Rafah crossing closed for fourth consecutive day

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Egyptian authorities kept the Rafah crossing with Gaza closed for a fourth consecutive day on Saturday.

There have been frequent closures of the terminal in recent weeks due to political unrest in Egypt and violence in the Sinai peninsula.

The Palestinian Authority ambassador to Egypt, Barakat al-Farra, urged Gazan students enrolled in Egyptian universities to send their details to the embassy in Cairo so that arrangements can be made to obtain special permits to allow students to cross into Egypt.

The ambassador told Ma’an that his team will contact Egyptian universities to try to delay examinations for Palestinian students who are not able to cross into the country.

Rafah was closed on Aug. 15 after nationwide violence and then partially reopened two days later, only to be closed again following an attack which killed 25 Egyptian soldiers.

The Rafah terminal was closed earlier this week after a car bomb outside Egyptian intelligence headquarters in Sinai.

The crossing is the only way most Palestinians in Gaza can enter or leave the territory. Israel imposes an air and sea blockade on the enclave, and its border is closed to Palestinians.

(Source / 14.07.2013)

PA: Settlers raze Palestinian land in Nablus, 7 held

NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers from Elon Moreh accompanied by bulldozes razed Palestinian land east of Salim village in Nablus district on Thursday, leading to clashes, officials said.

Ghassan Daughlas, who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, said two Palestinians were hurt during the clashes. Israeli forces detained seven others.

Daughlas added that settlers as well as Israeli forces opened fire into the air. Antar Hamdan and Basman Sidqi Shehada were wounded. and Basman Sidqi Shehada was detained.

Israeli forces also detained Arssan Abed al-Rahman Eshtaya, Jihad Ahmad Mnawer, Mohammad Anwar Abed al-Hadi, Abed al-Hadi Anwar Abed al-Hadi, Adnan Sidqi Shehada, and Yousef Mohammad Dieb.

Daughlas highlighted that the settlers torched Palestinian lands and olive trees.

(Source / 14.09.2013)

Syrian opposition elects moderate Islamist Ahmad Tumeh as PM

A file photo shows Syria’s main opposition National Coalition former Prime Minister Ghassan Hitto speak on 19 March 2013 in Istanbul.

The opposition Syrian National Coalition on Saturday elected moderate Islamist Ahmad Tumeh as provisional prime minister, coalition members told Reuters.

The coalition hopes that 48-year-old Tumeh will boost the opposition’s credibility as Russia and the United States negotiated a deal over Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal that could lead to efforts towards a wider settlement of the two-and-a-half year conflict.

Tumeh, a former political prisoner from the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, got 75 votes out of 97 cast in a coalition ballot in Istanbul, the sources said.

(Source / 14.09.2013)

Jihad leader: Arafat killed for not giving in to talk demands

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Islamic Jihad leader Mohammed al-Hindi said Friday that late president Yasser Arafat was killed for not giving in to pressure to sign an agreement at the Camp David summit in 2000.

Speaking during a rally in Gaza City, al-Hindi said that Arafat was under a lot of pressure to sign an agreement in 2000 with Ehud Barak, but refused to give in.

Arafat was put under siege after returning from the summit, before being poisoned for his unyielding position, the Islamist leader said.

The late Palestinian leader refused to give away Jerusalem, al-Hindi said, and set red lines on Palestinian national rights.

A French court launched a murder inquiry last year into the 2004 death of Arafat in a Paris military hospital after his widow said he may have been poisoned.

No autopsy was carried out after Arafat died, aged 75, a month after being flown to France, seriously ill, from his headquarters in Ramallah.

Allegations of foul play spread quickly after French doctors said they could not establish a cause of death.

(Source / 14.09.2013)

Slovenia starts work on first mosque after wait of over 40 years

The proposal for a mosque had been held up by reluctant local officials, some of whom tried to force a referendum on the matter in 2004.

The foundation stone of Slovenia’s first mosque was laid at a former industrial site in the capital Ljubljana on Saturday, more than four decades since the first official petition was submitted by Muslims seeking their own place of worship.

The initiative has been beset by administrative hurdles and a lack of political will in the mainly Catholic country of two million people, of which some 50,000 are Muslims.

Several thousand people attended the ceremony, including Slovenia’s centre-left prime minister, Alenka Bratusek, and Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Jankovic, who helped lay the first stone.

A handful of women in the crowd wore headscarves – an unusual sight in the Alpine ex-Yugoslav republic, a member of the European Union squeezed between Croatia, Italy and Austria.

“This means the world to me,” said Sahra Kacar, 44, who was born the same year as the first official petition to build a mosque in Ljubljana was filed. “We will have a proper place to pray, rather than using various public halls.”

The most prosperous of Yugoslavia’s six republics, Slovenia saw an influx of people from across the region – including Muslims – seeking work over the past 50 years, particularly with the collapse of their joint state in the early 1990s.

Slovenia broke away in 1991 and its economy boomed, while the likes of Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo descended into war.

The proposal for a mosque had been held up by reluctant local officials, some of whom tried to force a referendum on the matter in 2004.

Some 12,000 people signed a petition calling for a plebiscite, but Slovenia’s Constitutional Court ruled it would be unconstitutional on the grounds of religious freedom.

“We are happy to be starting this civic project in Ljubljana, which will thus become a better-known and a more pluralistic city,” Mufti Nedzad Grabus, the highest representative of Slovenia’s Islamic community, told the ceremony.

Construction of the mosque is expected to begin in earnest in November and is projected to take three years at a cost of some 12 million euros ($15.9 million). The Islamic community will foot most of the cost, thanks to a large donation it expects from Qatar.

While the plan for a mosque had stirred debate, the concerns have been overshadowed by financial turmoil facing the country.

The project comes during Slovenia’s worst financial crisis since independence in 1991, which threatens to make the country the latest member of the 17-nation euro zone to seek a bailout from the EU and International Monetary Fund.

“I personally am not against the mosque but I do know people who are still against it,” said a 30-year old designer who lives near the site of the new mosque and gave her name as Ana.

“But the mosque is no longer that high on the political agenda because the attention is now focused on the economic crisis that is crippling Slovenia,” she said.

(Source / 14.09.2013)

Een weekje Palestina

By Engelbert Luitsz               ©           (http://www.alexandrina.nl/?p=2453)

We, and the nearly five hundred European academics who have signed the attached petition in the last 48 hours, applaud your Guidelines, and urge you not to weaken or abandon them at the first sign that Israel, or the United States, takes objection to them. Principles are principles. Please stick to yours.
Uit een petitie aangeboden aan Catherine Ashton en getekend door 500 academici


Een Palestijnse terrorist valt vijf weerloze soldaten aan met een vlag


Het Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) heeft, zoals de naam al aangeeft, de mensenrechten – niet de vrede – als uitgangspunt. Een visie die ik volledig deel. Mensen die energie stoppen in het “vredesproces” verdoen hun tijd. Israël dwingen tot het respecteren van mensenrechten en van het internationaal recht is in theorie mogelijk, aangezien Israël volledig afhankelijk is van de EU en de Verenigde Staten. Er kan dus druk uitgeoefend worden op basis van internationaal geaccepteerde normen. Ook al is het evident dat de zionisten nooit het recht hadden het land te stelen en de Palestijnen te verdrijven, momenteel zijn de feiten zo dat het niet mogelijk is terug te gaan in de tijd (al hebben de zionisten dat ironisch genoeg juist wel gedaan). Zelfs Noam Chomsky verzuchtte eens: “Dat is nu eenmaal hoe staten gevormd worden.”

Een andere optie is een revolutie, maar daar zie ik in Israël niet veel draagvlak voor. De ongekendedemonstraties van 2011, toen honderdduizenden de straat op gingen in Tel Aviv en een paar andere steden, waren gericht op sociale rechtvaardigheid en niet op de bezetting of het lot van de Palestijnen in het algemeen.

Een extreme vorm is wel eens geopperd door de politicoloog Norman Finkelstein. Hij stelde voor dat een miljoen Palestijnen een mars naar Tel Aviv zouden houden. Het Israëlische leger zou dat uiteraard niet toestaan, er zouden zeer veel doden vallen aan Palestijnse kant, zo veel dat de internationale gemeenschap wel zou moeten ingrijpen. Door de jaren heen vallen er ook heel veel doden, dus waarom niet een heleboel in één keer als het daarmee opgelost is?

En dan is er natuurlijk de mogelijkheid van een nieuwe Intifada, waarbij de Palestijnen ongetwijfeld op meer sympathie kunnen rekenen, aangezien er heel langzaam toch meer kennis van de situatie komt in met name de Europese landen. Door het uit elkaar spelen van de Palestijnen in de West Bank en in de Gazastrook is het logistiek echter erg moeilijk geworden om tot een grote, gecoördineerde opstand te komen. En een kleine zal direct meedogenloos worden afgestraft.

Liever evolutie, maar er moet hoe dan ook iets veranderen.


Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is een wereldwijde campagne die economische en politieke druk op Israël wil uitoefenen om tot de volgende doelen te geraken:

  1. een eind maken aan de bezetting en het koloniseren van Arabisch land;
  2. volledige gelijkwaardigheid voor alle Arabisch-Palestijnse inwoners van Israël;
  3. begrip voor het recht op terugkeer van Palestijnse vluchtelingen.

BDS kwam de afgelopen tjid een paar keer in het nieuws toen een paar grote namen als Roger Watersen Stephen Hawking zich hebben verbonden aan deze actie.

Een paar voorbeelden. Israël probeert de EU-richtlijnen met betrekking tot subsidies voor bedrijven in de bezette gebieden, die per 1 januari 2014 zouden moeten ingaan, te ondermijnen door schaamteloos te beweren dat die niet goed voor het vredesproces zouden zijn. Bovendien dreigt Israël dan uit het prestigieuze Horizon 2020-project te stappen. Ik word nog wel eens beschuldigd van cynisme, maar zij kunnen er ook wat van! Als reactie hierop ging er deze week een brief naar Catherine Ashton, de hoge vertegenwoordiger voor buitenlandse zaken en veiligheidsbeleid van de Europese Unie, ondertekend door 500 academici.
Vorige week werd ook bekend dat het Nederlandse ingenieursbureau Royal HasKoningDHV zich heeftteruggetrokken uit een project in Oost-Jeruzalem. Hier zijn dus duidelijk mogelijkheden op de lange termijn, want de Palestijnen zelf merken weinig of niets van dit soort acties. Het is aan Israël om maatregelen te treffen waardoor de sancties niet langer nodig zijn, vergelijkbaar met de acties tegen Zuid-Afrika in de jaren zestig van de vorige eeuw.

BDS? Ja, dus.



Mijn inspiratie voor vandaag kreeg ik toen ik een artikel van het PCHR zag waarin uitvoerig staat vermeld wat er in één week is gebeurd in de Palestijnse gebieden. Het gaat om de periode van 5 t/m 11 september. Het leek me goed nu eens gewoon op een rijtje te zetten waar de Palestijnen dagelijks mee te maken krijgen. Maar ik was nog niet begonnen met schrijven of er kwam alweer nieuws binnen: vandaag, 14 september, kregen 9 Palestijnse families in de Jordaanvallei te horen dat ze hun huizen moesten verlaten, omdat het Israëlische leger daar moest oefenen. Dat Nederland überhaupt nog contacten onderhoudt met dat kloteland is mij een raadsel, maar er zullen wel belangen mee gemoeid zijn die mij ontgaan. Misschien dat de heer Timmermans ooit nog eens een boekje open doet wanneer zijn carrière niet langer op het spel staat.

Nou, daar gaat ie dan, de oogst van één week:

  • 4 Palestijnse burgers in de West Bank zijn gewond geraakt
  • Israëlische soldaten hebben excessief geweld gebruikt tegen vreedzame demonstranten in de West Bank
  • 3 demonstranten, waaronder 1 fotojournalist, raakten gewond
  • Tientallen burgers raakten gewond door het inhaleren van traangas
  • Israëlische soldaten hebben 31 invallen gedaan in Palestijnse gemeenschappen in de West Bank
  • Minstens 40 Palestijnse burgers, waaronder 17 kinderen, zijn gearresteerd in de West Bank
  • 4 Palestijnen uit de Gazastrook, waaronder 1 kind, werden gearresteerd toen zij de grens naar Israël wilden oversteken
  • Israël gaat door met het volledig afsluiten van de bezette gebieden en heeft de Gazastrook volledig geïsoleerd van de buitenwereld
  • 9 Palestijnse burgers, waaronder een kind en een meisje, werden gearresteerd bij een checkpoint in de West Bank
  • De Israëlische marine schiet nog steeds op vissers voor de kust van de Gazastrook
  • De Israëlische marine heeft op vissers in het noorden van de Gazastrook geschoten
  • 2 vissersboten zijn in beslag genomen voor de kust van Rafah (bij de grens met Egypte)
  • Israël blijft bezig met het creëren van een joodse meerderheid in bezet Jeruzalem
  • De Israëlische autoriteiten hebben een burger gedwongen zijn eigen huis te slopen in de wijk Jabal al-Mukabber, onder het voorwendsel dat de juiste papieren niet aanwezig waren
  • De Israëlische autoriteiten hebben opdracht gegeven tot het slopen van een aantal commerciële faciliteiten en een sportveld in het dorp Selwan, onder het voorwendsel dat de juiste papieren niet aanwezig waren
  • Een gebied ten noorden van het dorp al-Eisawiya is geëgaliseerd om een geul te maken die het dorp moet afscheiden van de “Franse Heuvel”-nederzetting
  • Kolonisten hebben stenen gegooid naar Palestijnen en hun auto’s in de wijk al-Sowana
  • Honderden kolonisten zijn het dorp Selwan ingegaan voor hun religieuze rituelen van de joodse feesten
  • Kolonisten van de groep “De prijs betalen” hebben de banden van drie bussen lek gestoken en hebben racistische leuzen opgeschreven in Selwan
  • Israëlische soldaten blijven de activiteiten van de kolonisten steunen in de West Bank en kolonisten gaan door met het aanvallen van Palestijnse burgers en eigendommen
  • De Israëlische autoriteiten zijn begonnen met het bouwen van units voor de nederzetting “Leshem”, ten westen van Salfit, in het noorden van de West Bank
  • Een burger kreeg opdracht een landbouwschuur af te breken en te stoppen met werkzaamheden in een huis in al-Khader, ten zuiden van Bethlehem
  • Kolonisten hebben de weg tussen Ramallah en Nablus afgesloten en gooiden stenen naar Palestijnse auto’s

Elk onderdeel wordt in het artikel nog eens uitvoerig behandeld.

Waarom? Ik zou het niet weten, gewoon omdat het kan.


Het is een wonder dat de Palestijnen in deze hel nog steeds vast kunnen blijven houden aan geweldloze demonstraties, ook al worden die maar al te vaak met veel geweld tegemoet getreden door de Israëlische soldaten. Ook is na lange tijd definitief vast komen te staan dat er Israëlische officieren undercover aanwezig waren tijdens vreedzame demonstraties en zij waren het die met stenen gingen gooien om het leger een excuus te geven keihard op te treden. Het gewelddadig racisme van de Israëlische soldaten wordt alleen enigszins getemperd door joodse en buitenlandse activisten met camera’s die zich als menselijk schild opstellen. In het verleden werden er hele dorpen om zeep geholpen, waarna er een paar bulldozers kwamen om alles glad te strijken. Een onderzoek van de VN werd geweigerd en de Israëlische regering kon straffeloos de eigen leugens in de nationale en internationale pers verspreiden. De komst van mobiele telefoons en camera’s heeft heel wat Palestijnse levens gered, ook al gaat dat niet altijd makkelijk, zoals de indringende documentaire 5 Broken Cameras laat zien.

Van de zionisten mag je het geen fascisme noemen en ook geen Apartheid. Misschien wordt het tijd om voor het weerzinwekkende gedrag van de Joodse Staat een speciale term te verzinnen, iets met dezelfde impact als antisemitisme, want dat marketingconcept heeft de zionisten bepaald geen windeieren gelegd.


By Peter Clifford                  ©             (http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-2/)


At the third day of their meetings in Geneva, Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have announced that they have reached agreement on a joint approach to dealing with Syria’s chemical weapons.


Kerry & Lavrov Reach Deal On Syria’s Chemical Weapons

In the agreement, Syria must submit an inventory of its chemical weapons within a week, and inspectors must be on the ground in Syria by November, with the goal of eliminating all such weapons by mid-2014.

The agreement provides for the implementation of Chapter 7 in the UN, the application of military or other sanctions, should Syria fail to comply with the agreement.

However, Lavrov played down this side of the deal, pointing out that in the event of non-compliance there would be no automatic sanctions – it would have to be something that was agreed unanimously by the Security Council, a situation which to date on Syria it has never achieved, China and Russia always using their veto.

Speaking at a press conference after agreement was reached, John Kerry said, “Providing this framework is fully implemented it can end the threat these weapons pose not only to the Syrian people but also to their neighbours ….The world will now expect Assad’s regime to live up to its commitments… There can be no room for games. Or anything less than full compliance …”

However, many activists and commentators do not trust Assad and believe that he has dispersed his chemical weapons stocks to more than 50 smaller locations. General Idriss of the FSA even claimed that Assad has shipped chemical weapons stocks to Lebanon and Iraq for “safekeeping”.

That the Syrian Army has little restraint in using such terrible instruments of war was evident again in the early hours of Thursday morning this week when they launched another gas attack in Damascus on the Opposition held suburb of Jobar.

In this case it was not the deadly Sarin that reportedly killed 1400+ people in August, but the irritant gas Chlorine, which causes real suffering, distress and possibly long term health issues. There is a video of the effects of this released Thursday 12th, with English sub-titles, HERE:

So whether the agreement reached in Geneva today has any real meaning remains to be seen. In this blistering article in the Guardian last Monday, by George Monbiot, he points that the USA agreed in 1997 to destroy 31,000 of Sarin, VX, Mustard Gas and other chemical agents within 10 years – despite 2 extensions to that time period it has as yet failed to complete that task.

Monbiot also points out that both the US and Russia have constantly manipulated the UN Security Council using the veto whenever their interests were threatened at the expense of global justice and never ever seeking to reform this antiquated and unworkable system. You can read more,HERE:

Human Rights Watch (HRW) presented detailed evidence on Tuesday that the Assad regime is the most likely culprit behind the August 21st Sarin attack on the Opposition held suburbs of Damascus, including pictures of the rockets used and their most likely launch sites, HERE:


In a speech to the Women’s International Forum in Geneva on Friday, which he did not realise was being broadcast,Ban Ki-Moon, the UN General Secretary, said although he did not yet have the report from the UN chemical weapons inspectors, he believed that it would show overwhelmingly that chemical weapons have been used in Syria.

He also said that Bashar Al-Assad had committed “many crimes against humanity” and, Therefore,I’m sure that there will be surely the process of accountability when everything is over”. You can see the report and a video of him speaking, HERE:

One of the most dreadful “crimes against humanity” committed by Assad and his henchmen is the massacre of unarmed civilians in the Sunni enclave of Al-Bayda on May 2nd and in a Sunni district of Baniyas on May 3rd 2013.

HRW has investigated and estimates that at least 248 people were executed in cold blood by regular Assad armed forces and militia.

UK’s Channel 4 has produced with HRW’s help, a documentary about the 167 people murdered at Al-Bayda, including the testimony of a 12 year old girl who survived. Everyone should watch this. It is very distressing:


More news follows later in the day ….


Kafranbel Expresses an Alternative View

What reconciliation? Hamas, Fatah trade blows

Recent events in Egypt have dealt a sharp blow to Palestinian political rapprochement.

Hamas, the rulers of the Gaza Strip, denounced the ‘bloody coup’ in neighbouring Egypt
Hebron, Occupied West Bank – Hamas has continued to accuse Fatah of inciting Egyptian military authorities against the Gaza-based group during Egypt’s recent change in leadership.

Hamas announced in an impromptu press conference held last month in Gaza that it had seizeddocuments [Ar] purportedly showing that the Palestinian Authority (PA) embassy in Cairo was spreading “black lies” and “concocted intelligence reports” against Hamas.

Some of the seized documents alleged that Hamas, supposedly in collusion with Egyptian groups, wassmuggling weapons, including bombs, into Egypt to further destabilise the country and undermine security.

But Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesperson in Gaza, said the accusations were nothing new, as Fatah had “never given up on its conspiratorial designs against Hamas” following the internecine fighting in 2007 which saw Fatah routed from the Gaza Strip, and Hamas practically shut down in the West Bank.

“Fatah is colluding and conniving with the Sisi regime to spread chaos and insecurity in Gaza. They are trying to imitate the Tamarod [“rebellion”] group in Egypt,” Abu Zuhri told Al Jazeera in a telephone interview.

He also said that Hamas security authorities recently arrested several former Fatah-affiliated Preventive Security officers who had allegedly undergone military training in “a neighbouring country” for the apparent purpose of undermining security in the Gaza Strip.

Fatah, which is the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), has vehemently denied the accusations, saying that Hamas was interfering in internal Egyptian affairs and “pushing the Egyptian government, people and media” to harbour hostile attitudes towards Palestinians.

The Ramallah-based group has also promised to carry out “a thorough investigation” into Hamas’ allegations.

However, given the history of mistrust between Fatah and Hamas, it seems unlikely that any inquiry would be satisfactory to both sides.

Contention point

Hamas and Fatah adopted starkly opposite stands vis-à-vis the military coup in Egypt, which saw the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi.

Hamas accuses rival Fatah of smear campaign

Hamas, considered by many the ideological daughter of the Muslim Brotherhood, denounced the “bloody coup” in the strongest terms, calling it “an act of rape” and “a criminal usurpation of the Egyptian people’s will”.

Hamas has also organised rallies and marches throughout the Gaza Strip and in some parts of the West Bank.

The Gaza Strip has been under Hamas’ security control ever since 2007, when Hamas fighters defeated and expelled Fatah militia from the coastal enclave following a brief but bloody confrontation.

The meeting of Palestinian President and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas with the Egyptian interim government coincided with widespread rumours that the PA leadership in Ramallah was considering declaring the Gaza Strip a rogue entity.

Hamas interpreted these reports as a tacit call for the new rulers in Egypt to invade the Gaza Strip, overthrow Hamas and enthrone Fatah in the besieged territory.

Responding to Fatah’s accusations that Hamas was interfering in Egyptian affairs, Abu Zuhri said the allegations were “sheer lies”.

Hamas ought to edge away from the Muslim Brotherhood and realign itself with the Palestinian people and its legitimate leadership.

Osama Qawasmi, Fatah

“The truth of the matter is that the sullen hostility displayed towards Hamas by the Egyptian coup-makers and their media outlets emanates from their deep hatred of the Islamist movement in Egypt,” he said. “In the final analysis, the rumoured interference by Hamas in internal Egyptian affairs is no more than a red herring, reflecting the coup authorities’ failure to bring things under control.”

The Hamas spokesperson admitted though that “vengeful Egyptian measures” were hurting ordinary Gazans.

“They are harassing our people at the airports, they are destroying the tunnels, our ultimate lifeline, they are closing the Rafah border crossing,” Zuhri said. “They are effectively trying to outmatch the Israelis in tormenting and starving our people.”

Fatah reaction

For its part, Fatah does not deny that it is cooperating and coordinating with the authorities in Egypt.

Fatah, however, has been careful to avoid the term “coup” in reference to the present rulers of Egypt. Instead, it refers to the interim leadership as “the legitimate government reflecting the Egyptian people’s will”.

Fatah, a largely secular, nationalist, pro-business movement, insists that cooperation with Egypt is “paramount, indispensable and aimed at serving our people’s interests and their just national cause”.


“No Palestinian government or group or party can alienate Egypt,” Osama Qawasmi, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, told Al Jazeera. “Egypt is our ultimate insurance policy as a people and as a national authority.”

He said Hamas was committing political suicide by standing against “the army of Egypt and the people of Egypt”.

“Hamas ought to edge away from the Muslim Brotherhood and realign itself with the Palestinian people and its legitimate leadership,” Qawasmi said.

He denied accusations that Fatah was trying to manipulate the new government in Cairo in order to weaken Hamas.

“We had good ties with the Morsi regime,” Qawasmi said. “We are seeking Palestinian national interests.”

Qawasmi said he hoped stability would return to Egypt – which would help the largest Arab country play a more active role in Arab affairs.

Reconciliation unlikely

Hani al-Masri, a prominent political analyst who is affiliated with neither Fatah nor Hamas, said the recent coup in Egypt dealt a sharp blow to the prospects of national reconciliation between the rival groups.

“Before the coup, reconciliation prospects were very bad,” he said. “Now, they are much worse.”

Al-Masri said that Egypt was unlikely to invade Gaza and overthrow Hamas on Fatah’s behalf.

He added, however, that Hamas ought to refrain from “provoking and alienating the edgy Egyptian authorities”.

“No-one is asking Hamas to abandon its Islamist ideology. Hamas doesn’t have to cast off its skin,” al-Masri said.

“But Hamas must edge away a little from the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas must also refrain from provoking the nervous Egyptian authorities these days. Even in Islamic jurisprudence ‘necessities make certain prohibitions permissible’.”

Al-Masri said he did not think that Fatah was in a position to reclaim Gaza by use of military force.

“Fatah is undergoing a period of political bankruptcy, as the moribund peace process with Israel is going nowhere,” he said. “But Hamas’ fears have increased, and so have Fatah’s ambitions – especially in the aftermath of the coup in Cairo.”

(Source / 14.09.2013)

Ramallah, Gaza and the Palestinian identity crisis

The distance between Gaza and Ramallah in sheer miles is hardly significant.

But in actuality, both cities represent two different political realities, with inescapable cultural and socioeconomic dimensions. Their geopolitical horizons are vastly different as well – Gaza is situated within its immediate Arab surroundings and turmoil, while Ramallah is westernized in too many aspects to count.

In recent years, the gap has widened like never before.

Of course, Gaza and Ramallah were always, in some ways, unalike. Demographics, size, topography and geographic proximity to Arab countries with different political priorities have always made them separate and distinctive.

But the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 had decisively removed Ramallah from its Jordanian element, and Gaza from its Egyptian political milieu.

Although they are both Palestinian towns, decades of spinning in the background of collective Arab affairs created a distance that at times felt too great to condense.

The Israeli occupation however revitalized that common Palestinian experience of a shared struggle against a common enemy. Despite its many shortcomings, the Palestine Liberation Organization eventually filled the gap of leadership, thus unifying the ranks of Palestinians in Ramallah, Gaza, and the Palestinian Diaspora.

Despite its endemic corruption and questionable democratic credentials, the PLO has done more than unifying Palestinians around a set of political ideals and ‘constants’, but throughout the years it has helped in knitting a unique Palestinian political discourse, laden with revolutionary references, global in its outreach and yet exclusively Palestinian in its attitude.

There was indeed a time in which a Palestinian teacher in Kuwait held similar ideals to a refugee from Lebanon, to a student in Russia, and to a laborer in Gaza.

Those times are long gone and many factors contributed to the demise of the collective Palestinian discourse.

Regional and international circumstances led to the fragmentation of the PLO and the rise of the Oslo era under the patronage of the United States and other western governments.

Not that the acquiescence of the Palestinian leadership in Sep. 1993 was completely unexpected, but the speed and direction of that retreat was so excessive and punishing, representing an equal crisis comparable to previous Arab military defeats.

A defeat in battle often results in overwhelming alternation to the landscape, but Oslo was a submission of defeat and the acceptance, if not embracing of all of their resultants. A psychological defeat is worse than a battlefield conquest.

Sometimes overtly, and at other times subtly, the rapports that unified Palestinian society for generations began to dissolve. The PLO was quickly sidelined in favor of its localized copy, the atrociously factional Palestinian Authority.

Factions outside the PLO grew in their relevance and outreach in an attempt to fill the gap. Groups like Hamas, however, were not prepared for their sudden upsurge.

While they embodied the resistance that countered the PA’s surrender, they lacked a well-rounded political discourse and uniting language.

They appealed to an Islamic world that doesn’t exist in actuality as a political force, and eventually settled for near complete reliance on a few Arab states with confused, but surly, self-serving agendas.

It is no longer clear what Gaza and Ramallah still have in common.

It is evident that the languages spoken in both of these cities are different, the grievances vary, and the political expectations are no longer in tandem. This is in fact much more dangerous than a case of failed leaderships, for it is a breakdown of a national discourse or even worse, a fragmentation of a national identity.

Of course, many Palestinians in many places still deeply care about Palestine, but they don’t care the same way, or more specifically, they generally don’t rally for the ‘Palestinian cause’ around a set of common goals, emanating from a set of common ideals.

This is perhaps one of the reasons why the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement grew exponentially in recent years to more than groups of activists calling for a boycott of Israeli goods and such.

There is a clear thirst for alternatives. Oslo has done more than dividing Palestinians into many political strands. It has also confused and fragmented their supporters as well.

When the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo accords twenty years ago, the debate then was concerned with ideas and issues that are still relevant today, such as negotiating peace amid the growth of illegal settlements and under military occupation, or Arafat’s lack of a moral and political mandate to sign off historical rights of an entire nation, or Israel’s sincerity and American predisposition to support Israel under any circumstances.

But for Palestinians, the debate should, and must be, extended to include the dangers that are unlikely to remain long after the Oslo conspirators are gone.

Bold and very difficult questions must be asked and addressed without frenzy and further division.

How long can the Palestinian people sustain their sense of nationhood under political tribalism, geographic division, factionalism, relentlessly polarizing media discourses, the renting out of Palestinian political independence to donor and Gulf countries, the marginalization of Palestine in the wake of Arab turmoil and civil wars, and much more?

Should Palestinians be expected to sustain their sense of common identity purely based on their shared sense of injustice invited by the Israeli occupation, Apartheid and discrimination?

Palestine is more than a flag and an anthem, and Palestinians are united by more than their factional affiliation, political sympathies or their detestation of the Israeli soldier and the military checkpoint.

But neither the political leaderships in Ramallah, nor in Gaza are capable of defining or representing real Palestinian identity that spans time and space.

The fragmentation of Palestinian identity will not cease, but will intensify, if a third way that is born out of the collective will of Palestinians, is not introduced to Palestinian society and advocated with unwavering resolve.

This third way cannot be elitist and must come from the streets of Gaza and Ramallah, not academic papers or press conferences.

Only then, Gaza and Ramallah can find their historic rapport, once more.

(Source / 14.09.2013)

Editorial: Oslo is dead, long live Palestine

Twenty years after the Oslo Accords were signed, it has become clear that the Arabs have failed in every field, while the Palestinians have triumphed over their circumstances.

The Palestinians have the right to be proud in an era marked with treason and disgrace. Observers have been busy over twenty years trying to monitor the public’s reaction to Oslo and whether it has already been marked a failure or not.

I tried to interview senior Palestinian officials to discuss the Oslo experience, but surprisingly, senior officials, some of whom signed the Oslo Accord themselves, refused to talk about that agreement. In fact there are no secrets to be revealed about Oslo, of which late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said to critics, “if you have one critique against Oslo, I have a hundred.”

A senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization, who refused a TV interview on Oslo, told me that he didn’t “want to talk about the dead, and Oslo has died already.” After a long and careful examination of his remarks, all I could come up with was that Arafatism, which was slammed indefinitely, was the best politics at the level of the whole Arab world.

Arafat was subject to criticism almost by everybody, and the right to criticize is guaranteed to all. Almost every student of political science wrote critiques against Arafatism claiming it failed to accomplish all the objectives of our revolution. Nevertheless, others haven’t accomplished those objectives and some have dedicated the last twenty years to criticizing only Arafatism, while living on its leftovers.

I agree with a majority of the population on earth that Oslo has failed, has been killed, was a failure, a joint American-Israeli conspiracy against the cause of Palestine.

However, Arafat did not do anything wrong when he signed that agreement. He and the PLO fighters were expelled from all cities to force him to sign a peace-for-land agreement. The Arabs were the cause and the effect. They were the sinners and we were their victims.

We were victims of their American bosses, and their tools who seized power after Arafat and started to bite history and slam the great people.

If Arafat had made a mistake when he believed the whole world and the pledges he received, we were his partners and we are to be blamed for that.

We are to be blamed because we stood as observers without proposing any alternatives except restraint and abstention. When Israel murdered Arafat, we saw how each capital of the Arab world tried to take advantage of his murder to serve their own interests.

But now it’s their turn. When we watched how Arab leaders said ‘yes sir’ to the Americans, we realized to what extent we offended ourselves when we believed the people who promised better alternatives to Arafatism.

When we saw the alternatives to the PLO, we realized how trivial, self-centered, unsuccessful, incompetent and unsafe to our homeland these alternatives were.

They are so because they serve one group only.

We realized, at that point, that Arafat was greater than them all. They all shrank and were minimized after Arafat was gone. All they have left was their self-centered interests, their suspicious projects, and the verbal insults they utter.

They don’t even dare to commemorate Arafat’s anniversary because they fear him dead even more than alive.

(Source / 14.09.2013)