‘The Forbidden Treasure’: Palestinians’ Struggle to Gain Access to Their Own Land

January 25, 2023

Israeli soldiers harass Palestinian farmers harvest olives in the occupied West Bank. (File photo: via ActiveStills.org)
– Fayha’ Shalash is a Ramallah-based Palestinian journalist. She graduated from Birzeit University in 2008 and she has been working as a reporter and broadcaster ever since. Her articles appeared in several online publications. She contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

By Fayha Shalash

It was a happy moment when Ayed Mazloom was told that he had two whole days to enter his land in the village of Al-Janyeh, near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank.

Mazloom prepared himself to ‘visit’ his own land located near the settlement of Telmon, which devoured most of the lands of Al-Janyeh village. After hours of waiting for an Israeli permission to enter, he was finally granted access.

“I wasn’t allowed to go there for more than a year, we couldn’t pick olives or plow the land, but we discovered that settlers were stealing the olive harvest from us”, Mazloom said.

After half an hour, a number of Israeli soldiers came and told him that he had to leave the land immediately, under the pretext that the time of his visit was over.

“I was shocked, I didn’t even have time to check the trees or take care of them,” he told The Palestine Chronicle.

When the soldiers asked me to leave, they told me not to come back the next day because my visiting permit had expired”.

Mazloom’s family lost more than 500 acres after Israel confiscated and seized them due to their proximity to Jewish settlements, not to mention the land that was stolen to build these settlements.

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The Israeli forces have confiscated hundreds of thousands of acres in the West Bank since 1967, in order to facilitate the construction of Israeli settlements and military sites.

“Those trees were planted by our ancestors. Since our childhood, we have been raised to take care of them, every day,” Mazloom said. “The land for us is as precious as our children, but the occupation prevents us from entering it and deprives us of this basic right.”

Hard Facts

In 1993, the Oslo agreement, which was signed between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), stipulated the division of the West Bank into three categories: the so-called Area ‘A’, under Palestinian control, Area ‘B’ under both Palestinian and Israeli control, and ‘C’, under exclusive Israeli control. The last category alone covers an area of approximately 60% of the total size of the West Bank, according to the Land Research Center.

Jamal Alamleh, the Director of the center, told The Palestine Chronicle that Israel does not only ban the Palestinians from using their own land but also demolishes any building constructed on this land, even if it is as simple as a tent. Palestinians are also prevented from digging water wells in their own land.

“Settlers were given free rein to carry out many assaults against Palestinians in Area ‘C’. The settlers are always fully protected by Israeli soldiers,” Alamleh said.

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If any Palestinian files a complaint against the settlers, no one will hear him, but rather he will be treated as an aggressor on the ‘lands of the (Israeli) state’, according to Alamleh.

In 2020, an Israeli minister called for the re-registration of Palestinian lands located within Area ‘C’ under the names of settlers, to make it consistent with Israeli law. In practice, this means the de facto annexation of Palestinian areas, which is illegal under international law.

“If these calls are implemented, the Palestinians will become like intruders in their own land and, according to Israeli law, will be forced to leave (Area C) and relocate to Areas A and B, which are less than 40% of the total West Bank area.”

It Was a Treasure, Now It is Just a Dream

Four years ago, 60-year-old Abd al-Kareem Yousef was heading to his land when he was brutally beaten up by the guards of the Ariel settlement, in the northern occupied West Bank. He suffered numerous cuts and bruises.

“I was going to plant some trees but the guards of the nearby settlement stopped me and checked my ID card. They ordered me to go back but I refused, and when I told them that this is my land and I have the right to enter it, they started beating me up,” Yousef told The Palestine Chronicle.

Until now, Yousef cannot enter his own land in the village of Kfil Hares, near the city of Salfit.

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Mazloom’s family lost more than 500 acres after Israel confiscated and seized them due to their proximity to Jewish settlements, not to mention the land that was stolen to build these settlements.

“I remember working in it with my father when I was a kid and now I’m forbidden from entering it.”

By confiscating his land, the farmer has lost a major part of the livelihood of his family of nine. Once, it was his treasure. Now it is a distant dream; sometimes a nightmare.

Year after year, privately-owned Palestinian land continues to shrink, almost always due to the constant expansion of illegal Jewish settlements, itself a blatant violation of international law. But nothing has been done to end Palestinian suffering or to bring the prolonged nightmare of Mazloom, Yousef and many others to an end.

WHY IS THE WEST LAMENTING THE END OF ‘LIBERAL’ ISRAEL?

JANUARY 6TH, 2023

Source

By Ramzy Baroud

Even before the new Israeli government was officially sworn in on December 29, angry reactions began emerging, not only among Palestinians and other Middle Eastern governments but also among Israel’s historic allies in the West.

As early as November 2, top US officials conveyed to Axios that the Joe Biden Administration is “unlikely to engage with Jewish supremacist politician, Itamar Ben-Gvir.”

In fact, the US government’s apprehensions surpassed Ben-Gvir, who was convicted by Israel’s own court in 2007 for supporting a terrorist organization and inciting racism.

US Secretary of State Tony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reportedly “hinted” that the US government would also boycott “other right-wing extremists” in Netanyahu’s government.

However, these strong concerns seemed absent from the congratulatory statement by the US Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, on the following day. Nides relayed that he had “congratulated (Netanyahu) on his victory and told him that I look forward to working together to maintain the unbreakable bond” between the two countries.

In other words, this ‘unbreakable bond’ is stronger than any public US concern regarding terrorism, extremism, fascism, and criminal activities.

Ben-Gvir is not the only convicted criminal in Netanyahu’s government. Aryeh Deri, the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, was convicted of tax fraud in early 2022 and in 2000, he served a prison sentence for accepting bribes when he held the position of interior minister.

Bezalel Smotrich is another controversial character whose anti-Palestinian racism has dominated his political persona for many years.

While Ben-Gvir has been assigned the post of national security minister, Deri has been entrusted with the ministry of interior and Smotrich with the ministry of finance.

Palestinians and Arab countries are rightly angry because they understand that the new government is likely to sow more violence and chaos.

With many of Israel’s sinister politicians in one place, Arabs know that Israel’s illegal annexation of parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories is back on the agenda; and that incitement against Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem, coupled with raids of Al-Aqsa Mosque will exponentially increase in the coming weeks and months. And, expectedly, the push for the construction and expansion of illegal settlements is likely to grow, as well.

These are not unfounded fears. Aside from the very racist and violent statements and actions by Netanyahu and his allies in recent years, the new government has already declared that the Jewish people have “exclusive and inalienable rights to all parts of the Land of Israel,” promising to expand settlements while distancing itself from any commitments to establishing a Palestinian State, or even engaging in any ‘peace process.’

But while Palestinians and their Arab allies have been largely consistent in recognizing extremism in the various Israeli governments, what excuse do the US and the West have in failing to recognize that the latest Netanyahu-led government is the most rational outcome of blindly supporting Israel throughout the years?

In March 2019, Politico branded Netanyahu as the creator of “the most right-wing government in Israeli history,” a sentiment that was repeated countless times in other western media outlets.

This ideological shift was, in fact, recognized by Israel’s own media, years earlier. In May 2016, the popular Israeli newspaper Maariv described the Israeli government at the time as the “most right-wing and extremist” in the country’s history. This was, in part, due to the fact that far-right politician Avigdor Lieberman was assigned the role of the defense minister.

The West, then, too, showed concern, warned against the demise of Israel’s supposed liberal democracy, and demanded that Israel must remain committed to the peace process and the two-state solution. None of that actualized. Instead, the terrifying figures of that government were rebranded as merely conservatives, centrists or even liberals in the following years.

The same is likely to happen now. In fact, signs of the US’s willingness to accommodate whatever extremist politics Israel produces are already on display. In his statement, on December 30, welcoming the new Israeli government, Biden said nothing about the threat of Tel Aviv’s far-right politics to the Middle East region but, rather, the “challenges and threats” posed by the region to Israel. In other words, Ben-Gvir or no Ben-Gvir, unconditional support for Israel by the US will remain intact.

If history is a lesson, future violence and incitement in Palestine will also be blamed mostly, if not squarely, on Palestinians. This knee-jerk, pro-Israeli attitude has defined Israel’s relationship with the US, regardless of whether Israeli governments are led by extremists or supposed liberals. No matter, Israel somehow maintained its false status as “the only democracy in the Middle East”.

But if we are to believe that Israel’s exclusivist and racially based ‘democracy’ is a democracy at all, then we are justified to also believe that Israel’s new government is neither less nor more democratic than the previous governments.

Yet, western officials, commentators and even pro-Israel Jewish leaders and organizations in the US are now warning against the supposed danger facing Israel’s liberal democracy in the run-up to the formation of Netanyahu’s new government.

This is an indirect, if not clever form of whitewashing, as these views accept that what Israel has practiced since its founding in 1948, until today, was a form of real democracy; and that Israel remained a democracy even after the passing of the controversial Nation-State Law, which defines Israel as a Jewish state, completely disregarding the rights of the country’s non-Jewish citizens.

It is only a matter of time before Israel’s new extremist government is also whitewashed as another working proof that Israel can strike a balance between being Jewish and also democratic at the same time.

The same story was repeated in 2016, when warnings over the rise of far-right extremism in Israel – following the Netanyahu-Lieberman pact – quickly disappeared and eventually vanished. Instead of boycotting the new unity government, the US government finalized, in September 2016, its largest military aid package to Israel, amounting to $38 billion.

In truth, Israel has not changed much, either in its own self-definition or in its treatment of Palestinians. Failing to understand this is tantamount to tacit approval of Israel’s racist, violent and colonial policies in Occupied Palestine over the course of 75 years.

New Era of “Israel’s” War Crimes Accountability

November 29, 2022 

Source: Al Mayadeen English

By Ruqiya Anwar 

Notably, ongoing violence and crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including limited access to health care, education, and livelihood activities, affect socioeconomic conditions.

Notably, ongoing violence and crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including limited access to health care, education, and livelihood activities, affect socioeconomic conditions. Plans to change the demographic mix, character, and status of the holy city of Jerusalem “were also mentioned. The resolution queries the court on how these Israeli policies and activities” impact the legal status of the occupation, and what are the legal ramifications that arise for all states and the United Nations from this position. The Palestinian UN envoy, Riyad Mansour, recommended mobilizing “all elements of the international law-based order, including international justice”.

Significantly, the first report to the General Assembly from the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including “East Jerusalem and Israel”, was published earlier. It affirms that there are compelling reasons to believe that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is now illegal under international law due to its permanence and the Israeli Government’s de facto annexation policies. Furthermore, the Commission has concluded that “Israel’s” continued use of force to occupy Palestinian territory creates international obligations and keeps “Israel” responsible for past atrocities on Palestinian civil and political rights.

The ICJ addresses international conflicts between nations or offers legal advice on problems that the UN Security Council or General Assembly refers to it. An ICJ legal opinion typically takes at least a year to obtain. “Israel’s” separation wall and settlements in the occupied West Bank were found illegal by the International Court of Justice in a 2004 legal ruling. Israelis fear that the ICJ would support the Palestinian position that the occupation equates to annexation, which would undermine efforts by governments, businesses, and civil society organizations to boycott, divest and sanction “Israel”. To prevent the Palestinians from enacting the resolution, the Israeli Government has recently begun an all-out offensive.

In this scenario, International support for the special committee’s mandate is required to spread the message that the Israeli occupation is the root cause of all Middle Eastern problems and to inspire global action to end the suffering. It should call attention to the violent eviction and transfer of Palestinian families, the trespassing and intimidation of Palestinians by Israeli settlers, and the efforts to hasten al-Quds’s Judaization at the expense of the city’s Christian and Muslim Palestinian inhabitants.

The Israeli Government’s policies have severely and in many ways affected many facets of Palestinian life, including women’s access to clean, inexpensive water, negatively influencing the whole Palestinian agriculture industry. Moreover, the erosion of economic, social, and cultural rights causes a great deal of “silent harm” and psychological distress, some of which may not be immediately obvious. Nevertheless, the effects of these incapacitating processes, both now and in the future, are devastating.

Furthermore, “Israel” cannot continue to promote its narrative that it has done nothing wrong while also pursuing annexationist policies and denying the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination; it is now abundantly evident. Essentially, international law stands on the side of the Palestinians, and all they needed was the ultimate political environment for the world to applaud such a courageous act.

The situation on the ground has gotten worse in the occupied territories. Palestinian human rights have consistently been violated by “Israel”, which has continued its policy of repression. Human rights organizations worldwide agree that the ongoing Israeli occupation has established apartheid-like conditions.

The Palestinian diplomats’ ultimate goal was for the United Nations Security Council to vote to recognize Palestine as a full member state without any veto interference from the United States. Recognizing Palestine as a full UN member state, even while it is occupied, would signify that the international community is committed to the two-state solution.

Additionally, the rules of conduct for nations under temporary occupation are specified in international humanitarian law. However, because this is a 55-year-old occupation, it is not a temporary one. Therefore, the highest court in the world must rule that it is an occupation that leads to illegal annexation — a decision that will have global ramifications. In demanding such a legal requirement, the Palestinians astounded the Israelis and their allies.

Most importantly, the repeated statements before the United Nations have not stopped severe breaches of Palestinian rights. While nations continue to express outrage and resolutions are passed, nothing appears to change. No amount of occupation by the occupying power of Palestinian territory will ever lead to peace.

The Palestinian people’s intrinsic rights, such as the right to self-determination and the right of return, have been violated blatantly by “Israel” in violation of its commitments under international law. Bringing an end to this miserable situation was the international community’s responsibility. Although the international community has repeatedly stated that Palestinians have a right to freedom, security, and prosperity, Israel has persisted in denying it.

This appears unlikely given the inherent bias towards Israel and vested interests of the international community, the United States and Europe, in particular. Until there is a fundamental shift in the balance of power, the status quo of a constant conflict punctuated by periodic escalation and carnage will stay, as there is no indication that international political will is present or will emerge.

Now, the UN has adopted a Palestinian resolution calling for the ICJ to weigh in on “Israel’s” protracted occupation quickly. Nevertheless, there is hope because the UN has called “International Justice” for a legal advisory opinion on the nature of the Israeli occupation. But will the UN follow through and actually hold “Israel” accountable? 

References:

Fourth Committee Hears Support for Referring Question of Palestine to International Court of Justice for Advisory Opinion | UN Press

Report-COI-OPT-14Sept2022-EN.pdf (ohchr.org)

OHCHR | The United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/03/special-rapporteur-situation-human-rights-occupied-palestinian-territories

The opinions mentioned in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Al mayadeen, but rather express the opinion of its writer exclusively.

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UN Votes to Take “Israeli” Occupation of Palestine to Hague Int’l Court

November 12, 2022

By Staff, Agencies

The United Nations General Assembly voted 98-17 to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the illegality of the “Israeli” entity’s occupation of Palestinian territories on the grounds that it can be considered de facto annexation.

This resolution specifically asked the ICJ for an opinion on the status of al-Quds [Jerusalem]. The city is one of the most volatile and contentious points of discord between “Israelis” and Palestinians.

The “Israeli” entity, the United States, Canada and Australia were among those who opposed the ICJ referral when the UNGA Fourth Committee held its preliminary vote on Friday in New York.

The issue now moves to the UNGA plenum for final approval.

“There is no authority that can declare that the Jewish nation is an occupier in its homeland,” the “Israeli” entity’s ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan tweeted defiantly after the vote.

Erdan wrote that he had warned the UN nations that an appeal to the ICJ at The Hague was the “last nail in the burial coffin” of “Israeli”-Palestinian reconciliation. “Unilateral measures” such as an ICJ appeal “will be met with unilateral measures.”

At issue is the question of whether after 56 years, the “Israeli” entity’s hold on territories it captured from Jordan Egypt and Syria in the defensive 1967 Six-Day War, can be considered tantamount to de facto annexation and thus illegal under international law.

The international community does not recognize “Israeli” “sovereignty” in al-Quds [Jerusalem] and only the US accepts the entity’s annexation of the Golan.

The “Israeli” entity withdrew from Gaza, but the international community still holds that its under “Israeli” occupation due to the “Israeli” Occupation Forces’ [IOF’s] control of much of its borders.

An ICJ opinion on the matter is non-binding, but it would help codify into international law the Palestinian insistence that all that pre-1967 territory, should be within the final boundaries of its future state.

At Friday’s meeting, the US and the “Israeli” entity charged that the resolution was an attempt to bypass a negotiated resolution to the conflict with the Palestinians and as such ran counter to past UN resolutions including at the Security Council which called for such talks.

“The Palestinian’s have rejected every single peace initiative, and now they embroil an external body with the excuse that the conflict has not been resolved but the only reason why it has not been resolved is because of their rejectionism,” Erdan said. “They claim that they are ready to negotiate, but what they fail to mention is that they are only ready to do so if they are guaranteed 100 percent of their demands before they even sit down at the negotiating table,” Erdan explained.

“Exploiting a UN organ by enlisting the UN’s politicized anti-‘Israel’ majority for the purpose of forcing your demands instead of negotiating, is clearly a unilateral step,” he added.

The United States Representative Andrew Weinstein said that the “failure” in such resolutions “to acknowledge the shared history of the Haram al-Sharif [Temple Mount], a site sacred to both Jews and Muslims, is perhaps the clearest demonstration that they are intended only to denigrate ‘Israel’, not to help achieve peace.”

After the vote, the Palestinian Authority Ambassador Riyad Mansour thanked all the nations that endorsed and supported the resolutions.

“Nothing justifies standing with ‘Israeli’ annexation and occupation,” Mansour said, noting that these actions went against the UN Charter.

“This occupation needs to end,” Mansour said.

The request for an ICJ advisory opinion, submitted for the first time this year, was tacked onto a pre-existing annual resolution called “‘Israeli’ practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people.”

The text of the resolution was read out by Namibia and Cuba.

A number of nations objected to the inclusion of the ICJ resolution in an already existing text rather than as a stand-alone item, noting that the matter had been pushed through quickly with little time for review.

The resolution asks the ICJ to advise on “the legal consequences arising from the ongoing violations by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination from its prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.”

This includes, the resolution stated, “measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem and from its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures.”

In addition, the resolution asked the ICJ to explain how Israel’s policies and practices “affect the legal status of the occupation” and what are the “legal consequences that arise for all states the UN from this status.”

Among the nations that opposed the text were Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Liberia, Lithuania, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, and Palau.

Many European countries abstained including Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Ukraine, Ireland and Poland were among those countries that supported the ICJ referral.

This is the second such ICJ referral. In 2004 the ICJ issued an advisory opinion against the “Israeli” entity’s security barrier, explaining that its construction in east al-Quds [Jerusalem] and the West Bank was illegal.

UN Commission: Apartheid Charges Against “Israel” Will Be Investigate

October 28, 2022 

By Staff, Agencies

The open-ended United Nations Commission of Inquiry into rights abuses by “Israel” said Thursday it will investigate apartheid charges against the “Israeli” entity, confirming fears in Tel Aviv that the controversial probe would seek to brand it with the toxic term.

The ongoing UN investigation was set up by the Human Rights Council following last year’s 11-day “Israeli” aggression on besieged Gaza Strip to probe rights abuses.

The commission released its second report last week, calling on the UN Security Council to end the “Israeli” entity’s “permanent occupation” and urging UN member states to prosecute “Israeli” officials.

On Thursday, the three members of the commission said future reports will investigate apartheid by the “Israeli” entity, during a briefing at the United Nations in New York. They said the investigation had so far focused on the “root causes” of the conflict, which they ascribe to the entity’s presence in the occupied West Bank.

Navi Pillay, a former UN human rights chief who chairs the commission, called apartheid “a manifestation of the occupation.”

“We’re focusing on the root cause which is the occupation and part of it lies in apartheid,” Pillay said. “We will be coming to that. That’s the beauty of this open-ended mandate, it gives us the scope.”

Commission member Miloon Kothari also said the open-ended nature of the probe allowed it to examine the apartheid charge.

“We will get to it because we have many years and issues to look at,” he said.

“We think a comprehensive approach is necessary so we have to look at issues of settler colonialism,” Kothari added. “Apartheid itself is a very useful paradigm, so we have a slightly different approach but we will definitely get to it.”

The “Israeli” regime has refused to cooperate with the commission and has not granted it entry into the entity or access to the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza. It rejected last week’s report, calling the panel neither credible nor legitimate. On Thursday, the “Israeli” entity’s ambassador to the UN said the panel’s members were chosen because they “abhor” “Israel”.

Reports earlier this year said the entity’s so-called Foreign Ministry was planning a campaign to head off accusations of apartheid by the commission. A leaked cable reportedly revealed “Israeli” officials were concerned about the damage the commission’s first report could do if it referred to the “Israeli” entity as an “apartheid ‘state’.”

The “Israeli” entity’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid, while serving as foreign minister earlier this year, warned that the entity would face intense campaigns to label it an apartheid state this year.

The UN Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others have accused “Israel” of apartheid in the past two years, borrowing the term from South Africa’s system of codified race-based discrimination.

The commission presented its latest report to the UN General Assembly on Thursday.

The 28-page report accuses the “Israeli” entity of violating international law by making its control over the occupied West Bank permanent, and by annexing Palestinian land in al-Quds [Jerusalem] and the occupied West Bank and the Syrian Golan Heights. It also accuses the entity of discriminatory policies against 1948 Palestinians, of stealing natural resources, and of gender-based violence against Palestinian women.

Lapid has called the report antisemitic, “biased, false, inciting and blatantly unbalanced.”

The US has also repeatedly condemned the commission. US President Joe Biden denounced the investigation as biased during a meeting with “Israeli” President Isaac Herzog on Wednesday.

The investigation “continues a longstanding pattern of unfairly singling out ‘Israel’ and does nothing to establish conditions for ‘peace’,” the White House said.

Pillay dismissed allegations of antisemitism on Thursday, calling the claims “offensive” and “a diversion.”

“All three of us are not antisemitic. Let me make that clear, and then to add insult to injury, they said the report is also antisemitic. There isn’t a word in this report that can be interpreted as antisemitic,” she said. “This is always raised as a diversion.”

“We’re so committed to justice, the rule of law and human rights and we should not be subjected to abuse such as this. They’re totally false, all false and lies,” she said.

She said the “Israeli” regime may be guilty of international crimes, including war crimes, by transferring civilians into “occupied territory,” referring to West Bank settlements, where nearly 500,000 “Israeli” settlers live.

Kothari denounced settlers as a “paramilitary force.”

“They can do whatever the hell they want, they can raid homes, they can destroy olives,” he said.

Pillay dismissed security concerns the “Israeli” entity cites for maintaining a presence in the occupied West Bank as “a fiction” the country was trying to “hide behind.”

“Some of ‘Israel’s’ policies in the West Bank are only cosmetically intended to justify security concerns,” she said.

The commission has called for the entity to immediately withdraw from the occupied West Bank.

WORSENING CHAOS: ISRAEL’S POLITICAL INSTABILITY IS NOW THE NORM

JULY 15TH, 2022

FILE – Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett makes a call before voting on a law on the legal status of Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, during a session of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem, June 6, 2022. Nir Orbach, a member of Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s party, said Monday, June 13, 2022, he would cease voting with the governing coalition, dealing yet another blow to the teetering government as it marks one year in office. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo, File)

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Even if a purportedly centrist or even leftist prime minister finds himself at the helm of the government, outcomes will not change when the Knesset – in fact, most of the country – is governed by a militaristic, chauvinistic, and colonial mindset.

By Dr. Ramzy Baroud

The collapse of the short-lived Israeli government of Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid validates the argument that the political crisis in Israel was not entirely instigated and sustained by former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Bennett’s coalition government consisted of eight parties, welding together arguably one of the oddest coalitions in the tumultuous history of Israeli politics. The mishmash cabinet included far-right and right groups like Yamina, Yisrael Beiteinu, and New Hope, along with centrist Yesh Atid and Blue and White, leftist Meretz, and even an Arab party, the United Arab List (Ra’am). The coalition also had representatives from the Labor Party, once the dominant Israeli political camp, now almost completely irrelevant.

When the coalition was formed in June 2021, Bennett was celebrated as some kind of a political messiah, who was ready to deliver Israel from the grip of the obstinate, self-serving and corrupt Netanyahu.

Confidence in Bennett’s government, however, was misplaced. The millionaire politician was a protégé of Netanyahu and, on many occasions, appeared to stand to the right of the Likud party leader on various issues. In 2013, Bennett proudly declared “I have killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there is no problem with that.” In 2014, he was very critical of Netanyahu for failing to achieve Israel’s objectives in one of the deadliest wars on besieged Gaza. Moreover, Bennett’s core support comes from Israel’s most extreme and far-right constituency.

Many wished to ignore all of this, in the hope that Bennett would succeed in ousting his former boss. That possibility became very real when Netanyahu was officially indicted in November 2019 on various serious corruption charges.

When Bennett and Lapid’s government was officially sworn in, on June 13, 2021, it seemed as if a new era of Israeli politics had begun. It was understood that Israel’s political camps had finally found their common denominator. Netanyahu, meanwhile, was exiled to the ranks of the opposition. His news began to peter out, especially as he sank deeper into his ongoing corruption trial.

Though some analysts continue to blame Netanyahu for the various crises suffered by Bennett’s coalition – for example, when Idit Silman resigned her post on April 6, leaving the coalition government with only 60 seats in the Knesset. But there is little proof of that. The short-lived Israeli government has collapsed under the weight of its own contradictions.

Would the actions of the government that ruled over Israel between June 2021 and June 2022 have been any different if Netanyahu was still the Israeli prime minister? Not in the least. Illegal Jewish settlements continue to grow unhindered; home demolitions, the dispossession of Palestinian communities in the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem and various routine acts of Israeli aggression against its Arab state neighbors remained unchanged.

According to United Nations data, 79 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank by the Israeli army between June 2021 and May 2022. The region of Masafer Yatta, a 36-square km area located in the Southern Hebron Hills, has been designated for total annexation by the Israeli army. The expulsion of the area’s 1,200 Palestinian residents has already begun.

Regarding occupied Jerusalem, specifically in the case of the so-called Flag March, Bennett has proved to be even more extreme than Netanyahu. Bernard Avishai writes in The New Yorker that, in 2021, “Netanyahu’s government changed the march’s route away from the Damascus Gate to minimize the chance of violence”, while the ‘change government’ – a reference to Bennett’s coalition – “had reinstated the route, and even permitted more than two thousand national-Orthodox activists, including the extremist national-camp Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir,” to conduct their provocative ‘visits’ to Haram Al-Sharif,  one of Islam’s holiest sites.

This is not to suggest that a return of Netanyahu, following the now scheduled November elections – Israel’s fifth general elections in less than four years – would be a welcome change. Instead, experience has shown that, regardless of who rules Israel, the political attitude of the country, especially towards Palestinians, would most likely remain unchanged.

True, Israeli politics are known to be unstable. This instability, however, worsened in recent decades. Since 1996, the average Israeli government has not served more than 2.6 years. But since April 2019, the average dramatically shrank to less than a year per government. The long-standing argument was that Netanyahu’s domineering and polarizing attitude was to blame. The last year, however, has demonstrated that Netanyahu was a mere symptom of Israel’s pre-existing political malaise.

Some Israeli analysts suggest that Israel’s political crisis can only end when the country institutes electoral and constitutional reforms. That, however, would be a superficial fix; after all, much of Israel’s parliamentary and electoral laws have been in effect for many years, when governments were relatively stable.

For Israel to change, a language of peace and reconciliation would have to replace the current atmosphere of incitement and war. Israeli politicians, who are currently fanning the flames, jockeying for positions and feeding on the violent chants of their supporters, would have to be transformed into something else entirely, a near impossibility in the current hate-filled atmosphere throughout the country.

Chances are Israel’s political crises will continue to loom large; coalitions will be assembled, only to collapse soon after; politicians will continue to move to the right even if they allege to be members of other ideological camps. Israel’s political instability is now the norm, not the exception.

In an interview with CNN, Yohanan Plesner, a former Member of the Knesset (MK), said that the problem is Israel’s need for “electoral and constitutional reforms, such as making any attempt to initiate early elections dependent on a two-thirds majority in parliament and amending the current law that demands new elections when a budget fails to pass.”

What Israelis refuse to face is the fact that governments which are predicated on right-wing, far-right, extremist constituencies are inherently unstable. Even if a purportedly centrist or even leftist prime minister finds himself at the helm of the government, outcomes will not change when the Knesset – in fact, most of the country – is governed by a militaristic, chauvinistic, and colonial mindset.

France’s ‘robust’ ties with “Israel” keep Georges Abdallah in prison

April 25 2022

Source: Agencies + Al Mayadeen Net

By Ahmad Karakira 

The French government claims it respects human rights and condemns the Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories, yet it shakes hands with “Israel”, turning a blind eye to all its crimes.

France’s ‘robust’ ties with “Israel” keep Georges Abdallah in prison

Incumbent President Emmanuel Macron is elected President for a second term, winning 58% of the voter turnout.

Macron and his far-right opponent Marine Le Pen had led the polls during the first round of the French presidential elections with a slight lead for Macron, who won 28.1-29.7%, around 5% more than Le Pen’s 23.3-24.7%.

The other candidates, Jean-Luc Melenchon, Eric Zemmour, Valerie Pecresse, and Yannick Jadot received 20.1%, 7.2%, 5%, and 4.4%, respectively.

The President has garnered support from several opponents, mainly left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who came in third place and called on his supporters and the French public to pivot away from the extremist.

“We know who we will never vote for… Not a single vote must go to Mrs. Le Pen,” Melenchon said at his party headquarters in Paris, though he did not explicitly ask his supporters to back the incumbent President.

Another boost for the President also came from his other opponents. Communist Party candidate Fabien Roussel, Socialist Anne Hidalgo, Yannick Jadot of the Greens, and right-wing Republican candidate Valerie Pecresse said they would vote for him to prevent the far-right leader from coming to power.

Only fellow far-right candidate Eric Zemmour urged his supporters to vote for Marine Le Pen on April 24.

“I don’t make a mistake over who my opponents are. I call on my voters to vote for Marine Le Pen,” Zemmour told supporters following his elimination from the electoral race.

In parallel to the presidential election battle between Macron and Le Pen, the main question remains: What will the results hold for Palestine in light of the strong French-Israeli relations?

“Robust” relationship with “Israel”

France was one of the very first countries to establish diplomatic ties with the Israeli occupation on May 11, 1949.

The French Foreign Ministry brags on its website that Paris has established a “robust” relationship with “Israel”, “marked by constant commitment to its existence and security” and contribution to its military power.

Along with “Israel” and Britain, France attacked Egypt in October 1956 in what was called the Tripartite Aggression against Egypt after then-President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal.

But following the Six-Day War on Egypt in 1967, which saw “Israel” occupying the West Bank, Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights, France adopted the United Nations Resolution 242 that calls on “Israel” to withdraw “from territories occupied.”

Ever since, France’s official policy is a combination of supporting the Israeli occupation’s so-called “right to exist and right to security,” supporting the two-state solution, and allegedly condemning “Israel’s” unlawful and illegal policy of settlement-building in occupied Palestinian territories.

The French Ministry of Foreign considers that “the annexation of Palestinian territories, whatever the scope, would be a violation of international law, and particularly the prohibition of acquisition of territories by force.”

According to the Ministry, the annexation of Palestinian territories “would aggravate tensions and seriously compromise the two-state solution, and would be contrary to the interests of both Israelis and Palestinians, as well as Europeans and the wider the international community.”

It also claimed that annexation “could not go unanswered or be without consequence for the EU’s relations with Israel.”

Despite France’s claims of respecting international law, during the May 2021 Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, French Interior Minister, Gerald Darminin, announced a ban on protests in solidarity with Palestine.

The Paris police also issued a decree deeming such demonstrations illegal, claiming that they could lead to “risky elements aimed at provoking violent confrontations with the police.” 

In addition, French President Emmanuel Macron stressed during a phone call on May 14 with then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu his “unwavering attachment” to “Israel’s” security and condemned the Palestinian Resistance.

Economic collaboration

According to the French Ministry of Foreign, “The bilateral relationship between France and Israel is also supported by the presence in Israel of a large French community (150,000 people), while France is home to Europe’s largest Jewish community.”

France is “Israel’s” 12th largest supplier and 10th largest customer.

In 2017, approximately 100 French companies established themselves in “Israel”, creating 5,530 jobs and generating an estimated €534 million in revenue.

According to Bank of France data, the stock of French foreign direct investment (FDI) in “Israel” reached €2.9 billion at the end of 2017, representing a 6% annual increase since 2012.

Scientific & technical cooperation

France is “Israel’s” fifth-largest scientific and technological research partner. Academic collaboration, including the joint laboratory of INSERM Nice and the Technion-“Israel” Institute of Technology in Haifa, and the exchange of young researchers underpin this collaboration.

The French-Israeli High Council for Research and Scientific and Technological Cooperation has ensured this cooperation since 2003.

Secret military agreements

A research article called France and the Israeli occupation: talking the talk, but not walking the walk? revealed that “in the 1950s, France was the main supplier of military equipment to Israel through a number of secret deals that included aircraft, tanks, and ammunition.”

“It also played a crucial role in Israel’s acquisition of nuclear capabilities through the provision of know-how, material and technology,” the article added.

“In a secret agreement signed in 1956, France committed to helping Israel build a nuclear reactor and to providing uranium,” the research article mentioned.

In the same context, US military historian Warner Farr had highlighted that “cooperation was so close that Israel worked with France on the pre-production design of early Mirage jet aircraft, designed to be capable of delivering nuclear bombs.”

Farr revealed that “French experts secretly built the Israel reactor underground at Dimona, in the Negev (Naqab) desert… Hundreds of French engineers and technicians filled Beersheba (Beer Al-Sabe), the biggest town in the Negev (Naqab).”  

Longest-serving political prisoner in Europe

When mentioning the strong ties linking France with the Israeli occupation, we can’t but shed light on the just cause of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, former leader of the Marxist-Leninist Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Factions (LARF). Abdallah is accused of establishing the LARF.

Georges Abdallah at the heart of the French presidential elections

The LARF fought to stop the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and targeted several senior US and Israeli figures involved in the war. All the LARF members were released except for Abdallah.

The Factions have also claimed responsibility for the operations in response to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Abdallah has been imprisoned in southwestern France since 1984, despite completing the minimum term of his sentence in 1999.

He was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for his alleged involvement in the 1982 killing of US military attaché Charles Ray and Israeli diplomat Yakov Barsimentov in Paris, as well as in an assassination attempt on Robert O. Homme, a US consul in Strasbourg. 

The revolutionary never responded to the list of accusations and considered that the French judicial system is “despicably” taking the resistance action out of context.

It had been possible to release Abdallah in 1999, but French authorities denied his nine parole requests.

In November 2003, the entity that grants parole in the city of Pau – where Abdallah is detained – gave the green light to one of Abdallah’s release requests. 

Why hasn’t he been released yet?

However, then-French Minister of Justice Dominique Perben appealed the decision, describing the case as “extremely serious”, which kept Abdallah in prison, and his file was transferred to another court.

Abdallah’s May 2009 request for release on parole was rejected by a Paris appeals court that claimed the prisoner was “a resolute and pitiless militant” who might resume his “combat” again in Lebanon, citing a 2008 French law.

A Paris judge approved Abdallah’s release on Thursday, January 10, 2013, and set the date of his extradition to Beirut on Monday, January 14.

However, the decision was delayed due to a government appeal. White House Spokesperson Victoria Nuland at the time, had declared that the US – “Israel’s” biggest ally – was still discussing with the French government how to stop the decision.

A Wikileaks document about former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s leaked emails revealed that between January 10-14, she sent an email to former French Minister of Foreign Laurent Fabius, saying that “although the French Government has no legal authority to overturn the Court of Appeal’s January 10 decision, we hope French officials might find another basis to challenge the decision’s legality.”

In other words, the US ordered the French government to stomp over its legal system and over the principle of separation of powers.

Hillary Clinton’s email to French Minister of Foreign Laurent Fabius regarding Georges Abdallah

Abdallah’s lawyer, Jean-Louis Chalanset, told French media that the Lebanese authorities have repeatedly said they were ready to receive Georges Abdallah in Lebanon, where he is perceived as a political prisoner.

Chalanset said a decision to release the defendant would be political before being judicial. He believes that keeping him incarcerated is a “lack of courage” and “subservience” from Paris.

Over the years, leftist MPs and human rights organizations such as the Human Rights League (LDH) and even the French intelligence chief called for Abdallah’s release.

Melenchon supports Georges Abdallah

In relation to the French presidential election, leftist leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon has expressed, on many occasions, his solidarity with Georges Abdallah’s cause.

According to the Collective for the Liberation of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, Mélenchon’s party – La France Insoumise (LFI) – regularly participates in the protests demanding the immediate release of the Lebanese revolutionary.

In parallel, Mélenchon’s campaign had said he is ready to back sanctions against the Israeli occupation over its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and its imposed blockade on the Gaza Strip.

The leftist leader had pledged to cancel the so-called “Circulaire Alliot-Marie” French Ministry of Justice memorandum instructing prosecutors to crack down on BDS movement activists. On the other hand, French President Emmanuel Macron stressed in 2017 that “the French state condemns BDS and all boycotts.”

“I must be clear that this will continue if I am elected president,” he added during an interview with Beur FM radio.

How does Abdallah spend his time in detention?

In detention, Abdallah spends his time as a revolutionary political prisoner reading books and newspapers in five languages, writing political statements and analyses about imperialism, capitalism and colonialism, as well as replying to solidarity letters from across the world.

The Lebanese revolutionary exchanges letters with Palestinian prisoners and initiates hunger strikes in support of other prisoners, the latest of which was on April 16 in demand of the release of Sibel Balac and Gokhan Yildirim from Turkish prisons.

  • Georges Abdallah’s letter announcing a hunger strike in support of Sibel Balac and Gokhan Yildirim in Turkish prisons

His latest views

In France, Abdallah considers that popular revolts and movements of the popular masses like the Yellow Vests are partially challenging capitalism.

According to Tom Martin of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Solidarity Network, Samidoun, Abdallah sees with a good eye the unwavering resistance of the Palestinian people and the Lebanese people in the face of imperialism and Zionism. Nevertheless, he thinks that resistance organizations must intensify their actions and aim for a radical, clear anti-Zionism and anti-imperialist program.

In his only statement in regard to the war in Ukraine, Abdallah underlined the hypocrisy of the imperialist camp, notably by turning a blind eye to the presence of neo-Nazi Ukrainian battalions, while criminalizing pro-Palestinian movements.

He believes that the Ukrainian people are victims and that the solution to this crisis would only depend on their efforts that should be away from all imperialist forces.

‘Israeli’ Occupation of Syrian Golan Heights Illegitimate, Invalid – UN

July 23, 2021

Visual search query image

By Staff, Agencies

The United Nations emphasized Syria’s sovereignty over the ‘Israeli’-occupied Golan Heights, stressing that annexation measures imposed by the Tel Aviv regime in the territory are invalid and illegitimate.

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia [ESCWA] made the announcement in a periodic report distributed in Beirut, Syria’s official SANA news agency reported on Thursday.

“The compliance with the international law and the absence of impunity are two prerequisites for achieving peace and justice for all the peoples of the region,” the UN body added.

In 1967, the Zionist occupation waged a full-scale war against Arab territories, during which it occupied a large swathe of Golan and annexed it four years later, a move never recognized by the international community.

In 1973, another war broke out and a year later, a UN-brokered ceasefire came into force, according to which Tel Aviv and Damascus agreed to separate their troops and create a buffer zone in the Heights.

The Zionist entity has over the past decades built dozens of settlements in the Golan Heights in defiance of international calls for the regime to stop its illegal construction activities.

Syria has repeatedly reaffirmed its sovereignty over the Golan Heights, saying the territory must be completely restored to its control.

The United Nations has time and again emphasized Syria’s sovereignty over the territory.

In March 2019, former American president Donald Trump controversially signed a decree recognizing ‘Israeli’ “sovereignty” over the Golan Heights during a meeting with then Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington.

The ESCWA report, which covers the period from April 2020 to March 2021, further stressed that it is impossible to achieve sustainable development in the occupied Palestinian territories in light of the continuing ‘Israeli’ occupation and the policies and practices pursued by the entity.

The UN commission also emphasized the necessity of halting such Zionist measures that hinder efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide additional humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.

The report also stressed that the measures and policies adopted by the Zionist regime in Arab territories, occupied since 1967, including the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip and settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank, are all in sheer violation of international law.

Elsewhere in the report, ESCWA said that last year was one of the worst years in the Palestinian economy since 2002, as it shrank by 11.5 percent.

The UN commission prepares a report for the UN chief every year on the economic and social repercussions of the ‘Israeli’ occupation on the conditions of the Palestinians in the occupied territories and also the conditions of the Syrians in the Golan Heights.

Abbas Statements are Complicit with Israeli Settler-Colonialism

April 22, 2021

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (Photo: Kremlin, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Ramona Wadi

Known for belatedly spouting known truths, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas was true to form in his address to the J Street conference recently, which revealed the extent of his collaboration with the international community over Palestine’s loss, and his complicity with Israeli settler-colonialism.

Mentioning “apartheid” as he did cannot gloss over the fact that Abbas is still championing a paradigm that has facilitated Israel’s colonial expansion and de-facto annexation of Palestinian land.

US President Joe Biden’s two-state policy is still unclear. The strategy has worked well for Israel, while advocates of the internationally-imposed paradigm can once again make themselves useful. But the two-state “solution” has already been declared dead in the water and pressuring the US administration to heed a matter of international consensus that still harms Palestinians should not be deemed “the only solution”, as Abbas is fond of claiming. In doing so, he is on the same page as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who insists that “There is no Plan B.”

If Abbas thought that by mentioning the A word he would be doing a service to the Palestinians, he is wrong. Not only has the Israeli NGO B’Tselem beaten him to it declaring that the colonial state has already passed the apartheid threshold, but Palestinians have also been trying to raise awareness regarding Israel’s apartheid policies for years. The PA, meanwhile, was busying itself with the international community’s state-building illusions and tacitly approving Israel’s settlement expansion.

“Moving away from the two-state solution will eventually lead to a de facto one-state solution, an apartheid state, and this is something neither, we nor the entire world would accept,” Abbas said. “A one-state solution will only perpetuate the conflict.”

This is not necessarily true. Moving away from moribund two-state politics can give a chance to the Palestinian people, but only if they have a leadership worthy of the name and cause. The two-state solution, remember, came back into vogue with the announcement of the so-called Abraham Accords, which saw some Arab countries normalize relations with Israel in return, they claimed, to halt Israel’s annexation plans.

Annexation, as Israel has made clear, was simply “postponed”. Nevertheless, the UN had no qualms about endorsing the diplomatic game that facilitated the de-facto annexation of the occupied West Bank.

The Trump administration’s “deal of the century” shifted focus on what would happen if Abbas and the international community keep insisting upon the two-state compromise. Saying that the one-state solution would entrench apartheid is valid only because Palestinians have not been given the political freedom to construct their own independence and liberation process.

Israel has leverage over the one-state concept because it has secured its narrative within the international community. The Palestinian people, though, are burdened with a leadership whose main interest is to impose the international paradigm and call it a “solution”.

So what is the use of the PA participating in such seminars, if it only serves to strengthen the Israeli narrative and colonial expansion? Abbas had the opportunity to speak to J Street — a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” liberal US advocacy group — about the Palestinian concept of a single, democratic state, but he did not take it. It is possible, of course, that his invitation to address the group was conditional upon his promotion of the two-state compromise because there is purportedly no other option for the Palestinian people.

To speak where the funding lies is to maintain two-state politics, now defunct in terms of implementation yet favorable for Israel and its de-facto annexation — aka theft — of Palestinian land. The Palestinian leadership embarked yet again upon another spectacle that revealed its allegiance to external entities over and above the people of occupied Palestine.

– Ramona Wadi is a staff writer for Middle East Monitor, where this article was originally published. She contributed this article to the Palestine Chronicle.

From His Solitary Confinement, Marwan Barghouti Holds the Key to Fatah’s Future

April 7, 2021

By Ramzy Baroud

If imprisoned Palestinian leader, Marwan Barghouti, becomes the President of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the status quo will change substantially. For Israel, as well as for the current PA President, Mahmoud Abbas, such a scenario is more dangerous than another strong Hamas showing in the upcoming Palestinian parliamentary elections.

The long-delayed elections, now scheduled for May 22 and July 31 respectively, will not only represent a watershed moment for the fractured Palestinian body politic, but also for the Fatah Movement which has dominated the PA since its inception in 1994. The once-revolutionary Movement has become a shell of its former self under the leadership of Abbas, whose only claim to legitimacy was a poorly contested election in January 2005, following the death of former Fatah leader and PA President, Yasser Arafat.

Though his mandate expired in January 2009, Abbas continued to ‘lead’ Palestinians. Corruption and nepotism increased significantly during his tenure and, not only did he fail to secure an independent Palestinian State, but the Israeli military occupation and illegal settlements have deepened and grown exponentially.

Abbas’ rivals from within the Fatah Movement were sidelined, imprisoned or exiled. A far more popular Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouti, was silenced by Israel as he was thrown into an Israeli prison in April 2002, after a military court found him guilty of involvement in Palestinian resistance operations during the uprising of 2000. This arrangement suited Abbas, for he continued to doubly benefit: from Barghouti’s popularity, on the one hand, and his absence, on the other.

When, in January, Abbas declared that he would hold three successive rounds of elections – legislative elections on May 22, presidential elections on July 31 and Palestinian National Council (PNC) elections on August 31 – he could not have anticipated that his decree, which followed intense Fatah-Hamas talks, could potentially trigger the implosion of his own party.

Fatah-Hamas rivalry has been decades-long but intensified in January 2006 when the latter won the legislative elections in the Occupied Territories. Hamas’s victory was partly attributed to Fatah’s own corruption, but internal rivalry also splintered Fatah’s vote.

Although it was Fatah’s structural weaknesses that partly boosted Hamas’ popularity, it was, oddly, the subsequent rivalry with Hamas that kept Fatah somehow limping forward. Indeed, the anti-Hamas sentiment served as a point of unity among the various Fatah branches. With money pouring in from donor countries, Fatah used its largesse to keep dissent at a minimum and, when necessary, to punish those who refused to toe the pro-Abbas line. This strategy was successfully put to the test in 2010 when Mohammed Dahlan, Fatah’s ‘strong man’ in Gaza prior to 2006, was dismissed from Fatah’s central committee and banished from the West Bank, as he was banished from Gaza four years earlier.

But that convenient paradigm could not be sustained. Israel is entrenching its military occupation, increasing its illegal settlement activities and is rapidly annexing Palestinian land in the West Bank and Jerusalem. The Gaza siege, though deadly and tragic, has become routine and no longer an international priority. A new Palestinian generation in the Occupied Territories cannot relate to Abbas and his old guard, and is openly dissatisfied with the tribal, regional politics through which the PA, under Abbas, continues to govern occupied and oppressed Palestinians.

Possessing no strategies or answers, Abbas is now left with no more political lifelines and few allies.

With dwindling financial resources and faced by the inescapable fact that 85-year-old Abbas must engineer a transition within the movement to prevent its collapse in case of his death, Fatah was forced to contend with an unpleasant reality: without new elections the PA would lose the little political legitimacy with which it ruled over Palestinians.

Abbas was not worried about another setback, like that of 2006, when Hamas won majority of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC)’s seats. Until recently, most opinion polls indicated that the pro-Abbas Fatah list would lead by a comfortable margin in May and that Abbas would be re-elected President in July. With his powers intact, Abbas could then expand his legitimacy by allowing Hamas and others into the PLO’s Palestinian National Council – Palestine’s parliament in the Diaspora. Not only would Abbas renew faith in his Authority, but he could also go down in history as the man who united Palestinians.

But things didn’t go as planned and the problem, this time, did not come from Hamas, but from Fatah itself – although Abbas did anticipate internal challenges. However, the removal of Dahlan, the repeated purges of the party’s influential committees and the marginalization of any dissenting Fatah members throughout the years must have infused Abbas with confidence to advance with his plans.

The first challenge emerged on March 11, when Nasser al-Qidwa, a well-respected former diplomat and a nephew of Yasser Arafat, was expelled from the movement’s Central Committee for daring to challenge Abbas’ dominance. On March 4, Qidwa decided to lock horns with Abbas by running in the elections in a separate list.

The second and bigger surprise came on March 31, just one hour before the closing of the Central Election Commission’s registration deadline, when Qidwa’s list was expanded to include supporters of Marwan Barghouti, under the leadership of his wife, Fadwa.

Opinion polls are now suggesting that a Barghouti-Qidwa list, not only would divide the Fatah Movement but would actually win more seats, defeating both the traditional Fatah list and even Hamas. If this happens, Palestinian politics would turn on its head.

Moreover, the fact that Marwan Barghouti’s name was not on the list keeps alive the possibility that the imprisoned Fatah leader could still contest in the presidential elections in July. If that, too, transpires, Barghouti will effortlessly beat and oust Abbas.

The PA President is now in an unenviable position. Canceling the elections would lead to strife, if not violence. Moving forward means the imminent demise of Abbas and his small but powerful clique of Palestinians who benefited greatly from the cozy political arrangement they created for themselves.

As it stands, the key to the future of Fatah is now held by a Palestinian prisoner, Marwan Barghouti, who has been kept by Israel, largely in solitary confinement, since 2002.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

إدارة بايدن… فلسطينياً

سعاده مصطفى أرشيد

استطاع بن يامين نتنياهو اعتصار الأيام الأخيرة من رئاسة ترامب، ساعة بساعة ودقيقة بدقيقة، في سباق لاهث مع موعد العشرين من هذا الشهر، وها هو قد حقق على أرض الواقع مجموعة من النقاط والمكاسب الشخصية والانتخابية له، ولجمهوره المتطرّف، ثم لمجموع «الإسرائيليين»، وهي مكاسب من النوع الذي يفرض واقعاً ويكون من الصعب تجاوزه أو العودة عنه لأيّ رئيس وزراء قادم في (إسرائيل) حتى ولو كان ببعض المقاييس معتدلاً، وكذلك على الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة إنْ رغبت – وهي لن ترغب، إذ إنها مرتاحة جداً بما حققت سياسات ترامب – نتنياهو، فما تلك السياسات إلا تعبير عن رغباتها وأمانيها المضمرة ومنسجمة مع قناعاتها، وهي وإنْ كانت تحسب لتنفيذها أكثر من حساب، فإنّ ترامب قد رفع الحرج عنها، سواء في موضوع ضمّ الجولان أو نقل السفارة الأميركية للقدس، أو في صفقته الشهيرة التي منح بها نتنياهو الأغوار والمستوطنات وشمال البحر الميت وبرية الخليل، ويسارع نتنياهو الزمن لتنفيذها خلال الأيام المتبقية، بصمت أو بصوت مرتفع، وكان آخرها إعلان حكومته عن قرارها ببناء مئات الوحدات السكنية الاستيطانية الاثنين الماضي.

أما وقد زال الحرج، ورفع العتب عن الإدارة المقبلة، فإنّ بإمكان بايدن أن يبدو بمظهر المعتدل الحكيم الذي سيحاول معالجة وترميم ما أحدث ترامب من فوضى ودمار، بإعادة إطلاق مسيرة التسوية من جديد، ثم بفتح حوار مباشر مع السلطة في رام الله، وغير مباشر مع غزة. إلى رام الله ستأتي وفود أميركية لعقد لقاءات والتعرّف على عقد ومفاصل الصراع باعتبارهم طارئين عليها، كما يحدث مع كلّ إدارة أميركية جديدة، وستذهب وفود فلسطينية إلى واشنطن، ويزدهر موسم السفر والطيران غرباً برغم عراقيل الوباء. نصيب السلطة من المساعدات المالية سيتسم بالسخاء وتعود وكالة التنمية الأميركية إلى سابق نشاطها في دعم مشاريع ذات شكل يراه الناس، ولكن على أن لا تكون مفيدة، سيُعاد فتح مكتب منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية في واشنطن، كلّ ذلك سيتمّ تسويقه باعتباره انتصاراً للدبلوماسية الفلسطينية، التي سبق لها أن ادّعت محاصرتها للدبلوماسيتين الأميركية و»الإسرائيلية» قبل أيام من الكشف عن مسلسل التطبيع، وقد أعلنت القاهرة الثلاثاء الماضي عن بدء التحضير لاجتماعات رباعية ميونخ لدعم مسار السلام، وذلك بعد عام كامل من الدعوة للاجتماع في مطلع العام الماضي. أما في غزة فسيتولى القطريون إدارة الحوار وينوبون عن الأميركان في تقديم الدعم المالي بحقائب الدولارات الذي ستزيد وزناً وانتفاخاً كلما سارت أمور غزة كما يشتهي ويريد القطري باعتباره الممثل الأول وربما الحصري لسياسات الإدارة الديمقراطية، وبقدر ما تستجيب حركة حماس لخيارات القطري في تركيب وتراتبية قيادتها في المرحلة المقبلة، في الانتخابات الداخلية المقبلة.

ما تقدّم لن يغيّر من حقيقة أنّ الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة لا تقلّ صهيونية ودعماً (لإسرائيل)، وعدوانيّة علينا عن سابقتها الجمهورية في الجوهر، (فإسرائيل) هي ذراعها القوية والضاربة عسكرياً، وقاعدتها المتقدّمة، والنموذج المشابه لها والابن المباشر في السلوك لأبيه، في ادّعاء الديمقراطية والليبرالية وتطبيق نظم الرفاه والرعاية الصحية والاجتماعية، كما يماثله في صفات العدوان والتوحّش وادّعاء التفوّق، ستقوم الإدارة الديمقراطية بدعم وتغطية كامل النشاطات العدوانية والاستيطانية سواء في القدس أو في ما تبقى من الضفة الغربية، فقد أزالت الإدارة السابقة الحَرَج عنها كما ورد آنفاً، وهي تتعامل مع حقائق فاعلة وثابتة على أرض الواقع، هذا فيما يعدّد الفلسطيني انتصاراته وإنجازات دبلوماسيّته، ويحتفي بالضيوف الكرام الوافدين من واشنطن، وإعداد القوائم الطويلة لأعضاء الوفد – الوفود التي ستردّ الزيارة.

العودة إلى مسار التسوية لن يكون فورياً، وقد يستنفذ العام 2021 بأكمله فمن ناحية تجد الإدارة الأميركية أنّ لديها من الملفات الملحّة ما يتفوّق بأولوية على هذا الملف الذي قد لا يكون فيه ما يستدعي الاستعجال، فالعرب يهرولون بتسارع نحو التطبيع، والاهتمام بفلسطين يتآكل بتسارع عربياً وإسلامياً ودولياً، ولا دماء تسيل، ولا اشتباكات تثير فضائيات الأخبار وتشغلها، وسياسات بناء الفلسطيني الجديد وإعادة ترتيب أولوياتة واهتماماته قد آتت أُكُلها، فأمام الرئيس قائمة من العناوين الداخلية المستعجلة وعلى رأسها ملفات وباء الكورونا والانكماش الاقتصادي، وتفكك المجتمع عرقياً وثقافياً، ثم الحالة الشعبوية التي أوجدها ترامب وتجلت في غزوة دهماء على مبنى الكونغرس في الأسبوع الماضي، وملفات خارجية ملحة كالعلاقة مع روسيا والتوتر في بحر الصين ومعها، والملف النووي الإيراني وغير ذلك كثير، ثم أنّ (إسرائيل) ستكون على موعد مع انتخاباتها الرابعة في آذار المقبل، ولا أحد يستطيع الجزم بنتائجها، ولكن مؤشرات عديدة تشير إلى أنّ نتنياهو قد لا يغيب عن مسرح السياسة، والاستطلاعات تعطيه إمكانية الحصول على مقاعد أكثر مما حصل عليه في المرات السابقة، وهو وإنْ غاب عن مسرح السياسة، فإنّ مَن سيرثه في زعامة اليمين، لن يختلف كثيراً عنه إلا في حالة أن يكون أكثر تطرفاً، وأقلّ دبلوماسية ومهارة وخطابة، نتائج الانتخابات بكلّ حال لن تكون حاسمة باتجاه فريق قادر على تشكيل حكومة بسهولة، الأمر الذي سيجعل من مشاورات تشكيلها طويلة، وقد تستمرّ إلى أواخر الصيف فيما يبقى نتنياهو خلال كلّ تلك الفترة رئيساً لحكومة تصريف أعمال، التي قد تنتهي بتشكيل حكومة أو الذهاب إلى انتخابات خامسة، ومن الطبيعي أن ينتظره الأميركي غير المتعجّل الذي سيفضل إطلاق عملية التسوية مع حكومة «إسرائيلية» مستقرة.

هكذا سيمرّ العام 2021، عام انتظار جديد، ولا ندري إنْ كان الأخير، بإمكان الفلسطيني قضاءه في حوارات الوحدة والحديث عن ضرورتها، وعن الانقسام ومخاطره، ثم انتظار فراغ بايدن من معالجة الملفات المزدحمة والملحة على مكتبه، وانتظار مآلات تشكيل حكومة في (إسرائيل) إنْ تشكلت، وقد يجري انتخابات المجلس التشريعي الثالث، بعد عقد ونصف العقد من موعد استحقاقها، بالطبع إنْ وافقت (إسرائيل) على ذلك، مع أو بدون القدس ومناطق (ج) والأغوار، هكذا يحترف الفلسطيني الحزن والانتظار…

*سياسي فلسطيني مقيم في جنين – فلسطين المحتلة.

‘Beyond Vietnam’: Where Do We Go from Here?

January 14, 2021

Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968)

By Benay Blend

In “Beyond Vietnam” (1967), his speech delivered at the Riverside Church in New York, Martin Luther King opened by quoting from Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. “A time comes when silence is betrayal,” King explained, then concluded: “That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.”

King’s words that followed still ring true today. In what was perhaps the most significant, but least appreciated, speeches of his career, King warned against falling into “conformist thought,” in particular regarding official policy during times of war.

There is no war today like Vietnam, but there is an ongoing foreign policy that commits imperialist acts abroad. As Peter Dreier notes, over 50 years since King’s Riverside Church address, the US remains involved in several ground wars as well as a war on “terrorism,” which is principally a battle against Muslims as well as immigrants, the latter of whom are motivated to flee their countries because of US-sponsored violence abroad.

In particular, there is foreign aid that goes, among other destinations, to the state of Israel. In this way, the Unites States allows the Zionist state to continue its Occupation of Palestinians by using all the brutality that we used in Vietnam.

As Ramzy Baroud observes, by going against “not only the state apparatus” but also the “liberal hierarchy” which posed as if they were his allies, King’s self-described “inner truth” cost him some support. “It was a lonely, moral stance,” wrote Michelle Alexander. “And it cost him.”

In her landmark Opinion Piece published one year ago in the New York Times, Alexander goes on to hold up King’s example as a standard that still holds true today. In particular, Alexander is concerned with questioning her own silence on what she calls “one of the great moral challenges of our time: the crisis in Israel-Palestine.”

Alexander circumvents King’s well-known advocacy for Israel’s “right to exist” by suggesting that “if we are to honor King’s message and not merely the man, we must condemn Israel’s actions.”

It is impossible to know how King’s position on the Middle East would have changed over time. Building on Alexander’s piece, David Palumbo-Liu cites King’s opposition to apartheid South Africa as a clue to how he would feel towards the same practices in Israel today.

“The fact that King explicitly linked colonialism and segregation suggests that he would indeed recognize the expansion of the occupation as a settler-colonial project. If he did, he would then have to reevaluate his support for Israel pre-1967, as so many others have in recent years. He might well have come to recognize the absolute continuity between the 1948 dispossession, exile, and colonization of Palestinians and the post-1967 occupation.”

Indeed, Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B’Tselem, Israel’s largest human rights organization, has just called for the end of “the systematic promotion of the supremacy of one group of people over another,” i.e. apartheid very similar to what existed in South Africa.

In other ways King’s voice speaks to present-day concerns. In his 1968 call for an “economic bill of rights,” King challenged the notion that this country could afford both “guns and butter,” a conundrum that still prevails today. “We have come to see that this is a myth,” he explained, “that when a nation becomes involved in this kind of war, when the guns of war become a national obsession, social needs inevitably suffer.”

Theoretically we are not at war. On the other hand, as long as we give military aid to countries that repress their people we are not at peace. At a time when Congress continues to propose huge increases in the country’s military budget by cutting programs for the poor, King’s speech holds true today.

As Ramzy Baroud observes, there has been very little direct aid to Americans struggling under the impact of the virus, yet Congress continues to provide Israel with enormous sums of money ostensibly for defense. In reality, these funds are very much needed at home.

“The mere questioning of how Israel uses the funds – whether the military aid is being actively used to sustain Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, finance Jewish settlements, fund annexation of Palestinian land or violate Palestinian human rights,” Baroud explains, remains a “major taboo.”

Many years ago, Reverend King described “adventures like Vietnam” as “some demonic, destructive suction tube” that drew “men and skills and money” into the effort to keep it going. What would he think now of massive funds that go to another country which oppresses its people in ways similar to the Jim Crow South in which King was born?

At the closing of her memorial to Martin Luther King, Alexander pledges “to speak with greater courage and conviction about injustices beyond our borders, particularly those that are funded by our government, and stand in solidarity with struggles for democracy and freedom. My conscience leaves me no other choice.”

King, too, chose to address his vision “beyond Vietnam,” thereby to “a world that borders on our doors.”

In a statement regarding the January 6th right-wing riots in D.C., the US Peace Council reiterated that guns at the expense of butter were part of the root cause of disaffection. “While a record $740B military appropriation sailed through Congress with only 20 Democrats in opposition,” the statement read, “desperately needed reforms that benefit working people have been sidetracked.”

Moreover, the statement refuted a comment often heard in response to recent riots. According to the press and much of social media, what happened at the Capital was “sedition,” because this is America, and its “not who we are.” In reality, notes the Peace Council, what is happening today

“is a microcosm of what the capitalist financial institutions and elites have wreaked upon the planet through trade agreements and an imperialist foreign policy that has suppressed populations through illegal acts of interference, aggression, and economic warfare designed to create the conditions for exploitation, the theft of land and resources and environmental destruction.”

Because the root causes of our problems extend beyond our borders, the Council calls for solutions very much in the manner of King’s focus on the global nature of oppression. Accordingly, the statement concludes that:

“A unified grassroots mass movement is needed to address the fundamental class contradictions of the system as a whole and not limit itself to fighting against the symptoms solely by seeking cosmetic changes through elections and reforms from above. We need to bring all contingents of the people’s movement — labor, social justice, civil rights, human rights, environmental, peace — together under a single coordinated network, with a clear agenda that addresses the root causes of the present crisis and not only its variegated symptoms.”

In this way, more people will come to understand that the catastrophes we face will not be solved as long as what we allow to be done in our name abroad comes home to our nation’s capital. King knew that local police, in conjunction with para-military hate groups, used violence in much the same way as the far-right factions that more recently invaded D.C.

In both cases, the Klan and other groups were/are motivated by a desire to oppose the struggle for civil rights at home. Nevertheless, “our actions cannot be limited to the US,” concludes the US Peace Council, “because if the global elites are willing to oppress and exploit people anywhere, the crises we face will continue.”

The United States, concluded King, is “on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor.” In order to solve domestic problems while promoting global peace, he suggested “giv[ing] up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments,” and, he might have added, ending aid to countries like Israel that use the funds to wreak violence on Palestinians under the Occupation.

With “Beyond Vietnam,” concludes Baroud, King “courageously broke free from the confines of American exceptionalism,” thereby joining the civil rights struggle to “a worldwide movement of struggles against racism, colonialism and war.”

In 2021, it is more important now than ever to heed King’s words. Indeed, as Baroud suggests, “new strategies” will have “to replace the old ones” for the Palestinian struggle to succeed. His vision calls for unity among all factions, bringing together Palestinians in the homeland and elsewhere to formulate a blueprint for One Democratic State that would grant the Right of Return.

Harking back to King’s international idea, Baroud calls for “a global solidarity movement that rallies behind a unified Palestinian vision,” a plan that bypasses official circles that have done little to promote peace. While Baroud’s strategy focuses on freedom for the Palestinian people, if such a movement becomes one of transnational mutuality, it would be possible to bring about the liberation of all oppressed people worldwide, thereby remaining true to the “other, more revolutionary, radical and global King” that Baroud explains is more often “hidden from view.”

– Benay Blend earned her doctorate in American Studies from the University of New Mexico. Her scholarly works include Douglas Vakoch and Sam Mickey, Eds. (2017), “’Neither Homeland Nor Exile are Words’: ‘Situated Knowledge’ in the Works of Palestinian and Native American Writers”. She contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

Why Israel is now delighted about the Arab Spring

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The self-styled ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ was never comfortable with pro-democracy protests. But the autocratic counter-revolution that followed gave it new friends

A Palestinian boy walks past a section of Israel’s separation wall and a billboard that reads in Arabic “The Arab Spring Coffee Shop” in the West Bank village of Al-Ram in 2012 (AFP)By 

Lily Galili in Tel Aviv, IsraelPublished date: 1 January 2021 09:10 UTC | Last update: 

“Unintended consequences” is the best way to describe the impact the Arab Spring has had on Israel.

Ten years after the pro-democracy protests that swept the Arab world, Israeli analysts agree that December 2020 is the unexpected outcome of December 2010’s events.

They may differ in the interpretation of recent developments and assessment of their future impact – but all look back at the beginning of the decade as the starting point of a process that has led to a growing list of Arab and Muslim countries normalising relations with Israel. 

All agree that the Arab Spring (a term coined by the West) is not a fait accompli; that the undercurrents are still very much there and can still change the landscape of the future.

Israeli political and public reaction to these historic uprisings was confused right from the start.

Public opinion was divided between those who believed that Israel’s situation worsened in face of the developments and those who saw the Arab Spring as a positive change for the country. As Israel heads to elections, nothing is different but everything has changed

Even the term “Arab Spring” was up for debate, sometimes replaced by “Arab Winter” or a term officially coined by Israeli Military Intelligence, “Taltala”, a Hebrew word for “shake-up”. “Egyptian Plague” was one of many terms reflecting the profound confusion and derision.

If the Israeli discourse reflected public bewilderment, contradictory statements by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were reflections of confused policy.

The premier, who had preached in his own books that the lack of democracy in Arab states was the main obstacle to peace, openly avoided any reference to the democratic aspect of the Arab Spring.

“The Middle East is no place for the naive,” he stated in a speech delivered at the Israeli parliament on 23 November 2011, referring sarcastically to those who saw something positive in the unfolding events.

Yet, on the international arena, he adopted a more lenient approach, making statements like: “Israel is a democracy that encourages the promotion of free and democratic values in the Middle East and the promotion of such values will benefit peace.”

In a paper published in January 2013 by Mitvim – The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, analyst Lior Lehrs quotes “government sources in Jerusalem” as explaining that “Netanyahu felt he had to narrow the gap between him and the international community”.

“The PM, as the leader of the only democracy in the Middle East, understood he cannot ignore international criticism of [Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak and therefore this time addressed the issue of promoting democracy in the region,” Lehr wrote.

In the years following this statement, the leader of a country that wrongly describes itself and prides itself as “the only democracy in the Middle East” befriended a long series of authoritarian regimes in the region.

From spring to normalisation

The “linkage” between the Arab Spring and the normalisation of relations between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco and likely more countries to come, was one of main themes of a conference dedicated to the decade by BESA, the right-wing-orientated Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.

“The Arab Spring is the death certificate of Arab nationalism as we knew it in the Levant, and the rise of more dictatorship-like regimes,” Ehud Yaari, Israeli political commentator and analyst, told Middle East Eye.

“The collapse of central capitals like Cairo and Damascus spurred Arab peripheral countries to re-arrange the arena. The capital moved to the UAE, a more modern one, despite its modest size. This is a given of historical dimension not bound to change in the visible future. A whole new nation ball game in the Middle East.”

At the Begin-Sadat Centre conference on 23 December, Yaari briefly told attendees what he believed would be the “nightmare scenario” for Israel – the collapse “inwards” of Egypt.

Yaari later told MEE that while Iran and Turkey compete with each other over dominance in Levantine Arab states, the peripheral countries reached a conclusion that the answer to their growing threat is to establish a new partnership, supported by the US.

Yaari said Netanyahu’s “bragging” about annexation gave Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed an opportunity for normalisation. The September deal was inked with the promise that Israeli annexation of the occupied West Bank had been shelved.Meet the man Netanyahu has picked to lead Israel’s Mossad

“They wouldn’t do it for a supply of F-35 aircrafts; they aim at a kind of military-security covenant. Others will follow. Even Qatar will not stay behind long after Saudi Arabia joins. Then Muslim states like Niger, Mali and more will follow,” he said.

“The Arab Spring was a cry of those my Arab friend calls the ‘helpless, hopeless and jobless’, and not a vehicle for regime change. Yet many of the countries involved remained on a map only.”

According to his scenario, Israel becomes an integral part of the region by joining regional alliances like “the Red Sea forum”, a new Saudi initiative being discussed.

Menachem Klein, political scientist and adviser to Israeli negotiation teams in 2000 and 2003, believes that all normalisation agreements come as a result of the Arab Spring and the “dissolution” of the Arab League.

Once, the Arab League united states against Israel. When governments began attacking their people in 2011, those countries began turning on one another.

In this new constellation, Israel has become another factor in the fine fabric of alliances and rivalries in the Arab world. Donald Trump in the Middle East: A story of big winners and bigger losers

“Israel integrated into the Arab fabric not just via those normalisation agreements but as an active player in the intricate labyrinth of contradictory interests of countries of the Middle East,” he told MEE.

“A long time ago, the late Shimon Peres dreamt of Israel as member of the Arab League; what he did not dream of is a broken region with a practically non-existent League.”

Klein is very much aware of the complexity of the new reality.

The upside, he believes, is Israel is accepted as a fact, even if the circumstances of its establishment are still illegitimate in the eyes of many. The downside, according to Klein, is that in the eyes of many in Arab societies, Israel is still perceived as the long arm of the United States, one that can be used for protection and arms, as well as a pipeline to Washington.

Israel, Palestine and domestic policy

Though Yaari and Klein both agree that the Arab Spring and normalisation deals have impacted the Palestinian cause, they do not reach the same conclusion as to how.

“I believe that the normalisation that stemmed from the Arab Spring will impose more restraint on any Israeli government, be it even ultra-right wing. No more annexation, no more Israeli construction plans in the controversial E1 area. Israel has too much to lose,” said Yaari.

“The Palestinians, on the other hand, finally realised they have no one to lean on, they are bound to change direction.”

Since Palestinian nationalism ceased to be an all-Arab issue, and now the Palestinians have been abandoned by Arab countries and in the reality subject to de-facto annexation, it has in fact become an Israeli internal domestic issue

According to this plan carefully crafted over a few years, Israel will take over control of the West Bank and divide it into segments like ‘greater Nablus’, ‘greater Jenin’, and so on

Klein does not agree with that conclusion nor with that scenario. The most dangerous repercussion of the decade that changed the Middle East is, according to him, the Palestinian issue.

“Since Palestinian nationalism ceased to be an all-Arab issue, and now the Palestinians have been abandoned by Arab countries and in the reality subject to de-facto annexation, it has in fact become an Israeli internal domestic issue,” Klein said.

“It is now more a question of domestic policy than of foreign policy. That twist just makes the situation more acute in the absence of external enforcement leading to a solution. Any explosion in the occupied territories can now easily lead to chaos.”

Klein knows of an Israeli military plan to deal with such an explosion. According to this plan carefully crafted over a few years, Israel will take over control of the West Bank and divide it into segments like “greater Nablus”, “greater Jenin”, and so on.

Each divided region will be under the control of a military governor. The Israeli military’s central command, Klein tells MEE, has already practiced the plan.

It is more than about controlling riots: this is the plan to dismantle one ruling authority – the Palestinian Authority – and thus smash the political entity of Palestinian nationality.

Unlike Yaari, Klein believes that the “shake-up” that skipped the occupied territories ten years ago is about to arrive.

Read more

Morocco in the Midst of Western Sahara Storms After Normalization,المغرب في مهب عواصف صحراوية بعد التطبيع

**Please scroll down for the English version**

المغرب في مهب عواصف صحراوية بعد التطبيع

عمرو علان - Amro 🇵🇸 (@amrobilal77) | Twitter

عمرو علان جريدة الأخبار  الأربعاء 30 كانون الأول 2020

لا يستطيع المرء إلّا أن يتعجّب من مدى قصر نظر الحكم المغربي في إقدامه على خطوته المشينة الأخيرة في التطبيع مع الكيان الصهيوني، التي يصحّ فيها وفي نظيراتها بحق وصف اتفاقيات التتبيع بالكيان الصهيوني، بحسب تعبير أحدهم. فربط الحكم المغربي هذه الفعلة بالاعتراف الأميركي بسيادة المغرب على الصحراء الغربية يضيف إلى هذه الخطوة محاذير من الناحية الاستراتيجية، تضاف إلى المحاذير التقليدية لأي تعامل مع الكيان الغاصب كما سنجادل.

في البدء، إنّ كلّ اعتراف بالكيان الصهيوني يعدّ خيانة بالمطلق لمبادئ العقيدة والثوابت القومية، بغضّ النظر عن أيّ مبرّرات واهمة أو أيّ مكاسب تكتيكية قصيرة الأمد يفرح بها المطبّعون أو بالأحرى المُستتبَعون، ولا سيما في هذه المرحلة التي يعلن فيها الكيان الغاصب ضمّ القدس وأراضي الضفة الغربية. فكل اعتراف بالكيان الصهيوني في هذه المرحلة ينطوي على تنازل عن القدس والمقدسات الإسلامية والمسيحية في فلسطين، ولا تنفع معه تبريرات من قبيل كون الاعتراف بالكيان الصهيوني جاء في سياق ما يسمّى حلّ الدولتين المرفوض أصلاً، حيث من القصور توصيف الصراع العربي الصهيوني على أنه صراع على بقعة جغرافية، بل هو صراع مع كيان استيطاني واحتلالي وظيفي. ويشكّل هذا الكيان قاعدة متقدّمة زرعها الاستعمار القديم كامتداد له في قلب الأمة العربية والإسلامية يجب اجتثاثها، فلا وظيفة لهذا الكيان سوى إطالة زمن الهيمنة الإمبريالية على شعوب منطقتنا. وأما في حالة المغرب، فنجد أنّ هذا الاعتراف قد أضاف إلى كلّ هذه المحاذير العقدية والقومية والوطنية احتمالات دخوله في مرحلة اضطرابات عبر تجدد النزاع العسكري مع سكان الصحراء الغربية وجبهة البوليساريو.
نشأت قضية الصحراء الغربية مع انتهاء الاستعمار الإسباني لتلك المنطقة في عام 1975، الذي ترك منطقة الصحراء الغربية مقسّمة بين دولتي المغرب وموريتانيا. وبعد انسحاب موريتانيا من المناطق التي كانت تسيطر عليها في الصحراء الغربية، وبعد الإعلان عن الجمهورية العربية الصحراوية الديموقراطية في عام 1976، استمر النزاع المسلّح حول منطقة الصحراء بين جبهة البوليساريو المطالبة بالاستقلال والمغرب على تلك المنطقة إلى عام 1991، حين قرّرت جبهة البوليساريو وقف العمليات العسكرية ضد الجيش المغربي، وصدر القرار الأممي الرقم 690 بشأن قضية الصحراء الغربية الذي نص في مضمونه على إجراء استفتاء لحسم هذه القضية، إما باستقلال الصحراء أو بانضمامها إلى المغرب. ولقد تباينت مواقف الأحزاب والقوى العربية بشأن قضية الصحراء، منذ نشأتها، بين مؤيّد لحق سكّان المنطقة الصحراوية في الاستقلال وتقرير مصيرهم، ولا سيما في ظِلّ حكم المغرب الملكي الذي يعدّ رجعياً ومتخاذلاً من الناحية الوطنية، وبين معارض للمزيد من التقسيم في الأقطار العربية بغض النظر عن طبيعة حكم هذه الأقطار. أما اليوم، وبعد مقايضة المغرب لتطبيعها مع الكيان الصهيوني بفرض سيادتها على الصحراء الغربية، فيُعتقَد أن يكون لهذا انعكاس على مواقف بعض القوى العربية من قضية الصحراء لجهة تأييدها لاستقلال منطقة الصحراء عن النظام المطبّع، وإعطاء جبهة البوليساريو المزيد من المشروعية الشعبية في قتالها من أجل الاستقلال، إضافة إلى أن الاعتراف الأميركي المسموم بسيادة المغرب على منطقة الصحراء الغربية، وتجاهله للقرار الأممي الرقم 690 والوصول لحل لهذه القضية الشائكة عبر الاستفتاء يفتح الباب أمام احتمالية انهيار وقف إطلاق النار الهش بين جبهة البوليساريو والمغرب. فهذا الاعتراف الخبيث وغير المسؤول يحشر جبهة البوليساريو في الزاوية من جهة تعويلها على قرارات الأمم المتحدة من أجل التوصل لحلّ عادل لقضية سكان منطقة الصحراء، ويضع منطقة المغرب العربي بعمومها أمام احتمالات تجدد دوامة العنف والصدام العسكري، سيما أن الاعتراف الأميركي لم يأخذ في الحسبان مواقف الدول المعنية بالأمر، من الجزائر وموريتانيا. وبهذا تكون أميركا كعادتها قد صبّت الزيت على النار في بؤر التوتر في وطننا العربي، ويجد المرء نفسه مضطراً إلى موافقة مستشار الأمن القومي الأميركي السابق جون بولتون في ما ذهب إليه في مقاله الأخير في مجلة «فورن بوليسي» الأميركية بهذا الشأن، حيث وصف قرار إدارة الرئيس دونالد ترامب، الذي ستنتهي ولايته قريباً، بالاعتراف بسيادة المغرب على منطقة الصحراء الغربية بالقرار الأهوج الذي يهدّد الاستقرار في منطقة المغرب العربي بعمومه. لا نودّ تحديد موقف من قضية استقلال الصحراء الغربية في هذا المقال، لكن إذا تبنّينا جدلاً الموقف المغربي من هذه القضية الذي يعد منطقة الصحراء الغربية جزءاً من الأرض المغربية، فيمكن وصف ما فعله الحكم المغربي بأنه قد اعترف بما لا يملك لمن لا يستحق، مقابل اعتراف من لا يملك له بما يستحق.

بهذا، نجد أنّ قرار الحكم المغربي بإخراج علاقاته السرية المشبوهة مع الكيان الصهيوني إلى العلن وبشكل رسمي، وانضمامه إلى قافلة الانبطاح أمام العدو الصهيوني، لن يعود عليه إلا بخسائر استراتيجية، سواء أكان في الداخل المغربي حيث يضع الحكم في مواجهة شعبه المغربي الأصيل الذي يرفض كلّ أشكال التعامل مع عدو الأمة الأول كسائر شعوب وطننا العربي والإسلامي، أم من ناحية كونه يرفع من احتمالات تفاقم التوترات ذات الطبيعة المزمنة على الحدود الجنوبية للمملكة المغربية، وهذا بالطبيعة ستكون له انعكاسات سيئة على سائر دول المغرب العربي.
ولا ننسى ختاماً الإشارة إلى أنّ كلّ ما قدّمته الإدارة الأميركية الحالية في هذه المرحلة كمقابل لتطبيع الحكم المغربي مع كيان الاحتلال، لا يعدو كونه إعلان اعتراف بسيادة المغرب على أراضي منطقة الصحراء الغربية. وهذا الإعلان لا يُلزِم الإدارة الأميركية المقبلة ويمكنها التنصّل منه. فبأيّ أثمان بخسة ومسمومة يتقاطر جزء من النظام العربي المتهالك على بيع الثوابت الإسلامية والقومية والوطنية في أسواق نخاسة الأعداء؟ وبالتأكيد لا نستثني السلطة الفلسطينية من هذا، فهي باتت أسوأ من تلك الأنظمة العربية المتهالكة في الشكل والمضمون.

** كاتب فلسطيني وباحث سياسي

Morocco in the Midst of Western Sahara Storms After Normalization

By Amro Allan 

First published in Arabic on Al-Akhbar newspaper Wed. 30 December 2020

The short-sightedness of the Moroccan government in its recent shameful agreement to normalize and establish diplomatic relations with the Zionist Entity called ‘Israel’ is truly puzzling. The Moroccan government stated that this agreement was the result of a deal with the current U.S. administration, where the U.S. recognizes Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. But this exchange adds additional strategic dangers to the usual perils presented by all normalization agreements with the Zionist Entity, as this article will argue. 

First and foremost, any recognition of the Zionist Entity is an absolute betrayal of Arab rights and national principles, regardless of any flawed justifications or any short-term tactical gains that the normalizers rejoice in. This is more so after recent developments, where the occupation declared the annexation of Jerusalem and the West Bank. It is apparent that normalizing relations with ‘Israel’ at this stage means acceptance of this annexation and abandoning the Christian and Islamic Holy places in Palestine. Any attempt to justify such steps towards normalization with ‘Israel’ must be firmly rejected – justifications such as that those normalization agreements are in the context of the two-state solution, which is a non-solution in the first place. 

The issue of Western Sahara is a remnant of the Spanish colonization of that region. After the end of Spanish colonization with the death of Francisco Franco in 1975, the Western Sahara region was divided between Morocco and Mauritania. Then, after Mauritania withdrew from the areas it controlled of Western Sahara, and the declaration of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in 1976, the armed conflict over the Sahara region between the Polisario Front for Independence and Morocco in that region continued. In 1991, the Polisario Front suspended military operations against Morocco, in return for a referendum on the future of Western Sahara status under the observation of the UN in accordance with UNSC resolution 690.

Since the inception of the Western Sahara issue, the positions of Arab political parties and Arab people in general has fallen into two main camps: those who support the right of the Sahrawi people to independence and self-determination, and who in their majority regard the Moroccan monarchy as autocratic and regressive; and those who are opposed to further partition of Arab countries regardless of the nature of the rule of these countries. However, after Morocco traded recognition of ‘Israel’ for the U.S. proclamation to recognize Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, it is believed that this may cast a further shadow over the legitimacy of Moroccan claims in Western Sahara in the eyes of many Arabs, while simultaneously giving more credence to the Polisario Front’s war of independence. Moreover, the poisoned U.S. proclamation in violation of international law and UNSC Resolution 690, will diminish the Sahrawi people’s hope of ever having the referendum on the future status of Western Sahara which they were promised by the UNSC. This will likely force the Polisario Front into a corner; and will lead them to question the international community’s commitment to reach a just solution to their cause. All this opens the door wide to the possibility of the collapse of the tenuous Polisario-Morocco ceasefire. The ramifications of this déjà vu situation are dire, as this will most likely spiral the whole region into instability, especially when the US proclamation on the thorny Western Sahara issue ignored the other regional countries positions on this matter, namely Algeria and Mauritania. And one finds himself here begrudgingly agreeing with the former U.S. national security advisor John Bolton, when he argued in his article published in the Foreign Policy Magazine ‘Biden Must Reverse Course on Western Sahara’, that the U.S. proclamation may negatively affect that fragile region. Thus, one finds that the US did what it does best, namely fueling unrest in the Arab region to appease the Zionist Entity.

The aim of this article is not to take a stance on the Western Sahara conflict, but one way of viewing what Morocco did by recognizing the Zionist’s sovereignty over historical Palestine in exchange for U.S. recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, is tantamount to Morocco giving what is not theirs to give, in exchange for the U.S. giving them what is not for the U.S. to give. 

Arabs will continue to regard ‘Israel’ as illegitimate, the liberation of Palestine as one of their cornerstone principles, and in that the Moroccan people are no exception. Hence, the Moroccan government’s treacherous decision to normalize relations with the Zionist Entity will only cause Morocco to suffer strategic losses in the long run, be it driving a wedge between the government and its people on the internal front, or by stirring up a dormant conflict on Morocco’s southern borders with the Polisario Front and the Sahrawi people.

** Palestinian writer and political researcher

How Gulf states became business partners in Israel’s occupation

Jonathan Cook

14 December 2020 12:29 UTC | 

Since signing the Abraham Accords, the UAE and Bahrain have been actively colluding with Israel’s settler movement and military authorities

The professed rationale for the recent Abraham Accords, so-called “peace deals” signed with Israel by the UAE and Bahrain, was to stymie Israeli efforts to annex swaths of the West Bank. 

The aim was supposedly to neutralise another “peace” plan – one issued early this year by US President Donald Trump’s administration – that approved Israel’s annexation of large areas of the West Bank dominated by illegal Jewish settlements. 

In practice, both have quickly jettisoned any pretence that Palestinians will benefit from these deals

The two Gulf states trumpeted the fact that, in signing the accords in September, they had effectively scotched that move, thereby salvaging hopes of a future Palestinian state. Few observers entirely bought the official story – not least because Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that annexation had only been put on temporary hold

The real purpose of the Abraham Accords appeared less about saving Palestinians than allowing Gulf states to go public with, and expand, their existing ties to Israel. Regional intelligence could now be shared more easily, especially on Iran, and the Gulf would gain access to Israeli hi-tech and US military technology and weapons systems. 

Separately, Sudan was induced to sign the accords after promises it would be removed from Washington’s list of “terror-supporting” states, opening the door to debt relief and aid. And last week, Morocco became the fourth Arab state to initiate formal relations with Israel after the Trump administration agreed to recognise its occupation of Western Sahara.

Twisting more arms

Israel, in return, has been able to begin “normalising” with an important bloc of Arab states – all without offering any meaningful concessions on the Palestinian issue.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia are also reported to have been considering doing their own deals with Israel. Jared Kushner, Trump’s Middle East adviser, visited the region this month in what was widely assumed to be a bid to twist arms. UAE-Israel deal: Abraham accord or Israeli colonialism?

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Riyadh’s hesitation, however, appears to have increased after Trump lost last month’s US presidential election to Joe Biden. 

Last week, during an online conference held in Bahrain and attended by Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, a former senior Saudi government official, Turki al-Faisal al-Saud, launched a blistering verbal attack on Israel, saying it jailed Palestinians in “concentration camps” and had built an “apartheid wall”. It was unclear whether he was speaking in more than a personal capacity.

While the covert purpose of the Abraham Accords was difficult to obscure, the stated aim – of aiding Palestinians by preventing Israel’s annexation of the West Bank – was still seen as a vital tool for the UAE and Bahrian to sell these agreements back home.

But in practice, both have quickly jettisoned any pretence that Palestinians will benefit from these deals. Not only that, but already they barely bother to conceal the fact that they are actively and tangibly colluding with Israel to harm Palestinians – by bolstering Israel’s illegal settlements and subsidising its military regime of occupation. 

Trade with settlements

Bahrain demonstrated this month how indifferent it is to the negative impacts on Palestinians. On a visit to Israel, the country’s trade minister, Zayed bin Rashid al-Zayani, said Bahrain was open to importing products from Israel wherever they were manufactured. “We have no issue with labelling or origin,” he said

The comment suggested that Manama was ready to become a gateway for Israel to export settlement products to the rest of the Arab world, helping to bolster the settlements’ legitimacy and economic viability. Bahrain’s trade policy with Israel would then be even laxer than that of the European Union, a top trade partner for Israel. The EU’s feeble guidelines recommend the labelling of settlement products. 

An illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank is pictured on 19 November 2019 (AFP)
An illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank is pictured on 19 November 2019 (AFP)

After wide reporting of Zayani’s comments, Bahrain’s state news agency issued a statement shortly afterwards saying he had been “misinterpreted”, and that there would be no import of settlement goods. But it is hard not to interpret the remarks as indicating that behind the scenes, Bahrain is only too willing to collude in Israel’s refusal to distinguish between products from Israel and those made in the settlements.

That this is the trading basis of the Abraham Accords is further highlighted by reports that the UAE is already welcoming business with Israel’s illegal settlements. An Israeli winery, using grapes grown on the Golan Heights, a large plateau of Syrian territory seized by Israel in 1967 and illegally annexed in 1981, has reportedly started exporting to the UAE, which has liberalised its alcohol laws for non-citizens.

This is a fruitful turn of events for Israel’s 500,000 settlers in the occupied West Bank. They have lost no time touting for business, with the first delegation arriving in Dubai last month hoping to tap new markets in the Arab world via the UAE. Last week a settler delegation reportedly returned to Dubai to sign an agreement with a UAE company to import settlement goods, including alcohol, honey, olive oil, and sesame paste.

New low-point 

This marks a new low-point in the shift by Arab states away from their original position that Israel was a colonial implant in the region, sponsored by the West, and that there could be no “normalisation” – or normal relations – with it. 

In 2002, Saudi Arabia launched the Arab Peace Initiative, which offered Israel full diplomatic relations in return for ending the occupation. But Gulf states are now not only normalising with Israel when the occupation is actually intensifying; they are normalising with the occupation itself – as well as its bastard progeny, the settlements. 

The peace deals with the UAE and Bahrain will help the settlements entrench further, assisting Israel’s longstanding policy of annexing the West Bank in all but name

Israel has built more than 250 settlements across a vast expanse of occupied Palestinian territory – 62 percent of the West Bank, referred to as Area C under the Oslo Accords. This area was supposed to be gradually transferred to the Palestinian Authority (PA), the government-in-waiting under Mahmoud Abbas, to become the territorial backbone of a Palestinian state. 

Instead, over the past quarter of a century, Israel has used its supposedly temporary control over Area C to rapidly expand the settlements, stealing vital land and resources. These colonies have been highly integrated into Israel, with settler roads criss-crossing the occupied West Bank and tightly limiting Palestinian movement.

The peace deals with the UAE and Bahrain will help the settlements entrench further, assisting Israel’s longstanding policy of annexing the West Bank in all but name, through the creation of facts on the ground – the very outcome the Abraham Accords claimed they were meant to prevent. 

Yossi Dagan, head of the West Bank regional council that visited Dubai last month, declared that there was “no contradiction between our demand to impose sovereignty [annex large parts of the West Bank] and the strengthening of commercial and industrial ties” with the Gulf. 

Al-Aqsa dividend

In other words, settlers see the Abraham Accords as a business opportunity to expand their footprint in the occupied West Bank, not an obstacle. The likely gains for the settlers will include tourism, too, as visitors from the Gulf are expected to flock to al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem. 

The irony is that, because of Israel’s physical seizure of areas around the Islamic holy site and its control over access, Gulf Arabs will have far greater rights at al-Aqsa than the majority of Palestinians, who cannot reach it.

Jordan, which has long been the custodian of al-Aqsa, justifiably fears that Saudi Arabia may use a future accord with Israel to muscle its way into taking charge of the Jerusalem holy site, adding it to its guardianship of Mecca and Medina. 

Palestinians gather at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in June 2018 (AFP)
Palestinians gather at al-Aqsa Mosque compound in June 2018 (AFP)

In occupied Jerusalem, Palestinians are deprived of the chance to develop their own housing, let alone infrastructure to cope with the business opportunities provided by the arrival of wealthy Gulf Arabs. That should leave Israel and its settler population – rather than Palestinians – well-placed to reap the dividends from any new tourism ventures.

In a supreme irony, a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family has bought a major stake in the Beitar Jerusalem football team, whose supporters are fiercely anti-Arab and back the takeover of East Jerusalem by settlers. 

Palestinian laboratories

During his visit, Bahrain’s Zayani observed that, as his country geared up for flights to and from Israel next month: “We are fascinated by how integrated IT and the innovation sector in Israel has been embedded in every facet of life.” Israel-UAE deal: The Emiratis are now under Israel’s thumb

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But Israel’s technology sector is “embedded in every facet of life” only because Israel treats the occupied Palestinian territories as a laboratory. Tests are conducted there on how best to surveil Palestinians, physically limit their movement and freedoms, and collect their biometric data

The hi-tech firms carrying out these experiments may be formally headquartered inside Israel, but they work and profit from their activities in the occupied territories. They are a vast complex of settlement businesses in their own right.

This is why Nabil Shaath, an aide to Abbas, observed of the Gulf’s burgeoning ties with Israel that it was “painful to witness Arab cooperation with one of the worst manifestations of aggression against the Palestinian people, which is the Israeli settlements on our land”. 

Settler ally

How enthusiastically the UAE and Bahrain are getting into the occupation business, and preparing to subsidise its worst features, is highlighted by the Abraham Fund, set up by the US in October. It is a vehicle for Gulf states and Israel to secure billions of dollars in private investment to underpin their new diplomatic relations. 

Again, the official story has glossed over the reality. According to statements from the main parties, the fund is intended to raise at least $3bn to bolster regional economic cooperation and development initiatives.

If the oil-rich Gulf states help pick up the tab, they will incentivise Israel to stay put and steal yet more Palestinian land and resources

The UAE’s minister of state, Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, has said: “The initiative can be a source of economic and technological strength for the region, while simultaneously improving the lives of those who need the most support.”

The fund is supposed to help Palestinians, as one of those groups most in need of support. But again, the main parties are not playing straight. The deception is revealed by the Trump administration’s selection of who is to head the Abraham Fund, one of its last appointments before the handover to Biden. 

According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the fund will be overseen by Aryeh Lightstone, a fervently right-wing rabbi and ally of Israel’s settler community. Lightstone is a senior adviser to David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel who has his own strong ties to the settlements. Friedman pushed aggressively for the US to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem. Trump finally did so in May 2018, breaking an international consensus against locating diplomatic missions in Jerusalem. 

Checkpoint upgrade

The political priorities of Lightstone are evident in one of the Abraham Fund’s first declared projects: to “modernise” Israeli checkpoints across the occupied West Bank. 

The checkpoint upgrade is being hailed by US officials as designed to benefit Palestinians. It will speed up their passage as they try to move around the occupied West Bank, and as those with permits enter Israel or the settlements to work. One senior Trump administration official promised checkpoint delays that currently keep Palestinians waiting for many hours could be dramatically cut: “If I can upgrade that, which doesn’t cost a lot of money, and have it take 30 seconds, I am blowing up [freeing up] 400,000 work hours a day.”

There are many glaring problems with this approach – not least that under international law, belligerent military occupations such as Israel’s must be temporary in nature. Israel’s occupation has endured for more than five decades already. 

Palestinians make their way through a checkpoint north of Hebron on 4 October (AFP)
Palestinians make their way through a checkpoint north of Hebron on 4 October (AFP)

Efforts to make the occupation even more permanent – by improving and refining its infrastructure, such as through upgrades to create airport-style checkpoints – is in clear breach of international law. Now the Gulf will be intimately involved in subsidising these violations.

Further, the idea that the Abraham Fund’s checkpoint upgrade is assisting Palestinians – “those who most need support” – or developing their economy is patently ridiculous. The fund is exclusively helping Israel, a robust first-world economy, which is supposed to shoulder the costs of its military rule over Palestinians. 

The Abraham Fund’s planned checkpoint upgrade is actually a subsidy by the Gulf to the settlements

The economic costs of occupation are one of the few tangible pressures on Israel to withdraw from the territories and allow Palestinians sovereignty. If the oil-rich Gulf states help pick up the tab, they will incentivise Israel to stay put and steal yet more Palestinian land and resources.

Indeed, the hours being freed up, even assuming that is what actually happens, are unlikely to help the Palestinian economy or bring financial benefits to the Palestinian labourers Israel has made dependent on its economy through the lengthy occupation. To develop their own economy, Palestinians need their land and resources stolen by Israel restored to them.

Herding Palestinians

Seen another way, the Abraham Fund’s planned checkpoint upgrade is actually a subsidy by the Gulf to the settlements. That is because the very purpose of the checkpoints is to enforce Israeli control over where and when Palestinians can travel in their homeland. 

Israel uses the checkpoints as a way to herd Palestinians into particular areas of the occupied West Bank, especially the third under nominal PA control, while blocking their entry to the rest. That includes a denial of access to the West Bank’s most fertile land and its best water sources. Those areas are exactly where Israel has been building and expanding the settlements.From Egypt to the UAE, normalisation with Israel heralds disaster

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Palestinians are in a zero-sum battle against the settlers for control over land in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Any help Israel receives in restricting their movement through checkpoints is a loss to Palestinians and a victory for the settlers. Modernised checkpoints will simply be far more efficient at herding Palestinians where Israel and the settlers want them to be.

In partnering with Israel on upgrading checkpoints, the Gulf will be aiding Israel in making its technology of confinement and control of the Palestinian population even more sophisticated, benefiting once again the settlers. 

This is the real story of the Gulf’s Abraham Accords – not simply of turning a blind eye to Israel’s decades-long oppression of Palestinians, but of actively becoming partners with Israel and the settlers in carrying out that oppression. 

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.Jonathan CookJonathan Cook, a British journalist based in Nazareth since 2001, is the the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is a past winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His website and blog can be found at: http://www.jonathan-cook.net

الحملة الأكاديمية الدولية لمناهضة الاحتلال ‏ تفكك خطاب التطبيع في اليوم العالمي للتضامن مع ‏الشعب الفلسطيني ‏

عبير حمدان

مفهوم الإيمان بأحقية القضية فعل مقاوم وأيدي الأطفال الممسكة بالحجارة تضرب فيها المحتلّ وجه آخر للكلمة والفكر والتربية.

تحيي الأمم المتحدة في 29 تشرين الثاني من كلّ عام يوم التضامن العالمي مع الشعب الفلسطيني رغم انّ هذا التاريخ لا ينصف فلسطين كونه يتزامن مع اليوم الذي اتخذت فيه الجمعية العامة قرار التقسيم رقم 181 وإقامة دولتين واحدة منهم لا حق لها في الوجود كونها معتدية ومغتصبة لأرض ليست لها أساساً.

يتضامن العالم في هذا اليوم مع الشعب الفلسطيني ولو في إطار معنوي، وما يختلف هذا العام هو الترحيب بالتطبيع من قبل الأنظمة الخليجية جهاراً وبحجج فارغة من أيّ منطق بعد تمرير «صفقة القرن» من قبل الإدارة الأميركية السابقة بقيادة ترامب دون أي تعويل على تغيير محتمل في الاداء من قبل الادارة الجديدة حين يتصل الأمر باطماعهم ومشاريعهم في المنطقة للاستيلاء أكثر على خيرات بلادنا.

ولأنّ الكلمة تخترق العقول تنظم الحملة الأكاديمية الدولية لمناهضة الاحتلال ومخطط الضمّ بإحياء اليوم العالمي مع الشعب الفلسطيني بالتعاون مع العديد من الشركاء العرب والمناصرين للقضية الفلسطينية لقاء حواري على مستوى العالم قوامه تفكيك خطاب التطبيع وتقويم البوصلة من خلال مشاركات بحثية مقترنة بالوقائع التاريخية.

«البناء» سألت مجموعة من المشاركين في هذا النشاط عن الأهداف المتوخاة منه وكيفية مخاطبة الأجيال وتوعيتهم على ضرورة مواجهة التسويق الإعلامي المنظم لفكرة التطبيع.

عودة: تنشئة وطنية مقاومة للاحتلال والتطبيع ومعززة للهوية الوطنية والقومية

اعتبر الدكتور رمزي عودة مدير وحدة الأبحاث في معهد فلسطين لأبحاث الأمن القومي ومنسق الحملة الأكاديمية الدولية لمناهضة الاحتلال والضمّ أنّ الأكاديميين يمكنهم مواجهة التطبيع من خلال تفكيك الخطاب الذي يروّج له، وقال: «تطلق الحملة الأكاديمية الدولية لمناهضة الاحتلال ومخطط الضمّ شعارات أساسية وهي لا للاحتلال ولا للضم ولا للتطبيع، هذه الأهداف الأساسية التي تسعى الحملة إليها من خلال تعزيز دور الأكاديميين والنُخب المثقفة والخبراء من أجل تقويض صفقة القرن وتقويض سياسة التوسع الاستعماري الاستيطاني الاحتلالي، وأيضاً تقويض عملية التطبيع التي انتشرت على إثر «صفقة القرن» وضغط ترامب على العديد من الدول العربية من أجل المضيّ قدُماً بتطبيع علاقاتها مع الكيان الصهيوني ونقصد هنا الإمارات والسودان والبحرين وربما غيرها من الدول العربية، ونحن نأمل ان ينتهي مسلسل التطبيع مع رحيل ترامب ولكن لا أحد يعرف او يتوقع ما هو آت».

وأضاف: «نحن نرى انّ الأكاديميين بإمكانهم مواجهة التطبيع من خلال تفكيك الخطاب التطبيعي، بدورهم الفكري والعقلي وانتاج المعرفة، من هنا فإنّ الحملة الأكاديمية تأخذ على عاتقها تفكيك خطاب التطبيع من اجل إعادة إنتاج فكر مضاد له يقوم أولاً على أساس الهوية العربية وثانياً جذرية الصراع مع المحتلّ، الذي هو صراع وجود، وثالثاً حتمية الانتصار بالرغم من الضعف العربي في الوقت الراهن، لكن في النهاية «إسرائيل» ليست جزءاً طبيعياً من المنطقة وبالضرورة سينتصر الفلسطينيون والعرب على هذا الجسم الغريب ويتخلص من الاحتلال والجسم الكولونيالي الصهيوني.

أما كيف يمكن أن نفكك خطاب التطبيع؟ هنا نطرح في الحملة الأكاديمية انّ خطاب التطبيع يحتوي على خمسة خرافات أساسية أيّ قضايا أسطورية لا يمكن تصديقها ويتمّ الترويج لها، لذلك يجب ان نوضح للجمهور والطلبة والعلماء وللسياسيين انّ مفهوم التطبيع يقوم على أساس خرافي، أولها أنه أوقف الضمّ وللمزيد من الإيضاح فإنّ التطبيع علق عملية الضمّ لفترة مؤقتة ومحدودة وهو بهذا الإيقاف، وهنا أقصد اتفاقية الإمارات العربية الإسرائيلية، اعترف ضمناً انّ عملية الضمّ يمكن ان تحدث وممكن تقبلها أيّ أنّ عملية التطبيع تشرّع الضمّ ولكنها تؤجّله لفترة مقبلة بمعنى انه ليس وقته اليوم وفق المنطق «الإسرائيلي»، والخرافة الثانية انّ التطبيع يؤدّي الى السلام في المنطقة مع العلم انّ الدول التي تطبّع مع الكيان المحتلّ لم تحاربه يوماً وهي بعيدة عن حدوده وليست منخرطة في أيّ علاقات عدائية معه ولا نعلم عن أيّ سلام تتحدث، الخرافة الثالثة انّ التطبيع يؤدّي الى الأمن وهنا يرتكز هذا الفكر على انّ أمن دول الخليج يتعرّض لابتزاز وعوامل عدم الاستقرار من قبل كيانات معادية، والمقصود هنا إيران كما تحاول الإدارة الأميركية أن تبتز العديد من الدول العربية بالبعبع الإيراني الذي يتطلب تحالفها مع «الإسرائيلي» لمواجهة هذا المدّ الإيراني، بعيداً عن الفكرة الطائفية وما يمثلها هذا البعد ونحن لسنا بصدد الحديث عنه، لكن النقطة المحورية هنا انّ تحالف دول الخليج مع «إسرائيل» لن يؤدّي الى استقرار المنطقة بل بالعكس سيخلق محاور متصارعة مما يجعل فكرة الحرب قائمة في كلّ لحظة وتبعاً للمتغيّرات والظروف، أما الخرافة الرابعة فهي تقوم على فكرة انّ التطبيع يؤدّي الى التنمية الاقتصادية وتطوير الاقتصاد ونحن هنا بصدد الحديث عن الأموال الخليجية التي يمكن ان تُستثمر في الكيان المحتلّ وتؤدّي الى نتائج إيجابية وهذا أمر غير منطقي على الإطلاق حيث انه يمكن اسثتمار هذه الأموال في دول أقوى اقتصادياً وبالتالي لن تؤدّي التنمية المتوقعة جراء فكرة التطبيع مع الكيان والاستثمار لديه بالعكس انّ التنمية المشتركة بين الدول العربية و»إسرائيل» لن تكون لصالح الأولى على الإطلاق بل ستقوّي الكيان على حساب توازنات القوى في المنطقة، أما الخرافة الخامسة فهي انّ التطبيع هو شأن داخلي لكلّ دولة عربية وهذا يتعلق بالسيادة ونحن كحملة أكاديمية نحترم سيادة كلّ دولة حقها في اتخاذ قراراتها ولكن التطبيع ليس شأناً مرتبطاً بالسيادة لأنّ الاقليم العربي كله مرتبط بتوفير الأمن والاستقرار وهذا الإقليم مهدّد بوجود «إسرائيل» منذ نشأة هذا الكيان الصهيوني تعتبر الدول العربية، وحتى تلك التي وقعت اتفاق سلام مع العدو مثل مصر، تعتبر انّ «إسرائيل» عدو ولها مطامع في هذه المنطقة، وبالتالي فإنّ التطبيع شأن لكلّ الإقليم العربي، وإذا قبلنا أنه شأن لكلّ دولة على حدة فنسأل هنا أين المبادرة العربية التي وافق عليها كلّ العرب، وإذا كان شأناً داخلياً فلن يتحقق أيّ سلام وهذا يعني انّ كلّ من يراه كذلك من الدول العربية قد تخلى عن فلسطين».

وتابع: «يجب توعية هذا الجيل الذي يتعرّض لكلّ أنواع التشويش المنظم من قبل الكثير من وسائل الإعلام والروايات المزيّفة للتاريخ والواقع وتعمل على الترويج لفكرة التطبيع، هنا أرى أنّ الحملة يمكن لها النجاح بالقيام بالعديد من الأنشطة ولكن ذلك يتوقف على عدة عوامل، الأول قدرتها على خلق قيادة نخبوية مشكّلة من الأكاديميين والخبراء ومراكز صناعة الفكر والسياسات وإذا استطاعت الحملة الأكاديمية تشكيل نواة من هذه القيادة بالتأكيد ستؤثر على جمهورها من الطلبة والأهالي ومتتبّعي وسائل الإعلام وهذا سيخلق فرصة أكبر لمحاربة عملية التطبيع، أما العامل الآخر فهو القدرة على تحويل خطاب التطبيع كخطاب للتخوين وهذا مهمّ، فالتطبيع خيانة واستخدام هذه العبارة والترويج لها يؤدّي الى نجاح كبير، والعامل الثالث فهو إبراز انّ خطاب التطبيع هو مساس بالمقدسات بمعنى في اتفاقية الإمارات يتحدثون انّ الصلاة تسمح لجميع الأديان في المجسد الأقصى فهل هذا هو المطلوب ان نصلي جميعنا في الأقصى في ظلّ الاحتلال؟ بالتأكيد ليس هذا هو الذي نريده وهنا يجب ان نوضح للعالم جميعاً انّ الأقصى لا يحتاج الى مصلين بل هو بحاجة لمن يحرّره… وفي ما يتصل بالعامل الرابع فيتمثل بمدى القدرة على استنهاض الفكر القومي المضاد للتطبيع وهذه نقطة مهمة تتعلق بايديولوجيا التحرير وايديولوجيا القومية وكلّ هذه الأمور يجب ان تكون موجهة او طاردة لعملية التطبيع».

وختم: «في النهاية يجب ان نتحدث عن كيفية مخاطبة هذه الأجيال من خلال تعزيز الرواية العربية بشكل عام ومن ثم تعزيز الرواية الفلسطينية بشكل خاص والمقصود هنا هو الرواية التاريخية والحديثة والمعاصرة، وأيضاً تفنيد الرواية الصهيونية التي تتحدث عن أنّ فلسطين هي أرض المعياد التي وعدهم بها الله والكثير من المقولات الأسطورية التي يروّج لها المحتلّ، إضافة الى ذلك المفروض تطوير البرامج التربوية والتعليمية في المدارس والجامعات وان يكون هناك تنشئة وطنية مقاومة للاحتلال والتطبيع ومعززة للهوية الوطنية والقومية، كما يجب استخدام الفن سواء الموسيقى او الغناء لمخاطبة الشباب حول خطورة التطبيع، ولا ننسى الاستفادة من وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي في إطار ايصال الفكر المفكك للخطاب التطبيعي للاجيال.»

شكر: رفع الصوت عالياً في مواجهة التطبيع

أكدت الدكتور رنا شكر أستاذة العلاقات الدولية في الجامعة اللبنانية أنّ اللقاء الأكاديمي هدفه رفع الصوت عالياً في مواجهة التطبيع، وقالت: «الهدف من العمل الذي نقوم به هو مناصرة الشعب الفلسطيني في كافة القضايا المتعلقة بهذا الشعب، والتشبيك بين الأكاديميين يهدف ايضاً الى تعزيز التعاون في ما بينهم من خلال القيام بأبحاث علمية هدفها التركيز على خطورة الاحتلال الإسرائيلي وأطماعه في المنطقة، وإعادة التذكير بممارسات هذا العدو الذي يقوم بكلّ الانتهاكات الدموية بحق الفلسطينيين وكلّ شعوب المنطقة واغتصاب الأرض.

هذا اللقاء هو لرفع الصوت عالياً في مواجهة التطبيع وذلك بإعلاء صوت الأكاديميين بالللاءات الثلاث… لا للاعتراف بالعدو ولا للصلح معه ولا للتفاوض، لا شك انّ هناك توجهاً إعلامياً منظماً يعمد الى تسويق التطبيع من خلال إعطاء الصورة الاقتصادية والحضارية له، ونحن من خلال نشاطنا في اليوم العالمي للتضامن مع شعب فلسطين نريد دحض هذه الفكرة من خلال وقائع تاريخية ثابتة لتصويب الأمور في نصابها الصحيح كي لا يؤخذ هذا الجيل الى حدّ الخضوع للحرب الناعمة المتمثلة بغسل العقول».

وأضافت: «نحن بصدد التركيز على تداعيات هذا التطبيع على منطقة الشرق الأوسط وشمال أفريقيا بالتوعية الى ما يريده هذا العدو وداعمته الولايات المتحدة الأميركية من خلال رسم خريطة جديدة للمنطقة العربية، وهدفنا التوعية من خطر اتفاقيات السلام التي قامت بين الدول العربية والكيان المحتلّ والى ماذا أدّت وقد تؤدي، بحيث لا يجب الاستهانة بهذه الاتفاقيات وما قد تشكله من تهديد لكلّ المنطقة، فهذه الاتفاقيات التي بدأت من دول الخليج قد تمتدّ الى باقي الدول العربية، لذلك نحن نؤكد على ضرورة التذكير بكيفية نشوء هذا الكيان ودمويته وضرورة إحياء الهوية القومية التي تحارب وجوده وتمدّده من خلال الفكر المقاوم الذي يرفض كلّ أشكال التعاون مع كيان يغتصب الأرض التي سقط في سبيلها الشهداء».

وختمت: «نحن نعتقد انّ الأكاديميين من أساتذة ومثقفين هم السباقون في الاتحاد مع بعضهم البعض ضدّ كلّ ما يسمّى خطوات التوسع المقنعة التي يقوم بها العدو الإسرائيلي داخل العالم العربي، وذلك من خلال التوعية بالقلم والكلمة والتوجه الى عقول الأجيال الحديثة لتبيان حقيقة ما جرى من اغتصاب لهذه الأرض وقتل شعبها والتركيز على القضية الأمّ التي هي قضية فلسطين.

مخاطبة هذا الجيل تكون بإحياء القوى العربية الناعمة المتمثلة بالعقول وطريقة التربية والتدريس والتعليم وتعزيز مفهوم وثقافة المواطنة والهوية القومية وتعزيز اللغة التي تلاشت مع سرعة العصر، وعودة مراكز الأبحاث والحدّ من هجرة العقول لتقوية الوعي القومي في عالمنا العربي كي لا يكون التطبيع القائم مدخل الى تكريس فكرة القبول بالمحتلّ وتمدّده في كافة العالم العربي».

حمدو: خطابنا للأجيال هو ضرورة التقدّموالتطوّر والنهضة

من جهته رأى الدكتور محمود عزو حمدو أستاذ محاضر في جامعة الموصل «انّ التطبيع مع الكيان الصهيوني يأتي نتيجة النكسات التي مرّت على الأمة العربية وغياب فكرة الأمة بشكل كبير جداً عن المدلولات الإعلامية والسياسية في التداول اليومي في العالم العربي، وأيضاً نتيجة الانتكاسات الكبيرة التي تعرّضت لها بلدان المحور العربي وهي العراق ومصر وسورية كون هذه البلدان كانت تشكل محور الحراك السياسي في المنطقة على مستوى التنسيق لمجابهة العدو الصهيوني، بالإضافة الى ذلك هناك مسألة جداً مهمة وتتمثل في تصاعد الدول الهامشية على مستوى قيادة العالم العربي مثل قطر والبحرين وغيرها وأصبحت تقود كلّ الحراك السياسي المتعلق بعلاقات العرب مع الآخرين وتنتج لوبيات في الدول تعمل ضدّ القضايا العربية.

المسألة الثانية تتعلق بتسويق فكرة انّ هذه المنطقة هي خاصة لليهود دون غيرهم على أساس ديني، ومن ناحية ثانية قامت الدول الكبرى ووكلاؤها بالتسويق لصراع مذهبي (سني ـ شيعي) يتمثل بالدول الخليجية من جهة وإيران من جهة أخرى، وطبعاً لا ننسى الدور التركي الذي يريد التموضع في المنطقة وفق مصالحه».

أضاف: «التدوال الإعلامي العربي يؤثر بشكل سلبي على الشباب لجهة تزوير الوقائع وتحويل العدو الى صديق وبالعكس وهذا أمر واضح بشكل كبير، وانعكس من خلال التطبيع والصور التي نراها على وسائل التواصل وطبعاً استضافة إسرائيليين يتمّ وصفهم بالمحايدين على قنوات تلفزيونية عربية كما فعلت الجزيرة تحت شعار الرأي والرأي الآخر ساهم في تشويش العقول.

والخشية الأساسية ان تتحوّل هذه الأجيال الى أجيال لا تعرف من هو العدو أو ان تتحوّل الى وقود لتصفية الصراعات المذهبية تحت عناوين جديدة، داعش هو صورة من صور الصراع المذهبي في المنطقة، وهناك نماذج كثيرة غيرها.

اهمية هذه التكتلات العلمية انها تعطي روحاً جديدة للعمل العربي والقومي باتجاه مناهضة الكيان الصهيوني ورفض التطبيع معه بأيّ شكل من الأشكال، وعملية التدجين التي تعرّض لها الشباب العربي منذ عام 1990 حتى اليوم لا سيما منذ مرحلة انهيار العراق بعد غزوه عام 2003 ادّت نتائجها بشكل كبير جداً».

وختم: «الصراع الأساسي يتوجب ان يكون في اتجاه كلّ دعاة التطبيع المنبطحين أمام الكيان الصهيوني، الخطاب الذي يجب التوجه به الى الأجيال هو ضرورة التقدّم والتطوّر والنهضة، لا سيما النهضة العلمية لمواجهة كلّ الأعداء المتربصين بالشعوب العربية، كما يجب إعادة إنتاج الرؤية التاريخية للصراع العربي الصهيوني من خلال اعتباره صراعاً بين محتلّ انتهك حقوق الإنسان وصاحب حقّ هو ضحية حقوقه منتهكة.

ويجب التركيز على حالة التفتيت التي مرّت المجتمعات العربية التي أثرت بشكل سلبي، وأيضاً دور وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي في الترويج للإسرائيلي ومواجهتها».

ترجمان: التضامن لا يكون بالشعاراتوالخطب الرنانة

أما باسل ترجمان (كاتب صحافي وباحث سياسي) فقال: «من الأساسي اليوم ان يكون هدف إحياء اليوم الدولي للتضامن مع الشعب الفلسطيني مناسبة للتأكيد على هذا التضامن مع الشعب الفلسطيني وقضيته العادلة وان يتمّ الفصل بين التضامن مع الشعب وبين التضامن وتأييد الحال السياسي الفلسطيني لأنّ الحال السياسي متغيّر بحسب الواقع والظروف، فعند الإعلان عن هذا اليوم عام 1977 كان الحال السياسي الفلسطيني في المستويين العربي والدولي مختلفاً تماماً عن واقع الحال بعد ذلك وصولاً لإقامة السلطة الوطنية الفلسطينية وما تبع ذلك من واقع متغيّر لم يفض لإقامة سلام عادل يعيد الحقوق الشرعية للشعب الفلسطيني».

أضاف: «طوال السنوات الماضية كان هنالك حالة استكانة سياسية أفقدت هذا اليوم معناه النضالي وتحوّل لمناسبة بروتوكولية يتمّ فيها تبادل رسائل ومواقف سياسية تعبّر عن أساسيات مواقف الدول تجاه فلسطين وتناسى كثيرون هذا اليوم.

في ظلّ صفقة القرن وانطلاق قطار التطبيع عاد الحديث عن ضرورة إحياء هذا اليوم وإبعاده عن المستوى السياسي التقليدي ليكون مناسبة تضامنية دائمة وثابتة مع الشعب الفلسطيني المحروم من نيل حقوقه التي يعتبرها مناسبة لإنهاء الظلم والتشرّد ورفع آثار العدوان الذي تعرّض له منذ أكثر من سبعين عاماً، وهذا يقتضي ان يتمّ الفصل بين الحال السياسي مهما كانت طبيعة الظروف وبين الواقع النضالي للشعب الفلسطيني لأنّ هذا سيعيد لإحياء هذه الذكرى رونقها ويبعدها عن التوظيف السياسي الآني ويبقيه موعداً ثابتاً لكلّ الشعوب والقوى المحبة للعدل والسلام لتعلن تضامنها بالفعل وليس بالبيانات والخطب مع نضال الشعب الفلسطيني».

وتابع: «السؤال المهمّ ايّ تضامن نريد هل نبحث عن تضامن يرضي الذات ويشبعها فخراً وحديث عن البطولات والأمجاد من الجانبين، الفلسطيني يتحدث عن بطولاته في مقارعة الاحتلال، والأشقاء والأصدقاء يتحدثون عن حبّهم ودعمهم ومناصرتهم لفلسطين وينتهي الحال بإشباع عاطفي لا يغني ولا يسمن عن جوع.

من المهمّ ان تكون المناسبة بعيدة عن الشعاراتية والخطب الرنانة، وان تكون مناسبة حقيقية لتحويل التضامن لفعل نضالي سياسي لدعم الحق الفلسطيني بكلّ الوسائل المتاحة وهي ممكنة وكبيرة وقادرة ان تصنع الفعل المؤثر عربياً ودولياً، وهذا في حدّ ذاته أكبر رسالة نصوغها لمواجهة إعلام الواقع الحالي وتوجهاته بذكاء ودون ان ننجرّ للصدام مع ايّ طرف مهما كان الظرف لأنّ التناقض الرئيسي مع العدو وليس مع اي طرف آخر.

من المهمّ اليوم ان نختار آليات وصيغ جديدة مبتكرة للتخاطب مع أجيال جديدة تحول العالم بالنسبة لها إلى فضاء افتراضي صغير وصار التواصل عبره أحد أشكال وآليات العمل الإعلامي والسياسي والنضالي».

وختم: «هذه الأجيال لديها ميزات التفاعل السريع بحكم سرعة التواصل وانتقال المعلومات، وبالتالي لا يمكن للخطاب التقليدي المعتمد على البيانات والمواقف والخطب الرنانة ان يؤدي المعنى بل يجب التواصل معها وإيصال الرسائل الذكية القصيرة والمتحركة عبر وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي، أيضاً الأجيال الجديدة ليست من أصحاب القراءات المعمّقة او الطويلة وهذا يجعلها بعيدة عن الاستيعاب والتعاطي الإيجابي مع الدراسات المعمّقة او الشروحات المطوّلة ويظهر انّ التأثير عليها ممكن وسهل أكثر بكثير من الأجيال السابقة التي كان للفكر والكتاب والمقال المعمّق تأثير عليها، فيديو ثلاثين ثانية قد يخلق لك ملايين المتعاطفين والمؤيدين بينما دراسة او بحث جدي حقيقي قد لا يقرأه احد، وهذا لا يعني اطلاقاً أن لا يتمّ العمل بالجهد العلمي الحقيقي والبحث الأكاديمي ولكن ضمن أطره الحقيقة واستغلال المساحات الاتصالية الجديدة لإيصال الأفكار الذكية والتفاعل معها لخدمة النضال العادل للشعب الفلسطيني».

غوسطان: دور محوري للاعلام والفضاء الافتراضي

اما ليزا ابراهيم غوسطان (ممرّضة في الصليب الاحمر) الناشطة في منصة طوارئ فلسطين الموجودة في لوزان التي تنقل أخبار الشعب الفلسطيني والتي لا يتمّ تداولها عبر وسائل الإعلام فقالت: «للأسف أصبحنا في زمن حين يسألوننا من أين أنتم ونقول إننا فلسطينيون يجب ان تقترن إجابتنا بالتأكيد أننا لسنا إرهابيين كما يتمّ التسويق في الكثير من الوسائل الإعلامية وبشكل ممنهج لتحويل الضحية الى جلاد. وقد أصبحنا معتادين على هذا الأمر حيث أننا نجيب بطريقة مريحة ومقنعة ونتمكن من تصويب الأمور في إطارها الصحيح وبالتالي يعترف كلّ من يسأل بأحقية قضيتنا الواضحة.

اما في ما يتصل بضرورة مخاطبة الأجيال الشابة فمن البديهي أن نرشدهم الى المصدر الفعلي للمعلومة والذي ينقل الوقائع التاريخية والحديثة دون أيّ تحريف او تزييف من هنا ممكن للإعلام ووسائل التواصل الاجتماعي لعب الدور المحوري في مواجهة الأخبار المغلوطة شرط ان يتمّ استخدامها بوعي».

عساف: نعوّل على الإعلام الحر لإيصال الصوت

اما الدكتور نظام عساف مدير مركز عمان لدراسات حقوق الانسان فقال: «هدف هذه الحملة توجيه رسائل تضامنية مع الشعب الفلسطيني، تعكس مواقف المشاركين فيها من خلال المقالات أو الأبحاث حول مخاطر التطبيع والضمّ، أو تسجيل مقطع فيديو أو رسائل صوتية قصيرة، لتوضيح خطورة الضمّ والتطبيع على الأمن القومي الفلسطيني والعربي من جهة؛ والتأكيد على الثوابت الفلسطينية والعربية في مقاومة الاحتلال وتحرير الأرض الفلسطينية من جهة ثانية؛ والدعوة إلى وقف التطبيع من قبل بعض الحكومات العربية باعتباره يعزز عملية الضمّ الذي تقوم به سلطات الاحتلال الصهيوني في الأغوار الفلسطينية»ز

وأضاف: «أنّ هذه الأنشطة وغيرها ستساهم في الكشف عن زيف الادّعاء بأنّ فكرة التطبيع المطروحة ستمنع الكيان الغاصب من ضمّ هذه الأراضي الفلسطينية، لأنّ هذا التطبيع يتمّ وفقاً لمنطق المحتلّ الذي يعلن مراراً وتكراراً أنه يسعى إلى إقامة «سلام» مع الدول العربية من موقع القوة.

من الطبيعي أن لا تحقق هذه الحملة هدفها بسهولة، لأنّ الإعلام كما ذكرتم في سؤالكم هو إعلام منظم في تسويق فكرة التطبيع، ونحن نعوّل على الإعلام الحر والمنحاز لحقوق الشعب الفلسطيني لإيصال الصوت، و»البناء» نعتبرها نموذجاً، كما تستطيع أن تفنّد صحة هذا الادّعاء من خلال الإشارة إلى حقيقة أنّ معاهدات واتفاقيات السلام التي وقعت سابقاً بين الكيان الغاصب وكلّ من مصر والأردن لم تجلب لهما الازدهار الاقتصادي بل مزيد من المديونية والفقر والبطالة ناهيك عن حقيقة عدم تطبيع الشعبين المصري والأردني معه».

وختم: «مخاطبة الجيل الذي سيطرت عليه سرعة العصر في ظلّ أخبار مغلوطة مع تغييب الوقائع التاريخية يمثل تحدي كبير للحملة، ولذلك طرحت هذه المبادرة على جميع المتضامنين والمناصرين لحقوق الشعب الفلسطيني وسائل وأدوات يتمّ من خلالها توجه رسائل تغذي الجيل الجديد بالحقائق والمعلومات التي تؤكد الرواية الفلسطينية وتفند الرواية الصهيونية حول «أرض بلا شعب لشعب بلا أرض». وفي هذا المجال يفضل استخدام كافة ألوان التعبير الجذابة من مثل الرسم والمسرح والسينما والأغاني والفيديوات القصيرة والرسائل الصوتية وغيرها.

من الطبيعي أن لا يقتصر العمل لاسترجاع حقوق الشعب الفلسطيني على العمل الإعلامي وانما يكون مسنوداً بالعمل الكفاحي والنضالي على كافة المستويات وفي كافة الميادين وبكلّ أشكال النضال التي تحدث انقلابا في موازين القوى تسهم في استرداد الحقوق كاملة غير منقوصة.

Israel’s Power Is Unlimited

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PHILIP GIRALDI • NOVEMBER 17, 2020 

Philip Giraldi - Wikipedia
Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director
of the Council for the National Interest,
a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation
(Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks
a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy
in the Middle East. Website i
https://councilforthenationalinterest.org, 
address is P.O. Box 2157,
Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is 
inform@cnionline.org.
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Democrats and Republicans bow to force majeure

Even though there was virtually no debate on foreign policy during the recent presidential campaign, there has been considerable discussion of what President Joe Biden’s national security team might look like. The general consensus is that the top levels of the government will be largely drawn from officials who previously served in the Obama administration and who are likely to be hawkish.

There has also been, inevitably, some discussion of how the new administration, if it is confirmed, will deal with Israel and the Middle East in general.

Israelis would have preferred a victory by Donald Trump as they clearly understand that he was and still is willing to defer to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on nearly all issues. Indeed, that process is ongoing even though Trump might only have about nine more weeks remaining in office. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is reportedly preparing to sanction several international human rights organizations as anti-Semitic due to the fact that they criticize Israel’s brutality on the West Bank and its illegal settlement policies. The White House is also prepared to free convicted but paroled Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard from travel restrictions so he can move to Israel, where he is regarded as a hero. Pollard was the most damaging spy in U.S. history and any mitigation of his sentence has been opposed by both the Pentagon, where he worked, and also by the intelligence community.

Finally, it is widely believed that before the end of the year Trump will declare that the United States accepts the legitimacy of Israeli intentions to declare annexation of nearly all the Palestinian West Bank. The White House will actually encourage such an initiative reportedly “to sow hostility between Israel and the Biden administration.” One should note that none of the pro-Israeli measures that are likely to come out of the White House enhance U.S. security in any way and they also do nothing particularly to benefit Trump’s campaign to be re-elected through legal challenges.

If Biden does succeed in becoming president, the special place that Israel occupies in the centers of American power are unlikely to be disturbed, which is why Netanyahu was quick off the mark in congratulating the possible new chief executive. Biden has proudly declared himself to be a “Zionist” and his running mate Kamala Harris has been a featured speaker at the annual gatherings of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington. Both are strongly supportive of the “special relationship” with the Israel and will make no effort to compromise America’s apparent commitment to protect and nourish the Jewish state.

Though Israel is central to how the United States conducts its foreign policy, the country was invisible in the debates and other discussions that took place among candidates during the recent campaign. American voters were therefore given the choice of one government that panders to Israel at the expense of U.S. security or another party that does exactly the same thing. To be sure, Biden did state that he would work to reinstate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) relating to Iran’s nuclear program, which was canceled by Trump. But he also indicated that it would require some amendment, meaning that the Iranians would have to include their missile program in the monitoring while also abandoning their alleged propensity to “interfere” in the Middle East region. The Iranian government has already indicated that additional conditions are unacceptable, so the deal is dead in the water. Israel has also privately and publicly objected to any new arrangement and has already declared that it would “save the option” of working through the Republican Senate to thwart any attempts by the Biden Administration to change things.

That Israel would blatantly and openly interfere in the deliberations of Congress raises some serious questions which the mainstream media predictably is not addressing. Jewish power in America is for real and it is something that some Jews are not shy about discussing among themselves. Jewish power is unique in terms of how it functions. If you’re an American (or British) politician, you very quickly are made to appreciate that Israel owns you and nearly all of your colleagues. Indeed, the process begins in the U.S. even before your election when the little man from AIPAC shows up with the check list that he wants you to sign off on. If you behave per instructions your career path will be smooth, and you will benefit from your understanding that everything happening inn Washington that is remotely connected to the interests of the state of Israel is to be determined by the Jewish state alone, not by the U.S. Congress or White House.

And, here is the tricky part, even while you are energetically kowtowing to Netanyahu, you must strenuously deny that there is Jewish power at work if anyone ever asks you about it. You behave in that fashion because you know that your pleasant life will be destroyed, painfully, if you fail to deny the existence of an Israel Lobby or the Jewish power that supports it.

It is a bold assertion, but there is plenty of evidence to support how that power is exerted and what the consequences are. Senators William Fulbright and Chuck Percy and Congressmen Paul Findlay, Pete McCloskey and Cynthia McKinney have all experienced the wrath of the Lobby and voted out of office. Currently Reverend Raphael Warnock, who is running against Georgia Loeffler for a senate seat in Georgia demonstrates exactly how candidates are convinced to stand on their heads by the Israel Lobby. Warnock was a strong supporter of Palestinian rights and a critic of Israeli brutality. He said as recently as 2018 that the Israelis were shooting civilians and condemned the military occupation and settlement construction on the Palestinian West Bank, which he compared to apartheid South Africa. Now that he is running for the Senate, he is saying that he is opposed to the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement due to what he calls the movement’s “anti-Semitic overtones.” He also supports continued military assistance for Israel and believes that Iran is in pursuit of a nuclear weapon, both of which are critical issues being promoted by the Zionist lobby.

There is some pushback in Washington to Israeli dominance, but not much. Recent senior Pentagon appointee Colonel Douglas Macgregor famously has pointed out that many American politicians get “very, very rich” through their support of Israel even though it means the United States being dragged into new wars. Just how Israel gains control of the U.S. political process is illustrated by the devastating insider tale of how the Obama Administration’s feeble attempts to do the right thing in the Middle East were derailed by American Jews in Congress, the media, party donors and from inside the White House itself. The story is of particularly interest as the Biden Administration will no doubt suffer the same fate if it seeks to reject or challenge Israel’s ability to manipulate and virtually control key aspects of U.S. foreign policy.

The account of Barack Obama’s struggle with Israel and the Israeli Lobby comes from a recently published memoir written by a former foreign policy adviser Ben Rhodes. It is entitled The World As It Is, and it is extremely candid about how Jewish power was able to limit the foreign policy options of a popular sitting president. Rhodes recounts, for example, how Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel once nicknamed him “Hamas” after he dared to speak up for Palestinian human rights, angrily shouting at him “Hamas over here is going to make it impossible for my kid to have his fucking bar mitzvah in Israel.”

Rhodes cites numerous instances where Obama was forced to back down when confronted by Israel and its supporters in the U.S. as well as within the Democratic Party. On several occasions, Netanyahu lecture the U.S. president as if he were an errant schoolboy. And Obama just had to take it. Rhodes sums up the situation as follows: “In Washington, where support for Israel is an imperative for members of Congress, there was a natural deference to the views of the Israeli government on issues related to Iran, and Netanyahu was unfailingly confrontational, casting himself as an Israeli Churchill…. AIPAC and other organizations exist to make sure that the views of the Israeli government are effectively disseminated and opposing views discredited in Washington, and this dynamic was a permanent part of the landscape of the Obama presidency.”

And, returning to the persistent denial of Jewish power even existing when it is running full speed and relentlessly, Rhodes notes the essential dishonesty of the Israel Lobby as it operates in Washington: “Even to acknowledge the fact that AIPAC was spending tens of millions to defeat the Iran deal [JCPOA] was anti-Semitic. To observe that the same people who supported the war in Iraq also opposed the Iran deal was similarly off limits. It was an offensive way for people to avoid accountability for their own positions.”

Many Americans long to live in a country that is at peace with the world and respectful of the sovereignty of foreign nations. Alas, as long as Israeli interests driven by overwhelming Jewish power in the United States continue to corrupt our institutions that just will not be possible. It is time for all Americans, including Jews, to accept that Israel is a foreign country that must make its own decisions and thereby suffer the consequences. The United States does not exist to bail Israel out or to provide cover for its bad behavior. The so-called “special relationship” must end and the U.S. must deal with the Israelis as they would with any other country based on America’s own self-interests. Those interests definitely do not include funding the Israeli war machine, assassinating foreign leaders, or attacking a non-threatening Iran while continuing an illegal occupation of Syria.

Suspension of Corbyn will define Starmer as Iraq defined Blair

Source

David Hearst

2 November 2020 17:54 UTC |

David Hearst is the editor in chief of Middle East Eye. He left The Guardian as its chief foreign leader writer. In a career spanning 29 years, he covered the Brighton bomb, the miner’s strike, the loyalist backlash in the wake of the Anglo-Irish Agreement in Northern Ireland, the first conflicts in the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in Slovenia and Croatia, the end of the Soviet Union, Chechnya, and the bushfire wars that accompanied it. He charted Boris Yeltsin’s moral and physical decline and the conditions which created the rise of Putin. After Ireland, he was appointed Europe correspondent for Guardian Europe, then joined the Moscow bureau in 1992, before becoming bureau chief in 1994. He left Russia in 1997 to join the foreign desk, became European editor and then associate foreign editor. He joined The Guardian from The Scotsman, where he worked as education correspondent.

Keir Starmer’s silence on Palestine and his treatment of his predecessor have set the Labour leader on a collision course with many within his own party

Keir Starmer (L) with Jeremy Corbyn at a press conference in London in December 2019 (AFP)


One of the lesser known aspects of Keir Starmer’s assault on the left of his party since becoming Labour leader is his growing silence on Palestine.

Silencing the Palestinian lobby in Britain has always been a goal of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which has gone to some lengths to condition debate inside the Labour Party on Israel.

In 2017, an Al Jazeera documentary exposed the efforts of the ministry’s man in London, Shai Masot, to start a youth wing in the Labour Party. Masot was also filmed by an undercover reporter saying he wanted to “take down” government ministers and MPs considered to be causing “problems” for Israel.

Silencing the Palestinian lobby in Britain has always been a goal of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which has gone to some lengths to condition debate inside the Labour Party on Israel

When Masot was rumbled and expelled, a continuous feed of Jeremy Corbyn’s meetings as a backbench MP with Palestinians, dating back in some cases over a decade, was created to stoke the furore over the then-Labour leader.

This feed was doctored.

When Corbyn met three Hamas politicians whose Jerusalem IDs had been revoked and had staged a sit-in a tent in the grounds of the Red Cross (this was a cause celebre at the time and many Israelis went to show solidarity with the case), the presence of a second Labour MP, Andy Slaughter, who is not a Corbyn ally but is pro-Palestinian, was excised from British reports.

However, a picture of Slaughter appeared in Israeli news channel i24’s exclusive of “Corbyn’s secret visit” in its report in 2018, which was eight years after the MPs’ visit took place in November 2010. 

Role of Shin Bet

The precise details of Corbyn’s visit to Israel in 2010, including who was on it, who arranged it and who they met, were monitored and logged by Israel’s domestic security service, Shin Bet.

When these visits were over, Shin Bet invited Corbyn’s local fixer in for what turned out to be five hours of questioning in a police station in Haifa.

Shin Bet told her they were relaxed about her charity work for the Palestinian cause, but would not tolerate her campaigning inside the Houses of Parliament in the UK.EXCLUSIVE: Jeremy Corbyn questions impartiality of EHRC antisemitism inquiry

If she did not heed the warning, she would spend the rest of her days in prison as an enemy of the state. Her lawyer told her that such a charge could indeed be fabricated against her and that an Israeli court would send her to prison if this happened. She is an Israeli citizen.

At the very least, the warnings given to Corbyn’s fixer confirm that Israel’s security services had set their sights on the MP at least five years before he became Labour leader and long before antisemitism in Labour became a newsworthy issue.

Nobody in the Labour Party was bothered with Corbyn’s travels, which certainly were not secret. He was a backbencher on the fringes of the party. Only Shin Bet took note.

The smear campaign has been wonderfully effective. Of course, many groups joined in for different reasons, including people indifferent to the conflict in Palestine who had shown no past interest in it.

The compromising material of Corbyn’s past contacts would have had no purchase had there not been a determination within the Parliamentary Labour Party and at Labour headquarters to stop Corbyn at all costs. But taken together, it worked.

A poll conducted by Survation last year asked member of the British public who were aware of antisemitism in Labour what percentage of party members had complaints against them.

Their mean average reply was 34 percent. The real figure is a fraction of one percent. The perception of antisemitism was over 300 times the reality in Corbyn’s party.

Palestine lost

Since becoming leader, Keir Starmer has avoided contact with Palestinian leaders, either in Israel or in Britain.

Starmer has had two opportunities to engage.

On 26 June this year, 15 members of the Knesset who comprise the Joint List wrote to all party leaders in Britain to urge them to “actively oppose” attempts by Israel to annex territory unilaterally.Israel’s Joint List urges British political parties to oppose annexation

The Joint List, the main coalition representing Palestinian citizens of Israel, is the third largest group of MKs in the parliament. The letter was sent by Yousef Jabareen, the head of the Joint List’s international committee.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson instructed one of his ministers, James Cleverly, minister of state for the Middle East and North Africa, to reply.

“We continue to urge Israel not to take these steps. The prime minister has conveyed the UK’s opposition to unilateral annexation to Prime Minister Netanyahu on multiple occasions,” Cleverly wrote.

Starmer did not reply, and still has not replied. Jabareen received an automated reply from Starmer’s office, telling him that he receives hundreds of emails each day.

On 16 September, a group of leading British Palestinians, many of whom were members of Labour, but some not, wrote an open letter to the Labour Party insisting on “the right of Palestinians to accurately describe our experiences of dispossession and oppression” and rejecting Labour’s attempts to conflate anti-Zionism with antisemitism.

The letter was accompanied by emails to Starmer to set up a meeting. They were told that Starmer was too busy to meet them. They were referred to Lisa Nandy, the shadow foreign secretary, who also declined to meet them.

A ‘dressing down’

However when Stephen Kinnock, who comes from the right wing of the party and is a bitter critic of Corbyn, called in a parliamentary debate for the UK to “ban all products that originate from Israeli settlements in the occupied territories”, Nandy found the time to intervene.

Nandy told the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council – according to a source quoted by MailOnline – that Kinnock, a consistent and long-standing critic of Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians, had been given a “dressing down” for his remarks made during the Commons debate.

Starmer’s sole intervention in this debate occurred when he was asked by Jewish News about sanctions and he stressed the need instead to maintain a ‘strong working relationship with Israel’

“Lisa made no secret of the fact she and the leader were angry with Kinnock,” the source is quoted as saying.

“Especially after all the work that has been done to try and restore Labour’s relationship with the Jewish community.”

Starmer was said to be “infuriated”.

Nandy herself proposed a ban on the import of goods from illegal settlements in the West Bank, but only if Israel pressed ahead with annexation.

Starmer’s sole intervention in this debate occurred when he was asked by Jewish News about sanctions and he stressed the need instead to maintain a “strong working relationship with Israel”.

Starmer said: “I don’t agree with annexation and I don’t think it’s good for security in the region, and I think it’s very important that we say that.

“Whether sanctions follow is another matter but at the moment let’s resolve this in the proper way. But this is not good for security in the region. That should be a paramount consideration.

When pressed further, he added: “There needs to be a strong working relationship where we are able to exchange views frankly, as you would with an ally and on some of these issues, a frank exchange is what we most need, I think.”

Labour’s history

This Monday marks 103 years since the Balfour Declaration committed British governments to support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

The 1917 document predates Labour’s emergence as a political force in the years after World War One, but the party has a history of its own in the Middle East which no leader can ignore.Jeremy Corbyn suspended from Labour following antisemitism report

In 1944, when the territory of Palestine was still under British control, its national executive committee authored a motion, passed by conference, which read: “Palestine surely is a case, on human grounds and to promote a stable settlement, for transfer of population. Let the Arabs be encouraged to move out, as the Jews move in. Let them be compensated handsomely for their land and let their settlement elsewhere be carefully organised and generously financed.”

But it has history more recent than that.

The suspension of Corbyn after the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report into antisemitism last week contrasts with Corbyn’s treatment of Tony Blair, who as a former Labour prime minister was excoriated by the 2016 Chilcot Report over his decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

John Chilcot, a former senior diplomat, eviscerated Blair, stopping short of accusing him of lying to parliament.

Chilcot said that at the time of the invasion, Saddam Hussein “posed no imminent threat” and revealed a private note that Blair sent to Bush in July 2002 which read: “I will be with you, whatever.”

In a two-hour press conference following the publication of the report, Blair was unrepentant. “I believe we made the right decision and the world is better and safer,” he declared.

He argued that he had acted in good faith, based on intelligence at the time which said that Iraq’s president had weapons of mass destruction. This “turned out to be wrong”.

Corbyn’s suspension

Corbyn offered a total apology on behalf of the party for the decision to invade Iraq.

He said: “So I now apologise sincerely on behalf of my party for the disastrous decision to go to war in Iraq in March 2003. That apology is owed first of all to the people of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost and the country is still living with the devastating consequences of the war and the forces it unleashed. They have paid the greatest price for the most serious foreign policy calamity of the last 60 years.”

He went on: “The apology is also owed to the families of those soldiers who died in Iraq or who have returned home injured or incapacitated. They did their duty but it was in a conflict they should never have been sent to.”

Corbyn appeared as if he was defying the leadership, even though at the time he spoke, he had no idea what Starmer would say on a key point that defined their dispute

Blair at the time was just a member of the party, in the same situation as Corbyn was last week.

Corbyn, however, did not suspend Blair for not apologising and uttering words which went against the party line.

Instead, the opposite was happening. The “party of war” within the Parliamentary Labour Party went on the offensive against the leadership.

MPs who had backed the Iraq war, and consistently voted against inquiries into it, went after Corbyn.

Of the 71 MPs who voted no confidence in Corbyn in 2016 and who had been in parliament in 2003, 92 percent had voted in favour of the Iraq war and seven against.

In justifying his action to suspend Corbyn, Starmer said that the former leader had defied his response to the EHRC report, which condemned anyone trying to claim that antisemitism had been exaggerated for political reasons.

The night before the report was published, Starmer phoned Corbyn to say he would not be condemning him by name in his statement of reply to the EHRC report. Corbyn and his team repeatedly asked Starmer what he would say in his statement. Starmer said he would send them his lines.

Angela Rayner, the deputy leader, also promised Corbyn’s team that she would send them the lines of Starmer’s statement. Both failed to do so. The reactions of the two men were thus set on collision course.

Corbyn appeared as if he was defying the leadership, even though at the time he spoke, he had no idea what Starmer would say on a key point that defined their dispute.

Corbyn subsequently failed to back down, but one possibility is that Starmer’s team knew what Corbyn would say, while Corbyn himself was kept in the dark until it was too late.

The left bites back

Corbyn did not defend himself against allegations that he tolerated antisemitism or that he himself was an antisemite, claims that are still being made today. To the extent that he let this campaign run unchallenged in the High Court, he himself is responsible.

Quite apart from the fate of Corbyn, support for Palestine is much greater in the party than Starmer is comfortable with. Palestine, which he knows about much less than Corbyn, is his blindspot

On the day Corbyn was suspended, the Campaign Against Antisemitism, the original complainant in the EHRC investigation, wrote to Starmer and David Evans, the general secretary, demanding investigations into 32 members of the Labour Party, including Angela Rayner, Starmer’s current deputy, and 10 other MPs. 

In response, seven trade unions affiliated to the Labour Party and one which backed Starmer as candidate, published a statement expressing “serious concern” about the manner and rationale for Corbyn’s suspension, suggesting it had undermined party unity and democratic processes.

Far from being his “Clause 4” moment – the issue that Tony Blair used to define New Labour by dropping the party’s historic commitment to state ownership of key industries – the suspension of Corbyn could define Starmer’s leadership in the same way that Blair’s decision to invade Iraq has cast a shadow over everything a man elected three times as prime minister did. The ghosts of Iraq follow Blair around to this day.

Quite apart from the fate of Corbyn, support for Palestine is much greater in the party than Starmer is comfortable with. Palestine, which he knows about much less than Corbyn, is his blindspot.

Unless Corbyn is reinstated quickly, the decision to suspend him from the party could prove to be a permanent and defining stain on Starmer’s leadership.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

European Hypocrisy: Empty Words for Palestine, Deadly Weapons for Israel

October 21, 2020

Palestinian PM Mohammad Shtayyeh makes a speech via video conference at the European Parliament Committee meeting on Foreign Affair. (Photo: via WAFA)

By Ramzy Baroud

In theory, Europe and the United States stand on completely opposite sides when it comes to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. While the US government has fully embraced the tragic status quo created by 53 years of Israeli military occupation, the EU continues to advocate a negotiated settlement that is predicated on respect for international law.

In practice, however, despite the seeming rift between Washington and Brussels, the outcome is, essentially, the same. The US and Europe are Israel’s largest trade partners, weapon suppliers and political advocates.

One of the reasons that the illusion of an even-handed Europe has been maintained for so long lies partly in the Palestinian leadership itself. Politically and financially abandoned by Washington, the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas has turned to the European Union as its only possible savior.

“Europe believes in the two-state solution,” PA Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, said during a video discussion with the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs on October 12. Unlike the US, Europe’s continued advocacy of the defunct two-state solution qualifies it to fill the massive gap created by Washington’s absence.

Shtayyeh called on EU leaders to “recognize the State of Palestine in order for us, and you, to break the status quo.”

However, there are already 139 countries that recognize the State of Palestine. While that recognition is a clear indication that the world remains firmly pro-Palestinian, recognizing Palestine as a State changes little on the ground. What is needed are concerted efforts to hold Israel accountable for its violent occupation as well as real action to support the struggle of Palestinians.

Not only has the EU failed at this, it is, in fact, doing the exact opposite: funding Israel, arming its military and silencing its critics.

Listening to Shtayyeh’s words, one gets the impression that the top Palestinian official is addressing a conference of Arab, Muslim or socialist countries. “I call upon your Parliament and your distinguished Members of this Parliament, that Europe not wait for the American President to come up with ideas … We need a third party who can really remedy the imbalance in the relationship between an occupied people and an occupier country, that is Israel,” he said.

But is the EU qualified to be that ‘third party’? No. For decades, European governments have been an integral part of the US-Israel party. Just because the Donald Trump administration has, recently, taken a sharp turn in favor of Israel should not automatically transform Europe’s historical pro-Israel bias to be mistaken for pro-Palestinian solidarity.

Last June, more than 1,000 European parliamentarians representing various political parties issued a statement expressing “serious concerns” about Trump’s so-called Deal of the Century and opposing Israeli annexation of nearly a third of the West Bank. However, the pro-Israel US Democratic Party, including some traditionally staunch supporters of Israel, were equally critical of Israel’s plan because, in their minds, annexation means that a two-state solution would be made impossible.

While US Democrats made it clear that a Joe Biden administration would not reverse any of Trump’s actions should Biden be elected, European governments have also made it clear that they will not take a single action to dissuade – let alone punish – Israel for its repeated violations of international law.

Lip service is all that Palestinians have obtained from Europe, as well as much money, which was largely pocketed by loyalists of Abbas in the name of ‘State-building’ and other fantasies. Tellingly, much of the imaginary Palestinian State infrastructure that was subsidized by Europe in recent years has been blown up, demolished or construction ceased by the Israeli military during its various wars and raids. Yet, neither did the EU punish Israel, nor did the PA cease from asking for more money to continue funding a non-existent State.

Not only did the EU fail to hold Israel accountable for its ongoing occupation and human rights violations, it is practically financing Israel, as well. According to Defence News, a quarter of all of Israel’s military export contracts (totaling $7.2 billion in 2019 alone) is allocated to European countries.

Moreover, Europe is Israel’s largest trading partner, absorbing one-third of Israel’s total exports and shipping to Israel nearly 40% of its total import. These numbers also include products made in illegal Jewish settlements.

Additionally, the EU labors to incorporate Israel into the European way of life through cultural and music contests, sports competitions, and in a myriad other ways. While the EU possesses powerful tools that can be used to exact political concessions and enforce respect for international law, it opts to simply do very little.

Compare this with the recent ultimatum the EU has given the Palestinian leadership, linking EU aid to the PA’s financial ties with Israel. Last May, Abbas took the extraordinary step of considering all agreements with Israel and the US to be null and void. Effectively, this means that the PA would no longer be accountable for the stifling status quo that was created by the Oslo Accords, which was repeatedly violated by Tel Aviv and Washington. Severing ties with Israel also meant that the PA would refuse to accept nearly $150 million in tax revenues that Israel collects on behalf of the PA. This Palestinian step, while long overdue, was necessary.

Instead of supporting Abbas’ move, the EU criticized it, refusing to provide additional aid for Palestinians until Abbas restores ties with Israel and accepts the tax money. According to Axios news portal, Germany, France, the UK and even Norway are leading the charge.

Germany, in particular, has been relentless in its support for Israel. For months, it has advocated on behalf of Israel to spare Tel Aviv a war crimes investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). It has placed activists, who advocate the boycott of Israel, on trial. Recently, it has confirmed the shipment of missile boats and other military hardware to ensure the superiority of the Israeli navy in a potential war against Arab enemies. Germany is not alone. Israel and most European countries are closing ranks in terms of their unprecedented military cooperation and trade ties, including natural gas deals.

Continuing to make references to the unachievable two-state solution, while arming, funding and doing more business with Israel is the very definition of hypocrisy. The truth is that Europe should be held as accountable as the US in emboldening and sustaining the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Yet, while Washington is openly pro-Israel, the EU has played a more clever game: selling Palestinians empty words while selling Israel lethal weapons.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is http://www.ramzybaroud.net

Jewish Settler Chief: ‘Palestinians have no right to a state, Bible says Israel for the Jews’

Via The saker

Jewish Settler Chief: ‘Palestinians have no right to a state, Bible says Israel for the Jews’

September 23, 2020

Middle East Observer

Description:
In an extended interview with the Israeli i24News Arabic channel, Jewish settler leader Daniella Weiss says that Palestinians have no right to establish a state, and that the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people as proclaimed by the ‘eternal words of the Bible’.

Weiss also expresses her disappointment with the UAE for demanding that the annexation plan for parts of the West Bank be frozen in exchange for Emirati peace with Israel. Weiss wondered, “I don’t understand why for peace, we, the settlers in Judea and Samaria (i.e. the West Bank), are expected to stop developing ourselves!”

Source: i24NEWS Arabic (YouTube)

Date: Sep 4, 2020(Important Note: Please help us keep producing independent translations for you by contributing as little as $1/month here: https://www.patreon.com/MiddleEastObserver?fan_landing=true)

Transcript:

Host:

Welcome, dear viewers, to a new episode of “Hadith Akhar”.

Her settlement activity in the West Bank began in the early 1970s. She was the secretary general of the most hardline settlement movement. She was imprisoned for rioting in the West Bank. In past years she has also been active in a movement that supports the establishment of illegal settlement outposts.

We talk to Daniella Weiss in “Hadith Akhar”.

TV report:

Daniella Weiss was born in Bnei Brak, just east of Tel Aviv in 1945. During the period 1984-1988, she was the General Secretary of the Gush Emunim settlement movement. In 1987, she was arrested and convicted with respect to rioting in the city of Qalqilya (located in the north of the West Bank). During the period 1996-2007, she was elected head of the local council of the Kedumim settlement, just near Qalqilya. In 1992, she failed to reach the Knesset on a ticket supported by settlers.

Host:

Welcome Ms. Daniella. Let us start from the latest developments in the (Israeli) political arena.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu froze the annexation plan (to annex the West Bank, or parts thereof, to Israel territory)in exchange for establishing ties with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). First, how do you view this step by Netanyahu?

Weiss:

Greetings. I think that this step is a big mistake on the part of our Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop the development of the Jewish community in Judea and Samaria (i.e. the Israeli government term for the West Bank). But, I’m not sure that he specifically said that he will “freeze” (the annexation plan), I think he said that he will ‘stop the process of annexation of declaring Israeli law on the Jewish community (in that region). But if you’re telling me that it’s even worse (than this), then I’ll be disappointed with him, since (Netanyahu) is a great leader and I, as a member of the Jewish community in Judea and Samaria, always expect more from him.

Host:

This is a controversial topic (cancelation of annexation plan); Netanyahu says that he “halted” or “froze” (the annexation plan). In contrast, the Emirati state says that this plan is “canceled and is now off the table” in exchange for ties with the UAE. So, was it peace in exchange for (cancelling) this Israeli (annexation) plan?

Weiss:

I must say that I am very much disappointed also from the Emirati side, that they demand stopping the annexation or the development of the Jewish community (in exchange) for peace. Well, I was planning to show you what is the stage of (sic) – these black spots (on the map) show what is planned for the Palestinian state, and the white color refers to Jewish settlement. This means that the Israeli state is threatened by a Palestinian state which doesn’t express love or support for the Jewish state.

For this reason, I don’t understand why for peace, we, the settlers in Judea and Samaria (i.e. the West Bank), we are expected to stop developing ourselves. It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t sound like a step towards peace, it sounds like leaving us, the settlers in Judea and Samaria, and leaving the state of Israel with a narrow strip (of land), if they were (indeed) to take off part of this land for the sake of a Palestinian state.

This is (most) unreasonable. And I am looking forward to seeing how (Netanyahu) sees this peace agreement, because there doesn’t seem to me much peace in this agreement. It seems to be an intersection of interests, which is good for the Emirates, good for the US, but not good for Israel.

Host:

Yet peace (between Israel) and the Arabs, and several Arab states, considering that many of (these states) had mutual enmity with Israel, isn’t Israel’s sense of security and safety in relation to neighbouring Arab states, isn’t this worth giving up the annexation plan and settlement expansion in the West Bank?

Weiss:

I think I am trying to explain. There is a reason to give away the annexation (plan).  But there is a map which shows that the narrow waist of the Israeli state is an impossible situation for (Israel) to live long with. I think we should be more careful, since some say that the Sinai Peninsula that was given to the Egyptians poses some threat to Israel. But (for me) it is livable. Certain parts from the borders that were given to Jordan were small. Gaza was a catastrophe, but we can live with it. But can we live without our heart? The center of our homeland? This makes no sense. I know there is a high level of celebration but I am not celebrating. I am warning. I warn if the condition was to stop Jewish life in the heart of our homeland for what is defined as a peace, then this is not a peace.

Host:

Yet you had your own stance in relation to the annexation plan. When this plan was proposed and put into implementation, it faced opposition due to ideological reasons that considered (the plan) destructive for the Israeli state and for the settlement project. On the other hand, the world and the majority of the world view it as being destructive for the two-state solution. What threatens this plan? What threatens your (settlement) project in this regard?

Weiss:

You did very good homework. Not many people in Israel know exactly what the stance of some settlers was. It is correct that I was in the settler camp which was very much against the annexation plan which went by the plan which is called the “Trump Plan” or the “Deal of the Century”. Why was I against it? Because it was directly connected with building a Palestinian (home) state, and here it’s not just about giving 30% (of the area) for the settlers and the rest is for the Palestinians It was a formal recognition that gives the possibility for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the heart of the homeland of the Jews. Why would I agree with it? Do you know why some did agree with it? Because we were under so much stress – I mean we the settlers – for so many years, with the freezing (of the settlements) in Obama’s time, in addition to the redlines even during Trump’s term.

So some people were thinking that there will be (positive) change; that we (as settlers in certain outposts) will become considered a part of the Israeli state, and that this will be in our favor. Usually, I see life in its positive fold. This time though, I saw that Trump, Kushner, and their team pledged that 70% of this area be for a Palestinian state that will be established. I believe that this is impossible. There is a Palestinian Authority that has the democratic ability to run life for Palestinians in a democratic way, but not through an independent state.

Host:

You oppose Trump’s Deal of the Century; don’t you feel concerned that you will lose such an American ally who backs Israel? Don’t you fear that Israel and the settlers may lose this supportive friend of Israel?

Weiss:

Mohammad, you are asking me this question on the day of the first ever flight from Israel to Abu Dhabi into the Emirates. It’s not just about this tiny thing, i.e. what is going to happen in Judea and Samaria. It is a global interest. More than Israel needs the US, the US needs Israel. Because it is a global interest. It is the ongoing struggle between Russia and US; it’s about natural resources; about oil; about the world fight against terror; about the Iran threat; about the conflict between Iran (on the one hand), and Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and the US (on the other). It is a global thing.

I was planning to to tell (Netanyahu), who’s going to deliver an address in 20 minutes, that he shouldn’t be afraid of the US. Trump is an ally of Israel. And since the (US) has (shared) interests with Israel and interests in the Middle East, (Netanyahu) knows well that the US can rely on Israel (which serves its interests). It is time for Netanyahu to demand from Trump the growth of the Jewish community in Judea and Samaria, and not the freezing of such construction. We must be brave and not bow down.  (Netanyahu) is a brave man, but the freezing (of settlement construction) in Judea and Samaria is not a brave step from him.

Host:

You are against the establishment of a Palestinian state and the freezing of settlement construction in the West Bank as well. If we want to talk about the borders of the state of Israel as far as you’re concerned, where do the borders of the state of Israel extend to? You have shown your map (to the viewers), kindly show us the Israeli state borders (on your map), as far as you’re concerned.

Weiss:

From the political point of view, the state of Israel, in the current political situation, is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, including the entire Golan Heights, the Galilee and the Golan (regions). Regarding the Jewish religion and its creed, we can (then) speak the language of the religion and creed; we have the ‘promised land’ from the Bible. The Middle East in WWI and WWII was different from now. Some day, according to the Bible, a change may occur in this land. But in this current political situation, (Israeli) borders are between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

Host:

What about the Palestinians for whom you deny the right of statehood? Where should they go? Is the solution, as you use to say, to encourage (the Palestinians) to migrate?

Weiss:

Let’s start from the first part of your question. The Palestinians have the ‘Palestinian Authority’. This authority has the right to have its own democratic elections; it has the right to have its own institutions and departments; however, it is not a state of its own. The only state in Israel is Israel. This is its name, Israel, coming from our forefathers. So there’s no option to build another state within France or the United Kingdom, just as there is no option to establish another state within Israel. Israel is for the Jews. ‘Israel’, meaning Jacob, this is the beginning of our nation.

Today, what will happen? (The Palestinians) have an Authority, they have independent lives, but they have no ability to vote for the Knesset. They can vote for their own institutions, not as (institutions) of a state, but rather institutions belonging to the (Palestinian) Authority.

Host:

However, more than 5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Don’t they have the right to have an independent state in which they can live?

Weiss:

I think that – and we will not debate now whether there are four or five million (Palestinians), four million is still a good number – let’s continue from this point: the fact that the Jewish state was established, and even before this, the fact that the Jewish pioneers came from all over the world and began to revive the holy land of Israel once again, which was a desolate country at the end of the Ottoman Empire.

Then it attracted – and this is a well-known fact – it attracted many Arabs, Bedouins, tribes, from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt, they all came to the land of Israel, and this is how (this land) was developed. It was the result of the Jews who came to this land; the new cities and towns that were established by Jewish pioneers, who revived the desolate land, and made it an attractive place for people all over the Middle East.

That does not mean that we – that the Jews – have to give up and say: ‘well, we have to share the only state that the Jews have in the world, to share it with another country’. They should have taken this into consideration, and we said it at the appropriate time, that we will never divide up our homeland in Israel (with other people). By the way, and here I made a mistake: there was a partition plan in 1947, and the Jewish leadership did agree (to it), to share the western part of the land of Israel. This proposal was rejected by the Arabs, and I (personally) was not in support of this proposal either.

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