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Categorie archief Ramona Wadi

Bullets first and aid later is a perverse Israeli tactic

Palestinian protesters gather during clashes with Israeli security forces in a tent city protest where Palestinians demand the right to return to their homeland, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the "Nakba", and against U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem at Israel-Gaza border at the Israel-Gaza border, in east of Gaza city on 14 May, 2018 [Ramez Habboub/Apaimages]

Israeli forces fire tear gas at Palestinian protesters who are commemorating the 70th anniversary of Nakba in Gaza on 14 May 2018

By Ramona Wadi

Predictably, Israel has attempted to play the humanitarian card after inflicting severe injuries upon thousands of Palestinians, many of whom will remain scarred for life; at least 111 men, women and children have also been killed by Israeli troops over the past few weeks. On Wednesday, during a lull in their murderous shooting spree, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) sent two truckloads of medical supplies into Gaza. The aid was rejected by Hamas, which only accepted supplies sent by the Palestinian Authority and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Israel sought to frame the refusal within its perverted colonial narrative. “The Hamas terrorist group [sic] on Wednesday refused to accept two shipments of medical supplies for Gaza hospitals, which are struggling with shortages, after seeing they were sent by Israel,” said the Times of Israel.

Also on Wednesday, Haaretz reported Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman declaring Hamas leaders to be “a bunch of cannibals who also treat their own children as ammunition.” The far-right extremist claimed that the IDF “acted in accordance with ethical norms that we have not seen anywhere else in the world.” Both statements are blatant lies which will not gain any truck with most of the international community.

However, Lieberman’s lies serve to promote the false image of a benevolent Israel ready to send humanitarian aid to a vulnerable Palestinian population; such a view would, of course, be for its own propaganda purposes.

Read: Medics in Gaza report Israel forces using devastating ‘butterfly bullet’

Lieberman and those like him fail to mention that the medical crisis in Gaza is just one result of Israel’s 12-year blockade. The health sector in Gaza has been on the verge of collapse for months, if not years, so why only send aid now? The two trucks of medical supplies can only be viewed as an attempt to divert attention from the IDF’s massacre of Palestinians and the suffocating siege against which they were protesting when they were shot and tear-gassed. Bullets first and aid later is simply another perverse Israeli tactic.

Unbelievably, Lieberman’s repugnant rhetoric was actually overshadowed by comments made by Israeli government spokeswoman Michal Maayan to an Irish journalist. When asked why Israel is shooting at Palestinians participating in the Great Return March, she responded, “Well, we can’t put all these people in jail.”

The despicable motive behind the IDF sending aid to Gaza is clear; it is the cheapest way for Israel to restrain the Palestinians’ anti-colonial struggle. Killing them is preferable, proof — if any is needed — that the colonial penchant for exterminating Palestinians has not altered since the Nakba started in 1948. The remote involvement of the Israeli troops – snipers killing and maiming at a range of hundreds of metres – allows Israel to include itself amongst the plethora of observers, thus shifting the focus upon the Palestinians and their protests. However, as in other previous massacres, Israel is trying to occupy a high ground that is neither moral nor supported by international acquiescence to its violence.

#GreatMarchOfReturn

Hamas’s refusal to accept IDF aid is a principled stance which is tethered by limitations. There is no denial from Hamas regarding the shortages of medical supplies and it has allowed truckloads to enter Gaza from other organisations which also operate within their own restrictions or, in the PA’s case, collaboration with the occupation. However, accepting IDF aid would have been tantamount to giving a green light to Israeli snipers.

Endless attempts to strip Gaza of its dignity have been in vain. While impoverished, brought to the brink of becoming uninhabitable and treated grotesquely as objects of study to determine the heightened levels of implosion, Palestinians in the enclave are admirably consistent, to the point that Israel’s humanitarian propaganda has been exposed by a simple refusal to allow IDF aid trucks into the enclave. Without denying that the refusal comes at a cost in terms of medical necessities and survival, it is Israel that has forced Palestinians to choose between death and a slow death. They will undoubtedly choose dignity over anything else.

(Source / 17.05.2018)

From Targeted Assassinations to Sniper Fire, How Israel Eliminates Palestinian Resistance

Its view is that, for Israel to survive, Palestine’s possibilities must be wiped out, whether the means used are targeted assassinations, sniper fire, or precision targeting of a civilian population

Mourners chant slogans while carry the coffin of Palestinian scientist Fadi al-Batsh, after his body crossed into the Gaza Strip from Egypt, during his funeral at Al Emari mosque in Jebaliya on Thursday, April 26, 2018. The body of the Hamas engineer who was gunned down in Malaysia last week was returned for burial. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

GAZA — Palestine’s Great Return March protests at the Gaza border, which commenced with the commemoration of Land Day on March 30 and are set to continue until the Nakba anniversary on May 15, have propelled Israel’s penchant for killing Palestinians to the fore. So far, 45 Palestinians have been killed by snipers and over 7,200 injured while demonstrating at the border for their right to return as enshrined in UN Resolution 194.

As the launch of the protests drew near, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that over 100 snipers would be placed at Gaza’s border. The rhetoric used was an attempt to distort the Return March, which is about rights, into a security concern for Israel, and thus legitimize, according to Israeli parameters, the killing of unarmed Palestinians.

Framed against the Great Return March protests at the Gaza border, Israel’s Minister of Transport, Road Safety and Intelligence, Israel Katz, warned that targeted killings of Hamas leaders would be renewed if attacks are launched against army commanders at the border.

No soldiers were harmed at the border. Rather than an empty threat, Katz’s statement reads as a veiled indication of premeditated aggression.

A day later, on Saturday April 21, 35-year-old Palestinian scientist and Hamas member Fadi Mohammed al-Batsh was gunned down by two assassins in the vicinity of his home while on his way to dawn prayers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Whether the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad was behind the targeted assassination was neither confirmed nor denied by Israel.

Last week, Haaretz reported that the assassins entered Malaysia by using fake Serbia and Montenegro passports. It is also speculated that both assassins absconded to Thailand.

In response to al-Batsh’s assassination, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman attempted to downplay Mossad’s role, stating:

There’s a tradition at this point among terrorist organizations of blaming Israel for every settling of accounts.”

Israeli media, however, promoted the narrative of the colonial state’s policy of targeted assassinations and indicated the possible involvement of Mossad, linking al-Batsh’s assassination to his scientific research by citing a co-authored paper titled “Challenges of Integrating Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Civil Application”. Five days after the assassination, the Jerusalem Post ran an article titled “The Mossad’s Greatest Hits: From Eichmann to al-Batsh.” About al-Batsh, the article stated that the modus operandi “may fit into the Tunisia operation pattern of assassinations of weapons engineers who are threats to Israel and without leaving a trace.”

Mourners carry the coffin of Palestinian scientist Fadi al-Batsh, after his body crossed into the Gaza Strip from Egypt during his funeral April 26, 2018. (AP/Adel Hana)

Mourners carry the coffin of Palestinian scientist Fadi al-Batsh, after his body crossed into the Gaza Strip from Egypt during his funeral April 26, 2018

The reference to Tunisia concerned the assassination of aeronautical engineer Muhammad al-Zawari, who was killed in Sfax in December 2016 outside his home. According to Hamas, Al-Zawari was part of the resistance movement  and specialized in drone development. A report by Al Jazeera had also stated that al-Zawari had developed the drones used by Hamas in 2014 during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge.

In al-Zawari’s case, the identified suspects are of Bosnian nationality. During a press conference organized by Hamas in Beirut, the movement claimed the targeted assassination was the work of “Mossad agents carrying Bosnian passports.” Tunisia is reported to be in discussions with Bosnia to extradite the suspect, who was arrested in Croatia in March 2018. The suspect is currently detained under extradition custody in Croatia, and Bosnia is seeking to impede his extradition.

A recently published book by Ronen Bergman, titled Rise and Kill First: the secret history of Israel’s targeted assassinations,reveals that over 2,700 operations carried out by Israel since its inception have been classified as targeted assassinations.

An ambiguous ruling by Israel’s High Court

In December 2005, Israel’s High Court upheld the “right” of the state to resort to targeted assassinations, in response to a petition submitted in 2002 by the Public Committee against Torture in Israel and the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, which argued that the practice was illegal and violated international law. The petition was submitted within the context of the Second Intifada, when Israel embarked upon a series of targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders.

The concluding remarks of the court judgment ensured that Israel was allowed to speculate and given the freedom to determine whether or not a targeted assassination would be permissible:

It is decided that it cannot be determined in advance that every targeted killing is prohibited according to customary international law, just as it cannot be determined in advance that every targeted killing is permissible according to customary international law.”

Israel enjoys further impunity in this regard based on the fact that there is no standard definition of targeted assassinations in international law.

A history of targeted assassinations

Many targeted assassinations of Palestinian leaders have been attributed to Mossad. On July 8, 1972, Mossad assassinated Ghassan Kanafani, a Palestinian writer and political leader from the Popular Front of the Liberation of Palestine, by a car bomb in Beirut. His 17-year-old niece, Lamis, also died in the explosion.

Mossad is also said to be behind several assassinations of Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) members. In what was dubbed as “Operation Spring of Youth” in 1973 in Beirut, Mossad raided the flats of three PLO members — Muhammad Yousef al-Najjar, Kamal Adwan and Kamal Nasser — and gunned them down. Adwan’s head was severed from the body as a result of around 60 bullets fired into his neck.

On October 26, 1995, Islamic Jihad founder Fathi Shqaqi was killed by two assailants in front of the Diplomat Hotel in Sliema, Malta. Shqaqi was shot five times at point blank range.

In 1997, Mossad poisoned former Hamas leader Khaled Mesha’al in Jordan. A diplomatic intervention by King Hussein saved his life as Mossad turned over the antidote.

Since the Second Intifada, Israel’s targeted assassinations of Palestinian leaders have shifted towards Hamas. Salah Shehadeh, leader of Al-Qassam Brigades, was killed on July 23, 2002 in Gaza City, when the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) dropped a one-ton bomb onto his house. Fifteen people were killed in the attack.

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was murdered upon exiting a mosque on March 22, 2004. Missiles were fired from an Apache helicopter, killing him and seven other bystanders.

Mossad is also said to have been behind the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, one of the founders of al-Qassam Brigades, on January 20, 2010, in Dubai. Tests on blood samples confirmed he was electrocuted.

On November 14, 2012, Ahmed Jabari, second in command of Hamas’s military wing, was killed by a drone strike on his car in Omar Mukhtar Street.

Uri Brodsky, believed to be a Mossad agent involved in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, is escorted by police to a court of appeal session in Warsaw, Poland, Aug. 5, 2010. (AP/Czarek Sokolowski)

Uri Brodsky, believed to be a Mossad agent involved in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, is to a court in Warsaw, Poland, Aug. 5, 2010

Changing history by scarring society

In an interview with the Times of Israel, Bergman states:

I want to say, that from the very beginning of the state, Israeli leaders thought that secret operations and assassinations far beyond enemy lines were a useful tool to change history, or to do something to reality, without resorting to all-out war.”

The statement is revelatory on several grounds. Apart from indicating Mossad’s worldwide operations, it also closes in on two main issues which are central to the current context of Israel’s resorting to targeted assassinations. The targeting of individuals who, if allowed to work in anti-colonial struggle, can embark upon building a resistance movement that goes beyond mere resilience, should dispel mainstream depiction of Israel’s aggression on Gaza as “war”. By Israel’s admission and actions, there is no war, but rather a premeditated action against a population by targeting individuals who can contribute to Palestinian security and, as a result, capacity to further their cause and their rights.

Second, changing history and reality, as stated by Bergman, can also be applied to the Gaza context. It is not only the fact that Israel is choosing strategy over diplomacy, as Bergman says within the context of his research. Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza are actively involved in resistance. However, the periodical Israeli assaults upon Gaza, and Hamas’ attempts to defend the enclave, have propelled the movement’s visibility when it comes to armed struggle. The movement also prioritizes education as a revolutionary goal. During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Israel directly targeted higher educational facilities, prompting UNESCO to release a report documenting the damage done to infrastructure — 14 educational facilities were significantly damaged. In addition, 421 students were murdered during the operation, making up 27.4 percent of Gaza’s death toll.

Eliminating possibilities of Palestinian resistance

To eliminate Palestinian resistance, Israel has made it a point to target segments of Palestinian society, or individuals, that have potential to develop continuous anti-colonial struggle. It is a strategic decision for Israel to focus on the link between education and resistance — hence the high number of students murdered during Operation Protective Edge, the Palestinian youths murdered by snipers at the Great Return March, and the targeted assassination of Palestinian intellectuals and scientists who have the potential to lead a structured and continuous resistance.

Al-Batsh’s assassination can be seen as merely another strike against Hamas — the latest in a series of targeted killings that seek to weaken the movement’s capacity to develop its own potential for defense in its limited circumstances.

Yet it is the limited circumstances that should provoke further insight into al-Batsh’s assassination. Since 2014, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has not ceased calling for Hamas to hand over complete control of Gaza, including relinquishing armed resistance. As this appeal was refused repeatedly by Hamas, Abbas retaliated through sanctions and withholding of financial assistance, piling further hardships upon the entire enclave that is still reeling from the damage and displacement as a result of Operation Protective Edge.

There is no option for Palestinians other than resistance to the collaborative efforts by Israel and the Palestinian Authority to push Gaza into an irreversible deterioration. Al-Batsh’s assassination is part of the former’s plan to reduce the possibilities of resistance for Palestinians. For Abbas, who has ridiculed resistance even when Palestinians were being massacred in 2014, the loss of al-Batsh might trigger other attempts at fostering political disunity among Palestinians. Apart from the political isolation enforced upon Gaza, it is the lack of opportunity to develop its military capabilities further that has derailed resistance. It is clear that Israel will not take any chances of permitting Hamas to alter the current implosion. Its view is that, for Israel to survive, Palestine’s possibilities must be wiped out, whether the means used are targeted assassinations, sniper fire, or precision targeting of a civilian population.

(Source / 08.05.2018)

Violence against Palestinians becomes the norm

As the US eliminates references to Israel’s occupation

By Ramona Wadi    Ramona Wadi

The latest US annual report on human rights violations, released last Friday, carried an intentional omission. There is no longer any mention of the occupied Palestinian territories. In a move which normalises Israel’s colonial project and military occupation yet further, the relevant entry reads: “Israel, Golan Heights, West Bank and Gaza”.

A statement by the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, published in part by Wafa news agency, described the change thus: “The American administration is not only biased towards Israel, but fully embraces its illegal policies to a point they have become part of US ideology and policies.”

There is no doubt that US President Donald Trump has supported Israel overtly, exposing the policies of previous administrations which maintained a more calculated, covert approach. With the unilateral declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the forthcoming move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to the Holy City, the US has set new precedents in normalising colonialism. In doing so, it has encouraged other countries supportive of Israel to follow suit, or declare such intentions.

Yet, there is an earlier precedent which was met with derision rather than preoccupation. When Trump failed to uphold the distinct and internationally accepted two-state paradigm, the media was more concerned with his lack of eloquence, rather than the significance behind the admission. At best, talk of a one-state solution was brought forward tentatively, albeit with little attention as to how the concept can be misinterpreted. Associating a one-state concept with equal rights for Palestinians prevailed. However, little was said about the pitfalls of implementation within the context of a colonial entity whose concept of a state is one that eliminates Palestinians and their legitimate rights in order to maintain a Jewish identity and majority.

Removing references to Israel’s military occupation of Palestine is undoubtedly damaging. There are, though, varying degrees of danger for Palestinians, including defining the military occupation without its settler-colonial context, one of the few instances where the Palestinian Authority is consistent. Both approaches reflect the normalisation of Israel’s colonial appropriation of Palestine. The complete omission as articulated by the US is just a step ahead of the PA and the international community in terms of isolating Palestinians in terms of politics and rights.

That the US has fully aligned itself with Israel is nothing new. On the other hand, the language used by the PA complements the fragmentation of Palestine which is promoted by Israel. The statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ramallah is complacent and seeks to dismiss the US intent by insisting that it “does not eliminate the concept of occupied territory according to international law and international legality, but it reveals to the world once again the reality of the US positions, especially for those who refuse to see them as they are.”

If by this the PA is alluding to the apparent dismissal of the two-state compromise by the US, it should be remembered that, in the absence of a unifying anti-colonial alternative which the PA refuses to consider, there is little to indicate that Palestinians will be able to define themselves politically at an international level. This is due entirely to coercion from the coloniser and the circle of collaborators within the PA who keep insisting upon the obsolete “peace process and “two-state solution”. Meanwhile, Israel’s state violence against the Palestinians becomes the norm, and the international community led by the US is complicit.

(Source / 27.04.2018)

Using Aid to Trap Palestinians, while Their Rights are Being Depleted

Entrance goods into Gaza

An Israeli army officer monitoring the entrance of goods into Gaza

By Ramona Wadi

More rhetoric and the absence of any constructive action have created a spectrum of expectations for Gaza. The past few days have seen an escalation of alarm juxtaposed against fake optimism. The latter is a veneer for a widespread complacency that is not bothered by the decline in financial aid for the enclave.

According to Wafa news agency, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah claimed that,

“United, we will be able to withstand all plots against our national cause and our just right and will allow us to face unfair American decisions and constant Israeli violations.”

Two days earlier, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov used Twitter to give details of a meeting between Hamdallah and Israeli Major General Yoav Mordechai. Mladenov claimed that the two officials discussed “critical humanitarian solutions.” He concluded with a bizarre statement: “Much can be done if the conditions are right.”

In both statements, it is implicit that Palestinians must subjugate themselves. Hamdallah should not be authorized to speak of unity on behalf of all Palestinians, let alone mangle the history of resistance to exploit the temporary limelight for himself. There is more than enough evidence of the efforts by Hamdallah and the Palestinian Authority to coerce the people of Gaza into yet another farcical attempt at reconciliation by further depriving the population of access to basic necessities through the enforcement of punitive measures.

National unity is absent from the equation, as Hamdallah well knows, being part of an entity that exists to prop-up the Israeli occupation and thrives upon thwarting Palestinian independence. The only equivalence that can be garnered from his comments is the imposition of different forms of oppression upon Gaza derived from its unique circumstances, in a way that complements the ongoing violence in the occupied West Bank. Different tactics yielding a similar result: suffocate all means of people’s resistance in order to place the narrative directly into the hands of a few complicit “representatives”.

If Palestinians are eliminated from their own narrative, the only body with which the international community can negotiate is the PA.

This gives Mladenov’s comment additional context. It defies all considerations and obligations. If the conditions were right, Gaza would not have been reduced to dependence upon international humanitarian aid; the UN’s involvement should emphasize this fact, rather than emulate Israel and blast the enclave into oblivion by other means, in this case collaboration to prolong human suffering.

Since the conditions are not right, Mladenov has the obligation to address the discrepancies in terms of provision on the humanitarian and political level. Humanitarian aid must not be provided on condition that the Palestinians relinquish their political and human rights.

With failed initiatives becoming another premeditated, external imposition upon the Palestinians in Gaza, the political actors involved in Palestine are dedicated to maintaining the deprivation of the enclave’s residents to the point that they will be trapped into relinquishing their political objectives. Humanitarian aid is a powerful weapon and one that is being used by Israel, the US, the PA and the UN to trap Palestinians into navigating parts of the planned deprivation system that they are experiencing.

As the focus keeps shifting upon the most crucial aspects of well-being, the political backdrop is left increasingly in the hands of institutional representatives who alter Palestinian demands from autonomy to charity. This is what should be remembered when listening to statements from the likes of Hamdallah, Mladenov and the power structures that they represent.

(Source / 24.02.2018)

A sliver of truth amidst UN manipulation of Palestinian rights

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres talks at a press conference in Beit Lahia, Gaza on 30 August 2017

By Ramona Wadi

As always, UN officials take pride in pontificating about Palestine. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has proved to be no exception, faithfully pursuing the same agenda which resulted in Palestinians becoming a marginalised subject of discussion. Israel may complain of rhetorical visibility allocated to Palestine at the UN, however, it is this tactic which allows Israeli violations to continue unhindered.

International committees, agencies, meetings and resolutions have placed an irreparable burden upon Palestinians, resulting in extreme political isolation. Sometimes, this isolation is publicly voiced, albeit without the desire to allow Palestinians to reclaim their rights to territory and return.

In his address to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, Guterres spoke a sliver of truth: “As we all know, the question of Palestine is inextricably linked with the history of United Nations and is one of the longest unresolved issues on our agenda.” Lest a sliver of false hope is ignited, Guterres reiterated that there is no “plan B” to the two-state compromise. His ending remarks comprise of: “A two-state solution is the only way to achieve the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and secure a sustainable solution to the conflict.”

From father to son: How the Palestinian struggle is passed from one generation to the next

Besides the tedious regurgitation of the usual summary which even refrains from attributing colonial expansion directly to Israel, anyone reading or listening to Guterres’ address would have benefited from an acknowledgement that the colonisation of Palestine was aided by collusion and incompetence on behalf of the organisation claiming to protect human rights. It is unacceptable that the UN maintains its façade of responsibility for human rights when it thrives upon allowing its influential members to break international law with impunity.

The constant appropriation of Palestinian voices through international institutions has not ceased. It is following the designated trajectory set in the early years of the UN, as Guterres has pointed out in his generalised statements. Placing his statement within context, one such example of Palestinian absence can be found in the intervention by the Guatemalan Ambassador to the UN in 1947 when the Partition Plan which paved the way for the colonisation of historic Palestine was being debated. The words uttered by Jose Garcia Granados: “An ignorant majority should not be allowed to impose its will. A million progressive human beings should not be the plaything of a few ringleaders supported by millions of human beings of less advanced ideas,” summarise the UN’s perpetual attitude towards oppressed populations.

Decades later, the colonisers, supported by the UN, have flaunted their purported superiority by massacres, displacement and dispossession of Palestinians while the organisation exploits every life lost through aggression committed by Israel, to create a spectacle out of the colonised. It is puerile to assume that just because the UN regularly debates Palestine; it is a proponent of Palestinian rights.

Palestinian absence has become a requirement in discourse regarding Palestine. Guterres could have substituted his entire speech by publicly asserting that every international action, rhetorical or otherwise, constitutes a collaborative approach towards colonising more Palestinian territory. The UN is well aware of the fact that absence is not equivalent to meaningless. Pursuing such duplicity at the expense of Palestinian lives makes an update on the UN’s motives a prerequisite.

(Source / 08.02.2018)

Projects take precedence over the protection of Palestinian rights

Israeli security forces gather around a demolition site in Jerusalem on 14 March 2017 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli security forces gather around a demolition site in Jerusalem on 14 March 2017

By Ramona Wadi

If references to international law were effective in reducing or reversing Israeli violence, Palestinians would have tasted freedom many decades ago. The recent demolition by Israel of two EU-funded classrooms in Abu Nuwar was nothing unusual in this regard, and produced the usual, by now meaningless, responses. The Israelis said that no permits had been issued for the classrooms, bringing to mind the description “construction terror” used by Israeli MK Moti Yogev.

Despite the systematic violence targeting sectors which are crucial for Palestinians and their existence, such as education, there has been no variation in the rhetoric of response from UN and Palestinian Authority officials. Roberto Valent, the UN’s acting Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territories, issued a detailed statement, reminding everyone that the Abu Nuwar School had been targeted by demolition for the sixth time. Israel’s policies, he added “have created a coercive environment that violates the human rights of residents and generates a risk of forcible transfer.”

PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah cited the right to education in international treaties. Demolitions which target education facilities, he added, constitute “a deliberate policy of the Israeli authorities to pressure Palestinian communities to leave, in order to confiscate their land and build additional settlements.”

Read: Palestinians, rights groups urge UN to name companies complicit in settlements

The difference between both statements is that the UN has preferred to address forced transfer as a possible consequence of Israeli demolition of Palestinian properties. Hamdallah’s statement leaves no doubt about the policy of forced transfer, yet fails to seek accountability beyond referencing international laws and conventions. If both approaches were to be analysed together, one would discover a complementary approach that safeguards Israel’s perception of itself as being above any law, international or otherwise. It also validates the self-identity which the colonial entity has constructed while requiring that Palestinians adhere to their enforced marginalised existence.

There is certainly enough awareness of the correlation between the destruction of education facilities and forced transfer. However, a statement by Shadi Othman from the EU office in Jerusalem indicates the misplaced priorities of international institutions which fund projects for Palestinians. “The European Union,” he explained, “has demanded from Israel more than once not to demolish projects [that] the European Union funds and which aim to improve the living conditions of the Palestinians.”

This is interesting, because the humanitarian aspect of seeking to improve Palestinians’ lives is not a direct challenge to Israeli politics and policies that create violence against, and the vulnerability of, the Palestinian people. It is also convenient for the EU to have humanitarian structures demolished rather than risking a disruption of economic relations with Israel by, for example, introducing sanctions to put pressure on the state. Thus, it can be deduced that Palestinians and their legitimate rights are far from being a priority for the institutions funding a number of facilities in the occupied territories. If international institutions are forced to address the consequences of forced transfer, an allocation of funds for yet another project to be targeted by Israel will no doubt be forthcoming. It will not, however, come with any kind of diplomatic or other protection for the Palestinians.

Read: International community urged to take immediate action to save patients in Gaza

The responses to the demolitions are detrimental to the people of Palestine; indeed, the approach taken actually safeguards the interests of both Israel and international donors. It is obvious (and has been for decades) that Israel will not bat an eyelid when reminded that it is in constant violation of international law, particularly when it knows that it can exert so much influence at the UN, either directly or through its proxies at the US State Department and its client nations.

The EU, on the other hand, has created a project out of Palestinian suffering, which makes the cycle of violations, including demolitions, favourable for its purportedly humanitarian agenda “to help” Palestinians. All of this posturing, though, merely enables the political actors to divert attention away from the fact that projects, even those scheduled for eventual destruction, are more important than developing and implementing a political framework which makes Israel accountable under international law. Between prioritising projects and people, international institutions prefer the façade of the former over the protection of Palestinian rights.

(Source / 06.02.2018)

Impediments reflect the intention to make violations permanent

Ramona Wadi

By Ramona Wadi

Last year, Israel and the US invested unprecedented efforts in discrediting the legitimate rights of Palestinians and seeking to limit, to the point of dysfunction, the role of institutions working directly with Palestinian refugees, notably the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

During a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in June 2017, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley accused the UN of bullying tactics against Israel, prompting Netanyahu to state mere days later that UNRWA should be dismantled.

Since the early days of Donald Trump’s presidency, Israel is no longer choosing who to discredit. Supported in international institutions by the US in an overt manner, Netanyahu has adopted a different strategy – that of leveraging similar attacks on the UN and Palestinians (despite the body’s support for Israel’s colonial project).

However, both the UN and Palestinians are subjugated to the point of dependence, albeit under different circumstances. The UN’s dependence is directly linked to maintaining the cycle of human rights violations. Palestinians, on the other hand, have been forced into dependence for survival because the international community, in accordance with Israel’s demand, eliminated the possibilities for anti-colonial struggle and framed the political cycle of displacement as a humanitarian concern.

The recent news that Trump is withholding more than half of its financial annual contribution to UNRWA makes this dynamic even clearer. Commissioner General Pierre Krähenbühl’s statement reflects both the necessity of the organisation’s work, as well as the importance of assuring the permanence of services offered to Palestinian refugees.

It is no secret that the US has always guaranteed billions for Israeli violence and millions as hypocritical compensation for the perpetual violations inflicted upon Palestinians. Identical tactics have been implemented in the context of UNRWA. The needs of Palestinian refugees are not being met in a way which befits autonomy and independence, despite the US being the largest single donor until 2017. The deficit created through US collaboration with Israel ensures that UNRWA will be restricted in its accomplishments, with the result that Palestinians will remain tethered to priorities related to basic needs in order to survive.

Thus, it is contradictory to call for the dismantling of UNRWA while reducing its budget. The needs of Palestinians perpetuated by Israel, the US and the international community, have to be met in a specific manner that is stronger than the current measure. If the organisation’s budget is severely crippled, it stands to reason that necessities will have to remain a priority. Since Palestinians are not fictitious, despite what Netanyahu and the Zionist narrative proclaim, neither the refugees nor their needs will disappear.

UNRWA’s existence is a consequence of the Israeli colonial project. In a world not morally warped, the focus of accountability would be shifted upon the aggressor, rather than a dependent organisation that cannot completely guarantee the well-being of Palestinian refugees, let alone autonomy. Perhaps Netanyahu can consider the obvious solution which would see the end of the humanitarian approach towards Palestinians: decolonise the land, let the refugees return to historic Palestine, and the UNRWA saga will come to a dignified end.

(Source / 20.01.2018)

Trump’s decision a reflection of the UN earlier colonial impositions

Ramona Wadi

Since 1967, the UN regularly adopted resolutions concerning the status of Jerusalem, most of them dealing with withdrawing military forces, condemnation of land confiscation and settlement expansion, as well as requesting that Israel refrains from holding military activities in the city. A recurring warning was that no action should be taken to change the status of Jerusalem.

US President Donald Trump exposed the fallacy behind international recommendations yesterday with his unilateral declaration of recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. Away from the outpouring of indignation from Palestinians who have resisted the Zionist colonial project, the opposition to Trump’s declaration has been mostly diluted by statements that simply acknowledge the action taken as reprehensible, instead of focusing upon responsibility, accountability and ramifications – all of which should lead directly to the UN.

The hype generated by Trump on previous occasions, which illustrated his administration’s support for Israel, is becoming a convenient tool for Israel, the PA and the UN, due to such tactics generating a fragmented response and one that strengthens reliance upon symbolism. Trump’s statement goes against UN resolutions. However, it is a known fact that UN resolutions are a façade for the allowance of international law violations. Palestine is no exception – on the contrary, it is an epitome of how international politics have shaped the disappearance of people and territory, leaving only slivers of land as a specific focus detracting from the entire colonial structure and the institutions supporting it.

Without detracting attention from the latest development, discussing Jerusalem in isolation puts the rest of Palestine at risk at a political level. Trump has stepped away from the requirements of the Quartet, namely the two-state compromise which, months ago, was mulled over publicly by the US president in sentences which attracted more derision than scrutiny. What will it take now to declare an official departure from the negotiations which have changed Palestine in a more dangerous manner than Trump?

The UN’s useless, specific focus on Jerusalem can, however, serve as an example of how it has allowed colonialism and its allies to change Palestine permanently. The Times of Israel is already quoting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stating: “We are holding contacts with other countries who will also recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.” The prediction for such moves, Netanyahu stated, is based upon the future relocation of the US embassy. Again, this rhetoric is nothing new – a few months ago Netanyahu made similar statements regarding Jerusalem and the eventual relocation of embassies. If other countries follow suit, even if these are a minority, how does the UN plan to safeguard Jerusalem’s status through resolutions?

This also begets another question – how will the UN frame the two-state compromise, which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres immediately reiterated as the only solution, now that a clear departure from the obsolete formula has been made? Trump’s actions have defined previous warnings on the subject which the UN preferred not to heed in its quest to deprive Palestinians of a political solution – something it has done since its inception. With such an obscene human rights violations record, expecting the UN to protect Palestine and Palestinians, as has been requested on several occasions, should not even be considered, let alone devise an approach. For decades, the UN has stolen the rights of Palestinians to claim their land. It also bequeathed Israel with a farcical legitimacy through one main omission – that of recognising a colonial entity as a state.

Sadly, the Palestinian Authority, as a derivative of such corruption, never prioritised Palestine and Palestinians. Jerusalem, however, will provide Mahmoud Abbas with an opportunity to pontificate meaninglessly, embellishing this degeneration with adjectives depicting illusion instead of defining true ownership. Once the furore over this episode abates and it is consigned to the growing timeline of violations, Abbas will undoubtedly pursue the remnants of the internationally-accepted fabrication of negotiations and compromise to earn plaudits from the UN, until there is nothing left to compromise over.

(Source / 11.12.2017)

Palestinians stand alone in defending their land

Image of the Israeli wall along the West Bank which isolates the Palestinians and keep them confined in their own land [Scottmontreal/Flickr]

Israeli wall along the West Bank which isolates the Palestinians and keep them confined in their own land

By Ramona Wadi

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has relished the spotlight so far this year. In February, the PA launched the five-year National Policy Agenda which prioritised national unity and economic independence, among other plans. Meanwhile, Hamdallah was pushing for PA control over Gaza as the enclave succumbed to unprecedented humanitarian deprivation as a result of collective punishment inflicted by Israel and PA leader Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas’ relinquishing control over Gaza so far seems to be going according to Hamdallah’s plan.

Last Wednesday at the annual olive picking festival in the district of Bethlehem, Hamdallah accused Israel of hindering Palestine’s economic growth. The rhetoric chosen by the Palestinian prime minister is weighed down by a multitude of facades – the most prominent among them being the impression of a leadership in concordance with the will of the people. Using imagery and evoking the Palestinian people’s tenacity towards the land, Hamdallah’s attempts at glorification, while remaining dissociated from the ramifications of settler-colonial expansion, could have impressed only if the leadership possessed a sliver of will to protect the remaining fragments of Palestinian territory.

Quoted by Wafa news agency, Hamdallah stated:

Israel aims at undermining our potential and resources, marginalising Palestinian productive base and obstructing the ability of our national economy to grow and develop.

Israel’s targeting of Palestine’s agricultural heritage is a continuation of the earlier historical violence unleashed upon the territory through the promotion of industrialisation. In recent years, settler violence has routinely targeted Palestinian cultivation of the remaining territory – stealing produce and damaging olive trees are a regular occurrence. This week, the International Middle East Media Centre reported the flooding of olive orchards in Deir Al-Hatab with sewage water. Restricting Palestinian freedom of movement has enhanced the settlers’ freedom to extensively damage Palestinian land and produce with impunity.

Hamdallah’s summary of Israeli violations, however, does not incorporate a challenge to the colonial authorities, to the extent that the damage incurred by Palestinians, in terms of politics and human rights, amounts to a mere illustration of daily infringements. There is also a lack of correlation between the projects which the Palestinian Authority, according to Hamdallah, is undertaking to aid the agricultural sector, and Israel’s usurpation of natural resources, such as water. The permanent backdrop of settler-colonies and military occupation is eliminated in the context of PA projects, thus enabling Israel to indulge in additional aggressive tactics.

Read: Pope Francis appeals for end to discrimination in Holy Land

If one had to glean anything of significance in Hamdallah’s speech, it would be the persistent isolation of Palestinians facing constant settler attacks. Indeed, the isolation is emphasised: “You bear the message of truth, justice and steadfastness in the face of destruction, displacement, settlement schemes and land confiscation.” If the PA was truly a representative of the Palestinian people, Hamdallah would have spoken differently. The futile glorification would have been replaced with a collective strategy that is politically supported by the leadership. There is a lot to be said about PA’s culpability in reducing Palestine to a transient metaphor, when Palestinians are actively resisting plans of obliteration.

(Source / 29.10.2017)

The possibilities of challenging Netanyahu’s claims about L. America

Latin America is once again Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s diplomatic target, at a time when violence in the region fomented by US imperialism is once again rising to the fore. Coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the UN Partition Plan, Netanyahu is planning to visit Mexico and Argentina before addressing the UN General Assembly next month.

Israeli media is reflecting on the historical processes of the Partition Plan, when several Latin American and Caribbean countries voted in favour, giving approval for Israel’s intended colonisation of Palestine. Six countries abstained and Cuba voted against the resolution, with Cuban delegate to the UN Dr Ernesto Dihigo declaring partition to be “contrary to law and justice”, adding: “We have solemnly declared the principle of the free determination of the peoples, but with great concern we see that when the time has come to enforce it we forget it.”

Support for the Partition Plan from other countries, however, still forms a premise for Netanyahu. At a time when political violence is threatening to engulf the region, it comes as little surprise that Netanyahu has envisaged the possibilities of exerting additional influence.

In 2014, while still Mayor of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri, now president of Argentina, travelled to Israel for a conference during which he stated: “Israeli suffering has to be understood. From afar it’s easy to give advice, but you have to be in Israel to really understand the situation.” The comments should not come as a surprise from Macri, who last year angered Argentinian victims of the Videla dictatorship by refusing to acknowledge the thousands of murdered and disappeared civilians.

Mexico’s hosting of Netanyahu comes after a call earlier this month made by US President Donald Trump to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. A transcript of the call published by the Washington Post includes Trump’s reference to Israel and Netanyahu over the Apartheid Wall – which Trump wants to construct as border control between the US and Mexico. According to the transcript, Trump stated:

Israel has a wall and everyone said do not build a wall, walls do not work – 99.9 per cent of people trying to come across that wall cannot get across and more. Bibi Netanyahu told me the wall works.

The region’s ties with Israel cannot be disputed particularly at a time when Latin America was colonised, plundered and exploited by the US. Some countries have remained staunch allies of Israel and the US due to their political allegiances which have not changed. Guatemala’s support for the partition of Palestine and its lobbying to enable the passing of the resolution is one such instance and its support for Israel remains referenced to earlier historical ties. Chile under Augusto Pinochet also sustained ties with Israel: repression, surveillance, murder and disappearance of civilians constituting a common ground for the colonial entity and the dictator.

Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia have, in the past years, been the staunchest supporters of Palestine. The deaths of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro have left a political void that is hard to emulate. However, both countries’ experience of US imperialism has instilled in the people an internationalist approach – one that has the potential to lead if other countries follow suit. Brazil’s refusal to accept settler leader Dani Dayan as ambassador last year was step in the right direction – Netanyahu’s efforts to promote settler colonialism through a settler leader advocating for expansion failed.

However, Latin American countries must also shoulder responsibility for consistency when it comes to supporting Palestine and its struggle against colonisation. If Netanyahu’s plans are to be thwarted, Latin American countries must develop a narrative of Palestinian support away from the two-state compromise. In doing so, Netanyahu’s claims of a region friendly towards Israel can be dispelled and Palestinian internationalist support will benefit from a new approach – that of former victims of colonial and neoliberal violence uniting and challenging the passive acceptance of Israel at an international level.

(Source / 19.08.2017)