The refugees’ return to Palestine is a must

MEMO's week in pictures

Palestinian woman holds a key, symbolising the right to her home from 1948, during the 68th anniversary of the ‘Nakba’ in Ramallah, West Bank

By Asa Winstanley

In just under a year’s time, Palestinians will mark the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, the 1948 Catastrophe that marks their expulsion from Palestine. More than 750,000 Palestinians, most of the then population, were forcibly expelled by the Jewish militias of the organised Zionist movement, the same sectarian forces that went on to form the nucleus of the Israel Defence Forces.

Contrary to the Israeli propaganda which held sway in the West for many years, the Palestinians did not leave voluntarily or because “the Arab leaders told them to”. As has by now been well established and admitted by even right-wing Zionist historians like Benny Morris, the Palestinians were expelled either at gunpoint or out of fear, after hearing about the many massacres of civilians that the Jewish militias had carried out in neighbouring towns and villages.

This was an act of ethnic cleansing on a grand scale. It was an attempt (though not ultimately successful) to remove the entire indigenous population of a country to make room for a more ethnically “pure” sectarian state: Israel.

Unlike many other wars where refugee status is usually temporary, the Palestinian refugees have been systematically blocked from returning to their homeland by Israel, as have their descendants. The so-called “Jewish state” does not have room in its colonial vision for too many Arab babies.

The myth that Palestinians “left voluntarily” during a “war” deliberately distracts observers from this central, brutal fact. The propagandistic Israeli refrain that the Palestinian refugee problem was caused by the “invading Arab armies” is nonsense; it’s a lie. Of the 750,000 Palestinian refugees created between 1947 and 1948, as many as 300,000 (according to Morris in The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, page 262) had already been expelled by Zionist terror groups before the Arab armies intervened belatedly in an attempt to stop the massacres.

Israel celebrates the Nakba as “Independence Day”, but the so-called “independence” of the state of Israel is a total misnomer. The concept of self-determination does not apply to settlers intending to create a colony in a land already populated by an indigenous people. That was and is the reality on the ground in Palestine.

Indeed, the Israeli propaganda line that Zionism is “the basic expression of the national identity of the Jewish people” (as pro-Israel group the Jewish Labour Movement claims) is a modern invention. Zionism, from its inception right up until the present day, has always been a settler-colonial movement, one which sought to appeal to the imperial authorities that dominated Palestine, first the Ottomans and then the British.

In 1902, Theodor Herzl, the “father” of political Zionism, wrote to the notorious British imperialist Cecil Rhodes appealing to him to endorse “the Zionist plan… to settle Palestine”. The plan “doesn’t involve Africa, but a piece of Asia minor, not Englishmen but Jews… How, then, do I happen to turn to you?… Because it is something colonial.”

It is significant that Herzl used an anti-Semitic trope that Jews cannot really be “Englishmen”, something that he and today’s emergent far-right in Europe and America would surely agree on, but with which we should have no truck whatsoever. Zionism has always been an anti-Semitic movement, dependent on such vile racism to justify its own racist state.

The Nakba is no mere dry historical question. The fact that the Palestinian refugees have never been permitted to return home, and that Palestinians throughout the region have suffered wave after wave of further expulsions (usually, but not always, at the hands of Israel) means that this is very much the contemporary reality.

The continuing plight of the Palestinian refugees and the slow, ongoing ethnic cleansing by Israel of those Palestinians who still live in historic Palestinian are two closely linked issues; they are at the heart of the current conflicts in the Arab world. There can be no resolution of any until these two matters are resolved.

Not all of the millions of UN-registered Palestinian refugees will want to return to Palestine; many have made their lives in neighbouring countries or overseas by now. However, many of them will, and all demand their right to return. It is, after all, nothing less than a basic human right, endorsed by numerous UN resolutions down the decades. Furthermore, it is an individual right and cannot be bargained away collectively, as some within the Palestinian leadership have sought to do.

In May, on the 69th anniversary of the Nakba, the excellent project Visualising Palestine released a new infographic which illustrated clearly the practical feasibility of the refugees’ return to Palestine.

Israeli propaganda about return claims that it would mean the “destruction” of the state, but there is no practical reason for it not to go ahead peacefully. Although Israel stole and destroyed many of the homes of the Palestinians they had ethnically cleansed and driven out from their homeland, research shows that most of the land they took in this way remains empty and could therefore re-house returning Palestinians.

The issues of stolen properties and war crimes would have to be resolved in a way that holds the Israeli authorities accountable for the crimes they have committed; justice must prevail, after all. There is no reason, though, that return could not happen in a way which respects the human rights of all who live in the historic land of Palestine, Arabs and Jews alike.

For all of these reasons, and because of the more fundamental search for basic justice, the refugees’ return to Palestine is a must.

(Source / 01.07.2017)

Abbas’ siege on Gaza: The goals and the financial benefits

Image of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas [Wisam Hashlamoun/Apaimages]

Image of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas

Dr Mahmoud Al-Ajrami

Since Hamas’ victory in the parliamentary elections on 25 January 2006, the president of the PLO, Mahmoud Abbas, has been collaborating with the forces of the occupation to place Gaza under siege for approximately ten years now. These endeavours – directly or indirectly – have been aiming to suffocate Palestinian resistance and any potential to establish a viable and independent Palestinian state.

Abbas’ latest measures, which include cutting the salaries of the families of martyrs and the wounded, as well as all employees, including those in Ramallah whose personal allowances have been decreased from 50 per cent to 30 per cent, point to the intention of declaring Gaza a rebel territory. The goal is to incite Arab regimes into taking military action against the Palestinian territory.

A precedent has already taken place when Palestine’s permanent representative to the UN, Riyad Mansour, spoke to the General Assembly about this without shame or hesitation. Abbas’ student did not shy away from calling on the Arab coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen from taking its units to liberate the Gaza Strip from Hamas (the resistance unit).

It is clear that Abbas has joined the number of countries that pledge allegiance to the Riyadh Summit, where it was announced that the next war is allegedly against “terrorism” as it is embodied by the Islamic Republic of Iran. The coalition has described Iran as the source of all crime and bloodshed in the region.

Read: Gaza is a ticking time bomb

In addition, a number of the ministers and leaders of the countries participating in the Riyadh Summit described Hamas as a terrorist organisation. There is no regard given to what implications this could have for the party in the future.

It is also a well-known fact that Abbas practices a clear and direct policy of collaboration with Israel and its occupying forces. The communication is clear to anyone who has been arrested by the PLO and subsequently handed over to the occupation’s forces.

A number of observers have noted that the number of Palestinian prisoners has increased since the start of the Intifada from nearly 5,000 to 7,500 detainees. Nearly 20 individuals are being detained per day and this is a reflection of the direct and clear communication and collaboration between the PLO and the Israelis in occupied Palestine. Recently, Mr Jason Greenblatt, an executive vice president working for US President Donald Trump, went to Israel with his son-in-law to discuss combatting terror with the Israeli and Palestinian officials. Greenblatt met with both Netanyahu and Abbas in Tel Aviv and has entrusted his son with the mission of overseeing effort.

Read: Pushing Gaza to suicide

The current head of the Palestinian Authority (Mahmoud Abbas) has been holding on to his role and its disastrous implications since he engineered the disastrous Oslo Accords. One of his demands from Netanyahu was to completely cut the power supply to the territories, which also impacted the amount of electricity that reaches Gaza. The electricity supply in Gaza was reduced by eight megawatts, a 15 per cent reduction. It was then reduced by an additional 12 megawatts, giving residents an estimated one to two hours of electricity.

#GazaSiege

Abbas has also been silent in the face of settlement expansion and the Judisation of the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem. Not to mention, the PLO’s lack of action when it comes to the occupying forces’ control of religious sites and the temporal and spatial control of holy sites.

There is no doubt that future measures will be even more grave and dangerous and that a strong and unified national front will be required to counter the coming oppression. This is especially true in light of Abbas’ recent statements describing Khalil Al-Hayya, a member of the Hamas’ political bureau, as the largest obstacle to peace.

One cannot conclude without saying that the current Gulf crisis and the siege against Qatar, our sister state, is the result of demonisation taken out by a devilish axis in the Gulf against both Qatar and the resistance in Palestine and Lebanon. These events are also escalating conflicts in both Syria and Iraq. The resistance that has taken place over the last decade has been of remarkable strength. It has forced the enemy to reckon with the forces of the opposition. The future victories will be greater if God wills it.

(Source / 01.07.2017)

Weekly Procession Against The Wall And Colonies Held In Ni’lin

01 JUL
2:02 AM

On Friday, dozens of Palestinians, accompanied by Israeli and international peace activists, held the weekly nonviolent protest against the Annexation Wall and Colonies, in Ni’lin village, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah.

The protesters marched from the center of the village, following noon prayers, and headed towards Palestinian orchards that Israel intends to illegally confiscate, while chanting against the Wall, Colonies and the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Mohammad Amira, a member of the Popular Committee against the Wall and Colonies in Ni’lin, said the soldiers installed a roadblock to prevent the protesters from reaching the Palestinian lands and orchards, an issue that forced them to take an alternative route, and reached the lands through Shuqba nearby town. There have been no reports of clashes or injuries.

It is worth mentioning that Ni’lin villagers have lost at least 3000 Dunams due to illegal confiscations of their lands for the construction of Israeli colonies, and the annexation wall, while the villages mainly depend on agriculture as their main source of livelihood, especially olive.

(Source / 01.07.2017)

Syrian Coalition Holds Lebanese Authorities Responsible for Safety of Syrian Refugees

The Syrian Coalition strongly condemned the attacks on Syrian refugees in camps in the Arsal area in Lebanon on Friday. In a press release issued earlier on Saturday, the Coalition said that the attack resulted in the death of a number of refugees and the detention of hundreds more.

“Refugees were humiliated and treated as hostages by the Lebanese army and the Hezbollah militias,” the Coalition said.

The Coalition held the Lebanese authorities responsible for the safety of Syrian refugees in Lebanon as it stressed the need for accountability and punishment of those responsible for crimes and violations against the Syrian refugees.

“Violations against Syrian refugees also included attempts to forcibly move the refugees to other areas or to force them to return to areas under the control of the Assad regime and its allied terrorist militias.”

The Coalition called on the Lebanese authorities to provide the necessary protection for Syrian refugees in accordance with international humanitarian law until such time as they can return to their homeland. The Coalition also called on the Lebanese authorities to stop using terrorism as an excuse to attack and harm unarmed civilians and to stop humiliating refugees and detention operations carried out without any humanitarian or legal considerations.

The Coalition emphasized that it will address the Arab League and the United Nations, as it has done many times before and will continue to do, regarding the grave situation facing Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Following the assault on Syrian refugee camps, personalities representing the refugees from Homs and Qaysir in Arsal held a meeting and agreed to demand that the United Nations provide international protection for the Syrian refugees in Lebanon through the establishment of safe areas near the Syrian-Lebanese border. They stressed that these areas must be off limits to the Assad regime.

The representative personalities added: “We live in Arsal under the flag of the Lebanese and respect the sovereignty of Lebanon. We have resorted to a sisterly country to seek a decent life away from war.”

(Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department / 01.07.2017)

Israeli Soldiers Pull Two Children From Swimming Pool And Abduct One, In Silwan

01 JUL
7:00 AM

Dozens of Israeli soldiers and police officers invaded, on Friday evening, the town of Silwan, in occupied East Jerusalem, detained two child siblings, and abducted one of them, while the two were swimming in front of their home, and handed demolition orders targeting two homes, in addition to photographing structures.

The Wadi Hilweh Information Center in Silwan (Silwanic) said the soldiers invaded Kroum Qamar neighborhood in Silwan, and abducted Nasr Mohammad al-Abbasi, 15.

The soldiers also detained Nasr’ brother, Hamza, 10, and wanted to move him to an interrogation center in Salaheddin Street, but the family and neighbors managed to stop them.

The two children were swimming in a make-shift in front of their home when the soldiers detained them, and prevented Hamza from wearing his clothes and his shoes, after alleging that the two, “hurled stones at army jeeps.”

Furthermore, personnel of the Jerusalem City Council, and the army, handed “administrative demolition orders” targeting the homes of Firas Somrein and Mohammad Siyam, in Wadi Hilweh neighborhood, in Silwan, in addition to photographing alleys and structures.

(Source / 01.07.2017)

Palestine Solidarity Campaign Removed from World-Check Terrorist Listing

01 JUL
7:07 AM

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has welcomed an acknowledgement, from World-Check, that PSC should never have been placed on the database at all and, specifically, should not have been associated with “terrorism”. There were no grounds to suggest that they were either associated with terrorism related activity or that the organisation presented any kind of financial risk.

In December 2015, World-Check created a profile for PSC in their ‘terrorism’ category, identifying Mr. Hugh Lanning as the Chair of the organisation. In March 2017, following correspondence between PSC, Hugh Lanning and World-Check through their respective legal teams, World-Check conceded that PSC and Mr. Lanning ought not to have ever been included in the database.

The PSC, Hugh Lanning and World-Check have reached an agreement to address the harm done to PSC and Mr. Lanning’s reputation, and to resolve the matters between them arising from that profile. The PSC and Mr. Lanning are satisfied with that resolution.

Lanning said: “I am pleased that World-Check agreed it was wrong to include my name in the database, as there are no grounds for me being associated with terrorism.

“I hope the Israeli government and their supporters follow this good example and stop repeating unfounded smears about the PSC and its members. We expect the media to take note of the vindication and rethink printing smears made without qualification, as was done following my deportation from Israel.

“In particular, we hope social media channels will be more responsive to our complaints about inaccurate postings made about us on their mediums.”

Ben Jamal, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign said: “Like many others, our organisation was included on this database for no reason at all. We take such allegations seriously and will not stand for false allegations made about us and our work. Campaigns for Palestinian human rights should not be treated differently from other human rights focused campaigns.”

Ravi Naik, the PSC solicitor from ITN Solicitors, said: “Following correspondence between our firm and lawyers for World-Check, it has been accepted by World-Check that our clients should never have been on the database at all, let alone for an unfounded allegation as egregious as terrorism.

“Our clients maintain that they do not present any financial risk and the agreement reached between them and World-Check regarding the profile has vindicated this position.”

(Source / 01.07.2017)

B’Tselem: Israeli army continues to disrupt life for residents of Deir Abu Mashaal

Inspection Palestinian ambulance

Israeli soldiers inspect a Palestinian ambulance on its way to Jerusalem at the West Bank army checkpoint of Qalandiya

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities have continued to implement restrictive policies on Palestinians in Deir Abu Mashaal in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, after three residents of the town were shot dead last month after allegedly carrying out a deadly attack near Damascus Gate in occupied East Jerusalem, which killed an Israeli police officer, B’Tselem reported on Thursday.

After it was revealed that the three alleged assailants — Baraa Ibrahim Saleh, 18, Adel Hassan Ahmad Ankoush, 18, and Usama Ahmad Ata, 19 — were from the village of Deir Abu Mashaal, the town was subsequently placed under lockdown, and was subjected to multiple military raids.
Based on field research conducted in the village, B’Tselem reported that, on the night of the attack, Israeli forces installed an iron gate at the entrance of the village and erected large rocks and piles of dirt on three dirt roads used by villagers, and refused to allow any Palestinian from leaving or entering the area, putting the village under a complete siege.
Locals removed some of the obstacles in order to drive out of the village, as many residents are dependent on work in Ramallah city.
Over the following days, B’Tselem reported, the Israeli army continuously obstructed commuters’ efforts to free up the roads by erecting fresh blockades.
Three days following the attack, Israeli forces permitted residents to leave the village on foot from the main entrance. However, Palestinian men between the ages of 15 and 25 continued to be barred from exiting or entering the village.
The following day, Israeli forces permitted cars to pass through the main entrance, but Palestinians were subject to extensive security checks, B’Tselem reported, and men between 15 and 25 had continued to be banned.
Five days later, on June 24, at the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr that directly follows the holy month of Ramadan, Israeli forces began lessening the restrictions and allowing residents to travel by car more easily, BTselem said.
However, B’Tselem noted that the iron gate erected following the attack remains at the main entrance of the village, and Israeli forces continue to be stationed there performing random security checks on passing Palestinian vehicles.
Immediately following the attack, Israeli authorities also took measurements of the homes of the alleged assailants in preparations for punitive demolitions, which the families had been informed would be carried out “soon.”
According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, a total of 22 people, the three mens’ family members, will be left homeless by the punitive demolitions in spite of not having been charged with any wrongdoing.
Some 250,000 Palestinians who had received family visitation permits to enter Jerusalem and Israel during Ramadan also saw their permits revoked following the attack.
In addition, family members of the alleged assailants had their Israeli work permits revoked as a punitive measure. B’Tselem reported that this included 50 residents from the assailants’ extended families who were dependent on work inside Israel.
B’Tselem also noted that the permits had been revoked by Israeli authorities when members of the families had attempted to pass the Israeli-erected checkpoint en route to their work in Israel. The revocation occurred without any prior notice that would have allowed the families to challenge the decision, B’Tselem pointed out.
Israeli forces also carried out frequent army raids on the village and detained the mother of 18-year-old Ankoush on June 21. According to B’tselem, she is still in Israeli custody.
Ankoush’s father Hassan was also detained during an overnight raid on June 29.
The Israeli raids have also erupted into clashes with Israeli forces and the Palestinian residents, B’Tselem highlighted, resulting in at least four young Palestinian men being hurt by Israeli forces.
Meanwhile, the bodies of the three alleged assailants have continued to be held by Israeli authorities, as Israel is known to withhold Palestinian bodies from their families for extended periods of time after they have carried out an attack, alleging that funerals of “martyrs” — Palestinians killed by Israeli forces — encourage “incitement” against the Israeli state.
However, Palestinians have long claimed that the policy is a form of “collective punishment,” targeting the families of actual or alleged Palestinian attackers, while also preventing families of slain Palestinians from requesting proper autopsies on their loved ones, as the bodies returned are often damaged and disfigured.
“For almost two weeks now, ever since the attack, the military has been disrupting the lives of all 5,000 or so residents of the village, although they have been accused of no personal wrongdoing,” B’Tselem said in the report.
“This automatic form of retaliation has become a matter of policy for the military, in a cynical abuse of its power to mistreat civilians. This kind of collective harm is morally and legally indefensible,” B’Tselem added.
(Source / 01.07.2017)

Israeli forces deliver stop-work notice in Hebron-area village

Stop work order Khillet Ibrahim area

HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces delivered a stop-work notice to a Palestinian home in the Khillet Ibrahim area of western Idhna village in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron for lacking nearly impossible-to-obtain Israeli-issued building permits.

The house, which belongs to Jamal Muhammad Abu Zalta, measures 150 square meters in area, Mayor of Idhna Muammar al-Tmeizi told Ma’an.
Five Palestinians reside in the home, according to al-Tmeizi.
Al-Tmeizi also pointed out that two-thirds of the village’s area has been declared Area C — the more than 60 percent of the occupied Palestinian territory under full Israeli military control as a result of the Oslo Accords.
Israeli forces essentially prohibit Palestinian construction in Area C, as the land is typically reserved for the expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements. As a result, Palestinians in Idhna are forced to risk demolitions and stop-work orders since their lands in Area C are the only spaces left for the village to build on, according to al-Tmeizi.
A spokesperson for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, was not immediately available to comment.
On Thursday, Israeli forces also delivered a stop-work order to Sharif al-Jiawi for a one-story home in the al-Ras area of western Idhna in which six family members are currently residing.
Israel rarely grants Palestinians permits to build in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, although the estimated 550,000 Jewish Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory are more easily given building permits and allowed to expand their homes and properties.
Nearly all Palestinian applications for building permits in Area C are denied by the Israeli authorities, forcing communities to build illegally.
According to UN documentation, 247 Palestinian-owned structures have been demolished thus far in 2017 across the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, displacing 417 people. In 2016, the UN recorded 1,065 demolitions across the occupied Palestinian territory.
(Source / 01.07.2017)

Amendments to Basic Law on Jerusalem to be discussed tomorrow

Politics

On Sunday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation is expected to discuss a new bill which prevents any public referendum on the division of Jerusalem.

The draft law also states that any agreement that involves any unilateral withdrawal from east Jerusalem, would, after first being approved by a majority of at least 80 MKs.

According to Israel Hayom, the bill has been submitted by Jewish Home Party and supported by 23 MKs of the ruling coalition.

Jewish Home Party claimed that Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon and Gaza was not effective to deter “terrorist groups from targeting Israel.”

(Source / 01.07.2017)

Germany okays sale of more nuke-capable subs to Israel

Nuke submarines

Germany’s national security council on Friday approved the sale of three more nuclear-capable submarines to Israel for a combined price of some 1.3 billion dollars.

The new vessels are part of a deal marred by corruption accusations against top Israeli officials spearheaded by premier Benjamin Netanyahu as well as against others from Germany.

The Israeli navy already obtained a fleet of five German submarines of the Dolphin Class, which can be equipped with nuclear warheads, with a sixth due for delivery this year, according to The Times of Israel newspaper.

The approval of the deal on Friday was first reported by Der Spiegel news magazine, which did not cite the source of the information.

The German magazine said further that the council decided the deal would be revoked if an investigation into corruption suspicions over the submarines yielded any indication of wrongdoing.

Both Israel and Germany have launched separate probes into allegations that Netanyahu’s personal lawyer, David Shimron, allegedly swayed multi-billion shekel deals in favor of the German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp he represented in Israel. This company was awarded the contracts to build the submarines for Israel.

In November 2015, Israeli attorney general Avichai Mandelblit ordered a probe into the affair after accusations surfaced that Netanyahu may have decided to purchase the vessels under the influence of the business ties which his lawyer have with ThyssenKrupp.

The purchase was opposed by top Israeli military leaders, including then war minister Moshe Ya’alon.

The deal came under intense scrutiny late last year after Israel’s Channel 10 revealed that Shimron also worked in an advisory capacity for ThyssenKrupp.

The Israeli police are checking whether the premier himself have sought to influence the deals due to his ties to Shimron.

The probe is known in Israel as “Case 3000” and is one of several graft investigations involving the head of the government and other Israeli officials.

Ya’alon recently testified against Netanyahu in the case, accusing him of negotiating the purchase of the submarines with German officials without the involvement of Israel’s security and military establishments.

(Source / 01.07.2017)