National Lobby of Parliament

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On Wednesday 27th November (from 2pm-6pm) hundreds of supporters will gather together in Parliament to call on MPs to take action for Palestinian human rights and against ethnic cleansing and racism. Make sure you are there!

At the national Lobby of Palestine for Parliament we will be campaigning for Government and parliament to apply the principles of equality, human rights and international law when it comes to Israel.

The most powerful way to let your MP know you care about Palestine is to ask them to meet you to discuss it. When lots of people from around the UK arrange to meet their MPs in Parliament on the same day, it is known as a lobby day and alerts all MPs to the fact that lots of people care about the issue.

We will be campaigning for:

MPs to challenge ethnic cleansing and discriminatory policies
Ask MPs to support the campaign against the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Bedouin from their homes and land in the Naqab (also known as the Negev desert) in Israel

Ban settlement goods Israel’s illegal settlements are built on Palestinian land. The UN, EU and UK acknowledge that these settlements are harmful and illegal – but if they are illegal, what are goods produced in settlements doing in our shops?

Respect for prisoners’ rights and an end to Israel’s illegal treatment of Palestinian prisoners, including children
Ask your MP to challenge imprisonment without charge or trial and to press for proper medical care. Ask them to pledge support for an end the abuse of Palestinian children.

An end to the siege on Gaza
The blockade of Gaza started in 2007 and continues today. Israel severely restricts Palestinians’freedom of movement; blocks almost all exports and restricts imports, creating a humanitarian catastrophe. Tell your MP it is time to end the blockade of Gaza.

What to do now:

When you’ve organised your meeting with your MP, let us know by filling in our online form or emailing palsolcam@gmail.com.

(Source / 22.10.2013)

Renewed talks offer opportunity neither Israelis nor Palestinians can afford to lose – UN official

Renewed talks offer opportunity neither Israelis nor Palestinians can afford to lose – UN official

22 October 2013 – The top United Nations political chief today called for taking advantage of the opening that now exists with renewed negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians to achieve the long-sought vision of two States living side by side in peace and security.

“Despite the difficult regional context and the challenges on the ground between Israel and Palestine, this is not an opportunity that either can afford to lose,” Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman said in his briefing to the Security Council.

“After 20 years of talks and too many negative developments on the ground, we don’t need lengthy negotiations,” he added. “What we, and the parties, need are decisions, the right decisions, and leaders who are committed to usher in an agreed political solution.”

Direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians stalled in September 2010, after Israel refused to extend its freeze on settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory. Following efforts by United States Secretary of State John Kerry, the two sides resumed negotiations this August.

“Despite the welcome intensification of negotiations, there have been worrisome developments on the ground that we cannot ignore,” Mr. Feltman said, reiterating the UN’s unequivocal call on all to refrain from violence and incitement, reinforce calm and reverse negative trends in order to preserve the “tentative” opening in the political process.

He cited a number of violent incidents that led to deaths and injuries on both sides; settlement activity, which is “an obstacle to peace and against international law”; ongoing clashes between Palestinians and settlers; growing provocations at holy sites; and Israeli demolitions.

The calm in the Gaza Strip is also showing “worrying” signs of erosion, he added, referring to a recently discovered tunnel between the territory and Israel as well as Palestinian rocket fire into Israel and Israeli incursions into Gaza.

Meanwhile in Lebanon, security continues to be affected by cross-border shelling and shooting from Syria. In light of the multiple impacts of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last month convened the inaugural meeting to launch an International Support Group for Lebanon. Mr. Feltman said the UN anticipates an expansion of the Group to embrace additional countries and organizations that share the goal of helping Lebanon.

“The tragedy in Syria continues to test our collective resolve and ability to end the violence there,” he said, referring to the conflict that is now in its third year and has already claimed more than 100,000 lives. “While important progress has been made on the chemical weapons file, it will by no means bring an end by itself to the appalling suffering of the Syrian people.”

The UN is working to convene a peace conference in Geneva in mid-November aimed at helping the Syrian sides launch a political process and establish by consent a new transitional governing body with full executive authority.

“With a political process, however difficult it may be, there is hope that a new Syria will emerge. Without it, there is little on the horizon but the further destruction of Syria and the further destabilization of the region as a result of this conflict,” said Mr. Feltman.

“We are working at all levels and hope that a common vision for apolitical solution can soon emerge among Syrians, in the region and globally,” he added.

The Council, he said, is meeting at a time of “heightened diplomacy” on several issues, from the Syria catastrophe to the Middle East peace process to questions regarding nuclear proliferation.

“While the challenges on each front should not be underestimated, it is important to maintain and even increase the momentum behind diplomacy,” he stated. “We encourage and remain committed to supporting this Council and its members in fully exploring all opportunities at hand to resolve peacefully, though dialogue, the difficult issues that bedevil peace and security in the region.”

(Source / 22.10.2013)

Arab women push to the fore in local Israel vote

File picture shows Israeli Arab Knesset member Hanin Zuabi arriving at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on Dec. 27, 2012
NAZARETH, Israel (AFP) — From billboards across Nazareth shines the discreet smile of Hanin Zuabi, a controversial Palestinian woman MP who is hoping voters will chose her as mayor of Israel’s largest Arab city.

This 44-year-old former math teacher, her black hair cut into a sleek bob, is the only woman running for leadership of the sprawling northern city revered by Christians as Jesus’ childhood home.

Zuabi is just one of a growing number of women from Israel’s Palestinian minority vying for office in Tuesday’s elections across 191 municipalities.

“Running for mayor sends an important message saying that Palestinian women are entering local politics and putting themselves on the political map,” she told AFP during campaigning.

Israel’s Arab minority has its roots in the 160,000 Palestinians who stayed on their land after the creation of Israel in 1948. Today, they number more than 1.3 million, and often refer to themselves as ’48 Palestinians.

“Nazareth needs to have international status,” she says, flagging one of the main elements of her platform.

Known as capital of the northern Galilee region, Nazareth has a population of 82,000, 65 percent of which is Muslim and the rest Christian.

Posters and banners are plastered on the city’s walls, windows and balconies, each declaring the merits of a particular candidate or list.

Zuabi, an MP with the leftwing Arab-Israeli Balad movement, is competing against four men for the top job, one of whom is the incumbent and clear frontrunner, Ramez Jaraiseh.

Although Zuabi won notoriety within Israel for her participation in a 2010 flotilla of activists trying to break the naval blockade on the Gaza Strip, she has pushed hard to increase the female quota in both local and general elections.

Voters are casting two ballots — one for mayor and one for a slate of candidates who will serve under him or her. Should there be no mayoral candidate who passes the 40 percent threshold, there will be a second round of voting on Nov. 5.

This year’s election is expected to double the number of Arab women serving on local councils.

In the last elections in 2008, 149 Arab women ran in the elections, with only six elected to local office. This year, there are 173, with forecasts predicting about 15 will be elected.

And this year, the women are placed much higher on the local slates.

Women are at the forefront of the municipal election in Sakhnin, another Arab town some 15 miles north of Nazareth, which is famed for its football team which stunned the nation by winning the State Cup in 2004.

Here the billboards feature images of Samar Abu Yunes, a 40-year-old lawyer who is topping the slate fielded by Hadash, the Arab-Jewish socialist party.

“Unfortunately, women have not featured very highly on Hadash’s list until now, despite their calls for equality, but I am optimistic at this point,” she told AFP.

“I am now at the top of that list so my place is guaranteed on the city council,” said the mother of four.

She believes women should be taking a leading role in women’s issues, as well as those relating to children in the city of 28,000 people, where participating in the elections mixes family and politics.

Aida Tuma, who ran for parliament with Hadash in 2008 but didn’t make it, said the number of women trying or a role in local politics is the result of tough experience and “a lot of serious work” which involved the establishment of The Women’s Coalition.

“Five associations made a coalition to support women in the electoral process and to convince parties to put them high up on their lists and this is the first time that Arab women have contested elections in Haifa, Lod and Ramleh,” she told AFP.

“We trained those women who were nominated in public speaking, working under pressure and in public appearance, all of which are skills women will need,” she said, saying the training sessions had drawn much cross-party support.

(Source / 22.10.2013)

Syria’s Grinding War Takes Toll On Children

Children play at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, where more than 120,000 Syrian refugees live. Roughly two-thirds are kids, many of whom have been traumatized by the violence in their homeland.

Children play at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, where more than 120,000 Syrian refugees live. Roughly two-thirds are kids, many of whom have been traumatized by the violence in their homeland.

Alexandra Chen, a specialist in childhood trauma, is on her way from the Lebanese capital, Beirut, to the southern town of Nabatiyeh, where she’s running a workshop for teachers, child psychologists and sports coaches who are dealing with the Syrian children scarred by war in their homeland.

“All of the children have experienced trauma to varying degree,” explains Chen, who works for Mercy Corps and is training a dozen new hires for her aid group.

Her intense five-day workshop is based on skills and techniques developed in other conflict zones, used for the first time here.

“They need to know enough to understand exactly what’s going on in the brain of the children they are working with,” Chen says of her trainees. Her course stresses the science of severe trauma, which can be toxic for the brain.

“The human memory remembers negative memories almost four times more strongly than positive ones,” she says.

Some 2 million Syrian children have been displaced by the war and more than 1 million of them are now refugees in neighboring countries. One of the biggest challenges for international aid agencies is healing the invisible scars of war in the youngest victims.

Mercy Corps organizes games and movies at the Zaatari camp to help children return to more normal activities and routines.

“These children have seen terrible things, like bombings and people screaming and people dying, and they’ve smelled blood and smoke,” Chen says as she opens the course. “For them, to be connected to the world feels like a very dangerous thing.”

PTSD In Children

Chen tells the trainees that long-term exposure to violence can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, which is difficult to treat in adults and even harder to manage in kids. Children can remain hyper-alert, with an “inability to step out of survival mode,” which is often expressed as anger or aggression.

This group has already seen signs of severe trauma in Syrian children who recently arrived. Chen teaches them key skills to build a sense of safety for children.

But these newly trained Mercy Corps outreach workers face an overwhelming task. More than 85,000 Syrian refugees have migrated to this part of southern Lebanon, living in the poorest neighborhoods. Aid programs are underfunded and basic needs often go unmet.

Still, international aid organizations are raising the alarm over the newest arrivals. They have lived under traumatic conditions for much longer, surviving continuous bombardments, witnessing deaths firsthand, and many need immediate help.

Chen moves between workshops in Lebanon and refugee camps in Jordan to tackle the same problem.

A Camp Where Most Refugees Are Children

We met again in Zaatari, the sprawling camp in Jordan’s desert with more than 120,000 residents, 65 percent of them under 18. Here, children seem dangerously aggressive, punching, fighting or throwing rocks in the open spaces between the refugee tents and trailers.

“Acting aggressively, in many ways, is the mind’s way of making sense of what happened before,” says Chen, who adds that she has seen behavior change. Many have made progress in a program run by Mercy Corps in a place called Dream Land.

“The fact that they can sit there for an hour of Tom and Jerryis quite remarkable” says Chen, calling it a sign of healing.

But for some, the terrible memories can still become a trigger in daily life.

“The misunderstanding about trauma is that it is an event we have been unable to deal with in the past,” she explains. In severe cases of PTSD, she says, “it is the person’s inability to engage with the present that is the problem.”

There have been some children who sneak into Dream Land in the middle of the night, she says.

“There was a little boy who would come at 3 a.m.,” she says. “He would hide in the corner of the tent and shake. The stress that he was expressing was too much in his own little mind. He was unable to sleep. So, this is where he came to find refuge.”

And that was a small success, that he had found a safe place.

(Source / 22.10.2013)

Israeli occupation arrests 33 Palestinian minors in two weeks

Palestinian boy arrested

A rise in the number of cases of children being detained since the beginning of the year has been observed, recording 476 minors as having been detained

An official Palestinian report has revealed that the Israeli occupation forces arrested 33 Palestinian minors during the first half of this month.

The report, issued by the ministry of information in Ramallah, noted that the occupation forces had stepped up their attacks against Palestinian minors in the first half of October.

The report explained that dozens of boys had been wounded by the forces and settlers.

The number of children under the age of 18 held in Israeli jails has reached 250 and the number of children detained since 2000 to September 2013 totalled 9500 minors. A rise in the number of cases of children being detained since the beginning of the year has been observed, recording 476 minors as having been detained.

(Source / 22.10.2013)