IOA decides to release MP Jarar

RAMALLAH, (PIC)–  The Ofer military court decided Thursday to release the detained Palestinian MP Khalida Jarar, 52, on a bail estimated at 20,000 shekel ($5,000). The court gave the prosecution 72 hours to appeal the decision.

The imprisoned deputy’s husband Gassen Jarar told the Palestinian Information Center that the lawyer demanded Khalida’s immediate release as there is no basis for all the Israeli charges filed against her during the court hearing held ten days ago.

“However, the Israeli prosecution appealed against her release order and called for keeping her in custody,” he added.

During today’s hearing, the court ruled out to release MP Jarar to house arrest in 48 occupied territories and imposed on her a fine of 20,000 shekel.

The court’s order has been postponed for 72 days after the Israeli prosecution appealed again against her release, her husband clarified.

MP Jarrar was detained on April 2 from her home in the Ramallah, and was held and interrogated at the Ofer detention center before being taken to Hasharon prison. She was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006 as a member of PFLP.

She also headed Addameer organization for prisoners support and human rights. She was earlier detained in 1989 for a whole month in Israeli jails.

(Source / 22.05.2015)

Gaza economy ‘on verge of collapse’, with world’s highest unemployment

World Bank report says Israeli blockades, war and poor governance have left 43% of people out of work and the strip facing dangerous financial crisis

child stands amid the rubble of buildings destroyed in gaza

Gaza has received only a quarter of the funds pledged by the international community for its reconstruction following last year’s 50-day war between Israel and Hamas

The economy of Gaza – assailed by war, poor governance and a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade – has reached the “verge of collapse” with the coastal strip suffering the highest rate of unemployment in the world.

The bleak picture is presented in a devastating report by the World Bank, released on Friday, which said that Gaza’s economy had been strangled by years of blockades, war and poor governance and faces a dangerous crisis over its ability to meet wages and other spending requirements.

Calling for the “lifting of the blockade on the movement of goods and people to allow Gaza’s tradable sectors to recover” the report warned that about 43% of Gaza’s 1.8 million residents are unemployed, with youth unemployment reaching about 60% by the end of last year.

Prepared ahead of the bi-annual meeting in Brussels next week of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, which coordinates international donor support for the Palestinians, the report is published almost a year after the 50-day conflict between Gaza militants and Israel, in which about 2,200 Palestinians were killed.

On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and six civilians were killed.

“Gaza’s unemployment and poverty figures are very troubling and the economic outlook is worrying. The current market in Gaza is not able to offer jobs, leaving a large population in despair, particularly the youth,” said Steen Lau Jorgensen, World Bank country director for the West Bank and Gaza.

“The ongoing blockade and the 2014 war have taken a toll on Gaza’s economy and people’s livelihoods. Gaza’s exports virtually disappeared and the manufacturing sector has shrunk by as much as 60%. The economy cannot survive without being connected to the outside world.”

Smuggling tunnels
Smuggling tunnels have been the lifeline of the Gazan economy during the Israeli-Egyptian blockade.
In uncompromising terms, the World Bank describes Gaza’s economy as “tremendously damaged by repeated armed conflicts, the blockade and internal divide” and “reduced to a fraction of its estimated potential”.

Gaza has been governed by the Islamist group Hamas since 2007 and has struggled with mounting problems since the closure of the smuggling tunnels to Egypt, which had acted as an economic and social pressure valve.

Hamas has struggled to pay salaries and also lost a key stream of revenue from its taxation of the smuggling route. Egypt has largely closed the Rafah terminal on its border since October, when it began work to create a buffer zone along the border and step up efforts to destroy the tunnel trade.

The report adds that real GDP per person has dropped by a third in the last 20 years.

The report, to be presented next week, says events in the last two years – including Egypt’s closure of the smuggling tunnels and last summer’s war – reduced Gaza’s economy by almost half a billion dollars.

“The closure of tunnels with Egypt and in particular the 2014 summer war,” say the report’s authors, “shaved some $460moff Gaza’s economy, leading to a 15% contraction of its GDP.”

They add: “In Gaza, unemployment increased by as much as 11 percentage points to reach 43% – probably the highest in the world – and that in the West Bank it dropped by one percentage point.

“In Gaza, the poverty rate reached 39% and with poverty in the West Bank at 16%, the aggregate poverty rate amounted to 25%.

A Palestinian boy waits for customers at a market in Gaza City
A Palestinian boy waits for customers at a market in Gaza City. Youth unemployment is set to reach 60% in the enclave.
“Nevertheless, the growth in government recurrent expenditures of 9% was large and unsustainable; growth in the government wage bill and net lending are of particular concern.

Continuing, the report notes: “The human costs of Gaza’s economic malaise are enormous. If it were compared to that of other economies, unemployment in Gaza would be the highest in the world.

“Poverty in Gaza is also very high. This is despite the fact that nearly 80% of Gaza’s residents receive some aid. These numbers, however, fail to portray the degree of suffering of Gaza’s citizens due to poor electricity and water/sewerage availability, war-related psychological trauma, limited movement, and other adverse effects of wars and the blockade.”

The report also criticised the lacklustre pace of reconstruction and aid to Gaza since last year’s conflict. Of the $3.5bn pledged by the international community for Gaza’s reconstruction, just 27.5%, or nearly $1bn, has been disbursed so far.

(Source / 22.05.2015)

Norway: Morsi’s death sentence ‘unacceptable’

Norwegian foreign minister, Borge Brende

Norwegian foreign minister, Borge Brende

Norway yesterday said the death sentence handed down against ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders was “unacceptable”.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende said in a statement: “It is unacceptable that more than 100 people, including former President Morsi, have been condemned to death in a summary trial.”

“Norway has made it clear that we oppose the practice of holding mass trials that fail to comply with Egypt’s international obligations.”

“I expect all those accused to be given the opportunity of a fair appeal hearing and the question of guilt to be decided on an individual basis,” he added.

The Norwegian minister said that his country expects Egypt to establish a fair system that provides convicts with the right to defend themselves.

Brende urged the Egyptian authorities to ensure the independence of the judiciary, saying that courts must safeguard “the right of the accused to a fair trial in accordance with international standards”.

On Saturday, the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced Morsi and over 100 Muslim Brotherhood members, leaders and supporters to death over charges of espionage and mass jailbreak in 2011.

(Source / 22.05.2015)

Erdogan: To me, Morsi is Egypt’s president

File photo of an Egyptian soldier holding Mohamed Morsi's poster.

File photo of an Egyptian soldier holding Mohamed Morsi’s poster

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that to him the Egyptian President is Mohamed Morsi not Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi.

This came in a press conference with the chairman of three-member Bosnian Presidential Council Mladen Ivanic following a meeting with the council’s members in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.

During the meeting, Erdogan expressed his dismay at the decision of the Egyptian judiciary to sentence Morsi and others, including Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members, to death. The court referred the defendants to the Grand Mufti for consultation as per Egyptian law.

Erdogan criticised the West for its silence following the announcement of the sentences. “If executions are banned in the European Union, so why do we not hear your voice, EU countries? Why do you not talk? They issue statements that do not have any meaning,” he said.

Last Saturday, the Cairo Criminal Court ordered the referral of Morsi’s papers to the Grand Mufti along with 121 others from a total of 166 defendants in the cases of jail break and espionage. The court set 2 June as a date for a final verdict.

On his part, Bosnian President Mladen Ivanic denied the existence of any disagreements with Turkey, saying that the security institutions in both countries are cooperating to deal with the issue of foreign fighters who join militants in Syria and Iraq.

He stressed that the two countries are in agreement with regard to their joint combat of terrorism. Ivanic stressed that Turkey is an important partner for his country regarding foreign fighters. “There is good cooperation between the security agencies of both countries, and we are pleased about that,” he said.

The Turkish president arrived in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo yesterday on an official one-day visit.

(Source / 22.05.2015)

Bennett wants to see Palestinians become “water carriers and wood hewers” for Jews

If you think that the UN was wrong in labeling Zionism as a racist movement, think again.

Of course, Zionist crimes, committed in the name of Judaism and the Jewish people, have not stopped ever since Zionist supremacists declared their plans to create an exclusive Jewish state in Palestine in the late 19th century.

Zionist Jews employed every form of depravity and immorality to achieve their goal.

But the goal was evil, just as the means used to reach that goal were decidedly evil.  This was the case 68 years ago, when Israel was created through blood, fire and terror. It will always be evil.

The passage of 68 years will not morph a hideous crime into a charitable enterprise. Israel will always be a crime against humanity, no matter how many people celebrate its achievements and sing its hymns.

Israel is built upon a foundation of evil and sinfulness. Such a state will not prosper or have an everlasting longevity. It will eventually meet the same fate that other evil states and empires eventually met.

Bennett’s Talmudic fascism

Naftali Bennett, the number-2 figure in the new Israeli government was quoted recently as saying that he would never agree to give non-Jews in Israel equal rights.

When asked what he would tell Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas should he meet with him, Bennett said rather bluntly “I will order him to make me a cup of coffee.”

Needless to say, “asking the Arabs to make coffee for Jews” is a slogan often invoked by leaders of religious-Zionist settlers especially when explaining their attitudes toward the Palestinians.

This manifestly racist mindset is encapsulated by the Biblical terms “water carriers and wood hewers” which refer to the treatment non-Jews were entitled to receive in ancient Israel.

Of course, there are many other Biblical verses which exhort the Children of Israel not to oppress “strangers living amongst you… because you yourselves were once strangers in the Land of the Pharaoh”.

But Zionism, including religious Zionism, has very little to do with the sublime ideals of Prophetic Judaism. This is why, we notice that purportedly religious Zionists select the worst and most barbaric verses from the Old Testament and seek to apply it to the Palestinians.

Criminal versus genocidal

If classical Zionism is manifestly criminal, and it undoubtedly is, religious Zionism is decidedly genocidal.

Several years ago, a Jewish settler leader from the northern West Bank by the name of Daniela Weis gave a speech before a group of settlers in Hebron’s Old Quarter. In her speech, she urged the settlers to “adopt Joshua’s way to deal with the Palestinians.”

“Would you choose Rabin’s way or Joshua’s way in dealing with the Palestinians,” she asked. And the answer came loud and in unison: “We choose Joshua’s way.”

This genocidal fanaticism is not rhetorical or meant just to scare the Palestinians. It is rather a built-in character of the religious Zionist ideology as taught by its founder Abraham Kook.

This the same Kook that wrote that “the difference between a Jewish soul and souls of non-Jews– all of them in all different levels — is greater and deeper than the difference between a human soul and the souls of cattle.”

Evil ideology, evil conduct

The settler ideology cannot be innocuous since it is not confined to the theoretical framework.

In 1994, a settler from the settlement of Kiryat Arbaa near Hebron descended on the Ibrahimi Mosque nearby and sprayed Muslim worshipers with bullets, using his army-issued machinegun.

He murdered 29 worshipers and injured numerous other people, many with serious disabilities that would stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Most of the settlers and their supporters enthusiastically gloated over the massacre as the grave of the murderer became a pilgrimage site.

A few years later, another religious Zionist asked a Palestinian cabbie to give him a ride from Jerusalem to Kfar Saba, north east of Tel Aviv. When the settler got to his home, he invited the Arab driver to drink a cup of coffee. However, instead of the cup of coffee, the settler came up with a dagger, stabbing the taxi driver to death.

Still, when the murdered was interrogated by the police, he told them that he heard his neighborhood synagogue’s rabbis saying that the life of a non-Jew had no sanctity.

Last year, three settlers kidnapped an Arab child, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, and took him to an abandoned place. There they pumped gasoline into the boy’s mouth, and then set the boy on fire, burning him alive.

Who will call the spade a spade?

Now, the same kind of evil-minded people have a great influence on the upcoming Israeli government. For example, Ayelet Shaked from the far-right HaBayit HaYehudi (Jewish Home) party was given the portfolio of justice minister as part of a deal that saw PM Netanyahu gather enough support to form a coalition and control the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.

Last year, Shaked, a nice-looking young woman, attracted global attention and criticism when she posted a Facebook status denouncing Palestinians, during Israel’s 50-day military offensive in Gaza.

“The Palestinian people [have] declared war on us, and we must respond with war … Not an operation, not a slow-moving one, not low-intensity, not controlled escalation, no destruction of terror infrastructure, no targeted killings.

“Enough with the oblique references. This is a war. Words have meanings. This is a war. It is not a war against terror, and not a war against extremists, and not even a war against the Palestinian Authority. These too are forms of avoiding reality. This is a war between two peoples. Who is the enemy? The Palestinian people.”

Now, do the governments and peoples of the world have the courage to call the spade a spade, especially when it comes to Zionist criminality?

It is not enough to celebrate the annual anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany. It is also imperative to fight Nazi ideals and Nazi ideas everywhere. Including in Israel.

Unfortunately this is not being done with regard to Israel as the capitals of Europe and North America will soon receive Shaked and her equally racist colleagues with all the required trappings.

That would be the ultimate insult to the victims of Nazism, Jews and non-Jews alike.

(Source / 22.05.2015)

Israel seeks to make Gazans miserable: Activist

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Palestinian children stand amid the rubble of their partially rebuilt house, on May 11, 2015, which was destroyed during the 50-day Israeli war on the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014

Press TV has conducted an interview with Paul Larudee, a member of the Free Palestine Movement in Berkeley, about the World Bank assessment saying the besieged Gaza Strip has the world’s highest unemployment and is facing a “dangerous fiscal crisis,” nearly one year after Israel’s latest war against the coastal enclave.

The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Mr. Larudee, how can anybody try to run any kind of economy when half of the people are out of work?

Larudee: The whole purpose is that there will be no economy in Gaza. I am surprised the unemployment rate is not a hundred percent. Israel regulates everything about Gaza. It does not let people leave, it does not let people enter, it does not let goods in, it does not let exports out, it does not let people travel, it does not allow anything and this is what they are trying to do.

The only thing that is allowed in Gaza is basically whatever Israel allows in to more or less allow the 1.8 million people of Gaza, more than half of them children, to just stay alive and even then not always because people die from all kinds of diseases caused by malnutrition and bad water and all kinds of things because Israel is trying to kill them. Israel is trying to get rid of them, trying to make them miserable so that they disappear from the face of the earth. That is what they want. This is what is going on. The World Bank is talking about a potential crisis, it is a crisis.

Press TV: And Mr. Larudee, how can we all see Washington say really anything on this? I mean the lack of humanity that we are seeing here is just an unheard of level, it is unparalleled to anything we are seeing, it is practically a war crime to deny people an opportunity to pursue livelihood, have them out of work and then create a blockade that they do not allow medical equipment in, building materials, homes still have not been rebuilt since the 50- day of war last year, your thoughts sir.

Larudee: Well you are absolutely right but the specialty of Israel is war crimes. They are the world’s expert in war crimes and crimes against humanity and the United States, I mean maybe, maybe the United States is first, I do not know, certainly in terms of quantity.

So please do not expect anything from Washington. Washington’s specialty is in assassination and mass killing, killing at least a million, maybe a million and a half Iraqis and half of them children.

Press TV: Then Mr. Larudee, so if the US is to remain silent and to continue perpetuate their silence, now what recourse do Gazans have?

Larudee: The United States is not being silent. The United States is speaking out in support of Israel’s ethnic cleansing project.

Press TV: So what recourse do Gazans have, sir?

Larudee: Well they are using the recourses that they have which is to fight back unfortunately under terrible [odds] and they are appealing to the world and it is up to us to help them as much as we can.

(Source / 22.05.2015)

Isis claims it could buy its first nuclear weapon from Pakistan within 12 months

 

 ‘We’re looking to do something big, something truly epic’

Isis has used the latest issue of its propaganda magazine Dabiq to suggest the group is expanding so rapidly it could buy its first nuclear weapon within a year.

The hyperbolic article, which the group attributes to the British hostage John Cantlie, claims Isis has transcended its roots as “the most explosive Islamic ‘group’ in the modern world” to evolve into “the most explosive Islamic movement the modern world has ever seen” in less than twelve months.

Photojournalist Cantlie is regularly used in the terror group’s propaganda and has appeared in a number of videos, including a YouTube series called “Lend Me Your Ears”. He has been held a hostage by Isis for more than two years.

John Cantlie has now been held captive for more two years by Isis militantsJohn Cantlie has now been held captive for more two years by Isis militantsThe piece, entitled “The Perfect Storm”, describes militant Islamist groups such as Boko Haram, which recently pledged allegiance to Isis, uniting across the Middle East, Africa and Asia to create one global movement.

The article claims this alignment of groups has happened at the sane time as Isis militants have seized “tanks, rocket launchers, missile systems, anti-aircraft systems,” from the US and Iran before turning to the subject of more extreme weapons the group is not in possession of – such as nuclear weapons.

Foreign Fighters

(Source / 22.05.2015)

Meet The Tiny Country Pushing For Huge Change In Palestine

By Ramona Wadi

Malta’s foreign minister tells MintPress: “If Israel continues to expand, there is going to be no land left for a two-state solution. There are volumes of condemnation but no concrete action against Israel.”

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VALLETTA, Malta — In the course of a joint endeavor between the Maltese Foreign Ministry and the University of Malta, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki gave a public lecture at the Old University in Valletta, Malta, on May 8, in which he discussed the two-state paradigm and Palestine’s recent accession to the International Criminal Court.

The theme, “Developments in the Middle East Peace Process in relation to the region,” introduced by al-Maliki is defined by “waiting.” Ever since he entered into politics, al-Maliki said, waiting has constituted a major part of the peace process. Palestinians have been “asked to wait, and to keep waiting, hoping that the future will be better than it is today.”

Al-Maliki described this tactic — which has been enforced most notably by Israel and the United States, and which has clearly contributed to the fragmentation and colonization of Palestine — as an “interesting approach” imposed by the international community upon the weakest element of the equation, Palestinians. Meanwhile, al-Maliki affirmed that the “interesting approach,” with reference to the waiting game, manifests itself in visible changes in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that prevent “an emerging, viable independent State of Palestine.”

Giving an overview of the peace negotiations that commenced in July 2013 and continued until April 2014, during which the Palestinian Authority engaged in discussions with Israel and the U.S., al-Maliki described how the initial nine-month time frame was used as a premise to further extend the talks. “The U.S. asked us to wait until they can visualise and derive a conclusion,” he asserted.

It was then, according to al-Maliki, that the PA sought recognition from the U.N. Security Council through repeated submissions of draft resolutions to end the Israeli occupation. During that same period, al-Maliki says the U.S. instructed Palestinians to “wait until Israeli elections, and then we were asked to wait until the formation of the Israeli government. We were told not to think about submitting another draft resolution before June 30 to allow time for the Iran and the P5+1 nuclear agreement.”

Al-Maliki continued: “No one asked Israel to wait while they changed realities on the ground through settlement expansion. So the Palestinian Authority decided it wouldn’t wait any more, or listen to waiting discourse.”

 

The ICC: A double-edged sword

Speaking about the draft resolutions submitted by the PA to the Security Council, al-Maliki explained that the U.S. pressured other Security Council members to withdraw their support for the draft resolution.=

“Nigeria, a non-permanent member of the UNSC, could not resist the pressure,” he said. “With Boko Haram overtaking the army and continuing to take hostages, Nigeria is dependent upon military security advisers from the U.S. and Israel.”

He continued, explained that Nigeria was threatened by both the U.S. and Israel, which asserted that the PA’s draft resolution would result in the withdrawal of security advisers, leaving Nigeria to deal with Boko Haram alone.

Any future draft resolution to be submitted to the Security Council — the latest being an endeavor embarked upon by France — should be based upon three elements, which al-Maliki identified as: “defined parameters, mechanisms to implement the defined parameters and a date by which to end the Israeli occupation.”

Meanwhile, he described the new Israeli coalition government as “a government of the right wing focused upon the settlement enterprise” and characterized by three particular elements: instability due to the coalition winning 61 seats out of 120, united in an anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian approach, and unwilling to provide Palestinians with an opportunity to negotiate within the parameters of the two-state hypothesis.

Discussion of Palestine’s accession to the ICC on April 1 was characterized by al-Maliki as Palestine “utilizing available legal means” which led Palestinians to sign 35 international treaties with the intention of bringing Palestine closer to international law and provide protection through membership in the signed treaties. Further, he described Palestine as “the only country in the world signing treaties without reservations.” Affirming the need for other countries’ support, al-Maliki stated that the University of Malta will be helping the PA in preparing statements and drafting reports related to conventions signed.

Yet he also described Palestine’s accession to the ICC as a double-edged sword, saying: “If justice is not delivered through the UNSC which has failed Palestine, then we have the right to pursue justice through the ICC.” Expressing “pride” about the decision taken, he noted that the preliminary investigations will focus on Gaza and settlement expansion — the latter of which allows “penetration of the enemy through the military, political and security aspects.”

Al-Maliki’s talk reflected the elimination of anti-colonial struggle which is synonymous with the PA. The focus on “occupation” as opposed to colonization was also reflected in al-Maliki’s concluding remarks on the ICC: “We know we will not get full justice — we know we will get partial justice.”

 

“The future is bleak”

During al-Maliki’s visit to the island, Malta and Palestine signed a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation between small and mid-sized businesses. The agreement, signed by al-Maliki and Maltese Foreign Minister Dr. George Vella, took place even as Malta announced the details for two scholarships for Palestinian post-graduate students at the University of Malta. For 20 years, Malta has offered educational opportunities for Palestinians studying diplomacy through the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies (MEDAC).

The scholarships in “Conservation and Management of Built Heritage” and a master’s degree program in Humanitarian Action are framed within the context of the two-state paradigm. As the call for application states: “The main objective of the international community’s engagement in Palestine is the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the state of Israel.”

In comments to MintPress News on whether the subject areas can provide a challenge to anti-colonial struggle, Vella stated that the call for scholarships in both subject areas was demanded by the Palestinians themselves. “The course in Conservation and Management of Built Heritage was specifically requested by Palestinians themselves,” he said. “They asked for two more scholarships to strengthen that area. I cannot tell what the assessment as regards outcome will be on their end.”

Vella explained:

“When we are speaking about heritage, it is important to also include Palestinian villages and culture, rather than restrict the interpretation to conventional historical heritage. Israel is destroying Palestinian villages, embarking upon a process of oblivion through settlement expansion. But it is the up to the Palestinians themselves to determine how to utilize the course in their circumstances.”

He also discussed Malta’s support for the “two-state solution” as stipulated by the international community, which diverges from the anti-colonial struggle. “Malta is one of the countries at the helm of offering support for Palestine. In fact, during our meetings with al-Maliki we discussed ways of strengthening the European Union’s support for Palestine,” he said, adding:

“However, it is not possible to negate the fact that Israel has tremendous power through relations with the U.S. and other European countries such as Germany and the Czech Republic. We have conducted visits — I have visited Gaza twice. We are chairing the Committee on Palestinian Rights at the United Nations.

We have also issued various statements condemning settlement expansion. It is an anti-colonial struggle, but what else can Malta do? Settlement expansion goes against international law, but in the meantime, what is going to stop Israel? All criticism of Israel is vetoed and no one implements the resolutions. In my last meeting with former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman I specifically told him that they should be ashamed of themselves for the murder of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.”

The newly-formed Israeli coalition government, which boasts of ministers such as Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, who head education and justice, respectively, is expected to escalate colonial violence against Palestinians.

“This government is made up of extremely rightist individuals who will further oppress Palestinians. Netanyahu has kept the foreign ministry to himself for now — many think the idea is to lure Herzog or Livni into the coalition. Despite resigning from his position as foreign minister, Lieberman still has the power to influence political decisions,” Vella explained.

He concluded:

“I told al-Maliki the future is bleak. If Israel continues to expand, there is going to be no land left for a two-state solution. There are volumes of condemnation but no concrete action against Israel.”

(Source / 22.05.2015)

Nakba and the Question of ‘Palestinian Strategy’

Why It’s Important

by RAMZY BAROUD

“What is the Palestinian strategy?” is a question that I have been asked all too often, including on 15 May, the day that millions of Palestinians around the world commemorated the 67th anniversary of the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians by Zionist militias in 1947-48.

The question itself doesn’t require much elaboration, as in, “What is the Palestinian strategy to combat Israeli military occupation, siege violence, apartheid and racial discrimination?” The painful reality is well known to many, although few take on the moral responsibility to confront it.

And the posing of the question is telling in itself. It wouldn’t be asked if there was a strategy in place, being implemented, and regularly revisited and modified. The question is a testament to all the failures of past strategies, and the political disintegration of any credible Palestinian leadership, currently represented by Mahmoud Abbas and his circle of wealthy businessmen and “politicians”.

But the very idea of formulating a strategy would require urgent prerequisites that are currently lacking. These prerequisites are not only essential, but most critical if Palestinians wish to overcome the current stalemate and surpass the dead-end process that is the so-called “peace process”.

First, the centrality of the Nakba for the Palestinian historical narrative must be transformed to be central to the political agenda of any Palestinian leadership that is truly representative of the political aspirations of the Palestinian people.

But why is the Nakba important if it is an event that is supposedly located in the past?

What makes the Nakba a particularly poignant and painful experience is the fact that it has never truly concluded. The original 750,000 who were removed or forced to flee their historical homeland have morphed to over five million, and those who became internally displaced in their own Palestinian homeland, later renamed the State of Israel, continue to fight for basic rights. This makes the Nakba a present political event, granted its historical origins.

The Nakba, or Catastrophe, was an earth-shattering experience for the entirety of the Palestinian collective. Rarely before was a society almost entirely displaced in a relatively short period of time with such brutality and violence, followed by every possible attempt at erasing every piece of evidence, every link, every claim, every memory that the refugees affiliated with their homeland.

That ruthlessness, however, is further accentuated by two major events. One is that for 67 years Israel has both refused to recognize the original sin upon which it was created, and two, it has done its utmost to deny the disaffected Palestinian people any political aspirations that would finally allay the pain of dispossession, handed from one generation to another.

Palestinians in exile subsist in a nomadic political landscape, as they only belong to a place that has been stolen at gunpoint, yet are forced to exist in places that they cannot see as home for a whole set of reasons.

Palestinians in the occupied territories – from the occupied West Bank, annexed East Jerusalem or besieged Gaza – experience the Nakba in its most raw and painful forms. It is not just an event that delineates memory, but the very event that ushered in a process of dispossession, dislocation and deprivation, not just of land and freedom, but even of the right to form a national identity within the safety of a place that Palestinians can call home.

This year in particular, the 15 May events commemorating the Nakba within Israel’s Palestine ’48 community – made up of Palestinian citizens of Israel – was massive and involved all aspects of society, including the political leadership. These events highlighted the centrality of the Nakba question to 20 percent of Israel’s own population, who were disaffected directly by the dire consequences of the Catastrophe and all of its negative impacts until this day.

If the Nakba is Israel’s original sin, discounting the Nakba and the right of return for refugees by the Palestinian Authority (PA) is the Palestinian leadership’s own sin against its people. This takes us to the second prerequisite for the formulation of any sound Palestinian strategy: the current PA leadership structure is simply contrary to the aspiration of the Palestinian people.

The PA is one of the most corrupt political structures in the Middle East. The current government in Ramallah is not an elected one and its “president” continues to serve with a mandate that expired years ago. Naturally, fair and democratic elections are unwelcome by both the PA and Israel – for it would probably lead to other unpleasant outcomes such as those that brought Hamas to power in 2006.

The PA and its Israeli benefactors are keenly invested in perpetuating the status quo, for it is allowing the latter to cement its military occupation at a minimal cost of policing occupied Palestinians, while the former benefits in terms of enjoying access to international funds, investments and the chance to move freely in and outside occupied Palestine. The vast majority of Palestinians, however, are confined behind walls, checkpoints and barbed wire. Their imprisonment is guarded as carefully by Palestinian security forces as by the Israeli army.

Sure, there is always the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), an old political structure that is more politically representative of Palestinians and reasonably democratic – especially if compared to the corrupt elites of Ramallah. But sadly, the key to the resurrection of the PLO lies exclusively in the hands of Fatah, the PLO’s largest party, and the one currently controlling the PA. Without a revolt within Fatah itself, there can be no restructuring of the PLO, for a democratic PLO would most likely challenge the PA head on and dismantle its entire wretched apparatus of political peddlers and businessmen.

Thus, the third prerequisite would have to wrangle with the question of leadership, one that doesn’t serve necessarily as an alternative to the PLO, but rather as a platform that unifies Palestinian energies in the occupied territories, in Israel and throughout the shatat (diaspora). This platform must be essentially political with grassroots links, so it communicates clear political messages, but representative and difficult to crush. Also, it would have to remove the obstacles that hindered Palestinian national unity, throughout Palestine, Israel and the world.

That alternative body must also be based in Palestine itself for that’s the only way to secure a degree of authentic representation and remain directly connected to the land. But, it should give an equal and fair representation of all Palestinian communities especially those in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. Doing so would eliminate the danger of elitism and ensure that the refugees are not a question or a problem to be contended with, but the center of the Palestinian political initiative.

This body must not be factional either, and cannot be seen as a competitor to Fatah, Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and all the rest, for it’s a platform that is essentially meant to overcome factionalism, and open the door for factions to break away from the tribal confines of politics to something entirely different.

This is not a strategy per se, as only the Palestinian people – once they have a platform and a democratic representation centered on the question of the Nakba and the right of return – should have access to the very idea of formulating a strategy in the first place.

(Source / 22.05.2015)

Israeli war boats target Palestinian fishermen

GAZA, (PIC)–  Israeli Navy Forces opened their machinegun fire Friday morning towards Palestinian fishing boats off Sudaniya shore to the north of Gaza city.

Local sources said that Israeli war boats have heavily fired at Palestinian fishing boats while sailing within the six-nautical-mile allowed zone for fishing.

Only material damage was cause, after Palestinian fishermen were forced to leave their boats for fear of a new attack.

Israeli Naval forces continued to carry out attacks on Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip in flagrant violation to the ceasefire agreement concluded between Israel and Palestinian resistance under Egyptian auspices on 26 August 2014.

This agreement includes allowing Palestinian fishermen to sail within 6 nautical miles in the Gaza Sea.  According to PCHR’s investigations, all attacks took place within the distance of 6 nautical miles, which proves that Israeli forces’ policies aim to tighten restrictions on the Gaza Strip’s fishermen and their livelihoods.

(Source / 22.05.2015)