The Elusive Middle East Peace

December 18, 2018

by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog

Subtle news sources coming on the grapevine allude to impending Middle East fresh peace talks. The end of the “War on Syria” will bring serious and realistic opportunities for Russian-sponsored peace talks, and there are direct and indirect hints and leaks made by certain officials here and there, hints and leaks which will become overt and obvious in the near future, culminating into news to the effect that new peace talks will resume.

The Arab/Israeli conflict seems intractable, and every time peace talks loom, we need to remember to examine the root of the problem and consider ways in which the deadlock can be surmounted.

Four decades after Kissinger pushed the USSR out of its position in the Arab/Israeli negotiation talks and made it law for America to defend Israel, the one-sided unparalleled superiority that America provided Israel with was not “good enough” to give Israel the “safe haven” that Zionism promised Jewish migrants with after the horrors of the Holocaust. If anything, the more aggression the state of Israel displayed and the more audacious America was in providing it with impunity, the more determined Palestinians became; and Hamas was the direct outcome of the joint Israeli/American bullying and the Palestinian despair that followed the supposed peace talks of the Oslo Agreement.

In retrospect, Kissinger, the man who gave “shuttle diplomacy” its name, has inadvertently created a deadlocked situation, and in doing so, America has done itself a huge disfavour in the unconditional support it provided Israel with over all those years and has turned itself into a de-facto pariah arbitrator; a mediator that axis-of-resistance Arabs, and all Palestinians in particular, do not trust. In doing so, it kicked itself out of the scene, paving the way for Russia to fill the void it left behind.

On the other hand, Russia is on talking terms with all parties in the Middle East and President Putin personally has good and strong relationships with Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and of course Syria. Furthermore, Putin had all the reasons to sever ties with Erdogan, however the master of pragmatism managed to find a way to mend the rift without losing face, and even though Erdogan has not yet shown any credibility, Putin sees Turkey as a potential key player in the peace process in Syria.

Notwithstanding all of the above, all the American Russophobic rhetoric amounts to nothing, because America and Russia will always be on talking terms.

Briefly put, no entity other than Russia is potentially able to bring all Middle Eastern parties to the negotiation table, and the “hints” speak of such eventuality, come the end of the War on Syria; and this is what Putin wants.

In the meantime, relevant parties will have to accept to come to the negotiation table, and be prepared to negotiate.

It was easy back in 1948 for the Arabs to carry the “push them back” slogan; referring to sending Jewish migrants back to where they came from. More than seven decades after the establishment of Israel, if the Palestinian cause were to maintain the moral upper ground, this “ambition” can no longer apply to second and third generation Jews who were born in the land their forefathers migrated to; albeit those forefathers migrated and settled illegally. By the same token, and most importantly, Palestinians cannot be expected to take the moral upper ground alone without a reciprocal agreement that grants them the long-awaited justice; including the right of return.

And as negotiations mean to give and take, it is interesting to note that the English term is said in this sequence; give and take, rather than take and give, because if a negotiator does not begin with giving, he will not be able to take.

This will be the sticking point because religious hardliners on both Arab and Israeli sides have perfected the art of each claiming to be the rightful and exclusive owner of the Holy Land. As a matter of fact, it was only when the religious spin replaced the national argument of the Arab struggle that a secular fight was taken to theocratic camp and Zionism was, to some degree, able to use history to support its argument. That said, even though Jewish presence in Palestine indeed predates Islam, this does not justify the displacement of Palestinian Arabs, both Muslims and Christians. For Palestinians therefore to win both the humane and religious arguments, the endorsement of an Arab-Palestinian-Levantine identity and carrying its banner is one that cannot be refuted; because it is an all-inclusive definition; including Jews, and one that is moral and timeless.

But let us briefly examine the fundamentalist counter Muslim claim of the ownership of Palestine from a realistic vantage point. Are Muslims the rightful and exclusive owners of Palestine?

Back in 2011, I wrote an article titled “Palestine is not for Muslims”. I had it edited when the UN was voting for a Palestinian state, and now it is time to revise it.

The Quran is a Holy Book and not a real estate title deed. There is no mention of any land rights in the Quran. The city of Jerusalem (Al-Quds in Arabic) is not even mentioned in the Quran. There is however a mention of “Al-Masjed Al-Aksa” which Muslims believe to be in Jerusalem/Al-Quds. This does not make Al-Quds inherently a Muslim city, and even if it did, there is absolutely no reference in the Quran to any Muslim exclusivity.

Speaking of claims of exclusive ownership of Jerusalem, we cannot and should not ignore a time in history during which the Catholic Church was so desirous to take the city from the “infidels”. The “infidels” back then were the Muslims, not the Christians as per the current ISIS terminology; but the congruency in the ideologies behind the definitions is clear.

Speaking of ISIS, when Zionism established the state of Israel, the Zionist aggression was (and continues to be) practised equally against both Arab Muslims and Christians. The anti-Zionist resistance was the Arab Resistance, and it was comprised of both Christians and Muslims. When Fateh was established, it was then meant to be an armed struggle for the liberation of Palestine. George Habash, the founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was a Christian.

Back then, the state of Israel was the ideological ISIS equivalent of the time, and the Palestinian resistance was a secular force trying to redeem freedom and secularism. In reality, the ISIS-like stance of Israel did not change at all.

To this effect, ISIS-minded Zionists regarded all Arabs as equally unequal to them, and when they were pillaging the Church of Nativity two decades ago, the West stood back and watched. The world seems to be totally at ease that the state of Israel continues to act as an ISIS; only of different denomination.

As Israel treated both Christian and Muslim Palestinians as second grade citizens, it was only natural for the anti-Israeli resistance to be nationally-based and driven. The slogan of those days was “Al-Quds lil Arab” ie Al-Quds belongs to Arabs. There was even a song with that title. The term Arabs meant back then referred to the inhabitants of the land; ie Muslims, Christians, as well as Jews who refute Zionism.

Suddenly, sometime in the 1980’s, a huge turn of events took place in Lebanon and Palestine almost at the same time.

The 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon was soon followed by a resistance then named the “Lebanese Resistance”. Soon after Hezbollah rose to prominence the name changed to “Islamic Resistance”. In Palestine, Hamas rebunked the anti-Israeli resistance and turned into an Islamic resistance as well. All of a sudden, the struggle against Zionism changed course from a national secular Arab struggle into a religious one.

The biggest losers here are the Palestinian Christians as they are well and truly excluded by both Zionists and fundamentalist Muslims.

It is most ironic that Western Christian Zionists find it so easy to sympathize with Zionism, and at the same time manage to ignore the plight of Palestinian Christians. How ironic! The truth about Christian Zionists is that they are neither Christians nor Jews; they are Zionists, period.

When Islamists make claims of ownership of Palestine in general and of Al-Quds/Jerusalem to be specific, they would be using the same false argument of Zionists; only from their own equally unfounded perspective. Two wrongs do not make it right.

Fair and open-minded Palestinians, especially non-fundamentalist Muslims, need to realise that they have to make loud and clear statements to their policy makers that they refuse fanaticism and bigotry irrespective who the culprit is.

If we refute the ISIS mind, we must refute it in all of its forms, denominations and agendas. Justice cannot be selective any more than one wrong can be undone by another wrong.

Palestine is not for Muslims, nor is it for Jews or Christians; not exclusively. It is for all of them combined, but again not exclusively. Palestine is for its people, and they don’t have to belong to any of the Abrahamic religions. That land is for its people without any favouritism and exclusion. And, if any hard-line, orthodox, fanatic, violent, militant Zionist settlers don’t accept this, justice stipulates it is they who should be made to leave.

So back to President Putin and his hush-hush peace plan. Adversity often brings opportunities, and Putin is quite aware of the historical and geopolitical significance of the present moment.

Russia will most probably be trying to broker a two-state solution that is acceptable by all parties concerned. Realistically however, there is no lasting resolution that can be based on anything other than a one-state resolution in which all citizens have equal rights; just like any other self-respecting nation state. Any resolution short of this outcome is tantamount to endorsing an apartheid-type system.

This brings us back to the give-and-take concept for conflict resolution. Normally, in a negotiation situation, giving is seen to be for losers and taking is for winners, but reality can dictate pragmatic changes in direction; and it has, at least on the Palestinian side.

From the early days during which Palestinians expressed anger and frustration saying they wanted to push back Jewish migrants into the sea and restore the homeland from “water to water” (ie from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River), the Palestinian leadership had to learn from the humiliation of many defeats, numerous let downs from Arab states, the UN and the whole world, to accept to settle for the West Bank and Gaza in lieu of putting an end to armed resistance and acknowledging the state of Israel.

This Palestinian “acceptance” did not come easy and was not endorsed by all Palestinians, but when the PLO went to Oslo with this objective in mind with the expectation of a reciprocal “acceptance” from Israel, the final outcome was more than disappointing.

Israel reached its military height specifically on the 9th of June 1967; the day when Egyptian President Nasser made his resignation speech. At that point in time, Arabs were at their nadir, and with the most humiliating defeat they have endured in history, all they felt they could seek was a withdrawal of Israel to the pre-1967 war borders.

Slowly and gradually, Arabs had to go through the phase of denial of defeat that they were not prepared to accept.

They first demanded the UN for a resolution and managed to gain support for UNSC Resolution 224 which called for the unconditional Israeli withdrawal of Israel from the “occupied territory”. In this, Arab states accepted that the new definition of “occupied territory” meant what Israel managed to occupy during the Six-Day-War of 1967. This was a huge shift, because the original Arab definition of “occupied territory” meant all of Israel. But the Arab forced resignation to the status quo was not enough to persuade Israel into negotiating a land-for-peace deal. Israel was not prepared to give in order to take (peace).

The October 1973 War, aka Yom Kippur War, was a turning point in history. Even though the military gains of Egypt and Syria were not huge, they were big enough to change the course of events; at least psychologically. However, when Egyptian President Sadat signed a unilateral peace agreement with Israel, the Arab World fell into disarray.

In simple and short terms, Arab expectations were dwindling while the Israeli ones were escalating; despite the rise of the new form of anti-Israeli resistance spearheaded by Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestine’s Hamas.

In simple and short terms again, though Israel’s refusal to relent has resulted in creating an Arab camp that is prepared to accept its agenda, it also created another camp that has vowed to fiercely resist any settlement that does not provide justice to the Palestinian people, and this latter group has become battle-hardened and prepared to fight and inflict serious damage to Israel’s might.

The most prominent player here is the Hezbollah military factor that rained rockets on Israel during the July 2006 war, even hitting a frigate, and sees itself more capable in any future escalation. Hezbollah is deeply embedded in the Lebanese society and cannot be uprooted. It sees time to be on its side and it is moving from strength to strength.

The axis-of-resistance is living in the euphoria of the outcome of the July 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, the many setbacks of Israel in Gaza and the victory of Syria against all odds.

The resistance side is waiting and poised for further confrontations. Hezbollah therefore will not easily accept any resolution that does not provide it with some real and tangible victory.

Meanwhile, Israel is tooth and nail still hanging on to the euphoria of the outcome of the 1967 Six-Day War. The Israeli side is not yet prepared to accept that time is not on its side. In a nutshell, Israel is not yet prepared to give so it can take (peace).

This will be Russia’s main obstacle in bringing all parties to negotiations on pragmatic grounds. Short of being able to convince Israel to give, Russia may find that the only way for this paradigm shift to happen in the Israeli psyche is through war; and in this case by a resounding Israeli defeat. This is perhaps why Russia is bolstering Syrian defences and specifically air defences. After all, if Israel loses its superiority in the air, and if its ground defences are unable to stop Hezbollah’s rockets, or at least some of them, then the new balance of power will no longer be on Israel’s side.

Now, will Netanyahu’s government, or any other future Israeli government for that matter, be prepared to take the risk of a new military confrontation with the prior knowledge that it has lost its upper hand in the fight? Will Israel accept to sacrifice its citizens in the hope that a new battle will restore its military superiority against all odds? To ask the question in a different way, what punishment does Israel need in order to be brought down to the negotiating table, the agenda of which is to find a way to establish a two-state solution let alone a one-state solution? But once again, Israel is not yet ready to give and take. It won’t return the Golan for any political gain, and it won’t even agree to lift the siege on Gaza.

At this stage, the best outcome to expect from Russian-mediated peace talks, with or without a war, if one is reached at all, is perhaps a two-state solution. This will be a huge step in the right direction, but in reality, such a resolution is nothing more than a disengagement. That said, Sharon’s wall has made it virtually impossible to draw practical border lines for a viable Palestinian state to exist, and thus created a nightmare for any future serious two-state-based peace talks. Whilst walls can be reconfigured, or even better torn down, in the long run, an apartheid two-state solution will always be morally wrong, and at best, should be regarded as an interim step towards establishing one state that ensures equal rights to all of its citizens.


Murder Of A Holocaust Survivor

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السلطة تقمع مناصري «حماس»… ويوم غضب في الضفة



السلطة تقمع مناصري «حماس»... ويوم غضب في الضفةقوبل قمع السلطة لمظاهرات «حماس» باستنكار فصائلي وشعبي واسع (أ ف ب )

ينما كانت الضفة المحتلة تشهد في مناطقها كافة مسيرات داعمة للمقاومة من جهة، واشتباكات مع قوات العدو الإسرائيلي التي تواصل عمليتها العسكرية في رام الله من جهة أخرى، أقدمت الأجهزة الأمنية التابعة للسلطة الفلسطينية على فضّ مسيرتَيْن دعت إليهما «حركة المقاومة الإسلامية» (حماس) بالقوة، في مدينتي نابلس (شمال) والخليل (جنوب). وسجل حقوقيون وصحافيون اعتداء عناصر من الأجهزة الأمنية بالعصي على المشاركين في المسيرتَيْن، كما اعتقلوا عدداً منهم، وأطلقوا النار صوب الشاب هشام بشكار، وهو شقيق الأسير فوزي الذي اعتقله العدو خلال اغتيال الشهيد أشرف نعالوة.

هذا المشهد قوبلباستنكار فصائلي وشعبي كبير، خصوصاً أنه يأتي في وقت اختفى الأمن الفلسطيني من رام الله بصورة شبه كاملة. وقال عضو المكتب السياسي لحركة «الجهاد الإسلامي» نافذ عزام، في تصريح تلفزيوني أمس، إن ما أقدمت عليه أجهزة السلطة «مدعاة للخجل، ولا يجوز أن يحدث هذا المشهد»، مضيفاً: «شعبنا ينتظر أن تدافع أجهزتها الأمنية عنه وتتصدى لقوات الاحتلال لا أن تقمع التظاهرات السلمية».

وجراء الاشتباكات مع العدو، استشهد شاب وأصيب آخرون جراء استعمال قوات العدو الرصاص الحي بكثرة. وأعلنت وزارة الصحة استشهاد محمود يوسف نخلة (18 عاماً) بعد وصوله بحالة حرجة مُصاباً بالرصاص الحي في البطن. ونخلة من مخيم الجلزون شمال رام الله (وسط)، وأصيب خلال مواجهات في محيط مستوطنة «بيت إيل» القريبة من المخيم. وبينما حاول جنود الاحتلال اعتقال الشاب بعد إصابته بجروح حرجة، تمكّنت طواقم الإسعاف الفلسطينية من تخليصه من أيدي الجنود.

أما في طولكرم، حيث منزل عائلة الشهيد نعالوة، فشهدت ضاحية شويكة مواجهات مع قوات الاحتلال لمنعها من الوصول إلى البيت. كذلك، اندلعت مواجهات في خمس نقاط تماس في نابلس حيث وقعت 56 إصابة، وكذلك في الخليل (منطقة باب الزاوية).

استشهد شاب في رام الله فيما أصيب جندي إسرائيلي بجروح خطيرة

في المقابل، أصيب جندي إسرائيلي بجروح خطيرة صباحاً جراء إصابته بحجر في رأسه داخل مستوطنة «بيت إيل». وذكر موقع «يديعوت أحرونوت» العبري أن شاباً فلسطينياً تمكن من التسلل إلى المستوطنة مسلحاً بحجر، واقترب من برج مراقبة مسقطاً منه جندياً إسرائيلياً ثم ضربه في رأسه مباشرة، قبل أن ينسحب من المكان.

من جهة ثانية، وعلى رغم حالة الهدوء العامة في قطاع غزة خصوصاً على الحدود، قرر الفلسطينيون التظاهر مجدداً مساندة للضفة. وقالت وزارة الصحة إن 75 مواطناً أصيبوا في الجمعة الـ38 لـ«مسيرات العودة وكسر الحصار» شرق محافظات القطاع. وأوضحت الوزارة أن من بين المصابين سبعة مسعفين وصحافيين. وجددت «الهيئة الوطنية لمسيرات العودة وكسر الحصار» دعوتها للمشاركة في جمعة «الوفاء لأبطال المقاومة في الضفة» الأسبوع المقبل.
وبالتزامن، تستعد «حماس» لإحياء ذكرى انطلاقتها الثلاثين غداً الأحد في غزة، بعنوان «مقاومة تنتصر وحصار ينكسر»، فيما أفادت مصادر إعلامية بتقدم أكثر من 700 صحافي فلسطيني وأجنبي، و117 وسيلة إعلام، طلبات لتغطية مهرجان الانطلاقة الذي سيقام في ساحة الكتيبة وسط مدينة غزة.

إلى ذلك، رفضت محكمة أوروبية أمس طعناً تقدمت به «حماس» لتصنيف الاتحاد الأوروبي لها

«منظمة إرهابية». وقالت ثاني أعلى محكمة أوروبية ومقرها لوكسمبورغ، إنها ترفض الطعن بخصوص قرارات المجلس (الأوروبي) بين عامي 2010 و2014 و(كذلك) في 2017، إذ سبق أن ألغت «محكمة العدل» الأوروبية، في تموز/ يوليو 2017، قراراً سابقاً للمحكمة العامة يقضي بإزالة الحركة من قائمة الكيانات الإرهابية.

استنكار فلسطيني لقمع السلطة الفلسطينية تظاهرات شعبية في مدينتي الخليل ونابلس

الجبهة الشعبية لتحرير فلسطين تستنكر اعتداء الأجهزة الأمنية الفلسطينية على مسيرة شعبية في نابلس والخليل، ومسؤول الإعلام في حركة الجهاد الاسلامي داوود شهاب يقول للميادين إن قمع السلطة للتظاهرات الشعبية بـ “العمل مشين، وفصائل منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية تبرر بالقول إن الدعوة في محافظة نابلس للتظاهر كانت على أساس رفع العلم الفلسطيني فقط.

وأكّدت “الجبهة أنه بدلاً من أن تصوّب السلطة أسلحتها وتوجه أفراد أجهزتها الأمنية في الدفاع عن الشعب الفلسطيني والتصدي لاستباحة الاحتلال مدن وقرى الضفة، تنهال بالضرب على النساء والشبان والأطفال”.

ودعت الجبهة إلى “التحلل الكامل من نهج التسوية واتفاقية أوسلو المدمرة والتزاماتها الأمنية وفي مقدمتها التنسيق الأمني”.

Embedded video

شبكة قدس الإخبارية


الأجهزة الأمنية الفلسطينية تعتدي على النساء وتعتقل العشرات وتحاول منع الصحفيين من التصوير خلال قمعها مسيرة لحركة حماس في .

من جهته، وصف مسؤول الاعلام في حركة الجهاد الاسلامي داوود شهاب قمع السلطة للتظاهرات الشعبية بـ “العمل مشين، مشيراً إلى أن تعرّض أجهزة السلطة للمتظاهرين ضد الاحتلال الإسرائيلي أمر مستنكر ومرفوض.

وأكّد شهاب في اتصال مع الميادين أن “على السلطة ان توجه سلاحها ضد المستوطنين الذين يعتدون على شعبنا”، مضيفاً أن هناء مسك التي تم الاعتداء عليها من اجهزة السلطة هي أسيرة محررة وأخت لشهيدين.

كما لفت شهاب إلى أنه يبدو أن السلطة مرتاحة تجاه هذه الممارسات خدمة للاحتلال، مشدداً على أن المطلوب إعلان واضح وصريح على وقف التنسيق الامني مع (إسرائيل).

كذلك، قال شهاب إن العمليات الفدائية والتحركات الشعبية في الضفة وسام شرف على صدر الأمة، موضحاً أن الجهاد الاسلامي وكل فصائل المقاومة في قلب الحركة الجماهيرية في الضفة الغربية.

شبكة قدس الإخبارية


فتاة تحاول منع الأجهزة الأمنية الفلسطينية من اعتقال شقيقها خلال مسيرات نظمتها حركة حماس في ، تنديدًا بجرائم الاحتلال الأخيرة.

وقالت فصائل منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية إن الدعوة في محافظة نابلس للتظاهر كانت على أساس رفع العلم الفلسطيني فقط.

وفي بيان لها يوضح ما حصل خلال قمع التظاهرات في الخليل ونابلس أوضحت الهيئة أنها “تفاجأت بوصول مسيرة لحركة حماس تحمل الرايات الخضراء فقط لا غير”.

ووفق الفصائل فإن حركة حماس رفضت الاندماج بالمسيرة تحت العلم الفلسطيني.

وتابعت الفصائل قائلةً إن “مسيرة حماس استمرت باختراق تحركنا والانفراد بخطاب خاص بها لوحدها”، مضيفةً أنه “نتج عن ذلك بعض المشاحنات التي تم السيطرة عليها سريعاً”.

وأكّدت “الجبهة أنه بدلاً من أن تصوّب السلطة أسلحتها وتوجه أفراد أجهزتها الأمنية في الدفاع عن الشعب الفلسطيني والتصدي لاستباحة الاحتلال مدن وقرى الضفة، تنهال بالضرب على النساء والشبان والأطفال”.

ودعت الجبهة إلى “التحلل الكامل من نهج التسوية واتفاقية أوسلو المدمرة والتزاماتها الأمنية وفي مقدمتها التنسيق الأمني”.

Embedded video

شبكة قدس الإخبارية


الأجهزة الأمنية الفلسطينية تعتدي على النساء وتعتقل العشرات وتحاول منع الصحفيين من التصوير خلال قمعها مسيرة لحركة حماس في .

من جهته، وصف مسؤول الاعلام في حركة الجهاد الاسلامي داوود شهاب قمع السلطة للتظاهرات الشعبية بـ “العمل مشين، مشيراً إلى أن تعرّض أجهزة السلطة للمتظاهرين ضد الاحتلال الإسرائيلي أمر مستنكر ومرفوض.

وأكّد شهاب في اتصال مع الميادين أن “على السلطة ان توجه سلاحها ضد المستوطنين الذين يعتدون على شعبنا”، مضيفاً أن هناء مسك التي تم الاعتداء عليها من اجهزة السلطة هي أسيرة محررة وأخت لشهيدين.

كما لفت شهاب إلى أنه يبدو أن السلطة مرتاحة تجاه هذه الممارسات خدمة للاحتلال، مشدداً على أن المطلوب إعلان واضح وصريح على وقف التنسيق الامني مع (إسرائيل).

كذلك، قال شهاب إن العمليات الفدائية والتحركات الشعبية في الضفة وسام شرف على صدر الأمة، موضحاً أن الجهاد الاسلامي وكل فصائل المقاومة في قلب الحركة الجماهيرية في الضفة الغربية.

شبكة قدس الإخبارية


فتاة تحاول منع الأجهزة الأمنية الفلسطينية من اعتقال شقيقها خلال مسيرات نظمتها حركة حماس في ، تنديدًا بجرائم الاحتلال الأخيرة.

فصائل منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية: حركة حماس رفضت الاندماج بالمسيرة تحت العلم الفلسطيني

وقالت فصائل منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية إن الدعوة في محافظة نابلس للتظاهر كانت على أساس رفع العلم الفلسطيني فقط.

وفي بيان لها يوضح ما حصل خلال قمع التظاهرات في الخليل ونابلس أوضحت الهيئة أنها “تفاجأت بوصول مسيرة لحركة حماس تحمل الرايات الخضراء فقط لا غير”.

ووفق الفصائل فإن حركة حماس رفضت الاندماج بالمسيرة تحت العلم الفلسطيني.

وتابعت الفصائل قائلةً إن “مسيرة حماس استمرت باختراق تحركنا والانفراد بخطاب خاص بها لوحدها”، مضيفةً أنه “نتج عن ذلك بعض المشاحنات التي تم السيطرة عليها سريعاً”.

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UN Renews Demand that “Israel” Should Abide by Resolutions Related to Occupied Golan

8 December، 2018
New York, SANA

The United Nations (UN) renewed its demand that the Israeli occupation authorities should abide by the resolutions related to the occupied Syrian Golan, particularly resolution No. 497 for the year 1981 which considers its decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the occupied Syrian Golan as null and void and without international legal effect.

This came on Firday during the UN’s adoption of a resolution under the title “Occupied Syrian Golan” after it was approved by the Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee).

149 delegations out of 173 voted in favor of the resolution while “Israel” and the US only voted against the resolution, and 22 delegations abstained from voting.

The resolution demanded that the Israeli occupation authorities should immediately cancel the decision on annexing the Golan .

The resolution also considered that all the legislative and administrative measures taken by “Israel” to alter the character of the occupied Syrian Golan and its legal status as null and void and that they constitute a blatant violation of the international law and of Geneva Convention and they don’t have any legal effect.

The resolution also demanded that “Israel” should stop to impose the Israeli nationality and identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan and to halt the repressive measures it takes against its locals.

The resolution denounced Israel’s violation of the Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, renewing the call upon the UN member states to not recognize any of the measures taken by “Israel” in the occupied Syrian Golan which contradict with the International Law.

Ruaa al-Jazaeri

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Israel’s Often Overlooked Strategic Battlefield Losses

By Asad Abu-Khalil

In South Lebanon, the Museum for Resistance, also known as the Mlita Museum, for the town in which it is located, is a wildly popular tourist attraction and a place where you can run into Arabs visiting from around the region.

In it, Hezbollah—the political party with an armed wing that, with Iranian assistance, emerged in response to the Israeli invasion of 1982—celebrates its military successes, displaying weapons captured from the occupation army and replicas of some of its military tunnels.

The museum enshrines an important realization for the country: that while conventional Arab armies failed to deter Israeli invasions, Lebanese and Palestinian volunteers succeeded in holding the mighty Israeli army at bay and have become the real defenders against Israeli attacks and occupation.  As such, the museum offers testimony to the current nature of the Arab-Israeli conflict.  The U.S. and other Western powers want to disarm Hezbollah while denying the Lebanese Army the weapons to deter Israel.  In other words, they want to return Lebanon to its former state of weakness.

The problems this situation poses for Israel are often overlooked given its apparently clear strategic advantage.

Israel’s arsenal of weapons of mass destruction is still being protected by Western countries from scrutiny or even criticism. The Obama administration guaranteed Israel a most generous financial assistance program for the next decade. Israeli’s 100-percent occupation of Palestine remains immune from U.N. or other international condemnation. Israeli citizens’settlement building in Palestine territories—despite violating international law—has not caused a rift between Israel and either the European Union or the U.S.

Egypt, meanwhile, remains committed to the peace treaty with Israel and to security coordination with the occupation state, as does Jordan.   And Israel does not fear an assault from any Arab state or a combination of Arab states. (Arab threats—largely rhetorical—have only been intended to pacify popular anger.)

But things are not as secure for Israel as they might seem.

The Resistance Persists 

A century after the Balfour Declaration, the Arab-Israeli conflict has not ended.  Early Zionist thinkers and leaders—influenced by racist European attitudes about the natives—never considered that the Palestinians would continue to resist Zionism for so long. This in itself is a big failure for Zionism as it defies the long-held belief that force is the only language that Arabs understand. At the same time, economic offers and political ploys have not deceived the Palestinians—or Arabs—into accepting the Israeli occupation project either.

The resistance is not only tenacious, but its effectiveness reached a new level in 2000. That year, after an escalating pattern of resistance operations that began in 1982—first by secular (communist and Syrian nationalist) groups and later by Hezbollah — the Israeli occupation army was forced to withdraw from South Lebanon.

Israel’s biggest strategic loss came in 2006 during the Lebanese-Israeli War, when armed groups (not part of an Arab conventional army) resisted Israeli assaults and deterred a ground offensive against Arab territory. Unless you have studied the performance of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon between 1970 and 1982, it’s difficult to fathom how seriously this changed the power calculus of Lebanese and Palestinian resistance groups vis-à-vis Israel.

AP_110721060280_edited.jpgA Lebanese woman, left, poses on a destroyed Israeli armored vehicle with a Lebanese and yellow Hezbollah flags attached to it in Khiam, Lebanon, July 21, 2011. Mohammed Zaatari | AP

But the significance of that war—and most importantly on Arab perceptions of it—was obscured by Saudi regime propaganda intent on undermining the standing of any resistance, leftist or Islamist, Sunni or Shi`ite.  The House of Saud began to promote sectarian hatred and agitation and emphasize the losses for the Arab side to downplay the precedent set by the war.  (Examples of this are so pervasive it would be unfair to single out any one broadcaster or publication.)

During the invasions of Gaza, Israel failed again to advance or even to prevent primitive Hamas rockets from firing; all claims to the (fake) successes of the Iron Dome air defense system notwithstanding.

This is a marked contrast to previous confrontations. In 1978, Israel invaded Lebanon and the PLO’s resistance was disorganized and largely spontaneous.  Four years later, in the face of the 1982 massive Israel invasion, the PLO failed again to formulate a joint resistance plan. Fighting was stiff in some cases, such as at the refugee camp`Ayn Al-Hilwi and the medieval-era Beuafort castle.And later at Khaldah, on the outskirts of Beirut, the PLO did implement a defense plan for Beirut (designed by West Point graduate Abu Al-Walid), which explains why Israel never dared to invade West Beirut until after the evacuation of PLO forces from Lebanon. Overall, however, the PLO resistance record pales in comparison to that of Hamas and Hezbollah, in Gaza and South Lebanon, respectively.

Former Psychological Advantage

Israeli strategy in dealing with the Arabs was based on massive, indiscriminate use of force and the promotion of the Israeli soldier as invincible and terrifying. This produced a psychological advantage that, from 1948 to 1967, sowed fear and resignation.

More recently, however, the image of the mighty Israeli soldier and a fearful Arab resistance has been reversed.  In the 2006 war, Israeli soldiers in South Lebanon were terrified by Hezbollah fighters who prevented the enemy army from advancing one inch into Lebanese territory.  I grew up in Lebanon in the 1960s and 1970s, when Israel used to bomb and invade at will. This no longer happens because Israel has come to fear Hezbollah.

Another problem for Israel is its once-vaunted intelligence, which has developed a reputation for clumsiness. The failed raid in Gaza (by an elite unit of the Israeli occupation army) is the most recent example. In 2010, Dubai police plastered the faces of top agents of Mossad, the intelligence agency, around the world in the wake of the assassination of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, a co-founder of the military wing of Hamas. Before that, in 1997, there was the botched assassination attempt on Khalid Misha`l’, the Doha-based former leader of Hamas, by Mossad agents.

In the 2006 war with Lebanon, Israel’s intelligence failures included the famous and (almost) comical kidnapping of a poor man whose only crime was that his name was Hasan Nasrallah, the same as that of the Hezbollah leader. Presumably, Mossad experts on the Arab world assumed there was only one Hasan Nasrallah in all of Lebanon.

Hezbollah and Hamas, meanwhile, have run intelligence operations that the PLO has rarely ever matched. Hezbollah 2012 kidnapping of Israeli soldiers is an example of careful preparations and reliable intelligence.  Hezbollah and Hamas have special operatives monitoring the communications of the Israeli military.  Hezbollah has its own Hebrew language school. PLO organizations, by contrast, had so few Hebrew speakers they often had to rely on Hebrew teachers from the Institute of Palestine Studies in Beirut to translate important documents.

The Arab-Israeli conflict is not about to end anytime soon.  Trump’s “Deal of the Century” hinges on the belief that Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad bin Salman can convince the Palestinians to give up their cause.  This is a conflict that is unlikely to end in compromise, and the Israeli occupation state has made it clear that historical Palestine belongs to the Jewish people and that the Palestinians represent a mere nuisance on the land.

Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza

Photo Source U.S. Embassy Jerusalem | CC BY 2.0

Whenever bombings and shootings escalate in the Middle East, Israeli propagandists say that Israel is exercising its right of military self-defense against indiscriminate attacks coming from the Gaza Strip. But as this article documents, the right to use force in self-defense is contingent on Israel ending its military occupation and blockade of Gaza.


Doubtless some unscrupulous person or persons will quote or interpret this article out of context and claim that I’m saying that Israel has no right to self-defense at all. So, let me be clear: Israel is a nation-state like any other, like it or not. It therefore has the same legal rights as any nation-state, like it or not; including the right to use self-defense when under attack.

However, that right within the context of occupation is contingent on Israel’s adherence to international law; again, just like any state. For example: The US and British forces had no legal right to hurt or kill Iraqis resisting the illegal US-British invasion and occupation, which began in 2003. The only rights that the US and British had there was to leave.

Since 1967, Israel has occupied the Gaza Strip (and the West Bank of the Jordan, which it has now de facto annexed) in violation of international law. Yes, Israel withdrew its illegal colonies from Gaza in 2005, but it maintained the military blockade, which is an act of war and a violation of the IV Geneva Convention, which prohibits collective punishment.

As long as it continues its occupation/annexation of the Palestinian territories, Israel cannot use force in self-defense from attacks, even indiscriminate ones, emanating from Gaza. If it ended the occupation and blockade of the Palestinian territories, then it could argue a case for the use of force, assuming peaceful options are exhausted.


Forget the madcap right-wing (e.g., a Fox News reporter standing next to what he claims is a flaming bakery hit by Palestinian rockets). How are the supposedly more intelligent and humane liberal media reporting the current violence?

The BBC says that “Violence has flared between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, a day after seven militants and an Israeli soldier were killed during an undercover Israeli operation in Gaza.” Militants? It goes on to say that: “Militants fired 300 rockets and mortars at Israel. One hit a bus, seriously injuring a soldier nearby. Israel responded with more than 70 strikes on what it said were targets belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.” Responded? Surely the BBC means to say that armed Palestinian groups responded to Israel’sactions, which occurred in the context of its unlawful 50-year occupation?

Notice the use of the word “militants.” The report doesn’t use words like “Zionists” when describing Israelis.

The online article includes an embedded tweet from the Israeli Defense Forces: “RAW FOOTAGE: The skies of southern Israel RIGHT NOW. Dozens of rockets are being fired from #Gaza at Israeli civilians.” There is no embedded video of the shocking conditions in which Palestinian civilians are forced by Israel to live (a point to which we shall return). Near the bottom of the article, the BBC approaches something bordering truthfulness when it says: “Israel, along with Egypt, has maintained a blockade of Gaza,” but it then goes back to the lies: “…since about 2006 in order, they say, to stop attacks by militants.”

The word “occupation” is mentioned not once. So, the gist of the BBC’s reporting is that Gaza is plagued by dangerous Islamists hell-bent on Israel’s destruction and that Israel is doing what it can, sometimes ham-fistedly (as in the latest “botched” special forces operation), to defend itself.

CNN quotes Israeli PM Netanyahu as saying that “Hamas vowed to destroyed Israel,” ergo long-term peace was “impossible.”

The Washington Post claims that the latest “flare-up” was “triggered” by a “botched” Israeli operation inside Gaza. It quotes Israeli Army spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, that Israelis under Palestinian rocket-fire face “the most severe attack on … civilians by terrorist organizations from Gaza since our 2014 operation [Protective Edge].” Near the end of the article, the reporters mention, casually, Israel’s “tight restrictions on trade and travel.” Below, we’ll take a look at what these “tight restrictions” actually mean.

The New York Times describes what is happening as “An eruption,” rather than a continuation and predictable consequence of Israel’s ongoing brutality. It also mentions Israel’s “tight control over the border,” which has endured since 2005, they claim (not 1967 as is the reality), when Israel withdrew its illegal colonies. Approaching truth toward the end of the article, the NTY, unlike the BBC, quotes Chris Gunness of the UN Relief and Works Agency, who describes the humanitarian situation in Gaza for nearly 2 million ordinary civilians, half of whom are children, as a disaster and a “collective punishment.”


With the exception of the Gunness quote, the media have suppressed the severity of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The crisis is caused by the US-enabled Israeli blockade. Its importance in terms of the number of people affected vastly eclipses the firing of indiscriminate rockets into Israel by armed Palestinian groups.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs states:“Palestinians in Gaza are ‘locked in’, denied free access to the remainder of the occupied Palestinian territory and the outside world.” According to the UN children’s fund UNICEF, “more than 96 per cent of abstracted water is polluted and not fit for human consumption due to high salinity levels from sea water intrusion and high nitrate levels from excessive use of agrochemicals and wastewater infiltration.”

Jamie McGoldrick and James Heenan of the UN say:

“All over the occupied Palestinian territory, but particularly in the Gaza Strip, we see children robbed of every right. Families cope with four hours of electricity per day in the sweltering heat. Clean drinking water is expensive and hard to find. The start of the school year in one month will be very difficult for tens of thousands of families who cannot afford basic school supplies.”

When trapped Gazans resist with overwhelmingly non-violent protest, they receive the following treatment, as described by a Red Cross doctor, Gabriel Salazar: “We estimate there are over 1,300 people with complex, sometimes multiple injuries,” care of the Israeli Defense Forces responding to the protests, “that will require at least three to five surgeries each. The recovery period may take months or even years and we believe some 400 will remain with temporary or permanent disability.” Many demonstrators are deliberately shot in the legs and refused treatment by Israel in neighboring Jordan.


Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have been unlawfully occupied by Israel since June 1967. This means that every Israeli military action in those territories, except withdrawal, is unlawful. In November 1967, the United Nations adopted Security Council Resolution 242, which states:

Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,…

1. Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict…

In 2004, the International Court of Justice opined:

“All these territories (including East Jerusalem) remain occupied territories and Israel has continued to have the status of occupying Power … Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal … The Court concludes that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.”

In 2018, the UN Human Rights Council reaffirmed that Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are occupied by Israel:

“In the resolution, adopted by a vote of 29 in favour, two against [the US and Australia], and 14 abstentions, the Council decided to urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry, to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests that began on 30 March 2018.”


Given that the international consensus is that Israel remains the illegal occupying power in the Palestinian territories (including Gaza and East Jerusalem), Israel has no right to use force to defend itself against Palestinian attacks while it remains the illegal occupying power. If Israel ended the occupations of Gaza and the West Bank, it would be entitled to use force in self-defense, assuming that peaceful options are exhausted.

Hyde’s International Law Volume III states: “A belligerent,” i.e., Israel in this case, “which is contemptuous of conventional or customary prohibitions,” i.e., Israel continues to occupy Gaza, “is not in a position to claim that its adversary,” i.e., Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups, “when responding with like for like,” i.e., rocket-fire into Israel, “lacks the requisite excuse” (emphasis in original).

The Annual Digest and Reports of Public International Law Cases 1948 states: “Under International Law, as in Domestic Law, there can be no reprisal against reprisal. The assassin who is being repulsed by his intended victim may not slay him and then, in turn, plead self-defense.” By the same logic, Israel cannot occupy Gaza, collectively punish the population, and then claim to be acting in self-defense against Gazan rocket-fire.

In response to the Gaza massacre 2014, international jurist John Dugard said: “given the fact that Gaza is an occupied territory, it means that Israel’s present assault is simply a way of enforcing the continuation of the occupation, and the response of the Palestinian militants should be seen as the response of an occupied people that wishes to resist the occupation.”

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Dr. T. J. Coles is director of the Plymouth Institute for Peace Research and the author of several books, including Voices for Peace (with Noam Chomsky and others) and the forthcoming Fire and Fury: How the US Isolates North Korea, Encircles China and Risks Nuclear War in Asia (both Clairview Books).

No justice under occupation: Family of Palestinian woman killed by settlers searches for answers – Yumna Patel –

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