Palestinian Authority police employed brute force to break up a second day of protesting in Ramallah on Sunday, with activists and eyewitnesses claiming police assaulted both male and female protesters with batons and chains, the Jerusalem Post reported.
At least seven people were injured in the clashes, according to Ma’an News Agency – an independent media group based in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Police also arrested seven protesters in Ramallah and two journalists, and attacked Reuters’ photographer Saed al-Hawari.
Members of the Palestinian security forces scuffle with demonstrators in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday, during a protest against a meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz that had been put off. (Mohamad Torckman – Reuters)
Demonstrations first erupted in Ramallah on Saturday over the announcement of a planned meeting between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, the current chairman of Israel’s centrist Kadima Party.
The meet-up – which would be the first official face-to-face meeting between top-level Israeli and Palestinian officials since 2010 – has since been postponed, according to the Associated Press.
Check below to see images and reactions on the ground in Ramallah:
In Ramallah, protesters clash with PA police over Israeli VP visit
Reactions and personal accounts from around the web.
Mofaz’s visit was called off this week, but Israeli and Palestinian officials gave conflicting accounts of why. A Fatah leader cited Palestinian public opinion while Israeli media said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s tensions with Mofaz played a role.
Locals told Ma’an five military vehicles surrounded the village and soldiers were searching the area with dogs. No arrests were reported.
The late Yitzhak Shamir
Israeli president Shimon Peres is calling the late Yitzhak Shamir, dead at 96, a “brave warrior.” What does that mean? It means he used terrorism with very important political consequences. As head of the Stern Gang, Shamir authorized the assassinations of Lord Moyne, the British minister in Palestine, in 1944, and Folke Bernadotte, the U.N. envoy (and Swedish count) in 1948.
The Bernadotte murder is particularly important: Bernadotte wanted to internationalize Jerusalem and limit the borders of the new Jewish state. His murder helped shift partition from 55 percent of Palestine to the Jewish state to 78 percent.
But will the obits tell you that? CNN whitewash:
Born in Poland, Shamir moved to Palestine and fought for Israeli independence…. Shamir was a leader of the Jewish Zionist underground group that fought the mandate in the 1940s.
It wasn’t just the mandate, he fought the U.N.
There is a shameful statement by Hillary Clinton at the end of that piece.
“From his days working for Israel’s independence to his service as prime minister, he strengthened Israel’s security and advanced the partnership between the United States and Israel,” she said in a statement.
I know she’s a diplomat, but could she have kept her mouth shut on some of this? Shamir was the Israeli prime minister, after all, who helped force Hillary’s husband Bill to run to George Bush’s right on settlements in 1992, a position that helped him to defeat the incumbent Bush, who had opposed settlements.
The British are clear about this. Here is the lead of the Financial Times obit for Shamir.
Yitzhak Shamir, who has died at the age of 96, is most likely to be remembered as a terrorist against British rule in Palestine during the 1940s and as a man whose aggressive Jewish settlement policy on Arab lands may have stymied Middle East peace for a generation.
Compare that to the New York Times’ wishywashy Israel-o-philic lead, by Joel Brinkley:
Yitzhak Shamir, who emerged from the militant wing of a Jewish militia and served as Israel’s prime minister longer than anyone but David Ben-Gurion, promoting a muscular Zionism and expansive settlement in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, died Saturday at a nursing home in Tel Aviv. He was 96.
What’s a militia? The Stern Gang. Why did they call it a gang?
Haaretz is more honest, though it never mentions Bernadotte:
When he was 20, he immigrated to Palestine and joined the Irgun two years later. By day he worked in an accountant’s office and at night took part in anti-British activities.
Shamir said “we didn’t take any action blindly or automatically or just for the sake of violence. Our aim was to intimidate rather than to punish … reprisals were never a cause for celebration. They were simply an existential need.” In 1940, Shamir left the Irgun, following Avraham Stern, and became a leader of the Lehi − which the British called the Stern Gang.
In December 1941 he was arrested and spent time in the Mizra prison near Acre. After escaping in September 1942, he was put in charge of operations. In this role he was responsible for the 1944 assassination of Lord Moyne, the British minister of state in the Middle East.
As Shamir put it, Moyne “was a senior official in enforcing British policy in Palestine and didn’t for a moment hide his strong opposition to Zionism and his negative feelings toward the Jews.”
The New York Times does not mention Bernadotte, and it gives Shamir a pass on Moyne. Because surgical assassination is a good thing, you see:
Years later, however, Mr. Shamir contended that it had been more humane to assassinate specific military or political figures than to attack military installations and possibly kill innocent people, as the other underground groups did. Besides, he once said, “a man who goes forth to take the life of another whom he does not know must believe only one thing: that by his act he will change the course of history.”
Several histories of the period have asserted that he masterminded a failed attempt to kill the British high commissioner, Sir Harold MacMichael, and the killing in Cairo of Britain’s minister of state for the Middle East, Lord Moyne. When Mr. Shamir was asked about these episodes in later years, his denials held a certain evasive tone.
That’s evasive. The Financial Times uses the same “change the course of history” quote to bring up Bernadotte murder.
As a leader of Lehi he approved the assassinations of Lord Moyne, Winston Churchill’s representative in Cairo, and Count Bernadotte, the Swedish UN Palestine mediator who during the war had saved many Jews from the Nazis. Years later Shamir reflected: “A man who goes forth to take the life of another, whom he does not know, must believe only one thing that by his act he will change the course of history.”
Yes and the murder of Bernadotte changed the Partition line, divided Jerusalem as it had not been divided under the original UN Special Committee line of 1947.
The New York Times has been more forthcoming about this in the past. Here is Clyde Haberman on Kati Marton’s biography of Folke Bernadotte, in the Times, 1995:
[Shamir] she says, signed [Bernadotte's] death warrant. He was part of a troika that led Lehi after its guiding force, Avraham Stern, was killed by the British in 1942. His name was Yitzhak Yezernitsky, a short bulldog of an immigrant from the Russian-Polish border. Four decades later, he became Israel’s Prime Minister under the name Yitzhak Shamir.
Ever suspicious and tight-lipped, Mr. Shamir, nearly 80, still speaks elliptically about the Bernadotte assassination. In a recently published memoir, “Summing Up,” he acknowledges that Lehi wanted the mediator “removed from the arena.” But the group “took no responsibility for the deed,” he says. “The idea was conceived in Jerusalem by Lehi members operating there more or less independently.”
Ms. Marton strips away this deliberate ambiguity. There is no doubt, she says, that Shamir and his co-leaders imposed a death sentence on Bernadotte and selected a four-man squad whose trigger man was one Yehoshua Cohen.
Yes and now the Times restores that ambiguity.
In her book, A Death in Jerusalem, Marton quotes a Haaretz report:
“the decision to assassinate Bernadotte… was taken at a meeting of the Lehi [Stern Gang] Central Committee in which Yitzhak Shamir, former Lehi commander, participated. Who pulled the trigger is less important, [Shamir] said in another place, what is important is that it was the Lehi Central Committee which decided on the assassination.”
She goes on to say that Shamir was the one man with no “milk in his veins”:
[T]hose Israelis who have studied both the case and the man in the context of their country’s history insist Shamir was the key player. “It takes a strong man to give such an order,” says Shabtai Teveth [Ben-Gurion biographer]. … Shamir is such a man.”
Not only has Yitzhak Shamir… never disavowed his role in the murder of the mediator; he has frequently stated that his time as Lehi commaner was the best time of his life.
The Stern Gang was afraid that Ben-Gurion would accede to the U.N. and Bernadotte to give up Jerusalem. Marton says Shamir’s co-conspirator Israel Eldad “regards the murder of Bernadotte as one of Lehi’s [Stern gang's] great achievements. In his view, it saved Jerusalem from the Arabs.”From Marton’s book, in the weeks before Bernadotte was killed:
In his new plan, Jerusalem would belong neither to Israel nor to the Arabs, but would be internationalized along the original UN proposal. All of the fertile Galilee would go to Israel, while Ben-Gurion’s beloved Negev, would, in return, go to Transjordan.
Here is a related entry from the late NYT foreign affairs columnist C.L. Sulzberger’s diary, A Long Row of Candles:
August 24, 1948
On July 22 Bernadotte told a few people confidentially in Rhodes that he foresaw the following ultimate solution for Palestine:
There will be a Jewish state, no matter what else happens. Its boundaries will have to be radically altered to proved a more compact and workable state. Its Arab neighbors must be given an ironclad UN guarantee against any move to expand.
Bernadotte was murdered a month later. So much for a compact state and limits on expansion. Israel got the Negev and much of Jerusalem.
Israeli court issues 54 life sentences against Hamas official Ibrahim Hamed
RAMALLAH, (PIC)– The Israeli military court of Ofer prison issued on Sunday morning 54 life prison terms against senior Hamas official Ibrahim Hamed without proving any charge leveled by the prosecutor against him.
Hamed, from Silwad town east of Ramallah city, was captured in May 2006 after a pursuit for 10 years. He is accused by the Israeli intelligence of being responsible for carrying out deadly attacks against Israelis.
His trial lasted for more than six years during which the Israeli courts failed to condemn him for lack of evidence.
Hamed refused to recognize the sentences issued against him, describing them as political par excellence and the Israeli courts as illegitimate.
His lawyer Ra’fat Hamed said the court verdict was based on recommendations from the Israeli intelligence agency, and not on legal evidence.
The lawyer affirmed that his client was never affected by the unjust sentence and is in high spirits.
(networkedblogs.com / 01.07.2012)
|ATFP President, Ziad Asali|
by Ziad Asali
I recount this not to bewail my fate or dwell on the past. The four generations of Palestinians who have lived and died in refugee camps are the real face of the Palestinian tragedy. It is fitting and proper to honor historical truths, but also to learn the lessons they teach us.
Israelis and Palestinians are two peoples with traumatic histories. We must never forget them. But we must not be held hostage by history either. We must care more about the future of our grandchildren than the past of our grandparents, or even ourselves.
We must work together to build a future in which both peoples can enjoy the rights, responsibilities and dignity of citizenship and self-determination. There is only one way to actually accomplish this: by ending the occupation and creating a Palestinian state to live alongside Israel. Palestinians must recognize and accept Israel, a legitimate member state of the U.N. The Palestinians must have one place on earth, the territories occupied in 1967, where they can live freely as first-class citizens in an independent state. There is no other way to end the cycle of bloodshed, pain and hatred.
To accomplish this, half measures and partial acknowledgment are insufficient. Both peoples must fully recognize each other’s national rights and states.
Since we established the American Task Force on Palestine in 2003, I have been criticized for being “too soft on Israel,” mostly by those who seek to lecture me about the Nakba and trumpet their own Palestinian “patriotic credentials.” In an insightful comment about my attendance at a recent Israeli Independence Day event, a distinguished Palestinian American friend of mine noted, “You weren’t celebrating the exodus of 800,000 Palestinians, or the destruction of Palestine, or the Nakba, but keeping the face of Palestine alive, and keeping the door for negotiations and human contact open.”
I understand the anger that the memory of the Nakba provokes, especially among young people. I remember what it felt like on the eve of war in 1967. We were excited at the prospect of the liberation of Palestine that would allow those of us who became refugees in 1948 to go back home. But this war in fact made me a refugee once again.
In the ensuing years, I have come to recognize that the wars of 1948 and 1967, like bookends holding together volumes on a shelf, form the practical margins for resolving the conflict. The Arabs were unable to prevent the Jewish people from establishing Israel in 1948. But Israel cannot incorporate the Palestinian territory and population conquered in 1967 without losing both its Jewish and its democratic character. That is why only a two-state agreement, recognizing the legitimacy and limitations of both national projects, offers a conflict-ending solution.
Our histories and narratives are precious. They must not become political bargaining chips, or the subject of negotiations. Palestinians and Israelis will not embrace each other’s narratives, nor should they abandon their own. They don’t need each other to confirm their own identities. What they need is a workable, ironclad, conflict-ending arrangement to allow them to live side-by-side in peace. Hearts as well as minds must change to make this possible.
The only way to honor our tragic histories is to create a future for our children free of man-made tragedy. This means making peace fully, completely and without reservation, between Israel and Palestine.
The European sanctions — including a ban on imports of Iranian oil by EU states and measures that make it difficult for other countries to trade with Iran — were enacted earlier this year but mainly came into effect on July 1.
They are designed to break Iran’s economy and force it to curb nuclear work that Western countries say is aimed at producing an atomic weapon. Reporting by Reuters has shown in recent months that the sanctions have already had a significant effect on Iran’s economy.
Israel says it could attack Iran if diplomacy fails to force Tehran to abandon its nuclear aims. The United States also says military force is on the table as a last resort, but US officials have repeatedly encouraged the Israelis to be patient while new sanctions take effect.
Washington said the EU’s oil ban might force Tehran to give ground at the next round of nuclear talks, scheduled for this week in Istanbul.
Announcing three days of missile tests in the coming week, Revolutionary Guards General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said the exercises should be seen as a message “that the Islamic Republic of Iran is resolute in standing up to … bullying, and will respond to any possible evil decisively and strongly.”
Any attack on Iran by Israel would be answered resolutely: “If they take any action, they will hand us an excuse to wipe them off the face of the earth,” said Hajizadeh, head of the Guards’ airborne division, according to state news agency IRNA.
The missile tests will target mock-ups of air bases in the region, Hajizadeh said, adding that its ability to strike US bases in the Gulf protects Iran from US support for Israel.
“US bases in the region are within range of our missiles and weapons, and therefore they certainly will not cooperate with the regime (Israel),” he told IRNA.
Iran has repeatedly unnerved oil markets by threatening reprisals if it were to be attacked or its trade disrupted.
The threat against Israel echoed words President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke in 2005, saying Israel “must be wiped off the page of time” — a phrase often translated as “wiped off the map” and cited by Israel to show how allowing Iran to get nuclear arms would be a threat to its existence.
The EU ban on Iranian oil imports directly deprives Iran of a market that bought 18 percent of its exports a year ago. The sanctions also bar EU companies from transporting Iranian crude or insuring shipments, hurting its trade worldwide.
“They signal our clear determination to intensify the peaceful diplomatic pressure,” British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement.
The EU sanctions come alongside stringent new measures imposed by Washington this year on third countries doing business with Iran. The United States welcomed the EU sanctions as an “essential part” of diplomatic efforts “to seek a peaceful resolution that addresses the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney said he hoped the sanctions would force Tehran to make concessions in technical-level talks with six world powers later this week.
“Iran has an opportunity to pursue substantive negotiations, beginning with expert level talks this week in Istanbul, and must take concrete steps toward a comprehensive resolution of the international community’s concerns with Iran’s nuclear activities,” Carney said in a statement.
The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain — foes of Iran which face it across the oil-rich Gulf — announced their own joint air force exercises on Sunday which they said would take “several days,” their state news agencies reported.
In three rounds of talks between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, the Western powers have demanded Tehran halt high-grade uranium enrichment, ship out all high-grade uranium and close a key enrichment facility.
The talks lost steam at the last meeting in Moscow last month and there was not enough common ground for negotiators to agree whether to meet again. Officials — but not political decision-makers — meet in Turkey on Tuesday.
Washington sees the sanctions and talks as a potential way out of the standoff to avert the need for military action, but has not said it would block Israel from attacking Iran.
Tehran says it has a right to peaceful nuclear technologies and is not seeking the bomb. It accuses nuclear-armed states of hypocrisy. Officials said they were taking steps to reduce the economic impact of the new sanctions.
“We are implementing programs to counter sanctions and we will confront these malicious policies,” Mehr news agency quoted Iranian central bank governor Mahmoud Bahmani as saying.
Bahmani has struggled to prevent a plunge in the value of the rial currency and steadily rising inflation as the sanctions have taken effect. He said the effects of the sanctions were tough but that Iran had built up $150 billion in foreign reserves to protect its economy.
Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said oil importing countries would be the losers if the sanctions lead to price rises.
“All possible options have been planned in government to counter sanctions,” Qasemi said on the ministry’s website.
Last Friday, another Revolutionary Guards commander, Ali Fadavi, said Iran would equip its ships in the Strait of Hormuz – the neck of the Gulf and a vital oil transit point – with shorter-range missiles.
The state has suspended a plan to forcibly relocate Bedouin from East Jerusalem to a site next to a city garbage dump. The state told the High Court of Justice two weeks ago it was putting off the plan until surveys were conducted to assess the environmental repercussions and hazards involved.
Some 2,400 Palestinian Bedouin of the Jahalin tribe petitioned the High Court against the state’s intention to evict them from their village and relocate hundreds of them, against their will, to a neighborhood barely 75 meters from a landfill site in Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem.
Since the Civil Administration prepared the relocation plan in 2005, officials in charge of environmental affairs have warned against settling people so close to an active landfill site. The officials even voted against the plan at one stage.
But the Civil Administration went ahead with the plan despite the warnings and even speeded it up at the end of last year, according to documents that the state attached to its response to the petition.
“Nowhere in the world or in Israel are people housed near an active pirate garbage dump… it’s irresponsible to place people there,” said Nitzan Levy, CEO of the Municipal Environmental Associations of Judea and Samaria.
But this too did not stop the administration from moving ahead with the plan.
Earlier this year the state promised the Bedouin leaders and senior UN officials that the Bedouin community would not be required to move next to the garbage dump, as was initially proposed.
But since then various Civil Administration inspectors and officials have told the Bedouin that their forced relocation to an unknown place was drawing closer, prompting the Bedouin to file a High Court petition against their eviction. The petition also protests the fact that the administration planned their relocation without consulting them.
The petition was submitted by five members of the recently formed Bedouin Protection Committee and the NGO, Bimkom Planners for Planning Rights.
Israel has been restricting the Bedouin’s pasture and nomadic areas in the Jordan Valley and East Jerusalem for years. Previous petitions have been filed against the authorities’ refusal to permit the Bedouin to build homes and connect their communities to infrastructure. In its reply, the state said it was planning to concentrate the Bedouins in permanent communities.
Evicting the Bedouin from the East Jerusalem area is in keeping with plans to expand the West Bank settlements in the Ma’aleh Adumim area in order to form a contiguous strip of Jewish settlements from there until Jerusalem.
(imeu.net / 01.07.2012)