This week marked the 49th anniversary of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. So here are 49 facts about a military regime that has lasted almost half a century. Read more
Posts tagged ‘Palestinian Authority’
On January 25, 2006, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip cast their votes for a new Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Hamas, which had not contested the previous PLC elections a decade earlier, was strongly tipped to do well.
The U.S. had spent $2 million to try and thwart a Hamas victory, a sum dwarfing the campaign coffers of other parties. The money funded “dozens of quick projects…to bolster the governing Fatah faction’s image with voters,” and focused on “constituencies where Hamas was doing well.”
It was money spent in vain. Hamas won 74 of 132 seats in the PLC, while Fatah, the long-dominant faction within the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian National Authority (PA), secured just 45. The new parliament was inaugurated on February 18, 2006. Read more
Over the last few days, one question has been repeated over and over again: are we witnessing the beginning of a new intifada in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT)?
It is understandable that people are asking this: more than 500 Palestinians were injured in confrontations with Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank over 72 hours – a third of whom were shot with live ammunition or rubber-coated metal bullets.
Since last Thursday, four Israelis and four Palestinians have been killed in different incidents in the West Bank and Jerusalem. The latest fatality was a 13-year-old Palestinian boy, shot and killed by an Israeli soldier in Aida refugee camp in northern Bethlehem on Monday. Read more
Mahmoud Abbas last received the approval of Palestinian voters in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip more than a decade ago. He is now 80 years old, with no vice president, no publicly anointed successor, and no prospect of new elections any time soon.
Last summer was all about Gaza, as Israel unleashed unprecedented violence on the fenced-in enclave. In the West Bank, meanwhile, Israeli forces conducted a clampdown the likes of which had not been seen since the Second Intifada.
This summer, however, with the peace process showing no signs of emerging from its coma, and the occupation’s violence at a relatively low ebb, the focus has been on the intensifying internal political machinations in Ramallah, and in particular, the question mark over Abu Mazen’s presidency. Read more
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’s speech at the UN on September 26, became known for his claim that Israel perpetrated a “genocidal crime” in its attack on Gaza over the summer.
But the distance between rhetoric and reality in Mr Abbas’s speech was gaping. Security “coordination” between the Palestinian Authority and Israel prompted Palestinians in the West Bank over the summer to confront those PA forces trying to prevent them reaching occupation soldiers. Read more
At a recent conference on Palestine in Doha, organised by Azmi Bishara’s Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies, there was one thing that everyone agreed on: the Palestinian national movement is in a state of crisis with regards to leadership, representation and strategies. How this predicament came about, and what needs to happen to improve this state of affairs, was a topic of debate and divergent views; the basic fact of, as Dr. Bishara put it, the need for a “reformulation of the Palestinian national project” enjoyed a gloomy consensus, however. Read more
Ever since the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt began a regional earthquake 18 months ago, commentators have wondered about the absence of a “Palestinian spring”. Attempting to explain this is useful, since it also helps to shed light on key problems with the now-comatose peace process.
To some extent, the question “Why no Palestinian spring?” can be answered with one word: Oslo. The Oslo accords, signed in 1993, established a paradigm where the Palestinian struggle for return and decolonisation was turned into a facade of sovereignty, piecemeal concessions and occupation management. Read more
For a few months now, discussion of Palestine/Israel has focused on the looming UN vote on Palestinian statehood, but this is obscuring more fundamental problems in the Palestinian political arena – of which the forthcoming UN vote is a symptom.
In three critical areas, there are significant flaws hampering Palestinian political leadership.
The first is a legitimacy deficit. Both the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority and Hamas have, with the most generous interpretation, a minority mandate from the Palestinian people. The last elections of any sort took place in 2005-2006, and overdue local elections have been indefinitely postponed. And even if presidential or parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza were to take place tomorrow, they would still exclude Palestinian refugees. The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) remains a potential vehicle for democratic decision-making, but serious reform is still not on the horizon. Read more
Part of the Israeli government’s response to critics of its Gaza policy is to deny that there is a “humanitarian crisis” in the coastal territory. The implication being that participants in initiatives such as the flotilla are not concerned with “aid” but seek to cause a political “provocation”. In a similar vein, recent news of the opening of a five star hotel in Gaza prompted Israel lobby group AIPAC to suggest that the flotilla’s real aim was to “delegitimise Israel”. Read more
Thirty years ago, Israel minister Ariel Sharon told Knesset members that while they “shouted” about the settlements, “we lay another foot of pipe, another mile of road and build another house.” Successive Israeli governments have agreed with the country’s founding prime minister David Ben-Gurion’s own view that the “precondition for discussion with the Arabs” is to “establish a great Jewish fact in this country.” Now, however, the talk is of Palestinian “unilateralism.” This began with the appointed Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announcing his two-year plan for statehood in August, but has reached a crescendo in the last few weeks. Fayyad’s plan is still on the table, and although he has stressed that the emphasis is on institution-building, some reports have linked the initiative to a unilateral declaration of independence. Read more