US plan will not lure Lebanon into settling Palestinians

Shatila Palestinian refugee camp, Beirut, Lebanon [File photo]

Shatila Palestinian refugee camp, Beirut, Lebanon

Lebanon will not be lured by a US plan to invest billions in the country in return for settling Palestinian refugees, its parliament speaker Nabih Berri said on Sunday, reports Reuters.

US President Donald Trump’s blueprint for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, set to be presented by his son-in-law Jared Kushner at a conference in Bahrain on June 25-26, envisions a $50 billion investment plan to lift the Palestinian and neighbouring Arab state economies. But it has met broad rejection in the Arab world, even as some in the Gulf called for giving it a chance.

Lebanese parties have long held that Palestinian refugees cannot be permanently settled in the country, which is widely believed in Lebanon to be a goal of the Kushner plan.

“Those who think that waving billions of dollars can lure Lebanon, which is under the weight of a suffocating economic crisis, into succumbing or bartering over its principles are mistaken,” Berri said in a statement from his office.

PHOTO ESSAY: Life as a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon

The rejection of settling Palestinian refugees who must have the right of return stands at the forefront of these principles, he said.

Any investment “at the expense of the Palestinian cause” will not find fertile ground in Lebanon, Berri said.

The idea of permanently settling mainly Sunni Muslim refugees is highly sensitive in Lebanon, sparking fears of rocking its delicate sectarian balance.

Estimates of how many Palestinian refugees are in Lebanon vary. The United Nations says 470,000 Palestinian refugees are registered, though a 2017 official Lebanese census found the number to be around 175,000.

The US plan envisions spending more than half of the $50 billion in the Palestinian territories over 10 years while the rest would be split between Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan.

The Trump administration hopes that wealthy Gulf states and nations in Europe and Asia, along with private investors, would foot much of the bill, Kushner told Reuters on Saturday.

There are 5.9 million #Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA
Read more: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171012-attack-on-un-ag…/

MEMO infographic The White Canvas

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(Source / 23.06.2019) 

Israeli Soldiers Abduct Many Palestinians In al-‘Isawiya

23 JUN8:45 AM

Israeli soldiers abducted, on Sunday at dawn, many Palestinians in the al-‘Isawiya town, and summoned many others for interrogation, in occupied East Jerusalem, during extensive invasions and violent searches of homes, leading to protests.

Mohammad Abu al-Hummus, a member of the Follow-Up Committee in al-‘Isawiya, said the invasions were carried out by dozens of soldiers who stormed and ransacked many homes, leading to serious property damage.

Abu al-Hummus added that the soldiers deliberately smashed front doors of many homes, in addition to causing damage to furniture and belongings during the violent searches of properties.

He also said that the soldiers summoned many Palestinians, including children, for interrogation in several police stations and security centers, in occupied Jerusalem.

Seven the abducted Palestinians have been identified as Husam Oleyyan, Ayyoub Abu al-Hummus, Mohammad Rafat Dari, Akram Mustafa, Noureddin Mheisin, Majd Bashir Ahmad and Abdul-Qader Dar.

Many Palestinians protested the invasions, violent searches and abductions, and hurled stone at army and the police, while the soldiers fired live rounds, rubber-coated steel bullets, gas bombs and concussion grenades.

Abu al-Hummus said al-‘Isawiya has been subject to ongoing invasions, which started more than two weeks ago, and included abductions, causing damage to homes and property, in addition to delivering demolition orders targeting many homes and structures.

He also said that dozens of Palestinians have been injured during these invasions, some after being repeatedly assaulted by the soldiers, and added that the army is constantly deployed on main areas of the town, and in front of many homes and residential buildings.

(Source / 23.06.2019) 

REVEALED: Israel’s Illegal Rules of Engagement in Gaza Lets Snipers Shoot ‘Key Instigators’ Even When They Move Away from Protest (VIDEO)

23 JUN6:21 PMAdalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel demands Israel prohibit use of live ammunition against protesters; military retroactively invented ‘key instigator’ category to justify shootings of people who posed no immediate danger. 

A document released by the Israeli military describes how snipers may open fire on Gaza protesters it calls “key instigators” or “key rioters” – even when they move away from the crowd or are resting. Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel is demanding that Israeli troops immediately stop shooting live ammunition at unarmed protesters along the Gaza boundary fence.

Adalah sent a letter on 16 June 2019 to Israeli Military Advocate General Sharon Afek and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit calling on them to immediately order a ban on the use of live ammunition and sniper fire as a means of dispersing demonstrations in Gaza. Israeli snipers, the military document released in February revealed, may open fire with live ammunition on “key instigators” or “key rioters” even when they are at no longer participating in the protest or are resting.

The details in this document were never presented during hearings before Israeli Supreme Court justices.

In May 2018, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected two petitions filed by human rights groups – including Adalah – and fully adopted the Israeli military’s position, giving a green light to its continued use of snipers and live fire against Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip.

In its decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the military is entitled to use live ammunition only when there is “immediate and imminent danger to Israeli forces or civilians” and that such shooting may only be employed “as a last resort in a proportionate and minimal manner“. However, the Supreme Court also gave a green light to the use of lethal fire in accordance with the above terms against those defined as “key instigators” – despite the fact that this category is neither anchored in international law nor was it defined by Israeli authorities before the Supreme Court justices.

Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara, who authored the letter to Israeli authorities, commented:

“The Israeli military – which has up until now kept secret its vague definition of the invented category of ‘key instigator’ – now openly reveals that this category was created retroactively in order to justify the shootings of people who posed no real and immediate danger to Israeli soldiers or civilians. The military’s document attempts to explain away the indiscriminate shooting of unarmed demonstrators which results from a total disregard for human life. This evidence was never brought before the Supreme Court by Israeli authorities”.

In the document it published after the Supreme Court’s May 2018 ruling, the military defined “key instigators” and “key rioters” and included some details relating to its rules of engagement governing the use of live ammunition. The document also makes it clear that “key instigators” and “key rioters” may:

  • “direct or order activities within the mob, such as coordinating the tactical placement and setting on fire of tires”;
  • “[coordinate] people to contribute towards pulling back parts of the security infrastructure and so on”, for example, this video of a man seen moving through the crowd while purportedly talking into a communications radio;
  • “incite the mob, influence their behavior or provide the conditions for which mass breach or infiltration may occur”.

The document also clarifies “key instigators” are active for extended periods of time and snipers must choose the timing for shooting at them, so snipers can act “as a person temporarily moves away from the crowd or rests before continuing with his activity.”

The United Nations Commission of Inquiry into the 2018 protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (COI), which issued its full report in March 2019, found that “the use of live ammunition by Israeli security forces against demonstrators was unlawful”, as the protestors did not pose any threat to the lives of Israeli soldiers or civilians or participate directly in hostilities.

Adalah demands the Israeli State Attorney’s Office and military advocate general respond within 30 days to its demand to cancel the rules of engagement targeting “key instigators” and refrain from continuing to use lethal gunfire against demonstrators in Gaza.

According to data collected by Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, since 30 March 2018, Israeli military forces have killed 310 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Of the total fatalities, 207 were killed during protests, including 44 children, two women, four paramedics, two journalists, and nine persons with disabilities. Another 16,831 persons have been wounded, including 3,905 children, 753 women, 198 paramedics, and 170 journalists. Of the wounded, 8,490 were wounded by live fire, including 1,692 children and 164 women.

CLICK HERE to read the letter [Hebrew]

CLICK HERE to read the Israeli military’s Q&A document [English]

Opinion/Analysis 06/14/19 Israeli Private Intelligence Company Black Cube Out of Control 

(Source / 23.06.2019) 

Israeli pharmaceutical firms test medicines on Palestinian prisoners

Israeli pharmaceutical firms check for which bombs to use, gas bombs or stink bombs. Whether to put plastic sacks or cloth sacks

Israeli Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian has revealed that Israeli authorities issue permits to large pharmaceutical firms to carry out tests on Palestinian, Arab prisoners.

The Times of Israel also reported that in a recording from the event the Hebrew University lecturer also revealed that the Israeli military firms are testing weapons on Palestinian children and carry out these tests in the Palestinian neighbourhoods of occupied Jerusalem.

Speaking in Columbia University in New York City, Shalhoub-Kevorkian said that she collected the data while carrying out a research project for the Hebrew University.

“Palestinian spaces are laboratories,” she said. “The invention of products and services of state-sponsored security corporations are fuelled by long-term curfews and Palestinian oppression by the Israeli army.”

In her talk, entitled “Disturbing Spaces – Violent Technologies in Palestinian Jerusalem”, the professor added: “They check for which bombs to use, gas bombs or stink bombs. Whether to put plastic sacks or cloth sacks. To beat us with their rifles or to kick us with boots.”

Last week, Israeli authorities refused to hand over the body of Fares Baroud, who passed away inside Israeli prisons after suffering from a number of diseases. His family fear that he could have been used for such tests and Israel is afraid this could be revealed through forensic investigations.

Some 5,000 tests on prisoners
In July 1997, Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported remarks for Dalia Itzik, chairman of a parliamentary committee, acknowledged that the Israeli Ministry of Health had given pharmaceutical firms permits to test their new drugs on inmates, noting that 5,000 tests had already been carried out.

Robrecht Vanderbeeken, the cultural secretary of Belgium’s ACOD trade union, warned in August 2018 the population of the Gaza Strip is being “starved to death, poisoned, and children are kidnapped and murdered for their organs.”

This follows previous warnings from Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour who said the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces “were returned with missing corneas and other organs, further confirming past reports about organ harvesting by the occupying power.”

(Source / 23.06.2019) 

A Jerusalem hospital where Palestinian babies die alone

Babies, children pass away without presence of their parents who are only minutes away

Oliver Holmes and Hazem Balousha

Israeli blockade on Gaza means parents are separated from critically ill children who almost die in hospitals alone.

At first glance, nothing appeared out of place at the children’s intensive care unit. Nine beds were filled with nine tiny newborn babies, all with tubes attached to their wiry bodies. Monitors emitted the sounds of steady electronic blips. Nurses walked from bedside to bedside. A tired-looking paediatrician filled out paperwork.

Yet something was missing: there were no parents.

Some had been sent home to rest, or might be anxiously drinking coffee in the cafeteria downstairs. But for two babies at this Palestinian hospital in Jerusalem, their mothers were trapped an hour and a half away behind an Israeli-enforced blockade in Gaza. Both infants would later die, one without seeing her mother again.

Critically ill Palestinian infants taken from impoverished and war-battered Gaza to the better equipped Makassed hospital are suffering and dying alone.

Israel allows temporary exit from Gaza for medical reasons in some cases, but not all. At the same time, it prevents or seriously delays many parents of patients from leaving, and others never apply in the first place, fearing that extensive security checks for adults will hold up their child’s exit permit and lose vital time.

Some 56 babies separated since last year

Since the beginning of last year, 56 babies from Gaza were separated from their mothers and fathers, six of whom perished without a parent present, according to the hospital.

In one case, a 24-year-old mother from Gaza was permitted to travel to Jerusalem to give birth to gravely ill triplets two months early. Two weighed less than a bag of sugar.

But Hiba Swailam’s permit expired and she had to return to Gaza. She was not there when her first child died at nine days old, or two weeks later when her second baby also died. She was informed by phone.

The surviving child, Shahad, spent the first months of her life cared for by nurses, and Hiba could only see her daughter in video calls.

While the baby was ready for discharge since February, no family member was able to pick her up.

After being approached for comment, Israeli authorities allowed Swailam to exit Gaza. She was permitted to travel to Jerusalem the same day Israel responded to the Guardian’s request for comment on 29 May.

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, an Israeli medical non-profit, said more than 7,000 permits were issued for minors from Gaza last year.

Less than 2,000 permits for parents were granted, the right group said, suggesting most children travelled without their mothers and fathers.

Baby died due to need for breasfeeding

Mor Efrat, the group’s director for the occupied Palestinian territories, said: “The Israeli government should be held accountable for the human suffering.”

Separating sick infants from their parents can have devastating impacts. Doctors believed one of the triplets who died when their mother was in Gaza had a condition for which one of the best preventative steps is breastfeeding.

“I wouldn’t say that if the mother was there, they wouldn’t get it, but it would decrease the chances,” said Hatem Khammash, the head of the neonatal unit.

Ibtisam Risiq, the serving staff nurse in charge at the paediatric intensive care unit, has observed a psychological effect of newborns who are alone in her care. “They need love. Their heart rates go up. They are depressed,” she said.

Sitting at her desk, stacks of paper everywhere, she watched on as her nurses rushed to keep babies alive. She scolded them for leaving discarded medical wrappings on the floor. A large computer screen behind her showed the heart rates of each of the patients. As she talked, one jumped to 200 beats per minute. “It should be 130,” she said, and quickly dispatched a nurse.

Doctors walked in and out. Risiq picked up the phone to argue with an administrator who had called because another child was in need of urgent care. They asked in vain if any of Risiq’s patients were stable enough to move to a lower-risk unit.

“We’re are at 100% occupancy,” said Risiq. “This happens every day. I face this every day.”

Parents must be over 45 or 55

Already struggling with finances, Makassed has faltered since Donald Trump cut millions last year in medical aid to it and other hospitals that serve Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

A vicious political rivalry between the Palestinian political factions in the West Bank and Gaza has also deepened a health crisis. The West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA), the only group Israel will liaise with, has been accused of cutting medical aid to Gaza to press Hamas to cede control of the strip – a charge the PA denies.

Saleh al-Ziq, the head of the PA office for Gaza that forwards exit permit applications to Israel, said it advised that sick children only be accompanied by people over 45, whose permits were usually processed more quickly by Israeli authorities as they were deemed to be less of a risk.

The result is that rather than parents, who are usually younger, Makassed is full of grandparents. The hospital has to cover their accommodation and food, and has set up trailers for them to sleep in. But in some cases, they too have to return to Gaza and the babies are left completely alone.

At the paediatric ICU, Risiq picked up a large green book filled with her scribbled records of admittances, many of them premature babies.

Grandmother must use Whatsapp

One newborn, Reema Abu Eita, came with her grandmother from Gaza for emergency spinal cord surgery. It was delayed as she had an infection, said Risiq, looking down at the baby, her eyes closed and chest pumping. Abu Eita’s father, an ambulance driver, managed to get a permit to visit his daughter, but the baby died before returning to Gaza.

Another newborn from Gaza, Khalil Shurrab, came with an enlarged liver. Yellow with jaundice, he had been suffering convulsions.

Khalil’s grandmother accompanied him, according to his father, who spoke from Gaza. “The hospital staff taught her how to send me and my wife photos of him on WhatsApp,” said Jihad Shurrab, 29.

His wife, Amal, said she had stopped sleeping after her son left. “I wish I could have gone with him to Jerusalem. I was begging everybody, but they said I am young and the Israeli side wouldn’t accept.”

To the families’ relief, Makassed eventually discharged Khalil after a month, and the baby could return back to Gaza. But when he did, they found the medication was locally unavailable.

“The swelling was increasing,” his father said. He decided to try to leave Gaza to the south via Egypt, which also imposes a blockade but allows travel in certain cases. “The day we were supposed to travel, he died.”

Israel says its land, air and sea blockade on Gaza is to prevent Hamas and other militant groups from launching attacks. The UN calls it “collective punishment” for the 2 million people trapped there. Residents call it a siege.

Cogat, the defence ministry body responsible for coordinating Israeli government activity in the Palestinian territories, claimed in a written response that it had no age limits for permits and every request was examined individually.

Regarding the case of the triplets, it said a “human error in the application forms” meant one request filed by the mother in April had been rejected.

It blamed the health crisis in Gaza on Hamas and the PA, which it said “massively reduced its medical aid budget for residents of the Gaza Strip”. Hamas had used patients as mules to smuggle explosives and “terror funds” into Israel, it said.

Cogat is “active in the issuance of tens of thousands of permits for patients as well as in the issuance of permits for Palestinian physicians, who receive training at hospitals in Israel”, it added.

The reason is Israeli occupation

While it is harder for people in Gaza to exit, Makassed also serves the West Bank, and Palestinian parents there also find it difficult, sometimes impossible, to get to the hospital.

Israel claims sovereignty over all of Jerusalem and has isolated even its majority Arab neighbourhoods from the rest of the Palestinian territories.

Some patients, many older children with cancer, have families who live just minutes away but cannot visit.

The separation of children from their families is so common that Palestinian hospitals in Jerusalem provide tablets for them to make Skype calls.

A UK-based health charity, Medical Aid for Palestinians, has been giving British MPs tours of Makassed hospital to show them the results of separating children from their parents.

One Labour MP who visited said she has been pressing the UK government to intervene. Rosena Allin-Khan, who used to work as an emergency doctor, said: “No child, anywhere in the world, should be alone in their time of greatest need.

“The UK government must lean on Israeli authorities to overhaul this inhumane system.”

(Source / 23.06.2019) 

THE TWO-STATE SOLUTION IS DEAD. LET US TAKE THE OBVIOUS AND HUMANE PATH FORWARD

Mike Gravel Democratic presidential hopeful and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel speaks at the “Take Back America” political conference in Washington Mike Gravel, Washington, USA

By Mike Gravel

One of the most obvious absurdities in the world of foreign policy is seeing what is considered serious. The people who want to continue funding massacres, genocides, and authoritarian regimes abroad frame their ideas in the sober language of realism, and earn plaudits from pundits and think tanks; those who propose the moral and obviously necessary alternatives are dismissed as unserious, among the cruelest insults in the world of foreign policy. Thus I do not expect the policy I will propose for Israel and Palestine to be taken seriously by the foreign policy establishment, which is too busy honoring Henry Kissinger to care much. But I will be frank with what I view as true seriousness on this important issue.

The very basic threshold for seriousness with regards to Israel/Palestine policy is one that no major party backs: the two-state solution is dead, and we have killed it.

The signs of its expiration are all around us. More than half a million Israeli settlers live (illegally) in Palestinian territory, and it would be politically, and logistically, impossible for them to be removed peacefully. The increasingly entrenched Israeli hard right—led by toxic figures like Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett—openly advocates annexing “Area C,” which constitutes most of the West Bank. And the compromises that a two-state solution would require would not only be politically toxic for both Israeli and Palestinian leadership; they would also be disastrous in practice. It is not difficult to envision ethnic cleansing reminiscent of the massacres surrounding the partition of British India in 1947, as vast numbers of people scramble to cross arbitrary borders in short stretches of time.

With these deteriorating conditions constituting difficult obstacles, it stands to reason that if Bill Clinton and Barack Obama could not reach a working agreement, the particular charms of a Pete Buttigieg or Joe Biden won’t be able to, either. It is also apparent that a two-state solution would likely not be worth the bloodshed and chaos it would cause. So why keep up the charade? Most American diplomats will, in their more candid hours, admit that the two-state idea is long dead. Prudence dictates that America acknowledge that on the world stage and begin the search for other solutions.

The most obvious and humane path forward is the creation of a secular, democratic, binational state with equal rights for all. That is the model the U.S. government, with its partners in the region, should work toward and publicly highlight as the ideal outcome. This, like any real solution, would disappoint many, both those who want an official Palestinian national homeland and those who want an official Jewish homeland. But this is necessary. Both visions serve an abstract nationalism rather than the actual needs of Israelis and Palestinians living in the area, and a state along the lines of the idealized United States model, one with no prized ethnicity or religious character, is the solution all those seeking a humanitarian alternative should support. There would be no need for the byzantine arrangements (land swaps, dual city ownership, etc.) upon which most attempts to resolve the conflict have hinged: it would simply be the decision—an admittedly difficult one—to live together, Muslim, Jew, and Christian, in a peaceful, democratic, egalitarian society.

Of course, the sheer power of the Israel lobby in the United States is the main hurdle to such a radical departure from traditional blind support for Israel. Thus the Israel lobby should be restricted; it is time to free American policy from the shackles of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), ZOA (Zionist Organization of America), and other groups. AIPAC especially wields awe-inspiring power over Congress; the hysterical reaction to relatively mild criticism of the group by Rep. Ilhan Omar—criticism that stands out in large part because of the rarity of sitting federal officials criticizing that ship of fools—illustrates just how much influence it wields.

The first step should be mandating that AIPAC register as a foreign lobby under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). AIPAC manages to skirt American laws about foreign lobbying by claiming that it represents Americans who happen to support Israel. But the shockingly close ties between the governing Likud Party and AIPAC give a lie to this legal fiction; AIPAC will always stand closer to Israeli interests than American ones. (And no, despite Vice President Mike Pence’s claim that Israel’s “cause is our cause, her values are our values and her fight is our fight,” Israeli interests and American ones are not one and the same.) Such an arrangement would prevent AIPAC from influencing American elections, and would require it to report all of its contacts with Congress, along with details of its spending, to the Department of Justice.

Next, the U.S. should end military aid to Israel, citing the Israeli military’s complicity in crimes against the Palestinian people. It should call for a gradual demilitarization of Israel and Palestine, and should be clear with the Israeli government that the days of Israel-right-or-wrong are over. Future outrages by either side will receive an even-handed response without bias. Accordingly, it should demand that Israel bring itself into compliance with international law and end the harassment of dissidents like the liberal Zionist Peter Beinart or those who support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

And the U.S. should refuse to take unconstitutional steps to stifle BDS. Whatever one’s personal thoughts on BDS, an individual or group’s decision not to associate with another group or country is a legitimate exercise of the freedoms of speech and association guaranteed by the Constitution, and using the power of the government to influence those decisions is wrong. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker should be ashamed of themselves for supporting federal laws to restrict BDS. (It is perhaps no coincidence that Booker and the president of AIPAC “text message back and forth like teenagers,” by Booker’s own admission.)

What I’m calling for is, in fact, a moderate and sensible proposal; it is the current policy, of unbridled fondness for a government flirting openly with ethnic cleansing, that is radical and dangerous. The current policy is the exact one that George Washington warned against in his Farewell Address: “a passionate attachment of one nation for another,” the creation of “an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists.”

It’s time for a mature relationship with Israel, free of the cloying sentimentalities and tired banalities (“Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East”) that infest our political discourse surrounding it. America’s wanton indulgence of the whims of Benjamin Netanyahu and his fellow rightists will only redound to the harm of Israelis and Palestinians years down the line. It is too late to return to the fantasies of old, and high time to begin the projects of the new age. There are two possible futures for Israel and Palestine: one close to the vision of Isaiah—“nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more”—and one reminiscent of the prophecy of the Sibyl of Virgil’s Aeneid: “wars, horrendous wars,” the Jordan “foaming with tides of blood.” It’s a simple choice. Let’s choose peace.

(Source / 23.06.2019) 

‘ISRAEL’ ARRESTS 34 PALESTINIANS IN THE OCCUPIED WEST BANK AND JERUSALEM


Ramallah (QNN)- Israeli occupation forces on the dawn of Sunday have arrested 17 Palestinians including children and former political prisoners.

A statement by the Israeli army mentioned that it arrested 17 “wanted” Palestinians in different areas throughout the occupied West Bank for participating in anti settlement and occupation activities.

Local sources said that Israeli soldiers arrested three children in Bethlehem; Yazan Hreimi (17 years old), Tamer Awwad (17 years old), and Mustafa Hijazi (17 years old), in addition to Ryad Lemour (15 years old) in Taqqua.

In Jenin, Israeli forces raided the house of former prisoner Raed Abu Hasan and rearrested him, and set a new checkpoint to search Palestinians vehicles.

In Jerusalem, Israeli forces have arrested 10 Palestinians in the old city, and 7 others at Al Issawiyyeh.

(Source / 23.06.2019) 

Anti-Palestinian repression in Germany: Palestinian writer Khaled Barakat banned from speaking

The repression of Palestinian rights advocacy in Germany continued last night, Saturday, 22 June, as Palestinian writer Khaled Barakat was banned by the Berlin authorities from delivering a speech on the so-called “deal of the century” spearheaded by Donald Trump and the Arab and Palestinian response. He was also banned from engaging in all political activities and events in Germany until 31 July, whether directly (in-person) or “indirectly” (over video.) This outrageous attack on freedom of expression is only the latest assault on Palestinian rights carried out by the German government.

The event was originally scheduled to take place on Friday, 21 June, organized by an Arab community discussion group that regularly hosts speakers on important events in the Arab world. The city-owned venue reportedly received complaints about the event from pro-Zionist and pro-Israeli apartheid organizations, and informed the hosts that they could not hold the event. The event was instead relocated to a Sudanese community center on Saturday, 22 June. With the Bahrain conference to promote so-called “economic peace” at the expense of Palestinian rights expected in the coming days, the talk was of particular importance.

However, without notice or explanation, there were large numbers of police stretching from the closest U-Bahn station to the venue and blocking the street. When Barakat approached with Samidoun international coordinator Charlotte Kates, they were stopped by police and told the event would not take place tonight because it had been prohibited. They were then taken in a police van to a larger police station, where they were met by a German-Arabic translator, more police and two representatives of the Foreigners’ Office of Berlin.

Barakat was presented with an 8-page document and told that he was not allowed to give speeches in person or over video, participate in political meetings or events or even attend social gatherings of over 10 people; he was told that violations were punishable by up to a year in prison. Under German law, non-citizens can be barred from political activity if it could harm the “security or stability” of Germany. The accusations, which purport to show that his political activity is “dangerous,” do not do so; instead, there is mainly a list of speeches and events as well as a 2014 interview with Rote Fahne News, the publication of the MLPD (Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany.) Despite claiming that Barakat’s speech could increase tensions or “political conflict” between Jews and Palestinians and Arabs in Germany, the document points to absolutely no negative repercussions whatsoever of all of his previous speeches in the country.

The document also accuses Barakat of being a member of the Palestinian leftist party, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Despite noting that the PFLP is, in fact, not banned in Germany, it notes that it is listed on the EU terrorist list and thus presents a danger, even though none of the listed allegations indicate any danger at all. It could not be more clear that this is the latest attempt on Palestinian expression and advocacy and the further restriction of freedom of speech, expression and association in Germany.

Barakat and Kates were also told that their residency in Germany would not be renewed and would “come to an end,” although they were not presented with that decision.

This incident comes amid an ongoing campaign by the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, the so-called “anti-BDS ministry,” to attack Palestinian and solidarity organizations, especially leftists. Barakat has been singled out by this ministry on multiple occasions, as has Samidoun and its work. It also comes following a series of attacks on Palestinian rights and freedom of speech in Germany, including:

It should be noted that this repression comes hand in hand with political attacks on the Arab and Muslim communities in Germany spearheaded by the far-right rhetoric of the AfD and other parties, but with the active complicity of the official “left,” which continues to support the suppression of Palestinian community organizing and Palestine solidarity in defense of a colonial, apartheid, racist system. It also comes amid ongoing criminalization of popular movements in Europe, including trials of trade union leaders and refugee solidarity organizers in various countries.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network expresses our deepest outrage at the political ban against Khaled Barakat. We believe that it indicates a serious danger that outright bans, police repression and residency revocation are becoming a police state norm for suppressing unwanted Palestinian political speech that defends rights, justice and liberation.

On Friday, 28 June, a protest is being organized against the Bundestag’s anti-BDS resolution under the slogan Palästina Spricht (Palestine Speaks), and we urge all to attend and participate. Internationally, your statements and voices of solidarity are critical in helping to fight back against this intensified repression. These attacks will not silence Khaled Barakat or the Palestinian people – but it is critical that we build our international movement to defend Palestine, especially as it is targeted for liquidation.

(Source / 23.06.2019)