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Posts tagged ‘Palestinians’

Israel-Palestine: The Unattainable Peace

October 2015 was one of the bloodiest months in Palestine/Israel since the Second Intifada, with 69 Palestinian fatalities (including some 40 attackers or alleged attackers) and 7,392 injuries, along with eight Israeli fatalities and 115 injuries.

The number of Palestinians injured mainly during anti-occupation protests across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, was more than for the whole of 2014. 2,887 Palestinians were shot by Israeli forces with live ammunition or rubber-coated metal bullets.

The international guardians of the comatose peace process, however, remained largely on the side-lines, with little ability to influence events on the ground that have ebbed and flowed irrespective of external appeals for ‘calm.’ Read more

Business as usual at the UN – but US public opinion on Israel is shifting

Speaking to the Security Council on Tuesday shortly after voting against the doomedPalestinian-drafted resolution on statehood, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power referred three times to an “unsustainable status quo” between Israel and the Palestinians.

It is of course Washington itself that bears most responsibility for this status quo, through its diplomatic, military, and economic support for the occupier, and leadership of a decades-long ‘peace process’ that has given Israel the cover to de facto annex its way to a permanent occupation. Read more

The problem with Palestinian political leadership

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

Palestine needs a political solution, not aid

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

How Israel’s left is missing the point

While Israeli PM Netanyahu’s coalition seems steady, recent events like the response to the new anti-boycott law, the march for Palestinian independence, and the housing protests have some claiming a resurgent “peace camp”. Yet the rhetoric by Israel’s “left” has merely highlighted how much remains to be done to realise equality and basic Palestinian rights.

When the Knesset passed the anti-boycott law earlier this month, there was a huge outcry. Long-time activist Uri Avnery declared that the anti-boycott law “crosses the boundary between a democratic and a non- democratic society”. The New York Times published an editorial saying that the legislation “seriously tarnished” Israel’s “reputation as a vibrant democracy”. Read more

Turning the ‘right of return’ into reality

After years of marginalisation in the peace process, the Palestinian refugees are back on centre stage.

On May 15, Nakba day, the refugees forced their way on to the news agenda; in the past two weeks, Israeli and Palestinian leaders have been compelled to comment on what has always been so much more than a “final status issue”.

During his remarks in the Oval Office, and in response to an op-ed in The New York Times by Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli PM Netanyahu dismissed the refugees’ right of return as fatal to “Israel’s future as a Jewish state”. But the permanent expulsion of one people to make way for another is a hard sell, which is why Netanyahu and others rely on oft-repeated myths about the refugees. Read more

Palestinian Nakba: Forever a memory

Palestinians around the world are marking the anniversary of the Nakba, the catastrophe that occurred when the state of Israel was established in 1948.

The scale of the devastation was overwhelming: four in five Palestinian villages inside the borders of the new state were ethnically cleansed, an act of mass dispossession accompanied by atrocities. Around 95 per cent of new Jewish communities built between 1948-1953 were established on the land of expelled, denationalised Palestinians.

Referring to these refugees, Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion famously said that “the old will die and the young will forget”. In fact, rather than “forgetting”, the Nakba has become one of the central foundations for activism by Palestinians – and their supporters – around the world. Read more

Will the two-state solution go the way of the defunct peace process?

In the last week, press reports have suggested that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is preparing to give a key speech on the peace process in the next few months, with many flagging up his planned visit to the US in May. Claims of an imminent bold proposal have been met with a good deal of scepticism, from both Palestinians and Netanyahu’s domestic political opponents. Analysts have described the talk of a new plan as a “trial balloon” and a “public relations exercise aimed first and foremost at Washington”.

Netanyahu’s new plan, should it materialise, is rumoured to be based on the “the establishment of a Palestinian state within temporary borders” as part of an “interim peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority”. Other reports have been even vaguer, claiming that Netanyahu is proposing “a phased approach to peacemaking”, but leaving it open if this includes temporary borders. Read more

Israel’s apartheid demands a response

When I visited Israel and Palestine in July (my eighth trip since 2003), I once again witnessed the reality attested to by countless human rights organisations, journalists and Israeli and Palestinian peace activists: Israel’s brutal occupation and apartheid is only worsening.

Take, for example, Daoud and his family in the Bethlehem Governate of the West Bank. Like millions of Palestinians they are under military rule, denied basic rights we take for granted. The family has owned a farm for generations, yet must fight to maintain their presence there.

This summer, Israeli soldiers issued the family with demolition orders for several structures on the farm, including an outside toilet, chicken coop, and underground water cistern. In 60% of the West Bank, Palestinians must apply for building permits from Israeli occupation forces; yet according to a 2008 UN report, 94% of applications are denied. Building illegally means demolition. Meanwhile, all around the farm’s olive trees and vines, Jewish settlements expand and flourish. Read more

The Jordan Valley is a microcosm of Israel’s colonisation

The Jordan Valley, stretching all the way down the West Bank’s eastern side, is a microcosm of Israel’s discriminatory policies of colonisation and displacement. For 40 years, settlements have been established, military no-go areas declared, and Palestinians’ freedom of movement restricted. There are now 27 colonies in the Jordan Valley – most of them had been established by the late 1970s under Labour governments. There are also nine “unauthorised” outposts. In the 1990s, the size of territory afforded to the settlements increased by 45%.

As we watch yet another bout of periodic, though tempered, enthusiasm about “direct negotiations”, Israel is doing as much as possible to determine the Bantustan borders – policies exemplified in the Jordan Valley, a substantial area of the West Bank almost isolated from the rest of the occupied territories. In 2006, B’Tselem noted how the Israeli military “made a distinction between the ‘territory of Judea and Samaria’ (ie the West Bank) and ‘the Jordan Valley’, indicating that Israel does not view the two areas as a single territorial unit”. Read more