Clock ticks on Palestinian UN plan

A Palestinian woman chants slogan during a rally supporting the Palestinian statehood bid in front of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process offices in Gaza City on Thursday (AP photo by Adel Hana)
A Palestinian woman chants slogan during a rally supporting the
Palestinian statehood bid in front of the United Nations Special Coordinator for
the Middle East Peace Process offices in Gaza City on Thursday (AP photo by Adel
Hana)

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters)
– Diplomats struggled to find a formula on Thursday to avoid a clash over the Middle East as time ticked down on Palestinian plans to ask the United Nations to recognise their statehood, Reuters reported.

President Mahmoud Abbas is pushing ahead with plans to submit the Palestinian application to the UN Security Council on Friday, rebuffing a personal plea from US President Barack Obama to forego the UN option and resume direct peace talks with Israel.

Meanwhile, Agence France-Presse reported that Israel on Friday will raise its level of security alertness in case unrest accompanies Abbas’ application for UN membership for a Palestinian state, quoting Israei security forces.

“We will be heightening security by one level in general,” Israeli spokesperson Mickey Rosenfeld told AFP.

Senior security officers were to meet later Thursday in Jerusalem to decide on whether age limits would be set for Palestinians entering the city’s flashpoint Al Aqsa Mosque compound for Friday prayers.

An Israeli army spokesman, Captain Arye Shalicar, said the military would show “restraint” in dealing with unrest, “providing the minimal effective response, using riot dispersal means as required by the severity of the disturbances”.

Another military official said that it was not yet decided if crossings between the West Bank and Israel would close.

Also on Thursday, the European Union’s president urged Israel and the Palestinians to resume direct talks in an address to the United Nations on the eve of the Palestinian bid state membership, according to AFP.

“Now, the resumption of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is the top priority,” EU President Herman Van Rompuy said in his address to the UN General Assembly.

“Now is the time for politics: for dialogue and negotiations. Populations have lived in fear and suffering for too long,” Van Rompuy said.

Van Rompuy repeated the EU’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, under which a negotiated resolution would be based on Israel’s 1967 borders with mutually acceptable land swaps.

The EU is also “fully supporting financially” the Palestinian state-building process, Van Rompuy added.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile, called Thursday for international “pressure” on Israel to make peace with the Palestinians, AFP reported.

“It is necessary to put pressure on Israel to achieve peace,” Erdogan told the UN General Assembly, “and show them that they are not above the law”.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday the United States was focused on the future irrespective of whether the Palestinians submit a bid for UN membership of a state.

“I think it is important to note that regardless of what happens tomorrow in the United Nations, we remain focused on the day after,” Clinton said.

Clinton told reporters she was “encouraged to hear from both the leadership of the Palestinians and the Israeli government their continuing commitment to direct negotiations,” according to AFP.

Obama ended meetings with Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday with no sign of progress on the Palestinian issue, highlighting the stark new limits of US influence and his own personal clout, Reuters reported.

He earlier told the United Nations that only negotiations can lead to a Palestinian state, and made no mention of a need for Israeli concessions, which could alienate Israel’s powerful US support base ahead of tough presidential election battle next year.

Obama has said the United States will veto any Palestinian move in the Security Council.

Diplomats are now focused on several scenarios which they hope may contain the damage.

The Security Council could delay action on Abbas’ request, giving the mediating “Quartet” – the US, Russia, the EU and the UN – more time to craft a declaration that could coax both sides back to the table.

But the Quartet may be unable to agree on a statement within the next two days that could satisfy both Israel and the Palestinians, which remain divided on core issues including borders, the status of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the future of Jewish settlements.

Another option, advanced by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, would see the Palestinians skip the Security Council in favour of the General Assembly, which could vote to upgrade the Palestinians from an “entity” to a “non-member state” while reviving direct peace talks.

Sarkozy’s plan calls for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to begin within one month, an agreement on borders and security within six months and a definitive peace agreement within a year.

The General Assembly route would require only a simple majority of the 193-nation body, not a two-thirds majority necessary for full statehood.

The Palestinians, for their part, have pledged to press ahead with the Security Council bid while keeping the General Assembly option open.

(jordantimes.com / 27.09.2011)

My Story From Palestine

Before I reached the age of ten I witnessed my cousin being killed by a bomb; at close range I saw his blood and torned-off limbs.

I am originally from Jenin on the West Bank where I grew up in a large poor family consisting of 3 sisters, 3 brothers and my grandmother. Before I was born, my father was in an accident from which he lost the ability to walk; he fell down from a construction site. After the accident he spent a few months in the hospital in Jerusalem undergoing back surgery. Prior to this he had studied mechanics, and his dream was to open a mechanics shop. In order to save enough money to make his dream come true, he worked as a construction worker, and that is when the accident happened. However, rather than giving up, he learned electronics and started to fix TVs, radios and other electric devices. This is what he was doing at the time when he got married and my siblings and I were born.

Before I reached the age of ten I witnessed my cousin being killed by a bomb; at close range I saw his blood and torned-off limbs.

As my father got older and was no longer able to work, the responsibility to work and hence support the family fell on the boys in the family; on my brothers and myself. After four years of working my oldest brother got married and my second brother lost his job, leaving me the only person able to feed the large family. However, all this responsibility did not kill my hopes and dreams.

In 2oo2 the second Intifada started, and life in Jenin once again took a turn for the worse. Bombs everywhere. Death on every corner. Everyone were targeted by the Israeli army. As close friends were dying around me, I started counting them. When I reached five I had to stop for the sake of my own sanity. In the same period of time six of my cousins went to jail; three of them are still serving time, and two of these are serving multiple life sentences. All this encouraged me to leave the mainstream Intifada for the benefit of a cultural one, and hence get involved in the Palestinian political conflict. Not with guns and bombs, but with culture. I worked as a radio host and political activist. My involvement got deeper as I went to acting school with the Freedom Theatre in Jenin.

I protested against both the Palestinian government and the occupation with the same degree of energy. I believe that if I am against something because it is wrong, I should not unthinkingly take the opposing side. Likewise I do not agree with everyone who is against the same occupation as some of them are Nazis, fascists, dictators, extremists or represent bad governments and authorities such as Iran, Hamas or the Palestinian authorities. I find myself in the middle. I only fight for a free Palestine without an occupation and without extremist authorities. Palestine should be open for everyone; a country for all religions and all kinds of people. Everyone is welcome: Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists etc. I believe in a one-state solution with the aforementioned factors. Because of this ideological basis and these ideas I became a target for attacks.

In 2oo9, a few months before I left Palestine, I was held by the Palestinian authorities and questioned by various branches of the government. The interviews usually started at 8am and did not end till 8pm, and they often included beatings and other forms of physical attacks. It is hard to explain attacked me with sticks and chains. I was badly beaten and seriously injured. The Palestinian police arrived and arrested all of us. After some hours I was allowed to wash the blood off me, and then I was forced to sign a paper foregoing all my rights and letting the others go. The police officer did this so that they could legally release them. As I returned home later that day I received a death threat. I explained the situation to my theatre teacher, upon which he advised me to leave. After a long and difficult trip I arrived in Norway the story started over again.

I believed that the suffering would end and that the problems would be resolved once I arrived in Norway, but this was not the case. After six months I got my first rejection, and that made me not want to live anymore. I met with the lawyer offered by Utenriksdirektoratet and explained my case. Together we wrote an appeal in which we included any new information we thought could contribute. He did his job and I did mine. Unfortunately Utlendingsnemnda did not. I waited for almost a year, and during this time yet another friend was murdered: on April 4th 2o11, my teacher from Freedom Theatre was killed by a masked person; most likely for his involvement with the acting institution. This had me worry that I could suffer the same fate, so I informed UNE about the recent developments. Once again they ignored the information I provided, and after three months I received my second rejection. I feared being deported to Palestine and whatever awaited me there, so I moved to Oslo where I joined the Palestinian protest. For 6o days we were protesting during the day and sleeping at Blitzhuset during the night.

Then I got problems of a similar kind as I did back home. I had different beliefs and different views on culture and politics than my fellow Palestinians, and this caused some friction. For a month I left the rest of the group before I gave them another chance and moved in with them at the camp site by Jakobskirken from where we attempted to work for a common cause.

We still had our differences, but they accepted me because they needed me. Not for long, however. After three months the disagreements grew bigger, as did the political conflicts. When I was physically attacked by the others in the camp, I moved away and continued to fight for my own case online. I created a support group (Let Aaron stay in Norway – La Aaron bo i Norge). The group became popular and got increasingly more support. As more and more people joined, I realized that I need to introduce myself more thoroughly in order to give people a chance to know who and what they are supporting.

Finally, I hereby send this open invitation to everyone interested in knowing more; for the media interested in my personal story, for theatre people interested in working together on a show, for filmmakers interested in making a movie, and for all the people interested in learning my story. Please contact me.

Contact Me :

FAcebook : http://www.facebook.com/aaronpal.no

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Statslose

Pettition: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/let-aaron-stay-in-norway.html

Facebook group : http://www.facebook.com/groups/231888023525626/

Youtube Chanel :http://www.youtube.com/user/MrHaroun86

Email : aaronnorge@gmail.com

Mobil : 45578597

For more info, feel free to call.

(www.nyemeninger.no / 27.09.2011)

‘Allochtone politici bevestigen populisten’

Kamerleden van islamitische afkomst hebben verzuimd een constructieve rol te spelen in het integratie- en islamdebat.Nationale en internationale gebeurtenissen zorgen regelmatig voor verhitte discussies en verharding van standpunten over de positie van islam en moslims in de Nederlandse samenleving. Recentelijk leidden vooral Geert Wilders’ opmerkingen over moslims als ‘stemvee’ en moskeeën als ‘haatpaleizen’ tot commotie. Naast Wilders en zijn PVV verdringen ook andere politici, publicisten en wetenschappers van verschillende politieke stromingen zich in de media om onder het motto van ‘het doorbreken van taboes’ diskwalificerende opmerkingen te uiten.

Antimulticulturalisme
Tot een inhoudelijk weerwoord tegen dit antimulticulturalisme komt het echter niet. Ook niet door de zestien Tweede Kamerleden van niet-westerse afkomst, en in het bijzonder die van islamitische achtergrond onder hen. Laatstgenoemden hebben, op een enkele uitzondering na, verzuimd de inhoudelijke leegte te benutten om in het integratie- en islamdebat een centrale en constructieve rol te gaan spelen. Daar waar het wel gebeurde, was de inbreng minimaal, bedenkelijk en niet opbouwend. Een en ander wordt hieronder geïllustreerd.

Kamerlid Coskun Çörüz van het CDA verdedigde op het congres van zijn partij de beoogde gedoogconstructie met de PVV kort maar vurig. Hij hield een pleidooi voor samenwerking met een beweging die de aanwezigheid van moslims in Nederland, en dus die van hemzelf, als een politieke dwaling ziet, de islam gelijkstelt aan achterlijkheid en moslims als vijfde colonne beschouwt. Zo’n houding heeft veel weg van zelfkastijding.

Gebrek
PvdA-Kamerlid Ahmed Marcouch benadrukte dikwijls het gebrek aan aanpassing van zijn achterban, verscherpte het radicaliseringvraagstuk, wilde een moderne vorm van islam op openbare scholen promoten en was voorstander van het verbod op ritueel slachten. Daarnaast verklaarde hij de problemen die enkele jongeren in Helmond en Gouda veroorzaken door verwijzing naar hun Marokkaanse cultuur. Over de hele linie ging hij voorbij aan de sociaal economische fundering van ontsporing, met andere woorden aan de invloed van werkloosheid, discriminatie en uitsluiting daarop.

Ook de lancering door Tofik Dibi (GroenLinks) van de website finalfatwa.com als waardig eerbetoon aan slachtoffers van 11 september kan als negatief worden getypeerd. Daarmee wekte hij zonder fundering ten onrechte de indruk dat islamitische jongeren niet alleen belijdend zijn, maar ook in sterke mate georiënteerd zijn op de islamitische wereld en ‘fatwa’s’ van conservatieve imams kritiekloos uitvoeren.

Qua strekking en effect van misleiding kan dat initiatief op een lijn worden gesteld met de verwijzing van PVV- aanhangers naar islamitische termen als dhimmi en taqiyya in de Nederlandse context. Termen die nauwelijks bekend zijn bij moslims en die alleen maar angst en vijandbeelden oproepen.

Achterlijkheid
Het negatief afschilderen van de eigen cultuur en achterban in situaties van onderschikking, zoals hierboven is beschreven, wordt in het boek Black Skin, White Masks van de Franse psychiater Frantz Fanon getypeerd als ‘de internalisering van inferioriteit’. Daarvan is volgens hem sprake wanneer mensen niet alleen de opgedrongen gedachte van achterlijkheid van hun cultuur accepteren, maar die ook in eigen opvattingen gaan verwerken en verder verspreiden.

Naast hun bijdrage aan stigmatisering maken genoemde allochtone politici zich ook indirect schuldig aan een vorm van kiezersmisleiding. Wat belangenbehartiging betreft, blijven ze in gebreke en vertolken ze ook niet de allochtone stem, maar een echo van autochtone critici. Ze maken als het ware een knieval voor het heersende populisme doordat ze kernaspecten van de eigen identiteit zoveel mogelijk proberen te camoufleren.

De symboliek die hiervan uitgaat, is er vooral een van marginalisering en gebrek aan erkenning van de achterban. En zo verwordt een politiek proces dat aanvankelijk symbool was voor emancipatie en politieke betrokkenheid van minderheden tot een stigmatiseringinstrument dat ook aandeel heeft in de bestendiging van de thans aanwezige beeldvorming.

Aftreksel
Het effect van de negatieve bijdrage van genoemde Kamerleden op de positie van het islamitische volksdeel in Nederland moet niet worden onderschat. Hun kritiek op de eigen cultuur vormt een indirecte bevestiging van de aantijgingen van islamofoben.
Ook geldt hier de veronderstelling dat deze politieke voorhoede adequate kennis heeft van de culturen van de achterban. Dat is echter maar gedeeltelijk waar omdat leven in den vreemde een onontkoombare cultuurerosie bij migranten teweegbrengt. Zij missen met andere woorden de ontwikkelingen in die culturen en de moderne religieuze discussies over maatschappelijke vraagstukken. Dat betekent dat culturen zoals beleefd door migranten niet meer zijn dan een aftreksel van de culturen die in het huidige tijdsgewricht in de landen van herkomst opgeld doen.

Voor adequate overdracht van cultuur (normen, waarden, gebruiken, kunst en literatuur) zijn eigen scholen en media alsmede een specifieke sociale omgeving, kortom een daarvoor goed geëquipeerde samenleving onontbeerlijk. Zogenaamde ‘Marokkaanse raddraaiers’ zijn daarom niet ontspoord door de invloed van de Marokkaans islamitische cultuur, zoals sommigen beweren, maar juist door het ontbreken daarvan.

Progressieve politici
Een en ander brengt met zich mee dat voor het realiseren van stabiliteit in de samenleving de huidige niet constructieve tegenstelling tussen autochtonen en allochtonen, en vooral moslims, zou moeten worden weggewerkt. Dat kan allereerst worden bereikt door de anti-islamretoriek inhoudelijk adequaat te weerspreken. Daarbij wordt herhaaldelijk onnodig verwezen naar eerbiediging van de grondwet, de rechtsstaat en inburgering alsof deze uitgangspunten door moslims in Nederland niet zouden worden onderschreven. Daarnaast dienen progressieve politici onomwonden steun te uiten aan de gedachte van de multiculturele samenleving. In dat verband zou ook een beleid moeten worden ontwikkeld om bij autochtonen een mentale omslag te bewerkstelligen met betrekking tot hun opvattingen over het Nederlanderschap om zodoende allochtonen als landgenoten te gaan definiëren.

Aan de andere kant zouden allochtonen actief kunnen gaan zoeken naar mogelijkheden om een electoraat van betekenis te worden, dus naar het creëren van een allochtone lobby waar bestaande politieke partijen rekening mee moeten houden, en niet alleen door plaatsing van allochtonen op de kandidatenlijsten. Daarbij zijn grotere politieke bewustwording, het definiëren van een gemeenschappelijk doel en de bundeling van hun etnisch en religieus verbrokkelde gelederen een conditio sine qua non. Alleen op deze manier zullen ze in staat zijn hun volledige politieke rechten en respect in de samenleving te verkrijgen. De keuze voor een eigen allochtone of islamitische partij is evenwel strategisch onverstandig en gezien de getalsverhoudingen pragmatisch geen effectieve optie.

De thans waarneembare koers van de huidige progressieve partijen en de kans op bundeling van allochtone krachten stemmen helaas niet tot optimisme.

Wasif Shadid is emeritus hoogleraar interculturele communicatie.

(www.volkskrant.nl / 27.09.2011)

WEST BANK DEMOLITIONS AND ATTACKS AGAINST PALESTINIANS MUST STOP, SAY UNITED NATIONS EXPERTS

Three United Nations independent experts called for an immediate end to the demolitions of Palestinian-owned houses and other structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which have seen a dramatic increase since the beginning of the year. They also urged the Israeli authorities to prevent attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and Palestinian property.

“The impact and discriminatory nature of these demolitions and evictions is completely unacceptable. These actions by the Israeli authorities violate human rights and humanitarian law and must end immediately,” said the three Special Rapporteurs working on the rights to adequate housing, water and sanitation, and food.

Palestinian property is not only destroyed by the Israeli Civil Administration authorities and military
but also by Israeli settlers. “In some places, there are nearly weekly burnings of Palestinian villagers’ land, trees and crops by Israeli settlers,” the independent experts said. “With no effective action by the police and security
forces, there is neither accountability for nor effective protection against these serious crimes, which further encourages the perpetrators to continue committing them.”

“Israeli authorities must take all necessary measures to prevent attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and Palestinian property in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and investigate and prosecute criminal acts committed by settlers in an independent, impartial, effective, thorough and timely manner,” they stressed.

Since January 2011, at least 387 structures including 140 residential structures and 79 agricultural/livelihoods structures have been demolished leading to the forced displacement of 755 people and detrimental impacts on the livelihoods of another 1,500. The number of people displaced as of August 2011 already exceeds the number of people displaced during the entire year of 2010. These demolitions are taking place as a result of discriminatory and restrictive zoning and planning policies applied by the Government of Israel to Palestinians in East Jerusalem
and Area C of the West Bank.

“The preferential treatment of Israeli settlers over Palestinians is blatantly discriminatory,” noted the experts
drawing attention to the fact that Illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank are expanding while Palestinian applications for permits are denied, and their homes and properties are destroyed.

Housing

“The situation is clearly escalating and resulting in increasing human rights violations,” said the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik. “Not only are these families, some of whom
have been living there for decades, forcibly evicted from their homes but they are not provided with compensation or relocation, and are even forced to pay for the demolition itself and fines for having constructed ‘illegally.” The Special Rapporteur also expressed concern about the displacement of Palestinians due to persistence violence and harassment by Israeli settlers which have gone unaddressed by Israeli authorities, citing the recent example of an entire community of 127 people that was displaced.


Water

“The destruction of water infrastructure in Area C of the West Bank is especially alarming. At least 20 cisterns and 12 wells have been demolished since the beginning of 2011, affecting access to drinking water for tens of thousands of Palestinians,” underscored the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque. “As a result, these people have to pay exorbitant prices to get safe drinking water from tankers. Add to this the reality of water scarcity, and the situation easily becomes desperate.”

Food

“The ongoing demolition of agricultural and livelihood structures has exacerbated food insecurity amongst Palestinians in the West Bank,” said the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter. “Herder communities have lost access to water for their animals, farmers have been evicted from their land, and Bedouin communities have been especially affected by these demolitions – sometimes having had their property destroyed on repeated occasions.” In addition, the Special Rapporteur expressed concern about the loss of livelihoods due to unchecked attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinian-owned productive land and natural resources.

Humanitarian Law

Article 54 of the 1977 Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, relating to the
Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), prohibits not only starvation as a method of warfare, but also the destruction of objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party.

The three United Nations experts called “for an immediate end to the demolition of Palestinian-owned structures and forced eviction of Palestinians, and for the immediate cancellation of all existing stop-work and demolition orders applying to Palestinian territories, until Palestinians are ensured a fair and non-discriminatory planning and zoning regime consistent with the principles and standards of international human rights and humanitarian law.”

The Special Rapporteurs also reminded Israel of its obligation under international law to ensure access to an effective remedy for Palestinians who have lost homes, land, assets and livelihoods due to demolitions and forced
evictions as well as to stop all settlement activities in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

(unispal.un.org / 27.09.2011)

 

PA: Nigeria to support Palestine statehood bid

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Nigeria will vote in favor of the application for full UN membership in the Security Council, foreign minister Riyad Malki said Tuesday after meeting with his Nigerian counterpart.

Olugbenga Ashiru stressed Nigeria’s support for the application for a state on the 1967 borders as well as his hopes for a negotiated settlement to end the conflict, the official Palestinian Authority news agency said.

Nigeria’s support is key as the PLO battles for Security Council votes to back its effort to win full UN membership, while the United States is using its diplomatic big guns to make the bid fail.

The Security Council held its first meeting to discuss the application on Monday and is to meet again Wednesday to formally send the request made by President Mahmoud Abbas to a membership committee.

The PLO campaign faces an uphill struggle as the US has vowed to veto any resolution backing its application. No vote at the 15-member council is expected for several weeks however and frenzied lobbying has started.

On top of campaigning at the UN, PLO officials are to send high level delegations to council members Bosnia, Gabon and Nigeria in a bid to win backing, envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour told reporters.

The United States and Israel, which insist that only direct negotiations can produce an accord, are lobbying furiously for council members to oppose or abstain in the resolution.

If the resolution does not get nine votes in favor it will fail and the United States will not have to use its veto.

Nine of the 15 council members already recognize the state, but diplomats say the PLO will struggle to get nine votes.

China, Russia, Lebanon, India, South Africa and Brazil have declared themselves certain to vote for the bid.

(www.maannews.net / 27.09.2011)

Saudi Arabia Calls Upon all UN Members to Recognize the State of Palestine

New York, September 27 (QNA) –  The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has said that as a result of the continued Israeli intransigence and disruption of the peace process, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia calls upon all Member States of the United Nations to recognize the State of Palestine on the borders of June 4, 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital; and to grant it full membership of the United Nations.     This came in the speech Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal delivered last night before the 66th session of the UN General Assembly now in progress here. The situation in the besieged Gaza Strip is another factor that exacerbates the problem as Gaza became a huge prison due to the unjust blockade imposed by Israel that causes grave humanitarian consequences.         Prince Saud Al Faisal added that the Israeli occupying forces continued atrocious military attacks against the Palestinian people which demonstrate that Israel, by committing these aggressions and repeated transgressions, is a state above the law, which disregards the resolutions of international legitimacy and the Geneva Convention (IV) Relative to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War; and taking advantage of the international community”s silence and negligence towards Israel”s war crimes. In this context, we urge the United Nations, particularly the Security Council and the Quartet, to assume their responsibilities to stop the Israeli persistent aggression, to work on providing international protection for the unarmed Palestinian people in Gaza, to end the Israeli blockade and open the crossings from and to Gaza strip.    The kind of peace that we seek to achieve is a just and comprehensive peace. It will not be achieved without the withdrawal of Israel from all occupied territories, including occupied Golan and Lebanese territories. Accordingly, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia calls upon the Security Council to act without delay to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East as provided in Security Council resolutions 242, 338, and all relevant UN resolutions and decisions of Madrid Conference, in particular the principle of ”Land for Peace” as well as the Arab Peace Initiative.    The Arab-Israeli conflict still predominates and overshadows all issues of the Middle East. No other regional conflict is more influential upon world peace. What exacerbates the problem is the absence of the Israeli Government”s good intentions. It still proceeds with the acquisition of more Palestinian land, still builds colonies to create facts on ground and still continues the killing and displacement of Palestinians and confiscation of their land and properties.
The Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal further said that the Israeli settlements or colonies undermine the possibilities of creating a contiguous and viable Palestinian state; make it difficult for any Palestinian government to function effectively or to persuade the Palestinians about the possibility of achieving peace.      It is unethical to impose siege and sanctions on people suffering under occupation, while the occupying authority continues its settlement activities free from any accountability and in defiance of Geneva Conventions. It is understood that peace is the only way to achieve security for Palestinians and Israelis; but we must doubt the Israeli intentions when it fails to offer any serious peace initiatives.       Actually, it rejects the proposed initiatives and continues to hamper the negotiations by taking unilateral actions that undermine the chances for peace. The time has come for Israel to know that it cannot proceed with ignoring international legitimacy emanating from international law. Yet, states in the Security Council, including permanent members, have unanimously and repeatedly issued statements against the continuation of Israeli settlement activities.     The Arab States have clearly expressed, through the Arab Peace Initiative launched by Saudi Arabia and adopted by the Beirut Arab Summit in 2004, their commitment to achieving just and comprehensive peace based on the rules of international law.     It is crucial that the international community takes a clear position that reflects its consensus on taking concrete actions to revive the peace process; alongside with decisively urging Israel to deal with the issue with honesty and seriousness by immediately ceasing settlement construction, dismantling instead of expanding them, recognizing the right of Palestinian people to establish their independent state on the borders of June 4, 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital as well as reaching an equitable solution to the refugee”s issue in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions.    Prince Saud al-Faisal, called meantime for the immediate cessation of military operations against the defenseless people in Syria and as per the resolution adopted by the arab league arab foreign ministers” Council held in Cairo recently, and the implementation of comprehensive and fast reforms to meet the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.     The saudi foreign  minister also called upon all parties in Yemen to announce clearly their full commitment to the peaceful transition of power and the implementation of the requirements contained in the GCC initiative to urgently end the serious crisis taking place in Yemen.
(www.qnaol.net / 27.09.2011)

PA slams Israeli settlement plans

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Authority on Tuesday slammed Israel’s approval of construction plans to build 1,100 new housing units in a settlement in East Jerusalem.

Israel’s regional planning and construction committee on Tuesday approved the plans, described by one committee member as “a nice gift for Rosh Hashanah,” the Israeli news site Ynet reported.

Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967 and illegally annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community. All settlements built on occupied territory are illegal under international law.

The last round of peace talks collapsed over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to extend a partial freeze on illegal settlement building.

President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that he would not return to negotiations unless Israel stopped building Jewish-only settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Netanyahu indicated Tuesday that he was not about to offer one.

The Palestinian Authority accused Netanyahu of “putting concrete preconditions on the ground,” in a statement.

“The Israeli Prime Minister claims to have no preconditions, but with this decision is putting concrete preconditions on the ground. He says there should be no unilateral steps, but there could be nothing more unilateral than a huge new round of settlement building on Palestinian land.

“The Israeli Prime Minister told the UN that he had come to tell the truth, but it is this decision which tells the truth.”

PLO official Saeb Erekat described the approval as a “slap in the face to all international efforts to protect the fading prospects of peace in the region.”

He added: “Israel responded to the Quartet Statement and French Initiative with 1100 no’s. Netanyahu has embarrassed all those in the international community who insisted that there was a peace partner in Israel.”

On Tuesday, the US ambassador to Israel reaffirmed Washington’s opposition to a Palestinian call to halt Israeli settlement building before peace negotiations can resume.

US envoy Dan Shapiro said Washington had never favored making a freeze a condition for negotiations: “We’ve never set that, in this administration or any other, as a precondition for talks,” he told Israeli Army Radio, in response to a question on whether he favored the Palestinian demand.

Netanyahu signaled that another moratorium on construction in settlements in the occupied West Bank, following a 10-month partial cessation that ended last September, was not on the cards.

“We already gave at the office,” Netanyahu said in an interview in The Jerusalem Post, a phrase meaning that he believed he had done enough last year.

Shapiro noted that the United States has long opposed Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

But he added: “What we have said consistently is that we believe direct talks are the only way to resolve this conflict, and (it) can only be resolved by the parties themselves in those talks, and they should be entered without preconditions.”

In New York on Monday, a divided UN Security Council met behind closed doors for its first discussion of last week’s application for full UN membership as a state — a move seen as certain to fail due to Israeli and US opposition, despite substantial support among other world governments.

International mediators, trying to salvage the Middle East peace process, have urged preliminary negotiations be held within a month.

(www.maannews.net / 27.09.2011)

Palestinians to export direct to EU, avoiding Israel

Palestinians to export direct to EU, avoiding IsraelThe Palestinian Authority will be able to export agricultural and fisheries products directly to the European Union from next year, under a trade deal approved by MEPs.

Until now, Palestinian exports have been controlled by Israeli customs authorities. But the European Parliament voted today to give Gaza and the West Bank duty-free and mostly quota-free access to EU farm and fishery markets. It also opens up Palestinian markets for some European goods.

Describing the agreement, which will enter into force next year, as a “first step towards the development of a nation,” Socialist and Democrat group MEP Maria Eleni Koppi said the Palestinian economy would benefit fully from the expansion in trade.

The deal received a caution welcome from the European United Left/Nordic Green Left group in parliament. Paul Murphy MEP said that, “if implemented, it could provide a level of assistance to the Palestinian people” – but added that its effects would be limited.

“While the EU can abolish tariffs on goods coming from the occupied territories, the difficulty is getting the goods out in the first place”. He denounced Israel’s blockade on Gaza as a “disastrous humanitarian catastrophe” leading to the “deliberate destruction of their economy”.

He said 500 checkpoints delaying and obstructing exports would also limit the benefits of the deal on the West Bank. “If the EU is serious about assisting the Palestinian people, gestures like this are simply not enough. It must end its complicity with the Israeli occupation,” he said.

In 2009 trade between the EU and Palestine totalled €56.6m, of which €50.5m were EU exports. Of the €6.1m Palestinian products, more than 70 per cent were agricultural. The new deal can be extended after 10 years.

The Palestinian Authority is in the process of seeking United Nations Security Council recognition as a state, after presenting its case at the general assembly last week. But the United States has said it will veto the proposal, while EU countries have been divided on the issue.

(gazatvnews.com / 27.09.2011)

Leers trekt de strop om de nek van migranten en vluchtelingen strakker

In zijn speurtocht naar zoveel mogelijk manieren om migranten en vluchtelingen het leven zuur te maken heeft minister Gerd Leers van Immigratie en Asiel nieuw repressief beleid ontwikkeld. Er komen nog meer drempels voor gezinsmigratie, illegaal verblijf wordt strafbaar als overtreding, illegalen moeten hun eigen deportatie gaan betalen, en meer mensen verliezen hun verblijfsrecht.

De mogelijkheid van gezinsvorming en -hereniging wordt volgens de nieuwe maatregelen beperkt tot het kerngezin: dus tot partners die zijn gehuwd of een geregistreerd partnerschap zijn aangegaan, en hun minderjarige kinderen. “Het kabinet wil daarmee voorkomen dat relaties worden aangegaan met als enig doel het verkrijgen van een verblijfsvergunning”, stelt Bruin I vol wantrouwen richting migranten en vluchtelingen. Personen die een partner willen laten overkomen, moeten eerst een jaar wachten. Bruin I wil daarmee bereiken dat die personen eerst zelf ingeburgerd zijn voordat hun partner afhankelijk verblijfsrecht krijgt, wat neerkomt op een aanscherping van de inburgeringsplicht. Bovendien kunnen mensen met afhankelijk verblijfsrecht pas na vijf jaar zelfstandig verblijfsrecht verkrijgen, in plaats van na drie jaar, zoals nu het geval is. Zo stelt Bruin I schijnhuwelijken te willen voorkomen, waarmee men opnieuw laat zien hoe achterdochtig men is ten opzichte van “allochtonen”. Ook de toegang tot een bijstandsuitkering wordt moeilijker gemaakt.

Illegaal verblijf wordt door Bruin I bestraft met een gevangenisstraf van vier maanden of een boete van 3.800 euro. “Medeplichtigheid aan illegaal verblijf, zoals het om humanitaire redenen verschaffen van onderdak of voedsel aan illegalen, wordt niet strafbaar”, weet het kabinet ook nog te melden. Bruin I wilde eerst liever ook ondersteuners van mensen zonder verblijfsrecht criminaliseren, maar door druk van steungroepen en belangenorganisaties heeft Leers voor hen een uitzondering op de strafbaarstelling gemaakt. Maar de strafbaarstelling wordt wel ingevoerd voor de mensen zonder verblijfsrecht zelf, die overigens ook nog eens het risico lopen dat ze een inreisverbod krijgen opgelegd voor de hele EU.

Verder wil Leers dat migranten en vluchtelingen hun eigen deportatie gaan betalen. De kosten van het tegen hen gerichte overheidsgeweld komen dus voor hun eigen rekening. Hoe de minister geld uit de zakken van de mensen zonder papieren denkt te kunnen kloppen, blijft vooralsnog schimmig. Illegalen hebben immers vaak nauwelijks eigen inkomsten, omdat ze geen recht hebben op een uitkering en ook niet mogen werken. Daarom wil Leers de familie en de vrienden in de omgeving van de te deporteren illegalen medeverantwoordelijk maken voor de kosten van de uitzetting. Migranten en vluchtelingen met verblijfsrecht worden door Bruin I ook nog op een andere manier onder druk gezet. Het kabinet wil eerder kunnen overgaan tot het afpakken van hun verblijfsrecht. Iedereen die tijdens de eerste drie jaar van zijn verblijf in Nederland wordt veroordeeld tot een misdrijf en gevangenisstraf krijgt opgelegd, kan door de overheid illegaal worden gemaakt. Leers zet bovendien het mes in de opvang voor afgewezen vluchtelingen met kinderen, die zullen worden opgeborgen in “sobere speciale locaties”, onder meer in Katwijk, Venlo en Gilze. Daar moeten ze gaan meewerken aan hun eigen deportatie. Ook krijgen ze minder geld om van te leven.

Volgens de minister is het “een fabel” dat sommige landen van herkomst niet meewerken aan de uitzetting van hun eigen staatsburgers. Maar Leers zelf vertelt sprookjes en ook regelrechte leugens, zoals onlangs bleek uit de documenten die de steungroep INLIA op grond van de Wet Openbaarheid van Bestuur wist los te peuteren. Die documenten tonen aan dat flink wat ambassades inderdaad niet meewerken aan deportaties. Toch moet ook de CDA-er impliciet toegeven dat het voorkomt dat de Nederlandse overheid geen toestemming krijgt van landen van herkomst om mensen zonder verblijfsrecht daar te dumpen. Want hij laat weten dat die landen dan gekort zouden moeten worden op “de ontwikkelingshulp” die Nederland hen geeft. Die “hulp” staat dus in dienst van het deportatiebeleid.

Al deze maatregelen vormen een nieuwe storm van ellende die raast over de levens van vluchtelingen en migranten zonder en met verblijfsrecht. Leers en zijn bende hameren op de “eigen verantwoordelijkheid” van “de burger”, en ook van mensen zonder papieren. Ook Leers draagt een “eigen verantwoordelijkheid”, namelijk voor het criminaliseren, uitsluiten, opjagen, opsluiten en uitzetten van mensen die zijn gevlucht voor oorlog, geweld, honger en armoede. Het is onze “eigen verantwoordelijkheid” om ons tegen zijn keiharde beleid te blijven verzetten.

André Robben
Harry Westerink

(www.doorbraak.eu / 27.09.2011)

Palestinian Spring Underway, UN Statehood Bid Moves to Security Council

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority and Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, returned home from the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York to Ramallah on Sunday where he declared to a boisterous crowd of supporters that:

The Palestinian spring is certainly under way, with the creation of an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. The journey is long and there are many obstacles, but with our people’s steadfastness, we will overcome these obstacles.

This announcement coincided with the Palestinian statehood application, submitted to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday, moving to the UN Security Council where it will be debated and eventually voted upon, determining whether Palestine will be recognized as a full member state rather than its current status of observer entity.

While the bid for full membership is doomed to fail due to the promise of a veto by the United States, articulated by President Obama, the push for statehood through the UN does represent a significant development in the ongoing political stalemate between Palestine and Israel and presents a new possible route to ending the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Once the US vetoes the application, the Palestinians will likely move for a full General Assembly vote where a large majority of countries support the statehood bid. Upon approval of the resolution, Palestine would then be admitted as a non-member observer state, a step above their current status where there could apply to join UN agencies as well as the International Criminal Court, presenting the opportunity to push for investigations and convictions in allegations of Israeli war crimes against Palestinians.

These are still only possible outcomes of the statehood bid, but one clear consequence has been the further international isolation of Israel. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently told fellow cabinet ministers in a private meeting that “By sharpening tension with the Palestinians, we are inviting isolation on Israel.” And General Amos Gilad, the chief of Israeli’s diplomatic-security bureau, recently warned, also in private, that UN recognition of a Palestinian sate would result in an isolation “no less severe than war.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu did his country’s international reputation few favors in his speech to the UN General Assembly on Friday. Instead of attempting to bridge any of the longstanding tensions between Israel and Palestine, he devoted most of his time to defending Israel and his government from mounting international criticism.

On the issue of illegal settlement construction, Bibi pleaded that these incursions are necessary:

because Israel is such a tiny country. Without Judea and Samaria, the West Bank, Israel is all of 9 miles wide…That’s about two-thirds the length of Manhattan. And don’t forget that the people who live in Brooklyn and New Jersey are considerably nicer than some of Israel’s neighbors.

This is a truly bizarre defense of a nation breaking international law, there are many similarly sized nations that do not continually violate the Fourth Geneva Convention. Even President Obama has derided this settlement activity and called for a freeze on such building until recently when his reelection bid has apparently trounced his previous convictions. While Bibi as well as Obama’s speeches to the UN may have pleased pro-Israel constituencies, they did little to deter international pressure on Israel to recognize Palestine and negotiate a lasting peace.

Still, growing isolation of Israel and a campaign for UN recognition do not necessarily amount to an uprising of the like seen across much of the Arab world this year. The immediate effects of these votes within the halls of the UN, however meaningful, will do little to change life for Palestinians living under occupation, especially those in the Gaza strip. And it will certainly mean little to the thousands of Palestinian refugees living in Jordan, Syria and elsewhere who hope to return to an independent Palestine. That is why many activists in Palestine and solidarity groups abroad are critical of the UN bid.

As Michelle Chen writes for Colorlines, the lack of a right of return provision for Palestinian refugees in the UN application has caused many organizations, including the U.S. Palestinian Community Network and Hamas, to reject the bid. She also cites reports from Palestine that show “deep ambivalence toward the issue, steeped in fear that the plans for statehood status would marginalize many ordinary Palestinians’ aspirations for true independence and sovereignty.”

And Frank Barat, writing at Electronic Intifada, claims that:

What will make the road shorter for the Palestinians—who have already struggled and endured for so long—is to mobilize as much international solidarity as possible, to shift the balance in favor of the people faster.

He points to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign along with “other initiatives such as the International Solidarity Movement, the Free Gaza Movement, the flotillas and “flytilla,” the Viva Palestina convoys, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine and many other creative and spontaneous actions” as holding true potential for Palestinians to realize peace and independence.

The outcomes of the current bid for statehood at the UN will be seen in the coming months, but regardless of the vote tallies, it is clear that a Palestinian Spring is currently underway.

(inthesetimes.com / 27.09.2011)