Brotherhood may limit itself to political party: Analysts

As a widening crackdown limits options for the Muslim Brotherhood, the group may be forced to organisationally transform, if it is to survive, analysts say

A looter stands near a broken window at the Muslim Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters after it was burned down by anti-Morsi protesters on July 1,
As the Egyptian government announces it is waging a “war on terror” led by an offensive on the Muslim Brotherhood, who are being arrested by the hundreds after a year in power, the group may have to accept transforming itself into a political party under a legal framework monitored by the state.
The spectre of going underground is haunting the group as hundreds of its members are being rounded up by police after a breakdown in negotiations earlier this month between the group and the government.
The group’s sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adawiya in Nasr City, Cairo, and Al-Nahda Square, Giza, demanding the reinstatement of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the group, were violently dispersed last Wednesday leading to hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries.
The group’s supporters reacted angrily to the dispersals. Police stations, government buildings and churches were attacked and torched across the country.
The government reacted to the violence by accusing the Islamist organisation of leading a terrorist plot against the state and its citizens, grounding widespread speculation that the Muslim Brotherhood would be disbanded and declared illegal, as it was for the greater part of its 85-year history.
As the group’s supreme guide, Mohamed Badie, was arrested Tuesday and charged with running an armed faction, the possibility of prohibiting the Muslim Brotherhood inches closer.
“The most realistic scenario is that the Brotherhood would accept negotiations with the interim government and return to public life under the law as a politically legitimate entity,” political analyst and expert on Islamic movements Ammar Ali Hassan told Ahram Online.
A move described by Hassan as “going backwards” — resorting to violence against the state, particularly the military, whom the Brotherhood accuse of carrying out a “coup” against a democratically elected president — is farfetched Hassan believes.
“Terrorising the state and society to exhaust the state’s strength, forcing it to make large concessions, is difficult since it is impossible to defeat the people and destabilise an entrenched state like Egypt,” Hassan said, adding that Egypt already has experience in defeating terrorism.
Adding to this analysis, Hassan believes the Brotherhood acutely remembers the difficult times it went through when it confronted the state, as well as the experiences of other groups such as the Islamist Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya.
The latter, Hassan said, were defeated after armed conflict with the Mubarak regime. They had to revise their thinking and denounce violence in order to be released from prison.
The Brotherhood, for its part, has repeatedly said it has no relation to acts of violence committed since Morsi was deposed by the military after mass protests against him.
Nevertheless, armed protesters — sometimes carrying and firing automatic guns — walked among pro-Morsi crowds at demonstrations and attacks on churches and Copts since Morsi’s ouster were attributed to Islamists.
Meanwhile, the main stage at Rabaa Al-Adawiya sit-in, which lasted for a month and a half, was constantly hosting speakers that used sectarian rhetoric as they spoke against Morsi’s ouster.
The Egyptian prosecution has charged many Brotherhood leaders, including its hawkish deputy guide Khairat El-Shater, and the head of its political wing, Saad El-Katatny, with inciting violence.
“Historically speaking, violence was never divorced from the Muslim Brotherhood,” political science professor and analyst at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies Hala Mustafa told Ahram Online.
When the Brotherhood was disbanded in 1948, shortly after the government cracked down on its “secret organisation,” charging it with carrying out violent operations, including assassination attempts.
Mustafa argues that despite the Brotherhood scrapping of its secret apparatus, after a decision by then Supreme Guide Hassan El-Hodeiby, many in the group still adopted the idea that having an armed wing was necessary.
While the “secret apparatus” never returned officially, Mustafa believes that recent violence was perpetrated by the Brotherhood but in a clandestine way, enabling it to attribute the violence to other radical elements.
Agreeing with Hassan, Mustafa believes the Brotherhood may have to accept a political solution forcing it to be incorporated into a political party, shedding the duality of a movement led by a supreme guide with a political wing, or face an all-out war by the state and society.
“What happened so far transcends the possibility of Mubarak-era parliamentary deals between the government and the Brotherhood. The group will have to adjust itself under a legal and transparent framework if it is to continue,” she asserted.
(Source / 21.08.2013)

Why Saudi Arabia is taking a risk by backing the Egyptian coup


Pro-Morsi ProtestMuslim Brotherhood supporters in Cairo protest against the ousting of the Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi

King Abdullah fears the Muslim Brotherhood, which challenges the kingdom’s claim to be the protector of Islam

It took almost 60 years for the CIA to own up to its role in the British-backed coup that overthrew Iran’s prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh on August 19, 1953. But Saudi Arabia’s backing for the recent Egyptian coup, which its head of intelligence, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, had worked so tirelessly to achieve, was instantaneous. When Adli Mansour, the former head of Egypt’s supreme court, was sworn in as interim president, King Abdullah sent him a message praising the Egyptian army for having saved the country from a dark tunnel.

The Saudi monarch followed this up last Friday with a speech whose bluntness was atypical of the man. “Let the entire world know,” he proclaimed “that the people and government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stood and still stand today with our brothers in Egypt against terrorism, extremism and sedition, and against whomever is trying to interfere in Egypt’s internal affairs.” This was unusual, not only because Abdullah was aiming his words at his other ally, the United States, and the Gulf state’s regional rival Qatar, whom he accused of “fanning the fire of sedition and promoting terrorism, which they claim to be fighting”. It was rare because the monarch, who prefers behind the scenes diplomacy, was so explicit.

The kingdom has backed its words with money, and oil. It has already put together an $12bn (£7.7bn) aid package along with the UAE and Kuwait which is four times as much as the military and economic grants from the US and the EU combined ($1.5bn and $1.3bn respectively). On his return from meeting the French president at the weekend, the foreign minister, Saudi al-Faisal, vowed to compensate Egypt for any loss of EU or US money. Barack Obama’s impotence in the Middle East is being paraded by the US’s closest Arab military ally.

Prince Bandar has also been to Moscow. Being on opposite sides of the civil war in Syria (the kingdom is seeking the fall of Bashar al-Assad, who Russia supports militarily) was no impediment to a productive visit. Both sides agreed to keep the oil price high, found common ground in their hatred for the Muslim Brotherhood, whom top Russian Arabists in the ministry of foreign affairs equate with Islamic extremists. Russia feels it has every reason to fear political Islam, with a population of indigenous Muslims from the Caucasus, which is rising as a proportion of the Russian Federation’s total population, and expected to hit 19m or 14% of the population by 2020. “Are you mad?” an MFA official told his US counterpart “to support the guys with beards over the guys with ties?”.

Why has the kingdom, famed for its caution on the diplomatic stage, put all its eggs in one basket, which, considering the volatility in Egypt, remains fragile and unpredictable. Who knows which side in Egypt will prevail, and if that is so, why back the coup leader General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi so publicly? Sisi thanked the kingdom in fulsome terms. He said that the Saudi intervention was unprecedented since the Yom Kippur 1973 war with Israel. Praise indeed.

For Dr Maha Azzam, associate fellow of the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House, the kingdom’s fire-breathing support for the coup comes as little surprise. Not only had they been astonished by Washington’s abandonment of the kingdom’s closest regional ally in Hosni Mubarak, a point they made very clear during his trial. They had seen him replaced, at the polls, by the Brotherhood, which challenged the kingdom’s claim to be the protector of Islam.

Azzam said: “What they had was a lethal equation, democracy plus Islamism, albeit under the Muslim Brotherhood. That was a lethal concoction in undermining the kingdom’s own legitimacy in the long run. They know full well they do not want democracy, but to have another group representing Islam was intolerable.”

King Abdullah has good reason to fear the Brotherhood, which has been getting unprecedented support in Saudi Arabia since the 3 July coup. Sympathy for Mohamed Morsi has filled Twitter feeds in the country. Support for Morsi on social media has its own emblem, a four-fingered salute, known as the sign of Rabaa

It is one thing to upset the middle class and the intelligentsia, but quite another to have the country’s religious scholars denounce you. A group of 56 of them did so, by issuing a statement describing the events of 3 July as “unquestionably a military coup and an unlawful and illicit criminal act“. The king has also been attacked in a sermon by a sheikh at the al-Masjid al-Nabawi mosque in Medina, Islam’s second holiest site.

The royal family have responded to the campaign they are facing on social media by sacking a Kuwaiti TV preacher with Brotherhood links. Tareq al-Suwaidan, who has more than 1.9 million Twitter followers, was told that there is no place for those who carry deviant thoughts at the Al Resalah channel

But this is a dangerous strategy. As president, Morsi resisted calling his regional enemies out for the money and support they gave to Egyptian opposition politicians, parties and private television channels for good reason. Up to 2 million Egyptians are employed as guest workers in the kingdom and their remittances were important for an economy on its knees. He feared that the Saudis would kick them out if he accused them of undermining his presidency. However today, Egyptian ex-pats are not the Brotherhood’s problem or responsibility. What could well follow is an unrestrained campaign by its members to destabilise the Saudi and UAE regimes.

Azzam said: “For the US and EU, there is very little grey area. Either you have authoritarian regimes, including Assad or you have the Arab spring. The authoritarian regimes are saying: ‘If we use enough force, we can quell the tide of democracy.’ For Washington it means that there is no regional player that can now mediate with the Egyptian military. No one that can play the role of good cop.”

The battles lines have now been clearly drawn throughout the Arab world. The military coup in Egypt, and Saudi support for it, represents an attempt to turn the clock back, to halt the wave of democratisation heralded by the toppling of Arab dictators. It is unlikely to be the final word or battle in what promises to be an epic struggle.

(Source / 21.08.2013)

Hamas, Islamic Jihad Gunmen Clash Over Mosque

Palestinian men recite the Koran at al-Omari mosque in Gaza City, during the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, July 10, 2013.
 Tensions were renewed between Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza on Aug. 20, after an armed clash between the two groups at a disputed mosque.

The armed clash was between the Hamas government’s security services and gunmen from Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades, three of whom were injured. The clash was a result of a dispute inside the Islamic Jihad-affiliated al-Tawhid mosque in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip.

This latest confrontation comes less than two months after a fighter with the rank of major in the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Islamic Jihad, was shot dead in Gaza by a police officer who stormed his house.

Near the plain mosque — which is without paint or a minaret — Al-Monitor met with Abu Youssef (a pseudonym), 45, who said there was a heavy exchange of fire between gunmen, one of whom went to the mosque’s roof while others were shooting from the western side of the mosque. The clash happened after a dispute over the sermon delivered by the mosque’s imam, 27-year-old Qassam al-Za’anin.

The neighbors told Al-Monitor that the imam, who received his undergraduate degree in Islamic law in Yemen, is well-liked and outspoken and makes bold religious speeches.

“The main reason for the clash was Hamas’ objections to Za’anin’s Eid al-Fitr sermon, in which he criticized the continuous power outages and the fact that the country is being led by one party, resulting in the people living in an external and internal blockade. … It was a strong sermon, after which the people rushed to greet him,” Abu Youssef said.

Abu Youssef, who was surrounded by his sons and relatives as he spoke, said that small skirmishes occurred a week after the sermon, “but the day following these skirmishes, at the evening prayers, there was an armed clash. We were terrified and we hid in the room in the house that is the furthest from the mosque.”

Abu Youssef’s sister-in-law backed the mosque’s administration and said, “It was very generous with the people of the area. In the month of Ramadan, it gave food several times to families suffering from poor economic conditions.”

Al-Monitor met with the mother of one of the wounded who was surrounded inside the mosque from 8 p.m. until midnight on the day of the clashes. The mother transported her son to the hospital afterward.

“The attack on the mosque was due to a quantity of food aid provided by an Iranian association during Ramadan. The attackers wanted to seize [the aid]. … There was also an objection to the imam’s Eid al-Fitr sermon. I heard the security men — who had beaten my son and arrested the young people who had gathered that day to help those in the mosque — say that the imam is giving sermons that incite against the government. … My son’s health has improved. But he doesn’t leave home, and he is meeting no one because of the bruises and wounds all over his body,” she said.

Abu Youssef has lived near the mosque since it opened eight years ago. He pointed to the mosque’s broken windows and said, “After the shooting and terror that caused psychological trauma to the children, the wounded remained inside the mosque until midnight. Then, there were quick contacts between the leaders of the two movements to evacuate the wounded.”

The mother of the wounded man added, “The coordination between the leaders succeeded in getting my injured son and his two friends out of the mosque to the Kamal Adwan Hospital, where they received immediate treatment. … There was no attempt by Hamas to take control of the mosque, which is still under control of Islamic Jihad. But what happened was an injustice that could happen again, especially because some are accusing the mosque of spreading Shiite principles.”

Al-Monitor sought a response from the director of the Interior Ministry’s Information Office, Iyad al-Bazm, but he declined to comment. Interior Ministry’s spokesman Islam Shahwan also declined to be interviewed.

On the other hand, Islamic Jihad spokesman Daoud Shehab told Al-Monitor, “The dispute, which happened in the al-Tawhid mosque, was primarily between a group of young people, some of whom belong to Hamas and others affiliated with Islamic Jihad, and there were some who didn’t belong to any organization. … The dispute had a tribal character. The organizations [Hamas and Islamic Jihad] were dragged into the [dispute] because most people have political affiliations. The dispute was quickly contained and had no repercussions nor side problems.” He asserted that disputes between humans is something normal, but what is not normal is to complicate matters, give them a partisan aspect and blow them out of proportion.

“What happened was shameful and should not have happened. The leaders intervened to resolve the problem and reconcile the parties, especially after the small circles failed to resolve the matter,” Shehab said in a phone interview with Al-Monitor.

About whether the cause of the dispute was the Eid al-Fitr sermon, he said, “[Complaining] about electricity and poor [government] services is something that is present in the street, and no one can silence the people.” Commenting on the issue of the Iranian aid, he said, “Islamic Jihad is not a charity but a resistance movement. And in fact, aid has been provided by an Iranian institution to the charities, but Islamic Jihad has nothing to do with that.”

The tension between the members of the two movements moved from the street to social media. Some have threatened the mosque’s administration, accusing it of spreading Shiism. One Hamas supporter wrote on Facebook on Aug. 18, “Defeating Fatah took three days. But defeating Islamic Jihad will take a day and a half. So prepare yourselves, dear Jihad members.” The post was soon deleted, but not before Al-Monitor obtained a screenshot.

An Islamic Jihad spokesman commented to Al-Monitor on the social media aspect: “The Facebook polemic exaggerated the dispute. We know how to [stay polite] in a disagreement, but some fools exacerbated the situation by writing things that are unbearable and that are merely stupid.”

(Source / 21.08.2013)

3 Palestinians killed in Syria clashes

231562_345x230[1]BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Three Palestinian refugees were killed on Tuesday in clashes across Syria, a local group said.

Ammar Ammora was critically injured by shelling in the Moroccan neighborhood of Yarmouk camp and later died from his injuries, the Taskforce for Palestinians in Syria said.

Abed Khader and Bilal Najib were also killed in Yarmouk.

Syrian regime forces and Free Syria Army fighters clashed near Yarmouk municipality and around Thirty Street and Palestine Street, with a UNRWA center in the camp severely damaged.

Daraa refugee camp was also targeted by the Syrian army, causing damage to several homes.

In Homs, Yasser Gharib, a refugee from the Galilee, was detained by Syria’s army. Troops positioned at a checkpoint near Kafr Aya also arrested an unidentified teacher from al-Aedin refugee camp.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian taken hostage by Syrian rebels was released this week.

Engineer Ibrahim al-Hawwash was freed after Palestinian Authority officials and the ambassador to Turkey intervened.

More than half of the 530,000 Palestinian refugees registered in Syria have been displaced and 15 percent have fled abroad, including 60,000 to neighboring Lebanon and over 7,000 to Jordan.

In March, the Action Group for Palestinians of Syria said that over 1,377 Palestinians had been killed in the ongoing Syria conflict, with that number thought to have increased significantly since then.

(Source / 21.08.2013)


By Marianna Laarif

Er was eens een jongeman die hard werkte en spaarde om te trouwen. Elke dag verdiende hij tien euro, maar zodra hij naar huis terugkeerde, stak hij zijn hard verdiende euro’s in brand.
Wellicht zal dit velen van ons doen verbazen, maar toch doen jij en ik elke dag hetzelfde. Zo verrichten wij het gebed, het vasten en overige daden van aanbidding, maar desondanks slagen wij er niet in onze tongen in bedwang te houden en maken wij ons schuldig aan roddel en achterklap. Hierdoor worden onze goede daden van ons saldo afgeschreven en overgemaakt op de rekening van degenen die wij hebben gelasterd.
De Boodschapper van Allah (vrede zij met hem) zei: “En het enige wat de mensen met hun gezichten in het Vuur doet werpen zijn de verdiensten van hun tongen.”    (at-Tirmidhi)
Verder zei de Profeet (vrede zij met hem): “Hij die mij garandeert dat hij zijn mond en zijn geslachtsdeel in bedwang houdt, garandeer ik het Paradijs.”  
Zelfs voor een wenk met slechte bedoelingen worden wij door Allah afgerekend, laat staan kwaadsprekerij. Allah zegt (interpretatie van de betekenis):
“Wee iedere lastermond en eenieder die wenkt.”  (Soerat al-Hoemazah: 1)
Ook zei de Profeet (vrede zij met hem): “Een lastermond zal het Paradijs niet binnentreden.” (al-Boechari)
Mijn beste broeder en zuster, mijn tong en de jouwe doen ons afstevenen op het Hellevuur, terwijl wij juist onze best zouden moeten doen om onze tongen zodanig te gebruiken dat wij het Paradijs zullen binnentreden. De Profeet (vrede zij met hem) zei: “Waarlijk, de dienaar kan onopgemerkt een woord naar Allah’s Welbehagen uitspreken waardoor Allah hem in rang doet stijgen. En de dienaar kan onopgemerkt een woord naar Allah’s Woede uitspreken waardoor hij in het Vuur zakt.”    (al-Boechari)
Mijn beste broeder en zuster, waarom staan wij niet stil bij dit gevaarlijke orgaan dat ons rood doet staan op de bank van goede daden. Dit omdat wij deze tongen onbeperkte volmacht hebben verleend over onze rekening. Laten wij deze onbeperkte volmacht verruilen voor een specifieke volmacht die slechts recht geeft op goedspreken of stilzwijgen.

Hunger striker denied right to call dying father

A hunger strike solidarity march in Nablus in July; Ayman Hamdan is pictured at the center of the banner.

Like more than one hundred other Palestinians held on “secret evidence,” Israel is detaining political prisoner Ayman Hamdan without charge or trial. In response, he launched a hunger strike that has lasted more than 110 days.

Hamdan is one of nine remaining hunger strikers from a group that included 23 prisonerson hunger strike in July. According to recent statistics reported by the prisoners support group Addameer, 136 prisoners, including Hamdan, are being held in administrative detention — indefinite detention without charge or trial.

Over the last two years, many Palestinians detained inside Israeli prisons have gone on hunger strike to protest their administrative detention orders.

“Hamdan is being held in a room with three guards at all times, and he’s tied to the bed by his right arm and left foot,” Jeanne Aouda Zbidat, a lawyer with Addameer, said in an interview. Zbidat visited Hamdan earlier this month.

Although Hamdan’s health is generally good when compared to his fellow hunger strikers, Zbidat said that “he is on a constant IV [intravenous drip], and takes vitamins, minerals, and sugar. Thus far, there are no problems with any internal organs, but he suffers from headaches, nerves and fatigue.”

Noting that Hamdan had lost approximately 25 kilos (55 pounds) in the last two years, his brother Daoud told The Electronic Intifada that “[Ayman] was already a man with a steadfast and strong personality. But after Israel put this pressure on him, there’s no doubt he’s stronger.”

Originally from the village of Shawawra near Bethlehem, 30-year-old Hamdan, who is married with two children, was arrested in August 2012 when Israeli occupation soldiers surrounded his home in the early hours of the morning.

“When the soldiers arrested Ayman this time, they didn’t enter the house. They called him from outside and told him to get dressed and tell his children bye,” Daoud said.

After being taken to Ofer military prison in the occupied West Bank, Hamdan was issued a six-month administrative detention order whereby he could be held on secret evidence without trial or charge. The order was renewed in February 2013.

Targeted for student activism

“Ayman was studying business at Bethlehem University, but he hasn’t been able to finish because he’s been arrested so frequently,” Daoud explained, adding that Ayman has been in and out of Israeli prisons for more than a decade — including a 30-month sentence and a series of previous administrative detention orders.

“Occupation forces targeted him because of his membership in a student organization affiliated with Islamic Jihad,” Daoud said. “He helped other students, and helped organize student elections and raise awareness about what the Israeli occupation is doing to us. That’s why they targeted him.”

Daoud had also been in prison for more than seven years over his alleged involvement with Islamic Jihad. “We are a total of seven brothers, and six of us have been in prison,” he said. “Our father was even arrested once and interrogated about our brother Mohammed and his political activism. He was held for three days.”

Their brother Ahmed, who was released a few weeks ago, was in prison since May 2010 on a series of administrative detention orders. Another brother, Mohammed, was arrested in 2008 and served a six-year sentence.

“New revolution”

According to Daoud, Ayman was put “in a cell with other prisoners who were not on hunger strike who ate in front of him.”

This was a form of punishment, he said, because “Israel is scared of hunger strikers: this is a new revolution. There’s an intifada in the prisons, but unlike what’s going on in Egypt, no one sees it.”

While acknowledging that the Palestinian Authority’s ministry of prisoners had provided “great support,” Daoud accused the PA of failing the hunger strikers. “Mahmoud Abbasand Saeb Erekat are participating in negotiations with the Israelis and the Americans, but they aren’t standing next to the prisoners,” he said.

“When we were in prison, our father was only able to visit twice a year because the Israelis didn’t give him permits for more than that,” Daoud added.

“All of the brothers are forbidden from visiting Ayman, and so is his wife,” said Daoud. “Our father died on 28 April and our brothers weren’t permitted to call him to say goodbye” as his health waned during his final days. Nor were they able to call their mother and siblings after he died.

As punishment for Ayman Hamdan’s ongoing hunger strike, Israeli prison authorities have transferred him to several different prisons, including Meggido and Ramon, making it difficult for approved family members to visit.

“It’s been about eight months since [Ayman’s] children have visited him in prison,” said Daoud. Before that, the last time they saw their father was when “they watched him being arrested in front of them. Making the children see the arrest and then not be able to visit their father is a strange type of violence.”

Constant observation

In a recent message that Ayman sent to Daoud, Ayman said that he was under constant observation, including during restroom visits. Additionally, he reported that he had been prevented from using the restroom more than once as well as forbidden from praying a handful of times.

Ayman Hamdan is frequently visited by intelligence officers who try to persuade him to abandon his fast, said Zbidat. “Sometimes they tell him he’ll be in prison for a long time if he doesn’t quit [the strike], others come to him and say that this is going to be his final administrative detention so he should stop the strike.”

Mohammed Rimawi and Abdullah Barghouti, prisoners who gave up their strikes this month, were threatened repeatedly with force-feeding.

According to Addameer, after five soldiers reportedly beat Rimawi, a hospital official told him “as long as he is conscious nobody can force-feed him but once he loses consciousness doctors can do whatever it takes to keep him alive, even without Rimawi’s permission.”

As of early July, Israel’s justice ministry was drafting a bill to legalize the force-feeding of hunger strikers. “This proposed bill is a reflection of the desperate situation Israel now finds itself in and it seems that force-feeding is the only way Israel can deal with the ongoing hunger strikes,” Addameer representative Gavan Kelly told The Electronic Intifada.

Zbidat, however, doubts Hamdan will be force-fed. “I don’t think Israel would dare force-feed [the prisoners] now because they know how much protest would follow.”

Like all the administrative detainees, Hamdan “is demanding to be released or have a decent trial,” Zbidat said. “He says only in the presence of a lawyer and with a signed agreement will he give up his hunger strike.”

According to Addameer’s latest data, there are currently 5,071 Palestinians in Israeli detention. Some 193 of these prisoners are children, 41 of whom are under 16 years old.

“It’s an ongoing cycle,” Zbidat said. “The prisoners face all the same violations by Israel. Some of the men … have been beaten and tortured. It’s nothing new, but it deserves much more attention.”

Daoud Hamdan called for international solidarity with his brother. “There needs to be popular support in Palestine and the rest of the world for the prisoner’s intifada,” Daoud said. “We’re not thinking about the negotiations right now. They’re bringing home 104 prisoners, but that’s not enough.”

(Source / 21.08.2013)

Israel levels East Jerusalem land for ‘national park’

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli bulldozers leveled Palestinian land in the Jerusalem neighborhood of al-Tur on Wednesday.

Israeli police closed the area of Khallat al-Ein and prevented local residents from accessing the area before bulldozers started to level around 20,000 square meters of land.

Local activist Mufeed Abu Ghannam told Ma’an that the move has shocked residents, as locals had petitioned Israeli courts to freeze all work on land in al-Tur.

The area is being readied for the construction of a National Park.

In 2011, the Israeli District Planning Committee for Zoning and Building in Jerusalem submitted a plan for the construction of a ‘National Park’, which would be built on 738 dunams of land confiscated from the Palestinian neighborhoods of al-Isawiya and al-Tur, according to the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem.

Construction of the park would effectively separate the neighborhoods of al-Tur and al-Isawiya, diminish the possibility of future expansion for Palestinian villages in the area, and facilitate the link between Jerusalem and the Maale Adumim and E1 settlement area, the CCPRJ says.

(Source / 21.08.2013)

Stop G4S pair not guilty after headquarters stunt

Two men who occupied the roof of security privateer G4S’s headquarters for over eight hours were found not guilty of aggravated trespass today.

Campaigners Chris Osmond and Shiar Youssef embarrassed the company by hanging two Stop G4S protest banners from their offices on July 2 last year.

Police finally hauled the determined pair down and charged them under the Public Order Act.

But both were found not guilty today following a three-day trial at Horsham Magistrates Court.

Mr Osmond told the Star the pair had been acquitted because they hadn’t caused any disruption to business by climbing on the roof.

The protesters had planned to argue that the company were not carrying out lawful business on the day of their protest.

A jury found earlier this year that three G4S guards “unlawfully killed” Jimmy Mubenga while deporting him from Britain in October 2010.

The company also has contracts with the Israeli prison service, who campaigners believe are holding Palestinians in breach of international rights laws.

Mr Osmond said the growing campaign against G4S has helped to discredit the company since staging their rooftop protest.

“G4S was excluded from tendering for a contract by a university in Norway in May this year on the basis that their business in Palestine, with the Israeli prison service, made them an unsuitable candidate,” he explained.

“So the grass-roots campaign against G4S is biting and we’re going to carry on with it.”

Mr Osmond and Mr Youssef wanted to highlight that work connected to those contracts is carried out in G4S’s Crawley HQ but that was ruled out.

Mr Youssef said: “I feel happy after being acquitted but a little disappointed that yet again a court was not willing to look into the lawfulness of the activities of an international corporation that has been surrounded by controversy.

“That’s exactly why people like us feel we have to take action.

“I hope this will inspire other people to campaign and stop G4S taking over more public services.”

(Source / 21.08.2013)

Israeli settlement expansion could provoke Palestinian action at the UN, spokeswoman says

JERUSALEM — The Palestinians might turn to U.N. bodies in response to Israeli settlement building even before their negotiations with Israel have run their course, a Palestinian spokeswoman said Wednesday, reflecting growing frustration over recent Israeli plans to promote more than 3,000 new settlement homes.

If the U.S. is unable to halt Israeli construction on war-won lands, deemed illegal by most of the international community, the Palestinians may have to seek redress elsewhere, said Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization.

“We are saying very clearly that if Israel does not stop, then we have to move,” Ashrawi said during a tour of Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem where hundreds of new apartments are planned.

Ashrawi said she was expressing the official Palestinian position, though it was not clear if her warning was a sign of frustration or actual intent. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas might be reluctant to disrupt recently relaunched negotiations with such a step, for fear of incurring U.S. anger.

Last year, Abbas won broad-based U.N. General Assembly recognition of a state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in 1967. Israel fears further U.N. recognition of the Palestinians will deepen its international isolation.

An official in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the Palestinians had promised to suspend their U.N. campaign during the negotiations, which are envisioned to last up to nine months. If they break that promise, they would violate one of the commitments that helped restart talks after a five-year freeze, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with briefing regulations.

Ashrawi acknowledged that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had asked the Palestinians not to join U.N. agencies or turn to the International Criminal Court during the negotiations. The Palestinians have threatened to pursue war crimes charges over Israeli settlement building in the court if peace efforts fail.

Ashrawi said Abbas linked the suspension of the U.N. campaign to Israel’s promise to release 104 long-held Palestinian prisoners, not to the talks. So far, Israel has freed 26 prisoners and the rest are expected to be freed in three more stages in coming months.

Abbas had resumed talks with Israel only reluctantly, under U.S. pressure. He had sought an Israeli settlement freeze or Netanyahu’s recognition of Israel’s 1967 frontier as a starting point for border talks. The Palestinians want a state in the war-won lands, where Israel has built dozens of settlements that are now home to more than half a million Israelis.

In the end, Netanyahu agreed to neither demand, and Abbas was left with the promised prisoner releases and Kerry’s assurance that the U.S. considers the 1967 frontier as the baseline.

Palestinian officials have said Abbas was given U.S. assurances that Israeli settlement building would be reined in. However, since the start of talks Israel made several announcements on promoting plans for close to 3,100 settlement apartments, including hundreds in east Jerusalem, the Palestinians’ hoped-for capital.

Ashrawi on Wednesday took reporters on a tour of Jerusalem’s southern edge where Israel has built thousands of settlement apartments. Israel’s construction plans in the area threaten to cut off the city from the southern West Bank and render a contiguous Palestinian state impossible, she said.

Israel is “deliberately destroying the chances of success for these talks” by accelerating settlement activity, Ashrawi added.

Israel has defended the recent construction announcements by saying it is only building in areas it expects to keep in any future peace deal.

(Source / 21.08.2013)

Israëls politiek zwart op wit

Er is veel te doen over de nieuwe vredesgesprekken tussen Israël en de Palestijnen. Het belangrijkste – om niet te zeggen het enige – wat je over dat zogenaamd complexe probleem moet weten staat glashelder op de vier kaarten (van 1948 tot heden) die in verschillende versies op internet te vinden zijn (google Israel land grab): je kan er zwart op wit op aflezen dat Israël Palestina letterlijk en figuurlijk van de kaart is aan het vegen.
Israëls politiek zwart op wit
Wie veegt hier wie van de kaart?

Er zijn alleen nog enclaves, met checkpointsby pass roads en natuurlijk de muur (niet op de kaarten – surf nog wat meer kaarten bijeen!). Deze insluiting maakt elk normaal leven onmogelijk. Van deze openluchtgevangenissen is Gaza de beroemdste, maar ook op de Westelijke Jordaanoever leven mensen eigenlijk in getto’s.

Over alle regeringen heen heeft Israël de kolonisering van de Palestijnse gebieden 60 jaar lang doorgezet, nu dus weer door 5 nieuwe kolonies te legaliseren. Men is daar de Palestijnen gewoon hun land aan het afpakken terwijl de wereld toekijkt; of zichzelf een rad voor de ogen draait. Journalisten steken een aardig handje toe bij dit (zelf)bedrog.

Een voorbeeld?

Onder de veelzeggende titel ‘Waarom moordenaars vrijlaten? Zijn we gek?’ pleegde ene Leonie van Nierop, ‘onze correspondente in Israel’ (eigenlijk is ze van de NRC), een staaltje van tendentieuze journalistiek (De Standaard, 14 augustus 2013).

Ze laat, in het kader van de hervatting van de vredesgesprekken, ene Friedman aan het woord die een broer verloren heeft en alle Palestijnen terroristen vindt en zonder meer stelt: “Met de Arabieren kan je geen vrede sluiten”. Die uitspraak krijgt geen tegenspraak, de andere kant komt simpelweg niet aan bod.

Moest iemand het wagen om een analoog artikel te maken waarin alleen een Palestijn aan het woord komt, die zegt: “Met joden kan je geen vrede sluiten” – het kot zou te klein zijn. De krant zou overstelpt worden met boze reacties, of beter nog: het artikel zou niet verschijnen (zoals mijn stukken over Israël steevast op een beleefd bedankje stuiten).

De feiten graag

Je moet je toch een beetje houden aan de feiten, zeker als het over Israël gaat. Hier nog eens snel het essentiële: in 1948 werden 700.000 Palestijnen verjaagd. Dat gebeurde niet zonder slag of stoot: zo trok de Hagana, de voorloper van het Israëlische leger, ‘s nachts een dorp binnen en blies de huizen op met de mensen erin. Kwestie van de sfeer te zetten.

Deze etnische zuivering noemt de Israëlische historicus Ilan Pappé de enige misdaad tegen de mensheid van die omvang die tot op heden niet op de kaart staat en die, mede daarom, voortduurt tot op heden. De man is uiteraard intussen in academische ballingschap: de ‘enige democratie van het Midden Oosten’ verdraagt geen klokkenluiders.

Ook het bijhorende inpalmen van land gaat door (zie de kaarten!). Van Nierop laat die meneer Friedman de gebruikelijke omkering van de feiten nog eens opdreunen: de ‘legalisering’ van 5 nieuwe kolonies dient om de pil te vergulden van de vrijlating van de Palestijnse terrroristen.

Wie zijn hier eigenlijk de terroristen?

Het omgekeerde is veel dichter bij de waarheid. De vrijlating van de gevangenen is een zoethoudertje om het werkelijke programma van de lange termijn te kunnen doorvoeren: de totale kolonisering van het hele territorium, inclusief de Westelijke Jordaanoever of wat daar na Oslo van overblijft (zie nogmaals de kaarten!).

Daar komt natuurlijk veel geweld bij kijken. Bijna dagelijks wordt ergens een Palestijns huis vernield en een Palestijn doodgeschoten. Velen, ook kinderen, belanden in de gevangenis. Tijdens operatie Gegoten Lood kwamen 1400 Palestijnen om – tegen 14 Israeli’s. Dat geeft de werkelijke verhouding in geweld goed weer. De operatie begon op een zaterdagmiddag, dat is het uur waarop de kinderen de school verlaten, om zoveel mogelijk slachtoffers te maken. Wie zijn hier eigenlijk de terroristen?

(Tot slot nog een persoonlijke boodschap: ga kijken naar Hebron, mejuffrouw van Nierop, waar men een stad kapot maakt voor een handvol kolonisten, ga kijken naar de kampen waar mensen al 60 jaar moeten samenhokken, ga kijken naar de muur, gebruik uw ogen! Als buitenlandse correspondent ‘fellowtraveler’ zijn van Israël, is geen eerbare rol).

(Source / 21.08.2013)