Report: “Hamas Attacks Gunmen, Stops Them From Firing Shells”

The Field Follow-up Committee at the Ibin Tamima Media Center in Gaza, claimed that members of the Hamas security forces, opened fire at Salafi fighters, in northern Gaza, and wounded one of them, after preventing them from firing shells into adjacent Israeli targets, the Palestine News Network (PNN) has reported.

File - Image Palestine News Network (PNN)

The committee said that incident took place Monday when Hamas fighters and security forces chased Salafi fighters in the Tuwam area, shot and wounded one of them before moving him to an unknown location.

It added that fighters of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, have been deployed close to border areas, with the sole responsibility of preventing all armed groups from firing shells into Israel, and stated that the Interior Security Forces, running under the Ministry of Interior in Gaza, are coordinating their activities with the Al-Qassam Brigades.

A few days ago, Qassam fighters reportedly attacked Abdullah Al-Khatoumi, a Salafi fighter from An-Nusseirat refugee camp, and arrested him after inflicting several fractures to various parts of his body, the Follow-up committee claimed.

It added that dozens of Salafi fighters are currently imprisoned by Hamas in Gaza, and are facing very difficult conditions, and claimed that “some figures in Hamas and the Al-Qassam Brigades only believe in violence in countering the Salafi Jihadist groups in the Gaza Strip.”

(Source / 08.05.2013)

Al-Nakba

A series on the Palestinian ‘catastrophe’ of 1948 that led to dispossession and a conflict that endures to this day.

 

“The Nakba did not begin in 1948. Its origins lie over two centuries ago….”

So begins this four-part series on the ‘nakba’, meaning the ‘catastrophe’, about the history of the Palestinian exodus that led to the first Arab-Israeli War in 1948 and the establishment of the state of Israel.

This sweeping history starts back in 1799 with Napoleon’s attempted advance into Palestine to check British expansion and his appeal to the Jews of the world to reclaim their land in league with France.

The narrative moves through the 19th century and into the 20th century with the British Mandate in Palestine and comes right up to date in the 21st century and the ongoing ‘nakba’ on the ground.

Arab, Israeli and Western intellectuals, historians and eye-witnesses provide the central narrative which is accompanied by archive material and documents, many only recently released for the first time.

Editor’s note: Since first running on Al Jazeera Arabic in 2008, this series has won Arab and international awards and has been well received at festivals throughout the world. 

Episode 1 – Al- Nakba  

 

For the Palestinians, 1948 marks the ‘Nakba’ or the ‘catastrophe’, when hundreds of thousands were forced out of their homes.

But for Israelis, the same year marks the creation of their own state.

The tragedy in Palestine is not just a local one; it is a tragedy for the world, because it is an injustice that is a menace to the world’s peace.

Arnold Toynbee, British historian.

This series attempts to present an understanding of the events of the past that are still shaping the present.

This story starts in 1799, outside the walls of Acre in Ottoman-controlled Palestine, when an army under Napoleon Bonaparte besieged the city. It was all part of a campaign to defeat the Ottomans and establish a French presence in the region.

In search of allies, Napoleon issued a letter offering Palestine as a homeland to the Jews under French protection.  He called on the Jews to ‘rise up’ against what he called their oppressors.

Napoleon’s appeal was widely publicised. But he was ultimately defeated. In Acre today, the only memory of him is a statue atop a hill overlooking the city.

Yet Napoleon’s project for a Jewish homeland in the region under a colonial protectorate did not die, 40  years later, the plan was revived but by the British.

Editor’s note: The Al-Nakba debate on 4th June 2013 – Al Jazeera’s Marwan Bishara brings together different perspectives to debate the series and the ongoing relevance of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 

 

Al Nakba can be seen each week at the following GMT: Tuesday 2000; Friday 0600; Saturday 2000; Sunday 1200

(Source / 08.05.2013)

Health status of prisoner of Khedr Bisharat deteriorates

 

GAZA, NABLUS, (PIC)– Wa’ed Society for prisoners and ex-prisoners confirmed in a statement the deterioration in health status of Palestinian patient prisoner Khader Bisharat from the town Tammoun in the northern West Bank district of Jenin .

Wa’ed said: “The occupation authorities have not provided any treatment for the patient prisoner Bisharat, detained since 2002, in spite of the deterioration of his health condition.”

Meanwhile, Ahrar Center for Prisoners’ Studies and Human Rights called on the human rights institutions and the international organizations to intervene and act regarding the deteriorating health status of prisoner Awad Allah Eshtayeh, 47 from the town of Salem east of Nablus, who has been held in Jalama interrogation center for over a month and a half.

Fouad Khuffash, director of Ahrar Center, said that captive Awad Allah detained since 17 March is suffering from several health issues, including high blood pressure.

Eshtayeh’s Wife expressed her deep concern about the life of her husband, who has been subjected to repeated arrests over the past few years and months.

Awad Allah has been arrested several times in the occupation prisons and was one of the most prominent leaders of the captive movement during the nineties.

The Israeli forces hold in its jails nearly five thousand Palestinian prisoners, including one thousand ill prisoners.

(Source / 08.05.2013)

Watchdog: Jihadist al-Nusra chief wounded near Damascus

Members of Liwa Hamzah, an Islamist brigade hold flags of Jabhat al-Nusra.

The leader of the powerful jihadist rebel force, al-Nusra Front, was wounded by army bombing near the Syrian capital on Wednesday, a watchdog said.

Abu Mohammed al-Jawlani was wounded with other members of his group in southern Damascus province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, citing militants in the area.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP that Jawlani had been hit in the foot.

The head of Syria’s jihadist al-Nusra previously pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in an audio message, but distanced his group from claims it had merged with al-Qaeda in Iraq.

“The sons of al-Nusra Front pledge allegiance to Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri,” al-Jawlani said in the recording.

The pledge of this allegiance generated swift and unprecedented condemnation from Syrian opposition groups.

“We reject the thoughts of al-Qaeda. Syria is a country where moderate Islam prevails,” said Moaz al-Khatib, head of the main opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition.

“The bottom line is that al-Qaeda’s ideology doesn’t suit us, and rebels in Syria have to take a clear stance about this,” he added.

Khatib’s call has been echoed.

“We don’t support the ideology of al-Nusra,” said Louay Meqdad, spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army.

(Source / 08.05.2013)

U.S. unveiling extra $100 million for Syrian refugees

A boy stands in a refugee camp after fleeing the voilence in Syria.

The United States is to donate another $100 million (76 million euros) in humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees boosting its total to $510 million, the State Department said Wednesday.

The additional funds, to be officially announced Thursday by Secretary of State John Kerry, will fund U.N. programmes for shelter, food and help to refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey as well as inside Syria, it said in a statement.

Washington has also given $250 million in non-lethal assistance to the Syrian rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad, and it is by far the largest single donor to the Syrian people caught in the bloody conflict.

According to U.N. figures, there are 1.2 million registered Syrian refugees who have fled the conflict pouring over the borders into neighboring nations. As many as four million are also feared to have been displaced inside the country.

Washington voiced its “support and appreciation to those countries hosting refugees, and commends their efforts to provide protection and assistance to all who are fleeing the violence,” the State Department said.

While it called on neighboring nations to keep their borders open, it recognized “the significant strains on local populations and the economic impacts of providing aid to refugees.”

The Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, which shelters a large proportion of the 500,000 refugees inside the kingdom, is now the country’s fourth largest city.

The $100 million in new funding would help the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the U.N. children’s fund UNICEF and the U.N. organization for Palestinian refugees to provide shelter, schools, food and health care in the camps and elsewhere.

Nearly $43 million will go to Jordan to help provide some three million liters of water a day at the Zaatari camp, as well as building a new camp at Azraq and providing counseling and trauma services.

Some $32 million will be spent to help host communities who have taken in the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, which has also some 42,000 Palestinians, and “where living and social conditions are extremely challenging and needs overwhelm the available assistance,” the statement said.

Turkey, which has some 17 camps dotted along the border with Syria, will benefit from some $9.5 million, while a further $16 million will be spent inside Syria.

The funds will help “internally displaced Syrians with basic necessities such as blankets, hygiene kits, clothing, and other items,” while also aiding some 400,000 Palestinian refugees also hit by the violence.

Kerry was to officially announce the aid at the end of a four-day overseas trip to Moscow and Rome, aimed at trying to find a way to end the Syria conflict.

(Source / 08.05.2013)

Syrian opposition insists on Assad’s departure before any deal

Syrian opposition insists on Assad’s departure before any deal

Syria’s main opposition National Coalition on Wednesday said any political settlement to the country’s two-year-old conflict must start with President Bashar al-Assad’s ouster, implicitly rejecting a U.S.-Russian initiative for dialogue with the regime.

U.N.-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, meanwhile, hailed the agreement between Washington and Moscow to push both sides in the Syrian conflict to end the bloodshed and sit down for talks.

“The National Coalition welcomes all international efforts which call for a political solution to achieve the aspirations of the Syrian people and their hope for a democratic state, so long as they begin with the departure of Bashar al-Assad and his regime,” the opposition umbrella group said.

The response could be a blow to the U.S.-Russian initiative, which is based on an international deal agreed in Geneva last year that makes no mention of Assad stepping down.

The opposition has long insisted that the embattled president cannot stay on, but the regime insists that Assad’s future will be decided in elections, with a presidential vote scheduled for 2014.

“This is the first hopeful news concerning that unhappy country in a very long time,” Brahimi said of the deal announced by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russia counterpart Sergei Lavrov after talks in Moscow on Tuesday.

“The statements made in Moscow constitute a very significant first step forward. It is nevertheless only a first step,” said Brahimi, who an aide said has been mulling resignation over the apparent absence of a political track to resolve a war that has killed more than 70,000 people.

“There is every reason to expect” backing for the accord from the remaining U.N. Security Council permanent members” – Britain, China and France, the veteran Algerian diplomat added.

“It is equally important that the entire region mobilizes in the support of the process.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Wednesday he will fly to the Russian resort of Sochi on Friday to discuss the Syrian conflict with President Vladimir Putin.

The U.S.-Russian deal was announced at a joint press conference, with Lavrov saying the two countries were ready to use all their resources to bring “the government and opposition to the negotiating table.”

“We agreed that Russia and the United States will encourage both the Syria government and opposition groups to find a political solution,” he said.

Lavrov and Kerry said they hoped they could convene an international conference by the end of May to build on a deal agreed by world powers in Geneva last June for a peaceful solution in Syria.

The Geneva deal, which calls for a transitional government but makes no mention of Assad’s fate, “should be the roadmap… by which the people of Syria can find their way to the new Syria and in which the bloodshed, the killing, the massacres can end,” Kerry said.

“The alternative is that there’s even more violence; the alternative is that Syria heads even closer to the abyss, if not over the abyss and into chaos,” he warned.

Kerry said only the Assad regime and the opposition can determine the make-up of a transitional government to shepherd the war-torn nation towards democratic elections.

“It’s impossible for me as an individual to understand how Syria could possibly be governed in the future by the man who has committed the things that we know have taken place,” Kerry said.

“But I’m not going to decide that tonight, and I’m not going to decide that in the end.”

Russia has long accused the West of aggravating the Syrian conflict by seeking to topple Assad, whose regime has yet to react to the initiative announced in Moscow.

And the U.S. and other Western states have accused Russia of failing to use its influence with the regime to halt the bloodshed, and of keeping up military deliveries to Assad.

U.N. efforts were under way on Wednesday to free four peacekeepers from the Philippines who were seized by a rebel group on the Golan in the second such abduction of Filipino forces in two months.

Manila called their detention a “gross violation” of international law and urged the Security Council to “use its influence for the early and safe release” of the four.

On the ground, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels shot down a regime fighter jet over the northern province of Aleppo.

The Observatory also reported that regime troops had stormed the rebel-held town of Khirbet Ghazaleh in southern Daraa province, taking large parts of it, adding that fighting was ongoing.

In other developments, the Internet was restored in Syria, residents and state media said, after a two-day blackout that official media blamed on a technical fault.

(Source / 08.05.2013)

IOF storms house of martyr Salah Darwaza and arrests his son

NABLUS, (PIC)– Ahrar center for Prisoners’ studies and human rights condemned the arrest of the son of martyr Salah Darwaza, Ezzedine aged 19, from Nablus.

Um Al-Noor, the martyr Salah Darwaza’s wife, told Ahrar center for Prisoners studies and human rights that a large number of Israeli occupation soldiers stormed after midnight her house after blowing off the doors, and arrested her son Ezzedine.

She said that Ezzedine is a student at Al-Najah National University and that he has been preparing for the final exams, scheduled to start on Wednesday morning. However due to this arrest, he has been deprived from completing his studies.

For his part; Fuad Al-Khuffash, Ahrar center’s director, called on the human rights organizations to immediately intervene in order to pressure the occupation to release captive Ezzeddine Darwaza and all the detainees and to stop raiding West Bank cities.

The human rights center has also reported that Israeli occupation forces arrested four Palestinians in different areas in the West Bank.

(Facebook / 08.05.2013)

Kheir insha’Allah

By Marianna Laarif

Er was eens een koning die een minister had, en die minister vertouwde altijd op Allah Subhana wa ta’ala en alles wat hem overkwam goed vond. Op een dag sneed de koning per ongeluk zichzelf in zijn handen, en verloor een pink. Hij bloedde heel erg. De minister was naast hem en zag alles gebeuren en zei: ‘Kheir, kheir insha Allah’ (goed, goed als Allah dat wil). De koning werd woedend en zei: ‘Hoe kun je dit goed noemen, ik heb een vinger verloren en jij vindt dat goed?!’. ‘Sluit deze man op’, zei de koning tegen de bewakers. Toen de bewakers hem meenamen zei de minister: ‘Kheir kheir insha Allah.’ De koning hoorde hem en schudde zijn hoofd en keek de andere kant op.

Dagen later was de koning aan het jagen in een verlaten woud, hij liet zijn mannen en spullen achter, en ging alleen op pad. In het woud kwam de koning een volk tegen, die een beeld van een afgod aanbaden. Het was feest ter ere van dat beeld en daarom zochten ze naar een offer. Ze zagen de koning en pakten hem als offer, maar hun priester merkte dat de koning geen pink had en zei: ‘Dit offer is niet volmaakt, de man mist een vinger.’ De koning werd vrijgelaten en was dolgelukkig.

Toen de koning weer in het paleis was zei hij tegen de bewakers: ‘Laat de minister vrij, en laat hem naar mij komen.’ Toen de minister bij de koning aankwam zei deze: ‘Nu begrijp ik waarom jij kheir kheir insha Allah zei toen ik mijn vinger verloor. Want ik ben van een volk die mij als offer wilde slachten ontsnapt, omdat ik een vinger miste.’ De minister glimlachte en dankte Allah. De koning zei, maar ik heb nog een vraag voor je: ‘Waarom zei je kheir kheir insha Allah toen je naar de gevangenis moest?’ De man antwoordde: ‘Ik ben je minister en moet altijd bij je zijn, als ik niet naar de gevangenis meegenomen was, dan moest ik met jou naar het bos gaan en dan was ik opgeofferd in plaats van jou, omdat ik geen vinger miste.’

De koning lachte en zei: ALHAMDU LILAH, Kheir Kheir insha Allah

Expanding the Legal Paradigm for Palestine: An International Law Conference at Birzeit University

 

[A view of the separation wall in the West Bank, Palestine. Image by Wall in Palestine (Flickr)][A view of the separation wall in the West Bank, Palestine. Image by Wall in Palestine

The settlement project in the West Bank is not just a collection of rickety caravans installed on Palestinian farmland that can be dismantled upon the signing of a peace agreement.  Costing seventeen billion USD and populated by more than half a million Israelis, this enterprise has become a huge colonialist and real estate enterprise. It sprawls across twelve million square meters of roads, homes and factories on some of the most important Palestinian geographic and agricultural land. This construction includes 32,000 apartments, 23,000 private homes, and an additional 868 public facilities to satiate the Israeli settlers’ social and economic needs. A simple look at the list of public facilities (most segregated for Israeli Jews only), exposes the extensive development and investment of the settlements industry: 321 sports facilities, 344 kindergartens, 211 schools, 717 industrial structures, 187 shopping centers, 21 libraries, and 15 banquet halls. These figures are based on a 2010 Israeli study on the West Bank that excludes East Jerusalem, which would have made these figures even greater.

Many of us living inside the West Bank are witnessing the reality (that is perhaps just too difficult to swallow); that Israel’s prolonged occupation is very much entrenched. It is here to stay, and worse, the yet unincorporated land is  too spread out and disconnected to create a viable Palestinian state. Some international actors also recognize this reality.  Richard Falk, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, wrote in his report in August 2010:

After more than four decades, it is appropriate to conclude that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories has ceased to be temporary, and acknowledge that it has become tantamount to permanent.

The current Palestinian leadership seems to be acknowledging this entrenched reality as well.  Rather than challenge it, its solution is to abandon sovereignty over these vital and organic West Bank land expanses through the legally questionable ‘land swaps.’Others are not giving up so quickly. Many political, academic and civil society actors have been challenging the dominant two-state framework and the strategy of endless engagement in a so-called peace process and are examining other political paradigms. On the legal front however, this reckoning has been slow to catch up. International law advocates, organizations, and institutions along with some in the Palestinian leadership are still heavily reliant on an occupation law paradigm o scrutinize Israel’s colonizing activities, to define Palestinian rights and support a seemingly never-ending peace process.

International Law Playing Catch-Up

The Palestine movement has relied on legal paradigms to support its political positions and legal claims since the 1948 Nakba.  In its role of ‘supporting actor’, the legal paradigm is important because it provides legal legitimacy to the Palestine political claim. In addition, it offers internationally acceptable framework by which to hold Israel and other States accountable for violations and failing to implement Palestinian rights.  In the early 1950’s for example, Arab States demanded the return of all Palestinian refugees not only in light of UN General Assembly Resolution 194, but also in the framework of implementing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

With regard to the repatriation of refugees the delegations of the Arab States maintained that there could be no limitations on the return of the refugees. In making its proposal, the Commission has not only contravened paragraph 11 of General Assembly resolution 194 (III), which set no limit on the right of the refugees to return, but had also sanctioned a flagrant injustice and had disregarded a right confirmed by the Declaration of Human Rights… As long as Israel refused to allow the return of the refugees, there could be no peace in the Middle East.

In the 1964 PLO charter, the legal paradigm of the right to self-determination formed the basis of the PLO’s raison d’etre to reject the UN Partition Plan.

Article 17: The partitioning of Palestine, which took place in 1947, and the establishment of Israel are illegal and null and void, regardless of the loss of time, because they were contrary to the will of the Palestinian people and its natural right to its homeland, and were in violation of the basic principles embodied in the Charter of the United Nations, foremost among which is the right to self-determination.

A Narrowing of the Paradigm

UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution 242 effectively reduced “Palestine” to the 1967 militarily occupied parts and marginalized most Palestinian rights outside of the occupied territory. When the PLO began accepting UNSC 242 in the late 1980’s, the broader legal paradigms that covered most, if not all Palestinians, also began to be supplanted by a much narrower International Humanitarian Law of Occupation (“IHL”) paradigm. This fragmentation deepened during the Oslo Process during the nineties and given further effect by the recent admission of Palestine as a non-member Observer State in 2012.

The IHL occupation law paradigm is based on  the Annex to the 1907 Hague Convention (IV) Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land and  the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention-  and its additional protocol. These laws  are  designed to protect civilians during hostilities and military occupations. An occupation per se is not illegal under international law; IHL focuses on the extent of the occupier’s authorities and privileges, and its obligations to protect and provide for the civilians under its occupation.  The privileges and authorities granted to the occupying power are premised on the assumption that the occupation is “temporary” and that “l’ordre et la vie publics” (public order and safety) should not fall into chaos during the period between occupation and a peace agreement. Occupation law  allows for the suspension of national sovereignty and self-determination and other economic rights during the occupation on the same premise: that this would be for a short period until a peace agreement is arranged and the occupying power withdraws.

Occupation law could be a useful tool to protect Palestinian civilians under a short-term military occupation, if its rules were enforced. IHL’s principles prohibiting settlements, annexation, transfer of populations and extensive destruction are useful in justifying criticism and non-recognition of Israel’s policies. However, today’s reality is not just a short-term occupation, but something clearly entrenched and probably illegal.

While there are enforcement remedies for certain serious violations under occupation law like torture and murder, there is no clear remedy to address prolonged occupation and illegal colonization. No mechanism exists under The Hague Regulations or the Geneva Convention neither to end the occupation nor to declare that the Israeli kind of prolonged occupation has become illegal. The occupation law paradigm is dependent on a peace agreement to end the occupation. When that peace agreement fails to end the occupation, as in the case of Palestine, this law does not provide an equal and alternative relief. Effectively, the ‘temporary occupation’ premise remains in effect indefinitely. Self-determination and national sovereignty are not just temporarily suspended, but progressively impeded.

The occupation law paradigm as applied in the Palestine case, validates the necessity of having a peace process. Those advocating this paradigm in the Palestinian leadership and the international community are compelling the rest of Palestine’s advocates to wait (indefinitely) until this peace agreement appears to make the occupation illegal and terminable. Jurists concerned with advancing Palestinian rights must question why they must wait and rely on this IHL paradigm, when there are other legal paradigms and remedies to implement concurrently, that can outlaw the occupation and thus make Israel’s every move in the occupied territories illegal and without any IHL justification.

Occupation Law’s Shortcomings Beyond Validating a Never-Ending Peace Process

IHL has other weaknesses that should cause jurists to question its efficacy to regulate Israeli actions and advance Palestinian rights. Most important, while it contains several enforcement mechanisms for violations of the Convention,  State parties  have never really shown the political will to use these and enforce IHL in the occupied territories.  Rather, enforcement of IHL is routinely presented by the international community as prejudicial to the “peace process” and the Palestinian leadership has often bought into this position. A vivid example of this occurred in June 1999, when the first ever international meeting was convened for the State Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention on Israeli violations in the occupied territories – a meeting that had taken years to materialize. Political pressure on the PLO, lead them to agree not to object to adjourning the meeting after fifteen minutes. A statement released by the Conference later stated that the meeting was postponed  “taking in consideration of the improved atmosphere in the Middle East as a whole” – that being the election of Ehud Barak of Israel’s Labour party replacing Benjamin Netanyahu of the Likud party Ironically, it was under Ehud Barak’s same leadership that many severe violations of IHL occurred subsequently, including large expansion of settlements, and also aerial assassinations and bombings of civilian sites when the Second Intifada broke out a year later.

Another problem with the dominance of IHL in the legal paradigm is that while there is a reduction of the occupiers’ obligations a year after cessation of hostilities, there is no significant reduction of its privileges and “military necessity” authorities. This is the case even when the occupation becomes protracted and takes on illegal characteristics like annexation and discrimination. This lacuna in IHL has provided a base for Israel to assert (and Israeli courts to legalize) an indefinite set of governmental authorities and privileges that it uses to expand the settlements and limit Palestinian political and economic development. Examples of these include: Israel’s ongoing control of building and planning in Area C and East Jerusalem, its continued use of military seizure orders to take large amounts of land to build the Wall and settler roads, and its annual quarrying of  seventeen million tons of Palestinian stone- over nineteen percent of which is taken to Israel.

Framing the Palestine problem as primarily an international humanitarian law issue also helps justify the international humanitarian assistance industry in the occupied territories worth hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer monies worldwide. In 2013 alone, the humanitarian industry requested from donors 400 million USD to implement 157 humanitarian projects – only17 by  local NGOs and the remaining 140 by international NGOs and  by UN agencies. Twenty million USD was requested by UN agencies twenty million USD just to coordinate and support this assistance. Unlike other types of international assistance, the humanitarian assistance has no real long-term benefit for Palestine, since it basically aims to alleviate symptoms of the ostensible humanitarian crisis, and not address its root causes, in this case Israel’s colonization enterprise. International donor states state that they fund this “Band-Aid” type of assistance  to prevent a deterioration of the situation. Yet the more time that passes and the international donor states fail to end the Israeli occupation, this assistance effectively serves as a compensation for their political impotence in resolving the root causes of the problem.

Moving Beyond Occupation Law

As historic Palestine has become completely fragmented, so too has its legal paradigm. Political and legal attention has been narrowed into the IHL paradigm that cannot end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank without a peace agreement, and, irrespective of the peace process, fails to address the rest of the Palestinian cause.

What is needed is to incorporate relevant IHL principles and enforcement mechanisms into a more comprehensive and relevant legal paradigm. Such a paradigm could include international principles against colonialism and the Apartheid Convention. If applied to Israel’s actions, for example in a second Advisory Opinion form the International Court of Justice,  both of these paradigms could advance the “illegalization” of the occupation, and thus justify the demand for its termination even before a peace agreement is reached. Another paradigm to include is the right to self-determination, which is defined as the right of all peoples to “freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” “Freely determine” should encompass the elimination of all physical and bureaucratic barriers for Palestinians to meet, discuss and choose their political status including their representatives. Relevant to Palestinians worldwide, the right to self-determination is a paradigm that fosters unity for all Palestinians. Under international law, the right to self-determination is an inalienable right.  It is considered the primary human right- a precondition to the enjoyment of all other human rights.

An Advisory Opinion  is only one tactic to move forward. Enforcement of some of these principles does not have to depend solely on the good will of international parties.  International civil society and Palestinians themselves can utilize these paradigms to challenge the current IHL discourse, push their leadership to adopt the broader paradigms and take creative actions to encourage a paradigm shift..

On 8 May, an international law conference will take place at Bir Zeit University, which will address these very issues. The conference entitled “Law and Politics: Options and Strategies of International Law for Palestine,” is organized by the Birzeit Institute of Law, the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem and the Decolonizing Palestine Project. The conference aims to:

…create space for Palestinians to discuss options and strategies of international law from a theoretical and practical perspective. It will examine the currently dominant international humanitarian law paradigm, its merits, limitations and possible alternatives. Against the background of Palestine’s recent admission to the United Nations as a non-member observer state, it will critically reflect on the role and impact of the dominant paradigm on the Palestinian people, examine alternative paradigms appropriate for the analysis of Israel’s regime of prolonged occupation, and discuss practical, legal and political strategies that can build respect of the human rights of the Palestinian people, in particular the rights to self-determination and reparation, and the respective international obligations of Israel and third parties.

Both the present and former UN Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied- Mr. Richard Falk and Mr. John Dugard respectively – will participate and present papers. This conference is expected to take the first steps towards transforming the Palestine legal paradigm to a more comprehensive, relevant and effective legal strategy for Palestine.

(Source / 08.05.2013)

Israeli Police Detain Top Jerusalem Muslim Cleric

JERUSALEM — Israeli police arrested on Wednesday the top Palestinian Muslim religious leader in Jerusalem but released him without charge after questioning him about a fracas between Palestinians and Israelis at al-Aqsa mosque.

Israel’s rare move against Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, came a day after it celebrated the anniversary of its 1967 capture of East Jerusalem. Husseini’s detention was widely condemned by Palestinian leaders as an infringement of religious freedom in the holy city.

Hussein serves under the Palestinian Authority which exercises limited rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank as well as neighboring Jordan, long a custodian over Jerusalem’s Muslim holy places.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Hussein was arrested to answer questions about a “public disturbance” on Tuesday near al-Aqsa mosque, which overlooks Judaism’s Western Wall.

The incident began, Rosenfeld said, when Israeli police detained a Palestinian who wanted to enter the plaza but refused to present his identification card.

It developed into a scuffle in which Muslim worshippers threw chairs at Jewish visitors at the site, he added.

Rosenfeld said Hussein was questioned for six hours and released without charge.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the detention, calling it “a flagrant challenge to the freedom of worship” and called for Hussein’s immediate release. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said it was a “grave escalation in Israel’s relentless violations of international law.”

Israel annexed East Jerusalem after the 1967 war and considers all of the city its capital in a move that has never been recognized internationally. The Palestinians say East Jerusalem must be the capital of their future state.

Al-Aqsa mosque is one of the most sensitive sites in the city. Many Muslims see it as the third holiest place after Mecca and Medina, believing the Prophet Mohammad ascended into heaven from the spot during a night journey to Jerusalem.

It is also the most sacred site in Judaism, with Jews revering it as the place where biblical King Solomon built the first temple there 3,000 years ago. A second temple was razed by the Romans in 70 AD.

The future status of Jerusalem is seen as one of the most difficult topics to be resolved in any negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Direct talks between the two sides broke down in 2010. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is seeking to revive the discussions and was due to meet Israel’s chief negotiator Tzipi Livni in Rome later on Wednesday.

(Source / 08.05.2013)