People of the world unite to unoccupy Jerusalem

A two-day conference of the international committee for the “Global March to Jerusalem” in Amman concluded last week – with member committees, representing more than 60 countries present. The head of the Jordanian committee taking part in the meeting, Abdullah Obeidat, said that “trade unions and opposition parties decided to support the march and participate in defence of the holy city and Palestinian families in the occupied territories.”1

On March 30th, Land Day, in the spirit of the amazing people’s movements worldwide, Palestinian refugees will march with freedom lovers and justice seekers from all over the world, to Jerusalem. The aim of participants is to draw attention to the systematic discrimination of Palestinians in Jerusalem, and make a concrete effort to end the occupation, through peaceful means.

Recent, ongoing clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians at Al-Aqsa mosque have left dozens of Palestinians injured and detained, for throwing stones at police on the plaza; with no end in sight. The latest spark was caused by calls of right wing groups to ‘Occupy Al-Aqsa’2 who (in typical fashion, appropriated the name from activists from the Northern American movement to restore social and economic justice!) stormed the compound, containing the Al-Aqsa mosque – the third holiest site in Islam. Adding fuel to the fire, was an Israeli supreme court order earlier this month to allow the right of non-Muslims to pray in Al Aqsa Mosque. Finally, in a move reminiscent of Arial Sharon’s provocative visit to Al Aqsa mosque in 2000 which ignited the second intifada, far-right Israeli politician Moshe Feiglin distributed leaflets calling to remove “Israel’s enemies”, from Islam’s third holiest site.3

Meanwhile, despite criticisms by Palestinians, the US, UN and several Arab States- Israel preliminarily approved a plan to build 600 new settlements, deep inside the West Bank. Yariv Oppenheimer, director of Peace Now, an Israeli group that opposes settlement construction, called it the biggest settlement construction plan in the West Bank since Netanyahu took office three years ago.4 Yet again, the government’s unilateral policies and display of complete contempt, directly undermine ‘peace talks’ – which have been stalled for the past three years, over the issue of Jewish settlements. Unless a massive and just intervention is taken immediately, the results will be devastating, and are likely to trigger catastrophic, wide-spread violence.

To understand these ongoing policies, one can look directly to the Israeli government, which routinely publishes its plans involving the further judaization of Jerusalem. The most recent document is titled: “Demography, Geopolitics, and the Future of Israel’s Capital: Jerusalem’s Proposed Master Plan for Jerusalem-2020″ 5 . Within these pages, the Jerusalem Municipality’s District Planning and Building Committee has drawn up the blue print to completely transform the holy city for the three religions – into a Jewish city – by isolating it with a wall of settlements. In order to carry out their goals, official Israeli policies involve home demolitions, dispossession and settlement construction to solidify “the capital and spiritual center of Israel and the Jewish people”.

Since 1967, thousands of Palestinian homes have been demolished, many multiple times over and 20,000 Palestinian housing units face demolition to accommodate new settlements, Old City excavation projects and other Jewish only developments. If successfully implemented, Palestinians will be dispossessed, displaced and excluded from what remains of their city, and future capital. Palestinians comprise about one-third of the city’s population, confined to 7% of its land in mostly inadequate housing. Already, discriminatory measures exist, including encircling densely populated Palestinian neighborhoods by “green space” or “unzoned land” where building is prohibited. Applications to rezone, increase density, or build in small areas designated for residential construction are routinely denied. As a result, new housing can’t accommodate Palestinian population increases.

“Settlements built on the (city’s) outskirts also dissect the continuity between the northern and southern West Bank, jeopardizing the feasibility of a future Palestinian State. As second class residents, the right of East Jerusalem Palestinians to their increasingly occupied city keep eroding, including to their own homes.” While Israel’s Master Plan 2020 declares its goal to plan for the long term fate of East Jerusalem, “it has been prepared with no consultation of any kind with the Palestinian community.” As Stephen Lendman, in one of the few articles which discusses the plan put it, “Why? Because exclusion is eventually planned, though not explicitly stated in 2020′s language.” http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/12/israels-jerusalem-master-plan-2020.html

International Accountability in the Face of Israeli Aggression?

The US officially takes a position against Israeli settlement expansion and future construction projects in East Jerusalem. However, with strong ties to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Barack Obama, has also said that Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel during his campaign in the Democratic primaries for the presidency and has since reiterated that there would be no limits on Jewish construction activity in a “united Jerusalem”. It is well known that right-wing Jewish groups in the US, directly finance the construction of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. Attempts by Israeli right-wing extremists to storm the mosque, are growing by the number and frequency each week. Awqaf officials also blame Arab states’ for the emerging crisis by failing to bring the case to the international community’s attention.”

People of the world taking action, where governments have failed.

For over 64 years, the state of Israel has been obsessed with one racist goal; demographics and keeping a Jewish majority. Some call it apartheid, others ethnic cleansing, I think a more accurate term is ethnocracy or ethnocide. Yet one thing is clear, every Israeli government has created policies with one goal in mind – to get, and keep Palestinians out of their homeland – and make way for a purely Jewish state. Meanwhile Europe and the UN, who created this problem, stand idly by and watch as Palestinians endure systematic dispossession and displacement.

Today, humanity is at a crossroads–people of the world are beginning to understand that we are the 99% and have far more in common, then our so-called leaders. We have an unprecedented opportunity to choose a new path, and join the millions world wide who have decided to take their destiny into their own hands. In the absence of governmental officials to do what’s legal and moral, Palestinians are calling on global citizen’s of conscious, to take a stand – before it’s too late.

The GMJ has heeded this call, and “inspired firstly by our convictions, secondly by the justice of our cause and thirdly by the spirit of the Arab spring revolution will peacefully march from surrounding countries, to the borders” – to fulfill a dream that lies in the center of every refugees heart, to return home. What makes this journey especially meaningful is not only do Palestinians have the oldest and longest running refugee population in the world, their home is at the center of the deeply contentious struggle to liberate Jerusalem, the capital of the world’s three religions – and quite literally the conscious and soul of humanity.

For more information about the Global March to Jerusalem, see: http://www.gmj-na.org/participationoptions.html or email: right2return@gmail.com.

1. Preparations continue for the Global March to Jerusalem, February, 27, 2012 – http://www.middleeastmonitor.org.uk/news/middle-east/3462-preparations-continue-for-the-global-march-to-jerusalem

2. Amidst Jewish calls to ‘storm Al Aqsa’, Arabs ‘largely silent’ Jordan Times; Rafiq A. Tschannen, February 25th, 2012 – http://www.themuslimtimes.org/2012/02/countries/israel/amidst-jewish-calls-to-storm-al-aqsa-arabs-largely-silent

3. Israeli forces clash with worshipers at Al-Aqsa, Maan News, February 24, 2012 – http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=462853

4. West Bank settlement housing gets initial approval Daniel Estrin, Associated Press, February 22, 2012: http://www.chron.com/news/article/West-Bank-settlement-housing-gets-initial-approval-3349564.php
5. Demography, Geopolitics, and the Future of Israel’s Capital: Jerusalem’s Proposed Master PlanJerusalem Center for Public Affairs – 2010, http://jcpa.org/text/Jerusalem-Master-Plan.pdf

6. Jordan warns Israel over Al Aqsa as tensions reach boiling point: Jordan Times, February 20th – http://www.menafn.com/qn_news_story_s.asp?StoryId=1093485000

7. Israel’s Jerusalem Master Plan 2020 – by Stephen Lendman – Thursday, December 16, 2010 http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/12/israels-jerusalem-master-plan-2020.html

8. From the Global March to Jerusalem, int’l campaign website: http://gm2j.com/main/about/

(mondoweiss.net / 08.03.2012)

Fatah official: PA preparing message on future talks

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Fatah official Azzam Ahmad said Thursday that Palestinian officials were preparing the final wording of a letter to be delivered to Israel and international actors on the status of peace talks.

Ahmad told Voice of Palestine radio that the message will be delivered next week.

Regarding progress on the stalled reconciliation deal which was signed last May, the official said a two-week period granted for Hamas to hold internal discussions had expired. They should now act, he said.

There are currently no scheduled meetings between the factions, he added.

(www.maannews.net / 08.03.2012)

Iran says Arabs putting mercenaries into Syria

PARIS (Reuters) — Arab countries are sending mercenaries to Syria to thwart any chance of a negotiated settlement to end President Bashar Assad’s crackdown on a year-long uprising against his rule, Iran’s ambassador to France said Thursday.

Iran, a close ally of Assad’s government, was initially very supportive of the way the Syrian authorities were putting down the uprising, but has lately been saying that Assad should enact reforms that take account of popular grievances.

Speaking in an interview with Reuters in Paris, Iran’s newly appointed envoy, Ali Ahani, accused certain Arab countries of financing and supplying weapons to those opposing Assad.

“We have information about money, weapons and mercenaries that are being sent there to disrupt things,” the former deputy foreign minister said, declining to say where the mercenaries were coming from.

“There is information that certain Arab countries have sent them (mercenaries) and been financed by the United States and even Israel,” he added, without naming the Arab states.

Sunni Saudi Arabia, which along with Qatar is leading Arab efforts to force Assad to step aside, has publicly called for rebels fighting the government to be armed but Ahani did not name Saudi Arabia.

He alleged that the intervention was preventing the opposition and Assad from reaching a negotiated settlement, saying that such a settlement was the only hope of solving the crisis.

“It’s obvious there is a manipulation that isn’t allowing the government or opposition to try to hold dialogue and come to an agreement to resolve the internal problems,” he said.

“We are concerned for the future of Syria and its people.”

The United Nations has said that more than 7,500 people have been killed since the protests started a year ago. Assad has continued to use tanks and troops against the protesters despite growing pressure from the West and Arab states for the bloodletting to stop.

Non-Arab, Shi’ite Muslim Iran has backed other “Arab Spring” uprisings that toppled several Western-allied dictators in predominantly Sunni Muslim North Africa. But it has steadfastly continued to support Assad, a member of the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam.

Facing its own dispute with the West over its nuclear program, Iran could become increasingly isolated if Assad were to fall.

Ahani said Assad’s government had to meet the demands of the Syrian people, but said overseas interference was making that more difficult.

“We can’t impose a solution from overseas to resolve the internal problems of Syria,” he said. “The opposition and government must be encouraged to try and resolve themselves the problem. There are demands of the Syrian people that have to be respected and that’s what we said to the Syrian government.”

There are unconfirmed reports that Tehran has been helping the Syrian government manage the crisis. But when asked if advisers had been sent to Damascus to help Assad, Ahani said Syria was a sovereign state that made its own decisions.

“The narrow relationship we have with Syria is clear and well diversified, but that doesn’t mean that all the decisions of the Syrian government are rubber-stamped or not by Iran,” he said.

(www.maannews.net /08.03.2012)

Minister Syrië loopt over – hoogste functionaris die Assad rug toekeert

hussameldin

Hussameldin komt op de video rustig over en lijkt zijn verklaring van een papier op zijn schoot op te lezen.

Nog niet eerder keerde een hooggeplaatste regeringsfunctionaris als onderminister Abdo Hussameldin zich af van president Bashar al-Assad. Werkzaam op het ministerie van Olie, neemt hij via een video op YouTube afstand van ‘de misdaden van dit regime’.

Hussameldin zegt zich in het filmpje, waarvan de bron nog niet is vastgesteld, terug te trekken uit de Baath-partij en zich aan te sluiten bij de revolutie van het waardige volk. Hij stelt 33 jaar werkzaam te zijn geweest voor de Syrische regering.

“Ik geef er de voorkeur aan om te doen wat juist is, ook al weet ik dat dit regime nu mijn huis zal afbranden en mijn familie zal vervolgen. Ik zeg tegen dit regime: je hebt het volk waarvan je beweert dat het het jouwe is een jaar lang ondergedompeld in lijden en verdriet. Hen is een normaal leven en menselijkheid ontnomen, en Syrië is naar de rand van de afgrond gedreven.”

‘Economie op punt van instorten’

De regeringstroepen van Assad hebben volgens de VN al zeker 7.500 mensen gedood sinds de opstand een jaar geleden begon. Het rode Kruis probeert al dagen toegang te krijgen tot het epicentrum van de opstand, de stad Homs. Gisteren kregen hulpverleners drie kwartier toegang.

Hussameldin werd volgens Reuters ooit door Assad zelf aangesteld en hield zijn functie als onderminister over aan een regeringsbesluit in 2009. Volgens Hussameldin staat de economie van Syrië ‘op het punt van instorten’. Hij zou met hulp van Syrische oppositieleden zijn overgelopen.

(www.nrc.nl / 08.03.2012)

Israeli troops, Palestinians clash over prisoner

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Several dozen Palestinians demanding the release of a hunger-striking detainee clashed with Israeli troops Thursday, part of growing protests against the practice of holding Palestinians without formal charges.

Soldiers fired tear gas and aimed a water cannon at about 50 women marching in support of Hana Shalabi, a 30-year-old West Bank woman who has gone without food for 22 days. The stream of water knocked down one of the women, while Palestinian teens threw rocks at the soldiers from behind the women’s march.

In Gaza, about 500 women marched for Shalabi, marking International Women’s Day.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli soldier in the neck during an arrest raid in the town of Yatta, seriously wounding him, the Israeli military said. The soldier opened fire, wounding the assailant and killing another man the military described as the attacker’s accomplice.

Palestinian medics identified the dead man as Zakariya Abu Eram. Palestinian police said he was 17. A witness in Yatta, Nasser Nawaja, said the teen was about 40 yards (meters) away and not involved in the attack when he was killed.

The man arrested in Yatta after stabbing the soldier was released four months ago, along with more than 1,000 other Palestinian prisoners, in a swap for an Israeli soldier held for more than five years by the Islamic militant Hamas in Gaza.

Shalabi, the hunger striker, was released in the same swap and was arrested Feb. 16.

Shalabi is being held without formal charges in what Israel calls administrative detention. Previously, she had been held for two years without formal charges, according to Palestinian human rights activists. Detention orders are usually issued for six months and are frequently renewed.

Israel has defended administrative detentions as a necessary tool to stop militant activity. It says the measure is needed to protect its network of Palestinian informers.

Rights activists say international law allows this practice only in exceptional cases. The Israeli rights group B’Tselem says Israel’s use of administrative detention “blatantly violates these restrictions.” In January, 309 Palestinians were being held in administrative detention, 90 more than a year earlier, B’Tselem said.

Last month, another administrative detainee, Khader Adnan, ended a 66-day hunger strike after reaching a deal with the Israeli authorities to free him in April.

(www.google.com / 08.03.2012)

Sources of Islamic Law

Islamic law is based upon four main sources:

The Qur’an

Muslims believe the Qur’an to be the direct words of Allah, as revealed to and transmitted by the Prophet Muhammad. All sources of Islamic law must be in essential agreement with the Qur’an, the most fundamental source of Islamic knowledge. When the Qur’an itself does not speak directly or in detail about a certain subject, Muslims only then turn to alternative sources of Islamic law.

The Sunnah

Sunnah is the traditions or known practices of the Prophet Muhammad, many of which have been recorded in the volumes of Hadith literature. The resources include many things that he said, did, or agreed to — and he lived his life according to the Qur’an, putting the Qur’an into practice in his own life. During his lifetime, the Prophet’s family and companions observed him and shared with others exactly what they had seen in his words and behaviors — i.e. how he performed ablutions, how he prayed, and how he performed many other acts of worship. People also asked the Prophet directly for rulings on various matters, and he would pronounce his judgment. All of these details were passed on and recorded, to be referred to in future legal rulings. Many issues concerning personal conduct, community and family relations, political matters, etc. were addressed during the time of the Prophet, decided by him, and recorded. The Sunnah can thus clarify details of what is stated generally in the Qur’an.

Ijma’ (consensus)

In situations when Muslims have not been able to find a specific legal ruling in the Qur’an or Sunnah, the consensus of the community is sought (or at least the consensus of the legal scholars within the community). The Prophet Muhammad once said that his community (i.e. the Muslim community) would never agree on an error.

Qiyas (analogy)

In cases when something needs a legal ruling, but has not been clearly addressed in the other sources, judges may use analogy, reasoning, and legal precedent to decide new case law. This is often the case when a general principle can be applied to new situations. (See the article Smoking in Islam for an example of this process at work.)

(islam.about.com / 08.03.2012)

Clashes after protest near Ramallah checkpoint

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Clashes broke out Thursday at a demonstration near Qalandiya, as soldiers broke up a rally marking women’s day and in solidarity with hunger-striker Hana Shalabi, onlookers said.

Israeli forces fired tear gas and youths threw stones at the demonstration south of Ramallah, witnesses said. Eight people suffered tear-gas inhalation and were treated at the scene.

(www.maannews.net / 08.03.2012)

GLOBAL MARCH FOR SYRIA | MARCH 15,16,17

Declaration of Support for the Global March to Jerusalem

We, the Advisory Board of the Global March to Jerusalem, are alarmed and deeply troubled by the continuing repression of Palestinians in Jerusalem and by the deliberate and systematic attempts to expel and reduce the Christian and Muslim Palestinian population of the city as part of the policy called “Judaisation,” which is being applied to every part of historic Palestine.

This policy is inconsistent with all relevant United Nations resolutions on Jerusalem and contrary to the most basic principles of international law. Its purpose is plainly to ethnically cleanse Jerusalem of its non-Jewish population and transform a once proud symbol of international tolerance and religious and cultural diversity into an exclusionary and racist enclave.

Jerusalem is our common universal heritage. It is the centre of spirituality and ideological significance for all of the monotheistic religions, and a beacon of emancipation and hope for the downtrodden. This historic city is venerated across the world for enhancing the spiritual heritage of all humanity; it has been a symbol of unity and equality, with a message of love, mercy and compassion.

However the entire world is now witnessing a threat to the sovereignty, sanctity and inviolability of Jerusalem. The plan is not only to destroy the Muslim and Christian presence, but also to change and dismantle the social structure of Jerusalem, obliterating its indigenous Arab identity and changing the character of the city.

The people of the world have therefore taken it upon themselves to prevent this abomination, by mobilizing themselves in every part of the world and representing all religious, humanitarian, and cultural backgrounds in a global march to Jerusalem (GMJ) aimed at guarding the City of Peace from becoming a wasteland of intolerance.  We therefore lend our names to support the convergence of people from all countries and continents of the world to Jerusalem, and to the nearest points to which they are able to approach, both inside Palestine and at the Palestinian borders with Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, as well as in their own countries, in a peaceful march towards Jerusalem.

We therefore support this effort, and encourage all of humanity to support it, by making the pledge set forth below, that all participants in the Global March to Jerusalem have agreed to accept.

  1. We assert the importance of Jerusalem politically, culturally and religiously to the Palestinian people and humanity as a whole. We call for the protection of the Holy Places and all archeological sites and consider all the efforts done to change its Arabic & cultural identity as a crime against humanity. We call on all international institutions to do their duties towards the city.
  2. The defense of Jerusalem and its liberation are a duty of all free people around the world and we call on all institutions, organizations, and individuals to participate in this duty.
  3. We condemn the Zionist campaign of ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine including all ongoing policies intended to change the demographic and geographic situation in the city and aimed at its Judaisation. We also condemn the continuation of the Zionist occupation forces in building the apartheid wall that aims to expropriate more Palestinian lands and convert the occupied areas into shrinking cantons isolated from each other.
  4. We support the right of the Palestinian People to self-determination, to liberate their lands and to live on them in freedom and dignity like all other people on earth.
  5. We support the non-negotiable & inalienable rights of the Palestinian People, including their families, to return to their homes and lands from which they were uprooted.
  6. We reject all racist laws that distinguish between people based on ethnicity or religion and call for their cancellation and criminalization.
  7. The Global March to Jerusalem does not represent any one faction or political party, but we call for participation of all social forces, political factions, and ideologies.
  8. The Global March to Jerusalem is a global peaceful movement, which does not use violence to achieve its goals.

 

Signed,

The Advisory Board of the Global March to Jerusalem (partial listing of names)

 

Shaikh Dr. Abdul Ghani al-Tamimi, poet and preacher; chairman of the Palestine Scholars Abroad 

Abdullatif Arabiyyat, Former Speaker of the Jordanian Parliament

Swami Agnivesh, Founder, Bonded Labour Liberation Front and World Council of Arya Samaj, former member of the Indian parliament and former chairperson of the UN Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery

Ahmad Obeidat, Former Jordanian Prime Minister & Head of the National Front for Reform

Dr. Ahmed Mohammed attia Bahar, Vice President, Palestinian Legislative Council

Tan Sri Anthony Francis Fernandes, Malaysian entrepreneur; founder and CEO, Air Asia

Dr. Anton Shuhaiber, Gaza Christian Association

Arnold Hottinger,Swiss journalist and publicist; former Middle East correspondent for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.

H.E. Atallah Hanna, Archbishop of Sebastia, Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Bouguerra Soltani, Algerian Government Minister and party leader for the Movement of the Society for Peace

Dr. Cornel West, Professor of African American studies. Princeton University; philosopher, writer and civil rights activist

Datuk Yasmin Yusoff, Malaysian actress and television host

David Hartsough, Director, Peaceworkers, San Francisco

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Laureate

HE Dr. Dzukelly Ahmad, member of the Malaysian parliament

Evelyn Hecht-Galinski, Jewish German author, activist and publicist

Dr. Francis Boyle, Professor of International Law, University of Illinois

Dr. Franco Cavalli, oncologist and former leader of the Swiss Social Democrat Party parliamentary group

George Galloway, former Member of British Parliament and Founder of Viva Palestina

Dr. Ghada Karmi, Writer and Co-Director, Centre for Palestine Studies, University of Exeter

Gretta Duisenberg, Founder and Chair, “Stop the Occupation” (Netherlands), Free Gaza Movement Board Member

Dr. Hammam Said, Head of the Jordanian Consultative Council of the Muslim Brothers

Hilarion Capucci, Archbishop of Caesarea, Greek Melkite Church

Ibrahim Nasrallah, Jordanian-Palestinian Poet & Novelist

Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Pastor Emeritus, Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Prof. Judith Butler, writer and philosopher, University of California, Berkeley

Laith Shubeilat, Former Jordanian Parliamentarian

Lalita Ramdas, Chair, Greenpeace International

Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas, Magsaysay Peace Award Recipient and anti-nuclear advocate

Dr. Leo Gabriel, Austrian socioanthropologist, journalist and documentary filmmaker; member, World Social Forum International Council

Fr. Louis Vitale, Order of Franciscan Monks; Pace e Bene; nonviolent resistor

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Jewish Renewal Movement

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammed, former Prime Minister of Malaysia

Mairead McGuire, Nobel Peace Laureate

Marzuki Alie, Speaker, Indonesian House of Representatives

Marwah Daud Ibrahim, Indonesian feminist, writer and Member of Parliament

Medha Patkar, Leader, National Alliance of People’s Movements; Recipient, Right Livelihood Award, Goldman Environment Prize & Amnesty International Human Rights Defenders Award

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, Secretary General, Palestinian National Initiative and President, Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees

Neta Golan, Co-Founder, International Solidarity Movement

Dr. Norman Paech, former Member of the German Parliament; professor of law, emeritus, University of Hamburg

Sheikh Raed Salah, President of the Islamic movement within the 1949 Ceasefire Line

Justice Rajinder Sachar, Former Chief Justice, Delhi High Court, Member, UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. Senior Advisor & Counsel, People’s Union for Civil Liberties

Ronnie Kasrils, South African national liberation leader and former cabinet minister

Seema Mustafa, Syndicated columnist & former political editor, Asian Age

Prof Siddique Hassan, Director, Vision 2016 and Assistant Amir of the Jamat-e-Islami, Hind)

Subhi Ghosheh, Chairman, Jordanian Beitul-Maqdes Forum

Syeda Hameed, Columnist, The Indian Express, and Member, Indian National Planning Commission

HE Tony Pua Kiam Wee, member of the Malaysian parliament

Tujan Faysal, First elected woman Jordanian Parliamentarian

Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, Former Chief of the Naval Staff of India

Mrs. Wardina Safiyyah, Malaysian actress and television host

Dr. Yacoub Zaiadeen, Former Jerusalem Representative to the Jordanian parliament

Sheikh Yousuf Jumaa, former Palestinian Minister of Awqaf and Religious Affairs; former preacher of Al-Aqsa Mosque

Dr. Zakaria Agha, M.D., member, Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee; former chair, Gaza Strip Medical Association

Dr. Zeenat Shaukat Ali, Author; Vice Chairman and Founder Trustee of SAGE Foundation; Professor of Islamic Studies, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai

(palsolidarity.org / 08.03.2012)

Gadhafi ‘hid arms’ in Libyan embassies across globe

TRIPOLI (Reuters) — The administration of ousted Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was running a covert program to conceal weapons in Libyan embassies across the globe, a senior official in the new government said Thursday.

The weapons included handguns, grenades and bomb-making materials and were shipped using the diplomatic bag. They may have been intended for use in assassinations on Libyan dissidents abroad, or for operations against the embassies’ host countries.

The scale of the scheme is emerging for the first time now as the leadership installed in last year’s rebellion against Gadhafi takes over control of embassies and finds the arms, said Mohammed Abdul Aziz, Libya’s deputy foreign minister.

Gadhafi’s officials shipped weapons to “many countries. In Africa, in Asia, in Europe. So it’s not only in two or three countries,” Abdul Aziz told Reuters in an interview.

“Nobody knows what was the plan. Was it to address certain problems as far as the host country is concerned? Was it going to be used against Libyan nationals? Nobody knows,” he said. “Honestly, everything is possible with the previous regime.”

Asked if the weapons were concealed in Libyan embassies as part of a concerted operation conceived inside Gadhafi’s administration, Abdul Aziz said: “I have no single doubt in my mind. No single doubt.”

During his 42 years in power, Gadhafi was frequently accused of exporting violence.

The 1988 bombing of a US airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, and the 1984 shooting of British policewoman Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in London, are some of the most high-profile cases.

The fact that Gadhafi’s officials were keeping weapons inside Libyan embassies as late as last year suggests he was still plotting killings abroad, even after he renounced violence in the 1990s and Western states restored diplomatic relations.

Gun barrel diplomacy 

In the past six months, as Gadhafi loyalists lost control over foreign embassies, weapons discoveries have been reported in missions in the capitals of Greece, Egypt and Morocco.

Local media reports said the Athens find, in February, included 30 handguns, two sub-machine guns, 15 kg of plastic explosives, detonators, two hand grenades, silencers and wiretapping equipment.

The weapons uncovered in Rabat included booby-trapped vehicles and rocket-propelled grenades, a Moroccan newspaper reported.

The deputy foreign minister said the finds announced so far were only the tip of the iceberg, though he said he could not give a list of the countries where Libyan embassies had weapons caches.

He said he did not believe weapons were found in the mission in the United States, but that they were discovered in embassies in European Union states besides Greece, as well as on other continents.

“We found a variety of weapons. You have pistols, you have hand grenades, you have chemical stuff … to manufacture certain types of hand-made grenades, it’s not chemical weapons, it’s chemical stuff,” he said.

He said Libyan embassies which had discovered weapons on their premises were negotiating arrangements with host country governments to either surrender the arms to them or to have them returned by legal means to Libya.

“There are countries who accepted the idea of accepting those weapons, we have still some embassies that we have to strike an agreement with the host government,” said Abdul Aziz.

“We are very transparent, we have nothing to hide at the moment, but the fact remains that there are some weapons.”

Under the Vienna Convention, the international treaty which governs diplomatic missions, governments have little leeway for stopping foreign embassies concealing weapons.

A host state does not have the right to search an embassy’s premises. The treaty states that goods sent to and from the embassy by diplomatic bag must contain only documents or items for official use, but the packages are exempt from being searched or detained.

(www.maannews.net /08.03.2012)