Who can represent Palestinians at the UN?

As the bid for statehood at the UN draws closer, legal scholars wonder who has legitimacy to represent Palestinians.

A new legal finding has revealed the risks regarding representation and self-determination if Palestinians declare statehood at the
United Nations later this month.

Following his legal opinion released last month, which sparked an intense debate between supporters and detractors of the bid for statehood, professor Guy Goodwin-Gill has expanded on the potential challenges facing Palestinians. The full text of his new finding can be found here.

The lack of direct participation of Palestinians both within the diaspora and within the Occupied Territories will only create further fragmentation due to a lack of legitimate representation, according to Goodwin-Gill, a professor of international law at Oxford University. One of the solutions he proposes is the introduction of elections by all Palestinians towards an organisation recognised and representative of all.

“I think it is clear that my analysis of the issues is not about the bid for statehood as such, the advantages and disadvantages of which are now much discussed,” Goodwin-Gill told Al Jazeera. “Rather, it is about ensuring the best and most representative mechanisms for ensuring the protection of the rights of all the people of Palestine.”

‘Expression of the popular will’

In his new finding, which he wrote as a response to the fierce debate generated by his first opinion, Goodwin-Gill stated:

“The move to enhance the Palestinian presence in the United Nations through
‘statehood’ nevertheless carries the risk of fragmentation – where the State
represents the people within the UN and the [Palestinian Liberation
Organisation] represents the people outside the UN. Such a division of
representation would run counter to the status quo and to the original intent of
the international community recognising the PLO … The bottom line, however,
remains the will of the people, and any substantive change in the present
institutional arrangements for representation calls for approval through an
expression of the popular will, followed by international recognition equivalent
to that given to date, for example, by the General Assembly and the Arab
League.”

Although it  will be the PLO as an institution which will be presenting the bid for Palestinian statehood on September 20 at the UN Security Council, it is the Palestinian Authority (PA) that is pushing the case forward.

The PLO is the sole official representative of the Palestinians at the UN. The PA was created from the 1993 Oslo Accords, a failed peace agreement, as a temporary body to administer the occupied territories.

Many have predicted that this bid will be vetoed by the United States, which, along with Israel, opposes the unilateral move to declare statehood. The two countries have been working hard in recent months to stop the bid from reaching the UN, with both nations claiming that a Palestinian state can only be achieved through negotiations. If vetoed, the Palestinian team is hoping the bid will be moved to the General Assembly for a vote. It is reported that between 130 and 140 member states at the UN will endorse a Palestinian state, more than the necessary two-thirds needed for the ratification of the bid.

The PA is not recognised by many within the diaspora as a legitimate representative of the Palestinians, as it is a temporary administrative body whose authority lies solely within the West Bank and Gaza. The presidency of the PA is still held by
Mahmoud Abbas, even though his term expired in January 2009, further adding to the arguments of illegitimate representation.

Karma Nabulsi, a scholar at Oxford University and former PLO representative, found it necessary to focus on the findings of Goodwin-Gill. She has appealed on a number of occasions to those presenting the statehood bid to reassess their position.
“We have been informed by our officials that the initiative will advance our rights to self-determination,” she told Al Jazeera. “However, as it is currently constructed, this initiative does not actually advance or protect this collective right of the Palestinian people.”

Uncertainties and implications

Others have also called for the PLO to clarify the terms of the statehood bid. A statement released by the Al Dameer Association for Human Rights in Gaza on Wednesday stressed that “‘the September claim’ cannot be justified when seeking to implement a step of this significance, and that ignoring the principle of community participation in building this initiative raises a lot of
queries”.

Furthermore, the statement asked for transparency on the issue, calling on Mahmoud Abbas “to announce and disclose all official information about the nature, importance, hypothesis, and implications of going to the UN and getting recognition of an
independent Palestinian state”.

Hind Awwad, an activist based in the West Bank with the Palestinian campaign for democratic popular representation, told Al Jazeera that “we have yet to receive clear public assurances from the Palestinian leadership that the September initiative will preserve the PLO at the UN, and therefore protect and advance the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people”.

“Although we are lacking clarity on what the initiative is, in its current form it will replace the PLO as our representation at the UN with the Palestinian State (which is not yet liberated),” she said, “thereby disenfranchising the majority of our people”.

“The PLO belongs to the Palestinian people in their different places of existence, and its observer status and international recognition at the UN is a huge achievement that only came after years of struggle by our people,” said Awwad. “Therefore, the people must be the ones to decide the fate of the PLO; it cannot be a decision the current leadership takes without any mandate from the people themselves.”

How will the State be representative?

In its current form, consequences of the bid could be severe, Nabulsi said. “Palestinian people as a whole stand to lose the most out of this, as it shatters their long-held and internationally-recognised unity in their struggle for their inalienable rights. Replacing the PLO with the State as the representative of the Palestinian people at the UN creates many problems.”

One of these problems is that the recognition of a state under current conditions creates two separate representatives of the Palestinian people. “This not only separates the people from each other institutionally, but it also disenfranchises over half of them from their ability to claim these rights under a single representative at the proper international forum for these claims, the
United Nations,” she said.

Many who still support the statehood bid responded to Goodwin-Gill’s previous opinion, claiming that safeguards had been installed as early as the 1980s to protect the rights of the Palestinians if statehood were to happen. They added that there would be a transfer of authority from the PLO to the State of Palestine, and that the concerns aired by Goodwin-Gill and company are
unfounded.

Goodwin-Gill, however, highlights the fact that there are few, if any, mechanisms currently in place to guarantee proper representation for all. As he stated in his recent finding: “Who will represent the people of and in the State? Of what value,
democratically, are historical declarations of intent? Or assertions of present authority? Or the status quo?”

“People’s expectations of government have moved on and, in my view, democracy requires institutions and mechanisms to allow their functioning and change.”

(english.aljazeera.net / 08.09.2011)

US Confirms Palestinian Statehood Veto Threat

Palestinians march during the launch of a campaign supporting a bid for Palestinian statehood recognition at the UN, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, September 8, 2011.

Photo: Reuters
Palestinians march during the launch of a campaign supporting a bid for Palestinian statehood recognition at the UN, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, September 8, 2011.

The United States on Thursday confirmed it will veto any bid by the Palestinians to seek statehood recognition in the U.N. Security Council.  Meanwhile, U.S. diplomats continue an effort to reconvene direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and avert a political showdown at the United Nations later this month.

The veto threat comes as no surprise because the Obama administration has long said that a Palestinian statehood bid –  without Israeli concurrence – would set back hopes for real peace.

Despite the U.S. stance, the Palestinian Authority says it is determined to win an upgrade of international recognition when the new U.N. General Assembly convenes in New York in less than two weeks.

In the absence of action in the Security Council due to a U.S. veto, Palestinians can ask the General Assembly to elevate their U.N. status from an observer to a “non-state member.”

The United States has no veto in the General Assembly and analysts say a Palestinian measure there would likely be approved by a wide majority.

At a news briefing, State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland downplayed the significance of making the U.S. veto threat explicit. “It should not come as a shock to anyone in this room that the U.S. opposes a move in New York by the Palestinians to establish a state that can only be achieved through negotiations.  So yes, if something comes to a vote in the U.N. Security Council, the U.S. will veto,” she said.

In a Middle East policy speech in May, President Obama for the first time called for a two-state Middle East settlement based on Israel’s pre-1967 borders, which is in line with long-held Palestinian demands.  But he also said symbolic Palestinian actions at the United Nations will not create an independent state and that efforts to “delegitimize” Israel will end in failure.

 Map of Israeli pre-1967 borders

The State Department’s Victoria Nuland says the United States will continue working, until the U.N. meetings and beyond, to revive the U.S.-sponsored direct peace talks that broke off last year.

“We are seeking a result in the region that is consensual between the two parties, that is lasting, that is durable, that leads to security,” said the spokeswoman. “Taking action in New York is going to make that more difficult.  You’re going to end up in a situation where you have the two parties on opposite sides in New York.  That is not productive.  It’s not going to help the environment, the conditions for peace.”

U.S. envoys Dennis Ross and David Hale were traveling back to Washington on Thursday after what were depicted as last-ditch talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials on resuming the dialogue.

Israel says it would return to the talks, but Palestinians say they will not unless Israel ends settlement building and accepts the 1967 borders as a basis for an accord.

Palestinians say U.N. action does not jeopardize direct negotiations, but Israeli officials say it could provoke violent unrest and scuttle the peace process.

(www.voanews.com / 08.09.2011)

Israelis could face trial in The Hague if Palestinian statehood recognized at UN, experts warn

According to the statute of the court, the direct or indirect transfer of an occupier’s population into occupied territory constitutes a war crime.

Recognition of a Palestinian state could, in theory, lead to Israeli officials being dragged repeatedly before the International Criminal Court in the Hague for claims regarding its settlement policies in the West Bank, legal experts say.

According to the statute of the court, the direct or indirect transfer of an occupier’s population into occupied territory constitutes a war crime.

“The jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in the Hague is a complementary jurisdiction, meaning that the court will not intervene in cases when a war crime complaint is being investigated by Israel and those responsible are prosecuted,” explained Prof. Robbie Sabel, a former legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry and an expert in international law.

“But in instances in which Israel is not conducting a war crime investigation and is not trying to ascertain the guilt of the accused, the court may get involved,” he said.
“The settlements are a prime example of this, since in theory one could say that we are talking about a war crime, that Israel is not investigating it and not bringing those responsible to justice. Thus, the court could get involved and investigate.”

Sabelisn’t convinced, however, that the Palestinians will use this tool very often, if at all.
“Interestingly, except for Jordan, no neighboring Arab state [has accepted the court’s jurisdiction],” he said. “Why hasn’t Syria joined? Syria could have joined and asked that an investigation be opened against Israel for settling the Golan. The reason is that if Syria joined, it would also be exposed to having its officials being tried for war crimes.

“It could be that the Palestinians will get caught up in the issue of the settlements, but at the same time, any Palestinian that, say, shot at Israeli civilians would also be subject to the court’s jurisdiction. Undoubtedly Israel could come up with a long list of terrorists that harmed Israelis and were never tried by the Palestinian Authority and turn it over to the court for handling.”

Another issue is whether the newly minted “Palestine” could make claims regarding incidents that occurred before it was recognized as a state. The court has jurisdiction only for claims made by UN member states.

Attorney Nick Kaufman and Prof. Daphne Richmond-Barak, both international law experts who have worked with the International Criminal Court, believe the Palestinians will certainly try. They may even ask the court to investigate incidents that occurred before 2002, which is when the court began operating, even though as a rule, such claims are not accepted, says Richmond-Barak. “The chances that Israelis will find themselves in court in the Hague will be much greater after September,” she said.

Kaufman, meanwhile, petitioned the ICC this week on behalf of the Regavim advocacy group, which asked the court to reject the request by the Palestinians in 2009 to investigate events pertaining to Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

Regavim argues that the Palestinian intention to declare a state and ask for its recognition now proves that at the time they filed their request with the court, they were not a state. The court thus has no authority to respond to their request and must reject it out of hand, Regavim says.

Meanwhile, attorneys Limor Yehuda and Anne Sucio, of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, issued a position paper yesterday on the possible ramifications of the recognition of a Palestinian state on civil rights in the territories.

Yehuda disagrees with what she called the “impassioned” approach to the legal changes, including the possible involvement of the ICC.

“You must remember that Palestinian ratification of the Rome Statute [which created the ICC] will obligate them to uphold human rights − for example, to refrain from torture and avoid firing on Israeli civilians,” she said. “It is liable to increase both sides’ commitment to human rights.”

(www.haaretz.com / 08.09.2011)

Erdogan: Turk warships to escort any Gaza aid vessels

CAIRO (Reuters) — Turkish warships will escort any Turkish aid vessels to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said in remarks broadcast on Al Jazeera television Thursday.

Erdogan also said that Turkey had taken steps to stop Israel from unilaterally exploiting natural resources from the eastern Mediterranean, according to Al Jazeera’s translation of excerpts of the interview.

(www.maannews.net / 08.09.2011)

US students tried for anti-Israel protest

A group of Muslim students are being tried in the US for protesting during a speech by Israel’s ambassador to the United States in 2010, Press TV reports.

State of California prosecutors argued on Wednesday that the 10 Muslim university students broke the law when they repeatedly interrupted a speech by the Israeli envoy, Michael Oren, during a public meeting in the University of California, Irvine, in February 2010.

The Orange County District attorney alleged that the Muslim students, known as “Irvine 11”, violated Oren’s right to free speech by delaying his remarks for 20 minutes.

However, supporters of the students insist that they were practicing their constitutional rights based on the First Amendment to the US Constitution and should not be criminalized for protesting.

“A foreign ambassador is coming to our home and talking to us about these issues and we can’t have a voice at the table nor can even voice it out in a protest,” said Kifah Shah of the ‘Stand with the Eleven’ group, in a Press TV interview.

Since the incident, the students and the school’s Muslim Student Union chapter have been disciplined by university officials.

A group of peace organizations believe the prosecutors pursued criminal charges due to political consideration in favor of the Israeli regime, the prime US foreign ally.

The group says the case is a prime example of selective prosecution and that the students are being punished because the Israeli ambassador was involved.

“Because they were protesting the activities of his country and also because the young men were all Muslim, and because perhaps those behind the prosecution thought that they could get away with it because of the rampant Islamophobia in this country,” said Ameena Qazi from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) of Los Angeles.

CAIR says this case has dealt a significant blow to Muslim-American students on college campuses across the country.

The Muslim organization says the prosecution would prevent Muslim students to feel that they are equally accepted in society and allowed to participate in public events.

The Irvine 11 trial is scheduled to last several weeks with closing arguments expected by September 23. If convicted, the Muslim students face up to six months in jail.

(www.presstv.ir / 08.09.2011)

Opendag Stichting Al Binaa “Arabisch op elk niveau”

Tijd
zondag 11 september · 14:00 – 19:00

Locatie
Samuel van Houtenstraat 1, 3514 EA
Utrecht

Gemaakt door:

Meer informatie
Assalaamou alaikom warahmatoullaahi wabarakatouhoe,

A.s. zondag 11 september vanaf 14:00 is het inshaAllaah zo ver; Een open dag bij St. Al Binaa. Wij hopen je hier weer te mogen ontvangen met een kop koffie/thee en een koekje.

Op deze dag staat vooral de (her)inschrijving en informatie verstrekking centraal over de inhoud van de Arabische taallessen. Verder kunnen jullie inshaAllaah het programma van het jaar verwachten, met betrekking tot het opleiden van de cursisten, studie uren en de niveau splitsing.

Daarbij zal er ook een gelegenheid zijn om vragen te stellen aan zowel de docenten als de cursisten van het afgelopen schooljaar.

Interesse…? (Her) inschrijven…? Vragen…?  Tot Zondag inshaAllaah!

Projectcommissie,

Stichting Al Binaa

Racism on the rise in Europe

In Norway, England, the Netherlands, Russia, and especially Austria, racist and Islamophobic movements are on the rise.

In the wake of the atrocities in Norway perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik, it is still unclear whether he was part of a wider conspiracy, but alarm bells are now ringing across Europe about the threat from far-right extremist groups. With no end in sight to the economic crisis afflicting many nations, the growing fear is that voters are increasingly attracted to far-right parties, many of whom have been building support by opposing immigration and stirring up hatred of Muslims.

In Norway, the right-wing Progress party garnered 23 per cent of the vote in the last election, making it the second-largest. And a recent poll found that half of all Norwegians favour restricting immigration. This did not go far enough for Breivik, who believed that the forced deportation of Muslims should be government policy, a radical political view he formed over time by participating in extreme online forums where he discussed his beliefs with like-minded individuals across the world.

The 32-year-old Norwegian made his thoughts clear in a 1,500 page document he wrote before embarking on his killing spree. Shortly before he detonated his bomb in Oslo and then killed 68 people on Utoeya, Breivik emailed his document to 1,003 of his far-right contacts, including extremists in England whom Breivik boasted to have forged links with in recent years in his opposition to Islam.

He particularly admired the English Defence League for its anti-Islam stance, and – according to the respected anti-fascist magazine, Searchlight – posted a message on its website in March this year. Using the pseudonym Sigurd Jorsalfare after a Norwegian king who led a Crusade in the 12th century, Breivik wrote: “Hello. To you all good English men and women, just wanted to say that you’re a blessing to all in Europe, in these dark times all of Europe are looking to you in such [sic] of inspiration, courage and even hope that we might turn this evil trend with islamisation all across our continent.”

United Kingdom

Searchlight said that Breivik had been in contact with both the EDL and its Norwegian counterpart, the Norwegian Defence League (NDL), a claim denied by the EDL whose leadership condemned Breivik’s crimes.
The EDL has always insisted it is a peaceful protest group which opposes militant Islam, but since its inception in 2009, violence has erupted at many EDL demonstrations in Britain.

Stephen Lennon, who was convicted last week (Monday) of leading a street brawl involving 100 soccer fans in the English city of Luton in August 2010, is one of the founders of the EDL and during an interview with Al Jazeera in 2009, he explained why the group formed in Luton, the city where he lives: “For more than a decade now, there’s been tension in Luton between Muslim
youths and whites. We all get on fine – black, white, Indian, Chinese – everyone does, in fact, apart from some Muslim youths who’ve become extremely radicalised since the first Gulf War. Preachers of hate such as Anjem Choudary have been recruiting for radical Islamist groups in Luton for years. Our government does nothing, so we decided we’d start protesting against radical Islam, and it grew from there,” he said.

While the EDL has been largely unsuccessful in gaining public support – mainly due to the fact that its core consists of football hooligans – there is concern that the group could be inspiring other unstable individuals who oppose Islam. The EDL has been pro-active in building links across the world and claims to have support from – aside from people in Norway – Holland, France, Sweden, USA and Israel, among others.

The Netherlands

Indeed, the EDL embraced the Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders, whom Breivik also cited in his writings. Wilders is virulently anti-Islam and leads the Party for Freedom, Holland’s third-largest party. He is a controversial figure who antagonised the Muslim world by calling for a ban on the Quran, which he likened to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Despite this, Wilders was voted politician of the year in 2007 by the Dutch press, and his Freedom Party went from winning nine seats in the 2006 election to 24 in 2010, taking a larger share of the vote than the Christian Democrats.

Austria

Austria has a Freedom Party (FPO) too, with a similar political outlook. The party is led by Heinz-Christian Strache, who has been successful in drumming up support by opposing Islam and immigration.

In 2008, the FPO and Alliance for the Future (BZO) jointly secured almost one-third of the electorate’s vote during the 2008 election. Campaigning against the “Islamisation” of Austria, the two parties secured 29 per cent in a result viewed as a horrifying development by many people across Europe. Both parties ran highly xenophobic campaigns, particularly the FPO, which pledged to set up a ministry to deport foreigners and whose leader, Heinz-Christian Strache, mocked homosexuals and described women in Islamic dress as “female ninjas”. The FPO also wishes to revoke the Verbotsgesetz, an Austrian law enacted in 1947 that bans the promotion of neo-Nazi ideology.

Strache has been at the centre of controversy, and pictures surfaced in 2008 showing the FPO leader wearing army fatigues and clutching what appeared to be a gun in a forest. The images were allegedly taken at a neo-Nazi training camp in his youth, but Strache denied this and said they were from a day out paint-balling. He was also photographed apparently giving a three-fingered
neo-Nazi salute in a bar, though he said he was only ordering three beers.

The FPO has tried to distance itself from extremism, but the party was founded by two former SS officers, Anton Reinthaller and Herbert Schweiger. In 2008, I interviewed Schweiger – who died this past July – at his home in Austria a few weeks before he was due to appear in court on charges, for the fifth time, of promoting neo-Nazi ideology.

Described to me as the “Puppet Master” of Austria and Germany’s far right, Schweiger, 85, was remarkably sharp-minded and remained proud of his Nazi views. He was a lieutenant in the Waffen SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, an elite unit formed in the 1930s to act as the Führer’s personal bodyguards. After escaping a POW camp during WWII, Schweiger returned to his homeland, Austria, where he lived openly from 1947 and became heavily involved in politics.

He was a founding member of three political parties in Austria – the VDU, the FPO, and the banned NDP. During our interview he also admitted to involvement in terrorism and training a far-right cell comprising of  Burschenschaften (right-wing brotherhoods founded in universities) who were fighting for the reunification of Austria and South Tyrol, now part of Italy, in 1961.

“I was an explosives expert in the SS so I trained the Burschenschaften how to make bombs. We used the hotel my wife and I owned as a training camp,” he said. Thirty people in Italy were murdered during a bombing campaign. One man convicted for the atrocities, Norbert Burger, later formed the now-banned neo-Nazi NDP party with Schweiger. Schweiger’s involvement earned him his first spell in custody in 1962, but he was acquitted.

Schweiger gave support to the FPO, saying that Strache was correct with his strategy in opposing Islam and immigration. Schweiger said that despite his age, he still travelled widely both in Austria and Germany to teach “the fundamentals of Nazism” to underground cells of neo-Nazis whom, he claimed, had infiltrated mainstream political parties such as the FPO.

The FPO disputed this, but according to Vienna’s Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance (DOW) – which monitors neo-Nazi activity – the party has strong links to neo-Nazis through the Burschenschaften, many of whom are members of Strache’s party.

The Burschenschaften were banned by the Allies after WWII, but reformed in the 1950s. In 1987, Olympia, one of the most extreme fraternities, nominated Rudolf Hess for the Nobel Peace Prize. Senior members of the FPO are Burschenschaften, including Strache and Martin Graf, who was elected deputy president of the Austrian Parliament after the election, despite vociferous opposition from concentration camp survivors. The FPO’s Andreas Molzer is also Burschenschaften and has met with the British National Party in London. Graf, Strache and Molzer all strongly denied having links to extremists and the FPO said that it only wishes to revoke the Verbotsgesetz because it believes in upholding freedom of expression.

Wolfgang Purtscheller, a revered author and journalist who has spent his career exposing Austria’s far right at great risk to his life, said that neo-Nazis have learned by the mistakes of their past, and are now working to build public support within the mainstream parties:

“You had people like Schweiger – the puppet master in the mountains for half
a century – able to form political parties while teaching people to make bombs,
and the Burschenshaften with its history of terrorism and links to the
mainstream parties. These are the intellectuals who hold the positions of power
in Austrian society, in the police, the judiciary and in parliament. The
neo-Nazis have learned by the mistakes of their past and are now working to
build public support within the mainstream parties. Imagine what could happen if
the FPO gets rid of the Verbotsgesetz.”

The FPO continues to do well, and last October the party’s vote surged when it took 27 per cent of the vote in Vienna’s provincial election. Later that month, the FPO hosted a two-day conference attended by far-right factions from across Europe, including representatives of the Sweden Democrats, Italy’s Lega Nord and the Danish People’s Party. Strache has succeeded in making the FPO “respectable”, and last week he sacked a party official who responded to the Norwegian murders by declaring that the real danger was Islam, not Breivik.

Russia

Russia is another nation experiencing an upsurge in racism and anti-Islamic sentiments. A number of neo-Nazi groups have sprung up in recent years, the most extreme of which have attacked and killed foreigners and immigrants from Chechnya, Tajikstan, and Caucasian nations that were once part of the USSR.

This past July, Amnesty International reported that racially-motivated violence remained a serious problem in Russia. The AI report said that, according to data from the SOVA Centre for Information and Analysis, 37 people died as a result of hate crimes during 2010. The authors wrote:

“In April, Moscow judge Eduard Chuvashov was killed, reportedly by members of
a far-right group, after he had sentenced several perpetrators of hate crimes to
long-term imprisonment. In October, 22-year-old Vasilii Krivets was sentenced to
life imprisonment for the murder of 15 people of non-Slavic appearance. The
extent of the problem was brought into sharp focus shortly before the AI report
was published when five members of one of Russia’s most vicious neo-Nazi gangs
were jailed for committing 27 murders. They belonged to the Nationalist
Socialist Society North and were handed life sentences at Moscow City Court. The
string of killings included the videotaped decapitation of one of their own gang
members.”

During the trial, the court heard how the gang targeted dark-skinned victims. They were also convicted of decapitating one of their own whom they suspected of being a police informant and stealing money from the gang’s funds. The decapitation, during which they donned clown masks and sang a patriotic song, was videotaped and posted online. Following the case, a group of nationalists
announced a coalition with Russia’s third-largest political party, the Liberal Democrat Party, which is committed to protecting Russian people and their interests.

Breivik, who murdered 76 people, said he was committed to protecting Europe from Islam. He claimed that two cells from a network he was involved with were still active. It remains to be seen if the 32-year-old was a lone wolf, but it would appear that the far right is on the march.

english.aljazeera.net

Palestinian statehood bid ‘papers ready’

Official says reported US efforts to get Palestinians to halt their UN membership campaign will not succeed.

The Palestinians will not be deterred from seeking UN membership, senior officials say in response to a report that the the US is trying to head off their bid.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that the US has launched an attempt to persuade the Palestinians not to seek statehood at the annual UN General Assembly meeting beginning on September 20.

“When it comes to going to the United Nations, I think the train has left the station,” Muhammad Shtayyeh, a member of Fatah’s central committee who is overseeing the UN bid, said on Sunday.

“We’re already on the way to New York. We are very ready for this. All our papers are ready.”

The New York Times, citing US officials and foreign diplomats, said the US has tried to restart peace talks with the Israelis in a bid to convince Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and leader of Fatah, to drop the bid.

The Obama administration has made it clear to Abbas that it will veto any request to the UN Security Council to make a Palestinian state a new member outright, the newspaper said.

But the US does not have enough support to block a vote to elevate the status of the Palestinians’ nonvoting observer “entity” to that of a nonvoting observer state, according to the newspaper report.

‘No chance for talks’

Palestinians expect “more than 150” of the 192 UN member countries to endorse full Palestinian membership.

But this would fall short of the number needed to ratify an application, which must be approved by the Security Council.

If approved by two-thirds of the General Assembly, it would allow the Palestinians for instance to gain full membership of UN agencies such as WHO, UNESCO or UNICEF.

The US argues that the Palestinians will only achieve meaningful statehood through a revival of direct peace talks with Israel.

The New York Times said the US was labouring to find language that would be sufficient to lure the Palestinians away from their bid, bring Israel to the negotiating table and be acceptable to the other members of the peacemaking Quartet – the EU, UN and Russia.

But Shtayyeh, the Fatah official, said the Palestinians had made every effort to negotiate.

“The only thing Israel wants to talk about is security, security and security,” he said. “There isn’t really any chance for negotiations with this current Israeli government.

He said that until now, the Palestinians had not received any serious offer from the international community.

“All these offers are to stop us from going to New York. They are not really  about genuine peace,” he said.

EU divided

In a related development, EU foreign ministers meeting in Poland have urged both Israel and the Palestinians to return to direct peace talks while offering to take a lead role in hammering out a solution acceptable to all sides.

Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, said on Sunday the Palestinian proposal, to be formally detailed in the coming days by Abbas, could prove a failure for Israel, the Palestinians and the US.

Should the Palestinians receive widespread backing “Israel would be isolated”, the Palestinians “would face a poor tomorrow” after losing vital funding, and the US too will “face isolation”, he said.

Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, said separately that it was key to “try to influence different parties to act constructively”. Germany opposes the Palestinian initiative.

Europe stands divided on the question, with the Czech Republic, Italy and the Netherlands also opposed but Spain pledging to vote in favour.

Despite the fast-approaching deadline, Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, insisted that a return to the talks table remained a possibility.

“We believe that we need to have a negotiated settlement as quickly as possible and that anything that can help that process is good,” she said.

(english.aljazeera.net / 08.09.2011)

Israel’s right-wing prepares for UN recognition of Palestinian state

Coalition chairman MK Zeev Elkin (Likud) blasts IDF top brass for siding with Palestinians rather than the government.

Right-wing activists, settlement leaders and Knesset members convened on Wednesday to discuss how to deal with expected confrontations with Palestinian demonstrators should the United Nations General Assembly recognize a Palestinian state later this month.

Yoni Yosef, spokesman for Jewish settlers in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, suggested invoking the “Dromi Law,” which permits home owners to kill intruders and could be used to shoot Palestinians attempting to approach Jewish homes in the neighborhood.

Coalition chairman MK Zeev Elkin  (Likud ) blasted Israel Defense Forces preparations for defending the settlements, saying: “The top brass turned into the main lobbyist for the Palestinian Authority against the political leadership, which is responsible for the senior commanders’ adoption of the two-state concept.”

Elkin criticized what he called the IDF’s preference for giving PA security forces responsibility for dealing with incidents affecting the Palestinians.

Yaakov Katz  (National Union ) called on his colleagues to organize marches of thousands of right-wing activists toward Palestinian cities in response to the marches on Jewish communities being discussed by Palestinians. He said he suspected the IDF will not ready an appropriate response to Palestinian marches but would deploy large forces if it feared countermarches by the right.

Katz proposed arranging for marches in a few strategic locations, such as from Kiryat Arba to Hebron, from Beit El to Ramallah and from Elon Moreh, Itamar and Yitzhar to Nablus, and announcing that the moment Palestinians marchers set out from Nablus, for example, a right-wing march would set out in the direction of Nablus. If such an announcement is made, Katz suggested, “then maybe there’s a chance the army will prepare, in order to keep the Jews from reaching” Palestinian cities.

(www.haaretz.com / 08.09.2011)