Beyond the binary: Two states, one state, failed state, no state

Palestinian protester

An injured Palestinian protester carries an Palestinian flag during clashes on Oct. 13, 2015

By: Al-Shabaka
Though the international community has hailed the two-state solution since the early 1990s, it has become clear that Israel’s fragmentation of Palestinian people and territory over the past 50 years aims to make a sovereign Palestinian state impossible. While politicians explain this as a result of misunderstandings or missed opportunities between the two parties, the accurate explanation is that Israel does not, in fact, desire two states. This outcome would undermine its goal of conserving preferential rights for Israeli Jews in the territory under its control. Numerous progressives now argue that one state with equal rights for all is the logical alternative. While such a binational state may be just, it is highly unlikely, especially in the short to medium term.
A number of more cynical alternatives are more probable:
– A prolonged and intensified status quo would see continued Israeli management of a non-sovereign and dependent Palestinian entity in the West Bank, as Al-Shabaka analyst Asem Khalil has pointed out. A temporary solution for Gaza could be reached with Egypt, with limited movement of goods and people. The Palestinian Authority (PA) would remain a group of elite intermediaries to the Palestinian population, and the Palestinian entity’s lack of fiscal or developmental capacity would help render it a failed state.
– Over time, this scenario could become more deeply institutionalized through a permanent no-state solution, as my own analysis shows, whereby Israel perpetually controls the Palestinians while assigning some domains of governance to a non-sovereign local authority.
– A similar outcome would involve three states comprising Israel, a demilitarized mini-state in the Gaza Strip contained by Egypt, and a (settler) “State of the West Bank.”
The potential chaos of a post-Abbas era amplifies the likelihood of these scenarios. Any violent struggle for power within Fatah would lead to further fragmentation, and would strengthen Israel’s ability to promote statehood for Palestinians in Gaza while entrenching its presence in the West Bank. If the PA were to collapse, a wave of migration toward the East Bank could further increase the possibility of these outcomes.
Policy recommendations
1. Those serious about a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must move beyond the one or two-state binary and discuss the implications of a no-state solution for Palestinian self-determination.
2. Palestinians must recognize the potential for the status quo to become a permanent erosion of their rights in the absence of successful resistance strategies.
3. The international community must relinquish its assumption that the status quo is a post-Oslo transitional period, along with its “wait and see” approach. It must admit the failure of this policy and establish enforcement mechanisms, including regarding breaches of international law, that threaten to ossify the condition of apartheid.
(Source / 31.05.2017)

Kaya: We will not stop supporting the Palestinians

Mehmet Kaya IHH

Director of Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) in Gaza, Mehmet Kaya, affirmed that Turkey will continue supporting the Palestinian Question and people. “The Mavi Marmara martyrs have not died in vain”, he said.

“The Palestinian people will not forget Mavi Marmara martyrs”, he added. Kaya’s statements came in the commemoration ceremony of the seventh anniversary of the Mavi Marmara attack by Israeli naval forces.

The Turkish official called on Arabs and Muslims to take action in order to lift the Gaza siege and to support the city of Occupied Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque which have come under Israeli incursions and ceaseless Judaization attempts.

For her part, the spokeswoman of the International Campaign to Break the Israeli Siege on Gaza, Muna Skeik, said the Mavi Marmara attack ran contrary to international norms and charters and constituted a collective punishment against more than two million Palestinians.

She warned that the siege on Gaza has reached an unprecedented disastrous stage. Skeik also hailed the IHH for its great efforts to help Palestinians in Gaza and appealed to the League of Arab States to abide by its resolution of breaking the Gaza siege.

Israeli naval forces on May 31, 2010 intercepted and stormed the biggest ship within the Freedom Flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, which was sailing towards Gaza Strip in order to break the siege which had been imposed since 2006. The Israeli forces killed ten Turkish nationals aboard Mavi Marmara and wounded many others in the bloody attack that took place in international waters.

(Source / 31.05.2017)

“Jerusalem Capital of Palestine” campaign kicks off

Jerusalem Capital of Palestine

The “Jerusalem the Capital of Palestine” campaign was launched by the Europeans for Jerusalem Foundation to speak up against the swift pace of Israel’s Judaization schemes and settlement activity.

Chairman of the Europeans for Jerusalem Foundation, Dr. Mohamed Hanun, said the campaign comes at a time when Israel has stepped up assaults on holy sites and settlement projects in Occupied Jerusalem in an attempt to wipe out the city’s Islamic and Christian landmarks.

Dr. Hanun dubbed an Israeli cabinet meeting held last week underneath the Buraq Wall a “dangerous escalation” and a threat to regional peace.

He called for serious measures to pressure Israel to cease its violations and abide by the international law and the UN resolutions.

“Such practices represent an act of provocation to the Muslim and Christian communities in the world . . . . Israeli settlers should halt their break-ins at holy al-Aqsa Mosque,” added Hanun.

For his part, the foundation’s deputy head, Issa Taha, said on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem, that the campaign kicked off, in partnership with other NGOs, so as to expose Israel’s crimes in the entire region.

A series of events, rallies, marches, and sit-ins is expected to take place all the way through the campaign, slated to last until June.

Taha raised alarm bells over the repercussions of Israel’s excavations beneath Jerusalem’s holy sites, urging the international community and government to speak up against such violations.

(Source / 31.05.2017)

Ocampo: Israeli settlement activity war crime

ICC Ocampo

Luis Moreno Ocampo, former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), said on Wednesday that the investigation being conducted by the ICC Public Prosecution Office in the file of the Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, will most likely lead to the conviction of Israeli leaders.

Ocampo explained that the Israeli settlement activity is an ongoing war crime that constitutes a blatant violation of the Rome Statute and the principles of the international law which prohibit the occupying power to transfer its civilians to the occupied territory.

In this context, Ocampo denied statements attributed to him by a Hebrew newspaper a year and a half ago that the settlements do not violate the law, noting that it is not the first time that the Hebrew media claim such statements and that what was said is contrary to his firm legal convictions.

These statements were voiced during a panel discussion organized by al-Quds University in which a group of academics, students and researchers in the field of the international criminal law participated and discussed in depth the ICC mechanisms and the sequence of the events related to the Palestinian complaint filed to the court.

Ocampo pointed out that the lawsuit filed by the State of Palestine to the ICC caused a pressure on the Israeli side and added, quoting an Israeli leader, that Israel now recruits lawyers more than soldiers.

He affirmed that the Palestinian lawsuit is not an end in itself but one of the various political and diplomatic means used by the Palestinian side in order to achieve its legitimate goal of ending the occupation.

He said that exerting more pressure on Israel will compel it to reconsider its policies toward the Palestinians especially the settlement activity.

He stressed the importance of the role the civil society institutions, especially the legal centers in universities, can play in exposing the Israeli violations.

(Source / 31.05.2017)

NGO Coalition slams Israel over Judaization of Jerusalem curricula

Palestinian schools NGO

The Non-Governmental Coalition condemned Israel’s approval of a five-year plan to Judaize academic curricula at Palestinian schools across Occupied Jerusalem.

Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin submitted a plan to force schools in Occupied Jerusalem to teach an Israeli curriculum as opposed to the Palestinian school curriculum.

The aim is to improve the quality of life and the environment for Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem and to strengthen the integration of east Jerusalem residents into Israeli society and economy, thus boosting the economic and social resilience of the city, claimed Bennett.

(Source / 31.05.2017)

Israel killed 107 Palestinians, injured more than 3,000 in 2016

Report OCHA

A report issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Wednesday said that Israel killed 107 Palestinians and injured 3,247 others in 2016.

The OCHA office said in its report monitoring the Israeli violations in the occupied Palestinian territories in 2016 that in 2015, 169 Palestinians were killed and 15,477 were injured.

The report published days ahead of the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of Jerusalem reported a 37% decline in the number of the Palestinian martyrs who fell due to conflict-related violence in the occupied Palestinian territories in 2016 and an 80% decline in the number of injuries compared to 2015.

It stressed that the “occupation policies and practices remain the key cause of humanitarian needs in the occupied Palestinian territories,” noting that the internal Palestinian political division is a serious contributing factor to the humanitarian crisis.

It pointed to the continued displacement of the Palestinians, adding that 47,200 people, including children, (9,000 families), remained displaced until the end of 2016.

According to the OCHA, the Israeli occupation authorities demolished 1,094 buildings over claims that they lacked construction permits including 29 houses that were punitively demolished or sealed following attacks allegedly carried out by Palestinians against Israeli targets.

The OCHA report warned that thousands of Palestinians in Area C (which is under Israeli control according to the Oslo Agreement signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1993) and in East Jerusalem were exposed to forcible transfer policies “due to a coercive environment generated by the Israeli policies and practices”.

The UN agency revealed that the Gaza Strip isolation has been worsened due to the continued closure of the Rafah crossing by the Egyptian authorities, pointing out that the crossing was open for 44 days in 2016 compared to 32 days in 2015.

Meanwhile, the OCHA noted that it recorded 572 movement obstacles to the Palestinians’ movement in December 2016 in addition to 110 others in the Israeli-controlled area in al-Khalil city.

The OCHA highlighted that tight restrictions were imposed on the movement of humanitarian organizations’ staff into and out of Gaza with Israel rejecting 31% of permit applications to enter or exit Gaza.

The number of the incidents of impeding the movement of the staff of the United Nations and other international organizations in the West Bank was 211 in 2016 compared to 183 incidents in 2015, it said.

OCHA also recorded that the Israeli authorities demolished and confiscated 300 donor-funded buildings worth 730,000 dollars that were provided as humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians.

In the same context, more than 100 similar buildings received demolition, stop-work, or evacuation orders in addition to verbal warnings.

The OCHA head David Carden said that the crisis in the occupied Palestinian territories at its heart is due to the lack of protection for the Palestinian civilians and the absence of accountability for the violations of the international law.

(Source / 31.05.2017)

Political Committee Selects 12 FSA Groups to Name Representatives as Part of Plan to Reform Coalition

Within the framework of the reform program proposed by the new leadership of the Syrian Coalition, the Coalition’s political committee has set up a special committee to consult with the FSA groups with regards to political representation in the Coalition.

The committee has selected 12 FSA groups in accordance with criteria agreed upon and approved by the Coalition’s political committee and called on them to name representatives to be incorporated in the Coalition’s ranks.

In a press release issued on Wednesday, the Coalition said that most of the selected FSA groups have already agreed to name representatives in the Coalition. The political committee is now waiting for the rest to agree.

The special committee also decided to set up a working group to supervise coordination of efforts between the Coalition and military forces of the revolution.

“This important step brought together the political and military wings of the revolution and is expected to ensure strong representation of the FSA groups in the Coalition,” the Coalition said.

Based on recommendations by the special committee and the legal committee, the Coalition’s political committee has taken a unanimous decision to end the membership of the FSA General Staff which had represented the now dissolved FSA’s Supreme Military Council.

The Coalition’s political committee thanked members of the Coalition who represented the military movement over the last period for their efforts. It stressed that those members will still be welcome to name representatives within the framework of the 12 FSA groups chosen to be represented in the Coalition.

The reform program put forward by the President of the Syrian Coalition Riad Seif and approved by the political committee includes a series of steps designed to reform the Coalition’s bylaws and ensure strong representation of civil society and political forces in the Coalition.

The program also includes the establishment of joint working groups with local councils, political parties and bodies, the youth, the revolutionary forces, intellectual figures, and the business community.

The program is also aimed at ensuring wider participation in the decision-making process, promoting transparency and accountability and acquaint the Syrian public opinion with the course of the political action and the challenges facing it so that the Coalition regains the confidence of the Syrian people in their revolution and political national bodies.

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 31.05.2017)

Denmark to stop funding Palestinian NGO’s

Danish Foreign Minister, Anders Samuelsen [Eget Arbejde/Wikipedia]

Danish Foreign Minister, Anders Samuelsen

The Danish Foreign Ministry has ordered an investigation into donations to non-governmental organisations operating in the Palestinian territories, following pressure from Israel. No further donations will be approved until the investigation is completed.

We must be sure that Danish assistance contributes in a positive way to the advancement of human rights in the Palestinian territories

Danish Foreign Minister, Anders Samuelsen, said in a statement.

It is thought that the decision was taken due to pressure from Israel. Israeli sources reported that in a meeting earlier this month, Israeli and Danish diplomats said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Samuelsen to stop Denmark’s funding for Palestinian NGOs that promoted the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.

Netanyahu is even reported to have personally handed a list to Samulsen containing names of organisations which receive Danish funds that Israel says are linked to the BDS movement.

Read: The UK is quietly changing its policy on Israel and Palestine

In his statement, Samuelsen also mentioned that it was “possible that in wake of the examination we will be forced to stop our support of a number of Palestinian organisations. Until this examination is complete we won’t sign any new grants for Palestinian organisations.”

(Source / 31.05.2017)

Adalah: Israel Cannot Legally Offer Land Tenders in West Bank

31 MAY
7:07 AM

Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, sent a letter to senior Israeli officials on 23rd of May, urging them to cancel open tenders offering Palestinian lands declared as state property in the West Bank, as Israel has no legal authority over the 1967 occupied territories.

Lawyer Suhad Bishara, director of Adalah’s Land and Planning Rights unit, wrote in the letter to Israel Land Authority (ILA) director Shimron Adiel, construction minister Yoav Galant, finance minister Moshe Kahlon, and attorney general Avichai Mandelblit that “the ILA does not have the legal authority to offer land tenders in the West Bank.”

During 2016 and 2017, the ILA published open tenders for available plots of land in illegal West Bank settlements including Givat Ze’ev, Ma’ale Adumim, Alfei Menashe, Ariel, Beitar Illit, Karnei Shomron, and Oranit.

“The territories included in these tenders are being managed as if they are part of the State of Israel to which Israeli state law applies. This practice, for all intents and purposes, therefore annexes these territories to the State of Israel,” lawyer Bishara wrote, according to the PNN.

“The Basic Law on Israel Lands determines that Israeli land is ‘land in Israel belonging to the state, a development authority, or to the Jewish National Fund.’ In other words: land within the territory of the State of Israel,” the letter reminded.

Adalah emphasized that this Israeli practice is a violation of the international law which determines that any long-term changes imposed upon occupied territories must be in the interests of the protected local civilian population.

International law also forbids the occupying power from exploiting occupied territories for its general use, it added.

(Source / 31.05.2017)

Elderly Palestinians recall ‘good old days’ of Palestinian food security

Palestinian farmer

A Palestinian farmer works in his wheat field during the harvest season in the occupied West Bank village of Tuqu in June 2012

By: Abdul-Hakim Salah
“God bless the good old days, when we all had abundant, healthy food from our own production without the need for cash,” 84-year-old Khadijah Balboul — Umm al-Abed as she likes to be called — told me with a deep sigh.
It was my repeated complaints about the high cost of living and my irregular salary payments that aroused my mother’s old memories when I joined her and her 78-year-old neighbor Rabiha Issa, also known as Umm Ali, for a tea in the village of al-Khader in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem.
I was not asking the two women, who never received a formal education, to define food security or sustainability, but they unknowingly struck a chord.
The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization identifies food security as a state when “all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”
According to a 2014 study by the Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ), Palestinian households spend approximately 38.6 percent of their monthly income on food and beverages, a significant percentage given that the same study estimated that the average income stood between 1,500 and 3,500 shekels ($420 to $980).
Both Umm al-Abed and Umm Ali talked about their lives decades ago, back when, they were certain, the overwhelming majority of Palestinians were better off in terms of access to healthy food, especially in rural areas.
My mother reminisced when every single family in the countryside owned farmland in which they very carefully invested time and energy to produce enough crops for them and their livestock.
She and Umm Ali recalled enthusiastically the “safe and natural foods” from six and seven decades ago, repeatedly interrupting one another to reminisce about tasty tomatoes, eggplants, grapes, and plums, as well as homemade jams, dairy products, and the “street dancers” — the colloquial expression for chickens raised in families’ backyards.
“Almost all vegetables, fruits, and grains we ate were from our lands, and we scarcely used any pesticides or chemical fertilizers,” Umm Ali said.
“If you are talking about the 1970s and early 1980s, I can remember these times as a child and a teenager, but many people were poor!” I objected.
“If by poor, you mean people did not have a lot of cash, you are right,” Umm al-Abed answered. “Very few people were rich in that sense, but nobody was poor at all when it came to food access.”
If the situation seemed so idyllic all these years ago, what has caused such a dramatic downfall in Palestinian food security?
A 2015 report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTD) stated that the Israeli occupation “imposes severe constraints on the development of the Palestinian agricultural sector and, indeed, the entire economy,” rendering the task of achieving sustainable agricultural development in the occupied Palestinian territory “nearly impossible.”
The core problems, according to the UNCTD report, stem in large part from Israeli restrictions on Palestinian land and water access, trade, and freedom of movement, which have in turn created “lower incentives for investment in agriculture.”
The loss of land to illegal Israeli settlements and Israel’s illegal separation wall is another major factor impeding Palestinian agriculture.
Ismail Issa, the deputy mayor of al-Khader, where Umm al-Abed and Umm Ali live, said that Israeli authorities had confiscated more than 20 percent of the village’s agricultural land since 1967. Out of 22,000 dunams (5,436 acres) of arable land in the area, farmers have lost approximately 5,000 dunams (1,235 acres) to illegal Israeli settlements, outposts, bypass roads, and security zones around settlements, he estimated.
While the two women agreed that Israeli occupation policies were a major factor, they brought up another angle to the story, which is not always discussed by the many studies about Palestinian economy and food security.
Both Umm al-Abed and Umm Ali remembered when Palestinian farmers used to take their produce to the Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem in the early 1970s to sell them to Israeli customers “at very good prices.”
However, Israelis then began to encourage Palestinians to work with them in construction in and around Jerusalem, Umm al-Abed added. At the beginning, she recalled, people were reluctant to work with “the enemy,” but gradually they were enticed by the good salaries they were being offered.
“That was the beginning of our agricultural problems, as farmers, especially from the younger generation, were diverted from their land and ran after the cash they could get,” Umm al-Abed said.
Following Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory in 1967, the number of Palestinian workers in Israel sharply increased — from 20,000 to 66,000 between 1970 and 1975, according to 1998 study by Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute-MAS.
According to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for enforcing Israeli government policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, more than 75,000 Palestinian workers from the West Bank had permits to work in Israel in 2016 — and that is without counting thousands of others who work in Israel without such permits, or who are employed in illegal Israeli settlements.
In simple terms, Umm Ali sighed, Israelis killed two birds in one stone.
“The Israeli occupation played a smart game,” she said. “They used Palestinians to build their state and their settlements, and at the same time they encouraged many of them to desert their agricultural land, which the Israelis then confiscated under pretext that it was deserted.”
According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), the total cultivated area in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip dropped from approximately 1,851 square kilometers in 2002 to 932 square kilometers in 2011. Reliable statistics about cultivated land in Palestine before the year 2000 couldn’t be found, though a study by the Islamic University of Gaza has suggested that agricultural lands in Palestine before 1948 amounted to 6,300 square kilometers.
UNRWA, PCBS, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and the World Food Program concluded in a joint statement in 2014 that food insecurity in Palestine could only be sustainably reduced by addressing the root causes of the crisis — namely the ongoing blockade on Gaza and the occupation of the West Bank.
Meanwhile, for Umm al-Abed and Umm Ali, as long as the Palestinian Authority doesn’t sufficiently support the agricultural sector, by helping farmers better access their lands and market their products, and as long as the younger Palestinian generations do not learn to love and tend their land, the issue of food security will remain unsolved.
(Source / 31.05.2017)