The West wants unity in Libya so it can bomb it

Herein lies the answer to the rush to create a national unity government: The rubber-stamping of a new foreign intervention targeting IS

It is now nearly five years since the revolution broke out in Libya and four since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled. Military intervention had unintended consequences. It produced another insurgency in Mali by ousting the Tuareg. It poured arms into the country and left a patchwork of city states which has shattered any sense of national unity. Every regional power has since been vying for control.

Libya has become a stage for proxy conflicts in which the needs and interests of Libyans are secondary to the great colonial games being played by rival Gulf states. Anywhere between one and two million Libyans have fled out of a population of six million.

Along the way, the credibility of the international community as an honest broker has been shredded. The €61bn Marshall Fund promised at the G8 meeting in 2011 never materialised. Early elections failed to produce a government of national unity and no, Westminster could not be parachuted in to Tripoli.

The international community played politics. It cherry picked its partners and its causes. It ignored a Supreme Court ruling that the House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk was unconstitutional, but listened to it when the same court ruled that Ahmed Maitiq could not be prime minister.

There has been complete silence – no reaction at all, let alone an official investigation – to leaked emails showing that Bernardino Leon was secretly advancing the interests of his future employers the UAE while working as UN special envoy. A letter of complaint from one of the parliaments, the General National Congress, was ignored. The news was buried on the day of the Paris attacks.

A rival peace initiative in Tunis was also ignored. But “Leongate” did not stop the plan the former envoy was working on. It was pushed ahead regardless. On Sunday in Rome representatives of 17 countries, including Egypt, Germany, Russia, Turkey and China signed a joint statement calling for an immediate ceasefire and promising to cut off contacts with factions that do not sign the deal.

After only three days the UN plans for a signing ceremony in Skirhat, Morocco, on Wednesday seem in turmoil. Based on the signatures of individual members of the two rival parliaments in Tobruk and Tripoli, the UN appears to have gone over the heads of both bodies.

The anger was such that it forced the rival leaders of the two institutions, the Western-backed HOR in Tobruk and the Tripoli-based GNC to meet each other for the first time in Malta. They jointly rejected the UN push to sign the deal.

“We came here to announce to the world that we are able to solve our problems ourselves with the help of the international community, but we will not accept foreign intervention against the will of the Libyan people,” said GNC President Nouri Abusahmain.

These are not the only concerns with the UN plan. Instead of creating one parliament out of two, it could, according to analysts like Mattia Toaldo, fellow of European Council on Foreign Relations, create three parliaments out of two. No thought had been given to the security guarantees needed from all militias before a government of national unity can sit and meet in Tripoli.

The suspicion is that announcing a deal has become more important than delivering one. Why and why now?

Leon was quite specific in his email to the UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed about his strategy. Leon said the primary object of his plan was to “break a very dangerous alliance between radical Islamists/MB (Muslim Brotherhood) and Misratans”. However you style them, this is one party of the conflict located in Tripoli. NATO was happy to fight alongside these militias when they were ousting Gaddafi.

Leon did not want an agreement that gave all sides of the conflict an equal stake in the political future of the conflict. About this too, he was brutally clear: “I have an strategy, which I am pretty sure should work, to completely delegitimise GNC (General National Congress),” Leon wrote.

The former Spanish diplomat was concerned at the prospect of the EU and the US seeking a comprehensive settlement: “Some international actors (mainly US and EU) have been asking in the last days to go to the ‘Plan B’ i.e. a classical peace conference with the fighting actors, against the backdrop of a UN multinational force. This is, in my opinion, a worse option than a political dialogue: first of all, as you have very rightly pointed out, because it will treat both sides as equal actors and will bypass legitimate institutions. Also, because it will sit around the table, to discuss an overall solution that will include political elements, the militias, and this might include some radical ones or their allies.“

Treating both sides as equal actors? Heaven forbid: “The country we mentioned in our last conversation [the United Arab Emirates] won’t be willing to support such a possibility,” Leon wrote. That is what matters in his eyes, not the US or the EU, or indeed the UN. And there lies the problem. Not that the UN itself has been without its problems. Another leaked email, a UAE diplomat at the UN was concerned about how to provide cover for the fact that his government was shipping weapons to Libya in violation of the UN arms embargo.

“The fact of the matter is that the UAE violated the UN Security Council Resolution on Libya and continues to do so,” Ahmed al-Qasimi, a senior Emirati diplomat, wrote in a 4 August email to Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE’s ambassador to the UN.

If the diplomats had complied with the procedures outlined by the UN resolution, Qasimi wrote, it would “expose how deeply we are involved in Libya … We should try to provide a cover to lessen the damage.”

Leon himself said a year ago in his email that the presence of Islamic State or al-Qaeda affiliated groups in Libya was a secondary consideration to the need to break the alliance of Islamist factions with the city state of Misrata.

Had IS grown so powerful in a year in Libya that it has overturned all calculations? Apparently not. Libya experts lined up at the Mediterranean Dialogues conference in Rome, organised by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Italian Institute for International Political Studies, to urge caution.

Alison Pargeter, North Africa analyst, and senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute was one of them. She told the conference: “All the talk of Libya being a fall-back position for IS and streams of Iraqis and Syrians flowing into Libya is at this point overstated. ISIS is present but its only really strong in certain areas, like Sirte and its surroundings.” Three factors, according to Pargeter, circumscribe their expansion: the role of the tribes, the presence of other armed groups and the inherent Libyan suspicion of outsiders.

She warned the international community about conflating IS with rival jihadi Libyan groups who did at one point fight them: the Benghazi Revolutionary Shura Council, the Derna Mujaheddin Shura Council, the Ajdabiya Revolutionary Shura Council have all issued statements distancing themselves from ISIS.

She said: “We really can’t dismiss all these jihadists and lump them together as Isis, as a problem that can simply be eliminated. Perhaps we have to accept that some of these elements cannot be beaten militarily and like it or not, they are going to have to be part of the solution for Libya, and they are an uncomfortable part of the jigsaw puzzle that needs to be dealt with if Libya is ever to achieve peace.”

But this is not what Britain and France are saying. A British government source told The Telegraph that ministers were “moving in the direction” of a plan to send military support alongside European allies to defeat IS in Libya. France, which sent reconnaissance flights over Libya, is pushing too for another Western bombing mission. French premier Manuel Valls on Friday called for international efforts to crush the Islamic State jihadists to extend to the north African country. “We are at war, we have an enemy, that we must fight and crush in Syria, in Iraq and soon in Libya too,” he said.

Such an outcome is what Egypt and the UAE have been pushing for ever since the military coup in Cairo two years ago. Almost the first act of the new regime in Egypt in 2013 was to warn that a foreign intervention in the east of Libya was needed. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s annointed general for the job is the renegade ex-CIA Libya general Khalifa Haftar – a figure so divisive he has even managed to split the parliament in Tobruk.

Before bombing can start, Britain and France need to be invited to intervene by Libya itself. That cannot happen unless there is a nominal government of national unity. It does not have to meet. It simply has to exist as a virtual entity. Here then lies the answer to the rush to create a national unity government. Its first act would not be to start a process of national reconciliation. Nor indeed embark on the quest for national security. It would be to rubber stamp another foreign intervention.

Interventions form a perfect circle – from Libya to Mali to Iraq, to Syria and now back to Libya. Each intervention provides the pretext for another. And none of them end. France launched its military intervention in Mali in January 2013 to stop an uprising of different militant groups in the north. The mission was to free the north from jihadist occupation and restore Malian sovereignty on the whole territory. Little of the sort has happened. Operation Serval has finished and Operation Barkhane has continued. The French are still there, as are the jihadists.

Bombing IS in Sirte would almost certainly mean bombing other jihadist groups in the east of the country, who until today have largely acted as a brake on IS’s expansion. After nearly five years, Libyans should wake up to the fact that neither the UN nor the international community can bring the conflict in Libya to an end. Experience has shown that international mediation can be corrupted. It can therefore deepen and prolong the conflict.

(Source / 18.12.2015)

Israel is ‘protecting Jewish terrorists’ who burnt Palestinian family to death, alleges PA

Israeli settlers

The Palestinian Authority accused the “extremist Israeli occupation government” on Wednesday of continuing to protect the “Jewish terrorists” who burnt to death the Dawabsheh family in July and carried out several other crimes.

“This protection,” the PA alleged in a written statement, “was reflected by the remarks of the Israeli Defence Minister [Moshe] Ya’alon who flouted global public opinion when he said, ‘Weknow those responsible for burning and killing the Dawabsheh family, but we do not haveenough evidence to prosecute them.’” This, insists the PA, “proves that the Benjamin Netanyahu government continues its escalation and violence against the Palestinians instead of adopting the peace and negotiation pathway.”

In the same statement, the PA condemned the series of “field executions” of Palestinians and Israel’s hunting them inside schools and hospitals, as well as the demolition of Palestinian homes. The responsibility for these crimes lies with the Israeli government, it claimed. “Indeed, this is a cover-up for the failure of the Israeli government to invest in all chances of peace and negotiations as well as the failure to deal with Palestinian rights.”

Also read: Israeli forces kill Palestinian inside Hebron hospital

In conclusion, the PA called on the international community and the Middle East Quartet to bear their responsibility and “officially” and “overtly” blame the Israeli government for the failure of the negotiations and take the measures needed to guarantee the freedom and independence of a Palestinian state.

(Source / 18.12.2015)

100 facts about the 2015 Parliament

100 facts about the 2015 Parliament

CAIRO: Parlmany, Youm7’s specialized reporting site on the 2015 Parliament, has prepared a run-down of statistics about the newly elected parliament. Of the 596 representatives, 555 are elected, with the remainder being appointed by the President. Some 87 are women, of whom 73 were elected.

Some 43% of the representatives are less than 35 years old, and 28 of them hold doctorate degrees.

The Free Egyptians party is the most represented partisan, with 65 deputies.

Below is a run-down of key statistics for the governing body that will soon be in session, including voter turnout, age range, and those who received the most votes.

Turnout

  • Turnout in the first round for the first stage reached 26.67%.
  • In the run-off the turnout rate reached 21.71%
  • Turnout in the first round for the second phase 29.83%.
  • Turnout in the runoff for the second phase of 22.3%.
  • Average participation in all phases reached 28.3%.

Total number of winners in the polls

  • 555 total winners, with 120 winners via the list system, and 435 winners in individual elections.
  • Of the 482 winners, 87% were men and 13% were women.

Parties represented in Parliament

Representatives of 19 parties have been elected to the parliament, with 237 seats (43%.)

318 independents received the remaining 57% seats.

Breakdown of winning parties

  1. Free Egyptians Party with 65 seats.
  2. Nation’s Future “Mosta’bal Watan” Party with 50 seats.
  3. New Wafd Party with 33 seats.
  4. Protectors of the Homeland with 17 seats.
  5. Republican People’s with 13 seats.
  6. Congress “Al-Mo’tamar” Party with 12 seats.
  7. Nour Party with 11 seats.
  8. Conservatives with 6 seats.
  9. Democratic Peace Party with 5 seats
  10. Egyptian National Movement parties, and Egyptian Democratic and Modern Egypt with 4 seats each.
  11. Reform, Development and Freedom of my Country and Egypt with 3 seats for each party
  12. Assembly and Democratic Parties and the Egyptian Edifice Free and Guardians of the Revolution with one seat each

MP’s demographics

  • 54 deputies between the ages of 25 to 35.
  • 122 deputies between the ages of 36 to 45.
  • 192 deputies between the ages of 46 to 55.
  • 99 deputies between the ages of 56 to 60.
  • 88 deputies older than 60.
  • The upper age bracket in the parliament from the age of 46 to 55 years and 192 deputy.
  • The oldest member of parliament is Dr. Amna Nasir, 75.

Demographic breakdown of MPs elected from individual system

  • 34 MPs between the ages of 25 to 35.
  • 107 MPs between the ages of 36 to 45.
  • 150 MPs between the ages of 46 to 55.
  • 76 MPs between the ages of 56 to 60.
  • 68 MPs older than 60.

Demographic breakdown of MPs elected through lists

  • 20 MPs between the ages of 25 to 35 years.
  • 15 MPs between the ages of 36 to 45 years.
  • 42 MPs between the ages of 46 to 55 years.
  • 23 MPs between the ages of 56 to 60 years.
  • 20 MPs older than 60 years.

Qualifications for MPs

  • 28 MPs hold a doctorate degree.
  • 10 MPs hold a master’s degree.
  • 405 MPs hold graduate degree qualifications.
  • 82 MPs hold average qualifications.
  • 30 MPs hold basic education.

Women in Parliament

Women in Parliament make up 13% of the total. Of 73, 17 women were elected through the individual system, with the remaining 56 elected through lists.

Women’s candidacies:

  • A total of 275 female candidates as independents
  • 17, or 6%, of the individual female candidates were successful.
  • OF those who ran in lists, 47% had successful campaigns.

Copts in parliament

36 Copts were elections; 12 of whom through the individual system, and 24 via electoral lists.

Egyptians abroad

8 deputies representing Egyptians abroad were elected

Oldest and youngest members

  • Dr. Amna Naseer is the oldest MP at 76 years old
  • Hassan Hassanein is the youngest member at 25 years old

Highest and lowest in provinces

  • South Sinai governorate had the highest turnout, with 41.6% casting their ballots.
  • Suez had the lowest turnout, with 18.1% showing up at the polls.

Highest and lowest in the citty

  • Mashtool Market circle in the eastern province took first place in terms of rates of participation, after 44.83% of the total number of registered voters cast their ballots.
  • Prairie circle Cairo recorded vote of at least 9.61%.

3 MPs with most votes

  • Tawfiq Okasha, MP for Talkha circle and Nabarouh Dakahlia Governorate, received 94,968 votes.
  • MP Mahmoud Mohi El-Din Hassan for Ashmun circle Menoufia received 85,116 votes.
  • MP Mortada Mansour running in Dakahlia received 82,557 votes.

3 MPs who received the lowest amount while still winning

  • Attorney Mamdouh Emara and got 3,226 votes.
  • MP Hassan Ghraib in southern Sinai who received 5,208 votes.
  • MP Noor Amin Fatih for Ras Sidr circle received 5,387 votes.

States without expat voting

  • Panama, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Angola, Mozambique and Mauritius.

Top vote-receiving female candidates

  • Iman Salem received 62,476 votes.
  • Abeer Taqbih with 55 847.
  • Noselh Abu Amr with 52,037.

Winning women with fewest votes

Mona Jaballah with 13,759 votes.

Rania Sadat with 13,895 votes.

Thuraya-Sheikh with 22,505 votes.

5 most important businessmen in parliament

  • Farag Amer from the Prime Smouha Club
  • Mohamed Zaki, head of the Swedish Federation of Industries
  • Sahr Talat Mustafa, business woman and partner TMG
  • Mohammed Sallab owner factories Ceramics Sallab
  • Kamal Qirtam, from Petroleum industry

Top 5 Copts in Parliament

  • Samir Ghattas from Vice Nasr City
  • Emad Gad, leading Egyptian Liberal Party
  • Suzy Nashid from Alexandria
  • Margaret Lazarus from Cairo
  • John Talaat , from Shubra

Top 5 media figures in parliament

Mustafa Bakri, editor of “The Week”

Osama Hekal and former Minister of Information

Dr. Tawfiq Okasha, head of channel Lafraain

Abdul Rahim, the chairman of News Portal

Moataz El Shazly, chairman of the newspaper “The Masses”

Top 5 deputies belonging to political Islam

  • Ahmed Khalil Khairallah
  • Mohammed Salah Khalifa
  • Ahmed Sharif
  • Mahmoud prestige
  • Ismail Mohammed Jad Allah.

The most important former ministers in parliament

  • Mohamed Orabi, former Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Osama Hekal, Former Minister of Information
  • Taher Abu Zeid, former Sports Minister
  • Ali Almeselhi, former Minister of Solidarity
  • 4 constituencies where elections did not add the numbers to the results of the conducted

Timeline of Egypt’s Electoral Process

  • Aug. 31: Voters informed about dates
  • Oct. 1 : Final candidates names for the first phase after the inclusion of amendments and waiver
  • Oct. 17: First phase of expat voting starts
  • Oct. 18: Voting starts in the country for the first phase.
  • Oct. 20: results announced for first phase and complaints made to HEC and adjudicated
  • Oct. 26 : Run-off in the first phase abroad
  • Oct. 27: Run-off for the first phase
  • Oct. 29: Results of the run-off for the first phase announced and complaints filed to HEC and adjudicated
  • Nov. 3: Announcement of the final statements for the second phase and the start of advertising
  • Nov. 21- Phase 2 begins abroad
  • Nov. 22- Phase 2 begins in Egypt.
  • Nov. 24: Announcement the results of the second stage and complaints filed to HEC and adjudicated
  • Nov. 30: Election run-off in the second phase abroad kicks off
  • Dec. 1: Election run-off kicks off domestically for the second stage
  • Dec. 3: Election runoffs results announced, with complaints referred to the Higher Committee
  • Dec. 20 – Delivery of certificates for elected members

(Source / 18.12.2015)

Israeli bulldozers enter southern Gaza

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Several Israeli bulldozers entered the city-limits of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip early Friday, witnesses said.Witnesses told Ma’an that the bulldozers entered the eastern area of al-Qarrara, located in Khan Younis, and searched the area.Several Israeli bulldozers had also entered al-Qarrara on Thursday. Separately Thursday, Israeli forces shot and injured three Palestinians after entering a border area in the southern Gaza Strip on in order to level Palestinian land.Israeli forces have made a total of 52 military incursions into the besieged enclave since the start of 2015, according to documentation by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.Two Palestinian farmers were shot and injured by Israeli military forces this month while farming near the border area, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health.UNOCHA meanwhile reported a total of 15 incidents of Israeli forces opening fire at Palestinians on both land and sea borders.

(Source / 18.12.2015)

Palestinian shot dead in Gaza demo near Khan Younis

A Palestinian protestor throws stones towards Israeli soldiers during clashes near the border between Israel and the central Gaza Strip on Oct. 15, 2015

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Friday killed one Palestinian and shot 40 others during clashes in the Gaza Strip, the Ministry of Health said.A spokesperson for Gaza’s Ministry of Health, Ashraf al-Qidra, told Ma’an that 20-year-old Mahmoud Muhammad Saed al-Agha was shot dead by Israeli forces when clashes broke out near Khan Younis in southern Gaza.Al-Qidra said 31 others were shot and injured by live fire, 9 by rubber-coated steel bullets, and 14 suffered from severe tear gas inhalation.

An Israeli army spokesperson did not have immediate information on Friday’s clashes in Gaza.Al-Agha’s death comes shortly after a Palestinian man was killed when he reportedly attempted to drive his vehicle into Israeli military forces in Silwad, north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli army said.Just an hour prior, another Palestinian was shot and detained after attempting to run his car into Israeli forces deployed at the Qalandiya military checkpoint also near Ramallah, according to Israeli police.Al-Algha is one of at least 20 Palestinians to be killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 1.The majority were killed during demonstrations, and two — a 2-year-old and her pregnant mother — were killed in an Israeli airstrike on their home.Israeli military forces last Friday shot dead 41-year-old Sami Shawqi Madhi and injured 58 others in clashes across the Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials said.Mahdi was shot in the chest and died instantly in clashes near the al-Buriej refugee camp, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health.Palestinians in the Gaza Strip began demonstrations in solidarity with Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem when unrest grew in the occupied area in October.Use of force by the Israeli military during the demonstrations led the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights to condemn at the time Israel’s “excessive use of force, and violations of the right to life and security of the person.”The UN’s Middle East peace envoy, Nikolay Mladenov, visited the besieged Gaza Strip earlier this week.After the visit, the official said: “A complete generation has lost hope in peace and in the two-state solution and it is our responsibility to bring hope to the Palestinians through working with all sides to reduce the current violence.”
(Source / 18.12.2015)

Soldiers, settlers renew assaults on Palestinians near Yabad town

JENIN, (PIC)– Scores of Israeli soldiers and fanatic Jewish settlers on Thursday evening spread through different areas in the vicinity of Yabad town, south of Jenin city, and embarked on harassing and assaulting Palestinian citizens for the third consecutive day.

Local sources told the Palestinian Information Center (PIC) that the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) persisted in barring the Palestinians from using al-Sahel (plain) road in Yabad and chased and assaulted several farmers, which prompted them to take other routes.

A horde of settlers, for their part, ambushed and attacked Palestinians in areas near Dotan checkpoint as well as vehicles traveling on the road between Yabad and Tulkarem. They also chanted racist slurs against Arabs, according to eyewitnesses.

The IOF also set up a makeshift checkpoint on the road between Yabad and eastern Barta’a and intercepted Palestinian passengers and vehicles.

The areas surrounding Yabad town have been seeing for three days attacks on Palestinian natives and restrictions on their movement on allegations that local young men attacked a settler with stones and injured him.

(Source / 18.12.2015)

Israel plans to build walls around Palestinian towns

Israil is proposing to build walls around Palestinians towns and villages

Israil is proposing to build walls around Palestinians towns and villages

Media reports in Israel have reported that the army is planning to build walls around Palestinians towns and villages on the pretext that it will stop stones being thrown at illegal Jewish settlers.

“The army will build 9 metre high walls in the areas of Beit Ummar, Al-Arroub, Gush Etzion, and the areas surrounding Highway 60, south of the West Bank,” claimed Channel 2 TV.

In response, Mustafa Barghouti, the Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative, told Anadolu, “The Israeli army’s decision to build walls around important and vital areas in the southern part of the West Bank aims to control large Palestinian areas for settlers. It also aims to isolate the areas from each other in order to prevent any chance to establish a Palestinian state.”

Such walls, added Barghouti, are in addition to the 676 military checkpoints in the occupied West Bank as part of the Israeli plan to divide the territory and control all of its vital areas.

(Source / 18.12.2015)

78 Palestinians shot by Israeli military in Friday demos

Clashes in Bethlehem, October 2015

NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli forces on Friday shot and injured at least 78 Palestinians, two critically, when clashes broke out across the occupied Palestinian territory for the second day in a row.Medical sources told Ma’an that a Palestinian was hit with live fire in the chest during clashes in the village of Sinjil northeast of Ramallah.The man was taken to the Palestine Medical Complex in critical condition. The medical sources said he was resuscitated after heart and respiratory failure, and was undergoing an operation.Clashes also broke out at the Beit Einun junction east of Hebron, where Israeli forces shot a demonstrator with live fire in the head. Doctors at al-Ahli hospital in Hebron told Ma’an the protester was left in critical condition.Another Palestinian was shot in the foot during the same clashes, while two others were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets in clashes at Halhul bridge north of Hebron.A local activist Muhammad Ayyad Awad told Ma’an that two Palestinians were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets during clashes in Beit Ummar that broke out after Israeli forces attacked a funeral in the village.Awad added that an Israeli settler attempted to run over three Palestinians in the same area while Israeli forces stood idly by. No one was hurt in the incident.Separately, witnesses told Ma’an that five demonstrators were injured by live fire and 20 by rubber-coated steel bullets in the village of Beit Furik east of Nablus.A member of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front party, Munadhel Hanani, said that protesters marched calling for the return of Palestinian bodies withheld by Israel before clashes broke out in al-Qa’da area of the village.A 15-year-old resident of the village, Abdullah Hussein Nasasra, was killed Thursday after the Israeli army said he attempted to stab a soldier at the Huwwara military checkpoint.The Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma’an that two Palestinians were also injured Friday by live fire and four by rubber-coated steel bullets during clashes near the northern entrance of Bethlehem.In the Gaza Strip, a 20-year-old Palestinian was shot dead, 31 were injured by live fire and 9 by rubber-coated steel bullets, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health.Clashes also took place in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Thursday, and hundreds from the Hebron district demonstrated for the return of 21 bodies of Palestinians from the district currently being held inside of Israel.An increase in demonstrations against Israeli military forces has coincided with an escalation in violence that began across the occupied Palestinian territory in October that has continued through December.While marking a notable increase in participants, the confrontations have lacked the large popular participation seen during the First and Second Intifadas.A recent poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy Survey and and Research (PCSR) reported that the largest percentage (43 percent) of those polled said that the reason for the lack of large turnout might be fear of the PA or the occupation.Nineteen percent, meanwhile, thought the reason was “despair and the belief that the confrontations are likely to be in vain.”In the context of the violence that has left well over 100 Palestinians dead since Oct. 1, a growing majority of Palestinians reportedly support the return to an armed Intifada, according to the PCSR.The “Oslo generation” — Palestinian youth who grew up in the wake of the Oslo Accords and their subsequent failure — constitute the most supportive sector in the Palestinian populace for a return to armed resistance.While the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Liberation Organization rejected armed struggle in 1993, PLO leadership and the PA have yet to publicly condemn the wave of attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals that have killed 19 Israelis since the start of October.

(Source / 18.12.2015)

As the World Debates Syria, Palestine’s Ignominy Continues in Silence

hebronpicture

As the prophetic Orwellian concept of perpetual war is made manifest in Syria and Iraq, and the attention of the planet is understandably diverted towards the apocalyptic scenario currently being played out there, the subjugated and forgotten nation of Palestine limps quietly on under the curse of a media blackout.

Hebron, about 30km south of Jerusalem, has effectively been under apartheid rule for years. Settlers – under the protection of the Israeli military and thus all but immune to prosecution – frequently throw stones at Palestinian children and break into people’s homes. According to blogger Charlotte Silver, a recent military directive was issued on October 30th ‘preventing male Palestinian residents between the ages of 15 and 25 from passing all Israeli military checkpoints that surround Jewish settlements in Hebron’[1]. Palestinian-owned shops on Shuhada street, a main artery of the city and formerly its main marketplace, have been welded shut since by the IDF since the massacre of 29 Palestinians by a settler in 1994. The entire street was closed to all Palestinians in 2000.

Weekly demonstrations to reopen the street to everyone are held byYouth Against Settlements, a small local group of activists. Last month, Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron raided their offices, demanding that their operations be shut down by the Israeli army.

Yehuda Shaul, a former IDF soldier, wrote last month: ‘The foundation of Israel’s security policy in Hebron… is the “principle of separation,” which in practice means restricting freedom of movement for Palestinians in areas near Israeli settlements in the city’.[2] This restriction of movement has long been coupled with the destruction of Palestinian land; a report, for example, last year from stopthewall.org told of the burning and bulldozing of Palestinian farmlands by settlers around Hebron, close to the Ali Zahav settlement.[3]

Aside from providing protection for settlers responsible for violence, Shaul confirmed that the military themselves were under direct instruction to employ bullying tactics. ‘I regularly went out on missions to “make our presence felt,” which means raiding houses and conducting searches in the middle of the night, or violent patrols throughout the city… at any hour of the day or night, soldiers may enter their (Palestinians’)home(s) and search through their belongings.’[4]

The IDF killing in September of an 18-year old Palestinian woman Hadeel al-Hashlamoun (which Amnesty International described as an ‘extrajudicial execution’[5]) demonstrates, in a rather macabre parallel to the police violence that has birthed the Black Lives Matter movement in the USA, the willingness of the military to use deadly force.

This state-sponsored approach is odiously reminiscent of apartheid South Africa. In Refusal,Transition and Post-Apartheid Law, Karin van Marle describes some of the tactics which the ruling National Party employed to govern in South Africa:

‘…the state had to use the now-familiar tactics of forced-segregation: a night-raid, arrest of the adult members of the community for trespassing and bulldozing of their homes…’[6]

There is clearly palpable evidence of these methods in Hebron. And yet here, it’s going unnoticed.

***

The trademark gore of Daesh so prevalent in the Western conscious is choreographed by a powerful and prudent propaganda department, and moreover, is inanely fetishized by a receptive and sensationalist media every-ready to serve as a mouthpiece by pornographizing the group’s barbarism. This luridly appeals to the primality of a dehumanized audience, constantly stoking the fires of outrage and in turn sustaining the rationale for a ceaseless campaign of bombing.

Distinctly, in keeping with state-sponsored violence in the globalized age, the infringements and injustices perpetrated by both the Israeli settlers – effectively the proxy of the state’s expansionism – and the IDF lack the artistic panache of the brutal, unfettered terrorist. It is distinctly less dramatized, and as such doesn’t appeal as viscerally to the primordial, bestial cortex of the intellectually immobilized and eternally distracted Westerner . Thus, the occupation of Palestine only cultivates sporadic Western media attention, such as during the appalling situation in Gaza in the summer of 2014. Yet the anaemic utterances of disapproval are only tentatively articulated by our media when the transgressions of the infinitely superior Israeli aggressor become clearly and sickeningly disproportionate. The anguish of Palestinians in Hebron, for example, is outright ignored, as the West Bank is seen by the outside world of being a comparably tolerable and harmonious state of affairs than in Gaza; atrocities here are cloaked more convincingly in pretensions to legality and even-handedness.

Perhaps ‘Palestine fatigue’ is a another factor – the longevity of the fighting suggests the crisis’s ultimately insolvability and so engenders apathy from foreign quarters. Yet the proclamation of Cabinet Ministers last week that the war to destroy Daesh may ‘take as long as two years’[7] has ominous implications for The Occupation. So long as the checkmate between Assad, Daesh, Russia and the West ticks on with no signal of a fissure in the impasse, the Israeli settlers’ encroachment upon the rights and land of the increasingly quarantine and beleaguered Palestinians is doomed to be cast aside as a knot so tangled it’s not worth trying to undo.

Hebron serves as a microcosm of the daily humiliation, mistreatment and violence that the Palestinian people are subject to throughout the West Bank and across the occupied territories. But for the intermittent expression of unease, by and large the world is indifferent to Palestine’s elegiac suffering. Now, with the advent of Daesh’s horrors and the geopolitical posturing that have accompanied the group’s struggle with Assad, the waters in the Middle East have been muddied even further.

They have become so muddy, in fact, that the root of the region’s problem is becoming harder and harder to see.

Notes. 

[1] https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/hebron-bears-brunt-israels-crackdown

[2] http://972mag.com/the-only-way-to-end-the-violence-in-hebron/113525/

[3] http://www.stopthewall.org/2014/05/25/settlers-burn-lands-hebron-and-israeli-forces-bulldozed-lands-salfit

[4] see 1

[5] https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde15/2529/2015/en/

[6] Refusal, Transition and Post-Apartheid Law Karin van Marle p.47

[7] http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/03/ministers-two-years-destroy-isis-uk-airstrikes-syria

(Source / 18.12.2015)

Maktabi: International Community Needs to Prioritize Stopping the Daily Slaughter of Syrians

The International Syria Support Group is convening today in New York to discuss ending the conflict in Syria. Later on Friday afternoon, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will chair a meeting of the UN Security Council which is expected to adopt a resolution supporting the Vienna consultations. The proposed resolution is reportedly backed by Russia.

In its first meeting on Thursday in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, the opposition’s Supreme Negotiations Committee elected Riyad Hijab as General Coordinator. Yahya Qadamani was elected as deputy coordinator, Safwan Akash a secretary, and Riyad Nassan Agha as the committee’s official spokesman.

The Syrian Coalition’s Secretary-General Mohammed Yahya Maktabi called upon the nations meeting in New York to help Syrians find a just political solution that puts an end to the daily killings and achieves the Syrians’ aspirations for freedom and dignity.

Maktabi stressed that any political solution that does not guarantee the departure of Assad will play into the hands of extremist organizations and feeds into their propaganda.

“I want to remind you that Assad’s ongoing crimes in Syria for nearly five years using barrel bombs and chemical weapons and the detention of tens of thousands of civilians were all committed before ISIS and other terrorist organizations existed,” Maktabi said.

(Source: Syrian Coalition / 18.12.2015)