Israel’s systemic denial of Palestinians’ right to water

The lack of water in the occupied Palestinian territories is not a technical problem, but rather a ‘politically generated drought’

ver the last few weeks, Palestinians have been facing severe water shortages because Mekorot, the Israeli water company, is denying or restricting their access to the resource.

The evidence suggests that the annual rainfall in Ramallah is higher than in London (619 mm/year compared to 596 mm/year). However, the Palestinian daily water consumption per capita (about 70 l/day) is strongly below the World Health Organisation’s recommendations (about 100 l/day). Meanwhile, Israelis consume on average about 250 l/day. How is such a drastic difference possible? What are the mechanisms that allow Israel to maintain this imbalance?

Fundamentally, this is not a typical water conflict. Contrary to other situations across the globe, and to what we often hear or might think, there is enough water for everyone in the region. This means that the problem is not hydrogeological or geographical, nor technical, but mainly political. And not only is it political, but it is consciously used by Israel “as a tool of warfare”, of which repercussions are manifold.

Therefore, the problem doesn’t lie in the lack of water resources in Palestine, but rather in the impossibility for the Palestinians to access them, because Israel considers itself to have priority over them, as a direct manifestation of its military occupation of the Palestinian lands and natural resources.

Since water from the basins of the occupied West Bank naturally flows down to lands lying at a lower altitude, it is enough for the latter to prevent the Palestinians from extracting the water to get full control. This is done either administratively – by denying authorisation to drill wells, often without justification – or physically – by destroying existing infrastructure or not taking care of it. The Israelis help themselves generously, and then sell back to “their neighbours” what is left of the “stolen” resource, choosing its price and amount.

Is this legal? No. Nor is it secret, since the targeting of water resources for example has been recognised by UN reports as “deliberate and systematic”. This, of course, is contrary to international law, according to which access to water and sanitation is a human right, and preventing it is a war crime. Indeed, Israel has the obligation to ensure an “equitable and reasonable allocation of resources” as an occupying power.

The problem here is twofold. On the one hand, borders are not clearly defined, and Israel systematically blurs the lines with its illegal settlements and expansion on the ground, that have nothing to do with official maps. As a consequence, it is hard to argue in favour of Palestinian territories following international law, because these territories are not precisely defined.

But what is perhaps more problematic, because it is very paradoxical, is the fact that the issue has been addressed in the Oslo agreements. These norms are unfortunately not clear enough. They were only supposed to constitute a mere framework, meant to lead to further, more precise legislation. Yet the Palestinians are still waiting for those “final status negotiations”, and in the meantime, are left with an imprecise legal norm that recognises, and therefore enforces the status quo, which includes the denial of accessing their natural resources including water.

That said, various specific committees (as the Joint Water Committee) have been set up, which is slowing down the process, because there are now too many actors involved in the water sector. This results in a scattering of responsibilities inside Palestine. Even among those organisations, Israel is still much more powerful, since it benefits from a right of veto. It is also the case in the asymmetrical weight of Palestine and Israel in the issue, as the latter benefits from three levels of veto in the Joint Water Committee. So, in a nutshell, “the occupied territories today are both besieged and internally fragmented”.

Donors reinforce Israeli dominance

What about the international community? There is no regional coordination, and countries neighbouring Palestine all have different water policies and political agendas, which doesn’t help. Same for the huge number of different international organisations and NGOs involved in region.

Everybody agrees that Israel has no right to act like it does. Billions of dollars of aid are sent each year by foreign donors. But unfortunately, the water sector as a whole seriously lacks coordination, and, in the long term, the presence of foreign donors mainly reinforces fragmentation and corruption. Donors end up perpetuating the status quo and approving Israel’s action.

Since the situation is labelled as “an emergency”, it incites international actors to focus on the consequences of the problem with short-term interventions, while ignoring its roots and more durable investment. External intervention thus work on filling up a gap that might precisely serve as a catalyser.

The consequences of what precedes are quite wide-ranging. The lack of water for everyday needs can obviously affect health – but Israel’s stranglehold on this resource is also economically meaningful, since its cost and scarcity make it difficult for the Palestinians to develop their agriculture, not to mention any kind of industry. Even cultural goods, such as historic cisterns or springs, are damaged by Israeli targeting. As a result, the Palestinians are forced to depend more on Israel, to get water, food, industrial goods or jobs. The NGOs and international structures involved in the sector simply reinforce this vicious circle.

Consequently, water is a very powerful tool. Controlling it enables the Israelis to throw many aspects of the Palestinians’ life off balance, without much effort. All they have to do is turn off the tap.

These man-made shortages might well soon lead to real shortages due to over-extraction, pollution, and bad management of existing resources. In the end, this affects the people’s relationship with their country, and drives them off their lands in search of water or a better life, since they are stuck between too many actors and interests that are not theirs. Water is only one among other elements in such a process, but it is a very fundamental one.

Therefore, international donors invest a lot into technical projects, but focusing only on them is ineffective, especially from a long-term perspective. This is not to say that technical improvements are not necessary, but rather to underline that they cannot precede nor replace a political solution. The latter should be global, and realistic.

Israel must be held accountable for its systematic violations of human rights and international law, which means that more advocacy is needed both locally and internationally. Theinternational community is responsible for helping the Palestinians to claim their rights.

This would somehow rebalance the situation, and open the door to more equitable deals. But as long as Israel’s supremacy and control of water resources remain unchallenged, change seems unlikely, no matter how many billions of dollars are spent on technical solutions each year. Building pipes, even with the best intentions and Western technologies, won’t makewater flow in them.

The lack of water in the occupied Palestinian territories is not of a technical, hydrogeological nature, but it is a “politically generated drought”. To address this reality, each actor should start by reassessing the general circumstances of the problem, in order to understand it globally. Only this will allow them to improve anything by dealing with its roots, and not exclusively with its consequences. Any other approach is a delusion and a waste of time.

(Source / 28.06.2016)

What Bahrain’s opposition crackdown means for country’s Brotherhood

Shiite Bahraini men sit on a wall with graffiti that reads ”People want self-determination” as they attend a rally held by the Al-Wefaq opposition party, in the village of Boori, south of Manama, Oct. 14, 2011, to mark the eight-month anniversary of the February 14 uprising

On the heels of a Bahraini court suspending Al-Wefaq for the Shiite society’s alleged role in creating “an environment for terrorism, extremism and violence,” Bahrain’s rulers delivered a powerful message June 20 by annulling Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim’s Bahraini citizenship.

Following five years of stalemate, the Bahraini leadership sees no purpose in engaging the Shiite opposition and instead favors eliminating Shiites who call for the government’s dissolution from political life in the island. By excluding popular political groups from Bahrain’s political arena amid a wider crackdown, however, there are risks of militancy gaining broader power and appeal within the Shiite opposition.

Throughout the past five years, Manama has grown increasingly reliant on Gulf Arab and Western allies. The Shiite-led Arab Spring uprising unsettled Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders fearful of Bahrain aligning with Tehran following a popular Shiite revolution. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were quick to deploy ground forces to the island by March 2011 to help Bahrain’s rulers quash the uprising.

Manama’s participation in the US-led military campaign against the Islamic State (IS) and the kingdom’s “pricey PR push” on K Street seem to have further consolidated Bahrain’s alliance with Washington, despite some diplomatic spats over the past five years. Despite the Department of Defense’s congressionally mandated contingency plans for relocating the Navy’s 5th Fleet, Washington is unlikely to undergo the massive undertaking of moving the Persian Gulf’s most powerful naval force to another facility. The United Kingdom’s plans for a permanent base in Mina Salman, Bahrain, announced in 2014, underscore Manama’s important role in London’s strategic return “East of Suez” 40 years after the Royal Navy’s official departure from the Gulf.

Unquestionably, allies in Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Washington and London have prevented the Al Khalifa rulers from being pressured into negotiating a resolution to the kingdom’s crisis.

The king’s Sunni Islamist support networks

The ruling family’s ties with the Bahraini Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, Minbar, and the more conservative Salafi society, Asala, to counterbalance the Shiite opposition has been another pillar of the regime’s strategy for standing strong since 2011.

Formed in 1984, Minbar’s platform reflects Bahrain’s liberal (by GCC standards) social environment, particularly with respect to women’s rights, although the group has close connections with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Kuwaiti branch. Many of Minbar’s members belong to the Hawala tribe, Sunni Arabs who migrated to Persia before returning to the Arabian Peninsula’s eastern shore. The Bahraini Muslim Brothers are middle-class professionals, many of whom are teachers and police officers.

Despite pressure from other GCC states, Manama has not designated Minbar a “terrorist” organization. The Sunni Islamist society not only continues operating publicly, but Bahrain’s Royal Court and Islamic banking sector reportedly fund Minbar. In exchange, Bahrain’s Muslim Brothers have backed the government’s post-2011 crackdown. In February 2013, for example, Minbar boycotted the national dialogue to protest what the island’s Muslim Brothers saw as unacceptable Shiite “silence” on violence plaguing the uprising’s two-year anniversary. At times, Minbar has even criticized the ruling family for responding too softly to Shiite dissent.

Despite Bahrain’s politically active Sunni Islamists supporting the regime during 2011, a growing number have made their own demands since that crisis erupted. In fact, Shiite protesters shared some of these demands such as releasing political prisoners and liberalizing Bahrain politically. Concerned about the possibility of Sunni opposition materializing, the state implemented electoral reforms to redraw boundaries before the 2014 elections. Consequently, Minbar and Asala only retained a combined three seats in the National Assembly’s Council of Representatives — down from five. Additionally, although Al-Wefaq was the main target of legislation passed last month to ban mixing religion with politics, the law also bodes poorly for Minbar and Asala — Bahrain’s second- and third-largest Islamist factions, respectively, after Al-Wefaq.

The influence of extremist ideologies in the kingdom’s Sunni communities is unsettling, particularly in light of numerous Bahraini Sunnis pledging allegiance to IS. As of January 2015, at least a dozen Bahrainis had joined Sunni militant organizations in Syria and Iraq. After King Hamad revoked Omar Bozboun’s Bahraini citizenship for joining IS, he responded by threatening to “enter Bahrain with blazing guns and behead the king.”

Turki al-Binali, a Salafi cleric hailing from a wealthy Sunni family allied with the Al Khalifas, is now IS’ leading preacher. Prior to leaving Bahrain in 2013, he held a rally in front of the US Embassy in Manama with his followers holding pictures of Osama bin Laden while waving al-Qaeda flags. Two and a half years after Binali left the kingdom, a Bahraini courttried him in absentia and nearly two dozen other Bahrainis on charges of seeking to topple the Manama regime and create an IS branch in the island. One family member, Mohamed Isa al-Binali, was an officer in the Interior Ministry overseeing Shiite inmates in Jaw Prison before defecting to IS in 2014.

There are several other reasons why Bahrain appears to be a logical destination for the group’s agenda. These include IS offshoots waging acts of terrorism in neighboring Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the presence of many Shiite Muslims and non-Muslim expatriates, the 5th Fleet being stationed in Bahrain, Manama’s role in the Washington-led military campaign against the group in Syria and the island’s reputation as the “brothel of the Gulf.”

Another threat to the nation’s stability stems from Manama granting Bahraini citizenship to Jordanian, Pakistani and Yemeni Sunnis to alter the country’s sectarian balance. Opposition voices in Bahrain maintain that these “naturalized Bahrainis” are Sunni “fundamentalists” who harbor anti-Shiite sentiments. As these non-Bahrainis earn their citizenship through service in Bahrain’s security apparatus, IS infiltration into the state’s military and police is a risk.

As underscored by the past several months of violent attacks targeting Bahrain’s security forces with improvised explosive devices and Molotov cocktails, the crackdown is failing to resolve the kingdom’s crisis. If the cancellation of Qassim’s citizenship and the court’s suspension of Al-Wefaq lead to the exacerbation of violence, the government will be forced to address an increasingly dire security crisis on top of managing social risks stemming from austerity measures amid an era of cheap oil — itself a contributing factor to the island’s sectarian issues.

As sectarian temperatures rise in the Gulf with Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah officials harshly condemning Manama’s annulment of Qassim’s citizenship and Iraqi Shiite forces retaking Fallujah from IS, the regime’s relationship with Minbar will be an important variable to observe as the Saudi-aligned monarchy seeks to maintain Sunni rule in a Shiite-majority island.

Looking ahead, will Minbar remain loyal to the Al Khalifas and continue viewing the crackdown as a safeguard against a Shiite takeover? Or will discontent over the Sunni Islamist society’s declining political influence cost the regime a key domestic ally? Will the regime continue seeing Minbar as a domestic ally against the Shiite opposition or as a gateway to IS?

(Source / 28.06.2016)

Jerusalem’s Aqsa compound closed to non-Muslims after violence

The Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem will be closed to non-Muslims for the final 10 days of Ramadan after clashes at the site

Israeli forces stand guard at the entrance of Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City

Israeli authorities announced on Tuesday they were closing Jerusalem’s flashpoint al-Aqsa mosque compound to non-Muslim visitors after a series of clashes between worshippers and police.

The decision will apply until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan next week, a police spokeswoman told AFP.

Clashes between Muslims and Israeli police have been taking place every morning since Sunday over Jewish visits to the site, with youths throwing stones and security forces firing tear gas and sponge-tipped bullets.

Prior to visiting hours on Tuesday, a stone hit an elderly Jewish woman in the head at the adjacent Western Wall plaza, police and medics said. She was taken to hospital with light injuries.

Islamic officials accused Israeli authorities of breaking a tacit agreement on non-Muslim access to the site during the last 10 days of Ramadan.

The period, which began on Sunday, is the most solemn for Muslims and attracts the highest number of worshippers.

Non-Muslims, including Jews, are allowed to visit the site during set hours but are barred from praying to avoid provoking tensions.

Revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, the mosque compound is located in East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

(Source / 28.06.2016)

UN “gravely concerned” as Israel demolishes homes in Palestinian refugee camp

Members of a Palestinian family collect their belongings near the rubble of their house after it was demolished by Israeli forces, in Kafr Kanna. (AFP/file)

Members of a Palestinian family collect their belongings near the rubble of their house after it was demolished by Israeli forces, in Kafr Kanna

The United Nations warned against imminent punitive home demolitions targeting Palestinian families in Qalandiya refugee camp in the central occupied West Bank, putting at least six Palestinian refugees at risk of being left homeless.

UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, said in a statement on Saturday that it was “gravely concerned” about the Israeli High Court of Justice’s recent rejection of the families’ appeal to save their homes.

“The families are in a state of perpetual apprehension as they wait for implementation of the punitive demolition which could occur at any undefined time,” the statement read.

The families were notified on June 14 that they had five days to evacuate, after Israeli authorities ruled their homes would be destroyed as punishment for stab attacks carried out by two young members of the families on December 23 at the Jaffa Gate of East Jerusalem’s Old City.

The two 21-year-old Palestinians, Issa Assaf and Anan Abu Habsa, were shot dead by Israeli police on the scene.

The attacks left one Israeli killed and another seriously injured, while a third Israeli was accidentally shot by friendly fire and later succumbed to his wounds.

According to Israeli media, the justices in the hearing argued that Assaf and Abu Habsa’s killings did not constitute adequate punishment for their actions. The media reports did not mention whether the families were linked in any way to the attacks.

 The court also reportedly rejected claims that Israel’s practice of home demolitions discriminates between Palestinians and Jewish Israelis who carry out attacks.

“UNRWA remains concerned that six Palestinian refugees are at risk of being made homeless as a result of the punitive demolitions. Further, although the Court stated the demolition of the home located in the most crowded area should not involve explosives, it could impact other neighboring structures.”

The UN agency’s statement noted that 19 Palestinians were displaced and 46 others were affected during a Nov. 16 punitive demolition in the same camp, and two Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during the clashes that erupted during the operation.
UNRWA also reiterated in their statement that punitive demolitions are illegal under international law, and that it had most recently communicated its position to Israeli authorities in April 2016 in the context of court ruling regarding demolitions in Qalandiya refugee camp.
The Qalandiya refugee camp has been a focal point of violence since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October. At least 15 of the camp’s residents have been killed, either while attacking Israelis or during clashes. Israeli soldiers have routinely carried out raids into the camp’s narrow streets, often leading to violent clashes. In March, two Palestinians were shot and fatally wounded when two soldiers allegedly stumbled into the camp by accident, as the Israeli army flooded the camp with troops searching for them.

Qalandiya saw another punitive home demolition in October, carried out on the home of a young resident who had shot and killed an Israeli hiker near a spring outside Ramallah.

Punitive home demolitions were expedited at the request of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in mid-October, and many have been carried out across the occupied Palestinian territory since.
The move came despite past recommendations by an Israeli military committee that the practice did not deter attacks. Israeli rights group B’Tselem has condemned the practice as “court sanctioned revenge” carried out on family members who have not committed crimes, amounting to collective punishment.

According to UN documentation, a total of 30 punitive demolitions were carried out in 2015 and 2016, displacing and rendering homeless 243 Palestinians, including 42 Palestinian refugees.

(Source / 28.06.2016)

Israeli police arrest one of al-Aqsa guards

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)– Israeli police forces arrested Tuesday one of al-Aqsa Mosque Mosque’s guards and took him to al-Qishleh detention center for investigation. Local sources affirmed that Fadi Alyan, a guard at the holy shrine, was arrested today by Israeli police, bringing the overall number of Jerusalemite detainees over the past 24 hours to 17. Earlier Tuesday, 12 Jerusalemite youths and minors were detained while leaving the Mosque.

(Source / 28.06.2016)

Yemen clashes, air strikes kill 80 including 37 civilians

ADEN: Intensified fighting and air strikes over the past 24 hours in Yemen have left 80 people dead, including 37 civilians, as lengthy peace talks in Kuwait made no headway, officials said.

In the largest toll, warplanes from the pro-government Saudi-led coalition killed 34 people, including 19 civilians when they targeted Shiite rebels in the southwestern region of Taez, a Yemeni military official said.

The pre-dawn air strike hit a lorry transporting weapons for the Huthi rebels as it crossed a busy road, a provincial official said, adding that four women were among the dead, as well as 15 rebels.

In the flashpoint city of Taez, 11 civilians and a soldier were killed when rebels bombed a residential area, a military official said.

Meanwhile, 12 rebels and three loyalist soldiers were killed in clashes in Nahm, northeast of Sanaa, while six other rebels were killed in fighting in Marib, east of the capital, the official said.

In the same province, a coalition warplane hit a vehicle carrying pro-government forces “by mistake”, killing four soldiers and wounding four others, another military official said.

In the south, at least seven civilians including two children were killed in air strikes “probably by drones” on jihadists which mistakenly hit a nearby house in Mahfed, between the provinces of Abyan and Shabwa in Yemen’s south, a local official told AFP.

The Huthis overran the capital in late 2014 before moving into other parts of Yemen, prompting a Saudi-led coalition to intervene in March last year.

The United Nations says more than 6,400 people have been killed in Yemen since then, mostly civilians.

The fighting has also driven 2.8 million people from their homes and left more than 80 per cent of the population in need of humanitarian aid.

(Source / 28.06.2016)

Ergste wat je kan overkomen!

Het ergste wat ons kan overkomen, beste broeders en zusters, is het vervallen in shirk; dé grootste zonde. Deze zonde die het paradijs voor ons verboden maakt en ons doet behoren tot de eeuwige bewoners van het Vuur! Allah zegt:

“Hij die deelgenoten aan Allah toekent: Allah heeft hem waarlijk het Paradijs verboden. En zijn bestemming zal de Hel zijn.” [5:72]

Dit geldt voor degene die grote shirk begaat en daar geen berouw van heeft getoond vóór zijn dood. Shirk is namelijk onder te verdelen in twee soorten: grote en kleine shirk.

Grote shirk
Grote shirk houdt in dat je een deelgenoot aan Allah toekent door je te wenden tot iets of iemand anders dan Allah met een vorm van aanbidding.

Een voorbeeld van grote shirk is het aanroepen van iets of iemand anders dan Allah (Du’a), terwijl deze afwezig is en niet in staat is om jou te verhoren. Zoals sommige onwetenden dat doen bij de graven in vele landen. Al zij het met het voorwendsel dat zij hen slechts aanroepen als voorspraak bij Allah. Dit was ook het voorwendsel van de vroegere mushrikien (polytheïsten). Allah zegt:

“En zij aanbidden naast Allah wat hen niet schaadt en hen niet baat, en zij zeggen: ‘Dezen zijn onze voorsprekers bij Allah’.” [10:18]

Degene die grote shirk begaat, begaat ongeloof. Al zijn voorgaande goede daden worden hierdoor vruchteloos. Allah zegt:

“En voorzeker, er is aan jou (O Mohammed) en aan degenen vóór jou geopenbaard: Als jij shirk pleegt, dan zullen jouw daden vruchteloos worden en zal jij zeker tot de verliezers behoren.” [39:65]

Grote shirk wordt niet vergeven wanneer daar geen berouw van is getoond vóór de dood, in tegenstelling tot de overige zonden waar het aan Allah is om de dienaar daarvoor te straffen of te vergeven. Allah zegt:

“Voorwaar, Allah vergeeft niet dat aan Hem deelgenoten worden toegekend, maar Hij vergeeft daarnaast, wie Hij wil..” [4:48]

Kleine shirk
Kleine shirk is alles wat leidt naar grote shirk en in de Koran en Sunnah shirk is genoemd, maar niet valt onder grote shirk.

Vormen van kleine shirk zijn het zweren bij iets of iemand anders dan Allah. Zo ook de uitspraak: ‘als het die of dat niet was dan was dit en dit gebeurd’, zoals bijvoorbeeld: “als het de arts niet was dan was ik nu nog steeds ziek.” Het correcte is: “als het Allah niet was en vervolgens de arts was ik nu nog steeds ziek.”

Een andere vorm van kleine shirk is riyaa; de aanbidding beter uitvoeren omdat mensen deze aanschouwen. Zoals een persoon die de gewoonte heeft om het gebed haastig te verrichten, maar omdat deze wordt aanschouwd nu goed de tijd neemt.

Verschil tussen grote en kleine shirk
Kleine shirk is in tegenstelling tot grote shirk geen ongeloof, maar behoort wel tot de grootste zonden. Ook maakt kleine shirk de voorgaande daden niet vruchteloos, wel maakt het de daad waarin deze voorkomt vruchteloos. Zoals het voorgaande voorbeeld van het gebed.

Groot of klein beste broeders en zusters, wij moeten ver verwijderd blijven van alle vormen van shirk. Hopend dat de volgende uitspraak van onze nobele profeet vrede zij met hem op ons van toepassing zal zijn:

“Wie sterft zonder iets aan shirk te plegen, zal het paradijs betreden.”

En dat de volgende uitspraak van de profeet vrede zij met hem niet op ons van toepassing zal zijn:

“En wie sterft terwijl hij shirk pleegde (en daar geen berouw van heeft getoond) zal het Vuur betreden.” [Sahih moslim]

Wordt vervolgd …

Stuur het door; “Wie aanspoort tot het goede, heeft dezelfde beloning als degene die ernaar handelt.” [Sahih Muslim]

Abulfadl / Student aan de Universiteit van Medina, Saudi Arabië.

23 Ramadan 1437 / – 28 juni 2016 –

UN refugee agency slams Israel’s punitive demolitions of Palestinian homes

UNRWA

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has condemned Israel’s policy of punitive demolitions of Palestinian homes.

UNRWA says it is “gravely concerned” about a recent decision of the Israeli High Court of Justice to reject appeals filed by Palestine refugee families against two punitive demolitions in Qalandiya refugee camp. The implementation of the demolitions could now occur at any undefined time.

According to UNRWA, “six Palestine refugees are at risk of being made homeless as a result of the punitive demolitions. Further, although the Court stated the demolition of the home located in the most crowded area should not involve explosives, it could impact other neighbouring structures.”

The agency notes that on November 16, 2015, during a punitive demolition also in Qalandiya camp, 19 Palestinian refugees were displaced and 46 persons affected. Two refugees were also killed by Israeli occupation forces during the clashes that erupted during the operation.

UNRWA has affirmed that “punitive demolitions are illegal under international law”, urging “the Israeli authorities to put an end to the practice.” In 2015 and 2016, a total of 30 punitive demolitions were carried out, displacing 243 Palestinians, including 42 refugees.

(Source / 28.06.2016)

Interview with Dr. Shahida Wizarat

From KhamakarPress Correspondent in Pakistan: Haseeb Asghar
Dr. Shahida Wizarat, Senior Fellow with the rank of Professor and Head of Department of Economics at IOBM, holds a PhD in Economics from University of East Anglia, Norwich, England and M.A Economics from Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA. She has over 30 years experience to her credit in teaching, research and consultancy. She has held the positions of Director, (AERC), University of Karachi, Director Karachi Stock Exchange, Consultant, World Bank and Asian Development Bank and prepared investment guide for foreign private investors for Citibank. Her research publications are in the area of Economic Growth and Challenges in Pakistan. She holds honorary positions of Expert Economist, Canadian Center for South Asian Studies at the University of Ontario, Member Pakistan Telecom Authority, Regional Advisory Committee and Member, Academic Council, Area Study Centre for Europe, University of Karachi.
Our correspondent Haseeb Asghar has interviewed Dr. Shahida Wizarat

Naval blockade of Gaza to continue after Israel-Turkey reconciliation

Turkish officials say deal will see blockade eased but not ended, with 10,000 tonnes of aid expected to enter by boat on Friday

The Gaza Strip has been subject to an Israeli-imposed blockade since 2007

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim on Monday set out the terms of a reconciliation deal that will see the siege of the Gaza Strip eased, but not ended.

The long-awaited deal – which ends months of negotiations – will mean that Israel maintains its naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, in place since 2007.

Palestinian officials had said prior to the deal that Turkey was attempting to persuade Israel to lift its siege of the coastal enclave in return for normalising relations, which were officially cut off in 2010 when Israeli commandos stormed the Mavi Marmara aid flotilla to Gaza, killing ten Turkish civilians.

However, Netanyahu told a press conference in Rome on Monday that the deal will not include a lifting of the naval blockade, but will allow Turkish aid to enter the strip through the Israeli port of Ashdod.

Speaking during a separate, but simultaneous press conference in Ankara on Monday, the Turkish prime minister said that 10,000 tonnes of Turkish aid will enter Gaza through the port on Friday, a move that he said would be tantamount to an end to the blockade.

“It took years to reach this agreement,” Yildirim said, calling on the governments of Turkey and Israel to fully implement the agreements included in the deal.

There were mixed reactions across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories after the announcement.

Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog accused Netanyahu of “grovelling” to Turkey by agreeing to pay compensation.

Hanan Ashrawi, an executive committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), told Middle East Eye, “It’s a pact of self-interest, both by Turkey and Israel.”

Senior Hamas official and one-time political adviser to former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, Ahmed Yousef told MEE that the agreement was “a good deal” that allows Turkey to help both the Palestinians and itself.

He conceded that, “Yes, there are some (of our) people who don’t like Turkey – the great Muslim country – to normalise relations with the Israelis before ending their occupation to the West Bank and Gaza.”

But, with a mixture of realism and resignation, said: “This is what they can do right now.”

Pledge to publicise deal

The deal will see Israel and Turkey return ambassadors to their counterparts as soon as possible.

Turkey also gained the right to implement a number of humanitarian projects in the impoverished strip, including the building of a 200-bed hospital.

Building projects in the Strip have floundered under the blockade, which forbids the import of key materials like concrete.

Netanyahu said the deal was of great “strategic significance,” pledging that it will strengthen the interests of both Turkey and Israel.

He hinted earlier in the day that the deal could have an “immense” impact on the Israeli economy, saying that the possibility of inking a gas deal with Turkey could bring “huge sums” to the economy.

Yildirim, however, was more cautious about the prospect of an imminent gas deal between the two countries, saying it was too early to speculate.

Israel has also committed to depositing $20mn in a fund to compensate victims of the Mavi Marmara raid.

Many exact terms of the deal, however, remain obscure, with an adviser to Netanyahu pledging to publicise the text of the deal “in the coming days”.

In a sign of potential disagreements over the details of the agreement, Turkey on Monday rejected any suggestion that it could affect Hamas’s activities inside Turkey.

Netanyahu had told reporters that the deal would mean restrictions on the Turkey-based activities of the Palestinian movement, which controls the Gaza Strip.

However, Yildirim rejected the statement, saying the reconciliation deal has “nothing to do” with Hamas’s members and activities inside Turkey.

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to comment on the deal later on Monday evening, following a meal to break the Ramadan fast.

The reconciliation deal was also welcomed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who called it a “hopeful signal for the stability of the region” during a meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

‘Problematic’ deal

The deal was slammed by the family of an Israeli soldier killed in Gaza, whose body is still in the possession of Hamas.

“The Prime Minister’s declarations were hollow,” the family of Hadar Goldin – who died during the 2014 bombardment of the Gaza Strip – told Israeli media on Monday.

They slammed the “problematic” deal, which they said they had hoped would include the return of their relative’s body.

Senior Hamas official Yousef, however, told MEE that Turkey had promised “to Hamas and the Palestinians that they are going to help them by building a water distillation plant and also a new electricity plant and they are going to be building a hospital and many other things”.

The unemployment rate among Gaza residents, he said, is 60 percent, explaining the sense of weariness in the besieged enclave after almost a decade of occupation.

“[Turkey] might in the near future start building an industrial zone to help the Palestinians building their economy. So I do believe that this is a good step in the right direction.”

Others were less forgiving.

The PLO’s executive committee member Ashrawi said that for Turkey and Israel, there was “a mutual interest in not voting against each other in public forums” as well as increased scope for energy cooperation following the breakdown in ties with Russia.

“In many ways, they undermine the reunification of Palestine because they treated Gaza as though it was under Israeli sovereignty, as though it was separate from the rest of Palestine and they totally ignored the PLO,” she said.

By undermining the PLO and dealing directly with Israel, Ashrwai said, “that gives Israel more control and say over Gaza”.

“They didn’t get the siege lifted, which is the real issue,” she said. “I think Israel got a lot out of this frankly speaking.”

(Source / 28.06.2016)