Palestinian prisoners need our attention before they die

Palestinians demanding the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, stage a demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Eastern Jerusalem on March 26, 2019. ( Faiz Abu Rmeleh - Anadolu Agency )

By Ramona Wadi 

Since 1967, 220 Palestinian prisoners have died in Israeli prisons. The latest victim is Nasser Taqatqa, detained in June from his home in Beit Fajjar, accused of purportedly having ties to Hamas. Taqatqa, age 31, was interrogated by Shin Bet, tortured and placed in solitary confinement. On Tuesday he was found dead, prompting another wave of anger among Palestinians and much needed focus on the plight of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

According to Haaretz, Taqaqta was discovered dead in the prison’s mental health centre where was taken for medical supervision. Palestinian media states that he was transferred to different interrogation facilities and constantly placed in solitary confinement. Taqatqa was last seen in Nitzan prison, where it has been said he died in solitary confinement.

Israel has claimed Taqatqa died as a result of a stroke. Meanwhile the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society declared that autopsy results revealed extreme torture and abuse, leading to Taqatqa’s death.

READ: Israel Supreme Court throws out petition for Palestinian child prisoners to call parents

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying: “The martyrdom of Taqatqa in the interrogation cells demand an immediate action by the International Criminal Court and the opening of an official investigation into the crimes of the occupying power in order to pursue and prosecute Israeli war criminals.”

Needless to say, this statement fell on deaf ears. No call for justice has emanated from the international community. If the UN fails to take up the call of Palestinian prisoners while they are still alive, a tortured and dead prisoner will present no significance to the organisation.

Likewise, the Palestinian Authority’s continuous exploitation of Palestinian prisoners does not help to further its cause. On the contrary, it has facilitated the transfer of many Palestinians to Israeli jails, while the PA security services act like Israel’s extension in the occupied West Bank. The PA has no foundation whatsoever to speak about the rights of Palestinian prisoners. It is only a step ahead of the international community in terms of speaking out, due to perfunctory obligation which the UN can conveniently sidestep.

Meanwhile, the growing rift between the PA and the Palestinian people will continue to displace attention away from the Palestinian prisoners’ plight. Political authority is the determining factor which singles out the people as perpetual victims without protection from their leaders which is, of course, a favourable scenario for Israel.

READ: Prisoners face ‘inhumane treatment’ in Israel

Away from the cloistered arena of human rights jargon, there has yet to be a single instance where such rights can claim a single, irreversible victory. The media reports reactions – prisoners banging on doors and refusing meals at the news of a Palestinian prisoner’s death – but what do such reports tell us about the prisoners in Israeli jails? Nothing. The collective efforts at stifling their voices, even to the point of murder through torture and medical negligence, is provoking an oblivion which is tantamount to a loss of identity, at least when it comes to perception from the outside. With the exception of Palestinians in close proximity with Israeli forces, who spares a thought for Palestinian prisoners before they are turned into temporary headlines by Israel’s colonial violence?

(Source / 18.07.2019) 

The race to fail Palestine: the two-state compromise and Trump’s ‘deal of the century’

Palestinians stage a protest against the 'Deal of the Century', planned by US President Donald Trump to solve the conflict between Palestine and Israel, in Ramallah, West Bank on 2 July 2018 [Shadi Hatem/Apaimages]

Palestinians stage a protest against the ‘Deal of the Century’, planned by US President Donald Trump to solve the conflict between Palestine and Israel, in Ramallah, West Bank on 2 July 2018

By Ramona Wadi 

As the unveiling of US President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” remains uncertain and probably postponed, the international community has pitted itself against the proposal and deeming it an incentive to stand unequivocally in favour of the two-state compromise, which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has repeatedly described as the only possibility. In the US, a similar scenario is taking place.

A resolution drafted by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen has raised Israel’s ire for its endorsement of the two-state compromise. Israeli diplomats, it was reported, have been lobbying for the removal of the two-state clause.

Palestinians, on the other hand, have been eliminated from the process except for necessary reference, and this is not due to the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to entertain US prospects of a deal. Its insistence on the two-state compromise has gradually eroded the focus from Palestinian rights to the PA’s willingness to accommodate the international community. Hence, the PA’s stance is just a continuation of the façade it committed itself to since its establishment.

Pompeo: Deal of the century ‘unexecutable’ 

Last April, former EU diplomats insisted that the bloc should “formally reaffirm” its agreement to the two-state paradigm and refute the US plan. The reason, however, was the EU’s international standing as regards its purported peace-building role, rather than Palestinian rights which are non-existent in the two-state hypothesis. With a prolonged diplomatic confrontation between the US and the international community over which plan to follow for Palestine, and with the PA persistently advocating for the two-state despite the losses Palestinians have incurred, the last shards of pretence were eliminated.

Not one single entity has proposed the obvious – ask the Palestinian people what they want – lest there is a departure from the historical process of international interference which created a colonial entity in Palestine. Instead, the diplomatic battleground was extended to create a parallel where external actors’ decision-making is only concerned with what benefits their meddling will reap to enhance their international standing.

Trump's Deal - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

The same process is now being repeated in the US, pitting proponents of the two-state against Trump’s deal. Had the Trump administration not concocted a new plan to fail Palestinians, the entire international community would have intermittently continued to coerce Palestinians into its diplomacy. With two prospects spelling disaster for Palestinians, the race as to who will fail Palestinians first has begun.

READ: Time to stop the external manipulation of ‘what Palestinians want’ 

As the PA continues to limit itself to a choice between both disastrous options, it is aiding a complete manipulation of Palestinian rights. PA leader Mahmoud Abbas’ refusal to entertain US scheming holds no value while his faction is still supporting another form of facilitating Israel’s colonisation of Palestine.

Indeed, the PA’s stance is reminiscent of Jared Kushner’s refusal to discuss a two-state hypothesis, in terms of how detrimental both outcomes are for Palestinians.

While pretending to oppose Trump’s deal, the international community is pushing for a paradigm that covertly leads to the same outcomes. It is only because of the widespread hostility that Trump has generated since taking office, that the illusion of two camps for a solution has become ingrained and which is now being played out across the world in complete conformity.

(Source / 10.06.2019) 

Normalizing violence takes precedence over targeted assassinations

By Ramona Wadi

One outcome is certain when it comes to the forthcoming Israeli elections – Gaza will remain a top target for the new government. Amid the sparring between contenders for the elections, former IDF chief Benny Gantz declared he would implement Israel’s policy of targeted assassinations against Hamas leaders if elected, and if necessary.

His comments sought to counter Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s remarks over “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014, in which the latter used derogatory language to criticise Gantz’s decisions which, according to Bennett, endangered the lives of Israeli soldiers. Bennett alleged that Gantz would be Hamas’ preferable leadership option. This claim is also being supported by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has stated that Gantz’s party would make “significant concessions to the Palestinians.”

Both Gantz and Netanyahu have increasingly focused on Gaza in their electoral campaigns, with “Operation Protective Edge” and the Great March of Return providing premises for their arguments. Gantz, who was in charge of the aggression against the enclave, has compared the 2014 aftermath to the ongoing protests and Netanyahu’s response, which was to order snipers positioned at the border to kill and injure Palestinians participating in the demonstration.

Gantz described Netanyahu’s strategy as a “tired policy”. The alternative in such a scenario, according to the former army chief, is to “return to a policy of targeted killings.”

In June 2018, Israel’s Security Minister Gilad Erdan advocated for the targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders and Palestinians launching the “incendiary kites” from Gaza’s border.

A return to targeted killings, however, is not accurate. Israel has a long history of assassinating Palestinian leaders from Hamas and other Palestinian political factions. Only last year, a Palestinian scientist affiliated to Hamas was gunned down in Malaysia, in an operation which raised speculation about Mossad’s role even in Israeli media, although there was no forthright confirmation of the agency’s involvement.

Gantz, therefore, will not be “returning” to a policy of targeted assassinations but embarking upon a continuation of Israel’s policy. Yet, speculation on targeted assassinations alone is just a deviation from the damage which both Netanyahu and Gantz have the power to inflict on the enclave in terms of political and humanitarian related violence.

Following “Operation Protective Edge”, Netanyahu adopted a strategy that prolongs violence for Israel’s benefit. The Great March of Return is one such example. Extrajudicial killings by Israel’s snipers raised international scrutiny which, with time, mellowed down to the usual expressions of concerns regarding what is deemed as routine violence. Distancing Israel from targeted assassinations in Gaza during this period provided Israel with the opportunity to normalize its ongoing violence on the border.

Gantz is no stranger to strategy. Targeted assassinations cannot be attributed to one single leader but to the existence of the colonial state and its policies of elimination. What Gaza will face under the new Israeli government is more likely to be a continuation of measures which maintains Palestinians’ deprivation in the enclave. Electoral campaign rhetoric aside, an outright endorsement and implementation of targeted assassinations contradict the intentional ambiguity which Israel has employed against leaders or individuals who have the potential to challenge its existence.

(Source / 16.03.2019)

Humanitarian aid and strategic interests … for the EU

Palestinian men carry food aid given by UNRWA in Gaza City, Gaza on 15 January 2018 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian men carry food aid given by UNRWA in Gaza City, Gaza on 15 January 2018

By Ramona Wadi

Palestinians are in dire need of humanitarian aid. So dire, in fact, that the EU has no qualms about conditioning financial aid in terms of acquiescence to the two-state paradigm.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is not an exception to this type of political blackmail. During a meeting with the organisation’s Commission General Pierre Krahenbuhl, EU Representative Federica Mogherini declared: “Supporting the agency means supporting peace and security in the Middle East. And this is in our strategic interest. UNRWA is essential for the very perspective of a two-state solution.”

UNRWA strives to maintain a purely humanitarian approach, as evidenced in its rhetoric. Yet its donors are politicising funds into “strategic interests”. The two-state hypothesis is also incompatible with the Palestinian right of return – the most Palestinians can hope for in such a scenario is a symbolic gesture that will only affect a small percentage of all Palestinian refugees. UNRWA’s mission is to provide access to basic services such as education and healthcare to Palestinian refugees. What, exactly, does the EU mean when it manipulates its aid into a strategic interest? And is UNRWA in a position to refute the organisation becoming part of the political meddling decided by the political powers?

If UNRWA is forced into reducing its services further due to lack of funding, Palestinian refugees will face additional hardships. Yet its mandate to function in response to the ramifications of political violence by Israel to which the EU and the rest of the world turns a blind eye is restrictive and not without reason, as decided by the oppressive political complicity which required UNRWA’s existence in the first place.

READ: Israel to force Palestinians out of Jerusalem after closing UNRWA schools

If the rights of Palestinian refugees are now being diminished further in order to accommodate the EU’s strategic interests related to the two-state imposition, UNRWA’s role is becoming jeopardised, not only by US President Donald Trump’s decision to redefine who qualifies as a Palestinian refugee. The EU’s role in subverting Palestinian rights is carried out openly and raises less controversy due to the fact that Trump has attracted global derision while the EU is still ensconced within a respectable façade.

We are told that the EU’s financial assistance to Palestinians “has a crucial impact” as regards humanitarian assistance. The EU should also be held accountable as to how its agenda is curtailing access to the rights of Palestinian refugees. Humanitarian aid is becoming problematic as the donors’ agenda will not allow the recipients to politicise their situation. Instead, it requires Palestinian refugees to become recipients without a cause, and that goes contrary to Palestinian anti-colonial struggle.

However, the conditioning of thought that Trump is a solitary, powerful enemy of the Palestinian prevails. Trump is not acting in a vacuum – his politics are exposing flaws in the international community which should have fuelled a masses’ internationalist solidarity with the Palestinians. On the contrary, political exploitation is gaining in strength through the expectation that people across the world remain shackled to aligning with what is conveyed as a respectable alternative.

The end result is creating a perception of the Palestinians from a prevailing colonial perspective. The only makeover is that instead of empires, we now speak of the EU.

READ: UNRWA classrooms to stay open despite funding crisis, agency reports

(Source / 29.01.2019)

The Palestinian children killed by Israel in 2018 have been forgotten by the world

A wreath lays on the seat of Faris Hafez al-Sarasawi, 12 years old Palestinian child who was killed by Israeli forces in "Great March of Return" demonstrations, during a remembering by his classmates and teacher at Muaz bin Jabal Elementary School in Shuja'iyya neighborhood of Gaza City, Gaza on October 06, 2018 [Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency]

A wreath lays on the seat of Faris Hafez al-Sarasawi, 12 years old Palestinian child who was killed by Israeli forces in “Great March of Return” demonstrations, during a remembering by his classmates and teacher at Muaz bin Jabal Elementary School in Shuja’iyya neighborhood of Gaza City, Gaza on October 06, 2018

By Ramona Wadi

Defence for Children International Palestine (DCIP) paints a bleak prospect for Palestinian children in revealing that in 2018, at least 56 were killed by Israel. Individuals who witnessed some of the murders have insisted that the targeted children were unarmed and posed no threat to the state or its citizens.

Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli army snipers, drones and security forces across the occupied Palestinian territories. Five of the murdered children were under 12 years of age. In Gaza, 49 children were murdered by Israel in activities pertaining to the Great March of Return protests.

Live ammunition was used by Israel in 73 per cent of the fatalities documented by DCIP, which also recorded “140 cases of Palestinian children who were detained by Palestinian forces.” Israeli forces also arrested 120 children within the occupied West Bank. In both groups, the detained children suffered abuse at the hands of the security forces holding them, whether the PA or the Israeli military.

These tactics show that Israel’s colonial collaboration with the Palestinian Authority is targeting a very vulnerable segment of Palestinian society. What’s more, the killing and wounding of Palestinian children by Israeli snipers at the Great Return March is a direct maiming of the generation which can carry on the anti-colonial struggle.

READ: Israel soldiers shot Palestinian teen, ‘dragged him around’ and chased away ambulance 

Citing international law is pointless when Israel, and even the Palestinian Authority, have extended the parameters for an ongoing cycle of abuse against Palestinian children. International law is only relevant when used to point out that violations are taking place and the Palestinians are facing a UN member state which treats international law with contempt, while the international community gives its tacit agreement to the abuse and is, in some cases, complicit.

DCIP’s research establishes the fact that Israel killed an average of more than one child per week in 2018. Earlier shocking official statistics revealed that between 2000 and 2014 Israel killed a Palestinian child every three days on average, for fourteen years. Throughout the year there was ongoing discussion about Israel’s genocidal intent and actions which were mostly discarded due to the monopoly over the term in reference to the Holocaust. Yet, Article II of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines the term as “acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” What else is Israel doing to the people of Palestine, “in whole or in part”?

Palestinians carry the dead body of Faris Hafez al-Sarasawi, 12 years old Palestinian child who was killed by Israeli forces in "Great March of Return" demonstrations, during his funeral ceremony in Shuja'iyya neighborhood of Gaza City, Gaza on October 06, 2018 [Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency]

The international community’s responses are so predictable that Israel finds no obstacles in manoeuvring beyond the limits set by international law; it is allowed to act with impunity. The “drip, drip” rate of the killing of Palestinian children and the almost routine nature of their detention sneaks under the radar of human rights violations. As the international community fails to respond to Israeli violations within its established framework, Israel succeeds in bridging the gap between violations and rights.

To speak of Israel’s violations now is, in fact, also to speak of the international community’s irresponsibility. Yet neither are scrutinised and held to account; the result is the regular yet somewhat reluctant citing of what should happen according to international law being juxtaposed against Israeli breaches of the law. Accountability, however, has long since absconded from the scene of the crime. If Israel wants to kill Palestinian children (or women and men, come to that), it will kill because it has decided, quite deliberately, to do so.

Meanwhile, the international community will steer clear from ever associating Israeli actions with genocide, preferring instead to rely on “alleged war crimes”, the perpetrators of which will never be brought to justice. Palestinian children killed by Israel over many years, last year included, have been forgotten by the world.

READ: Israel displaces, locks up and kills Palestinian children

(Source / 03.01.2019)

Excuses, excuses when the stone-thrower is an Israeli settler and the victim is Palestinian

When a Palestinian child throws a stone at an Israeli soldier hiding in his heavily armoured military vehicle, he gets 20 years in prison, but when an Israeli settler kill a Palestinian civilian, he might get only one year in prison.

In 2015, Israel approved a law that stipulated a 20-year-prison-sentence for individuals caught throwing stones. The intention was to target Palestinians involved in resistance activities, despite the discrepancies between armed Jewish Israeli settlers and Palestinians in terms of weapons available for them to use.

“Tolerance towards terrorists ends today,” commented Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. “A stone thrower is a terrorist and only a fitting punishment can serve as a deterrent and just punishment.”

Yet despite claiming that Palestinians who throw stones during clashes “provoke” unwarranted violence, stone throwing by Jewish Israeli settler-colonists has many precedents and victims, and is usually overlooked. The latest Palestinian victim of Jewish stone-throwers was Aisha Al-Rabi who was killed last Friday while on her way home in the car. Settlers hurled stones at the family car, killing Aisha and injuring her husband Yacoub.

Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin described the killing and subsequent attachment of blame to Jewish settlers as “a scrap of an incident”. He added, “It is quite galling that it takes an incident like this in relation to a Palestinian vehicle for it [stone throwing] to be raised on the agenda.”

In fact, B’Tselem has documented many instances of settler-colonial violence, including stone throwing by extremist Jews on many occasions. The Israeli rights group has pointed out that there is an absence of law enforcement in such cases.

The Israeli media gives priority to detailing clashes between stone-throwing settlers and the Israeli military, which usually end in a tally of those injured and a notification of temporary arrest. There is an explicit difference in punishment and media portrayal between settler violence and Palestinian resistance. The former is exempt from punishment, whether the violence is directed against Palestinians or the Israeli military; the latter, meanwhile, is criminalised.

Al-Rabi’s case crossed a red line as regards media coverage due to settlers causing her death by stone throwing, hence the need for her murder to be downplayed by Levin. His comments indicate that close scrutiny of Jewish Israeli settler stone throwers is unacceptable to right-wing politicians, particularly when the victim, who was killed, is a Palestinian.

However, if the context is taken into consideration, it is clear that the Israeli state has manufactured a culture of impunity for stone throwing (and other) crimes by its settler population. This precise bequeathing of impunity is evidence of the colonial state’s dependence upon its settlers, no matter that they live in illegal settlements, to preserve its existence.

While condemning the murder, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov failed to address settler stone throwing, focusing instead upon the attack as creating “a new cycle of violence that would further undermine the prospects of peace between Palestinians and Israelis.” This was not, however, a “new cycle of violence”; to describe the crime thus is to absolve the Israeli colonial state and its settlers of embracing stone throwing as the means to terrorise Palestinians merely for being the indigenous inhabitants of historic Palestine.

Palestinian stone throwers, facing heavily armed settlers and the military, face harsh sentences and at times even extrajudicial murder for daring to resist the colonial violence endorsed by Israel. Al-Rabi’s killing was an unprovoked terror attack. Will Shaked’s misplaced words, directed against Palestinians, be fully invoked against Jewish Israeli settler stone throwers when, as in this case, the end result is murder? Or will it be yet another examples of excuses, excuses but no justice from Israel’s Justice Minister?

(Source / 19.10.2018)

The debate on UNRWA takes focus away from the realities of refugees

Ramona Wadi

By Ramona Wadi

In the aftermath of the US decision to end its funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the EU has pledged to continue its financial support. In terms of the agency being able to continue providing services to Palestinian refugees, the news is undoubtedly welcome. However, the EU is still failing Palestinian refugees in terms of why it has decided to continue funding UNRWA.

According to a statement partially published by Wafa news agency, “The EU is committed to securing the continuation and sustainability of the agency’s work which is vital for stability and security in the region”. For all diplomatic intents and purposes, Palestinian refugees are merely an appendage to be used and exploited politically. Building upon the absence of historic Palestine and speaking only about a hypothetical Palestinian state, the international community, including the EU, gave Israel a green light to claim, albeit while exonerating its colonial presence from accountability, that there is a perpetuation of maintaining the status quo for Palestinian refugees.

The EU has no vision for Palestinian refugees and does not care whether they will return to their homeland or not. While it will continue to support UNRWA, it must be said that the dynamics are those of institutions supporting other institutions. A viable way to do so without raising the ire of the victims is by emphasising the humanitarian intent. Depoliticising humanitarian aid, however, has opened avenues for political entities to coerce victims into remaining victims.

By promoting the provision, or withdrawal of, financial support for humanitarian aid depending upon the actors involved, Palestinian refugees are deprived from a collaborative political commitment to change the passiveness enshrined within UN Resolution 194.

Trump’s decision adds to the consequences of the earlier colonial ethnic cleansing and displacement, while the EU’s reiteration that it will continue funding UNRWA ensures that its provision of basic services for Palestinian refugees can proceed. Yet, common to both US and EU actions, is the underlying motive to ensnare refugees in perpetual dependency. The most convenient way to achieve that is to balance contrasting actions in a way that promotes and maintains refugee dependency upon international humanitarian aid. With that balance, obligations are forced upon Palestinian refugees to accept whatever the international community deems as suitable parameters. A Palestinian right of return that departs from the Palestinian narratives was never on the agenda for the complicit international community.

Currently, the only discourse that defines the existence of Palestinian refugees is eclipsed by UNRWA and the funding saga. The international community has willingly participated in the snare created by Israel and the US – that of amalgamating Palestinian refugee identity to the agency providing basic needs, instead of speaking about Palestinians in direct relation to historic Palestine. Israel’s plan, carried out by the US, seeks to disrupt UNRWA and, as a result, refute recognition of the Palestinian refugee condition and their right of return. A strong rebuttal from the international community is non-existent; the reason being that Palestinian refugees and their right of return are externally defined by a flawed, non-binding resolution endorsing Israel’s colonisation first and foremost.

(Source / 09.09.2018)

Palestinian popular resistance must be free of PA impositions

Israeli forces fire at Palestinian protesters during the Great March of Return in Gaza on 9 August 2018 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

By Ramona Wadi

With the Bedouin village of Khan Al-Ahmar still targeted by Israel for demolition, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has availed himself of the opportunity to call for mobilisation in the form of popular resistance. This, he maintains, is “the only means of struggle towards independence and statehood”, to the exclusion of all other forms of anti-colonial struggle. Khan al-Ahmar’s context, however, was necessary for Abbas to make his argument.

In other remarks during the 29thmeeting of the Palestinian Central Council, he reiterated his authoritarian plans for Gaza and for reconciliation to happen on terms that have been imposed by the international community upon the Palestinians. If popular resistance is implemented according to Abbas’s directives, it will undoubtedly be a limited endeavour, fraught with restrictions and transformed into another tool for the PA to allow Israel to complete its colonisation of the whole of Palestine.

Just as Abbas wishes to eliminate all other possibilities of Palestinian leadership, “popular resistance” in PA rhetoric means abandoning all other legitimate forms of resistance for one that is easier to control in terms of conforming to the authority’s demands. Furthermore, endorsement of popular resistance by the PA is being used to project purported differences between Gaza and the occupied West Bank, despite the fact that Palestinians in Gaza are the embodiment of popular resistance as part of the collective struggle for freedom from Israel’s occupation.

READ: Claims of torture in PA prisons resurface as prisoner dies in custody 

The PA has often called for popular resistance, only to distance itself from the outcome on many occasions while letting Palestinians become fodder for Israeli jails. It is clear, therefore, that the Ramallah authority utilises popular resistance to embellish its rhetoric. When Palestinians in the occupied West Bank protest against Abbas’s punitive measures imposed on the people in Gaza, for example, the PA’s security services never hesitate to target peaceful demonstrators with excessive violence. A recent protest at the PLO Headquarters in Ramallah saw PA security officers tearing down the placards of activists asking Abbas to lift his sanctions on Gaza.

The PA is trying hard to monopolise Palestinian popular resistance through differentiation. If popular resistance is restricted to occasional demonstrations against Israeli violations, or if it is necessary to promote any PA diplomatic stunts abroad, Abbas and his aides do not hesitate to endorse it. If, however, Palestinians utilise popular resistance to protest against PA violations, there are no qualms about using violence to disperse protestors. Hence, it is clear that in the PA’s vision of popular resistance, it is the same individuals who determine what popular protest is and how it should be utilised. The result is that such protest becomes yet another form of PA control over Palestinian resilience and resistance to Israel’s military occupation.

Popular resistance requires no endorsements or exhortations from Abbas. The Palestinian concept of liberation is not derived from PA “sacred security cooperation” with Israel and the international community. If the PA thinks it can manipulate the concept of popular resistance to be attributed to their leaders, their political delusion is even greater than it seems. This is especially so given that there is no denying that the Palestinians have decided to implement popular resistance as part of the struggle against all forms of oppression, including the PA’s own collaboration with Israel.

Fatah: We will reject any truce in Gaza agreed without us 

(Source / 22.08.2018)

‘Farmer Terrorism’ Is the New Slogan for Jewish Settlers

Farmer terrorism

Jewish settlers regularly set fire to Palestinian lands, destroying crops and olive trees

By Ramona Wadi

In less than three months, Jewish settlers have destroyed over 2,000 trees and grapevines in the occupied West Bank. Rights group B’Tselem has issued a detailed report on this destruction, including testimony from Palestinian farmers. Bales of hay and barley fields were also destroyed. The destruction wrought by Israel’s settler-colonists equates Palestinian agriculture to terrorism; slogans sprayed on Palestinian property following the destruction included “No to farmer terrorism”.

The personal testimonies show that Israel has once again refused to act in order to deter settler violence against Palestinians and their land. Ultimately, the aim is to displace Palestinians forcibly by terrorizing those seeking access to their own land. “This process has erected invisible walls throughout the West Bank, which Palestinians know crossing will expose them to violence and even danger to their lives,” says B’Tselem.

Israel is using complementary forms of violence: direct destruction by targeting crops and using the same destruction to levy a psychological threat against the colonized population. In the documented cases, the destruction was so severe that new plants have to be cultivated, thus having a negative impact on the sliver of economic independence that Palestinians can gain from agriculture.

There is an outcome of resilience mingled with imposed resignation; the farmers will still tend to their fields yet the threat of another round of settler violence fuelled by impunity is always imminent. No matter how well rights organizations document the violations, though, the Palestinians have no recourse other than awareness. This is partly because Israel has moved ahead in terms of normalizing colonial expansion.

Hassan ‘Issa discovered that 168 out of 250 grapevines in his fields had been destroyed by settlers. “What happened to my vines feels like a terrible injustice, and I feel incredibly frustrated and sad.” It is painful to read this. Compare the vagueness of ‘Issa’s statement — made in the knowledge that there are no rights for the colonized in apartheid Israel — with the threat left by the settlers: “No to farmer terrorism.”

The value of people and land is misplaced to set the accelerated pace for forced displacement and a re-enactment of the image of Palestine being barren, one of the false premises behind Palestine’s colonization by Israel. The only difference is that Israel now prefers sustained acts of violence that are documented and discussed almost routinely.

“Farmer terrorism” is, of course, a complete falsehood, yet it is on such premises that expansion has been facilitated. The more that Israel utilizes such absurd claims, the further it is removed from reprimand by the international community. This lends Israel ample time and space — and total immunity — to construct its variety of “terror” narratives to make such purported threats endemic to its settler-colonial presence. Why would anyone even seek to challenge the notion of “farmer terrorism”? At first glance, it is void of any logic; a second reading flaunts its depravity, embodied by state and settlers alike.

Palestinian resilience has always laid bare the Zionist myths. Having no other means to sustain itself, Israel is eager to create the conditions for myths to become a manifested reality, even if it means acknowledging Palestinian existence through accusations which serve to embellish its purported “security concerns”. Nothing, though, justifies the wanton destruction of crops by illegal Jewish settlers or anyone else.

(Source / 14.08.2018)

Palestinians are being impoverished by the manipulation of aid

Ramona Wadi By Ramona Wadi


In March, the World Bank issued a press release stating that the deterioration in Gaza’s humanitarian situation is preventing economic growth. Among the destabilisation factors mentioned were the lack of access to basic services, unemployment and cuts in UNRWA funding. Israel’s colonial violence was excluded completely from the analysis presented in the press release. Furthermore, the communication also stated that, “Effective governance systems and institutional strengthening under the Palestinian Authority’s leadership are also key for a sustainable recovery.” This was despite it being common knowledge that the PA is corrupt from top to bottom, and there to serve Israel’s interests, not the Palestinians’.

On Wednesday, the World Bank announced recommending an allocation of $90 million “to accelerate much needed economic welfare for the Palestinian people.” In its statement, the Bank’s Group Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, Ferid Belhaj, clarified the institution’s involvement in humanitarian and development aid, while appearing to exclude politics from the wider framework. Yet, the same formula still applies: Israel is absolved of its crimes which catapulted Palestinians into a dire humanitarian crisis in the first place, while the PA – Israel’s collaborator in depriving Gaza of its basic needs – takes centre stage as a tool for recovery.

In the words of Marina Wes, Country Director for the West Bank and Gaza, “Building on its partnership with the Palestinian Authority, the World Bank will continue its support in strengthening the institutions to efficiently manage public finances and deliver services to citizens.”

Most Palestinians would beg to differ. PA institutions are strengthening themselves to ensure their survival, at the expense of the Palestinian people who are exploited under the adopted neoliberal model. As Palestinians are rendered more peripheral and their exclusion becomes normalised, dependency upon financial humanitarian aid is consolidated. This results in a convenient political approach that adopts the humanitarian context and presents it as depoliticised. As the gap between the leadership and the people increases, with the latter being marginalised further, the remaining actors, in this case the World Bank and the PA, are free to form a narrative of development that plays upon the usual formula of donors and the obfuscation of economic development alongside the prevailing humanitarian situation.

Since leaders and institutions refrain from contextualising Palestinian deprivation within the colonial and collaborative context, the World Bank action is shielded from additional scrutiny. It must be noted that marginalising Palestinians has another dangerous repercussion which is overlooked; Israel’s crimes against them are also pushed aside as the perpetrators are allowed to act with impunity.

There is no empowerment of Palestinians in Israel’s settler-colonial context. Failing to acknowledge this, as well as the PA’s role in maintaining “empowerment” as rhetoric, is contributing to a scenario wherein financial aid is funding the continuation of crimes against Palestinians, while the people are forced to bear responsibility for the institutions’ and leaders’ compromised decisions.

Looking at the statement by UN Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov regarding the World Bank announcement, we find a dissociated admission which, besides being repetitive, is also an example of how the UN encourages this neoliberal model: “This significant increase in funding comes at a critical time when urgent interventions are required to prevent renewed conflict and to boost Palestinian economic opportunities and livelihoods.” He also described working with the PA as “exactly the type of response that is needed right now.”

If, as Mladenov suggests, the institutions are presenting the necessary solutions to the humanitarian deprivation experienced by Palestinians (this, keeping in mind that there is a perpetual cycle of alleged solutions that have solved nothing), is it not time to refute the propagation of the international institutions’ narratives and, more importantly, to expose how Palestinian deprivation is a source of profit for Israel, the PA and the international community? Humanitarian and economic aid should not be manipulated for the benefit of the colonial-occupiers and to the detriment of their victims.

(Source / 27.07.2018)