Final Fatwa van Tofik Dibi legitimeert gekke Geert

Geert Wilders zou vast jaloers zijn dat hij het niet zélf bedacht had. De ‘Final Fatwa’ van Tofik Dibi, zo ‘catchy’ allitererend! Vergeef ons dit sarcasme. Maar we vinden dit initiatief, ongetwijfeld goed bedoeld, niet alleen misplaatst, maar vooral triest. Een progressieve partij als Groen Links legitimeert hiermee de anti-islamkruistocht van de PVV.

En dat uitgerekend rond de herdenking van de aanslagen van 9/11. Volgens Dibi hebben extremisten “op 11 september het Islamitische geloof gekaapt” van de redelijke moslims en moet het geloof teruggekaapt worden. Waar haalt hij het?! Wereldwijd heeft de overgrote meerderheid van de gewone moslims helemaal niets met de extreme Wahabistische doctrines van Al Qaeda. Net zo min als miljoenen christenen iets hebben met het gedachtegoed van de Noorse killer en zelfverklaard ‘christelijke ridder’ Breivik.

In de mediacratie waarin we leven moet je als politicus vaak creatief zijn om aandacht te krijgen, maar je kunt ook overdrijven. Je kunt als politicus met een Islamitische achtergrond flink zelfkritisch zijn. Dat lijkt zelfs handig in een tijd waarin moslims bashen zo normaal is geworden als de hond uitlaten. Deze actie van Dibi is niet alleen overdreven, maar contraproductief en naiëf.

Het is triest dat uitgerekend een progressieve politicus met een Islamitische achtergrond zo kort door de bocht over de Islam schrijft, gemeenplaatsen en platitudes gebruikt. Beseft hij dat echt niet of is Dibi door al te lang onder de Haagse kaasstolp te leven, besmet geraakt met het populistische virus dat zo langzamerhand de halve politieke kaste lijkt te hebben geïnfecteerd? Of zouden Dibi cs last hebben van het Stockholm syndroom? Wilders gijzelt al jaren het politieke bedrijf, en Dibi cs gaan steeds meer sympathiseren met hun gijzelnemer. Er lijkt nog één credo te gelden in de Haagse mores: probeer Wilders in te kapselen door hem en zijn 1,6 miljoen kiezers zoveel mogelijk naar de mond te praten. En vooral Wilders niet demoniseren! Honderdduizenden moslims in Nederland demoniseren, dat is geen enkel probleem.

Dibi doet naar aanleiding van 9/11 een internationale oproep aan de moslims om een allerlaatste fatwa uit te roepen. Een fatwa is volgens Dibi “een decreet dat wordt uitgevaardigd door één of meerdere geestelijken op basis van de Islamitische wetgevin” en zijn fatwa’s “top-down besluiten die moslims opdragen hoe te denken, voelen en handelen”.

Eerste fout: een fatwa is geen decreet, want een decreet is ‘een verordening van overheidswege’ of ‘een pauselijke beslissing’. Wat Dibi doet is de Islam en de moslims van ‘ons’ vervreemden door te wijzen op een specifiek aspect waar ‘wij’ ons niet mee kunnen identificeren. Hij versterkt bovendien nog eens de negatieve connotatie rond de Islam. Bovendien is dit helemaal geen kenmerkend aspect, de fatwa speelt voor de meeste moslims helemaal geen rol in hun dagelijkse leven. Het is juist dit ‘wij’ – ‘zij’ denken waar Guy Verhofstadt zich onlangs in Zomergasten zo fel tegen uitsprak en waar volgens hem progressieve politici zich ook tegen moeten verzetten. Dat velen in Nederland zo enthousiast waren over Verhofstadt zegt dan ook meer over het niveau van de Nederlandse politiek op dit terrein dan over Verhofstadt.
Zoals Dibi ook aangeeft zijn er vele fatwa’s die terrorisme veroordelen en meisjes en vrouwen juist kunnen beschermen. Maar veel uitgebreider gaat hij in op de bekende, verwerpelijke fatwa die het extreme regime in Iran uitvaardigde tegen Salman Rushdie.

Door er dat ene oude en bekende voorbeeld van een fatwa uit te halen, een fatwa die zoals wel vaker meer met naakte machtspolitiek te maken heeft dan met Islam op zich, gaat Dibi er aan voorbij dat er sindsdien vele andere fatwa’s waren die vaak ook geen fijne boodschap bevatten – net zo min als het pauselijke decreet tegen condoomgebruik dat is – maar daarom nog niet automatisch massaal opgevolgd werden.

Het zijn niet hiërarchisch gestuurde geestelijken die hun individuele interpretaties en adviezen als niet bindende fatwa’s op de gelovigen loslaten en de gelovigen zijn vrij om daar iets mee te doen of niet. In Somalië werd in 2005 een fatwa afgekondigd tegen besnijdenis van meisjes, omdat die achterlijke praktijk niets te maken heeft met Islamitische voorschriften. Helaas werd ook die fatwa niet massaal gevolgd.

Dibi ziet dat anders en versterkt met zijn actie de strikt negatieve connotatie die sinds ‘Salman Rushdie’ aan dit fenomeen wordt toegedicht. Fatwa’s komen volgens Dibi in “verschillende soorten en maten, maar hebben allemaal één ding met elkaar gemeen: zij reduceren moslims tot gedachteloze, harteloze en gewetenloze machines. Fatwa’s reduceren moslims tot willoze klonen”.

Het beeld dat Dibi hier schetst, past precies in het kraam van Wilders: ook die doet niets liever dan de moslims te bestempelen als homogene massa die gedachteloos én meedogenloos, op vingerknip bevel van een gestoorde imam, klaar staan om hele nare dingen uit te voeren. In de gedachtegang van Dibi, is het alsof er binnen de moslimgemeenschap geen enorme diversiteit bestaat, waarbinnen felle debatten worden gevoerd, kritische stemmen geuit.

Eel eens naar beelden over de Arabische lente gekeken, de laatste maanden? Wel eens over de burgeroorlog in Irak gehoord, waarbij moslims van zowel Soennieten en Sjiieten elkaar uitmoordden? Nee volgens Dibi hebben alle moslims als homogeen blok een laatste fatwa nodig die “hen opdraagt mens te zijn”. Ergo, moslims zijn nu geen mensen, maar “gedachteloze, harteloze en gewetenloze machines”? Het zijn Dibi’s woorden.

En Wilders likt er zijn vingers bij af, want hij verspreidt dit beeld al jaren met groeiend succes. Wilders doet dit om angst te zaaien onder burgers, hen vervolgens het valse gevoel gevend dat hij hen tegen voortdurend dreigend Islamitisch gevaar beschermt. Bijvoorbeeld tegen het gevaar dat als op een kwade dag een imam middels een fatwa oproept om alle niet gelovigen in Nederland massaal de keel over te snijden, dat dan duizenden moslims dat ook meteen gaan doen. Dat is de voortdurend paranoïde doemboodschap van Wilders en Dibi bevestigt die met zijn retoriek.

De ‘final fatwa’ van Dibi zou ‘een eerbetoon zijn aan alle slachtoffers van moslims die zich Allah wanen’. Moslims wanen zich geen Allah, dat is heiligschennis. Er bestaat binnen de Islamitische gemeenschap wereldwijd een uiterst klein aantal moslims – Al Qaeda heeft volgens inlichtingendiensten niet voor niets last om mensen te rekruteren –  wiens denken dermate getroebleerd is dat ze menen in diens naam vreselijke dingen te kunnen doen.

Dibi lijkt ook vergeten dat het grootst aantal fysieke slachtoffers van terroristische aanslagen in de wereld moslims zijn. En de oorlog tegen de dreiging van terrorisme – die aanvankelijk niet gelieerd werd met Islam (George Bush op 17 September 2001: “Het gezicht van terrorisme komt niet overeen met de ware Islam. Islam is een godsdienst van vrede”) – wordt door scherpslijpers als Wilders gebruikt om het idee te pushen dat Islam in oorlog is met de rest van de wereld. Mehdi Hasan schreef donderdag in The Guardian dat de groeiende demonisering van moslims ervoor heeft gezorgd dat zij zich terugtrekken uit het publieke debat, angstig om voor extremist te worden uitgemaakt.

Een eerbetoon aan slachtoffers van 9/11, is bijvoorbeeld het op gang helpen brengen van redelijke dialoog, niet het opblazen van bruggen, zoals Wilders graag doet. Of het bestrijden van wederzijdse haat en onwetendheid, niet het verspreiden ervan. Bovendien, weet Dibi donders goed dat zijn oproep in de praktijk geen enkel effect zal sorteren. Het lijkt dus puur effectbejag. Over de rug van moslims jezelf populair maken bij dat electoraat, dat toch écht liever op het origineel zal stemmen: Gekke Geert.

(Hans van Scharen / Hugo Knoppert / www.joop.nl / 13.09.2011)

Activism Until the End

I have recently been in touch with a phenomenal activist. Her words  inspired  me and made me wonder when are we all going to do our part to  change the world  into a better place, through political activism,  voluntary work and lobbying.  She has been actively writing and posting  online despite her health issues. She  is in the last days of her life;  but isn’t giving up fighting for justice,  freedom and humanity.

Here is what she said to me:

‘I’m disabled, so ‘copy and paste’ is what many disabled people do. I  have  osteoarthritis and my fingers hit the wrong keys. I have over 8  disabilities  and am a dialysis patient.

My work since 1962 has been to do with human rights. I am also a   disabilities advocate and work for the elderly and disabled of my city.  Over  the years I have advocated  for people of all ethnicities, ages,  cultures,  colours and genders.

I went as far as I could. I had hoped to go further, but not having a   business background or degree I could not go further. I don’t think  people in  the everyday world understand how difficult it is for me to  do, what they  consider simple things to accomplish.

In the early days of my illness, I could not straighten my back and a  close  friend told me: “I can’t walk with you if you can’t put your head  up, square  your shoulders. You are embarrassing me.” That’s the first  time I found out how  people thought and felt inside their minds. That’s  when I decided to be strong  and start to do things that might make a  difference for people going through  similar experiences. I  have gone  through the most extremes of experiences of  life from almost 2 years of  age. I lost my kidneys due physicians not watching  my health and giving  me wrong medications. I had a heart attack because of  these medications  and have ended up on dialysis for life.’

Maybe it is time for us all to reflect on our lives and see if we truly are  dedicated to justice, humanity and peace.

Maybe it is time for us to look at those who are not wasting a moment of  their lives, by contributing to humanity and progress.

Maybe we should start questioning our own commitment to Islam and to these  important Islamic values.

When are we going to be able to muster the strength that this activist has  demonstrated?

The Arab Spring has given us plenty of examples of those who  have sacrificed  their lives fighting tyranny and dictatorship.

Are you going to take a stance and do your part to change the world? Are  you  going to work for Islam, justice, peace and progress?

(www.mpacuk.org / 13.09.2011)

Palestinian UN bid: an end to the conflict or a recipe for disaster?

Over the last few months we have seen a rise in the number of countries among the international community declaring recognition of the state of Palestine within the 1967 borders, the last of which was St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

This move by the international community is based on the presumption that a two-state solution, namely the state of israel proclaimed in 1948, living alongside a Palestinian state comprising of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, as the best approach to ending the conflict.

For israelis this would mean compliance with international law. For Palestinians this would mean giving up its territories occupied by the then newly founded state of israel in 1948 and settling for only 22% of historical Palestine weakening the right of return to the thousands of refugees and their descendants living abroad.

‘President’ Mahmoud Abbas has expressed that this would internationalise the conflict as a legal matter and not only as a political one when he goes to the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly on September 20th to seek full international recognition of the state of Palestine based on the 1967 borders. It would give Palestinians the legal backing of a full UN member-state when they make claims of human rights abuses against israel at the International Criminal Court and other bodies.

But the United States has made it clear that it will veto any bid put forward by Abbas attempting to declare an independent and sovereign Palestinian state when it passes the Security Council. The United States, a permanent member of the Security Council, has been a partial broker towards israel; the latter of which has been the target of numerous UNSC resolutions calling for the protection of human rights and condemning indiscriminate attacks, all vetoed by the former. What’s more is that according to some news sources there is a bill being passed in Congress that will cut US aid to the Palestinian Authority if they eventually make a case for ‘statehood’ at the UN, which could lead its other major donours to be forced into following the same course of action, placing the socio-economic conditions and dire humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories from bad to worse.

It should also be noted that the Palestinian Authority’s attempt in seeking UN recognition of ‘statehood’ is undemocratic in its nature as it represents Palestinians only inside the West Bank and Gaza, excluding those living in East Jerusalem, in israel and abroad.

Furthermore, it is the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) that is internationally recognised as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people both inside and outside of the remaining Palestinian territories enjoying UN observer status. The PLO already declared the independence of Palestine in 1988. Therefore it is only right that any attempt at protecting or advancing the political or legal status of the Palestinian people as a whole that it be done via the PLO and not the PA.

Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Palestinian Authority (PA)
Founded in 1964 Founded in 1993
Internationally recognised in 1974 by UN, international bodies and MENA states as sole representative of Palestinian people both inside and outside occupied Palestinian territories Founded under terms of Oslo accords and represents Palestinian people only inside West Bank and Gaza (excluding Palestinians in East Jerusalem, Palestinians living in israel and Palestinians living abroad.
Draws its legitimacy from the Palestine National Council, the parliament in exile. Holds permanent observer status at UN General Assembly Lifespan limited by final status negotiations that were to take place in 2000 but until today have still failed to take place

Calls by the US Palestinian Communities Network, the Boycott National Committee as well as other Palestinian experts and organisations have come to a consensus that any Palestinian effort should be about safeguarding and ameliorating Palestinian inalienable and internationally recognised rights, “fundamental of which are the right to return to our homes and properties which we were forcible expelled from; our right to self-determination; and our right to resist the settler colonial regime that has occupied our land for more than 63 years.

The process of de-democratisation and the de jure fragmentation of the Palestinian people as a whole would be further reinforced should Abbas’ bid succeed with the PA’s position strengthened and thereby replacing the PLO as the holder of Palestine’s seat at the UN.

Although the Palestinian Authority is responsible for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza it has no control over the majority of these territories. For example, it has no control over its borders, its air space, its general security, currency, fiscal or monetary policy, natural resources or foreign policy. It does not determine citizenship and any trade that takes place only takes place with israel or through israel passing israeli checkpoints and israeli ports. Also it does not have its own military to defend itself leaving Palestinians within the West Bank and Gaza at the control and whims of the Israeli Occupation Force’s (IOF) military force such as checkpoints, unreasoned detentions, closures, curfews and military incursions.

The essential infrastructure and environment is lacking for a fully-functional independent state. Over the years, israel has created facts on the ground, destroyed institutions, water wells, energy resources, finance, transport, communications, trade as well as many other economic sectors and industries. This heavy dependency on the occupying power that has denied their basic human rights over the decades and which has deliberately impoverished the Palestinians gives very little choice to the occupied at the moment and ability to emerge with an independent and sovereign state on the 1967 borders.

Palestinian socio-economic development necessary for a functioning sovereign state has been further constrained by dividing and trapping Palestinian cities and villages in the West Bank due to israel’s construction of Jewish-only settlements with a network of by-pass Jewish-only roads, a process known as bantustanisation considered illegal under international law. The movement of Palestinian people and goods in and out of the West Bank and within the West Bank itself are also hindered by countless military checkpoints.

The process of bantustanisation has been further aggravated by the Apartheid wall which cuts deep into the West Bank. The Apartheid Wall, in breach of the UN Charter article 2.4, is made of barbed wire, concrete, electronic motion sensors and guard towers costing about US$2.8 million per km. It has resulted in land loss & resources, property destruction, forced evacuation from homes by local residents and rising unemployment hindering freedom of movement, the rights to property, health, education, work and food necessary for Palestinian socio-economic development. israel claims it to be a temporary measure for security reasons even though it has been built beyond the Green Line and cuts 16 km deep into the West Bank.

As the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza are not contiguous there is a high possibility that the state will not function as one unit and thus failure to govern will be inevitable. Besides, this move comes with complete disregard to Hamas as a democratically-elected government and thus does not represent the wishes of all Palestinian political parties and factions.

In light of the above the proposal for ‘statehood’ does not remedy the Palestinian issue; it does not give any recognition to their suffering and neither does it give recognition to their rights of the land. As Jalal Abukhater has said, “Our struggle is not a struggle for symbolic statehood; it is a struggle to gain Palestinians’ basic rights!“ Thus the only possible solution that can happen at this moment in time would be a democratic bi-national one-state solution where both israelis and Palestinians, who claim the same land, would be equal regardless of ethnicity or religion; and above all a solution that would, and should, benefit the Palestinian refugees and their descendants first and foremost.

(worldiswatchingyou.wordpress.com / 12.09.2011)

UN recognition of a Palestinian state receives public approval in Europe

Polls in France, UK and Germany show the majority of people back recognition of a Palestinian state by the UN

The majority of people in the UK, France and Germany want their governments to vote in favour of recognising a Palestinian state if a resolution is brought before the United Nations in the next few weeks, according to an opinion poll.

The three European countries are seen as crucial votes in the battle over the Palestinians’ bid for statehood at the UN, which meets next week. All three are pressing for a return to peace negotiations as an alternative to pursuing the statehood strategy, but they have not declared their intentions if it comes to a UN vote.

In the UK, 59% of those polled said the government should vote in favour of a UN resolution recognising a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In France and Germany, the figures were 69% and 71% respectively. Support for the Palestinians’ right to have their own state, without reference to the UN vote, was even higher: 71% in the UK, 82% in France and 86% in Germany.

The poll was conducted by YouGov on behalf of Avaaz, a global campaigning organisation that is conducting an online petition in support of a Palestinian state. It is planning to deliver more than 913,000 signatories backing what it describes as “this new opportunity for freedom” to the European parliament .

David Cameron must listen to the views of the public, said Ricken Patel of Avaaz. “The prime minister has a clear choice: stand with the British public and 120 other nations to support a Palestinian state and a new path to peace, or side with the US government, which continues to push for a failed status quo.”

The Palestinians appear to be assured of a majority if a resolution is put before the UN general assembly, whose annual session begins in New York next week. However, full membership of the UN requires security council approval, which the US confirmed last week it would veto.

The Palestinians may then seek “observer state” status at the general assembly, which is less than full membership but an advance on their current “observer entity” status.

The US, which is anxious to avoid wielding its veto and potentially incurring the wrath of Arab countries, is pushing for a return to negotiations – a move also supported by the EU, which is keen to avoid a damaging split among its 27 countries.

European foreign ministers are meeting in Brussels on Monday to discuss a common position on Palestinian statehood. Britain and France have said they would prefer to see meaningful negotiations on the basis of the pre-1967 borders with agreed land swaps, but have hinted they may vote for enhanced status for the Palestinians without such a prospect.

Germany is thought to be opposed the Palestinian plan, but on Friday the chancellor, Angela Merkel, said: “I am not going to disclose today our voting intentions, whatever they may be.” She added that Germany was wary of unilateral moves. “We are going to use the days that remain to perhaps achieve a few millimetres of movement,” she said.

The UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, backed the idea of a Palestinian state last week. “I support … the statehood of Palestinians, an independent, sovereign state of Palestine. It has been long overdue,” he said in Canberra.

Israel acknowledges that it has almost certainly lost the battle for votes at the general assembly. Ron Prosor, its ambassador to the UN, said last week: “This is a diplomatic endeavour against all odds … It is clear to me that we can’t win the vote.” Instead, Israel was concentrating on securing a “moral minority” of powerful countries, which it hopes will include the EU bloc.

The Avaaz poll, carried out by YouGov in the UK and Germany, and Ifop in France, was conducted online, with 2,552 respondents in the UK, 1,017 in Germany and 1,011 in France.

(www.guardian.co.uk / 12.09.2011)

‘President’ Libische rebellen: Nieuwe wetgeving op basis islam

De nieuwe machthebbers in Libië gaan de wetgeving in het Noord-Afrikaanse land in belangrijke mate baseren op de islam. Dat heeft Mustafa Abdel Jalil, de leider van de Libische Overgangsraad (NTC), vandaag gezegd in een toespraak op het Martelarenplein (het Groene plein ten tijde van het dictatoriale bewind van de verdreven leider Muammar Kaddafi) in Tripoli.

De NTC wil van Libië een moderne rechtsstaat maken. ‘We zullen geen extremistische ideologieën tolereren, niet van links en niet van rechts’, zo stelde Abdel Jalil. Hij wees erop dat Libië een islamitisch land is, en dat zijn raad een gematigde koers voorstaat. ‘We blijven op deze weg voortgaan’, aldus de politicus.

Duizenden Libiërs waren aanwezig bij de eerste toespraak in het openbaar van Abdel Jalil in de hoofdstad van Libië. In het weekeinde was de ‘president’ van de overgangsraad vanuit de oostelijke stad Benghazi naar Tripoli gereisd.

(www.parool.nl / 12.09.2011)

US told: support Palestinian UN bid or risk ‘toxic’ reputation in Arab world

Ex-Saudi ambassador to Washington says US will jeopardise position with Arab allies if it votes against membership proposal

A former head of Saudi Arabian intelligence and ex-ambassador to Washington, Turki al-Faisal, has warned that an American veto of Palestinian membership of the United Nations would end the “special relationship” between the two countries, and make the US “toxic” in the Arab world.

The warning comes as Washington is scrambling to avoid a scenario where it alone casts a veto in the UN security council against the Palestinian bid for recognition of statehood, which is expected to be formally requested next week. The US is putting considerable pressure on the Palestinians not to submit the request, and on Britain – the only other permanent member of the security council that has not publicly supported the Palestinian request – to also exercise its veto if necessary.

Al-Faisal says in an article in the New York Times that the US will jeopardise its close ties with Saudi Arabia and further undermine its position in a changing Arab world if it again sides with Israel.

“The United States must support the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations this month or risk losing the little credibility it has in the Arab world. If it does not, American influence will decline further, Israeli security will be undermined and Iran will be empowered, increasing the chances of another war in the region,” al-Faisal says.

“Moreover, Saudi Arabia would no longer be able to co-operate with America in the same way it historically has. With most of the Arab world in upheaval, the “special relationship” between Saudi Arabia and the United States would increasingly be seen as toxic by the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims, who demand justice for the Palestinian people.”

He adds: “Saudi leaders would be forced by domestic and regional pressures to adopt a far more independent and assertive foreign policy.”

Al-Faisal, a vigorous advocate of Palestinian statehood who has previously accused the US of bias toward Israel, said that the two-decade long Oslo peace process has not yielded results and should be replaced with “a new paradigm based on state-to-state negotiations”.

This is a view shared by some European nations, including France, which regard the Oslo process as a trap that has failed to deliver statehood for the Palestinians and is unlikely to do so in the near future.

“American support for Palestinian statehood is therefore crucial, and a veto will have profound negative consequences. In addition to causing substantial damage to American-Saudi relations and provoking uproar among Muslims worldwide, the United States would further undermine its relations with the Muslim world, empower Iran and threaten regional stability,” al-Faisal writes.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has said he will submit a request to the security council for full membership of the United Nations when he is in New York for the opening of the general assembly next week. If that is vetoed by the US, the request will move to the general assembly, which has the power only to grant enhanced observer status, but where Israel concedes the Palestinians are all but certain to win.

The prospect has alarmed the Americans and the Israelis, who say the move would undermine peace efforts and lead to further violence. The Palestinians say there is no peace process to speak of.

But the diplomatic fallout is of principal concern to the US. It will be hard for Washington, and for Britain, if it backs the American position, to explain to newly liberated parts of the Arab world why they are prepared to go to war against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and agitate against Bashar al-Assad in Syria but not support the Palestinian bid for statehood in the face of an intransigent Israel.

For Israel, the UN move comes as it is grappling with the collapse in relations with Turkey over the Israeli assault on the Gaza flotilla last year, in which Israeli forces killed nine Turks, and rising hostility in Egypt, which saw the Israeli embassy in Cairo ransacked last week.

Israel also looks to many as increasingly out of step with a changing region, in maintaining the occupation, expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank and thwarting Palestinian independence in the near future.

The US has  been pressuring the Palestinian leadership not to make the request, with promises to get peace negotiations going again. But Abbas said that the Americans came with no concrete proposals and the Palestinians have little confidence that the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, is seriously interested in ending the occupation.

George Mitchell, until recently Barack Obama’s Middle East envoy, said last week that he sees little chance of the US persuading the Palestinians not to submit the request.

The US Congress is also pressuring the Palestinians to withdraw the request by threatening to cut off funding. The House of Representatives is holding hearings this week on whether to continue financial aid to the Palestinian Authority. Its principal witnesses are among the PA’s strongest critics, including Elliot Abrams, a former assistant secretary of state and former deputy national security advisor.

(www.guardian.co.uk / 12.09.2011)

Tensions rise between UNWRA and its Gaza employees

Employees at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency [UNWRA] in Gaza have stage a sit-in outside the Agency’s main headquarters where they raised banners and placards demanding dignity for employees and a reversal of the decision made to suspend Staff Union President, Suhail al-Hindi.

UNWRA decided to suspend al-Hindi for three months without pay on account of his trade union activities and has also given him a final warning.

In protest against the decision, the Union of Arab Employees at UNWRA announced that staff across all Agency schools would suspend work for two hours.

Staff participating in the sit-in stressed their right to express their connection and belonging to the Palestinian cause and to their homeland.

(gazatvnews.com / 12.09.2011)

Turkish PM says Israel’s flotilla raid was ‘cause for war’

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s prime minister said Monday that Israel’s raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla last year was “cause for war” but added that his country showed “patience” and refrained from taking any action.

Erdogan made the comments before departing for a visit to Egypt later on Monday, where he will seek to boost his government’s already high standing in the Arab world — a position he has achieved in part by challenging Israel on the world stage.

Erdogan, intent on broadening Turkey’s influence in the Middle East and the Arab world, will also visit Tunisia and Libya, two other countries where popular uprisings have ousted autocratic leaders.

Erdogan told Al-Jazeera television in a recent interview that the Israeli raid, which killed eight Turks and a Turkish American on board a Turkish ship trying to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza, occurred in international waters and was “unlawful.” His comments were carried by Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency late Sunday.

“It is a cause for war, but we decided to act in line with Turkey’s grandeur and showed patience,” Erdogan said.

An Israeli government spokesman was not immediately available for comment, but Israel insists its naval commandos acted in self-defense after being attacked by some of the activists.

Israel has expressed regret for the loss of lives aboard the flotilla and said Tuesday it was time for the two countries to restore their former close ties.

An Israeli Cabinet minister, Gilad Erdan, insisted that the deterioration of relations with Turkey was not Israel’s fault.

“With Turkey, we had a very close relationship in the past, and we still hope that we can improve the relationship with Turkey, but it wasn’t our decision to deteriorate the relationship,” Erdan said in Jerusalem, adding that Israel was prepared to “pay money to the families” of the victims.

A U.N. report into the raid, released earlier this month, said Israel’s naval blockade was legitimate but accused Israel of using “excessive and unreasonable” force in the raid.

Turkey has been angered over Israel’s refusal to apologize for the raid.

In response, Turkey this month suspended its military ties with Israel, expelled top Israeli diplomats, pledged to campaign in support of the Palestinians’ statehood bid and vowed to send the Turkish navy to escort Gaza-bound aid ships in the future.

Israel insists there is no need for aid to Gaza since it eased restrictions on imports through land crossings, labeling the flotillas political provocations.

Erdogan’s visit to Egypt coincides with increasingly troubled ties between Cairo and Israel following an attack on the Israeli embassy there. Israel fears that it is being left increasingly isolated by the Arab Spring, which is changing the power dynamics in the region, alongside tense relations former ally Turkey.

Erdogan “will try to impress (the Arab) public opinion by giving messages clearly emphasizing Turkey’s rift with Israel,” said Mustafa Turkes of the Middle East Technical University’s International Relations Department.

(www.washingtonpost.com / 12.09.2011)

Blair in Talks to Revive Palestinian-Israeli Negotiations

Tony Blair, envoy of the Quartet negotiating body, is still seeking to revive the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and stop the Palestinian statehood bid at the UN, according to Israeli news source YNet.

Yesterday Blair held a meeting with American officials to create a draft that would be agreeable to both sides.  This draft will be also presented to the Quartet commission this week in order to make real progress in the peace process.  Blair’s intention is to end the Palestinian statehood bid, according to the report.

The report adds that the Arab League meeting, which Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will attend later this week, will take into consideration Blair’s efforts and Palestinians reactions.

Meanwhile, Israeli President Shimon Peres made several calls to elicit support for the peace talks in order to stop the Palestinian move to the UN. Peres met with Blair and American special assistant to the president Dennis Ross to find out ways to resume the negotiations.

(english.pnn.ps / 12.09.2011)

Saudi prince calls on US to back Palestinians

DUBAI (Reuters) — Saudi Arabia’s former top US diplomat pressed the United States to support a Palestinian bid to upgrade its UN status, saying that its longtime ally would “risk losing the little credibility it has in the Arab world” if it failed to do so.

Palestinians are seeking either full membership or recognition as a non-member state when the U.N. General Assembly convenes next week, seeking to level the playing field with Israel, which opposes the move.

The United States vowed four days ago to use its Security Council veto against a Palestinian move for membership.

“With most of the Arab world in upheaval, the ‘special relationship’ between Saudi Arabia and the United States would increasingly be seen as toxic by the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims, who demand justice for the Palestinian people,” Prince Turki al-Faisal, former chief of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence services and former Saudi ambassador to the United States, wrote in an opinion piece in Monday’s New York Times.

“American support for Palestinian statehood is therefore crucial, and a veto will have profound negative consequences,” he wrote.

“In addition to causing substantial damage to American-Saudi relations and provoking uproar among Muslims worldwide, the United States would further undermine its relations with the Muslim world, empower Iran and threaten regional stability.

“Let us hope that the United States chooses the path of justice and peace.”

Saudi Arabia argues that its biggest foe in the region, Iran, will exploit any discord among Palestinians and try to destabilize the region.

Prince Turki said Saudi Arabia would be forced to adopt “a far more independent and assertive foreign policy”, threatening that it could break with US policy on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.

In the event of a US veto, Prince Turki, nephew of Saudi Arabia’s king, warned “Saudi Arabia would no longer be able to cooperate with America in the same way it historically has”.

Saudi support has been crucial for US policy in the Middle East, which has become less predictable as calls for reform toppled leaders and threatened autocratic rulers. This has frayed the traditionally strong ties between the world’s top oil exporter and biggest economy.

“The Palestinian people deserve statehood and all that it entails: official recognition, endorsement by international organizations, the ability to deal with Israel on more equal footing and the opportunity to live in peace and security,” the prince wrote, adding that the administration of US President Barack Obama was “preoccupied with a deteriorating domestic economy and a paralysed political scene”.

“Today, there is a chance for the United States and Saudi Arabia to contain Iran and prevent it from destabilizing the region,” Prince Turki said. “But this opportunity will be squandered if the Obama administration’s actions at the United Nations force a deepening split between our two countries.”

(www.maannews.net / 12.09.2011)