Counting the cost of a Palestinian state

Palestinians must realise that statehood and ending the occupation require consistent effort and pressure on Israel.

Jerusalem remains contested as the desired capital of a future Palestinian state, yet divisive West Bank barriers have made this a further challenge

Since the Palestine Liberation Organisation led by Yasser Arafat recognised the state of Israel over 20 years ago, the general framework for a claims-ending solution accepted by the Israeli and Palestinian leadership has been a deal that would create a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. But now, two decades later, that framework has been completely exposed as a sham, and the number of people who believe such a solution is achievable, let alone worthwhile, is consistently dwindling.

So, do the Palestinians want a state? Or, perhaps more importantly, should the Palestinians want a state? This seems like a straightforward question with an even more straightforward answer. At the beginning of the Washington-led peace process and during creation of the Palestinian Authority in the mid-1990s the answer sure seemed to be a resounding ‘yes’. There were plenty of reservations about this strategy however, especially among Palestinians concerned that such a solution would disenfranchise the rights of refugees. Nevertheless, many Palestinians including the formal leadership was on board.

Today, the answer to this question is not so clear, and for good reason. In the course of 20 years of negotiations, Palestinians learned that the concept of a “state” that they had in mind was different from the one that Israel – their occupier – would permit them to have, and in turn different from what the United States was willing to support. Despite the “historic compromise” PLO leaders often refer to – the relinquishing of claims on 78 per cent of historic Palestine – a Palestinian state would not emerge on the remaining 22 per cent. Instead of getting closer to a territorially contiguous and sovereign political entity they could call a state, Palestinians were constantly facing increased Israeli colonisation of their territory.

Wanting a true state

The size of the territory allotted for this “state” continued to shrink with every new settlement home. The Israelis remained adamant about maintaining control over the air space and borders of any Palestinian state, retaining a military presence in the Jordan River valley (about 30 per cent of the West Bank), retaining the illegally annexed occupied Jerusalem and refusing a new Palestinian state to have an army. Essentially, this would be a state in name only, lacking the all important features of sovereignty, and would be the de facto continuation of the occupation with different window dressing.

The question then is: do the Palestinians want this state? No, clearly not. In fact, the Palestinian cause was only about statehood insofar as a state could be a vehicle for realising Palestinian human and political rights. Since its inception, the Palestinian cause has been about two central issues 1) the right of Palestinians to live in Palestine (this includes the right of refugees to return to their towns and villages if they choose) and 2) the right to self-determination and sovereignty. It has never, contrary to Zionism, been about a fear driven desire for ethno-centric domination.

Public opinion polling of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza reveals that 74 per cent of Palestinians consider ending the occupation and achieving the right to return as the two most important Palestinian goals. The maximalist version of the concept of a Palestinian state permitted by the Washington sponsored Peace Process does not even accommodate the minimalist version of Palestinian rights.

Perhaps one reason the process has drifted into this morass is because the intended goal has focused on a Palestinian state in name only, without much regard for what that state would look like or whether it would afford Palestinians their rights. This peace process would seemingly go forward endlessly if it could loosely attach the concept of a state to any hilltop in the West Bank, so long as there was a Palestinian leadership willing to go along with it. Palestinians cannot and should not accept a “state” at any cost.

A strategy to end occupation

For 20 years, the Washington-led peace process has succeeded in doing one thing better than anything else; giving Israel every incentive to maintain its occupation. By assigning the policing responsibilities for the urban centers to the Palestinian Authority and having the Europeans and the Americans pay for this project, Israel has effectively retained the security domination and colonial usurpation benefits inherent in occupation without having to be responsible for any of the costs. It can build settlements in Palestinian land and steal Palestinian water, both acts in direct opposition to international law, but simultaneously ditch obligations it has to the population it occupies and use the ongoing Peace Process to deflect international criticism for obviating Palestinian self-determination.

This game has to end, and the continuation of a Peace Process that only encourages relentless Israeli occupation exacerbates the situation. It’s time for a dramatic shift in the Israeli/Palestinian dynamic which places costs where they belong, on the occupier. Whether this will be born out diplomatic initiatives at the United Nations, non-violent popular uprising, or Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions is still unclear. Perhaps it’s all of the above.

What we know for sure is that Washington’s insistence on a failed status quo has only proved costly for Palestinians and beneficial for Israel. Palestinians should not be subjected, or subject themselves, to engaging Israel in an arena they are cornered into and disadvantaged in, but rather should choose to meet them in an arena where the the playing field is fair or to their advantage. Increasingly, this is anywhere in the world outside of Washington.

Any new Palestinian strategy must put reversing this “cost-free occupation” dynamic at its centre. Israel will only end its occupation when pressured to do so and it must be made to realise that it is more costly to maintain the occupation than end it.

( / 12.07.2011)

The History of Palestine

The Holy Land saw peace and justice during 1300 years of Muslim rule and persecution of Jews, Christians, and Muslims at other times.

Posted: 28 Safar 1423, 11 May 2002

Palestine is the land of prophets. Many prophets were born or died in Palestine, including Prophets Ibrahim (Abraham), Lut (Lot), Dawood (David), Suleiman (Solomon), Musa (Moses), and Isa (Jesus), alayhimu-salam.

Baitul-Maqdis in Palestine was the first Qibla (direction in which Muslims face when praying) too, and Muslims prayed facing Baitul-Maqdis for around 14 years, after which Allah ordered the Qibla to be changed towards the Kaabah in Makkah.

Early History

The Canaanites are the earliest known inhabitants of Palestine. They were thought to have lived in Palestine in the third millennium BC. Then Pharaonic Egypt controlled the area for much of the second millennium BC. Prophet Musa, alayhi-salam, was born in Palestine during this time. When Egyptian power began to weaken, new invaders appeared: the Hebrews, a group of Semitic tribes from Mesopotamia; and the Philistines, after whom the country (Philistia) was later named, an Aegean people of Indo-European stock. The Israelites, a confederation of Hebrew tribes, defeated the Canaanites, but the struggle with the Philistines was more difficult. The Philistines had established an independent state on the southern coast of Palestine and controlled the Canaanite town of Jerusalem. The Philistines were superior in military organization and severely defeated the Israelites in about 1050 BC.

Then, in around 995 BC, Prophet Dawood, alayhi-salam, Israel’s king, united the Hebrew tribes and eventually defeated the Philistines. The three groups (Canaanites, Philistines, and Israelites) assimilated with each other over the years. The unity of Israelite tribes enabled Prophet Dawood, alayhi-salam, to establish a large independent state, with its capital at Jerusalem. After the death of Prophet Dawood, alayhi-salam, in around 961 BC Prophet Sulayman, alayhi-salam, his son, became the new king of Israel.

Construction and Destruction of the First Temple

Prophet Sulayman, alayhi-salam, built a magnificent place of worship, the First Temple, which housed the Ark of the Covenant, a sacred chest holding the tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments. Soon after his death, the kingdom was divided into two parts: northern Israel and southern Judah. Pagan Assyrians overran Israel in 721 BC. They destroyed the First Temple. In 538 BC Persian emperor Cyrus defeated the Babylonians and Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem.

Construction and Destruction of the Second Temple

In 515 BC the Jews built the Second Temple at the same site of the First Temple. Alexander conquered Palestine in 332 BC. Three centuries later, the Romans entered Jerusalem. Herod, the client king for the Roman Empire expanded the Second Temple but destroyed the religion. Then Prophet Isa, alayhi-salam, was born, around 4 BC. Jews joined with Roman paganism to persecute Prophet Jesus and his followers.

In 70 CE, Titus of Rome laid siege to Jerusalem. The Herodian Temple eventually fell, and with it the whole city. Seeking a complete and enduring victory, Titus ordered the total destruction of the city. A new city named Aelia was built on the ruins of Jerusalem, and a temple dedicated to Jupitor was raised.

Christian Rule of Palestine

In 313 CE the Roman emperor Constantine I legalized Christianity. Palestine, as the Holy Land, became a focus of Christian pilgrimage. Most of the population became Hellenized and Christianized. In 324 CE Constantine of Byzantium marched on Aelia. He rebuilt the city walls and commissioned the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and opened the city for Christian pilgrimage.

In the year 620 CE, Isra’ wal Mi’raj took place. On this night, in a miraculous way, the Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam was taken on a momentous journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and from there to heaven. The Night Journey was a great miracle that Muslims believe was given to Prophet Muhammad Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam as an honor and also to impress upon the Muslims the importance of Jerusalem to them. The Night Journey from Makkah to Jerusalem is called al-Isra’ and the ascension from Jerusalem to the heaven is called al-Mi’raj. Both of these events took place on the same night. Angel Gabriel took Prophet Muhammad Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam from Makkah to Jerusalem. There he met all the Prophets and Messengers and led them in prayers. Then it is reported that the Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam stood at the Sacred Rock (al-Sakhrah al-Musharrafah), went to the heavens. He arrived back in Makkah the same night.

Muslim Rule of Palestine

The Byzantines who ruled Jerusalem at this time were very harsh. They not only barred Jews from entering Jerusalem, but also persecuted Christians who did not follow the same sect as them. On the other hand, Muslims had the reputation for mercy and compassion in victory. So when the Muslims marched into Palestine in 638 CE, the people of Jerusalem gave up the city only after a brief siege. They made just one condition, that the terms of their surrender be negotiated directly with the Khalifah Umar, Radi-Allahu anhu, in person. Sayyidna Umar, Radi-Allahu anhu, agreed to come and entered Jerusalem on foot. There was no bloodshed or massacres. Those who wanted to leave were allowed to leave, with all their goods. Those who wanted to stay were guaranteed protection for their lives, property and places of worship.

The conquest of Palestine by the Muslims put an end to centuries of instability, religious persecution, and colonial rule. After the advent of Islam, people enjoyed security, safety and peace. Schools, mosques and hospitals were founded. Palestine was a center of learning from which a large number of scholars graduated. The conquest of Palestine by the Muslims began the 1300 years of Muslim rule, with the exception of the period of the Crusades (1099-1187) in what then became known as Filastin.

The conquest of Palestine by the Muslims put an end to centuries of instability, religious persecution, and colonial rule.

The Christian occupation of Palestine began after the sermon which pope Urban the second delivered in 1095 CE, when he incited the Christians to rescue the Holy Sepulcher from the hands of the Muslims. The Holy Land fell after a month of siege. The Crusades entered it in 1099 CE and massacred its residents not sparing the infants or elderly, and the number killed went over seventy thousand. Then the Crusaders established a Latin kingdom. During the occupation, massacres and great injustices were committed against the Muslim, Jewish and native Christian residents of the area.

Finally, in 1187 CE, Palestine was liberated by the Muslims under the leadership of Salatuddin Ayyubi, who brought back Islamic law to the area. Peace and justice once again ruled Palestine, and everyone, regardless of their religion, was allowed to live there peacefully.

The Founding of Israel and Palestine Today

The first serious plan for the establishment of the country of Israel was in the Bale conference in Switzerland in 1897 CE. The conference succeeded and was attended by 204 of those invited, where they decreed the establishment of a nation for the Jews in Palestine.

After the Bale conference, the Jewish movement became active which led Sultan Abdul Hameed (the then Khalifah) to deliver his famous decree in 1900 to stop the Jewish pilgrims from residing in Palestine for longer than three months. Sultan Abdul Hameed knew very well the designs and plans of the Jews. Contact with the Sultan was commenced by the Jews in 1882 when the Friends of Zion society put up a request to the Ottoman council in Russia for residence in Palestine. The Sultan responded: “The Ottoman government hereby decrees to all the Jews who desire to migrate to Turkey that they will not be permitted to reside in Palestine.”

The Jews were angered and began to send delegation after delegation each of which returned with a response more severe than the one preceding it. Then in 1901, Sultan Abdul Hameed passed a law forbidding the sale of any land in Palestine to the Jews.

In 1902, Herzl formed another delegation to meet with the Sultan a second time after he attempted to convince him in 1896. The Sultan refused to meet with him, so they went to the Prime Minister Tahsin Basha with their suggestions. They offered the repayment of the entire debt of the Ottoman government which were to the extent of twenty three million gold English pounds, and to build a fleet for he protection of the empire costing two hundred and thirty million gold franc, and to offer an interest free loan to the value of thirty five million gold lira to revive the treasury. All these offers were in return for permission by the Sultan to the Jews to establish a Jewish nation in Palestine; that is to sell the lives and livelihood of the Palestinian people and the holy land for these offers. Sultan Abdul Hameed rejected all these offers.

After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War, Britain and France signed the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which divided the Arab region into zones of influence. Palestine submitted to the British occupation and at the same time the ratios of Jewish migration began to increase with support from the non-Muslim countries.

Balfour Declaration

In 1917 CE the British government made promises to Arab leaders for an independent Arab state that would include Palestine (the Hussain-McMahon correspondence). Simultaneously, and secretly, it issued the Balfour Declaration, which declared Palestine to be a homeland for Jews. At that time Jews made up approximately 8% of the population of Palestine and owned approximately 2.5% of the land.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims were forced out of Palestine by the Jewish terrorist groups such as the Irgun, Levi, and Haganot,

In 1918 the British and their Arab nationalist allies defeated the Ottomans. The British dismembered the Ottoman Empire and occupied Palestine. The British immediately began a campaign of immigrating European Jews to Palestine.

By 1947, the number of Jews in Palestine had reached approximately six hundred and fifty thousand (31% of the total population). They began to establish organizations, which were trained in organized terrorism. From these a large number were trained in and participated in the Second World War in order to gain experience and skills to go to battle in Palestine in the next stage. So when the United Nations decreed the division of Palestine, the Jews had seventy five thousand armed and trained members.

Jewish Terrorism

In 1948 the Jews claimed the establishment of a state for themselves over the land of Palestine and called it Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims were forced out of Palestine under the military pressure of Jewish terrorist groups such as the Irgun, Levi, and Haganot, which were financed and armed by the British army as well as US Jewry.

In 1967 Israel attacked Egypt, Jordan and Syria and occupied more land including for the first time Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa. Since that time Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa has been the target of several attempts by the Jews to destroy or burn it, including attempts to collapse it through underground excavations.

In December 1987, the Palestinians began an uprising (Intifada) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip against the continued Jewish occupation.

On September 28, 2000, Ariel Sharon broke into Masjid Al-Aqsa with 3000 Zionist soldiers profaning the Masjid Al-Aqsa to provoke the Palestinians. Palestinians protested and the second intifada began. Since then thousands of Palestinian civilians have been killed by the Israeli army, and there is no end in sight.

( / 12.07.2011)

A letter from a Palestinian woman to the supporters of Palestine

(RAMALLAH) – I would like to talk to you as the voice of the thousands of Palestinians who appreciate what you are doing. You who have a great commitment to human rights and who actually act upon your beliefs.

You risk your life to both witness and tell the truth of what you see. You are a group of people who understand what is happening in the holy land and have decided to dedicate your time, money and energy to the issue. You demonstrate that religion nor race is important when it comes to standing up for the rights human beings.

And every step you take justice and humanity wins.

I want you to trust that your actions are making a difference and changing the violence we see here in our land. Your solidarity is helping fuel our non violent fight. Palestinians face many kinds of violence and torture, however, being ignored is the worst punishment of all. Those who refuse to hear and see us are just as bad as those who occupy us.

Those who stand in solidarity with us send a strong message of humanity and are helping us to overcome our suffering. In the middle of all this crisis, your help puts a smile on our face. From this smile you will always be welcome in our hearts even if you are unable to enter our land.

Your solidarity reminds the world that we are all one human family and that we Palestinians are still part of it. Please do not give up. Even if your boats do not make it to the shores of Gaza or if your planes refuse to fly, the unseen effects are still huge.

I want to say thank you for all that your work involves. Thank you for booking your tickets, taking time off from work, leaving your loved ones, and for all of the other small things, I am truly grateful.

Please continue to be with us, hand in hand, in our non-violent struggle. We need to reach the end of the path of occupation and your presence on this journey is crucial, we cannot make it alone.

I hope one day to share a coffee with you in my home or in yours, for when this day comes we will have reached our freedom.

Hekmat Bessiso – Gazan living in Ramallah

(Facebook / 12.07.2011)

Over Two Thousand Jewish Americans And Canadians Make Aliyah This Summer

Twenty-five hundred Jewish Americans and Canadians are expected to immigrate to Israel this summer of 2011. The immigrants will be residing in areas with a largely Palestinian population, as part of an initiative to change the demographics of these areas.


Two hundred and forty-five immigrants are expected to arrive at Ben Gurion Airport Tuesday July 12, 2011, Nefesh B’nefesh organization told Maan News Network.

Applicants for the program may qualify for up to 9,000 dollars in financial assistance as well as 4,000 dollars for a vehicle subsidy.

The immigrants will be settling in Northern parts of Israel, in the Golan Heights, lower and upper Galilee, the Jezreel Valley and the Upper Jordan Valley.

The “Go North” initiative received a 10 million dollar donation from the Russell Berrie Foundation, the Jewish National Fund, and other programs designed to aid newly arrived Aliyah immigrants.

The newly arrived Olim will meet with the Go North Employment Coordinator every month for the first year, in order to ease the transition of immigration.

) / 12.07.2011)

Audicity of Hope,the US boat to Gaza, electricity cut off!

Contact: Ann Wright, 0030 694 165 7310

Regina Carey: 0030 694 203 6296

Athens, July 12, 2011, At 10 am today, the shore electricity was cut off to the Audacity of Hope, the US Boat to Gaza, leaving us with no power. The boat has been imprisoned at the US Embassy/Greek Coast Guard dock, near Piraeus, Greece, just outside of Athens since we tried to sail to Gaza on July 1 when the Greek Coast Guard intercepted our small boat and hauled us into this compound.

Its over 100 degrees inside the boat, and a Russian ship loading grain is spewing grain and dust over the entire area. In addition, the off-loading noise the ship is making is above environmentally acceptable limit, sounding like a bad rock concert playing at the back of the boat! Six women are staying on board to protect the boat, since two boats heading to Gaza were already sabotaged in an attempt to prevent us from sailing to Gaza. Four of us are over 60. The Greek naval facility is co-located with a US Embassy compound which has one warehouse exclusively for the U.S. government, as well as a ramp for loading vehicles onto a ship. It also has a parking area for the wrecked cars of Americans who have been involved in traffic accidents plus a secure warehouse compound behind the ubiquitous high fence topped with razor wire and signs printed in both English and Greek in the US government block style lettering

The Greek Coast Guard is probably caught in the middle and may be ready to release us, but government politics seems to wants to keep us in port to appease the Israeli government, since the occupation of Palestine has been outsourced to the Greeks.

Call the Greek Embassy in Washington and .the Greek consulates around the Country and demand that they release the Audacity of Hope

Embassy of Greece

2217 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.

Washington, DC 20008

Tel. 202.939.1300

Fax. 202.939.1324

You can also call Kim Richter at the State Department or write a text message to her at 202-647-8308 , insisting that the US release this boat and the six women on board who are making sure she remains safe. Our conversation with Kate Brandeis this morning, acting Consul General for the United States bore no fruit after we told her what was happening on board this boat.

(Facebook / 12.07.2011)

France in contact with Libyans over Gaddafi

France’s foreign minister says his country has had “contact” with emissaries from the Libyan leadership concerning the departure of Muammar Gaddafi.

“There are contacts but it’s not a negotiation proper at this stage,” Alain Juppe told France Info radio station on Tuesday.

“Everybody is in contact with everybody. The Libyan regime is sending messengers everywhere, to Turkey, New York, Paris.”

“Emissaries are telling us Gaddafi is ready to go, let’s talk about it.”

Juppe did not say who the emissaries were but Bernard Valero, the French foreign ministry spokesman, said: “These are emissaries who say they are coming in the name of Gaddafi.

“What is important is that we send them the same message and stay in close contact with our allies on this.”

Also speaking on Tuesday, Francois Fillon, the French prime minister, told a parliamentary commission: “A political solution [for Libya] is more than ever indispensable and is beginning to take shape.”

Fillon spoke before the French parliament ahead of a vote that saw the European country agree to extend its military operation in Libya.

The National Assembly voted overwhelmingly to grant further funding for the operation – nearly four months after French planes started bombing troops loyal to Gaddafi in eastern Libya – with 482 deputies voting in favour and 27 against.

Continued military action

Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from Paris ahead of the vote, said it was a foregone conclusion that parliament would vote in favour of continuing the operation.

Rowland said those in favour of continuing were “arguing that now – when if fact the Gadddafi forces appear to be on the retreat – now is not the time for the international community to show that its will is in any way weakening”.

Razi Hamadi, of the French Socialist Party, told Rowland that his party agreed with continued military action for three reasons: “Number one, the respect of the [UN] resolution, there is no military activity on the floor; secondly the protection of the citizens and the civilians; and third, to have a political process to get out of the crisis.”

Regarding the reports that France was in negotiations with the Gaddafi regime, Hamadi said: “I think the official position of France is not to say there is negotiations; they say there is contact, but no negotiations.”

At the weekend Gerard Longuet, the French defence minister, made remarks saying the rebels should start direct negotiations with Gaddafi’s camp.

Gaddafi’s son

On Monday, Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said the Libyan regime was in talks with the French government.

“The truth is that we are negotiating with France and not with the rebels,” the Algerian El Khabar newspaper quoted Saif al-Islam as saying from Tripoli.

However, French officials denied any shift in position on Monday and said Paris had merely sent messages to Tripoli via intermediaries making clear the Libyan leader must relinquish power and withdraw his troops to enable a political solution.

France has spearheaded the NATO-led air campaign in Libya with Britain under a UN mandate to protect civilians, and it was the first to launch air strikes against troops loyal to Gaddafi in March.

But after more than three months of bombing, international leaders are puzzling over how to end the crisis.

Juppe and Fillon on Tuesday reiterated that Gaddafi had to quit, without saying if that meant he could do so without quitting the country too.

“He must go. He must at least surrender power. After that, it’s up to the Libyan people to decide,” Fillon told Europe 1 radio.

In an interview with French daily Le Figaro on Tuesday, Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi, the Libyan prime minister, said Tripoli was ready to “negotiate without conditions” but that the bombing would have to stop first.

“You don’t create democracy under bombs … it doesn’t work like that,” he said.

When asked if Gaddafi could be excluded from a political solution, Mahmoudi suggested the Libyan leader could stand aside.

“The Guide [Gaddafi] will not intervene in discussions,” he said. “He is ready to respect the decision of the people.”

( / 12.07.2011)