, where the Palestinian strategic alternative to Hamas is pursued. The Fatah movement of President Abbas recognizes Israel, pursues peaceful negotiations and security cooperation. That is met with entrenched Israeli control, ever-expanding settlements, and Israeli military incursions into Palestinian cities at will.

So what would you do under such circumstances? Perhaps start by not denying another people’s rights in perpetuity, including the right to self-determination.

George Bisharat notes: [S]elf-defense cannot be claimed by a state that initiates violence, as Israel did in its crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank, arresting more than 400, searching 2,200 homes and other sites, and killing at least nine Palestinians. There is no evidence that the terrible murders of three Israeli youths that Israel claimed as justification for the crackdown were anything other than private criminal acts that do not trigger a nation’s right of self-defense (were an American citizen, or even a Drug Enforcement Administration agent killed by drug traffickers on our border with Mexico, that would not entitle us to bomb Mexico City).

Hamas and other groups began to intensify rocket fire only after Israel’s provocation. Prior to that, Hamas had proved itself a reliable partner for calm along the Gaza border, withholding rocket fire for nearly two years and largely curbing attacks by other groups.

Israel is also apparently violating the principle of distinction, that requires armies to attack only military targets. By attacking civilian officials and Hamas political figures in their homes, and striking hospitals, water and sewage lines, and other civilian infrastructure, Israel has abandoned distinction. Unsurprisingly, 75 percent of Palestinian victims have been civilians.

Ghada Ageel writes: [W]hile states have the right to defend themselves, so do people under occupation. Despite the Israeli claim that it no longer occupies Gaza, Israel effectively controls the strip – particularly the air and sea – and, in conjunction with Egypt, the borders, too.

When Israel demands that Palestinians flee their homes, is it not legitimate self-defense to say Israel did this once before and will pass through my neighborhood over my dead body?

Seventy percent of Palestinians in Gaza are refugees. We are in Gaza because Israel expelled over 700,000 Palestinians in 1948, including my grandmother and grandfather and both my parents from Beit Daras.

With over 600 Palestinians killed in the current assault, most of them civilians, a far-reaching cease-fire is now needed.

Hamas can hold a cease-fire just as it did in November 2012. The real question is whether Israel will give up its brutal control of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, allowing people to move and export products to grow our economy, and live with a semblance of freedom from occupation after years of Israeli siege and subjugation.

facebooktwittermail