81 Jordanian MPs: Recall the Jordanian ambassador in Israel

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AMMAN, (PIC)– Eighty-one Jordanian MPs called on their government to direct a strongly worded message to the Israeli ambassador about the calls by extremist Jews to prevent the Jerusalemites from performing their religious rites in Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The MPs signed a parliamentary memorandum submitted on Wednesday to the Parliament Speaker, condemning the statements by Jewish extremists and rightist MKs that call for preventing the Muslims from praying at the Aqsa Mosque in order to leave space for Jews to hold their celebrations.

They called for supporting the position of the Arab MKs who are calling for dismissing the extremist MKs responsible for these statements. They also asked the government to recall the Jordanian ambassador in Tel Aviv.

(Source / 19.09.2013)

Al-Aqsa Faces Biggest Threat Since Occupation of Jerusalem

 

A Palestinian man walks in front of a mural on the theme of return of refugees to their land in what is now Israel in the southern Gaza Strip refugee camp of Rafah on 8 May 2012.

Not a day passes, it seems, without the occupation issuing some new regulation to Judaize al-Aqsa mosque. Today, Jews are being given unfettered access to one of Islam’s holiest sites, while restriction on Muslims increase by the day.

Ramallah – Thirteen years ago this month, when former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon brazenly entered the Haram al-Sharif, where the al-Aqsa mosque is located, he sparked a Palestinian intifada that lasted several years. Today, Jewish settlers enter the Muslim holy site at will, with legal cover from the highest echelons of the Zionist state.

Alongside calls for mass marches in Jerusalem on the occasion of the Sukkot Jewish holiday next week, the Knesset issued a law allowing “Jews to worship on the Temple Mount.” In a turbulent meeting of the Knesset’s committee for internal affairs last Monday, September 16, members voted to allow “Jewish worshipers” to enter the Temple Mount throughout the holidays, which last for a week.

All efforts have been made to isolate Jerusalem from the adjoining Palestinian areas, forcing it to face the impending disaster alone. This has been done by increasing the number of checkpoints that Palestinians from the West Bank must cross to enter the occupied city, while imposing age restrictions on those within the area occupied in 1948 wishing to attend Friday prayers at the holy mosque.Israeli plans to divide the Haram al-Sharif between Jews and Muslims – as they did with Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron many years ago – are no longer a matter of conjecture among Israeli politicians, with Knesset members calling for designating certain days of worship for Jews and others for Muslims, thus laying the foundation for the eventual division of one of Islam’s holiest sites.

Some Israeli MPs have even begun to discuss the idea of allowing Jews into the mosque compound at all times, with access to all entrances available. This is as the occupation authorities plan to close all checkpoints leading from the West Bank and Gaza on the occasion of the Sukkot holiday, as they had done recently during Yom Kippur.

Palestinians are concerned that during this period, Jewish settlers and militants will be given free reign to enter the Haram. These concerns were only reinforced by calls within the Knesset that only Jews be allowed to enter the holy site during Jewish holidays.

Over Yom Kippur, the occupation rehearsed this scenario by restricting Muslims below the age of 50 from entering the mosque, while squares within the Haram were opened before Jewish settlers.

(Source / 19.09.2013)

Noted Palestinian human rights lawyer jailed without charge

Anas.Barghouti

Human rights attorney Anas Barghouti, held without charge in Israeli administrative detention.

As far as anyone knows human rights defender Anas Barghouti will finally find out why he was jailed when he goes to trial early next week. He was arrested last Sunday at a checkpoint near Bethlehem ominously referred to by locals as the “container” because it has a reputation of soldiers holding, then transporting Palestinians—often landing them in an Israeli prison.

This is what happened to Barghouti. He was taken to an Israeli detention facility, then another one for questioning—a fact that is further confused because Barghouti, like many Palestinians captured at the “container,” has not been charged with any crime. And Barghouti himself is a prominent attorney, having built a reputation representing Palestinian political prisoners incarcerated by the Palestinian Authority. He is also a staple activist in Ramallah, a regular at protests for Gaza, or against negotiations.

“He really is a human rights defender,” said colleague Randa Wahbe, an advocacy officer at the prisoner rights legal group Addameer. “He is well loved and he is constantly working” in both a private practice as pro-bono with Addameer.

Addameer, Barghouti’s former employer released a statement yesterday with details on his whereabouts:

‘Bargouthi is currently being held in a detention and interrogation center in Etzion settlement in the southern West Bank, where he is being held in inhumane conditions. In the first 36 hours of his detention, he was only given two meals, not allowed to shower, change his clothing or given any personal hygiene products.’

What’s unclear is why the advocate is sharing the fate of his clients. When I spoke to Addameer, they just didn’t have any more details other than his court date. “We don’t know anything else,” said Wahbe.

Palestinians held administrative detention do not have the right to know what evidence is presented against them, what suspicions are levied on them, or how long they will be locked up. Even more, under military code the Israelis can pass new restrictions without disclosing them to Palestinians, which leads to the occupied West Bank residents breaking tenets they did not know existed.

Such was the case with a colleague of Barghouti, Ayman Nasser, a legal researcher who was held in administrative detention until he was finally charged after one year with “prisoner solidarity and support.” Nasser was sentenced to 13 months prison. The judge said it was because he attended a demonstration for the then hunger-striking prisoners. Yet at the time when I interviewed his co-workers and legal defense team, they said during interrogation the Israeli authorities mostly asked Nasser about his job.

In court Nasser objected. ”I am a human rights defender who supports the Palestinian prisoners,” he said noting that he was ostensibly being punished for NGO work, political NGO work, but advocacy nonetheless.  “I represent my opinions in the public media. My thoughts are not secret, they are public, and everyone knows them.”

Then a few months later under the cover of night the Israeli military raided Addameer’s office in the upscale Ramallah neighborhood of Masyoun.

Barghouti will appear at Ofer military court on Sunday, perhaps then he will know what offense is being leaned against him.

(Source / 19.09.2013)

FSA: Syrian army gave chemical weapons to Hezbollah

The Free Syrian army alleges that the Syrian regime has transferred enough chemical weapons to Lebanon, via Hezbollah, to
The Free Syrian army alleges that the Syrian regime has transferred enough chemical weapons to Lebanon, via Hezbollah, to “kill half the population”. Here, bodies are shown in a makeshift morgue after they were killed by a chemical attack on the suburbs of Damascus on August 21.

The Free Syrian Army has urged the United States, Russia and the UN Security Council to expand the investigation of the UN inspectors into the Lebanese territories, al-Joumhouria newspaper reported Thursday.

The daily said that the FSA made the request after receiving “evidence that the Syrian regime had transferred two trucks of chemical weapons to Hezbollah around three months ago.”

A UN report released Monday confirmed that chemical weapons were used on Aug. 21 outside Damascus but did not ascribe blame.

The US, Britain and France cited evidence in the report to declare President Bashar Assad’s government responsible. Russia called the report “one-sided” and said it has “serious reason to suggest that this was a provocation” by the rebels fighting the Assad regime in Syria’s civil war.

The chief weapons inspector said Wednesday that his team, which went to Syria last month and drafted the report, will return to Syria soon to investigate various accusations against the regime and opposition.

Al-Joumhouria said the FSA claims that the chemical weapons allegedly transferred to Hezbollah are “capable of killing half of the Lebanese population and threaten the security and safety of the region.”

The rebels also claimed that the weapons are stored in Mount Sannine, Oyoun Orghosh, the outskirts of Yammouneh and a depot near the town of Meshmesh, al-Joumhouria said.

(Source / 19.09.2013)

Settlers open fire toward shepherds south of Nablus

NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers opened fire on Thursday toward Palestinian shepherds south of Nablus near Itamar settlement, a Palestinian Authority official said.

Ghassan Daughlas, who monitors settlements activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that a number of Israeli settlers from Itamar opened fire toward shepherds from Yanoun, a small village.

Settlers opened fire to keep them away from al-Dawiya area which is located near the settlement.

The settlers were accused of poisoning livestock in the area days earlier, he said.

(Source / 19.09.2013)

London “terrorism experts” have strong links to Israeli establishment

Let’s drink to apartheid: Benjamin Netanyahu has made openly racist comments at the annual Herzliya conference

Duping the media isn’t difficult. All you have to do is give yourself an impressive title and claim to be working for a prestigious institution.

The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) in King’s College London excels at such deception. Its staff are treated as authoritative sources on “terrorism,” without there being any explanation of their connections to the Israeli establishment.

Though headquartered in England, the ICSR was established as a partnership between the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and a few other universities. Each year the Herzliya center hosts a major conference on “security,” at which powerful business and political figures discuss how to reinforce Israeli apartheid.

At the 2003 conference, Benjamin Netanyahu, then Israel’s finance minister, tried to defendthe wall being built in the West Bank by contending it would help prevent a “demographic spill-over” of Palestinians into present-day Israel.

Shiraz Maher, a “senior research fellow,” at the ICSR has been in demand recently as a pundit on Syria. During an appearance on Al Jazeera, he denounced the Iranian government-financed Press TV and Russia Today as “propaganda channels.”

Echoing Israel

His description wasn’t inaccurate (numerous media outlets warrant the same label). But it is telling that he implied those hostile to a Western assault on Damascus were resorting to propaganda, when he regularly parrots Israeli propaganda himself.

In a blog he writes for the right-wing British magazine The Spectator, Maher has praisedNetanyahu for bombing Syria earlier this year. In other posts, he has stated it was a “palpable falsity” to call Israel an apartheid state (he didn’t bother elaborating). And he hasurged the European Union to blacklist Hizballah as a “terrorist organization,” echoing a demand made repeatedly by Israel.

I contacted Maher to ask how he defined terrorism and if he accepted that Israel resorted to state terrorism. “I don’t see where the question is coming from,” he replied. “It’s a fairly technical legal question.”

When I asked him why he never drew attention to his Herzliya links in his articles or TV appearances, Maher said that the ICSR has “no financial relationship” with the Israeli center. Yet he would not give any details on how the ICSR is funded, telling me that I would have to put any such questions on matters to John Bew, the center’s director.

Bew did not respond to my requests for a copy of the ICSR’s accounts. Yet Bew is known to answer requests from pro-establishment journalists. In July, he was interviewed on the BBC Radio 4 program “Thinking Allowed,” where he stated “anyone who grew up in Northern Ireland, like I did, will know terrorism is not a concept” but an “objective fact.”

The slot featuring Bew lasted for a full 26 minutes. That would be considered a long time by many broadcast journalists, yet neither Bew nor the presenter availed of the opportunity to explain that he is linked to an Israeli university supportive of state violence.

(Bew, incidentally, will soon leave London for Washington, where he will take up the “Henry Kissinger chair in foreign policy” at the Library of Congress.)

Full picture?

The ICSR is registered as a charity and donations to it are tax deductible. Yet it is hard to believe that the information it has supplied to Britain’s Charity Commission gives a full picture of its resources. This indicates that it had an income of £20,000 ($32,000) in the financial year which ended in August 2012 and that it spent only £5,000 during that year.

It appears that two of the main donors to the ICSR are businessmen Edward Atkin and Henry Sweetbaum.

Atkin, who amassed a fortune from manufacturing teats for baby bottles, sponsors a scholarship scheme that brings bright young students from Israel and Arab countries to London.

Neutral?

According to the ICSR’s website, the students are able to discuss how to “further peace and understanding” in a “politically neutral environment.” This is pure spin: projects of this nature are regarded as “normalization” by many Palestinians because they promote cooperation in a situation of inequality and injustice, without acknowledging that Israel practices a form of apartheid.

It is doubtful whether or not Atkin is “politically neutral” himself (can any wealthy entrepreneur really be apolitical?). He is also a donor to the Community Security Trust, a group that has engaged in a witch-hunt against Jewish activists who speak out against Israeli apartheid.

As my colleague Asa Winstanley revealed in 2011, the CST has strayed from its official remit of monitoring anti-Semitic incidents to snoop on left-wing Jews, whom it has branded “extremist,” a term it normally reserves for the far-right.

The ICSR was founded in 2007 by Henry Sweetbaum, a former head of the building supplies firm Wickes Companies. Sweetbaum is named as a donor to King’s College London in that university’s latest annual report. He also remains the ICSR’s chairperson.

Attempts by the ICSR’s staff to distance themselves from Israel lack credibility. Boaz Ganor from the Herzliya center was another founding member of the ICSR and is still one of its official “partners.” Ganor has encouraged Israel to commit even more war crimes than it already has: in a 2006 opinion piece, he advocated both “pre-emptive and reactive strikes” against “Palestinian terror.” Civilians have been the main victims when Israel has undertaken those kinds of “strikes.”

Given they are in a “partnership” with a man who openly calls for the murder of people based on the racial group to which they belong, perhaps the media should be a little more probing the next time it gives a platform to the ICSR and its “experts.”

(Source / 19.09.2013)

The Project

We propose the construction and installation of a photovoltaic power generating plant on the Jenin hospital roof.  The plant would be specifically designed to cover the energy needs for the entire hospital, and to include storage energy components for emergency purposes.

We are proposing a small scale technical solution for the new Jenin hospital which currently struggles to overcome daily energy shortages by using expensive and non renewable oil based power generators.  The hospital is currently forced to reduce to 4 hours per day, the 24/7 services it could potentially offer a community of almost 200,000 individuals.

This plant will offer sustainable energy and help to maintain functional and reliable public health facilities, which are crucial services for the peaceful development of a society. In addition to providing a valuable service to the city of Gaza, the plant will represent a beacon of hope and a model for the long term objective of assuring decentralized energy security, and eventually sustainable prosperity in Palestine.

A seed that will grow in the sun

There are many reasons why Palestinians should make photovoltaic cells and solar energy part of their daily life. Among the major incentives is the fact that renewable energy sources will safeguard the environment. By being involved in our project, the citizens of Gaza will have the additional benefit of strengthening the community-bond around Jenin hospital. The hospital will serve the city with health care, energy supply, and symbolically pave the path toward a cleaner and more effectively sustainable means of living.

As a result of prompt action and fund rising, we expect there will be positive long term benefits that will arise from a society flourishing in a safe environment. When basic medical services and energy supply are provided, the resulting increase in the quality of life will allow fathers to go to work, mothers to give birth to healthy babies, and children to go to school. Altogether this project represents the key for a better future for Gazan’s.

Sustainability

Once the equipment is installed and commissioned, because it is a mature technology with high reliability, it is anticipated that it will require little attention during its lifetime of 20+ years. The technology is not particularly sophisticated and local maintenance and repair will not be beyond reasonably competent qualified electricians.

Moreover a team of local electricians will be trained for an optimal maintenance of the plant. Because of the increasing implementation of PV systems throughout the world, the availability of spare parts should never be an issue. The components are guaranteed for a period of 10 years.

 

Energy 24/7 for 200,000 people

➤  Location

Jenin Hospital Gaza

➤  Community

200,000

➤  Energy Consumption

76 MWh per year

Budget:

140,000 Pounds

 

Project Design:                                                                                 

Skyline S.R.L.

 

Panels Producer

Canadian Solar

 

Yearly Energy Production

80 MWH

(Source / 19.09.2013)

Life in Gaza at a standstill after tunnels destroyed and the Rafah Crossing closed

 

  • Gaza’s residents turn off most of their lights in order to preserve electricity for use by critical services

    The Palestinian government in Gaza announced on Wednesday that it is suffering severe shortages in medicine, food and fuel.

    It also said that more than 9,500 Palestinian residents, including 4,500 students, patients and holders of foreign passports, are in urgent need to travel through the now completely closed Rafah Crossing.

    According to the government report, most of the medical services in Gaza have been halted due to the shortage of medicines that used to be smuggled from or through Egypt.

    It also said that non-urgent surgical operations in hospitals have been postponed because of the shortage of fuel that runs electricity generators.

    Municipal sources reported that their filtration plants started pouring raw sewage water into the sea because there is not enough fuel to run on.

    Minister of Local Services Mohamed Al-Farra said that the shortages of fuel are affecting the work of the 250 underground water wells and the 25 water storages. “This affects the ability to offer clean water to most households,” he warned.

    Regarding construction projects, three massive housing and road pavement projects have stopped due to the shortages of construction materials. Tens of factories also stopped working because of the shortages of fuel.

    Life in Gaza has become increasingly difficult ever since the recent Egyptian military campaign in Sinai that led to the destruction of tunnels between Egypt and Gaza and the closure of the Rafah Crossing, the only outlet into and out of Gaza.

(Source / 19.09.2013)

MOH calls on Egypt to save 1000 patients

Gaza, ALRAY – Minister of Health in Gaza Mofid Al-Mukhalalati appealed to the Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah border and save thousands of patients and the health sector as a whole that has being suffocated for about 10 consecutive weeks.

He reviewed Wednesday in a press release the impacts of the siege on the health services in Gaza, “30% of medicine were entering Gaza from Egypt and other countries through the Rafah crossing; the rate decreased to 0% and no pharmaceutical type could be allowed to the Strip,”

“The health sector has deteriorated and suffered from a severe disaster after it had achieved a great progress in reducing the deficit in the pharmaceutical inventory  to 20%. By the closure of the crossing, 148 of 500 of  basic  types of medicine run out and the number is increasing.”

“460 kinds  out of 904 of the basic medical disposables have run out added to 100 types threatened to run out in the coming period this year,” he noted.

About thousand patients including over 300 referral cases in critical conditions are prevented to enter the crossing.

The electricity outages for 12 hours a day, the lack of fuel necessary for working the electrical generators and ambulances increased and the need of fuel had risen to 360.000 liters a month.

(Source / 19.09.2013)

Where have $23 billion spent on Oslo “peace process” gone?

Yitzhak Rabin, Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat at the 13 September 1993 signing of the Oslo agreement, on the White House lawn.

“Palestinians are far worse off today than they were in 1993 using any economic or political criterion.”

That’s the startling but incontrovertible conclusion reached by Alaa Tartir and Jeremy Wildeman in a new policy brief from Al-Shabaka on the devastating effects of neoliberal – radical free-market – economic policies and failed aid strategies in Palestine since theOslo accords were signed 20 years ago this month.

Tartir and Wildeman note that:

Since the signing of the 1993 Oslo Declaration of Principles, the donor community has invested more than $23 billion into “peace and development” in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), making it one of the highest per capita recipients of non-military aid in the world. However, aid has not brought peace, development, or security for the Palestinian people, let alone justice.

And yet, after all this:

According to the income-based definition of poverty, 50 percent of Palestinians lived in poverty in 2009 and 2010, 38 percent in the West Bank and 70 percent in Gaza. The World Food Programme has found that 50 percent of Palestinian households suffer from food insecurity. Unemployment has been stuck at around 30 percent since 2009, with 47 percent unemployed in Gaza in 2010 and 20 percent in the West Bank. The unemployment rate for Palestinian youth under 30 is particularly alarming at 43 percent. The income and opportunities inequality gap continues to widen not only between the West Bank and Gaza, but also within the West Bank.

There is, especially in Ramallah, a visible upper class that indulges in ostentatious and conspicuous consumption while the vast majority of Palestinians sink deeper into misery.

Oxfam detailed just how bad the situation has become for millions of Palestinians in a release marking “20 Facts: 20 Years Since The Oslo Accords.”

“Forced marriage”

This poverty is not incidental to the “peace process,” but built into it. The economic agreements – strait-jackets – that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed after 1993 “basically legalized the forced marriage of the two economies since 1967,” as one Israeli negotiator put it.

This has always been a marriage of unequals, with Israel using its overwhelming power to control, exploit and penetrate the Palestinian economy, while placing insuperable obstacles in the way of Palestinian economic development.

Aided and abetted

All this was underpinned by ideological and financial backing from the “international community.”

At the beginning of the Oslo process, the World Bank laid out an economic plan for the Palestinians titled An Investment in Peace and its prescriptions are still being followed to this day even if repackaged under new branding such as “Fayyadism”:

An Investment in Peace is a neoliberal policy plan which parallels other programs developed by international financial institutions for the developing world in the 1990s. Based on elements of the conventional wisdom of the Washington and Post-Washington Consensus, it ignored the fact that the Palestinian territories were under a longstanding military occupation, which gave neoliberalism in the OPT its own particularity and flavor. The philosophical rationale for the World Bank plan was to improve Palestinians’ standard of living and encourage them to participate in the peace process by cashing in on peace dividends. This rationale remains the same today: invest more money to make Palestinians feel better economically to make it easier for them to compromise politically.

That’s the key: a feeling, or illusion, of prosperity was always meant to buy Palestinians off, a sort of “peace dividend” instead of actual peace based on justice including the restoration of their basic rights.

Yet Palestinians got neither their rights, nor any peace dividend.

Role for international solidarity movement

Twenty years after Oslo, what can be done to change this grim reality?

Tartir and Wildeman have some concrete suggestions including that aid “must support Palestinian self-determination and help the Palestinians resist the colonial project. It must not subsidize Israel’s occupation.”

Donors, moreover, “need to align themselves with the demands of Palestinian national movements such as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).”

This is similar to a proposal Dalia Association founder Nora Lester Murad made in anarticle last year.

These are sound ideas but it is unlikely they will never be adopted from the top.

This suggests that the Palestine solidarity movement will need to broaden its targets to pressure “aid” agencies first to do no harm, and then possibly to actually do some good.

More readings on Oslo

There have been several other interesting interventions coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the Oslo accords, which created the Palestinian Authority and set in motion the endless “peace process.”

Palestinian intellectual Haidar Eid, writing from Gaza for Al Jazeera English, offers a stinging critique of the legacy and logic of Oslo that is still alive in the quest for a “two-state solution”:

to aim at creating the two-state Palestinian is to aim to create a false consciousness led by assimilated intelligentsia, some of whom have a revolutionary past record. Singing the slogans of “the two-state solution,” “two states for two peoples,” “return to the 1967 borders,” or even “a long-term truce” as proposed by Hamas – is intended to guarantee the subordination and conformity of the Palestinians. Gone is the right of return of six million refugees and their compensation, and the rights of the indigenous population of 1948 Palestine, now second-class citizens of Israel.

“De-Osloization”

Yet Eid sees hopeful signs of in the revival of a Palestinian struggle outside the ideological and political confines of the legacy national movement whose leaders signed the Oslo agreements:

To be conscious of the corruption of the Palestinian Authority, and of the huge class gap that the Oslo Accords have created, has definitely been the beginning of de-Osloization represented in the issuance of the 2005 call for boycott, divestments and sanctions – a call that has been endorsed by almost all Palestinian civil society, and the rise of calls for a secular, democratic state in historic Palestine, a single state for all of its citizens regardless of religious or ethnic background.

The roots of betrayal

Many commentators, like Eid, in the tradition of Edward Said, see Oslo as a betrayal of and disastrous deviation from the struggle for Palestinian rights.

It has become common to see the PLO’s agreement to Oslo’s highly unfavorable terms as being forced by the organization’s historic weakness after its expulsion from Lebanon in 1982 and then its financial isolation by Gulf Arab regimes angered by Yasser Arafat’s embrace of Saddam Hussein following Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

But in another Al-Shabaka brief, Osamah Khalil casts fascinating new light on what led up to Oslo. Drawing on declassified US diplomatic documents, Khalil argues:

that the roots of Oslo can be traced to the aftermath of the 1973 October War. [Khalil] demonstrates that the PLO’s willingness to make considerable concessions occurred before entering negotiations or being recognized by the United States. Nor did these concessions occur when the organization was at its nadir, but rather after its most notable diplomatic achievements, securing United Nations and Arab League recognition as “the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”

Read Khalil’s full analysis on Al-Shabaka.

How occupation was dressed up as peace

Finally, I shared some of my own reflections on Oslo in an interview with Eric Ruder ofSocialist Worker:

I have to give the Israelis credit here, because they never said this [Oslo] would end in a Palestinian state. They never said they would remove settlements. They never said they would stop building settlements. So in a sense, the Israelis were the only ones who were clear about what they wouldn’t do – and they were good to their word.

They kept building settlements, they kept taking land, and it was everyone else either deceiving themselves or trying to deceive others by suggesting that the “peace process” would bring “sovereignty” or “independence.” The Israelis were never saying that. And so there had to be a lot of self-deception and a lot of deception by others.

That effort at deception continues, as long as the defunct “peace process” and talk of a “two-state solution” are kept on life support.

(Source / 19.09.2013)