في ذكرى انتفاضة الحجارة: حتمية الانفجار واعتباطيّة الحل السلمي

 السبت 10 كانون الأول 2022

مصعب بشير

كان اندلاع الانتفاضة الشعبية الفلسطينية الأولى، المعروفة بانتفاضة الحجارة، أمراً طبيعياً من حيث حتمية حدوثه في سياقٍ أخذت فيه عربدة النظام الاستعماري الصهيوني بُعداً جديداً؛ فقد ثبت فشل المساعي الإسرائيلية لاحتواء سكان المناطق التي احتُلَّت في حرب حزيران/ يونيو 1967، من خلال استخدامهم كأيد عاملة رخيصة في قطاعات البناء والزراعة والصناعة الخفيفة. كان النظام الصهيوني يعي تماماً أن التكلفة المنخفضة لقوة عمل سكان الضفة الغربية وقطاع غزة، ستعني تحسّناً نوعياً لسكان «المناطق»، وهو مصطلح ورثته إسرائيل من حقبة الاستعمار البريطاني الذي قسّم فلسطين إلى مناطق عسكرية خلال ثورة 1936، ولا تزال إسرائيل تستخدمه لوصف الضفة والقطاع نظراً إلى خضوعهما للحكم العسكري -خرجت غزة من التسمية بعد إعادة إسرائيل لانتشار قواتها عام 2005.


فشل استراتيجية المضطهِدين أمام صيرورة المضطهَدين
كانت إسرائيل تعوّل على أن التحسّن الاقتصادي لسكان الضفة والقطاع، إضافة إلى تخريبها المنهجي لقطاع التعليم سيحقق ما أراده ديفيد بن غوريون بأن «يموت الكبار وينسى الصغار». لكن بن غوريون ومن جاء بعده غفلوا عن أن تلك المقولة منطقية في سياق غير سياق الاستعمار والطرد، أي إنها منطقية في حالة طبيعية -لا وجود فيها لعوامل تهديد وجودية كالاستعمار الصهيوني- لا في حالة غير طبيعية كحالة دولة إسرائيل التي قامت وتقوم على التطهير العرقي والاستعلائية العنصرية والتنكيل بالشعب الأصلاني بوتائر مختلفة، وكلها ممارسات يومية ضد من تبقّى من الشعب الفلسطيني في فلسطين.

لقد أدى الارتفاع النوعي لدخل أكثر من مئة ألف أسرة فلسطينية في الضفة والقطاع إلى تحسّن ملموس في ظروف المعيشة وإنعاش لحياة الفلسطينيين هناك -وأغلبهم لاجئون داخل وطنهم- كما أدى احتكاكهم بسوق العمل الإسرائيلي الذي ينهل من أحدث التقنيات الغربية، ويشارك في إنتاج بعضها، إلى نقل معرفة وآلات حديثة امتزجت مع ما حمله الأصلانيون الفلسطينيون من معرفة مما قبل النكبة، فأخذ ذلك اتجاهاً نحو صناعة فلسطينية -على نحو جنيني؛ إذ ظهرت ورش ومعامل في قطاع غزة والضفة الغربية كانت إمّا جزءاً من شبكات قيمة تابعة لشركات رأسمالية كبرى، أو كيانات مستقلة، ففي غزة ومخيم جباليا كانت تصنع ملابس لعلامات كـ Levi’s و Lee، وأيضاً ثلاجات العرض للمحال التجارية، وفي الخليل ازدهرت على نحو أكبر صناعة الأحذية -المعروفة بها تاريخياً- إضافة إلى معامل للصناعات الغذائية في غزة ونابلس ورام الله والخليل. وقد أدى ذلك إلى بروز طبقة عاملة فلسطينية شكلت قرابة 38% من سكان الضفة والقطاع، وكان ثلثها عاملاً في الاقتصاد الإسرائيلي.

كانت إسرائيل تعوّل على أن التحسّن الاقتصادي لسكان الضفة والقطاع، إضافة إلى تخريبها المنهجي لقطاع التعليم سيحقق ما أراده ديفيد بن غوريون


لكن الفلسطينيين استمروا في الحديث عن نكبتهم شفهياً، على الرغم من أن المدارس كانت تعتمد في قطاع غزة منهاجاً مصرياً وفي الضفة الغربية آخر أردنياً، كما ظل اللاجئون يشيدون بيوتاً تراوحت بين الجيد والفخم بعد أن تحسّنت أحوالهم المادية عام 1980من القرن الماضي، لكن داخل المخيمات وحولها، فقد كانوا -ولا يزالون- متشبّثين بالمخيم ويعتبرونه مرحلة ما قبل العودة، وأن أي مكان غيره سيعني اللاعودة. تزامن ذلك كله مع جهود صهيونية مسعورة لمسح أي مظهر من مظاهر الهوية الوطنية الفلسطينية، ومنع الفلسطينيين من الاستقلال اقتصادياً عن إسرائيل -التي أرادت لهم تحسناً يُنسيهم ماضيهم، مع أن يظلوا تابعين لاقتصادها، إذ تناسب تحسّن الأحوال الاقتصادية طردياً مع تعاظم الروح الوطنية. يُضاف إلى ذلك أن إسرائيل شعرت بنشوة بعد أن هزمت منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية عسكرياً إثر اجتياح بيروت عام 1982 فصار تنمّر العسكريين الإسرائيليين على الأهالي جزءاً من الحياة اليومية.

1987 تجلّى «هرم ماسلو»…
لا مخطط من أي فصيل!

كثيراً ما تردّد الفصائل الفلسطينية، الوطنية منها والإسلامية، أنها خطّطت للانتفاضة، أو أن نضالاتها تسبّبت في تأجيج نار الكفاح في صدور أبناء الشعب الفلسطيني. لكن ذلك منافٍ للواقع تماماً مثلما تُفيد روايات من عاصر تلك الفترة، وواقع الحال اقتصادياً وسياسياً. ففي حين أشبع فيه الفلسطينيون جوعهم واكتسوا من بعد برد وسكنوا بيوتاً من بعد خيام، وفي وقت لم تكفّ فيه إسرائيل عن حرمانهم من العودة إلى ديارهم، بل ومنعتهم من أن يكونوا أنفسهم -فلسطينيين أبناء هده الأرض التي سميت عنوة إسرائيل- لا بل تمادت في غيِّها بعد أن كسرت شوكة منظمة التحرير التي رؤوا فيها ممثلهم الشرعي والوحيد، وصارت تنغّص عليهم عيشهم بعد أن صار بإمكانهم كسبه من دون الركون إليها، صارت الثورة والخروج على المحتل أمران تحدثهما به النفس طوال الوقت.

قد يبدو تناقضاً أن إسرائيل -التي من مصلحتها أن يتحسن حال الفلسطينيين اقتصادياً- راحت تغلق المعامل، وتضع أنف مخابراتها في شؤون الناس. لكن ذلك من التناقضات المتأصلة في كيان استعماري كإسرائيل، فهي تخشى استقلال التابع، وتخشى ألا تكون لها سيطرة على صياغة وعيه، فتوافرت الظروف الموجبة للانفجار.

(عبد الرحمن المزين)

تفيد نظرية عالم النفس أبراهام ماسلو بأن الإنسان يأخذ في السعي إلى تلبية حاجاته المعنوية والمادية الآجلة، بعد أن يلبي حاجاته المادية العاجلة. لذلك تفرّغ من بقي من الفلسطينيين داخل وطنهم للانبراء للاحتلال. ورُبّ سائل يسأل: أوليس أحرى بالجياع المشردين أن ينقضُّوا على من نكبهم وشرّدهم؟ والجواب: بلى، غير أن وجود فصائل مسلحة وممثل سياسي هو منظمة التحرير، ودول عربية في الخلفية وحول إسرائيل، جعل الفلسطيني داخل فلسطين ينتظر الفرج ممن هم نظرياً أقوى منه. وعندما اتضح أنه لم يبق في «الميدان إلا حميدان» كما يقول المثل الشعبي الفلسطيني، لم يتأخر حميدان عن القِراع. لذا لا يمكن فهم اندلاع الانتفاضة الشعبية الأولى في حدثٍ عنيفٍ محليٍ هنا أو هناك.

الثورة السائبة تُعلِّم السرقة!

كان أبناء الشعب من عمّال وفلاحين وطلبة ومثقفين، رجالاً ونساءً من مختلف الشرائح وقود الانتفاضة، فقدّموا الشهيد والسجين والجريح، والمطارد، والمنفي. لكن لم يكن لكل هؤلاء حزبهم بالمعنى الاجتماعي الاقتصادي، إذ لم تكن معركة الوعي مربوحةً، كما أن الفصائل اليسارية التي طرحت نفسها ممثلة للكادحين كانت عقيمة تنظيمياً وفكرياً ومصابةً بنيوياً بأمراض اليمين. أمّا اليمين الذي قاده ياسر عرفات، فقد أفسد حالةَ التنظيم الشعبي -التي نسَّقت الإضرابات ونظمت التعليم والتآزر المجتمعي- بالمال الذي كان يُغدق بغير حساب من مكتب المنظمة في عمَّان على كل من هبّ ودبّ، لا سيما على الزُّعران والبلطجيّة الذين أثاروا الفوضى وعملوا على تصفية الكوادر الفتحاويّة القليلة التي عارضت التسوية السلمية من مدريد حتى أوسلو. أمّا الفصائل الإسلامية -وخاصة «حماس»- فكانت تغرّد في وادٍ من التهيؤات المخلوطة بالمراهقة النضالية وفهم بدائي سطحي للدين. لذلك كان من مصلحة منظمة التحرير ورئيس أكبر فصائلها «فتح» وزبانيته أن توقع اتفاق أوسلو الذي تنازل عن ثوابت القضية الفلسطينية مقابل «حلّ سلمي» جلب له بساطاً أحمر وأموالاً غربية. لقد كان حلاً للطبقة الطفيلية التي لا تهمها العودة والخلاص من الصهيونية، على حساب الطبقات الكادحة التي يهمّها ذلك. لذلك فإنه ما لم يكن لجماهير كادحي الشعب الفلسطيني في كل مكان، حزبها هي، فإن كل انتفاضة ستُسرق مثلما سُرقت انتفاضة الحجارة. ذلك هو الدرس المُرّ الذي يجب أن يعى كي نحتفل يوماً ما بالتحرير، لا الذكرى.

من ملف : الانتفاضة الأولى: «أراه طالعاً من حجر»

مقالات ذات صلة

US NON-PROFIT-FUNDED ISRAELI EXTREMISTS POSE IMMEDIATE THREAT TO AL-AQSA MOSQUE AND REGIONAL STABILITY

DECEMBER 7TH, 2022

Source

Robert Inlakesh

As the Religious Zionist Party forms part of Israel’s new government, fears arise of tensions over the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound leading to a new regional escalation. Israeli settler provocations at Jerusalem’s holy sites have a long history of causing civil unrest that runs counter to Washington’s foreign policy goals, which is why U.S.-based non-profits that finance Israeli extremists are all the more outrageous.

With far-right Israeli lawmaker Itamar Ben-Gvir pledging to fight for unfettered access to Al-Aqsa Mosque for extremist settlers, the conditions that could lead to an explosion of violence throughout occupied Palestine – and even regionally – are ripe. In May 2021, Israeli settler incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque, combined with routine attacks on worshipers by Israeli police, caused a war to break out between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Once on the fringes of Israeli society, the extremist Temple Mount and Eretz Yisrael Faithful Movement have now entered the mainstream, with a leader of the second most powerful Israeli political party on their side. The temple mount group openly states on its website its intentions of destroying the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound as we know it today and building the Jewish “Third Temple” in its place – a virtual declaration of war against the Muslim world.

Although the extremist settlers who routinely storm the mosque are not necessarily close to achieving their end goal, they are hoping to see the new Israeli government grant them the full right to storm at will and perform religious rituals in Al-Aqsa. Such provocations could spark a round of tensions inside the Old City of Jerusalem and its surroundings, leading to a situation that the Secretary General of Lebanese Hezbollah, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, has vowed to challenge using a united resistance front, formed of a number of regional actors, including Yemen’s Ansar Allah.

THE ORIGINS OF THE AL-AQSA MOSQUE TENSIONS

Since the early days of the British Mandate period in Palestine, the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and its surroundings have been central to both the Palestinian national struggle and to creating the grounds for greater conflict between Zionists and Palestinians.

The Zionist movement’s attempts to take over the Western (Wailing) Wall – attached to the outer walls of the Al-Aqsa site, have sparked a number of riots and clashes, culminating in the bloody 1929 al-Khalil (Hebron) uprising.

During the Ottoman Rule of Palestine, Chaim Weizmann, then head of the Zionist Organization, saw the Western Wall site as a prize to attain, initially in order to bring ultra-orthodox Jews into the Zionist camp. He attempted to purchase the site from the Islamic religious trust known as the Waqf. In Tom Segev’s book, “One Palestine, Complete,” he cites a letter written by Weizmann to his wife, where he described, “the minarets and the bell-towers and the domes rising to the sky are crying out that Jerusalem is not Jewish,” clearly indicating a need to change the city’s character.

According to Yehoshua Porath’s book, “The Emergence of the Palestinian-Arab National Movement 1918-1929”, during tensions between Zionists and Palestinians in 1920s Jerusalem, the precedent was already set for Muslim fears over any change in the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites. Porath writes that the Palestinians understood Zionist attempts to change the status quo at the Western Wall site as a gradual attempt to take over the Haram al-Sharif (otherwise known as the Dome of the Rocks mosque), located in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

In reaction to Zionist attempts to attain more control in the Old City, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, created a large campaign to both refurbish the site and to signal to Muslims that the Al-Aqsa Mosque was under attack. This campaign ended up increasing the importance of the third-holiest site in the Islamic faith and in the Palestinian national struggle, combining the religious significance of al-Aqsa with the Palestinian fight for national liberation. The fact that Judaization attempts were being made by leaders of the Zionist movement, pre-dating the British Mandate rule itself, remains stored in the Palestinian collective consciousness until this day.

AL-AQSA UNDER THE LAW

The position that is maintained by the United Nations, despite Israel having passed its own legislation to annex Jerusalem in 1980, is that under international law, the territory is considered to be occupied. The international community “rejects the acquisition of territory by war and considers any changes on the ground illegal and invalid”, is the way the issue of Israel’s claims to sovereignty over the city it viewed by the UN. In addition to this, the status quo, as per Israel’s agreement with Jordan, is that the Jordanian Waqf has the right to maintain security inside the Al-Aqsa compound, whilst Israeli forces have the right to manage security on the Holy Site’s exterior.

Despite attempts to change it, Israeli law states that performing acts of religious worship inside the site is forbidden for Israeli Jewish citizens. Jewish Israelis are allowed to enter as tourists, as is the case for non-Muslim international travelers to the site. However, the Israeli police that operate security checks surrounding Al-Aqsa clearly do not abide by this precedent.

Israel has no right, under international law, to any of Jerusalem. One way that Tel Aviv could have been granted legitimacy in Jerusalem was through a potential peace deal with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), with no such deal having yet taken place. Between 1993 and 1995, both Israel and the PLO signed what was known as the Oslo Accords. Oslo gave birth to a semi-autonomous Palestinian governing body – the Palestinian Authority – in some limited areas of the West Bank and Gaza. The series of agreements between the PLO and the Israeli government was supposed to lead to a process by which a Palestinian State could be created.

Israel Palestinians
Palestinian youth are handcuffed after protesting Israelis stroming Al-Aqsa Mosque, April 15, 2022. Ariel Schalit | AP

Although Israeli negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA), currently based out of the city of Ramallah, never resulted in a peace deal, the PA had only ever claimed for their state to include East Jerusalem. Under international law, without a viable Palestinian state – one that has its capital in East Jerusalem, Israel has no legal right to any part of the city.

Despite this, in 2000, then-Israeli opposition leader, Ariel Sharon, stormed the Al-Aqsa compound, causing a mass Palestinian revolt. Sharon’s move followed a march that had just taken place to commemorate the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres of around 3,500 Palestinians and Lebanese civilians – massacres that Sharon played a central role in facilitating.

For Palestinians, it was the act of an Israeli politician storming the Al-Aqsa Mosque site that served as the straw that broke the camel’s back. The uprising across the Occupied Territories known as the Second Intifada began in September 2000 and continued officially until 2005.

ISRAEL’S GROWING ENCROACHMENT ON AL-AQSA

Over the past two years, the Israeli assaults on Palestinian worshipers inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound have been extremely pronounced, especially during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Israeli riot police have repeatedly stormed the site, injuring hundreds of Palestinians and even killing a young man earlier this year. The war between Gaza and Israel in 2021 began as a result of tensions surrounding Al-Aqsa and the threat of an Israeli settler “death to Arabs” march penetrating the compound’s walls.

Leading up to the 2021 conflict, Israeli police had restricted access to the site for prayer during the month of Ramadan and even closed off the minarets at Al-Aqsa to prevent the call to prayer. In 2019, the Israeli Mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Leon, pushed to install quiet speakers at the Mosque site, which indicates that the action performed by the Israeli police was likely not arbitrary and fits into a trend of extinguishing the Islamic presence in the city.

Going further back, in 2010, an Israeli terrorist attempted to detonate explosives in order to blow up the Al-Qibli Mosque inside the Al-Aqsa compound. This attack was followed by continued attempts by settlers to invade the area. 2015 however, was when the provocations began to take off in an unprecedented manner, with the number of Israeli settlers choosing to storm the Al-Aqsa Mosque steadily increasing since that time.

According to Yaraeh – an organization that promotes settler incursions into Al-Aqsa – from August to October 2021, approximately 10,000 Israeli settlers entered the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, representing a 35% increase from previous years. This October, Yaraeh proudly announced that almost 8,000 settlers stormed the site in one month – the highest on record and more than in the entirety of 2012

In 2021, Hagit Ofran, the director of Peace Now’s Settlement Watchdog, told +972 Magazine that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government had been responsible for tensions at the al-Aqsa site, “so much so that it was the reason Netanyahu was no longer in touch with Jordan’s King Abdullah II”. Since the occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, Israel and Jordan have been bound by an agreement that maintains the “status quo” at the site, which involves Tel Aviv respecting the Hashemite King of Jordan’s symbolic custodianship over Al-Aqsa.

With Netanyahu returning to power, the Jordanian element to this story is particularly important. Netanyahu is backed by fanatical Israeli lawmakers who would like to see Palestinian citizens of Israel expelled from the country altogether. Although Jordan’s King Abdullah II is not likely to abandon his nation’s 1994 peace treaty with Tel Aviv, it is clear that during the Trump administration years, the Hashemite ruler had been isolated after taking a stance against the Netanyahu-Trump “Deal of the Century” model to end the Palestine-Israeli conflict. There are even reports that Benjamin Netanyahu, along with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was involved in attempts to hatch a coup plot to overthrow the Jordanian monarch – one that was publicly quashed in April 2021. The Israeli role in the alleged U.S.-Saudi campaign to undermine Abdullah was said to have been part of an attempt to strip the Hashemites of their symbolic custodianship over Al-Aqsa.

Under the Biden administration’s combined efforts with the former Bennett-Lapid government of Israel, Amman had again grown closer to Tel Aviv and even signed a memorandum of understanding for a “water for clean energy” exchange agreement. However, with Netanyahu’s return to power and the current weakening of the Palestinian Authority, if tensions arise from the growing encroachment upon Al-Aqsa, Jordan’s ruler could again be undermined. The Jordanians and Palestinian Authority have already joined hands, sending a message to the U.S. and E.U. to demand that no change be made to the status quo at Al-Aqsa as the new Israeli government comes to power.

In addition to its plans for the expulsion of thousands of Palestinians in neighborhoods like Silwan, Israel is also demolishing Islamic burial sites in the Old City. The Israeli Supreme Court has also been complicit in rejecting appeals to prevent a cable car project in the Old City, which will economically impact local Palestinians, as well as destroy their heritage sites. Recently, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem has condemned the rising settler attacks on holy sites throughout the city, but his statements largely fell on deaf ears.

Given all the context noted above, it is fair to assume that another escalation is only around the corner and that due to the silence of the international community, the Palestinian people will be left to defend their holy sites on their own. When this happens, however, it is likely that much of the Western world, along with Israel, will act as if the Palestinians are being violent and unreasonable, and motivated purely by anti-Semitism.

U.S. FUNDING OF EXTREMIST TEMPLE MOUNT GROUPS

The Temple Mount movement, which explicitly expresses its desire to not only change the status quo at Al-Aqsa but to build the ‘third temple’ by destroying the Islamic Holy site there, is spearheaded by American-born Israelis. There has been significant financial as well as promotional support from U.S. citizens and organizations. Lately, prominent conservative commentators Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson have themselves entered the site in the presence of extremist Temple Mount figures. Among both Christian and Jewish Americans, the issue has been of importance for starkly different religious reasons.

The Temple Institute, the most notable of a number of organizations that advocate changing the status quo at the Al-Aqsa compound and building the Jewish third temple, was revealed by a Haaretz news investigation to have been funded by a leading U.S. donor to Benjamin Netanyahu. The Temple Institute, founded in 1987 by Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, received $96,000 from the U.S.-based One Israel Fund in 2012 and 2013 alone, with a number of other American organizations also contributing donations during that time. The 2015 Haaretz report uncovered that the financing of extremist Temple Mount groups comes from a large pool of tax-exempt charitable organizations that are based in the United States, ranging from New York and California to Texas.

According to the Temple Institute’s last publicly available financial report, for the years 2019 and 2020, the organization received over $2.9 million in funding. Around half came from the Israeli government, with the other half coming from donations. To contribute funds from the United States to the Temple Institute, donors can be directed from a website called America Gives, partnered with Israel Gives, a website from which you can directly aid to the Temple Institute. American Support for Israel, U.K. Gives and Canada Charity Partners are all set up to receive donations from outside of Israel.

American-born ex-Likud Party Knesset member, Yehuda Glick is a prominent figure in the Temple Mount movement and heads the Shalom Jerusalem Foundation. On the foundation’s official website, you can find a donation campaign that hopes to attract people who seek to “see the rebuilding of the Third Temple speedily in our time”. The foundation collects money through a tax-exempt charity based in New Jersey called the Jerusalem Friendship Alliance INC and collected more than $1.8 million in total revenue between 2011 and 2020.

The above-noted means of donating from the United States to the Temple Mount movement are but only a sample of a much larger pool of charitable organizations, through which American organizations and private persons can give money to a cause that runs counter to U.S. policy. Washington supposedly supports maintaining the status quo at Al-Aqsa.

FEARING A REPEAT IBRAHIMI MOSQUE MASSACRE SCENARIO

In 1994, after years of attempts by extremists to change the status quo at the Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron), the settlers were finally successful. On February 25, U.S.-born Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein entered the Ibrahimi Mosque with an automatic weapon, opening fire on Palestinian worshipers. The horrifying terrorist attack resulted in the murder of 29 people and the injury of 125 others, in what Palestinians claimed was a settler plot with indirect support from the Israeli military.

Shortly after the attack, Israel declared the old city of Al-Khalil a closed military zone, later seizing 60% of the Ibrahimi Mosque and turning it into a synagogue closed off to Palestinians. The attack was a resounding success for the Israeli terrorist, who had achieved his goal of making Palestinians pay for falling victim to his actions, and making the life of those living in the Old City miserable and subjected to constant checkpoint stops. Today, Al-Khalil’s Old City is one of the most disturbing areas to visit in all of Palestine, as settlers occupy homes that Palestinians have been expelled from, while simply visiting the Ibrahimi Mosque comes with a humiliating journey through a military checkpoint and a number of stops.

Although violent attempts to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound have not yet returned into the fold, the possibility of extremist attempts to use violence at the site is always a fear in the back of every Palestinian’s head. This fear is not unfounded, nor is it without historical precedent, as the Jewish Underground terrorist group had attempted just this back in the 1970s and 1980s; to not only blow up al-Aqsa Mosque but to detonate bombs on packed Palestinian civilian buses in East Jerusalem. Yehuda Etzion, a former member of the Jewish Underground who attempted to blow up Al-Aqsa in 1984, today still advocates building the third temple. Etzion continued to agitate, heading the Chai Vekayam movement that played a prominent role in promoting the Temple Mount movement in the early 2000s. The Jewish Underground is no longer operating, and many of its members were arrested for their violent attacks and plots. However, interestingly, the funding for this organization came primarily from within the United States.

The extremist settler, Baruch Goldstein, who was responsible for the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, was a protégé of the extremist Israeli political figure known as Meir Kahane, the founder of the infamous Kach movement, whose armed wing was the Jewish Defense League (JDL).  The Kach movement was eventually outlawed in both Israel and the United States, with the JDL being designated a terrorist group for its violent antics. Today, former members of the Kach movement and those sympathetic to its cause, such as Itamar Ben-Gvir, are now about to take cabinet positions in the new Israeli government.

Those who follow the beliefs of Meir Kahane, whose group carried out bombing attacks on U.S. soil, are called Kahanists. A 2019 Investigation conducted by The Nation revealed that a web of non-profit American organizations was financing Kahanist groups affiliated with the Religious Zionism Party, which is poised to become the second most powerful Israeli political party under the new Netanyahu administration. An Intercept report in early November then followed up on The Nation’s findings and revealed that tens of millions of dollars had been donated to Israeli far-right groups affiliated with the Religious Zionism Party. Religious Zionism openly advocates for changing the status quo at Al-Aqsa. Its most prominent figures, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, have both stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque this year.

The Biden administration has not changed Washington’s long-standing position of maintaining the status quo at al-Aqsa. However, its position of upholding “unwavering support” for Tel Aviv directly contradicts this position. The Israeli government, the recipient of $150 Billion in U.S. aid, directly finances the Temple Institute and other far-right organizations. Some of Israel’s most prominent political figures also support the idea of building the Jewish Third Temple and actively call for changing the status quo at Al-Aqsa.

Organizations that are the most prominent in promoting these ideas receive a large sum of their finances from U.S.-based tax-exempt organizations. If the U.S. government does not decide to put its foot down and make its support for Israel conditional, a major flare-up over the status of Al-Aqsa will be on its hands – an escalation that could cost Washington its relationship with Jordan and even leaderships in the wider Muslim world. The Al-Aqsa Mosque’s status is an issue that is close to the hearts of over 2 billion Muslims worldwide and attempts to destroy it will be tantamount to a declaration of Holy War, funded by tax-exempt U.S. organizations.

الأميركيون والضفة المحتلة (1 / 4): الاحتلال في وجه آخر


 2022 الاربعاء 23 تشرين ثاني

عبد الرحمن نصار

سلسلة من الجنرالات الأميركيين، من فئة النجوم الثلاث، استطاعوا أن يصلوا إلى المسؤولين المدنيين والعسكريين في واشنطن ورام الله و”تل أبيب”، فصار لهم دور كبير في ضبط العلاقة بين السلطة و”إسرائيل”، وفهم الواقع الميداني.

الأميركيون والضفة المحتلة (1 / 4): الاحتلال في وجه آخر

سمعنا كلنا تقريباً عن كيث دايتون، لكنه ليس إلّا واحداً من أصل ثمانية حملوا لقب “المنسق الأمني ​​الأميركي لإسرائيل والسلطة الفلسطينية” منذ عام 2005. القصة أعمق كثيراً مما في ظاهر التسمية، إذ إن ثمة احتلالاً، في وجه آخر، في فلسطين، وخصوصاً الضفة والقدس المحتلتين. وجه يحثّنا دوماً على البحث عن القُطَب المخفية. فما هي اليد الأميركية في الضفة، ولماذا هناك خبراء عسكريون من “الناتو” رفقةَ “المنسق”، وماذا يفعلون؟

ورد خبرٌ، في الأول من حزيران/يونيو الماضي، يفيد بأن وزارة الدفاع الأميركية (البنتاغون) تعتزم تخفيض رتبة المنسق الأمني ​​الأميركي لـ”إسرائيل” والسلطة الفلسطينية ، والمقيم بمدينة القدس المحتلة، من رتبة لواء بثلاث نجوم إلى عقيد ، وفق ما نقل موقع الأميركي، عن أربعة مسؤولين أميركيين حاليين وسابقين وآخرين إسرائيليين. تخفيض رتبة هذا المنسق (يتباين عن “المنسق” الإسرائيلي الموكّل من جهة الإدارة المدنية في جيش الاحتلال) واجه اعتراضاً من الخارجية الأميركية وسفيرها في “تل أبيب”، توم نيدز، فسعت الوزارة لمواجهة خطة البنتاغون وطلبت تدخل وكالة الاستخبارات المركزية .

بعد ذلك، انطلق اللوبي اليهودي في مهمته المعتادة: الضغط ثم الضغط، فشرع “معهد واشنطن لسياسة الشرق الأدنى” ومراكز بحثية أخرى في الحديث عن مخاطر هذه الخطوة، والدعوة إلى التراجع عنها. وجاء في موقع صحيفة “تايمز أوف إسرائيل” الإلكترونية (2/8/2022)، تقرير يقول إن هذه الخطوة تواجه اعتراضات مشتركة من الحزبين الجمهوري والديموقراطي، في الكونغرس والسلطة التنفيذية ومجتمع السياسة، بحيث يخشون جميعاً أن تؤدي إلى “تهديد استقرار الضفة وأمن إسرائيل”.

الغريب في الأمر نقطتان: الأولى تصدير مثل هذا النقاش إلى العلن، للمرة الأولى، في هذا المستوى. والثانية مستوى التحذير من نتائج هذه الخطوة، وخصوصاً أن المنسق، في رتبته أياً تكن، وفريق الموظفين، الذي هُدّد أيضاً بتقليصه بعد أن واجه تقليصات سابقة، يُظهر هذين الطرفين كأنهما من يُمسك زمام الأمور، ويحفظ أمن “إسرائيل”، لا جيشها الذي يناهز 170 ألف جندي، ووراءهم 465 ألفاً من الاحتياط، وقرابة ثلاثة ملايين “لائقين بالتجنيد”!

أمّا الذريعة الأميركية “الظاهرية”، فهي خطة رئيس هيئة الأركان المشتركة الأميركية، الجنرال مارك ميلي، والقاضية بتقليل عدد الجنرالات والأدميرالات، تنفيذاً لقانون “ميزانية تفويض الدفاع الوطني الأميركي لعام 2017” ، الذي أُقرَّ في عهد الرئيس السابق دونالد ترامب، بعد أن ارتأت إدارته أن تكون الحصة الكبيرة من هؤلاء من أفراد الخدمة العاملين في القواعد الخارجية والمناصب المتعددة في أنحاء العالم.

في ذلك الشهر، جرى التلميح، بالتزامن، إلى تخفيض رتبة الملحقين العسكريين الأميركيين في السعودية والإمارات، لكن شمول مثل هذه المناطق الحساسة، وخصوصاً فلسطين المحتلة، يشي بأن القرار الأميركي، ثم تصديره في الإعلام، أمر يتخطى الموازنات. فوراء ذلك أسباب وجيهة بدأت تظهر بوضوح في الأشهر الأخيرة، وملخّصها أن الإسرائيلي لا يستمع إلى التقييمات الأميركية، السياسية والعسكرية والأمنية، بشأن الضفة على وجه التحديد، وهو ما تكرر، وصولاً إلى التحذير الأميركي من اختيار شخصية يمينية متطرفة لوزارة الأمن، لكن هذا لا ينفي حضور عامل التركيز الأميركي على مواجهة الصعود الصيني والمشكلة الروسية في خلفيات هذا القرار.

ثمة جملة من التوصيات الأميركية يتقدّمها تخفيف سلوك “طنجرة الضغط”، الذي تحول من أمر عملياتي ميداني إلى واقع عامّ تعيشه الضفة بصورة عامة، وشماليّها على وجه الخصوص. والثانية مرتبطة بالأولى، وهي بشأن قواعد إطلاق جيش الاحتلال الإسرائيلي النار على الفلسطينيين. والثالثة – ليست الأخيرة – أن جزءاً كبيراً من الحل يقوم على تقوية السلطة الفلسطينية، على قاعدة “دع الفلسطينيين يحلّوا مشكلاتهم بأنفسهم”، وهي أصلاً المهمة الأساسية للمنسق الأميركي، الذي يشرف على متابعة قطاع الأمن، الأضخم عديداً وتمويلاً، في تركيبة السلطة.

أيضاً، شكّل اغتيال الصحافية شيرين أبو عاقلة إحراجاً للموقف الأميركي، بينما كان المنسق هو الوسيط الذي تسلّم الرصاصة التي قتلتها، بالنيابة عن “إسرائيل”. صحيح أن أبو عاقلة تحمل الجنسية الأميركية، وهذا ما قد يبرر سبب الدخول الأميركي على الخط، لكن كانت هذه القضية من المرات القليلة التي يبرز فيها مكتب التنسيق الأميركي – الدولي، فضلاً عن أن الأمر لن يقف عند حدود التحقيق فقط.

وكانت الخارجية الأميركية قالت، في تموز/يوليو، إن منسق الأمن الأميركي خلص إلى أن “إطلاق النار من مواقع الجيش الإسرائيلي كان مسؤولاً، على الأرجح، عن مقتلها”، لكن “لا يوجد سبب للاعتقاد أن هذا كان متعمَّداً”، قبل أن تنشر الصحافة الأميركية ما ينفي ذلك، وتتّجه العائلة إلى تقديم طلب إجراء تحقيق مستقل إلى مكتب التحقيقات الفيدرالي في مقتل مواطنة أميركية، ويحظى بتأييد أكثر من 20 من أعضاء مجلس الشيوخ الديمقراطيين.

مكان لا يملأه إلّا ثلاث نجوم!

يقول باحثون أميركيون وإسرائيليون إن سلسلة من الجنرالات الأميركيين، من فئة النجوم الثلاث، استطاعوا أن يصلوا بحكم أقدميتهم إلى المسؤولين المدنيين والعسكريين في واشنطن ورام الله و”تل أبيب”، فصار لهم دور كبير في ضبط العلاقة بين السلطة و”إسرائيل” من جهة، وفي فهم الواقع، ميدانياً ومجتمعياً، من جهة أخرى، وهذا ما قاد إلى نقطة الاعتراض الثانية على ذلك القرار: التوقيت “غير ملائم” البتة.

يتقابل ما سبق مع مشهد إقليمي يقول إن الجبهة الوحيدة المشتعلة في المنطقة حالياً هي الضفة، فاليمن والعراق ولبنان وسوريا باتت “جبهات خاملة”، أو “قليلة النشاط” (بغض النظر عما يجري الآن داخل إيران)، بينما تراوح غزة بين حالة “الكمون الموقّت” و”النشاط الفجائي”، وهو ما يعطي الضفة (بما يشمل القدس المحتلة) أولوية لدى أصحاب القرار كافةً. لذلك، ثمّة تعبير دائم عن القلق بشأنها، وخصوصاً أن حراكها يأتي بعد مرحلة خمول طويل، وضمن آليات مزدوجة في العمل تصعب السيطرة عليها: تنظيمية وشعبية (فردية).

لهذا، كان تحذير المراكز البحثية من أن أي خطوة شبيهة ستخاطر بـ”تدمير إنجازات كثيرة حققتها البعثة الأميركية (الدولية) في الأعوام الـ18 الماضية… فلا يجب التقليل من الرمزية السلبية لتقليل المهمة”. أصلاً، يرى الإسرائيلي أن السلطة “مقصّرة” في أداء مهمتها الأساسية: “حفظ الأمن”، بينما يسدّ مكتب المنسق هذه الفجوة. هنا تحديداً يذكر تقرير “تايمز أوف إسرائيل” (2/8/2022) مثالاً من عام 2017، حينما أعلنت رام الله تعليق التنسيق الأمني ​​رسمياً، فكان USSC هو “القناة الوحيدة التي يمكن للجانبين التنسيق عبرها ومنع الوضع السيئ من الخروج عن نطاق السيطرة”. في توصيف آخر: باب خلفي للتنسيق.

يذهب الموقع نفسه إلى أبعدَ، عبر القول: “بصراحة، لن يتمتع عقيد أميركي (الرتبة الأدنى) بالمستوى المطلوب من الاحترام، ولن يكون قادراً على التعامل بفعّالية مع قائد عسكري إسرائيلي، مثل رئيس أركان الجيش، ناهيكم بالوزراء المعنيين، أو فلسطيني كالرئيس ورئيس الوزراء ووزير الداخلية وقادة الأمن، إذ لن يكون لدى الضابط الأدنى رتبة الجاذبية على العمل بفعالية في هذا المستوى، أو إظهار دعم واشنطن”، مع أن هناك وجهة نظر تقول إن الفلسطيني الرسميّ سوف يذهب إلى التنسيق، أيّاً يكن مستوى المنسق، ما دام أميركياً، كما أثبتت التجارب المتتابعة خلال الأعوام الماضية.

الحال نفسها تقريباً في واشنطن، حيث سيكون الجنرال ذو النجوم الثلاث، أكثر فعالية في تأمين الدعم، سياسياً ومالياً، وجذب انتباه المسؤولين، ولاسيما وزير الخارجية ومستشار الأمن القومي. وليس أخيراً، فإن هذا الرجل هو المسؤول الأعلى مرتبة بين ممثلي الدول التسع، التي تشكل بعثة USSC: الولايات المتحدة وبريطانيا وكندا وهولندا وإيطاليا واليونان وتركيا وبولندا وبلغاريا. فالمسؤولون القادمون من كندا وبريطانيا هم برتبة عميد (نجمة واحدة)، والبقية أدنى من ذلك، الأمر الذي يعني أن هذه الخطوة ستُقرأ على أن الأميركيين غسلوا أيديهم من القضية الفلسطينية، فتخفض الدول الأخرى رتب ضباطها، أو تذهب إلى سيناريو مغاير تماماً، فضلاً عن نتائجها على “إسرائيل” والسلطة والدول المطبّعة، القديمة والجديدة.

لم تتأخّر نتيجة الحملة، فمن جرّاء هذا الضغط، أعلن البنتاغون، منتصف آب/أغسطس الماضي، أنه سيُبقي على رتبة المنسق الأميركي في المناطق الفلسطينية والإسرائيلية عقب “نقاش مستفيض” بين المشرعين الديمقراطيين والجمهوريين من مجلسي النواب والشيوخ، ترافق مع رسالة إلى وزير الدفاع الأميركي، لويد أوستن، وقع عليها 32 عضواً في “الشيوخ” من الحزبين في 6/2022. كذلك، فعلت وزارتا الخارجية والأمن الإسرائيليتان ومنظمة اللوبي اليهودي، “آيباك”، و”منتدى السياسة الإسرائيلية”، ومنظمة J Street الأميركية – اليهودية، التي تقول إنها مع “إسرائيل”، لكنها تؤيد إنهاء الاحتلال وقيام دولة فلسطينية.

بين هؤلاء، برز حديث مهم لعضو لجنة القوات المسلحة في مجلس الشيوخ، السيناتور ليندسي غراهام، قال فيه: “نعتقد بقوة أن هذا وقت محفوف بالمخاطر لإسرائيل… عندما يتعلق الأمر بتنسيق الأمن بين السلطة وإسرائيل، فنحن على استعداد لتقديم إعفاءات أو تعديلات على قانون مستقبلاً”، وخصوصاً أن هذا المكتب يُنسَب إليه أنه السبب الأساسي في “الانخفاض الحاد في العنف في الضفة منذ الانتفاضة الثانية (في الفترة) 2000-2005″، وفق غراهام. لكنّ ثمة توصيفاً آخر لما جرى، ألا وهو: “إنهاء الانتفاضة”، الأمر الذي يفتح الباب على الحديث بأريحية عن “احتلال” حقيقي يقرر، أو يوجه، مسار الأحداث، من السياسات العامة، وصولاً إلى فتح حواجز، أو (التوصية بـ) إقفالها.

هكذا، رُبط بين التراجع الأميركي وإجراءات الرئيس جو بايدن الأخرى، التي سبقت زيارته فلسطين المحتلة، في تموز/يوليو الماضي وأيضاً التي تخللتها، وأولها اختيار مسؤول أميركي من أصل فلسطيني ليكون نائب مساعد وزير الخارجية للشؤون الفلسطينية – الإسرائيلية، ومبعوثاً للحوار بصورة أساسية مع السلطة (هادي عمرو)، ثم إعادة المساعدات الأمنية والإنسانية (تمويل “الأونروا”)، وليس أخيراً ضغطه على الإسرائيليين من أجل فتح معبر “الكرامة”، 24 ساعة على مدار الأسبوع، والسماح بإدخال شبكات الجيل الرابع ثم الخامس (4G, 5G)، بينما بقيت إعادة الفتح لمكتب “منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية” في واشنطن مسألة معلّقة. 

في المحصّلة، ومهما تجاهل الإعلام جزءاً كبيراً من التفاصيل والكواليس، فإن القضية الأساسية، أي مكتب المنسق الأميركي في شراكة “الناتو”، وأهميته ودوره، باتت ملفاً مفتوحاً للبحث والاستقصاء، بعد أن طفا على السطح بهذه الطريقة للمرة الأولى.

تأسيس الإدارة الأمنية

مع أن إنشاء السلطة الفلسطينية ربما تكون خطوة دفع إليها الأميركيون أكثر من الإسرائيليين، في مرحلة ما، أو أكثر من مرحلة، فإن الإطار الرسمي للتنسيق الأمني، ودخول واشنطن على هذا الخط بقوة، جاءا في الأيام الأخيرة للانتفاضة الثانية. لماذا في ذلك الوقت تحديداً؟ ظهر لدى الأميركيين أن هناك مشكلة في المعالجة الإسرائيلية للوضع الفلسطيني، ولاسيما بعد أن شنّ رئيس الوزراء الإسرائيلي آنذاك، أرئيل شارون، عملية عسكرية (“السور الواقي”، 2002) كانت أشبه بحرب، لكنها لم تكن متكافئة إطلاقاً.

هددت تلك العملية، التي كان من نتائجها تدمير مقارّ السلطة، وتفكيك عدد من أجهزة الأمن، وأيضاً قتل الرئيس الراحل ياسر عرفات، بتقويض مشروع السلطة من جذوره (قضايا الحل النهائي)، وهو ما كان يعني أن الضفة ستكون مقبلة، بعد حمّام الدم، على فوضى وعودة إلى عهد الحكم العسكري. صحيح أن الأميركيين أنزلوا محمود عباس بـ”الباراشوت” على مقر المقاطعة، لكن هذا لم يكن كافياً. من هنا، وتحديداً عام 2005، بدأت قصة مكتب منسق الأمن الأميركي لـ”إسرائيل” والأراضي الفلسطينية (USSC)، التابع لمكتب الشؤون الدولية لمكافحة المخدرات وإنفاذ القانون .

أولى الخطوات كانت تدريب بعض القوات التابعة للسلطة، بما في ذلك “الأمن الوطني” (كانت البداية بـ2200 عنصر) و”حرس الرئاسة” (400 عنصر)، لكن الأولوية هي تجهيز عشر كتائب من “الوطني” (5000 جندي) بحلول نهاية عام 2010: تسع كتائب لمحافظات الضفة كافةً، وواحدة للاحتياط، إذ لا توجد كتيبة لمحافظة القدس. لكن العدد تعزز في الإجمال بين عامَي 2008 و2010 في الأجهزة كافةً، بنحو 23 ألفاً على القوات التي كانت آنذاك. بالتوازي، كانت المساعدة الأمنية الأميركية للسلطة تتوسع وتلقى داعمين داخل الأوساط المؤثرة في واشنطن، والحديث هنا عن مرحلة مغايرة عن التسعينيات ومطلع الألفية الثانية. صحيح أن المساعدة الأميركية الأمنية انطلقت منذ اختتام اتفاق أوسلو (1993-1994)، لكنها لم تكن في هذا الحجم وهذا الشكل.

في تلك المرحلة، كانت المساعدة وفق شكلين: الأول علني ويأتي إلى “منظمة التحرير”، ليصل لاحقاً إلى جهاز أمني مدني، هو الشرطة والمقرر عام 1994 أن ينتشر “أولاً” في غزة وأريحا، لكن وقع هناك خلاف أوروبي – أميركي على التمويل ووجهاته. بعد مؤتمر المانحين للشرطة في أوسلو نهاية عام 1993، ساهمت كل من مصر والأردن، المنخرطَين في التسوية مع “إسرائيل”، في تدريب بضعة آلاف من الشرطة الفلسطينية في أراضيهما، بينما أعلنت الولايات المتحدة منح خمسة ملايين دولار للشرطة، مشجّعةً الدول الأخرى على التبرع.

مع ذلك، لم يكن قطاع الأمن في تلك الأعوام في رأس الأولويات بقدر عملية التفاوض، على رغم أن الولايات المتحدة كانت تُجري بعض التدريبات وترسل المعدات، أو تطلب إلى الأردن مثلاً أن يعطي بعض ما صار خارج الخدمة للسلطة. هنا يأتي الحديث عن الوجه الثاني للمساعدة: لقد بقي التواصل بين CIA وجهازي الاستخبارات و”الأمن الوقائي” الفلسطينيين قائماً بقوة، وهو على امتداد لخط تواصل قديم منذ السبعينيات مع “منظمة التحرير” وعرفات تحديداً. 

فبعيداً عن الشرطة و”الأمن الوطني”، كانت هناك مساعدات بـ”أمر رئاسي” وضمن برامج سرية لتوفير عشرات الملايين من الدولارات لـ”زيادة الكفاءة المهنية لأجهزة الأمن الفلسطينية والمساعدة في مكافحة الإرهاب”، وشملت “تدريب الفلسطينيين على تقنيات التحقيق وتنظيم ملفاتهم (ابتُعثت دورات إلى الولايات المتحدة، وجرى هناك تجنيد عدد كبير من العملاء التقطهم الإسرائيليون لاحقاً)، ودعمهم باتصالات لاسلكية وأجهزة أشعة سينية وأجهزة كشف القنابل وأجهزة كمبيوتر ومركبات ومعدات أخرى”.

مع انطلاق الانتفاضة الثانية (عام 2000) وتطوراتها الدراماتيكية، ظهر أن “إسرائيل” دمّرت معظم البنية التحتية الأمنية للسلطة، بما في ذلك مباني الوزارات والأمن، علماً بأن المساعدة الأميركية السرية استمرت طوال الانتفاضة على رغم حجب المساعدات الأمنية الدولية العامة عن السلطة، بسبب اتهامها بمشاركة عناصرها في صد الاجتياحات أو تنفيذ عمليات. وقبيل نهاية الانتفاضة، وتحديداً في 24/3/2004، دعت النرويج إلى اجتماع طارئ للجهات المانحة للشرطة الفلسطينية، أي قبل يومين فقط من أجل مناقشة الانتشار الوشيك للشرطة في الخليل وغزة وأريحا، استناداً إلى تفاهمات بين السلطة و”إسرائيل”. ضم المؤتمر 73 مشاركاً من 21 دولة، بالإضافة إلى الأمم المتحدة والاتحاد الأوروبي والبنك الدولي، مع وجود أميركي رفيع المستوى.

بناء على ذلك، وفي نتيجة لمشروع “خريطة الطريق” الأميركي في عهد جورج دبليو بوش، كُلّفت وزيرة الخارجية آنذاك، كوندوليزا رايس، الإشرافَ على إنشاء فريق المنسق الأمني، ​بهدف مساعدة رئيس السلطة الجديد، محمود عباس، على إصلاح قطاع الأمن. سريعاً في 3/2005، هبط أول مبعوث لهذه المهمة، هو اللفتنانت جنرال في الجيش، كيب وارد (*) في تل أبيب، ليكون القناة الوحيدة للمساعدة الأمنية الدولية للسلطة. 

بمساعدة خبراء دوليين، تم تشكيل فريق التخطيط الأمني ​​الانتقالي الفلسطيني الدولي (TSPT) في 4/2005 بإشراف مشترك بين وارد ووزير الداخلية الفلسطيني آنذاك، اللواء ناصر يوسف، بحضور اللواء جمال أبو زايد، الذي كان مساعداً لوزير الداخلية. كان دور الأساسي هو التركيز على خطة فك الارتباط الإسرائيلية الأحادية الجانب من غزة، والعمل على تقييم قدرة السلطة على تولي الأمن في غزة والتنسيق مع “إسرائيل”.

أكثر ما كان محرجاً في الاجتماعات تسريب أحد تقارير التقييم في 7/2005، وفيه انتقادات للوزير يوسف، وحديث عن “الفساد وعدم الإصلاح في قطاع الأمن الفلسطيني”، ليسبب ذلك إحراجاً للسلطة، ويُنهي معه الجنرال الأميركي مهمته الأولى.

اللحظة الحاسمة

في انتظار العلاقة الأمنية الفلسطينية – الأميركية لحظةٌ حاسمة جعلت واشنطن تضع السلطة وبضع شخصيات، منها رئيس “الوقائي” في غزة آنذاك، محمد دحلان، في خانة “الفشلة”. فبعد انتهاء/إنهاء الانتفاضة الثانية، وإجراء الانتخابات البلدية والتشريعية وفوز “حماس” بالأغلبية، كان أفق المشكلات الأمنية يتراءى من بعيد. في هذا الوقت، صار اللفتنانت جنرال كيث دايتون هو المنسق الذي استمر عمله أطول من غيره من المنسقين بين عامي 2005 و2010، إذ عمل البقية عامين كأقصى حدّ، لينال بذلك الشهرة الكبرى.

في أعوام الخلاف بين “فتح” و”حماس”، وقبيل خسارة الأولى الحكم في قطاع غزة، عملت واشنطن على تحويل أموال المساعدة مباشرة إلى عباس والأجهزة الأمنية، لا عبر وزارة المالية. وكان نصيب الأسد لحرس الرئيس (قوات الـ17). وفق دايتون، كانت خطوة ضرورية على رغم خطورتها على بنية السلطة من أجل ضمان ألّا تذهب الأموال إلى عناصر أمن متأثرين بحماس. ووفق فلسفته، كان هذا المشروع مقابلاً “لمواصلة حماس تشكيل قواتها الأمنية بدعم كبير من إيران وسوريا”! لكن، بمجرد إعلان الحركة سيطرتها على غزة، ثم إعلان عباس حالة الطوارئ، فُتحت “أبواب الجنة” على أجهزة الأمن، وصار دايتون رجل المرحلة.

شنت السلطة حملتها الشرسة على كوادر “حماس” في الضفة، وتقرر إنشاء برنامج كبير بقيادة دايتون، صار هو الأساس في المساعدة الأمنية الأميركية بين عامي 2007 و2010. والأهداف الظاهرية، التي أعلنها البرنامج، وفق صفحته الرسمية، هي: “المساعدة على إنهاء العنف عبر أجهزة أمنية فلسطينية فعّالة، وتسهيل التنسيق والتعاون في الشؤون الأمنية المشتركة، وتطوير قوة أمنية قادرة وفعالة ومستدامة، والتوسط في إعادة انتشار القوات الفلسطينية في المناطق التي أخلتها قوات الدفاع الإسرائيلية، بما في ذلك مناطق ب”. لكنّ درّة الجوهرة في المشروع، وفق دايتون، كان تغيير العقيدة الأمنية بالتوازي مع تدريب القيادة العليا: “نُحضر ستة وثلاثين رجلاً من جميع الأجهزة الأمنية، يتعلمون معاً كيفية التفكير في مشاكل اليوم، وكيفية العمل المشترك مع احترام المعايير الدولية”.

باختصار، كان المطلوب إلى قوات “الأمن الوطني”، تحديداً، أن تكون “قوة خفيفة التسليح ومجهَّزة على غرار الشرطة لتدعمها في أوقات الحاجة الماسّة”، على أن تعمل في تشكيلات صغيرة، ووفق أسلوب عسكري، وتتحمّل مسؤولية مماثلة لفرق الأسلحة والتكتيكات الخاصة في قوات الشرطة الأميركية. في ذلك الزمن، خرج مصطلح دايتون الشهير: “الفلسطيني الجديد”، حين قال عام 2009: “أقول هذا بتواضع: ما صنعناه هو رجال جدد… عند عودة هؤلاء الرجال الفلسطينيين الجدد، أظهروا الحافز والانضباط والاحتراف، وقد أحدثوا فارقاً كبيراً”. 

مع أن مكتب التنسيق يقرّ بأن السلطة تمتلك الآن “مجموعة مؤسسات أمنية فعالة ومهنية، على نحو متزايد، وقادرة على حماية الفلسطينيين في الضفة وخدمتهم”، لا يزال USSC “يركز على تنسيق الإصلاح المؤسسي، وتسهيل التعاون الأمني​، ووضع الشروط الأمنية لاتفاقية السلام، وتسهيل التنسيق والتواصل بين الوحدات الأمنية الإسرائيلية والفلسطينية”، في مبرّرات لاستمرار عمله بعد أكثر من عقد من التدريب والتطوير. كذلك، يقول المكتب إن الاتصال الروتيني بكلا الجانبين “يضمن آلية تنسيق أمني دائمة لتسهيل التعاون الوثيق”، كما “توفّر الشبكة الحالية، من المتخصّصين الأمنيين في المنطقة، خيارات لتهدئة التوترات في أوقات الأزمات وإيجاد بدائل عن الصراع والعنف”، عبر طاقم متعدد الجنسيات من خبراء أمنيين عسكريين ومدنيين متخصصين بالعمليات والخطط واللوجستيات وسيادة القانون، يقدمون تقاريرهم إلى وزير الخارجية عبر مكتب الشرق الأدنى وآسيا، وإلى رئيس هيئة الأركان المشتركة.

هذا الفريق عدده نحو 75 (بدأ المكتب بـ45 موظفاً، ويقال إنه تقلّص أخيراً إلى 60)، بينهم 16 من العسكريين الأميركيين يعملون في مكتب أساسي في القدس المحتلة، و20 عسكرياً كندياً و15 بريطانياً في مكتب ثانٍ في رام الله. كما لدى موظفون في السفارة الأميركية في “تل أبيب”، إلى جانب 28 موظفاً مدنياً من شركة أميركية خاصة . في تلك الأعوام (2007-2010)، خصصت الولايات المتحدة نحو 392 مليون دولار للتدريب والتجهيز وبناء البنية التحتية ذات الصلة، على هذا النحو: في الإجمال أكثر من 160 مليوناً للتدريب، ونحو 89 مليوناً لتوفير معدات غير قاتلة، ونحو 99 لتجديد منشآت للسلطة أو بنائها، و22 أخرى لوزارة الداخلية، والتفاصيل يوضحها هذا الجدول:

الإنفاق الأميركي على الأمن الفلسطيني (2007 – 2011)

المعلومات السابقة وردت في تقرير صدر عن “مكتب محاسبة الحكومة” في 12/5/2010، بعنوان “السلطة الفلسطينية: المساعدة الأميركية هي تدريب قوات الأمن وتجهيزها، لكن البرنامج يحتاج إلى قياس التقدم ويواجه قيوداً لوجستية”، وهو واحد من تقارير رقابية أميركية متعددة، بشأن صرف أموال دافعي الضرائب ونتيجتها، خلصت أغلبيتها بعد أعوام إلى نتيجة لافتة تقول: “في حين أن هذه المبادرات سليمة من الناحية الفنية، فإنها أخفقت في تمكين وزارة الداخلية حقاً، فلقد حافظ قادة الأمن (الفلسطينيون) على علاقاتهم المباشرة برئيس الوزراء والرئيس، متجاوزين الوزارة”.

مفترق طريق

يظهر من السلوك الأميركي التركيز، في المراحل كلها، على التدريب وشراء المعدات، وفي المرحلة الأولى على الإنشاءات الأمنية، قبل أن تتوقف الأخيرة لسبب ستوضحه الحلقة الثانية من هذه السلسلة، بينما بقيت الأرقام الصغيرة لسائر البنود. كما كان ملاحَظاً أن عامي 2008 و2009 شهدا موازنتين، الأولى أساسية والثانية تكميلية. ثم في عام 2011 طُلب مبلغ كبير (150 مليون دولار)، لتغيب من بعد ذلك البيانات الرسمية عن الأعوام اللاحقة.

يمكن تفسير هذا الغياب في قراءتين: الأولى أن المساعدات توقفت، لأن مرحلة البناء تمّت، وما يجري بعد ذلك هو إكمال للمسار، ولا يحتاج إلى هذا المقدار من المال، وخصوصاً أن “تل أبيب” اعترضت على أجزاء كثيرة من المشروع، خوفاً من صناعة “أعداء المستقبل”. والثانية تحويل المشروع إلى “سري للغاية” والتركيز أكثر على التعاون مع الأجهزة ذات الفعالية في الداخل والمنطقة، كالاستخبارات و”الوقائي” والاستخبارات العسكرية.

لكن المؤكد أن عام 2018 كان الأسوأ في هذا البرنامج، إذ انخفضت العلاقات وأوقف ترامب برامج التدريب كلياً من دون أن يمنع التمويل الأمني الخاص، وذلك قبل أن يأتي بايدن ويحلحل بعض القضايا. كما يُلاحَظ أن التراجع في البرنامج وعمل مكتب المنسق بدأت ملامحه منذ غاب منظّره، دايتون، وجاء مَن بعده (*) بصفتهم إداريين متخصصين، في مدة محدودة لولاية كل منهم (عامين تقريباً)، على الرغم من أن تتبُّع سِيَرهم الذاتية يُظهر اهتمام الأميركيين بهذا المنصب تحديداً، وتعيين أصحاب الخبرة والأقدمية فيه.

لكن هذه الأموال تحتاج إلى إحاطات دورية وتبريرات تقدمها تقارير إلى الكونغرس، كان آخرها للسنة المالية 2023، وجاء فيه أن “طلب المساعدة الأمنية سيدعم السلطة من أجل بناء مؤسسات أمنية وعدالة جنائية مهنية وفعالة، تحافظ على الاستقرار في الضفة وتدعم القانون، وتساهم مباشرة في الأمن الإقليمي”، وفق تقرير لوزارة الخارجية مقدَّم إلى الكونغرس. وهذا جزء من توضيح أساسي يقدَّم سنوياً، ويشمل معايير المساعدة للسلطة الفلسطينية، ومنها المعايير الموضوعة للمساعدة الأمنية للضفة وغزة، ومدى امتثال الفلسطينيين لهذه المعايير، والخطوات التي تتخذها السلطة لوضع حد للتعذيب أو غيره من ضروب المعاملة المرفوضة للمحتجَزين. 

أيضاً، يتعين على الخارجية أن تقدم تقريراً مرتين سنوياً إلى لجان الاعتمادات، بشأن “المساعدة التي تقدمها الولايات المتحدة من أجل تدريب قوات الأمن الفلسطينية، بما في ذلك وصف مفصَّل للتدريب (وما بعد التدريب) والمناهج الدراسية والمعدات المقدمة والمساعدات”، وحتى المساعدات من مانحين آخرين، مع “وصف للتعديلات، إن وجدت، على الاستراتيجية الأمنية للسلطة”.

مع ذلك، يقول مكتب التنسيق، وفق تقرير صدر عن خدمة أبحاث الكونغرس، إنه بعد أكثر من أربعة أعوام لأفراد “الأمن الوطني” ووحدات حرس الرئاسة (2008-2012)، تحول المكتب إلى “دور استشاري استراتيجي أقل كثافة”، إلى جانب الجهود المستمرة في تمويل الأجهزة الأمنية ومرافق العدالة الجنائية، وتزويدها بالمعدات غير الفتاكة (بما في ذلك المركبات ومعدات الاتصالات)، والتدريب على قضايا تشمل مكافحة الإرهاب، والشرطة المجتمعية، والسيطرة على الحشود، والاستجابة لحالات الطوارئ، والقيادة، وحقوق الإنسان، وأخيراً إصلاح العدالة الجنائية. لكنّ الإشادة كانت بـ”تحسين القانون في مدن الضفة، مثل جنين ونابلس، والتي كانت في السابق بؤراً للنشاط المسلّح والإجرامي، والذي تقوده، إلى حد كبير، فصائل أو عشائر تعمل من مخيمات اللاجئين، عبر رعاية حزم العفو والتعويضات لتوفير حوافز للمقاتلين وأفراد الأمن من الجيل الأكبر سناً، والذين لديهم سجلات طويلة في قتال الإسرائيليين من أجل وقف أنشطتهم أو التقاعد”.

لكن – يضيف التقرير في تحديثه الأخير في 27/10/2022 – إنه منذ عام 2014، استؤنف النشاط المسلح في تلك المناطق وتوسع بالتدريج، الأمر الذي شكّل تحديات لقوات الأمن الفلسطينية و”إسرائيل”. ثم، مع بداية العام الجاري “ازداد التشدد إلى درجة أنه صار مصدر قلق رئيساً للسياسة الأميركية في الساحتين الإسرائيلية والفلسطينية، بينما تعاملت القوات الإسرائيلية وقوات السلطة مع القضية بأساليب متباينة، وهو ما أدى إلى بعض التوترات. وفي هذا السياق، قد يصير دور المكتب تسهيل التنسيق بين إسرائيل والسلطة على نحو أكثر بروزاً، وقد يُعيد المسؤولون والمشرّعون الأميركيون تقييم المساعدات المقدَّمة إلى القطاع الأمني للسلطة”.

بعد هذا الاستعراض المفصَّل، لا بدّ من دراسة وافية لمجمل السلوك الأميركي في الضفة، بعيداً عن السياسة (المفاوضات) والأمن: الاقتصاد وصناعة النخب ودعم المؤسسات، لكن لا بد من التعمق أكثر في الفلسفة من “دعم الأمن أولاً ودائماً”، وما بذلته واشنطن، في هذا الصعيد، من جهود يهدّد الواقع الحالي في الضفة نتائجَها، بل ربما تتحوّل إلى حنظل طبقاً للتشاؤم الإسرائيلي من الاندفاع الأميركي نحو تقوية السلطة، في مقابل رغبة محمومة لدى “تل أبيب” في قضم الضفة وانهيار المنظومة الفلسطينية أو تحويلها إلى خادم أمني واقتصادي فحسب. وهذه التفاصيل هي ما ستبحثه الحلقة المقبلة.

* المنسقون الأميركيون

1.   اللفتنانت جنرال ويليام إ. كيب وارد (1949-)

كان أول منسق أمني أميركي لـ”إسرائيل” والسلطة الفلسطينية، وخدم بهذه الصفة من 3/2005 حتى 12/2005. تحولت مهمته الأساسية من الإشراف على الإصلاح الأمني ​​للسلطة إلى التركيز على التحضير خطة فك الارتباط الإسرائيلية الأحادية الجانب من غزة وبعض مستوطنات الضفة الغربية، في 8/2005.

2.   اللفتنانت جنرال كيث دايتون (1949-)

خدم خمسة أعوام في المنصب بين عامي 2005 و2010. جاء دايتون في 12/2005 قبل شهر واحد فقط من فوز حماس بأغلبية المقاعد في المجلس التشريعي في 1/2006، فتغيرت مهمته، بين عشية وضحاها، من “إصلاح قوات الأمن إلى منع حكومة تقودها حماس من السيطرة عليها”. بعد أن أنهى مهماته، تقاعد دايتون من الجيش الأميركي في 10/2010، وهو الآن مدير “مركز جورج سي مارشال الأوروبي للدراسات الأمنية” في جارمش بارتنكيرشن في ألمانيا.

3.   اللفتنانت جنرال مايكل ر. مولر 

من القوات الجوية للولايات المتحدة، وشغل منصب المنسق عامين، من 10/2010 إلى 10/2012. قبل هذا التعيين، عمل مديراً للاستراتيجيات والخطط والسياسات للمقر الرئيسي القيادة المركزية الأميركية، وسبق أن كان طياراً في عمليات “عاصفة الصحراء” وغيرها. منذ توليه منصب دايتون، ظلّ بعيداً عن الأضواء، وهو ما يُعزى إلى رغبته في تهدئة العلاقات مع السلطة التي كانت مستاءة من سلَفه. بعد أن أنهى مهمته، عيّنه الرئيس في “منصب مهم ومسؤولية” مغايرة.

4.   نائب الأدميرال بول ج. بوشونغ

من سلاح البحرية، وشغل منصب المنسق الأمني ​​ من 10/2012 إلى 12/2014. قبل هذا التعيين، كان قائد منطقة ماريانا البحرية في الولايات المتحدة.

5.   اللفتنانت جنرال فريدريك س. رودشيم

شغل منصب المنسق من 1/2015 إلى 10/2017. قبل هذا التعيين، عمل نائباً لمدير هيئة الأركان المشتركة للجيش الأميركي. بعد إنهاء مهمته، تقاعد من القوات المسلحة، ويعمل في “مركز ويليام جيه بيري لدراسات الدفاع في نصف الكرة الغربي” منذ 2/2018.

6.   اللفتنانت جنرال إريك ب. وينت (وينت)

عمل منسّقاً من 11/2017 إلى 10/2019. قبل هذا التعيين، كان رئيس أركان قيادة الولايات المتحدة في المحيطين الهندي والهادئ. في 11/2019، تولى قيادة العمليات الخاصة في “الناتو”.

7.   اللفتنانت جنرال مارك س. شوارتز

كان المنسق من 10/2019 إلى 11/2021. قبل تعيينه، عمل نائباً لقائد قيادة العمليات الخاصة المشتركة.

8.   اللفتنانت جنرال مايكل ر. فنزل

يشغل هذا المنصب منذ 11/2021. وقبل تعيينه، عمل مساعداً خاصاً لمدير أركان الجيش، وله خبرة عمل في أفغانستان.

Were It Not for Iran, Where Would Palestine Be?

 November 23, 2022

Ahmad FarhatTranslated and Edited by Mohammad Salami

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah stressed, during a speech last month, that , the most important factor of strength in the axis of resistance is the Islamic Republic of Iran, wondering where Palestine would be without the Iranian role.

The signing of Camp David Accords crowned the US-brokered Egyptian concessions to the Israeli enemy, knowing that the most prominent event in this context was the visit of the Egyptian President Anwar Al-Sadat to the Zionist entity in November, 1977.

Signing of Camp David Peace Accord (President Jimmy Carter, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin)

Since the end of the 1973 war and the advent of Egypt’s settlements era, the military formulas in the region had changed. The Arab countries, consequently, could not fight on one front against the Israeli enemy which managed to hold bilateral ‘peace’ agreements with the Arab countries in order to avoid facing them altogether.

The Arabs suffered then from a wide case of frustration amid the collapse of the Common Arab Security.

With respect to the Zionist entity, the Arab countries would no longer be able to attack ‘Israel’ without the participation of Egypt despite the fact that the Israeli enemy continued carrying out its occupation and expansion schemes. In this regard, the Zionist enemy invaded Lebanon in 1978 and 1982 and struck the Palestinian resistance.

The following video shows the Palestinian resistance fighters leaving Lebanon in 1982:

Hope Rising in the East

Amid the tragic developments, Imam Ruhollah Khomeini led the Islamic Revolution in Iran to a historic victory in 1979. Just 8 days later, the Islamic Republic identified its foreign policy, granting the keys of the Israeli embassy in Tehran to Yasser Arafat, the late head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. This established a new epoch of a strategic Iranian support to the Palestinian cause.

Since its victory, the Islamic Revolution in Iran rejected and confronted all the schemes which targeted the Palestinian cause, providing all the possible means of support to the Palestinian resistance and intifada. The Iranian authorities have been also supporting and funding the Palestinian camps in the diaspora in order to maintain the steadfastness of the refugees.

On August 7, 1979, late founder of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Ruhollah Mousavi Khomeini designated the last Friday of Ramadan holy month as the International Al-Quds Day. Since then, Al-Quds Day has become a day all Muslims and oppressed people across the world rally for Al-Quds and Palestine against the Zionist occupation.

The Islamic Republic in Iran has been also supporting the Palestinian resistance factions which have committed to the rules of Islam.

Axis of Resistance

The axis of resistance led by the Islamic Republic of Iran engaged in several wars in Lebanon and Palestine. Iran supported founding Hezbollah Islamic Resistance that cooperated with the Palestinian resistance to reach victories.

This cooperation appeared clearly during Al-Quds Sword battle in 2021 between Gaza resistance and the Israeli enemy when Hezbollah, IRGC, and Hamas established a chamber of military operations in Beirut during the recent Israeli aggression on Gaza.

This axis, which has sacrificed a large number of martyrs crowned by the former head of IRGC’s Al-Quds Force martyr General Qassem Suleimani, has set praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque as a strategic target.

The video that follows the huge support demonstrated by the Iranian people to the Palestinian cause on various occasions, including mainly Al-Quds Day.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

PALESTINIANS ARE NATIVE AMERICANS: IT’S TIME TO CORRECT THE LANGUAGE OF HISTORY

NOVEMBER 16TH, 2022

Source

By Ramzy Baroud

At a recent Istanbul conference that brought many Palestinian scholars and activists together to discuss the search for a common narrative on Palestine, a Palestinian member of the audience declared at the end of a brief, but fiery intervention, ‘we are not red Indians’.

The reference was a relatively old one. It was attributed to former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat during an interview in his office in Ramallah where he was forcefully confined and surrounded, two years earlier, by the Israeli military that had re-invaded the populous Palestinian city. In the interview, the head of the PLO and president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) said that, despite Israel’s attempt at eradicating the Palestinian people, they remain steadfast. Israel had “failed to wipe us out,” Arafat said, adding, “we are not red Indians.”

Though Arafat’s intention was not to degrade or insult Native American communities, the statement, often taken out of context, hardly reflects the deep solidarity between Palestinians and national liberation struggles, including indigenous struggles around the world. Ironically, Arafat, more than any Palestinian leader, has forged ties with numerous communities in the Global South and in fact all over the world. A generation of activists had linked Arafat to their initial awareness, then involvement in Palestine solidarity movements.

What surprised me is that the comment on Palestinians not being ‘red Indians’ in Istanbul was quoted repeatedly and, occasionally, solicited applause from the audience, which only stopped when the convener of the conference, a well-regarded Palestinian professor, declared frustratingly, “they are neither ‘red’ nor Indian.” Indeed, they are not. Actually, they are the natural allies of the Palestinian people, like numerous indigenous communities, who have actively supported the Palestinian struggle for freedom.

The seemingly simple incident or poor choice of words, however, represents a much greater challenge facing Palestinians as they attempt to reanimate a new discourse on Palestinian liberation that is no longer hostage to the self-serving language of the PA elites in Ramallah.

For several years, a new generation of Palestinians has been fighting on two different fronts: against Israel’s military occupation and apartheid, on the one hand, and PA repression on the other. For this generation to succeed in reclaiming the struggle for justice, they must also reclaim a unifying discourse, not only to reconnect their own fragmented communities throughout historic Palestine, but also re-establish solidarity lines of communication across the globe.

I say ‘re-establish’, because Palestine was a common denominator among many national and indigenous struggles in the Global South. This was not a random outcome. Throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s, fierce wars of liberation were fought across continents, leading in most cases to the defeat of traditional colonial powers and, in some cases like Cuba, Vietnam and Algeria, to true decolonization. With Palestine being a compounded case of western imperialism and Zionist settler colonialism, the Palestinian cause was embraced by numerous national struggles. It was, and remains, a most raw example of western supported ethnic cleansing, genocide, apartheid, hypocrisy but also inspiring indigenous resistance.

PLO factions, intellectuals and activists were known and respected worldwide as ambassadors to the Palestinian cause. Three years following his assassination by the Israeli Mossad in a Beirut car bombing, Palestinian novelist Ghassan Kanafani was awarded posthumously the Annual Lotus Prize for Literature by the Union of Asian and African Writers as a delineation of the common struggle between peoples of both continents. Not only has Palestine served as a physical connection between Asia and Africa, it has also served as an intellectual and solidarity connection.

Arab countries, which also fought their own painful but heroic national liberation wars, played a major role in the centrality of Palestine in the political discourses of African and Asian countries. Many non-Arab countries supported collective Arab causes, especially Palestine, at the United Nations, pushed for the isolation of Israel, backed Arab boycotts and even hosted PLO offices and fighters. When Arab governments began changing their political priorities, these nations, sadly but unsurprisingly, followed suit.

The massive geopolitical changes after the Cold War, in favor of the US-led Western camp, profoundly and negatively impacted Palestine’s relations with the Arab and the rest of the world. It also divided the Palestinians, localizing the Palestinian struggle in a process that seemed to be determined mostly by Israel alone. Gaza was placed under a permanent siege, the West Bank was splintered by numerous illegal Jewish settlements and military checkpoints, Jerusalem was swallowed whole and Palestinians in Israel became victims of a police state that defined itself primarily on racial grounds.

Abandoned by the world and their own leadership, oppressed by Israel and bewildered by remarkable events beyond their control, some Palestinians turned against one another. This was the age of factionalism. However, Palestinian factionalism is bigger than Fatah and Hamas, Ramallah and Gaza. Equally dangerous to the self-serving politics are the numerous provisional discourses that it espoused, neither governed by any collective strategy or an inclusive national narrative.

When the PLO was ousted from Lebanon following the Israeli invasion and deadly war, the nature of the Palestinian struggle transformed. Headquartered in Tunisia, the PLO was no longer able to present itself as a leader of a liberation movement in any practical sense. The Oslo Accords of 1993 resulted from this political exile and subsequent marginalization. It also accentuated an existing trend where an actual war of liberation turned into a corporate form of liberation, hunger for funds, false status and, worse, a negotiated surrender.

This much is now familiar and acknowledged by many Palestinians. Less discussed, however, is that nearly forty years of this process left Palestinians with a different political discourse than that which existed for decades prior to Oslo.

Undoubtedly, Palestinians are aware of the need for a new liberated language. This is not an easy task, nor is it a randomly generated process. The indoctrination that resulted from the Oslo culture, the factional language, the provincial political discourse of various Palestinian communities, left Palestinians with limited tools through which to express the priorities of the new era. Unity is not a political document. Neither is international solidarity. It is a process that is shaped by a language which should be spoken collectively, relentlessly and boldly. In this new language, Palestinians are Native Americans, not in their supposed propensity to be ‘wiped out’, but in their pride, resilience and continued quest for equality and justice.

For Lula’s Victory to Matter: A Proposal for a Unified Palestinian Foreign Policy

November 10, 2022

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva meets the Palestinian community in Brazil, in June 2022. (Photo: Via MEMO)

By Ramzy Baroud

Palestinians and their supporters are justified in celebrating the election victory of the leftist presidential candidate, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, in Brazil’s runoff elections on October 30. But Lula’s victory is incomplete and could ultimately prove ineffectual if not followed by a concrete and centralized Palestinian strategy.

Lula has proven, throughout the years, to be a genuine friend of Palestine and Arab countries.

For example, in 2010, as a president, he spoke of his dream of seeing “an independent and free Palestine” during a visit to the occupied West Bank. He also refused to visit the grave of Theodor Herzl, the father of Israel’s Zionist ideology. Instead, he visited Yasser Arafat’s tomb in Ramallah.

Later that year, Lula’s government recognized Palestine as an independent state within the 1967 borders.

Lula’s rival, soon-to-be former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is an ideologue who has repeatedly professed his love for Israel, and had pledged in November 2018 to follow the US government’s lead in relocating his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Unlike other pro-Israel world leaders, Bolsonaro’s affection is ideological and unconditional. In a 2018 interview with the Israeli newspaper ‘Israel Hayom’, he said: “Israel is a sovereign state … If you decide what your capital is, we will follow you. You decide on the capital of Israel, not other people”.

In a final and desperate move to win the support of Brazil’s Evangelical Christians, Bolsonaro’s wife, Michelle, donned a t-shirt carrying the Israeli flag. That gesture alone speaks volumes about Bolsonaro’s skewed agenda, which is symptomatic of many of Israel’s supporters around the world.

Lula’s victory and Bolsonaro’s defeat are, themselves, a testament to a changing world, where loyalty to Israel is no longer a guarantor of electoral victory. This has proven true in the case of Donald Trump in the US, Liz Truss in the UK, Scott Morrison in Australia and, now, Brazil.

The Israelis, too, seem to have accepted such a new, albeit unpleasant reality.

Interviewed by The Times of Israel, Brazilian scholar James Green explained that it behooves Israel to revise its view of Lula. Green said that the newly-elected president should not be seen “as a radical, because he’s not, and in this campaign, he needed to show his moderation on all levels”.

The willingness to engage with Lula, though begrudgingly, was also expressed by Claudio Lottenberg, president of the Brazilian Israelite Confederation, the country’s largest pro-Israel Jewish organization who, on October 31, issued a note, expressing the group’s “permanent readiness for constructive and democratic dialogue” with Lula.

Brazil’s political transformation is sure to benefit the Palestinians, even though Lula’s ideologically diverse coalition makes it more difficult for him to explore the same radical political spaces in which he ventured during his previous presidency between 2003 and 2011.

It is also worth noting that Bolsonaro was a relatively important player in the global conservative, far-right political camp that attempted to legitimize the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Following the recent reversal by the Australian government of a 2018 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Bolsonaro’s defeat is another nail in the coffin in Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’.

True, geopolitical changes are critical to the future of Palestine and the Palestinian struggle, but without a responsible Palestinian leadership that can navigate opportunities and face up and confront growing challenges, Lula’s victory can, at best, be seen as a symbolic one.

Palestinians are aware of the massive changes underway regionally and globally. That has been demonstrated through the repeated visits by Palestinian political groups to Moscow, and the meeting between Palestinian Authority’s President Mahmoud Abbas with Russian President Vladimir Putin on October 13, in Kazakhstan. The latter meeting has raised the ire of Washington, which is incapable of lashing out in any meaningful way so that it may not push the Palestinians entirely into the Russian camp.

Palestine is also becoming, once again, regionally relevant, if not central to Arab affairs, as indicated in the Arab League Summit in Algeria, November 1-2.

However, for all these dynamic changes to be translated into tangible political achievements, Palestinians cannot proceed as fragmented entities.

There are three major political trends that define Palestinian political action globally:

First, the Palestinian Authority, which has political legitimacy as the legal representative of the Palestinian people, but no actual legitimacy among Palestinians, nor a forward-thinking strategy.

Second, Palestinian political groups, which are ideologically diverse and, arguably, more popular among Palestinians, but lack international recognition.

And, finally, the Palestinian-led international solidarity campaign, which has gained much ground as the voice of Palestinian civil society worldwide. While the latter has moral legitimacy, it is not legally representative of Palestinians. Additionally, without a unified political strategy, civil society achievements cannot be translated, at least not yet, into solid political gains.

So, while all Palestinians are celebrating Lula’s victory as a victory for Palestine, there is no single entity that can, alone, harness the political and geopolitical change underway in Brazil to a definite building block towards the collective struggle for justice and freedom in Palestine.

Until Palestinians revamp their problematic leadership or formulate a new kind of leadership through grassroots mobilization in Palestine itself, they should at least attempt to liberate their foreign policy agenda from factionalism, which is defined by a self-centered approach to politics.

A starting point might be the creation of a transitional, non-factional political body of professional Palestinians with an advisory role agreed upon by all political groups. This can take place via the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which has been marginalized by the PA for decades. This entity’s main role can be confined to surveying the numerous opportunities underway on the global stage and to allow, however nominally, Palestinians to speak in one united voice.

For this to happen, of course, major Palestinian groups would need to have enough goodwill to put their differences aside for the greater good; though not an easy feat, it is, nonetheless, possible.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak out”. Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The Palestinian Authority Faces Two Options; Fight Israel or Fight Palestinians

23 Sep 23:47

Source: Al Mayadeen English

Robert Inlakesh 

The recent arrests came as a shock to Nablus locals, who took to the streets in order to protest the decision of the PA to target the Palestinian resistance.

    Violent clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s security forces, this Monday, resulted in the death of a 53-year-old and represented a turning point in the relationship between the PA and the newly formed resistance factions inside the occupied West Bank.

    On Monday evening the PA’s Preventative Security Service arrested two Palestinian resistance fighters wanted by “Israel”, Musab Shtayyeh and Ameed Tabila, in the city of Nablus. Musab Shtayyeh, the most prominent of the two, had evaded multiple Israeli arrest campaigns since June of last year. Shtayyeh also managed to escape an Israeli assassination attempt on July 24, which left three other Palestinian resistance fighters dead, after “Israel” had stormed the city of Nablus with hundreds of military personnel, including special forces units.

    The arrests came as a shock to Nablus locals, who took to the streets in order to protest the decision of the PA to target the Palestinian resistance. In both Nablus and Jenin, the two locations where Palestinian armed groups have been the most active, armed fighters took to the streets to make announcements condemning the PA’s actions. Although the resistance forces in Nablus clearly stated that their guns were not aimed at anyone but the occupation, they stressed that their patience should not be tested. 

    It didn’t take long before young people took to the streets to burn tires in central Nablus and chanted in support of Shtayyeh and Tabila, to which the PA security forces responded with gunfire and tear gas. Palestinian resistance fighters also fired back towards the PA forces and it was later declared that a 53-year-old civilian had been shot and killed, the incident was blamed on the Palestinian Authority.

    The images coming out of the West Bank have been striking; young men hurling stones at militarized vehicles, as Western-trained forces fire tear gas and bullets back, except this time the militarised force is not Israeli, it calls itself the Palestinian. To add insult to injury, it has emerged that the PA took the decision to carry out its arrest campaign based upon a request given by the Israeli occupation regime. Hussein al-Sheikh, the Secretary General of the PA’s executive committee, seems to be the source of the order given to carry out the arrests.

    Right now, the PA has been put into its usual defensive mode, where it attempts to justify its actions and bids to convince Palestinians that its ‘Security coordination’ efforts are in the best interest of the Palestinian people, something that Palestinians see through. All of the explanations and excuses in the world will fail to cover up what took place this Monday. Just as was the case last year, when the PA’s security forces brutally beat the beloved activist, Nizar Banat, to death, after pulling him out of his home in front of his family. According to Amnesty International, it’s clear at this time that the PA failed to ensure accountability for the assassination of Nizar Banat and so it should come as no surprise that PA forces are sliding down a slippery slope into chaos.

    Just as the United States and its NATO allies have failed to adjust their mindsets to the current era, so too has the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. We must recognise that we are now witnessing the era in which the expression of a new Palestinian generation is being felt; armed resistance factions are rising, an armed resistance populated – primarily – by young people between the ages of 18-25. When we break down what this means; it suggests that today’s resistance fighters in the West Bank were only small children when the Second Intifada was happening. The fighters in Jenin and Nablus today, fit into a trend that began emerging in the early to mid 80’s, when Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) cadres would organise themselves with modest means to fight the occupation. 

    The Palestinian resistance in the West Bank do not remember what it felt like to see the resistance crushed, during “Israel’s” brutal ‘operation defensive shield’ of 2002, they are not afraid and believe in victory. The biggest problem they now face however, began in 2002, following ‘operation defensive shield’; that is the CIA’s dismantling and reformation of the Palestinian Authority’s security forces. Nobody likes to talk about this, but it is true and cannot be disputed, at the behest of Israeli, EU and US interests, the PA’s security forces were transformed into a Western-Jordanian trained and equipped “anti-terrorism” task force, designed to do the heavy lifting for the Israeli occupation army.

    Since the end of the Second Intifada, in 2007, we haven’t seen the energized armed struggle that we see today in the West Bank and so the PA’s forces have been capable of performing their duties, with little to no pushback. However, it has been way too long since the Oslo Agreements and the rhetoric of the Zionist entity has transitioned back to that which it maintained during the 1970’s, regarding Palestinian self governance. Palestinians don’t see any hope for change and the PA is not making any progress whatsoever towards achieving any form of Palestinian statehood. The Palestinian bourgeoisie of Ramallah are happy living in their imaginary fantasy world and the PA has now absorbed the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). There has been no national elections since 2006 and the non-economy of the West Bank, which is completely controlled by the Zionist entity and Jordanian regime, is getting worse for the poorest in society.

    The PA is now beginning to face its worst nightmare, the ultimatum that we all knew was coming at some point; they can turn their guns on the Zionist entity, or they can turn their guns on the Palestinian resistance and face the end of their power as we know it. There is no more standing in the middle, attempting to please the West by collaborating with the Israeli occupation forces on “security coordination” and playing the game of condemning Zionist atrocities, whilst begging on their knees for peace. The next chapter is going to be violent, now it is on those within that Fatah Party leadership to decide where the PA is heading and what side of the violence they are going to be on, because asking for peace talks is not going to solve today’s issues. 

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

    From stones to missiles: Evolution of the Palestinian resistance forms and methods

    13 Jul 2022

    Source: Al Mayadeen English

    The Palestinian resistance is now on the rise. With every passing day, its military capabilities are increasing steadily, and pledging more sacrifices and efforts.

    From stones to missiles: Evolution of the Palestinian resistance forms and methods

    After “Israel” invaded Lebanon in 1982, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was forced into yet another exile. PLO’s forces were stationed in far–away Arab capitals (Yemen and Algeria) and the PLO headquarters were moved to Tunisia. This major development resulted in a general decline in resistance activities inside and outside of occupied Palestine. The shock lasted for a few years during which “Israel”, backed by the US, tried to capitalize on its military achievement to turn it into a political triumph, hence the (Saudi) Arab Initiative for Peace in1982, the rapprochement between the PLO leadership and the Egyptian regime, and the increased activities of the collaborationist “villages’ leagues” in occupied Palestine.

    That period of lull and uncertainty ended in 1987, when the first uprising (in Arabic: Intifada) erupted. The heroic military operation against the Israeli army, using gliders, launched from Southern Lebanon, was very inspiring to the Palestinian people under occupation and revived the belief in resistance and revolution. The Intifada was very widespread among the masses, far exceeding the framework of the Palestinian organizations. Popular struggle against occupation; demonstrations, strikes, and closures, was its main feature. Brave young people confronting the heavily-armed Israeli troops and throwing stones at them, attracted the eyes of the world. Stone became the symbol of the Intifada. The Stone Revolution was actually a popular invention, considering the lack of support, the absence of infrastructure for armed struggle, and the state of encirclement imposed by “Israel” on the Palestinian people.

    The Dark Nineties

    After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the subsequent Gulf war, the first phase of the Intifada ended. The PLO got engaged in extensive series of public and secretive negotiations with “Israel”, that resulted in the “Oslo Agreement” in 1993 and the formation of the “Palestinian Authority” in the major cities of Gaza and the West Bank. As for the Palestinian struggle and resistance, the nineties were very bad years! The “Palestinian Authority (PA)” joined “Israel” in its battle against anybody who plans for, or even thinks of, fighting the Israeli forces. That happened under the banner of “security coordination” according to the terms of the infamous Oslo Agreement. Life became very difficult, if not impossible, for the real freedom fighters, especially in the environment of fake peace that took over the whole region. Jordan joined in and signed the “Wadi Araba Treaty” with 

    “Israel”, and with Egypt already having its “Camp David Accords” with “Israel”, the prospects for armed struggle against the Israeli occupation became gloomy. With Iraq defeated and isolated, Libya under sanctions, and Algeria in internal turmoil, Syria was pushed by the Arab League to join the negotiations process in the middle east – sponsored by the Clinton administration in the US (though it maintained its political stance towards the Palestinian cause and did not sign any bilateral deal with “Israel”).  The only country in the middle east that maintained its support for the Palestinian right to liberation via armed struggle and remained vocal in its opposition to the so-called “peace process”, was Iran. But Iran at that time was very busy in major internal rebuilding after the eight-year destructive war with Iraq (1980 – 1988). Iran’s focus was on helping the Lebanese resistance to liberate the Southern part of the country – still under Israeli occupation.

    Under these circumstances, popular and mass resistance actions were no longer possible, so the Palestinian revolutionaries turned to other methods targeting the Israeli occupation, particularly explosive devices and booby traps, individual attacks, and martyrdom operations carried out by small groups and orchestrated by a few individuals – planners. However, by the end of the nineties, “Israel” – with real contribution from the Palestinian Authority – was able to eliminate the active masterminds of that kind of armed resistance, and things in Palestine appeared as if the Israel-PA partnership is working.

    The Second Intifada

    In the year 2000, negotiations between PLO’s Yasser Arafat and Israel’s Ehud Barak reached a deadlock and collapsed. Arafat failed to get anything tangible or meaningful in return for his years-long cooperation. In the meantime, scenes came from Southern Lebanon of the humiliating and disgraceful Israeli withdrawal under the strikes of Lebanese armed resistance.

    Pragmatic in nature, Yasser Arafat decided to use the armed struggle as a means of pressurizing the Israelis. He had done that repeatedly in the past, while in Lebanon. Arafat hinted to his aides to bypass the security coordination with “Israel” and he relied on the Palestinian guerilla fighters. It didn’t take long for the second Intifada to break out. It quickly turned into a wave of strong and impactful martyrdom operations against “Israel”, the biggest of which was in the town of Netanya where 30 Israelis were killed on 27 March 2002.  

    Despite the large scale of the Israeli invasion of the PA territories, the massacre in the Jenin refugees camp, and the encirclement of Yasser Arafat in his headquarter, the Palestinian revolutionary spirit didn’t weaken, especially in the Gaza strip. Arafat passed away in 2004 and his successor, Mahmoud Abbas, was much less charismatic and powerful. In 2005, “Israel” came to the conclusion that the Gaza strip was a “lost cause” and decided to unilaterally withdraw its forces from there. The net result of these developments was a stronger presence of the armed resistance organizations in Gaza, particularly Al-Qassam group, the military wing of the (Islamic) Hamas movement, which started working almost openly.

    Build up of Palestinian Military Capabilities

    2007 was a landmark. Hamas movement managed to expel the security apparatus of the PA and imposed its control all over the Gaza strip. Since then, the “golden era” of the armed Palestinian resistance began. The fighting groups, particularly Al-Qassam and “Saraya Al-Quds”, were inspired by the Hezbollah struggle against “Israel” in Lebanon, and gradually started moving in the direction of military professionalism, with brigades and hierarchy. They quickly established links to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, headed by Hajj Qassem Soleimani, and to Hezbollah in Lebanon. For its part, “Israel” traced and thwarted several attempts to stop smuggling weapons from Iran to Gaza via the Red Sea, Sudan and Sinai. It also assassinated Hamas’ military wing liaison officer, Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in Dubai. Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt, in turn, arrested the Hezbollah commander, Sami Shehab, in charge of channeling military aid to Gaza in 2009. Despite all that, and the very complicated logistics situation, it was evident that significant technical and financial support did reach Gaza and enabled the resistance movements to start with a “local production” program for military tools and means, though simple and limited. 

    With the repeated Israeli attacks and encounters, the Palestinian resistance movements gained substantial military experience and became more effective. In 2014, the Palestinian armed resistance launched rockets that landed inside “Israel”, though with limited precision and range. “Israel” was getting very worried about the developments in Gaza and tried its best to eliminate the scientific and qualified personnel of the resistance in Gaza. “Israel” actually managed to assassinate senior leaders from the Palestinian military wings responsible in particular for the missiles programs, notably among them was Baha’ Abul Atta of Saraya Al-Quds, and before him Ahmad Al-Ja’abari, the deputy commander of Al-Qassam brigades. But the momentum gained by the resistance movements in Gaza didn’t vanish. On the contrary, military wings became even stronger and their work became systematic – not dependent on specific persons. When the Americans assassinated Hajj Qassem Suleimani early in 2020, the role that he played in building the Palestinian military capabilities came into public. The leaders of all armed wings of the Palestinian movements spoke very warmly of him and expressed their gratitude for his help and leadership. On the Palestinian front, Hajj Qassem cared for one thing only: unity against the Zionist entity (Israel). He whole-heartedly believed that Zionist injustice in Palestine will have to come to an end, sooner or later. 

    During Saif Al-Quds Battle

    In the last encounter of 2021, known as Saif Al-Quds, the much-improved military capabilities of the Palestinian military wings came into display. Within a few days, thousands of missiles were successfully launched from Gaza and reached their targets deep inside “Israel”. The Palestinian movements also formed a joint operation and command room to coordinate activities and responses. The Israeli army, and its “Iron Dome” defense system, failed to down the Palestinian rockets. “Israel” didn’t dare to carry out ground operations in Gaza and was no longer able to sustain prolonged military operations due to the internal turmoil caused by the Palestinian missiles which practically “froze” the Israeli economy for days. A state of deterrence was established with “Israel” as if it were between two armies. That was a remarkable success for the Palestinian resistance. The days when the Israeli army was able to wander in Gaza without expecting a damaging response were long gone. The Palestinian resistance was able to impose new realities on the ground. It’s a new era, that of the “missile” resistance. No more knives or stones throwing. 

    The Palestinian resistance is now on the rise. With every passing day, its military capabilities are increasing steadily, and pledging more sacrifices and efforts. The new generation in Palestine is more determined than ever before to liberate its country. And it’s not over yet.

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

    Hussam AbdelKareem 

    ‘Watani’: A Kanafanian Song in the Time of National Crisis (VIDEO)

    July 13, 2022

    Late Palestinian intellectual Ghassan Kanafani. (Photo: via as-Safir)

    By Haidar Eid

    Bodies fall, but not the idea. (Ghassan Kanafani)

    The 50th anniversary of the assassination of Ghassan Kanafani coincides with the passing of 15 years of the Fatah-Hamas rift, instigated by the Bush administration in 2007 and which has led to the formation of two local, opposing administrations by the two parties in the 1967 occupied territories.

    The clashes between the two parties created a new reality on the ground, the brunt of which has been paid, mainly, by the 2.4 million residents of the besieged Gaza Strip, and has led to one of the worst national crises Palestinians have had since the emergence of the contemporary Palestinian revolution and the formation of the PLO.

    What would Ghassan Kanafani have said?! This song is an attempt to address this question.

    The song is written and performed by Haidar Eid.

    Nai: Ismail Harazeen

    Oud: Mohammed Oukasha

    Graphic Design: Alaa Samir

    Lyrics:

    Oh, WATANY (MY HOMELAND)

    Patience and steadfastness

    And forgiveness for what we have done

    WATANY!

    You are the throbbing heart

    You are the throbbing HEART

    You are the soul

    The soul

    THE SOUL

    And the soul is dear (to the heart)

    And so TRANSCENDENTAL

    Hamas’ return ticket to Damascus won’t come cheap

    The Palestinian resistance movement’s complicated relationship with Syria is headed for a reset, but it won’t be on their terms.

    July 06 2022

    Photo Credit: The Cradle

    Despite excited media reports of a Hamas-Syria rapprochement, nothing is finalized: the Palestinian resistance movement has much more to prove still.

    By The Cradle’s Palestine Correspondent

    On 21 June, two unnamed Hamas sources told Reuters that the Palestinian resistance movement had decided to restore ties with Damascus following a decade-long rift after Hamas expressed support for the Syrian opposition.

    The news caused a row, and it seems that this may have been the purpose behind its leak.

    Shortly after the report, dozens of websites, satellite channels and media commentators in Turkey, Qatar, and the UK who are sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood – the political Islamist group to which Hamas belongs ideologically – distanced themselves from Hamas, which has neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

    However, comments made by the head of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, has added credence to these claims.

    In a speech before the National Islamic Conference in Beirut, on 25 June, Haniyeh said, “The time has come after ten years to make historic reconciliations in the Islamic nation.”

    “What is happening in the region today is very dangerous as Israel is paving the way through military and security alliances to fight Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas,” he added.

    So how accurate are the reports about “high-profile” secret meetings between Hamas and the Syrians? Is there a relationship between Haniyeh’s visit to Beirut and the timing of these revelations?

    The heavy legacy of Khaled Meshaal

    When Hamas left Syria over a decade ago, the office of Khaled Meshaal, who was the head of the movement’s Political Bureau at the time, justified the decision as stemming from “moral premises.”

    They contended that the Hamas movement stands with the people in deciding who will rule them, saying “even if the ruler supports our right, we will not support his falsehood.” This reverberated within the movement, and the majority of its popular base supported “Syrian revolution” in the face of “the regime that is slaughtering its people.”

    That was back in 2011, when the so-called Arab Spring helped sweep the Muslim Brotherhood (MB or Ikhwan) and its affiliates into power in Egypt and Tunisia, and paved the way for the MB-aligned Syrian armed opposition to take control of the outskirts of Damascus. .

    But only four years later (2015), the picture was completely reversed: Egypt’s Mohammed Morsi was ousted in a Gulf-backed military coup; Tunisian President Kais Saied turned against the Brotherhood’s Ennahda party and removed it completely from the political scene. And Damascus gradually regained control over the vital parts of Syria.

    In the wider region, the regime of Omar Al-Bashir fell in Sudan, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence in Libya, Yemen, Jordan and Kuwait was severely diminished.

    New leadership, a new direction

    It was inevitable that these significant region-wide changes would also transform Hamas’ leadership to reflect the new political scene. In 2017, Ismail Haniyeh was appointed head of the Political Bureau, while that same year, Yahya Al-Sinwar, who was released from Israeli prisons in 2011, became the leader of the movement in Gaza.

    Seen as a hawk, Sinwar relies on the absolute support of the movement’s military arm, the Al-Qassam Brigades, and as such, introduced a new political approach to Hamas’ regional relations.

    Although Sinwar’s first move was to reorganize relations with Cairo after a four-year estrangement, by far his most important change was to revive Hamas’ relations with the Axis of Resistance, making it the movement’s top foreign policy priority.

    Within a few years, the Hamas leader in Gaza had re-established full relations with Iran and Hezbollah, but its return to Damascus still remains the biggest obstacle.

    In order to thaw the ice with Syria, Iran mediated first, followed by Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and more recently, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). This deadlock was not broken until after the Hamas operation “Sword of Jerusalem” in May 2021.

    Testing the waters

    In that same month, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad responded to a greeting from Al Qassam Brigades, conveyed by the Secretary General of PIJ Ziad Al-Nakhaleh, with a corresponding greeting. After that, contacts began to increase between Syrian officials and Hamas leaders.

    Syrian sources informed The Cradle that a year ago it was decided to “reduce security measures against a number of Hamas members in Syria, release a number of detainees, and reveal the fate of other missing persons.”

    But that didn’t achieve normalcy between Syria and Hamas either. There are those within the latter, it appears, who continue to sabotage progress made with Damascus.

    To understand the dynamics of this particular relationship – present and its future – it is necessary to review its stages throughout the years.

    From Amman to Damascus

    Hamas began paving the way for its relationship with Syria in the early 1990s through visits made by its official Musa Abu Marzouk. In 1992, Mustafa Al-Ledawi was appointed as the head of an unofficial office for the Hamas in Damascus.

    The great leap occurred with the visit of the founder of Hamas, the late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, to Damascus in 1998. This official visit, and the warm reception accorded Yassin, constituted a huge breakthrough in relations, after which the late President Hafez Al-Assad authorized Hamas’ official presence in Syria, providing it with political and security facilities and logistical and material support.

    Despite previous bad blood between Damascus and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, notably in regard to the Hama massacre in 1982, there were several prudent reasons for the Syrian government and Hamas to collaborate.

    One reason can be traced to the rivalry between Hafez Assad and the late Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat, who sided with the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War (1990–91) after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on 2 August, 1990.

    On 21 November, 1999, a plane carrying Hamas’ then-political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal landed at Damascus airport, after being expelled from Jordan and refused a reception by many Arab capitals.

    Since then, a number of political bureau members relocated to Damascus, and Hamas’ activities in Syria intensified. Between 2000 and 2010, the relationship further strengthened over several events, including the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the 2005 withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanon, the 2006 July war between Israel and Hezbollah, and most importantly, the Israeli aggression against Gaza in 2008.

    Syrian support

    Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar, who was interviewed by The Cradle in Gaza, talks about an important detail that the media did not mention at the time. When Hamas formed its first government in Gaza in 2007, in which Zahar was foreign minister, “Syria was the only Arab country that recognized the diplomatic red passport issued from Gaza.”

    Zahar says: “The Syrian leadership gave us everything. On my first visit to Damascus, we were able to solve the problem of hundreds of Palestinian refugees stuck on the Syrian-Iraqi borders, and Syria adopted the Palestinian calling code (+970), and expressed its willingness to provide support to the elected Palestinian government. For that, it faced an Arab, international, and American war.”

    Today, Zahar is the designated official tasked by Sinwar to revive the relationship with Damascus. This was confirmed by sources in Hamas, who said that he traveled to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage, and may head from there to Damascus.

    These details are meaningful: it means Egypt is spared the censure of allowing Zahar to travel to Syria, and would avoid an awkward situation for Cairo in front of the US, Israelis and Gulf Arabs.

    From Damascus to Doha and Ankara

    The Syrian crisis that erupted in March 2011 put Hamas in a unique bind of its own making. Fellow Palestinian Islamists in PIJ, for example, did not take a radical position on the “revolution” from 2011 to 2017, and were content with maintaining their offices in Damascus, although its political and military leadership relocated to Beirut due to deteriorating security conditions.

    On the other hand, Hamas issued its first statement regarding the Syrian crisis on 2 April, 2011, in which it affirmed its support for the Syrian people and leadership, and considered that “Syria’s internal affairs concern the brothers in Syria… We hope to overcome the current circumstances in order to achieve the aspirations of the Syrian people, and preserve Syria’s stability and its internal cohesion, and strengthening its role in the line of confrontation and opposition.”

    This wishy-washy statement did not hide the hostile stance of the movement’s members and elites, who all adopted the anti-Syrian narrative. On 5 November, 2011, the Syrian security forces stormed the offices of Hamas, confiscated its assets, and shuttered them.

    In early 2012, Meshaal traveled to Doha, Qatar, before holding a scheduled meeting with Bashar Al-Assad. Hamas declared that the meeting “will not be useful.”

    Hamas and the opposition

    On 8 December, 2012, the movement burned bridges with Damascus when Meshaal and Haniyeh raised the flag of the “Syrian revolution” during a celebration marking the movement’s launch in the Gaza Strip in front of tens of thousands of their supporters.

    In a parade held during the celebration, a number of members of the Al-Qassam Brigades wore the opposition flag on their backs.

    The Syrian government’s reaction was no less restrained. Assad accused Hamas of actively participating in the war against the Syrian state by supporting Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Jabhat Al-Nusra, and by providing instructions to opposition factions on ways to dig tunnels and fortify them to withstand aerial bombardment.

    Other opposition militant groups such as Bait Al-Maqdis, Faylaq Al-Rahman and Army of Huda announced that they were affiliated with Hamas.

    Once an Ikhwani, always an Ikhwani

    In 2016, Assad said in an interview with Syrian newspaper Al-Watan: “We supported Hamas not because they are Muslim Brotherhood, but rather we supported them on the grounds that they are resistance. In the end, it was proven that the Ikhwani (member of Muslim Brotherhood) is Ikhwani wherever he puts himself, and from the inside remains a terrorist and hypocrite.”

    All this may seem a thing of the past, but it still affects the formation of a new relationship between the two parties, especially after the return of turncoat Meshaal and his team a year ago to important leadership positions in Hamas.

    Although the majority of the movement’s leadership has changed, the old legacy of Meshaal still weighs heavily on everyone, especially in Damascus. There are many in Syria who still warn the “wound is open;” that Hamas has not yet closed it, but rather wants a “free return.”

    Understanding Hamas’ structure

    Before explaining Hamas’ recent decision to restore ties with Syria, it is necessary to know how the movement is run to ensure representation and accountability. Hamas has a Shura Council of 15 members, chosen in elections in which cadres of certain organizational ranks participate.

    These cadres choose their representatives in the local advisory councils from different regions (West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, territories occupied in 1948, and prisons). As for members of Hamas’ base, they elect their representatives in the General Consultative Council, which in turn elects the Political Bureau.

    Despite this ‘healthy democracy,’ the position on Syria produced two contradictory currents:

    The first current is led by Meshaal, who was head of the Political Bureau until 2017. It includes Ahmed Youssef, a former adviser to Haniyeh, and Nayef Rajoub, one of the most prominent leaders of Hamas in the West Bank.

    The second current has no specific leader, but Zahar was the public face before Sinwar joined him.

    Between these two viewpoints, Ismail Haniyeh and Musa Abu Marzouk maintain a state of ‘pragmatism’ by taking a middle position between the Qatar-Turkey axis and the Axis of Resistance.

    Although the decision to leave Syria was taken with the full approval of the members of the Shura Council and members of the Political Bureau, the entire burden of the decision was placed on Meshaal. The man, who was a personal friend of Assad and Secretary General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah, became blacklisted by the Axis of Resistance.

    Meshaal’s influence

    All prior efforts to restore relations between Hamas and Syria were a “waste of time” as long as Meshaal was at the helm of the movement. This was not only the opinion of the Syrians, but of many Iranians as well.

    In 2015, for example, when there were media reports about efforts to restore Hamas-Syrian relations, the Iranian Tabnak website (supervised by General Mohsen Rezaei, a leader in the Revolutionary Guards and currently one of the advisors to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei) launched a scathing attack against Meshaal.

    At that time, Meshaal had refused to visit Tehran if he was not received at the highest levels – that is – to meet specifically with Khamenei. The Tabnak website wrote: “Meshaal and the Hamas leaders lined up two years ago on the side of the international terrorists in Syria… They are now setting conditions for the restoration of relations between Hamas and Iran as if Iran did not have any conditions.”

    Since that time, Meshaal and his team have remained staunchly reluctant to even talk about restoring relations with Damascus. In addition to their loyalty (to some extent) to Turkey and Qatar, they were aware that reviving relations would weaken their organizational position within Hamas, and contribute to increasing the influence of their rivals.

    On the other hand, these rivals remained weak until 2017, as Meshaal managed to marginalize Mahmoud Al-Zahar who did not receive any influential positions.

    Re-joining the Resistance Axis

    The formation of the new Political Bureau meant there were now a large number of officials who were not involved in any public positions on the Syrian crisis – such as Sinwar, Saleh Al-Arouri, and Osama Hamdan, who maintained a balanced relationship with all parties.

    Zahar told The Cradle that Sinwar was “convinced” of his theses about the shape of the “last battle with Israel.” He added: “I spoke with Abu Ibrahim (Sinwar) for a long time about restoring the bond with the components of the nation that have hostility to Israel, specifically Hezbollah, Syria and Iran, and this is the pillar of Hamas’ foreign policy in the future.”

    Nevertheless, Zahar believes that Damascus “will refuse to deal with the movement’s leadership, which took the lead during the war.” But it is likely that the Syrians will accept to deal with him personally, which he will seek during his forthcoming visit.

    What’s Next?

    Well-informed sources in Hamas revealed to The Cradle that the movement’s Political Bureau met this month and made the decision to return to Syria, despite Meshaal’s objection.

    The resolution has two aims: first, to build a resistance front in the “ring countries” surrounding Palestine; and second, to establish a maritime line of communication between Gaza and the port of Latakia, in Syria.

    The sources also revealed that Jamil Mezher, who was recently elected deputy secretary general of the PFLP, conveyed a message from Sinwar to the Syrian leadership calling for the restoration of relations between the two parties.

    After his visit to Damascus, Mezher met with Haniyeh in Beirut to discuss the results. Haniyeh also met Nasrallah, as well as Ziad Al-Nakhaleh in an expanded meeting of the leaderships of Hamas and the PIJ in the Lebanese capital. All these events took place in one week.

    According to Hamas sources, Haniyeh informed Nasrallah that the movement has unanimously taken an official decision to restore relations with Damascus. The two sides also discussed the demarcation of the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel.

    The sources confirm that “Hamas is ready to simultaneously target gas-stealing platforms from the Gaza sea, in the event that Hezbollah targets an exploration and extraction vessel in the Karish field.”

    Hamas sources, as well as an informed Syrian source, however, deny holding any recent new meetings between the two parties. The Syrian source reveals that meetings sponsored by Islamic Jihad were held last year.

    What does Syria stand to gain?

    On the other hand, Damascus has its reasons for postponing the return of this relationship. Of course, internal reasons can be overlooked if Bashar Al-Assad himself makes the decision.

    But it is the current regional situation and the re-formation of alliances that worries the Syrian leadership the most.

    It is true that Assad the son, like his father, has learned the ropes in dealing with the MB, but now he has no need for a new headache caused by the return of Hamas. There is no great benefit from this return except in one case: the normalization of Syrian relations with Turkey, Qatar, or both.

    On Syria’s terms

    Only in this scenario, can bridges be re-built with Hamas. But the conditions for this are currently immature, as this normalization will be at the expense of Syria’s relationship with its ally Russia, whether in the issue of gas supplies to Europe or stopping the military operation that Ankara is threatening against Kurdish terrorists in northern Syria.

    Syria, which has already improved its relations with the UAE, and is currently working to improve its relations with Saudi Arabia and Jordan, will not include a “losing card” in its stack of cards now.

    It will also not compete with Egypt over a file – the relationship with Hamas – which Cairo considers its monopoly in the region.

    Also, Damascus is not in the midst of a clash of any kind with the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah movement, which took advantage of the exit of Hamas to consolidate their position in the Syrian capital and improve their relationship with Assad.

    However, when news broke about the possible resumption of Hamas-Syrian relations, this time Damascus did not launch an attack on the movement and did not comment negatively on the news of the rapprochement and the restoration of the relations – as it did previously.

    There is no doubt that the battle of the “Sword of Jerusalem” and the presence of a new leadership in Hamas’ Political Bureau has thawed the ice significantly. But the answer to when full rapprochement will be achieved is a decision likely to be made between Assad and Nasrallah.

    The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Cradle.

    Algeria: 60 years of endless support for the Palestinian cause

    July 5, 2022

    Source: Al Mayadeen Net + Agencies

    By Ahmad Karakira 

    Algeria has always demonstrated unconditional support for the country of Palestine and the Palestinian cause, which dates back to fighting “Israel” and helping Egypt claim back Sinai in the 1973 October War.

    Algeria’s unconditional support for the Palestinian cause

    On July 5, 1962, after 132 years of French colonialism, Algeria declared its independence. The Evian agreements of March 18, 1962, ended the war between France and the Algerian National Liberation Army (ALN), and a referendum of self-determination took place on the first of July, 1962.

    The results of the referendum came in favor of transferring power from the French to the Algerian authorities on July 3, ending decades of occupation, settler colonialism, and massacres.

    The date – July 5 – was deliberately chosen by the Algerian government in reference to July 5, 1830, when the city of Algiers was occupied by France.

    The seven-year war between the French occupier and the Algerian resistance left around one million Algerian martyrs on the path of Algeria’s freedom and liberation.

    Endless stories about heroic epic battles by the Algerian resistance against Western colonialism can be recounted on the 60th anniversary of Algeria’s independence.

    However, this piece aims to shed light on Algeria’s endless support for Palestine, the Palestinian cause, and fellow Arab states against all forms of oppression and occupation since the north African country gained its liberation through resistance.

    “We are with Palestinians, be they the oppressed or the oppressors”

    To begin with, Palestinians supported the Algerian Revolution from 1954-1962 and showed solidarity through organizing fundraisers for Algeria.

    Despite some Arab states shamefully signing normalization agreements with the Israeli occupation in exchange for some benefits, Algeria has strongly opposed such deals, considering normalization with the occupation as a betrayal to the Arabs and the Palestinian cause.

    In the early 1970s, former Algerian President Houari Boumediene said his famous phrase, “We are with Palestinians, be they the oppressed or the oppressors.”

    It is noteworthy that similar to the official Algerian stance on Palestine, Algerians, according to the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, oppose normalizing ties with the Israeli occupation with a 99% rate.

    One would wonder about the secret behind Algeria’s unconditional support for the Palestinian cause.

    Historically, Algeria has always been advocating the Palestinian cause and supporting fellow Arab states against the Israeli occupation.

    In fact, after only five years of gaining its liberation from the French occupation, Algeria supported the Arab allies against “Israel” by sending troops and aircrafts to fight alongside the Arab states in the 1967 Six-Day War.

    The Algerian army also played an important role during the 1973 October war.

    Significantly, when Egypt signed the Camp David Agreement and established ties with the Israeli occupation, Algeria severed its ties with Egypt.

    In addition, Algeria established close relations with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), providing it with weapons, training its fighters during the 70s, and helping the PLO obtain observer status in the UN in 1974.

    After the former US President Donald Trump’s administration, the UAE, and “Israel” revealed the so-called “Abraham Accords” in August, current Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune stressed his country’s deep commitment to the Palestinian cause, affirming that Algeria deems Palestine as a sacred cause.

    Algiers also harshly criticized the normalizing states (the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan). It also paid the price for its anti-normalization stance, as the US acknowledged the Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara after years of unresolved disputes and unachievable status.

    In trying to understand the reason behind Algeria’s official and popular support for the Palestinian cause, Sami Hamdi, the Editor-in-Chief of the International Interest magazine, explained that “Algerians feel a deep resonance with the Palestinians who have been colonized for some 82 years and believe that whatever the difficulties, resistance will eventually succeed.”

    In the same context, TRT had quoted Jalel Harchaoui, a Senior Fellow at the Geneva-based Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, as saying that Algeria’s “somewhat exceptional history makes resistance against colonial powers writ large a narrative crucially central to the Algerian state as we know it.”

    Algeria’s participation in the 1973 October War

    Aiming to restore the lands that “Israel” occupied during the 1967 Six-Day War – Sinai in Egypt and the Golan Heights in Syria – on October 6, 1973, Cairo and Damascus launched an attack on the Zionist entity. The war coincided with the holy month of Ramadan.

    During that time, Algeria played a significant role in providing Egypt and Syria with Soviet weapons and bringing in troops to the Egyptian front to fight the Israeli occupation, despite its then-instable economic situation as a result of the pre-independence era of French colonialism.

    In fact, then-Algerian President Houari Boumedienne reportedly flew to Moscow to secure military aid for the Egyptians and the Syrians.

    In a reiteration of its role in supporting anti-colonialist movements, Algeria sent more than 2,100 troops, 815 non-commissioned officers, and 192 officers to Sinai. It also sent 96 tanks and over 50 fighters and bomber aircraft to Egypt, according to the Egyptian authorities.

    Algiers also participated in the oil embargo imposed by the Arab members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on the US over its support of the Israeli occupation during the war, which led to significant price hikes around the world.

    On October 17, Arab oil producers decided to increase the price of oil by 17% and cut oil production by 5%, vowing to “maintain the same rate of reduction each month thereafter until the Israeli forces are fully withdrawn from all Arab territories occupied during the June 1967 War, and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people are restored.”

    Sharon underestimated the power of Algerian forces

    In the context of the 1973 October War, the former Chief of Staff of the Israeli occupation forces, David Eliezer, acknowledged in his released diaries that “Israel” lost this war as a result of the arrogance of then-Major General Ariel Sharon, who underestimated the power of the Algerian forces and thought that they wouldn’t stand a chance against the IOF forces, thinking that they would flee as soon as they set their eyes on Israeli tanks.

    Eliezer said that 900 IOF soldiers were killed and 172 tanks were destroyed in just one day during the war.

    On his part, the former Israeli Security Minister Moshe Dayan revealed that all the intelligence information showed that Algerians did not have weapons capable of intercepting the Israeli forces.

    Dayan also said the Israelis received intelligence about a state of division between the Egyptians and the Algerians. The Israelis were surprised by the Algerian forces downing a giant US Lockheed C-5 Galaxy aircraft by a missile, which frightened the US Staff and frustrated the Nixon administration.

    The former Israeli minister said the Egyptian forces deceived the Israeli forces, making them believe that the strategic Al-Adabiya port was not fortified enough. However, the Algerian forces were in charge of protecting the port.

    One cannot but hail the role of Algeria in supporting the Palestinian cause and anti-colonial liberation movements, whether on the official or popular level. Despite the geographical distances separating Palestine from Algeria, Algerians believe that the two countries share the same pain, torture, grief, sorrow, and hopefully the same liberation to be achieved in the near future.

    Related Stories

    Briefing by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Moscow, May 18, 2022 (Extensive)

    May 20, 2022

    https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1813888/

    Table of contents

    1. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to attend BRICS Foreign Ministers’ meeting
    2. Sergey Lavrov’s participation in the 100 Questions for the Leader project at the Yevgeny Primakov Gymnasium
    3. Update on Ukraine
    4. Involving minors in Ukrainian nationalist formations
    5. Statement by Western leaders accusing Russia of cyberattacks against the Ukrainian communications infrastructure
    6. EU allegations of Russia’s “responsibility” for global food insecurity
    7. Biological warfare research in Ukraine
    8. Closing Canada’s CBC bureau in Moscow
    9. Situation at the JCPOA reactivation talks
    10. The situation in the Republic of Moldova
    11. Russia’s stance on Cyprus settlement
    12. Growing terrorist activity in Burkina Faso and neighbouring countries
    13. Desecration of Soviet military graves in Gdansk
    14. Desecrating a memorial to Generalissimo Alexander Suvorov’s comrades who died when crossing the Alps in 1799, in the Shollenen Gorge (Switzerland)
    15. 13th International Economic Summit Russia – Islamic World: KazanSummit 2022
    16. 2nd Kostomarov Forum
    17. Eurasian Economic Forum in Bishkek

    Answers to media questions:

    1. Russia’s withdrawal from the Council of the Baltic Sea States
    2. The transportation of grain from Ukraine
    3. The death of Al Jazeera journalist
    4. Calls for “regime change” in Russia
    5. Ukraine’s decision to nationalise Russian banks’ property
    6. Russia’s reaction to Finland and Sweden’s decision to join NATO
    7. Mass shooting in the United States
    8. Russian diplomats working in new conditions
    9. Russia’s reaction to the Western embargo on Russian energy exports
    10. Finland’s economic losses
    11. The future of Ukrainian militants who surrendered at Azovstal
    12. Situation with individuals detained in Ukraine
    13. Russia’s stand on NATO membership for Ukraine and Finland
    14. Russia’s response measures to Finland’s NATO membership
    15. Exchange of prisoners in Ukraine
    16. The possibility of Russia-Ukraine talks
    17. Trilateral working group
    18. Meeting of the Armenian-Azerbaijani commission on border delimitation and border security
    19. Acts of vandalism in Nagorno-Karabakh
    20. CSTO response to developments in Afghanistan
    21. Escalation in the Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous region of Tajikistan

    Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to attend BRICS Foreign Ministers’ meeting

    On May 19, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the BRICS countries via videoconference.

    The ministers will review global and regional issues, as well as the problems of maintaining peace and security and settling acute international conflicts. They will focus on coordinating the approaches of the BRICS nations at key multilateral platforms and intensifying cooperation in countering new challenges and threats.

    The ministers will review the BRICS strategic partnership in three key areas – political, economic and humanitarian – in the context of preparing for the upcoming 14th summit of the association.

    At the initiative of the Chinese Presidency in the Council of Foreign Ministers, a separate session will take place in BRICS-plus format with the participation of the foreign ministers from a number of developing nations.

    back to top

    Sergey Lavrov’s participation in the 100 Questions for the Leader project at the Yevgeny Primakov Gymnasium

    On May 23, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet with students at the autonomous non-profit general education organisation Yevgeny Primakov Regional Gymnasium as part of the 100 Questions for the Leader project.

    The project represents a special format for trustworthy conversations held by students with famous politicians and outstanding representatives of science, art and sports. It provides a priceless experience for direct dialogue between the rising generation and today’s leaders.

    back to top

    Update on Ukraine

    The special military operation continues in Ukraine. As Russian leaders have said more than once, it is going according to plan, and new territories are being freed from the Nazis every day.

    The Ukrainian military personnel and militants in Azov nationalist units that entrenched themselves in the underground bunkers of the Azovstal Plant, began to surrender in Mariupol this week. According to the Russian Defence Ministry, 959 Ukrainian nationalists, including 51 with severe wounds, have laid down their arms over two days. They receive medical aid at the Novoazovsk hospital in the DPR, and the rest were sent to a pretrial detention centre in Yelenovka in the suburbs of Donetsk. Indicatively, on May 17, this centre was shelled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine with multiple launch rocket systems (MLRSs). The Kiev regime has always treated its citizens like this, and this case was no exception.

    Russian leaders had repeatedly stated that resistance was senseless and announced the opening of humanitarian corridors for militants and Ukrainian military personnel to leave the Azovstal Plant after laying down their arms. They were urged to stop the hostilities. In the meantime, the Kiev regime was doing all it could to prevent civilians, military personnel and militants from leaving the plant. Why? They were brainwashing the public.

    It was Russia that urged the UN to look into this situation and persuade the Kiev regime to let people walk out. Later, Russia organised humanitarian corridors in cooperation with the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross. I would like to emphasise that the initiative on announcing and opening these corridors was ours.

    The wounded troops are provided with professional medical help. This fact is being turned upside down and misrepresented in the Ukrainian and international media. Remember the footage showing how the militants and the Armed Forces of Ukraine treat POWs in Ukraine? Everyone saw it. It horrified many, others pretended not to have seen it. Russian POWs were shot to death by militants from the nationalist units that became part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

    Russia has adopted a different approach. You see footage showing professional help being provided to the wounded [Ukrainian troops]. It is not being provided “for show.” It is provided to real individuals regardless of their background. Humanitarian law is not just something we abide by; it is of fundamental importance for us. No one should have any doubt about this.

    According to Ukrainian POWs, the military leadership of Ukraine forbids the troops to retreat or surrender. Their key goal is to destroy as much civilian infrastructure as possible in order to leave behind uninhabitable ruins and make it hard to restore peaceful life. This is not our messaging, but the testimony received from the Ukrainian side over the past weeks.

    The nationalists, who have long been using the tactics of ISIS terrorists, do not hesitate to use kindergartens, schools and hospitals as ammunition depots and strongholds. They are not hiding this. They take pictures inside preschools or with preschool buildings in the background to show how they fight there. The civilians are not allowed to evacuate. They are forcing people to leave their apartments so that they can set up firing positions there. They are driving people to basements that are used by militants or as weapons depots. The other day, Ukrainian nationalists began to bring in ammunition and deployed air defence systems on the grounds of the Odessa film studio. The territorial defence force militants go door-to-door in order to identify residents who do not accept the nationalist way of thinking. They are taken away to unknown locations and there’s no information about the fate of many of them.

    Earlier, the Zaporozhye administration banned the evacuation of civilians under the pretext of security. All attempts by the citizens to leave the city in private vehicles and on foot are stopped by the territorial defence militants at checkpoints. Those who resist are subjected to physical violence. Their vehicles are seized and they are sent back on foot.

    On May 16, Ukrainian nationalists used the Smerch MLRS to attack Kherson’s residential areas. There are no Russian troops in Kherson, which the Ukrainian side is well aware of. This means they specifically targeted civilians in retaliation for supporting Russia’s actions. This is yet another war crime committed by the Kiev regime. Fortunately, all 10 missiles have been intercepted by Russian air defence systems.

    Unfortunately, we do not see the international organisations, Western countries or their media respond to the criminal methods used by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. To be sure, it’s because there is no response. Moreover, the Western countries continue massive arms supplies to the Kiev regime. We consider this as direct support for neo-Nazis and an effort to make the fighting last as long as possible. We cannot ignore the fact that Western weapons are used to kill Russian troops and shell Russian territory.

    Arms deliveries are running into the billions of dollars which is comparable to military budgets of large states. The United States, Great Britain, France, Canada, Poland and the Baltic countries are doing the most to arm Kiev. Washington alone sent $3.8 billion worth of military equipment to the Kiev regime which is close to the military budgets of Austria, Portugal and Finland. The US Congress is considering a proposal to provide another $40 billion in “aid”, including about $25 billion worth of military equipment. This is half the military budget of Germany and France. I would like to draw the attention of the US public not so much to the size, which is comparable with the military budgets of other countries, as to the needs of the American people. They can put these funds to good use. If this money were sent as subsidies, aid, or sponsorship related in some way to humanitarian aid, one would understand it. But money is being sent to the Kiev regime for it to kill and to continue this phase of the crisis.

    More and more weapons abandoned by the Armed Forces of Ukraine are becoming the spoils of war for the People’s Militia of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and the Armed Forces of Russia. These include Javelin and NLAW ATGMs, Starstreak and Stinger MANPADS, Bayraktar drones, Switchblade loitering munitions, Skynet Longbow EW systems, CAESAR and PzH 2000s self-propelled and M777 towed howitzers.

    EU, US and UK officials keep saying that “victory must be achieved on the battlefield,” that “Russia must sustain a strategic defeat” and “cannot be allowed to win.” All these statements, in addition to the trade and economic blockade that has in effect been imposed on our country and the hybrid war unleashed against it, prove once again that the Western countries are waging war against Russia in Ukraine and that Ukraine itself and its citizens are an expendable resource for them. Our Chinese partners used the expression “cannon fodder.”

    In their information war, the Western countries resort to outright lies. They are trying to accuse our country of creating a global food shortage. We commented on this many times. Each time we cite facts, figures and other information that cannot be refuted. But nobody is trying to refute them. Western-spread lies are not supposed to be refuted. They are too absurd to comment on. It is forgotten that crisis phenomena in the world food market are linked with the West’s accumulated mistakes and miscalculations in macroeconomic, energy and agricultural policy. The coronavirus pandemic has contributed as well. In the middle of 2020, Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme David Beasley warned about the threat of “famines of biblical proportions.” Unilateral Western sanctions exacerbated this trend. So, millions of people will have to go hungry because of the geopolitical ambitions, egotism and stupidity of the collective West.

    At the same time, we are seeing a striving of the Western curators to take out of Ukraine everything that may be of some value. This is also a repetition of history of 80 years ago. Hundreds of grain carriers are crossing the Ukrainian border on the way to Europe. The Kiev regime has organised massive daily exports of agricultural products to Europe in exchange for weapons by road and rail, as well as by river on the Danube to Romania via the port of Ismail.

    Think of what is happening. Against the backdrop of statements by the collective West about the imminent famine (the Kiev regime is supposed to trust the West), the leaders of Ukraine are getting rid of food products. Ukrainian citizens need them now. The Armed Forces of Ukraine also need them since the Kiev regime is not going to stop hostilities. However, food products are being sent abroad instead. Where to? To NATO countries. The Ukrainians receive weapons in exchange for these products so that they can continue killing themselves. This is not Nazism. This are even more terrifying maniacal ideas that are even worse than the misanthropic concepts applied to the population of Ukraine, Russia and the rest of the former USSR in the middle of the 20th century.

    These are tremendous amounts of grain, maize, oil crops and livestock animals. On May 10 of this year, US President Joseph Biden said that Washington was thinking about ways of exporting from Ukraine 20 million tonnes of grain, supposedly with a view to reducing prices in the world markets. You know how much the United States and the White House care about the needs of hungry people in Africa and Asia, how much they want all people in the world to live a better life, eat well and be wealthier. We know this bewitching American pacifism and striving to do good for everyone. But this is not the case. This is about robbing Ukraine, its citizens and military of the last things they have. Washington obviously is not concerned about what the Ukrainians will be left with after this feast. Ukrainian citizens did not believe us 10 years ago and five years ago. Maybe it’s time to wise up. To realise that they are being deprived of the last things they have. Food products, grain – the results of their labour – are being taken out of the country. When we were in school and university, we were told that the fascists and Nazis hauled away Ukrainian natural soil by railway and this was presented as the supreme manifestation of their hatred for Soviet citizens. Now the logic is even more gruesome – Ukrainian citizens are being deprived of the fruits of their labour at a time when their country is engaged in hostilities.

    For our part, we are paying close attention to the humanitarian situation in the liberated areas and facilitating the restoration of peaceful life. Russian military are clearing Ukrainian mines in cities and farming lands. People in the DPR, LPR and a number of regions in Ukraine have already been supplied with 20,000 tonnes of basic necessities, food products, medications and medical devices.

    We regret that the United States, Britain and several European countries are supporting and sponsoring those who are preaching in Ukraine the ideas of aggressive nationalism and neo-Nazism. They continue supplying the Kiev regime with arms and robbing the Ukrainian people. However, these efforts will not change the situation.

    As the Russian leaders said more than once, Russia will achieve the goals of its military operation on denazifying and demilitarising Ukraine, defending the DPR and the LPR and removing the threats to its own security.

    back to top

    Involving minors in Ukrainian nationalist formations

    As the nationalist formations of Ukraine continue to be driven out of Donbass, new facts have come to light which confirm the involvement of children in these hate-crazed units. We have repeatedly stated that right-wing radical organisations operating under the patronage of the Kiev regime have systematically spread extremism among minors in order to embed the ideas of militant nationalism in Ukrainian society.

    Neo-Nazis from Azov began large-scale recruitment of children back in 2015 when, upon the initiative of the National Corps leader Andrey Biletsky, they set up the Youth Corps’ “children’s camps.” In 2015, they took in children aged 9 to 18 and since 2016, 7 to 18.

    A military youth wing called National Squads was formed at the National Corps in 2018. Hundreds of young people over the age of 14 joined it. The instructors from Azov taught them how to fight the “enemies of Ukraine,” including with firearms.

    The specialised Youth Corps’ needs are covered by the Ukrainian state budget. Does that sound familiar? In 2019, organisations associated with the National Corps received $17,000 to hold events for children and youth. We see it. And we know what kind of values people with Azov insignia on their sleeves and nationalist and neo-Nazi symbols are teaching ​​young people. There are training camps for teenagers such as Azovets, Bukovynets, and Dnepryanin in different parts of the country. Teenagers were lured through social media and messengers.

    Eyewitnesses are saying that neo-Nazis from Azov do not limit themselves to “children’s camps” and have expanded their group by bringing aboard minor orphans which fact is corroborated by the situation at the Piligrim orphanage in Mariupol. Azov worked closely with the children from this orphanage training them in combat, including sharp shooting, during eight years beginning in 2014. Reportedly, in 2014, children from Piligrim helped the Ukrainian army dig trenches outside Mariupol and build checkpoints later in October. Residents of Mariupol say that during the events of February-April 2022, the Respublika Piligrim Children’s Rehabilitation Centre was the headquarters of the territorial defence, where militants from Azov and other radical groups were based. There’s video evidence showing that teenagers from Piligrim took part in the hostilities on the side of the neo-Nazis, and also set fire to civilian homes.

    “The neo-Nazi Ukrainian group Azov-operated Piligrim orphanage in Mariupol is a prototype of Ukraine that the Nazis wanted to build and what it would inevitably become if it were not for the special operation by the Russian Armed Forces,” Alexey Selivanov, former (until 2014) Advisor to the Defence Minister of Ukraine and Deputy Head of the Main Directorate of the Interior Ministry for the Zaporozhye Region, said. This is what someone who served in the Armed Forces of Ukraine had to say.

    According to Selivanov, Piligrim can stand in for all of Ukraine, and the orphanage, in which children were converted into militants, is a clear confirmation of the fact that something drastic had to be done with this Ukrainian project.

    These facts clearly show that Ukraine violated its obligations under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child concerning the involvement of children in armed conflicts. When ratifying this international treaty in 2005, Ukraine declared that the minimum age for voluntary (on a contract basis) enlistment into national armed forces was 19.

    We call upon relevant international organisations, such as the UN and the OSCE, as well as the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, to pay special attention to Kiev’s involvement of children in criminal neo-Nazi organisations and spreading of radical ideas among minors.

    There is no need to pretend that in a surge of patriotism these children went to the barricades in February 2022. They have been trained to make war for many years. And the militants of the nationalist battalions are the ones who did it.

    back to top

    Statement by Western leaders accusing Russia of cyberattacks against the Ukrainian communications infrastructure

    The West continues its attempts to portray Russia as a cyber-aggressor. We perceive the recent statements, made on May 10, 2022, by foreign policy agencies of the United States, the United Kingdom and their allies in precisely this context. These statements accuse Russia of launching cyberattacks against the Ukrainian communications infrastructure in February 2022. Predictably, they did not provide any evidence. As usual, they follow their favourite “highly likely” logic.

    Western capitals think of themselves as supreme rulers of cyberspace. They rubberstamp accusations that have nothing to do with reality. They probably believe that they will also get away with this anti-Russia provocation. They think all states will perceive this propaganda as a sufficient reason for bringing to account culprits arbitrarily appointed by the US administration. After depleting the potential of sanctions, they are now resorting to other ploys from their rich cinematographic legacy, including promises to pay handsomely anyone who will testify in favour of Washington’s allegations.

    Obviously, the policy of intimidation and deception is called on to camouflage the futile US attempts to impose its own perception of an international political order, to conceal its own flaws regarding protection of personal data, the right to privacy and inability to maintain constructive cooperation between specialised agencies to thwart illegal activities in the IT sphere.  Consequently, they want to continue their long-term digital dictate against the public at home and in other countries and to plunder their intellectual resources with the help of companies and agencies affiliated with security services.

    back to top

    EU allegations of Russia’s “responsibility” for global food insecurity

    The EU, the United States and their supporters have unleashed a campaign accusing Russia of provoking a global food crisis. The main thesis is that Moscow’s actions in Ukraine, including the “blocking” of the Ukrainian grain exports via Black Sea ports, are leading to food shortages and hunger in the world’s poorest countries. We know how the “collective West” is “helping” these countries. They are considering ways to turn ordinary countries into poorest states (by transporting grain to their own countries), and they never or hardly ever think about the poorest countries.

    As usual, Brussels is deceiving the international community by openly distorting the reasons for the current situation. The EU is openly trying to use the allegation of Russia’s “responsibility” for the deteriorating global food security to convince other countries to support the anti-Russia policies of the West. They simply tell the countries that have a neutral and balanced position that there is a dire shortage of food in their region and that this situation can be remedied if these countries assume the anti-Russia position. They ask them to sign certain documents, vote the “right way” or make a required statement, saying that this will ensure food supplies. It’s a staple of the genre, not a new invention. At the same time, Brussels is using open blackmail, offering food for loyalty.  It has not yet stooped to heavy-handed interference, but this approach cannot be ruled out in the ideological and political spheres. Countries are being forced to make a choice, and this is being done with media assistance.

    Meanwhile, the EU has done nothing to prevent the “Ukrainian crisis” and continues to send weapons to Kiev, which makes it responsible for tensions on the global food market. There are numerous indications of this.

    The EU has openly declared a total trade and economic war on Russia. We know that Washington actually pressured the EU into doing this, which the United States has openly admitted and trumpeted. The EU politicians who are advocating and shouting about new sanctions are comfortable with the fact that Russia is a global leader in the supply of basic agricultural products, which have no or very few alternatives, such as grain, barley, sunflower seeds and feed crops, as well as mineral fertilisers, a major share of which are exported to the low-income countries that are facing food shortages. The EU politicians do not care about this, because nobody has ever called them to account.

    The disruption of trade, logistics and financial chains and, consequently, a sharp rise in food prices throughout the world are a direct result of the irresponsible adoption of even more anti-Russia restrictions and threats of increased sanctions pressure on Russia. Russia’s bank settlements and flights to and from EU countries have been blocked. Isn’t this a direct cause of the situation on the food market? Only those who live in a vacuum can think so. Brussels has adopted unprecedented restrictions on Russian fertiliser exports and individual sanctions on major Russian fertiliser producers and exporters. The declared goal of this policy is to undermine Russia’s economy, including agriculture, which moved into top gear over the past years. Blinded by their hatred for Russia, nobody stopped to think about the consequences for the countries which traditionally depend on our supplies. When they became aware of what happened, they attempted to shift the blame on Russia. It’s crossing the line beyond good and evil.

    Cynically claiming to be concerned about humanitarian matters, Brussels is rushing to offer its help. They simply love to create problem and then break their brains over them. The question is who should tackle the current problem. The so-called “solidarity lanes” plan to improve EU-Ukraine connectivity for grain export, which the European Commission presented the other day, is nothing other than requisitioning. Actually, Brussels has declared a full-scale mobilisation campaign to remove the available Ukrainian grain to the EU. When Ukraine, prompted by the West, shouted about the Holodomor, when grain was taken from producers in a bad harvest year, and presented it as the genocide of Ukrainians, the West applauded and looked for other pretexts to accuse Russia of unimaginable sins. What will it do now? It has announced that “hungry times” are coming. Why are they trying to remove the last remaining grain stocks from Ukraine? This is impossible, but it’s a fact. This is requisitioning.

    The EU plan provides for creating alternative lanes to export Ukrainian agricultural produce to the EU and other countries, because the sea route has been blocked through Kiev’s fault. The EU will ease the formalities, expedite the sending of additional freight rolling stock, vessels and lorries to the Ukrainian border for transporting grain, transfer mobile grain loaders, make rail slots available for these exports, and suspend customs duties on Ukrainian exports for a year. Is this a licence to take advantage of Ukraine’s situation? To grab what you can lay your hands on? That’s rich!

    Brussels views the large-scale transportation of grain from Ukraine as part of its “fundamental geostrategic goal.” The EU intends to achieve it even though international experts believe that Ukraine’s grain harvest will be much smaller this year. They expect problems in Ukraine, and yet they are taking away its last grain stocks. To present this as a noble act, Brussels has announced that it is guided above all by a desire to protect the world from Russia, which allegedly wants to take advantage of the global insecurity problem it presumably created in the first place, and to “steal” Ukraine’s share on the global market, so as to gain geopolitical weight in its confrontation with the West by supplying food to the most vulnerable poor countries. This is inhuman. We would like to tell our EU neighbours that this is not our but their methods.

    The soaring prices of grain, feed crops and fertilisers, not to mention energy, and the unprofitability of farming and fishing businesses were a major concern for the EU member states long before the current crisis. Take a look at your own statements, reports and television shows. In late March 2022, a regular EU summit adopted a decision on the need to ensure food affordability in the member states. Several weeks later, the European Commission presented a detailed initiative on the urgent transportation of 20 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain, which can seriously undermine the food security of Ukraine. However, Brussels, which is being guided by “the worse for Ukraine, the better for the West” principle, is not concerned about that.

    We urge the international community not to rise to Western provocations, to accept reality and to rely on facts, since the West is willing to use the global food security problems, which it itself is actively creating and which did not appear yesterday, to attain its time-serving political interests. This is a historical fact. The “collective West” is accusing us because it is “highly likely” that we did it because we “always did it.” They say that we “always” did it, but they are not providing examples, let alone any proof. The West is plundering Ukraine now, just as the colonial West plundered other countries in the past, taking whatever it needed. It is doing exactly the same now.

    back to top

    Biological warfare research in Ukraine

    The Russian Federation has obtained materials indicating that biological laboratories in Ukraine operating with support from the Pentagon’s Defence Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and its affiliated companies – Black and Veatch and CH2M Hill – engaged in biological warfare research in violation of Articles I and IV of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC).

    The laboratories conducted research into dangerous and highly dangerous pathogens in the interests of the Pentagon’s National Centre for Medical Intelligence, with the BSL-3 Central Reference Laboratory based at Ukraine’s Mechnikov Anti-Plague Research Institute in Odessa playing the key role in these programmes.

    The following research centres were also actively involved in their implementation:

    – State Scientific and Research Institute of Laboratory Diagnostics and Veterinary and Sanitary Expertise,  Institute of Veterinary Medicine of the Academy of Agrarian Sciences, and the Central Sanitary and Epidemiological Station of the Ukrainian Ministry of Health in Kiev;

    – Research Institute of Epidemiology and Hygiene of the Ukrainian Ministry of Health, State Laboratory of Veterinary Medicine, and Regional Centre for Disease Control and Prevention of the Ukrainian Ministry of Health in Lvov;

    – State Regional Laboratory of Veterinary Medicine in Dnepr;

    – Regional Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Kherson;

    – Sanitary and Epidemiological Station Laboratory in Ternopol;

    – Transcarpathian Regional Laboratory Centre of the Ukrainian Ministry of Health in Uzhgorod;

    – Regional Laboratory Centre of the Ukrainian Ministry of Health in Vinnitsa;

    – National Scientific Centre Institute of Experimental and Clinical Veterinary Medicine in Kharkov.

    Thirty Ukrainian laboratories in 14 cities were involved in full-scale biological warfare research in Ukraine. The registration card of the relevant programme was signed by Deputy State Secretary of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine Viktor Polishchuk.  The legal framework was provided by the Agreement between the Department of Defenсe of the United States of America and the Ministry of Health of Ukraine Concerning Cooperation in the Area of Prevention of Proliferation of Technology, Pathogens and Expertise That Could be Used in the Development of Biological Weapons.   The RC determined the commissioner of the work – the Pentagon’s Defence Threat Reduction Agency – and a list of biological facilities.

    The employees working with dangerous pathogens in Ukraine were US citizens who had diplomatic immunity. The group included biological weapons experts; they established contacts with Ukrainians, who were previously involved in Soviet biological warfare programmes. For example, Project UP-8 studying the Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever and Hantaviruses is evidence that all serious high-hazard research was directly supervised by US specialists.

    The documents obtained allow us to state that the Ukrainian biological laboratories (including divisions of the Central Sanitary and Epidemiological Directorate of the Ukrainian Defence Ministry) engaged in activities aimed at enhancing the pathogenic properties of agents inducing plague, anthrax, tularaemia, cholera, and other deadly diseases, using synthetic biology methods.

    On February 24, 2022, the Ukrainian Health Ministry publicly issued instructions to immediately dispose of the reserves of dangerous and especially dangerous pathogens stored at biological facilities, which proves that the Kiev regime did try to sweep any traces of these operations under the carpet. The review of the disposal statements confirmed that these facilities worked with the plague, anthrax, leptospirosis, and brucellosis agents. In the Lvov laboratory alone, they destroyed 232 containers of leptospirosis agents, 30 of tularemia, 10 of brucellosis, and 5 containing plague pathogens, and in total, over 320 containers. This inventory, coupled with the excessive quantity of pathogens, demonstrates that we are dealing here with biological weapons programmes carried out in violation of Article 1 of the BWC.

    We also obtained evidence that two biological laboratories in Mariupol were working with the Pentagon. The preliminary review of the remaining documents showed that Mariupol served as a regional hub for collecting and classifying cholera agents. The selected strains were then transferred to the Public Health Centre in Kiev, which then forwarded these biological samples to the United States. Carried out since 2014, this activity is evidenced by statements confirming the transfer of the strains. Why did it start in 2014? The reason lies in the anti-constitutional coup. It upended Ukraine’s independence in making decisions, and overseeing and analysing activities of this kind. People from the United States, Canada and other NATO countries flocked to Ukraine to take charge of the main domestic, foreign policy and economic activity and everything related to defence, military and strategic affairs, etc.

    A statement was discovered in a sanitary and epidemiological laboratory. Dated February 25, 2022, it provides for the disposal of a collection of pathogenic microorganisms, demonstrating that the facility worked with cholera, tularemia, and anthrax agents.

    In the rush to dispose of the inventory, part of it remained in this veterinary laboratory. The fact that it contained agents that are not typically found in livestock, such as typhoid, paratyphoid, and gas gangrene, is quite perplexing. This could mean that this laboratory, too, took part in the biological weapons programme.

    We have every reason to assert that the DTRA focused its operations in Ukraine on collecting strains of dangerous microorganisms and exporting them to the United States, as well as studying naturally occurring agents in this region, which can be transmitted to people, with the aim of potentially using them in biological weapons. In 2020, two mobile laboratories arrived in Donbass in order to collect biological samples from the local population, primarily in the country’s eastern regions, and study them. Black and Veatch acted as DTRA’s contractor in this project.

    It was with DTRA’s support that the laboratories in Kiev, Kharkov and Odessa in Ukraine took part in the UP-4 project before 2020 to study the transmission of especially dangerous infections (highly pathogenic influenza A H5N1, which has a mortality rate of over 50 percent for humans, as well as the Newcastle Disease, which affects poultry) by wild birds migrating between Ukraine, Russia and other Eastern European countries.

    In addition, the documents we obtained show that the United States planned to work on bird, bat and reptile pathogens in Ukraine this year, followed by a study of whether they could transmit the African swine fever and anthrax (P-781, UP-2, UP-9, UP-10 projects). This was a system-wide research effort carried out since at least 2009 and controlled directly by US specialists as part of projects P-382, P-444 and P-568. DTRA’s office head at the US embassy in Kiev was among those overseeing this activity.

    One of the goals of the UP-2 project consisted of locating places where animal carcasses had been buried and collecting soil samples from burial sites of cattle infected with anthrax. The epidemiological situation in Ukraine as far as anthrax was concerned was quite positive, which begs the question: What was the Pentagon actually looking for? I would like to remind all geography buffs out there in NATO (we saw incredible people who thought that the Baltic and the Black seas form one big lake) that the United States does not share a border with Ukraine. Even if they want to find one, it is still not there. Attempts by the Pentagon to present this as a national security concern are groundless and do not hold water. But what was the Pentagon doing in the Ukrainian biological laboratories in the first place? The fact that the US military biologists were so keen to study disease-transmitting insects near cattle burial sites was not a coincidence, since during the 2016 anthrax outbreak in Russia there were cases where flies, including horseflies, transmitted the disease.

    In addition, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation discovered three drones, equipped with 30-litre containers and sprays, in the Kherson Region on March 9, 2022. In late April 2022, they discovered 10 more devices of this kind near Kakhovka, after Russia released documents demonstrating Ukraine’s attempts to obtain drones equipped with sprays from the maker of the Bayraktars.

    More than 4,000 people took part in studies under project UP-8. According to the Bulgarian media, some 20 Ukrainian soldiers died and 200 were hospitalised in the Kharkov laboratory alone during the experiments. The United States cannot carry out this activity on its own territory, so its military carry it out abroad. Where? Where they can, where there are no laws, where there is nobody to implement or enforce the law. This happened to be Ukraine.

    It is an established fact that potentially dangerous biological agents were tested on the most vulnerable social group – patients at Kharkov’s regional psychiatric hospital No. 3. We have evidence describing in detail the Pentagon’s inhuman experiments with Ukrainian citizens at psychiatric hospital No. 1 (Strelechye, Kharkov Region).

    The research results on the spread of dangerous deadly diseases like cholera, smallpox, anthrax, and botulinum toxins, were sent to military biological centres in the United States. These include the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Naval Medical Research Centre, as well as US Army Biological Warfare Laboratories at Fort Detrick, which used to be the key facilities in the US biological weapons programme. The US virologists focused on analysing the obtained samples to identify gene mutations in the agents and assess their virulence, pathogenic power and resistance to treatment.

    Incidentally, about 2,000 blood serum samples taken from Ukrainian citizens of predominantly Slavic ethnic background have been sent to the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. More than 140 containers with bat ectoparasites such as fleas and ticks have been transferred to Germany.

    The programmes were financed either directly under DTRA contracts with private American companies (mainly СН2М Hill) as part of the Defence Department’s project to counter especially dangerous pathogens in Ukraine until 2024, or through the Science and Technology Centre in Ukraine. Overall, more than $1.5 billion has been allocated for the implementation of bioprojects over the past 10 years. In particular, the Rosemont Seneca investment fund with financial resources of at least $2.4 billion has been involved in financing this activity. At the same time, it has been found to be closely linked with the main Pentagon contractors, including Metabiota, which, along with Black and Veatch, is the main equipment supplier for Pentagon’s biolabs across the world.

    According to reports, DTRA informed the Pentagon in early March that the facilities in Ukraine used by US biological research programmes were a growing danger for European countries due to the hostilities on Ukrainian territory.

    Worse still, the experiments with dangerous and highly dangerous pathogens carried out in Ukraine in the interests of the Pentagon had long been attracting attention from Ukrainian nationalist groups. In case of a military defeat, the nationalists could use those materials to implement the so-called scorched earth tactic, which was an additional threat.

    Furthermore, during the special military operation, Russia obtained materials that evidenced the deliberate use, in 2020, of a multidrug-resistant tuberculosis pathogen to infect the population, including minors, in the Slavyanoserbsky District of the LPR by distributing flyers that looked like counterfeit banknotes. According to the Lugansk Republican Sanitary and Epidemiological Station report, “… the banknotes have most likely been infected artificially because the sample contains extremely dangerous strains in a concentration that can ensure infection and the development of the tuberculosis process.” The chief physician of the Lugansk Republican TB Prevention Centre has confirmed in a letter that “there are all signs of deliberate, man-made contamination of flyers with highly pathogenic biomaterial.” Do you know what they are testing the Ukrainians’ samples for in the EU? Tuberculosis. Why? Because they know what NATO agencies have been doing there.

    DTRA has proposed to the Pentagon chiefs to take additional measures to monitor the epidemiological situation in Ukraine and neighbouring European countries. In case of any infection outbreaks, the recommendation is to immediately accuse the Russian Armed Forces of “attacking research and medical institutions,” or blame “Russian sabotage groups.” They have already established the necessary communication channels with the Pentagon’s partners in Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

    According to available information, DTRA demanded that the Ukrainian ministries of defence and health ensure the guaranteed destruction of all remaining materials from the bio-research projects in Ukraine. The people who are now in the EU countries, many of them suffering from tuberculosis, are not victims of airstrikes on Ukrainian research centres used by the Pentagon. They weren’t subjected to any of that. They are just carriers. Because the United States has been carrying out that activity on the territory of the country where they lived. DTRA was afraid the international community would interpret the information about the results of their experiments as a violation of the BTWC by the United States. Most of the documents have been removed from the labs in Kiev, Odessa and Kharkov to the Research Institute of Epidemiology and Hygiene and American diplomatic institutions in Lvov.

    The materials obtained by the Russian Federation suggest an unambiguous conclusion that private American companies affiliated with the Pentagon had been supporting the development of bioweapons in labs on the territory of Ukraine in the immediate vicinity of Russia. The urgent destruction of especially dangerous pathogens was required to prevent the discovery of violations of Articles 1 and 4 of the BTWC. This has confirmed the validity of Russia’s repeated claims, in the context of the implementation of the BTWC, about the biological warfare activities the United States and its allies have been conducting in post-Soviet countries.

    We are preparing to invoke the mechanisms of Articles 5 and 6 of the BTWC, according to which the states parties must consult one another and cooperate in solving any problems that may arise in relation to the purpose of the Convention or the implementation of its provisions, as well as cooperate in any investigation of possible violations of BTWC obligations.

    back to top

    Closing Canada’s CBC bureau in Moscow 

    With deep regret we continue to note blatant attacks on Russian media in the countries of the “collective West.” They call themselves civilised, developed democracies. Among recent examples is Canada’s ban on the Russian television channels RT and RT France. We said that we would respond. The response would be symmetrical, similar, proportional, it does not matter. But it would be adequate.

    We have repeatedly warned that such unilateral restrictive measures that defy the principles of freedom of speech and hinder the work of the Russian media will not be left unanswered. Everybody must realise that our response is inevitable and will happen following any such incident.

    In this regard, a decision has been made to respond to Canada’s actions, namely, to close the Moscow bureau of CBC, the Canadian state television of radio broadcasting corporation, including cancelling the accreditations and Russian visas of its journalists.

    Unfortunately, it is blatantly clear that the official Ottawa is pursuing an openly Russophobic course. It is understandable. Who had been steering the country’s foreign policy for many years? A person with roots going back to mid-20th century collaborationism. It is clear why they turn a blind eye to neo-Nazism in Ukraine: they were the ones who encouraged it. In addition to direct political, military and financial support of the Kiev regime, the attacks on dissenting views and media censorship have been part of their Russophobic course. Any alternate point of view is always dubbed the Kremlin’s disinformation.

    Ottawa’s anti-Russia policy is reflected in the most negative way in the actions of Canada’s state television and radio. In fact, CBC has transformed into the voice of propaganda that distributes fake news and questionable information regarding Russia, consigning journalist ethnics and even elementary rules of decorum to oblivion. We would have put up with that. We did for many years; we ignored or disavowed fake information, disclosed and refuted it. But there have been actual restrictions against Russian media. So, we respond in kind.

    Once again, we emphasise that Moscow’s retaliation measures towards the hostile actions of the Trudeau’s government are not aimed against the people of Canada, who our country traditionally respects. The problem is with Canada’s ruling elite and the media that serve it. They are deliberately destroying Russia-Canada relations to the detriment of its own national interests.

    back to top

    Situation at the JCPOA reactivation talks

    Despite a certain lull at the talks in Vienna, the countries, parties to the nuclear deal, as well as US representatives, continue to exert vigorous efforts, while searching for the most effective and mutually acceptable way of resuming the full-fledged implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) under its initial parameters. All the concerned parties realise that there is no alternative to the nuclear deal.

    The parties to the negotiating process continue to maintain their contacts. Enrique Mora, Deputy Secretary-General of the European External Action Service and Coordinator of the Joint Commission of the JCPOA, visited Tehran last week. European and Iranian colleagues positively assess the meetings that took place during this visit, and note incipient progress. This instils a certain hope that we have taken one more step towards our main goal, namely ensuring the full-fledged reactivation of the JCPOA.

    In turn, we intend to continue doing everything possible to ensure the positive outcome of the talks in Vienna, which require wholehearted efforts from all the participants, including Iran, the United States and European countries. This is our firm and objective position. We are urging all healthy forces to use their energy to preserve the JCPOA and restore the calibrated balance of interests on which it hinges.

    back to top

    The situation in the Republic of Moldova

    We have noted a number of events in Moldova that are a cause for concern.

    On May 11, 2022, Moldova’s TV-8 television channel broadcast a Skype interview with Leonid Volkov, a member of the Russian opposition. He is a person of interest in criminal cases that have been opened in Russia, and arrest warrants have been issued for him in CIS member states under the Agreement on Interstate Search for People of December 10, 2010, of which the Republic of Moldova is a party. At the same time, the country stipulates tough broadcasting restrictions for Russian media outlets, claiming “unbalanced” information content provision. Has Moldova banned CNN or BBC broadcasts? Has it banned the websites of the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Financial Times? Or do they provide completely balanced information content?

    On May 13, 2022, the Moldova Post said it was temporarily suspending the delivery of all letters and parcels to the Russian Federation, citing “technical reasons.” Over 220,000 Russian citizens now live in Moldova, and Moldovan diaspora in Russia has more than 200,000 members. The Moldova Post’s decision infringes upon the right of Russian and Moldovan residents to maintain business, cultural, humanitarian and personal contacts.

    The above-mentioned actions of official Chisinau, as well as some of its other actions and statements, make one doubt that the country’s leadership is really committed to the Republic’s neutral status, to honouring the rights and interests of its residents, as well as to maintaining pragmatic and mutually beneficial partnership with Russia.  I know that Chisinau reacts sensitively to our statements, but we are no less sensitive to their actions.

    Although the Moldovan authorities did not announce this, various national agencies are applying Western anti-Russian sanctions in the banking sphere and during the re-export of Russian goods. With the connivance of the Moldovan authorities, protesters have been staging daily anti-Russia rallies near the Russian Embassy in Chisinau for almost 60 days, and these rallies hamper the normal work of the diplomatic mission. A recent outrageous ban on using St George ribbons in the Republic caused a public outcry in Russia and Moldova.

    We are once again urging the Moldovan party to refrain from actions that are detrimental to relations with Russia and not to follow in the wake of forces striving to involve the Republic of Moldova in the anti-Russia campaign. This negatively affects the citizens of our countries, in particular.

    back to top

    Russia’s stance on Cyprus settlement

    Once again, we are seeing certain media outlets spreading rumours that Russia is changing its principled stance on the Cyprus settlement. These provocative rumours have nothing to do with reality and pursue just one goal: to discredit our country and its foreign policy.

    We have never questioned the principles of the peaceful solution to the Cyprus issue. We continue to consistently support a solution in line with international law and UN Security Council resolutions, which provide for creating a bicommunal bizonal federation with common international identity, sovereignty and citizenship.

    Once again, our approach to the situation in Cyprus is widely known and remains unchanged concerning all aspects, including the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFYCIP), which plays an exceptionally important stabilising role in the current environment of uncertainty. We believe it is important to continue the operation of UNFYCIP as it was important to appoint a UN Secretary-General Special Representative in charge of the settlement that reports to the UN Security Council.

    I would like to note for Cypriot media that we are always ready to comment on any leaks they may get to prevent misinformation on their pages.

    back to top

    Growing terrorist activity in Burkina Faso and neighbouring countries

    We are concerned about significantly intensified extremist activity in Burkina Faso and increasingly frequent cases of the extremists crossing over to the neighbouring countries.

    In particular, on May 14‒16, 2022, a series of attacks on gendarmerie posts and self-defence groups, as well as attacks on a column of civilians near the border with Benin took place in the northern and eastern regions of Burkina Faso. The attacks resulted in more than 40 victims, including among civilians.

    Earlier, in the early hours of May 11, 2011, as a result of a large-scale attack from the northern territory of Burkina Faso targeting an advance outpost of the Togolese armed forces, eight members of the military were killed and 13 sustained injuries of different severity levels. This was the first terrorist attack with casualties in the history of the state.

    We strongly condemn these crimes and extend our condolences to the loved ones of those killed and wish speedy recovery to the injured.

    back to top

    Desecration of Soviet military graves in Gdansk

    We were outraged by an act of vandalism committed on May 11, 2022, in Gdansk, where perpetrators tore out and damaged 20 stars on the memorials to Soviet liberators on the graves of the Red Army soldiers killed while liberating the city.

    The nature of this heinous act is absolutely clear: insulting the memory of the dead is now an integral part of Polish political provocateurs’ arsenal. This latest incident is not a random occasion but part of a deliberate campaign pursued by official Warsaw to disparage everything that is sacred for the people of Russia and those who fought against the brown plague.

    Sadly, regular reports on criminal and immoral acts against the Soviet military legacy in Poland have long become ordinary news indicating that Polish officials have unleashed a Russophobic campaign. Recently, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki publicly confessed to his hatred of everything Russian thus revealing the nature of Warsaw’s policy against our country. Or is it just his personal opinion?

    We can confidently say that Warsaw, neglecting all moral and international legal norms, has embarked on a course of state-supported vandalism against the memory of Soviet soldiers who gave their lives to save Poland from extermination by Nazis.

    We want to remind any frenzied Russophobes that all their barbaric acts and dirty pillaging will not destroy the truth about the Victory. We will not allow it.

    back to top

    Desecrating a memorial to Generalissimo Alexander Suvorov’s comrades who died when crossing the Alps in 1799, in the Shollenen Gorge (Switzerland)

    On May 15, 2022, unidentified individuals desecrated the memorial to Generalissimo Alexander Suvorov’s comrades who died while crossing the Alps in 1799, in the Shollenen Gorge in Switzerland. The memorial cross and inscription were splashed with paint. What did Suvorov do to offend them?

    We are deeply outraged by this horrendous act of vandalism. The incident demonstrates the level of culture in Switzerland. It has nothing to do with us. It has everything to do with you and those who stand behind this kind of campaigns, condone them and fail to search for or covers for the perpetrators.

    We sent a protest note to the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation demanding that it takes urgent measures to rectify the damage caused, find and prosecute the guilty and ensure proper security of the memorial.

    back to top

    13th International Economic Summit Russia – Islamic World: KazanSummit 2022

    On May 19‒21, 2022, the 13th International Economic Summit Russia – Islamic World: KazanSummit 2022 will take place in Kazan. The event is held under the aegis of the Russia – Islamic World Strategic Vision Group, chaired by President of the Republic of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov.

    KazanSummit is a well-established platform for presenting the Russian Federation’s economic opportunities and investment potential to its partners from Islamic countries. It serves as a modern dialogue platform for building new connections between representatives of international organisations, financial institutions and government bodies, embassies, and the senior managers of major Russian and foreign companies. Several events are scheduled on the sidelines of this year’s summit, including Russia Halal Expo 2022, the Machine Engineering Cluster Forum, World Halal Day and festivities marking the 1,100th anniversary of Volga Bulgaria’s adoption of Islam.

    Deputy Foreign Minister and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East Mikhail Bodganov and Ambassador-at-Large Konstantin Shuvalov will take part on behalf of the Russian Foreign Ministry.

    The 6th OIC Young Diplomats’ Forum (hereinafter the “forum”) will also take place during the summit, to be attended by representatives of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Council of Young Diplomats, as well as invited guests and experts.

    The forum will focus on issues of indivisible security, prospects for cooperation with OIC countries, countering new challenges and threats, and the role of young diplomats from the Islamic world in forming a major foreign political agenda. The International Association of Young Diplomats will hold its first induction ceremony.

    The forum has been held since 2015, with more than 160 representatives of the OIC foreign ministries and agencies attending over the years. The forum is organised by the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Council of Young Diplomats, the Government of the Republic of Tatarstan and the Academy of Youth Diplomacy public organisation.

    back to top

    2nd Kostomarov Forum

    One of our country’s priorities on the foreign humanitarian track is supporting and promoting the Russian language abroad. The Kostomarov Forum, organised by the Alexander Pushkin State Institute of the Russian Language, significantly contributes to developing international cooperation in this area.

    This year, the forum will be held on May 24‒25 and will focus on the role of the Russian language and its functioning in the new conditions created by the information revolution and technological breakthrough of recent decades.

    The forum programme includes a presentation of the Pushkin Institute’s research paper, 2021 Russian Language World Index, a panel discussion on preparations for the Year of the Russian Language as a Language of Interethnic Communication Across the CIS, to be held in 2023. The Cyril and Methodius Readings research and practice conference will comprise 30 sessions on sharing experience in linguistics, literature studies, teaching Russian as a foreign language, and social sciences and humanities. A roundtable meeting on the history and modern issues concerning the Cyrillic alphabet will be held. The detailed programme is available on the forum’s website.

    Russian and foreign scholars, teachers, literature researchers and journalists, as well as representatives of government bodies, professional and public associations and business organisations are expected to attend.

    The forum’s working language is Russian. The event will be held in the hybrid format. Sessions will also be streamed online on its website.

    back to top

    Eurasian Economic Forum in Bishkek

    On May 26, Bishkek will host the Eurasian Economic Forum. Its topic will be ‘Eurasian economic integration at the time of global change. New investment opportunities.’

    We expect the forum to serve as a networking platform where businesses, government agencies, academia and experts can discuss the key matters on the development agenda of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), promoting entrepreneurship across its space and green energy, as well as strengthening region-to-region ties and cooperation.

    The forum’s main programme includes six panel discussions covering the strategic prospects for Eurasian integration, ensuring economic stability for EAEU member states, manufacturing, agriculture, energy, and transport infrastructure, the digital agenda, as well as new areas of cooperation for the EAEU.

    You can register for the forum and explore its programme on its website. You can also follow its online stream.

    back to top

    Answers to media questions:

    Question: Russia withdrew from the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference, citing the lack of dialogue. What is your assessment of the diplomatic contacts in this region?

    Maria Zakharova: Let me draw your attention to the statement that we made yesterday announcing Russia’s withdrawal from the Council of the Baltic Sea States.

    The situation within the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) has been deteriorating. NATO and EU countries within CBSS rejected equal dialogue and the principles that lie at the very foundation of this regional structure in the Baltic, consistently striving to turn it into a tool of their anti-Russia policy. Illegal and discriminatory decisions have been made in violation of the consensus rule. Russia has been suspended from further participation in the Council’s activities and projects, and Belarus, which has an observer status within the Council, was also suspended.

    The CBSS has been riddled with contradictions for a long time now, and we pointed out many of them. You can find this in our briefings, statements and comments. Our former partners sought to politicise the Council’s activity by promoting their own ideology-driven agenda. Russia, in turn, focused on practical cooperation, prioritising stable socioeconomic development for the Baltic region. Unfortunately, the destructive logic of the other side prevailed.

    The Western countries – to call them what they are – monopolised the Council for the sake of their momentary interests and they want to make it work against Russia’s interests. They project extra-regional issues onto the Baltic, pressure those who are interested in continuing full and unabridged cooperation, threatening to undermine everything that has been achieved over the past years, as well as regional stability. On May 25, 2022, Kristiansand, Norway, is expected to host the CBSS Ministerial Session without Russia. They de facto stole our contribution to the CBSS budget and refuse to return it, citing sanctions.

    We don’t see any prospects for putting the Council back on track. Instead, it is sinking deeper and deeper into Russophobia and lies. We believe staying in the CBSS would be unreasonable and counterproductive for our country. Russia will not participate in turning this organisation into yet another platform for subversion and Western self-admiration.

    In response to these hostile acts, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sent a message to CBSS ministers, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as well as the Council’s Secretariat in Stockholm to notify them of Russia’s withdrawal from this organisation. At the same time, the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation took the decision to leave the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference.

    Ending Russia’s CBSS membership will not affect its regional presence. Attempts to expel our country from the Baltic are doomed to failure. We will continue working with responsible partners and hold events on the key issues on the development agenda of the Baltic region that we all share, as well as to defend and promote the interests of our compatriots.

    The current situation within the CBSS rests on the conscience of those who undermined the very foundations of this organisation.

    back to top

    Question: The United States, the EU and UN have stated they are willing to assist in the removal of grain from Ukraine. Have they discussed these initiatives with Russia?

    Maria Zakharova: The EU member states were seriously concerned over the rapid rise in the prices of grain, fodder and fertilisers, let alone energy prices, even before the current crisis, as well as the unprofitability of private farming and fishing. All of this was put in black and white. The EU summit held in late March passed the decision on the need to guarantee, under the existing circumstances, the affordability of food in the EU member countries.  A few weeks later, the European Commission came up with a detailed initiative to this effect (I spoke about it earlier today).

    We urge the international community not to succumb to provocations. I have no information confirming that the initiatives I have mentioned were in any manner discussed with Russia.

    Question: What can you say about the murder of Al Jazeera’s Shireen Abu Akleh?

    Maria Zakharova: This tragedy has stirred up the entire Arab world. Few people remain indifferent to it. The Palestinian journalist was killed in the line of duty as she was selflessly covering an Israeli raid on the refugee camp in Jenin on the West Bank.

    Yesterday, while meeting in Moscow with Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), member of the Fatah Central Committee and Head of the General Authority for Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh, Sergey Lavrov expressed condolences on the death of Shireen Abu Akleh and voiced his support of the Palestinian demand to hold an unbiased investigation into her death.

    We should focus separately on the outrage that occurred during her funeral, when the military assaulted the people carrying the body and accompanying the funeral procession. I can tell you honestly that I have never seen anything like that.

    As for a response to what was going on at the funeral from related international institutions… Were they there?

    I would like to note that the lack of progress in the settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the stalemate in the negotiating process repeatedly explode into fierce standoffs that leave in their wake numerous victims among peaceful civilians, including women and children. These tragedies could be avoided by achieving mutually acceptable compromises regarding the final status via a direct dialogue based on the generally recognised international legal framework of Middle East settlement that provides for the creation of an independent Palestinian state. The Russian leaders have repeatedly spoken about this.

    Question: How will the Russian Foreign Ministry respond to the Lithuanian Foreign Minister’s call for a regime change in Russia? 

    Maria Zakharova: This is an attempt to interfere in Russia’s internal affairs and destroy what remains of our bilateral relations. He is trying to curry favour with his overseas masters.

    Mr Landsbergis, who lives in a state that tramples underfoot the basic human rights and freedoms, has clearly forgotten that the Russian President is elected by the people. This has nothing to do with his personal views or his country’s position. But the pathological hatred that he feels for Russia is blurring his vision and depriving him of the last of his reason. Consequently, he can’t see the obvious. This is Russophobia, pure and simple.

    Let us take a look at the people who make these statements. We always comment only on statements. But who makes them? They are made by people who have Russophobia in their blood. It is inherited as a specific “legacy” or, possibly, a genetic trait.

    I have a lot to say about the Landsbergis regime. They are a dynasty. Let me give you just a few widely available facts. You will understand who I am talking about. All materials are from open sources. They are also available in the archives.

    Suffice it to recall the great-grandfather of the current Lithuanian foreign minister, Vytautas Landsbergis-Zemkalnis, who in 1941was the utilities minister in the Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis Government that collaborated with the Nazis. Landsbergis was directly involved in the effort to create concentration camps all over Lithuania, including in Kaunas. He was the Landsbergises regime’s great-grandfather. It was there, at Fort Nine, that on October 29, 1941, the Nazis committed a heinous crime, executing 9,200 Jews, including 4,273 children.

    Landsbergis-Zemkalnis also collaborated with Gestapo, the German secret police. After the war, he fled to Australia (which also does not notice neo-Nazism in today’s Ukraine, but has introduced all sorts of sanctions against Russian citizens) but was granted the right to return to the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1959 after he contributed information about other Nazi fugitives to the Soviet security bodies.

    The foreign minister’s grandfather, Professor of the Vilnius Philharmonic Society Vytautas Landsbergis, continued the family tradition of conformism and change of political position. He actively collaborated with the USSR secret services: at their recommendation he was appointed the leader of the movement of the Lithuanian intellectuals in support of the perestroika (Sajudis). At his will, it later transformed into a separatist movement for the withdrawal of Lithuania from the USSR. So much for the family.

    Vytautas Petkevicius, Landsbergis’s colleague at the Sajudis action group, wrote the following about this grey eminence of Lithuanian politics: “From the very first days, Landsbergis sought to turn the organisation into his pocket political party, with membership, party cards and membership fees.”  In all evidence, he was motivated by his knowledge of the best totalitarian practices. Later he started mixing up Sajudis money with his own. This was something in the liberal economy genre. Still later, contributions from compatriots became this gentleman’s personal money box, a source of payments to his allies, extras for participating in rallies, and funds for foreign travel. The same pocket ate up one million dollars collected by Canadians for Lithuanian orphans and a Norwegian donation to the Lithuanian people. But Landsbergis again managed to get himself out of the mess, declaring that he had created a fund bearing his name.

    Autocracy pales in comparison with the Baltic democracies and their representatives. If you only knew how Baltic officials start cringing when you come to citing facts from their biographies or those of their relatives who have directly influenced their civil service promotion or career advancement.  Do you know how much they dislike it? But why are you so embarrassed about it? These are the facts of your biography, and you should be proud of them. We didn’t invent anything. We have just facts and quotes. And you have disproved nothing. So, take it and sign for it.

    Question: Could you comment on the Ukrainian authorities’ recent decision to nationalise the property of Russia’s banks VEB and Sberbank?

    Maria Zakharova: The Kiev regime stopped caring about the norms and principles of international law and the Ukrainian Constitution long ago, both with regard to its own citizens and those of other states. It is hardly surprising that, on May 12, 2022, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine approved the executive order of President Vladimir Zelensky on the so-called enforced confiscation of Russian property in the country. In effect, this amounts to a brazen theft of assets owned by subsidiaries of Russia’s Sberbank and the State Development Corporation of Russia VEB.RF located in Ukraine. These assets are worth $860 million. This is a continuation of the same logic. However, no one in Kiev has any misgivings about the fact that the nationalised subsidiary banks also manage the money of Ukrainian citizens and legal entities, and that the Ukrainian authorities are simply robbing them.

    This unconstitutional escapade of the Kiev regime replicates the worst actions of this kind by Washington, Brussels and London. Let them call it whatever they like. In reality, this is banal theft.

    Question: The President of Finland described Vladimir Putin’s response to his country joining NATO as surprisingly calm. How does this calm Russian response tally with the Deputy Foreign Minister’s statement that Russia will not simply reconcile itself to the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO?

    Maria Zakharova: This was how the Finnish party perceived reality. You should ask them why they got this impression and whether it was correct. This is their perception. Let’s not confuse things. Everyone has a right to perceive things the way he or she sees fit.

    The Russian party has set forth its position regarding the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO. We have published our arguments and statements.

    Every state has a sovereign right to choose specific options to ensure its national security. However, no one should ensure its own security at the expense of other countries’ security.

    The Russian Federation will respond, and the content of its countermeasures, including military-technical elements, will largely depend on specific NATO membership terms for Finland and Sweden, including the deployment of foreign military bases and strike weapons systems on their territory. Our response will feature less words and more actual steps.

    Question: An 18-year-old neo-Nazi who shot at a crowd in the United States sported the insignia of the Azov battalion. Can you comment on this coincidence?

    Maria Zakharova: This is not the first mass shooting based on such hatred. It goes without saying that a comprehensive investigation should be conducted, including confirmation of the fact that the shooter used Nazi symbols, the so-called “black sun.”  We saw the video and think that an investigation must be held. This is important because a lot of unverified information is now circulating. Let’s be guided by the facts.

    However, the very atmosphere of a deep public fissure in American society, as well as neglected problems of racism and institutionalised violence, due to free access to weapons, generate new manifestations of crime that are horrendous in terms of their scale and the ways they are carried out.

    Regarding the link with Nazi symbols and Azov, which you have mentioned, this amounts to the flirtation of the US administration and its security services with neo-Nazis all over the world, with obvious consequences. They forget that all this will also spill over into the United States. In fact, this has already been happening for a long time. If they see nothing unusual in the fact that neo-Nazi ideas are spreading in “client” countries, then why should they be surprised that such symbols are actively used in various US states? The problem lies elsewhere. This isn’t just about symbols, it is about a revival. Many do not grasp the gist of this. We are talking about the actions that these symbols provoke. They explain a person’s planned future actions, and they are like a warning danger sign or a semaphore.  Many perceive this as an endorsement of such symbols and the related actions in the United States. This flirtation, which we have mentioned, leads to such tragic results.

    Question: Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the 30th Assembly of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy that “in the current environment, we are witnessing a serious shift in the mindsets of many of our comrades in all spheres of Russia’s life.” What effect is this having on the staff of the ministry’s central office, the embassies and consulates general?

    Maria Zakharova: Like the rest of the country, we have rallied even closer together. Awareness of the historical shift underway in the world, which is life-changing for Russia, has given a fresh impetus to the resolve of our personnel to do their professional duties even more professionally and diligently.

    Crises can catch you unawares, when you can’t think straight, feel at a loss and lose heart, or it can give you more inspiration. The latter is our case. We have rallied together and joined forces and efforts to attain the goals set for us by the nation.

    The completely unprovoked outbreak of Russophobia in the West, the illegal trade and economic restrictions and the desire to demonise everything Russian have reinforced the belief of our staff and their families that truth, justice and moral probity are on the side of Russia and its people. They have found themselves at the forefront of the political stage, that’s for sure. You can’t imagine the situation they’re living in now and the actions that are being taken against them, from provocations and threats to open violence, psychological pressure and the creating of conditions that those behind these things believe will make their work impossible. We are proud of our people!

    They have shown remarkable personality traits, such as comradeship and professionalism. I am referring both to our rank-and-file employees and to the senior officials in our foreign offices, as Sergey Lavrov pointed out.

    We are reshuffling our personnel. Those who are returning home will be offered new positions. The relevant departments are regularly reporting on this to the minister.

    As for foreign policy guidelines, we have redoubled efforts to strengthen our diplomacy on the eastern track and in Africa, Latin America and the CIS. The results will not be long in coming.

    Question: Dmitry Birichevsky, director of the Department of Economic Cooperation at the ministry, noted recently that the EU’s decision to suspend Russian oil and gas imports would have an extremely negative effect on the European and global economies. What effect will this embargo have on Russia? What countermeasures can your ministry take?

    Maria Zakharova: The physical volume of Russian hydrocarbon exports has decreased amid the foreign sanctions pressure. However, we believe that our export revenues will at least not decrease, due to rapidly rising oil and gas prices. The so-called embargo, which the EU is now considering, could send oil prices soaring.

    Our obvious logical response in this event would be to reorient our oil and gas exports.  This is not an easy task. It will involve changing logistics routes, as well as legal and business matters. Russia is already reorienting its coal, oil and gas export infrastructure towards the East. It is worth noting that energy needs around the world, and especially in the Asia Pacific region, will be growing. We have no doubt about demand for Russian energy resources. The Foreign Ministry is helping Russian companies find counterparties, including in Asia Pacific.

    Question: Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has pointed out that joining NATO will not strengthen the security of Sweden and Finland. As for economic ties, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin has made several other unfriendly moves towards Russia, notably regarding the nuclear power plant project with Rosatom. Maybe a picture of possible economic losses should be provided to Helsinki?

    Maria Zakharova: Finland is aware of its economic losses because of the European sanctions and our response measures. We regard the decision taken by Finland’s Fennovoima to stop cooperating with Rosatom companies within the framework of the agreement on the construction of the Hanhikivi 1 Nuclear Power Plant as openly politicised. It is obvious that the decision to stop that commercial project was forced on the client by the Finnish authorities, who were pressured by their foreign partners. It is not a coincidence that the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, which is responsible for energy matters, hastily welcomed that decision, which it described as “principled and consistent.” We know very well where such instructions are issued.

    Rosatom State Corporation put forth its position on that matter in a May 2 statement. It expressed disappointment at the decision of Fennovoima Oy, which was taken without any detailed consultation with the project’s shareholders, the largest of which is RAOS Voima, which has a 34 percent stake in the project. Rosatom concluded that it reserved the right to defend its interests in accordance with applicable contracts and laws.

    Question: Can you provide any information about those who left Azovstal? We know of discussions on a possible exchange on the Ukrainian side. Is there any discussion underway in Russia? We heard that Russian lawmakers are considering reinstating the death penalty for these people. What is the real situation?

    Maria Zakharova: This is the competence of the Russian Ministry of Defence. At the same time, we would like to note that all the wounded and seriously injured people and anyone who needs medical assistance has been receiving it. They are in the Novoazovsk hospital in the DPR. The rest have been placed in a pre-trial detention centre in Yelenovka, a suburb of Donetsk.

    As for other issues, they will be resolved in due course. At this stage, the most important issue is the safe exit of everyone from Azovstal, and providing them with medical care, other necessary humanitarian assistance and accommodation.

    As for other questions, we will certainly provide regular updates.

    Question: Is an exchange being discussed?

    Maria Zakharova: At this stage, the information I shared is all I have. I have nothing to add.

    Our priority, the one we have been stating for three weeks, was their exit from Azovstal. We have persuaded people to come out every day, and made several announcements of humanitarian corridors for everyone including civilians, militants and military personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Only now has the Kiev regime allowed them to do so. At the moment, our priorities are their safe exit and the provision of assistance to them. This problem needs to be solved, and it is being solved now.

    Question: What happens to those civilians who came out through the humanitarian corridors, but were stopped by the “filtering” procedure? Where are they being held? Will they be entitled to due legal procedure? What are the conditions of where they are kept?

    Maria Zakharova: You mean the people who came out – when? Today? Who are exiting now? Those who needed medical assistance are receiving it, or have received it by now. I can check where the rest went, because this matter is the competence of the Russian Ministry of Defence. I promise to find this information. I’ll check and get back to you.

    Question: Why does Russia consider Ukraine’s NATO membership and its cooperation with NATO such a big threat, while, according to Sergey Lavrov, Finland’s NATO membership does not have such great importance for Russia?

    Maria Zakharova: I do not remember Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov saying it the way you quoted. Let me find the exact quote.

    We have long insisted that any expansion of NATO has a bearing on, and significance in the context of global international and, in particular, European security. This was the security guarantees we demanded, because we have seen the alliance expand and reach our borders. You certainly understand the difference between the situations in Finland and Ukraine.

    I don’t know, maybe you have some additional information about growing numbers of nationalist battalions in Finland, for example? Maybe dozens of Pentagon biological laboratories are deployed in Finland and experimenting with dangerous pathogens? I am unaware of any information about Finland being pumped full of the same types of weapons that have been supplied to Ukraine under contracts or without contracts to an area of an armed intra-Finnish conflict, but perhaps you know about it? I don’t know anything about it. This is just a brief overview of the differences between Finland and Ukraine in the last decade.

    The developments in Ukraine followed a dramatic scenario due to blatant interference by Washington, with the anti-constitutional coup in Kiev being one of the strongest catalysts. Perhaps you have information on a similar revolution in Finland? I don’t know anything about it. This is why the two situations are different, in broad strokes.

    The choice of ways to ensure national security is (this is our underlying approach) the sovereign right of each country, but at the same time, it should not be ensured at the expense of other states.

    We have no other choice left but to take retaliatory measures. The specifics – including the military-technical aspect – will depend on the terms of Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership, including the deployment of foreign military bases and strike weapon systems on their territory.

    As for the differences in our reactions to Finland joining NATO and Ukraine’s ambition to become a member of this military bloc, as the Russian side emphasised earlier, in particular, they stem from Kiev’s decision to include in its doctrinal documents its intention to return Crimea, a sovereign Russian territory, possibly by military means. Finland has no territorial claims to the Russian Federation. There are no documents where it would say it could use any means to return any Russian territory. This is another argument to add to the previous ones.

    Question: What kind of military-technical measures does Russia plan to apply to Finland, and what might their timeframe be?

    Maria Zakharova: It will be a surprise. A question is for the Defence Ministry. The corresponding decision will factor in the full scope of details and specifics of how Finland’s membership in NATO will unfold. The decision will be made based on all these parameters, and primarily, it will be up to the military.

    Question: Is there any discussion on exchanging Azovstal prisoners for the Russian, DPR or LPR soldiers being held captive? We would also like to know something about the fate of Artyom Ryabovichev and Daniil Romanov from a DPR tank brigade. Some Russian journalists wrote about them. According to their reports, they have been prisoners since May 1. Ukrainian militants were torturing them on camera and posting the videos online. Earlier, Ukraine refused to exchange them, saying it would negotiate only with Russia rather than with the DPR. Is the Foreign Ministry aware of the fate of Ryabovichev and Romanov and are there plans to put them on the exchange lists?

    Maria Zakharova: Normally, we join in when there are diplomatic relations. After February 24, when Kiev broke off diplomatic relations with Russia and closed the Russian foreign missions in Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry lost its channels for dealing with issues like this. Nevertheless, during the special military operation, these problems are being handled by the Defence Ministry of Russia and Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova. The Foreign Ministry constantly informs them of any case of a Russian citizens being detained in Ukraine. All this information is being consolidated.

    We are able to raise these issues at international venues. We put these questions to Kiev’s Western sponsors, drawing their attention to the Ukrainian neo-Nazis’ cruel and inhuman treatment of detained Russian soldiers and of People’s Militia fighters from the DPR and LPR. We demand that the standards of international humanitarian law be rigorously observed with respect to these men. We urge related international organisations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, to take exhaustive measures for their protection, specifically to gain access to them and honestly inform the international community about the results. We hope these efforts will help us find out more about the fate of these two DPR servicemen.

    Question: Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov went on record as saying that Moscow has information indicating that Ukraine lacks independence at the talks and that it is “guided” by London and Washington. He also said that Russia had received no concrete proposals on Ukraine from the West. Does this mean that Moscow is losing interest in direct negotiations with Ukraine and wants the “collective West” to join the process?

    Maria Zakharova: We showed an interest and displayed a lot of patience, an interest in all types of talks, for eight years. We came up with many possible scenarios on how these talks could be conducted. Currently, everything is being decided primarily on the ground.

    When Ukraine showed an interest and signaled a desire to hold talks with Russia, we responded. But they started doing all they could to drag out the talks. When there was interest on the Ukrainian side, it was supported by Russia. At this point – the Russian Foreign Ministry and other agencies have commented on this – the Kiev regime is doing everything it can to prevent the talks from being held in a normal negotiating format.

    The West has always been behind the Kiev regime, both the current and previous authorities. A “Western hand” has always guided the pen that was allegedly held by any representatives from Kiev. There is nothing new here, no breakthrough.

    Question: How would you assess the work of the trilateral working group engaged in unblocking regional economic ties and communications, which is co-chaired by the deputy prime ministers of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan? What stage is the process at now and when can we expect obvious results?

    Maria Zakharova: We have high regard for the work of the Trilateral Working Group (TWG). The foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan gave similar assessments during their meeting with Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the CIS Foreign Ministers Council meeting in Dushanbe on May 12.

    We believe that the unblocking of all transport and economic connections in the South Caucasus is one of the key goals in the context of the effort to normalise Armenian-Azerbaijani relations and, more broadly, to harmonise cooperation in the region.

    The TWG co-chairs have regular meetings designed to work out solutions that will suit all sides. Last week, the Russian co-chair, Deputy Prime Minister Alexey Overchuk, visited Yerevan for talks with Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan. Among other things, the officials discussed how to open communications in the region. The co-chairs inform the media of the specific results of the joint work on an individual basis.

    Question: Are there any clear agreements between Armenia and Azerbaijan regarding a possible meeting of the Commission on Border Delimitation and Security, where Russia is expected to provide advisory support?

    Maria Zakharova: We are consistently advocating the creation of a bilateral commission for the delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, with its subsequent demarcation with Russia’s advisory assistance. Simultaneously, as the trilateral statement from the November 26, 2021 Sochi summit stipulates, steps are to be taken to increase stability and security on the border between the two countries.

    This matter was discussed during the trilateral meeting of foreign ministers in Dushanbe. Our partners said they were close to completing the formation of their national delegations. Russia has already built an expert team. We hope that in the near future, we could launch practical work on the delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.

    We would like to emphasise that Russia has unique expert potential in border delimitation and settlement of border disputes between post-Soviet countries. We will be happy to share our experience and practices with our Armenian and Azerbaijani friends as part of the commission.

    Question: The Azerbaijani side continues to violate the ceasefire on the border. On May 7, at around 1.50 pm, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces fired from different calibre firearms at the Sotk gold mine, injuring one of the mine employees. How would you comment on the Azerbaijani side’s actions against the civilian population?

    Maria Zakharova: We are confident that the expeditious launch of the commission on the delimitation of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border would effectively prevent any further border incidents. The commission could contribute to developing confidence-building mechanisms, including, for example, by creating contact groups to ensure stability in the border areas.

    Question: Recent photos of the Armenian Holy Resurrection Church in Hadrut, a province controlled by the Azerbaijani side, on social media show that its cross has been dismantled and the Armenian inscriptions erased. How would you assess the acts of vandalism against Armenian cultural and religious sites in Nagorno-Karabakh?

    Maria Zakharova: I have no information on this score. As Russian representatives have repeatedly emphasised, we call on both parties to preserve the region’s cultural and historical heritage, involving specialised international agencies including UNESCO, if necessary.

    Question: The situation in Afghanistan and border security was one of the main issues at the CSTO summit in Moscow. What measures are planned to ensure the security of member countries within the framework of this organisation?

    Maria Zakharova: The situation in the CSTO area of responsibility and in the immediate vicinity of our borders makes us be as vigilant as possible and ready, if necessary, to respond timely and appropriately to emerging threats to the security of member nations. This is a task of the organisation.

    Pursuant to the instructions given by the leaders at the CSTO Extraordinary Summit on August 23, 2021, CSTO member states prepared proposals for joint response measures to challenges and threats from the territory of Afghanistan. The Russian Federation has proposed a number of specific measures through its foreign policy departments, including:

    – Strengthening foreign policy coordination to ensure a unified position of CSTO member states on the political settlement in Afghanistan. Involving representatives of the CIS and SCO secretariats in the meetings of the Working Group on Afghanistan under the CSTO Foreign Ministers Council;

    – Intensifying contacts between the CSTO and the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia;

    – Stepping up cooperation between the competent agencies and special services of CSTO member states in detecting and neutralising extremist and terrorist cells in the countries of the Organisation;

    – Taking a range of preventive measures as part of the unscheduled operations Nayomnik (Mercenary), PROXY and Nelegal (Illegal Alien);

    – Focusing Kanal (Channel), a CSTO’s anti-drug operation, on suppressing drug trafficking along the “northern route”;

    – Implementing joint measures to counter subversive propaganda by terrorist organisations in cyberspace on the basis of the CSTO’s 2016 List of Additional Measures to Counter International Terrorism and Extremism;

    – Increasing cooperation between the CSTO and the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee.

    All these measures are being consistently implemented and serve to strengthen the security of all member states of the Organisation, as well as to maintain stability in the region as a whole.

    Question: How does the Russian Federation view the escalating tensions in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan?

    Maria Zakharova: We are concerned by the information provided by the official authorities of Tajikistan on the escalation of tensions in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, which, according to reports, was provoked by criminal elements and extremist sympathisers, who joined them. As a result, there were victims and casualties, including among Tajik law enforcement officers.

    The Russian Embassy in Dushanbe is in constant contact with the country’s competent authorities. According to preliminary information, there are no Russian citizens among the victims.

    The Tajik authorities promise to take the necessary measures to stabilise the situation and ensure the safety of Russian citizens who may be present on the scene.

    التطبيع الرسمي فلسطينياً وأردنياً: قراءة في مقدمات الاتفاقات “الإبراهيمية”

    الثلاثاء 17 أيار 2022

    المصدر

    إبراهيم علوش 

    التطبيع لا ينجح إن لم تضمن “إسرائيل” قطع شرايين الحياة عن الدول المطبِّعة، إن هي قررت تغيير رأيها.

    تسلسل الاتفاقات والمعاهدات زمنياً مهمّ جداً، لأنه يدخلنا في الأبعاد الإقليمية للتطبيع مع العدو الصهيوني.

    يتيح مرور عقود على توقيع المعاهدات والاتفاقات مع العدو الصهيوني سجلاً زمنياً طويلاً نسبياً لتقييم أثرها ومسارها وصيرورتها، بدءاً من اتفاقات كامب ديفيد التي وُقِّعت عام 1978، ومعاهدة السلام المصرية – الإسرائيلية التي وُقِّعت عام 1979، ودخلت حيز التنفيذ عام 1980، حتى معاهدة وادي عربة، أو معاهدة السلام الأردنية – الإسرائيلية، التي وُقِّعت عام 1994، والتي سبقها “إعلان واشنطن” بثلاثة أشهر بالضبط، والذي نص على إنهاء حالة العداء والبدء بمفاوضات لتوقيع معاهدة بين الأردن والكيان الصهيوني.

    سبقت معاهدة وادي عربة عام 1994 اتفاقية أوسلو التي وُقعت عام 1993، وتأسست بناءً عليها قانونياً “السلطة الفلسطينية” عام 1994. وتبعت اتفاق أوسلو اتفاقات متعدّدة، مثل اتفاق أوسلو – 2 (يسمى أيضاً اتفاق طابا) عام 1995، والذي قسم الضفة الغربية إلى المناطق “أ”، و”ب”، و”ج”.  

    وكان اتفاق أوسلو – 2 جاء تتويجاً لاتفاق “غزة – أريحا” عام 1994، الذي قضى بانسحاب “إسرائيلي” جزئي من أريحا وغزة لتأسيس السلطة الفلسطينية، وما يسمى برتوكول باريس عام 1994 أيضاً، والذي “نظم” علاقة السلطة الفلسطينية اقتصادياً بالكيان الصهيوني، وكلاهما (اتفاق غزة – أريحا، وبرتوكول باريس) أصبح جزءاً من اتفاق أوسع، هو أوسلو – 2.  

    ثم جاء اتفاق الخليل عام 1997 الذي أعطى الاحتلال الصهيوني 20% من مدينة الخليل H2. ثم جاء اتفاق “واي ريفر” عام 1998 الذي كرس مؤسسة التنسيق الأمني رسمياً مع “إسرائيل” والولايات الولايات المتحدة الأميركية، كما كرس دور “السلطة الفلسطينية” في محاربة “الإرهاب” ضد العدو الصهيوني.  ثم جاء “اتفاق واي ريفر الثاني” عام 1999 ، والذي فسر بعض نقاط اتفاق “واي ريفر” الأول، ويسمى أيضاً اتفاق شرم الشيخ، وكان الاتفاق الأول مع نتنياهو والثاني مع إيهود باراك، وبعده جاء اتفاق تنظيم المعابر (معابر السلطة الفلسطينية) عام 2005.

    يُضاف إلى تلك الحزمة من الاتفاقات المتناسلة البيانات المشتركة (كما في أنابوليس عام 2007)، وسلسلة اللقاءات التفاوضية مثل كامب ديفيد عام 2000، و”خريطة السلام” عام 2002، و36 جلسة تفاوضية بين محمود عباس وإيهود أولمرت بين عامي 2007 و2009، والمفاوضات المباشرة عام 2010 تحت وعد من إدارة أوباما بإيجاد “دويلة فلسطينية” خلال عام واحد، ثم محادثات تسيبي ليفني وصائب عريقات في الفترة 2013-2014… إلخ. 

    ولا يشمل ما سبق عشرات المبادرات الموازية لـ”السلام”، مثل اتفاقية جنيف غير الرسمية بين ياسر عبد ربه ويوسي بيلين عام 2003 لتأسيس “سلام دائم”، وخطة الحاخام بنيامين إيلون للسلام، والتي جرى طرحها وترويجها بين عامي 2002 و2008، والتي تقوم على تجنيس الفلسطينيين في الضفة الغربية بالجنسية الأردنية، والسماح لهم بالبقاء ضيوفاً في الضفة الغربية بعد ضمها إلى “إسرائيل”، وخطة “إسرائيل الثنائية القومية” التي طرحها إدوارد سعيد ابتداءً، وتبناها عزمي بشارة وروّجها بقوة… إلخ.

    كل ما سبق مهمّ لأن كثرة العناوين والمبادرات والجلسات التفاوضية وامتدادها عبر عقود، هو أمر مثير للاهتمام بمقدار ما هو مثير للملل، لأنه يقول كثيراً عن انعدام جدوى تلك الاتفاقات والمفاوضات، ولاسيما في ضوء ما تمخضت عنه على الأرض من تزايدٍ للاستيطان وتغولٍ لمشروع التهويد وتطرفٍ متصاعدٍ في المشهد السياسي الإسرائيلي وضلالة الحالمين بـ”حل سياسي للصراع”.

    معاهدة كامب ديفيد: الخطيئة الأصلية في السياسة العربية

    كذلك، فإن تسلسل الاتفاقات والمعاهدات زمنياً مهمّ جداً، لأنه يدخلنا في الأبعاد الإقليمية للتطبيع مع العدو الصهيوني. فمعاهدة السلام المصرية – الإسرائيلية عام 1979 أخرجت مصر من حلبة الصراع العربي – الصهيوني، ولاسيما أن المادة السادسة من تلك المعاهدة تنص حرفياً على أن الأحكام الواردة فيها تُعَدّ ملزمة ونافذة في حال تعارضها مع أي التزامات أخرى (مثل معاهدة الدفاع العربي المشترك لعام 1950 مثلاً؟!)، وهو ما ساهم في تحجيم دور مصر الإقليمي فعلياً باعتبارها الشقيق العربي الكبير، وأكبر الدول العربية المحيطة بفلسطين، وهو ما يعني موضوعياً فتح الباب للتمدد الإسرائيلي إقليمياً، وكان من عواقب ذلك غزو لبنان واحتلاله عام 1982.

    بعد معاهدة السلام مع مصر وقرار الجامعة العربية مقاطعتها ونقل مقر الجامعة العربية من مصر إلى تونس، راح النظام الرسمي العربي يدخل أكثر فأكثر في صيرورة اختلال التوازن والتفسخ والصراعات الداخلية، وكان ذلك كله نتيجة طبيعية لتحييد مصر سياسياً من جانب العدو الصهيوني، وتوهمها أنها يمكن أن تقتنص السلام والازدهار في مصر بمفردها إذا نأت بنفسها عما يجري في محيطها.

    العبرة هنا أن تقسيم الوطن العربي إلى دولٍ وسياساتٍ قُطريةٍ متنابذة ليس تاريخاً قديماً أو مشكلة عقائدية يتداولها القوميون العرب فحسب، بل تحمل تجزئة الوطن العربي دلالاتٍ جغرافيةً – سياسيةً عميقةً وراهنةً. وبالتالي، فإن إزالة عمود مركزي، مثل مصر، من معادلة الصراع، كان يفترض بها أن تؤدي إلى انهيار الأقطار الأخرى كأحجار الدومينو، لولا المقاومة والرفض في الشارعين العربي والفلسطيني من جهة، وحالة الصمود والتصدي التي نشأت على الصعيد الرسمي العربي في مواجهة مشروع كامب ديفيد من جهة أخرى. وثبت، بعد عقودٍ من التجربة، أن هذا ليس خطاباً ديماغوجياً أو “لغة خشبية”، كما يهذر البعض، بل إنه يشكل قيمة جغرافية – سياسية ملموسة كحائط صد أعاق الانجراف والانهيار في الوضع العربي على مدى عقود، وإن كان العدو انتقل سياسياً إلى حالة الهجوم. 

    بعد التجربة المصرية في السلام مع العدو الصهيوني، برزت عقدة “السلام الشامل” في مقابل “السلام المنفرد”، والتي أعاقت المشروع الأميركي للإسراع قدماً في فرض مسلسل المعاهدات والتطبيع على الصعيد الرسمي العربي، على الرغم من سعي المحور الخليجي لفرض مبادرة الأمير فهد في القمة العربية في فاس في تشرين الثاني/نوفمبر 1981، والتي رفضتها سوريا آنذاك وأفشلتها (عن وجه حق، وإدراك ووعي تامّين لما تعنيه من تجريفٍ للوضع العربي وإلحاقٍ له بصيرورة كامب ديفيد من خلال الاعتراف الرسمي العربي جماعياً بحق الكيان الصهيوني في الوجود، على أساس مبدئي على الأقل). 

    بعد العدوان الصهيوني على لبنان عام 1982 وعقابيله، انعقدت قمة عربية استثنائية في فاس مجدداً في أيلول/سبتمبر 1982، أُقرت فيها مبادرة الأمير فهد رسمياً، والتي أصبحت تعرف بعدها بمقررات قمة فاس 1982، وهي تعادل، بالنسبة إلى الجامعة العربية، برنامج “النقاط العشر” بالنسبة إلى منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية، كما سيأتي.

    المدخل الفلسطيني لتعميم مشروع كامب ديفيد عربياً

    كانت العقدة المركزية في الإصرار على “السلام المنفرد” هي القضية الفلسطينية والمسؤولية العربية إزاءها، مع أن القصة ليست قصة مسؤولية إزاء القضية الفلسطينية، بمقدار ما هي قصة مسؤولية إزاء الذات في مواجهة خطر المشروع الصهيوني على المنطقة برمتها. ولنا عودة إلى تلك النقطة، لكن كان لا بد من “فرط” العقدة المركزية، المتمثّلة بالموقف الرسمي الفلسطيني؛ أي موقف منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية، من أجل تعميم مشروع كامب ديفيد على كل الأقطار العربية، وصولاً إلى الاتفاقيات المسماة “إبراهيمية”.

    كان يوجد داخل منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية، منذ بداية السبعينيات (وبعض الكتّاب والمعاصرين لتلك المرحلة يقول إنه وُجد منذ نهاية الستينيات) تيارٌ يرى ضرورة التفاهم مع “إسرائيل” والإدارة الأميركية لتأسيس “دولة فلسطينية” وفق حدود عام 1967.  أبرز رموز ذلك التيار، في ذلك الوقت، كان ياسر عرفات ومَن حوله في قيادة المنظمة والجبهة الديمقراطية لتحرير فلسطين.  

    جاء الانقلاب الرسمي في موقف منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية في المجلس الوطني الفلسطيني في القاهرة عام 1974، والذي أقر ما يسمى “برنامج النقاط العشر”، والذي مثّل نقطة التحول الجوهرية في برنامج التحرير إلى برنامج تأسيس “سلطة وطنية فلسطينية على أي جزء يتم تحريره من فلسطين”. ومنذ ذلك الوقت، بدأ الانجراف الرسمي الفلسطيني في اتجاه تأسيس الدويلة مع التخلي بالتدريج عن الشروط والضوابط التي وُضعت لها، فالمهم هو تثبيت “المبدأ”، وبعد ذلك تتم زحزحة الشروط والضوابط باللتدريج بفعل عوامل النحت والتعرية السياسيَّين، وكانت تلك هي الرحلة التسووية التي قادت قيادة منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية إلى أوسلو وما تلاها.

    جرت المصادقة فوراً على هذا التوجه التسووي في مقررات القمة العربية المنعقدة في الرباط عام 1974: “إن قادة الدول العربية يؤكدون حق الشعب الفسطيني في إقامة سلطة وطنية مستقلة بقيادة منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية، بصفتها الممثل الشرعي الوحيد للشعب الفلسطيني، على كل أرض يتم تحريرها”، والعبرة تكمن في تمرير خطاب “سلطة وطنية فلسطينية على كل أرض…”.

    للتاريخ، لم يصوّت إلّا ثلاثة أعضاء في المجلس الوطني الفلسطيني عام 1974 ضد برنامج النقاط العشر، أحدهم ناجي علوش (أبو إبراهيم)، والثاني محمد داوود عودة (أبو داوود)، والثالث سعيد حمامي (الذي عدّه متشدداً أكثر من اللزوم لأنه ربطه آنذاك بشروط صعبة!). 

    شكلت مفاوضات جنيف بعد حرب أكتوبر عام 1973، واعتقاد قيادة منظمة التحرير أنها “على وشك” أن تتمخض عن “دويلة فلسطينية” بموافقة أميركية – إسرائيلية، خلفيةَ الانجراف الرسمي الفلسطيني نحو وَهْم المشروع التسووي.   

    لكنّ صيرورة مشروع كامب ديفيد هي الصلح المنفرد، وبالتالي نشأت مشكلة “الصلح المنفرد” في مقابل “السلام الشامل”، فكان لا بد من تذليل تلك العقبة عبر إقامة صلح منفرد مع منظمة التحرير ذاتها من أجل نزع الذريعة من أيدي رافضي “الصلح المنفرد”.

    كان ذلك يتطلب “إعادة تأهيل” منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية ذاتها على نحو يتوافق مع متطلبات الطرف الأميركي – الصهيوني. وأدت حرب لبنان عام 1982، فيما أدت إليه، إلى إخراج منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية من لبنان. وفي الأعوام التي تلت، أشرفت قيادة منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية على ورشة كبرى لإعادة صياغة العقل السياسي الفلسطيني في اتجاه قبول دولة ضمن حدود عام 1967، وصولاً إلى “إعلان استقلال” وهمي في المجلس الوطني الفلسطيني في الجزائر عام 1988، تم الاحتفاء به كثيراً، كان من صاغه الشاعر محمود درويش، ووافقت عليه كل التنظيمات المنضوية في منظمة التحرير وقتها.

    جاء الوصول إلى اتفاقية أوسلو بعدها عام 1993 تحصيلاً حاصلاً لتراكمات النهج التسووي، لأن البحث عن دويلة وعن “السلام” و”الازدهار” بالتفاهم مع “إسرائيل” والإدارة الأميركية، بعيداً عن “الشعارات الفارغة”، وعن العرب “الذين تخلوا عنا”، كما شاع في الخطاب السياسي الفلسطيني آنذاك، هو المعنى الحقيقي لشعار “يا وحدنا” الذي رفعه ياسر عرفات، كما أنه لا يزال المآل الحقيقي لكل من يرفع شعار “يا وحدنا” في أي قُطر عربي: التفاهم مع “إسرائيل”.. فالحس القُطري ليس مشروعاً نهضوياً للقطر، بل هو مشروع تسييد الكيان الصهيوني على المنطقة، وبالتالي تدمير القطر ذاته وتفكيكه.

    لكنّ تيار البحث عن “الذات القُطرية” في الحالة الفلسطينية بالذات، وتحقيقها في “دويلة”، بعد التخلي عن مشروع التحرير، بالتفاهم مع الطرف الأميركي -الصهيوني، هو مكسب كبير لمشروع كامب ديفيد (الصلح المنفرد)، لأنه يجرح صدقية من رفضوه باسم “السلام العادل والشامل”. وما دام أصحاب القضية الرسميين ساروا في ركبه، فإنه لا تبقى لغيرهم ذريعة، باستثناء موقف أصحاب العلاقة وأولياء الدم: الشعب العربي، من مسألة التطبيع. ولا تزال هذه هي أهم جبهة في مقاومة التطبيع اليوم.  

    صيرورة التطبيع على الصعيد الرسمي الأردني

    بعد توقيع اتفاقية أوسلو، بات استكمال كسر حلقة دول الطوق مرهوناً بموقف سوريا ولبنان، لأن العلاقات التطبيعية بين النظام الأردني والعدو الصهيوني أقدم من أوسلو، بل أقدم من كامب ديفيد ومن أي مفاوضات بعد حرب أكتوبر 1973. وبحسب مقالة في صحيفة “واشنطن بوست” الأميركية للصحافيين الإسرائيليين، يوسي ميلمان ودان رفيف، في الـ27 من أيلول/ سبتمبر 1987، فإن الملك حسين بن طلال أرسل رسالة عام 1963 إلى رئيس الوزراء الإسرائيلي آنذاك، ليفي أشكول، فأرسل أشكول مدير مكتبه الخاص من أجل لقاء الملك في لندن في منزل طبيب الملك حسين الشخصي، اليهودي إيمانويل هربرت، في شهر أيلول/سبتمبر 1963. 

    في عام 2014 نشر الكاتب الإسرائيلي يوسي ميلمان بعض المعلومات، وردت في صحيفة “معاريف” الإسرائيلية، تتعلق بعلاقة الملك حسين التاريخية بالساسة الإسرائيليين وجهاز الموساد. وورد ضمن المعلومات أن “إسرائيل” أنقذت حياة الملك حسين عدة مرات، إحداها – يقول ميلمان إنه كان شاهداً عليها – كانت بداية “لمواجهة سوريا حين استجابت “إسرائيل” لمساعدته بتركيز قوات من الجيش مكّنته من مهاجمة سوريا التي كانت تنوي مساعدة الفلسطينيين في أيلول/ سبتمبر 1970″.

    وتحدث الكاتب عن “مئتي ساعة من المكالمات أو المحادثات للملك مع الزعماء الإسرائيليين، وأن رؤساء الموساد أحبّوا لقاء الملك، وهو ما تم في مقر الموساد في إسرائيل، وفي قصر الملك في عمّان، وفي القارب الملكي في ميناء العقبة، وفي منازل خاصة في لندن وباريس”.

    وبحسب الكاتب، فإن “اللقاء الأول تم عام 1963 بين الملك حسين ويعقوب هرتسوغ، الذي كان آنذاك نائب مدير مكتب رئيس الحكومة، في منزل طبيب في لندن، بهدف تنسيق المواقف وفحص إمكان وجود تعاون سري”.

    وفي هذا اللقاء – يزعم الكاتب – “جدد الملك حسين، بتأخير 16 عاماً، العلاقة التي كانت بين جده الملك عبد الله الأول بالصهيونية، بحيث أقام عبد الله الأول هذه العلاقات في الثلاثينيات من القرن العشرين”.

    وليس الأمر في حاجة إلى كثير من التمحيص، إذ إن قصة العلاقات القديمة بين العدو الصهيوني والملك حسين وردت بالتفصيل في كتاب “أسد الأردن: حياة الملك حسين في الحرب والسلام”، بالإنكليزية، للكاتب الإسرائيلي آفي شلايم عام 2009.  واسم الكتاب بالإنكليزية هو Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace.

    باختصار، لا تحتاج قصة الوصول إلى معاهدة وادي عربة إلى تحليل سياسي أو تاريخي مفصّل، مثل الحالتين المصرية والفلسطينية، اللتين مرّ كلٌّ منها في نقطة انقلابٍ ما، من الناصرية إلى الساداتية في حالة مصر، ومن ثقب إبرة “برنامج النقاط العشر” في الحالة الفلسطينية، وإنما هي حالة إخراجِ السر إلى العلن بعد أن أتاحت اتفاقية أوسلو ذاتها ذلك، وكان الأمر “مطبوخاً” أصلاً على الصعيد الرسمي الأردني.  

    العِبْرة هي أن اتفاقية أوسلو ذاتها أتاحت الصلح المنفرد للنظام الأردني، بكسرها محظور “السلام الشامل” الرسمي العربي، على نحو يجعل التطبيع “الإبراهيمي” اليوم تحصيلاً حاصلاً، لولا أن معاهدات دول الطوق لم تكتمل بتوقيع مثيلاتها من جانب سوريا ولبنان. وكان يُفترض، على ما يبدو، أن تكتمل في دول الطوق أولاً، وهذا أحد أهم أسباب الحرب المستمرة على سوريا، وعلى المقاومة في لبنان، وتورط الطرف الأميركي – الصهيوني المباشر فيها.

    التطبيع يمأسس لإلحاق الأردن بالفضاء الصهيوني

    لكن فيما يتعلق بعواقب وادي عربة، لا بمقدماتها الواضحة، يجب أن نذكر أنها كرست قانونياً صيغتين أساسيتين للعلاقة الأردنية – الإسرائيلية:

    –       أولاً: السعي لتحقيق تكامل إقليمي، تبلور في خمس عشرة مادة من أصل ثلاثين تتألف منها المعاهدة، غطت كل أوجه الحياة بين الطرفين، مدنياً واقتصادياً.

    –       ثانياً: السعي لتحقيق تنسيق رفيع المستوى، أمنياً وسياسياً، أصبح الأردن الرسمي عبره ملزماً بالتعاون ضد أي شكل من أشكال العداء لـ”إسرائيل”، حتى لو كان ذلك على مستوى التحريض اللفظي فحسب، كما جاء مثلاً في المادة الحادية عشرة من تلك المعاهدة.

    –       ونضيف أن المادتين الخامسة والعشرين والسادسة والعشرين، من معاهدة وادي عربة، نصّتا على أنها تسمو على كل ما عداها تماماً كما في معاهدة السلام المصرية – الإسرائيلية.

    غير أن ذلك كله لم يُعفِ النظام الأردني من دفع ثمن كبير، بعد أن بات من الواضح أن مشروع ضم الضفة الغربية، في ظل “صفقة القرن”، يعني تصدير “المشكلة الفلسطينية” سياسياً إلى الأردن، وحلها على حساب ذاته القُطرية. وبذلك، فإن الاتفاقيات “الإبراهيمية”، كابنة شرعية للاتفاقيات ما قبل “الإبراهيمية”، انقلبت على أمها، وهذا طبيعي، لأن التفاهم مع العدو الصهيوني يعني تفاقم الصراعات العربية الداخلية. لقد دخلت السلطة في فلسطين والأردن في ترتيبات مع العدو تؤدي إلى تجاوزهما، ولولا أن البلاد تدفع ثمن التطبيع، لقلنا: على نفسها جنت براقش!

    اتخذ التطبيع في الأردن، بحكم كونه دولة طرفية، وامتلاكه أطول حدودٍ مع العدو الصهيوني، وثقل التأثير الغربي فيه، وفقدان نظامه تراثاً استقلالياً وطنياً (في مقابل تراث وطني استقلالي عريق لشعبه)، صيغةً أكثر طغياناً مما اتخذه في مصر كدولة مركزية، تفصلها صحراء سيناء عن “دولة” العدو، وتملك إرثاً ناصرياً، وتملك قبله إرث دولة مركزية عريقة، على الرغم من استخزاء الأنظمة التي حكمت مصر بعد جمال عبد الناصر للطرف الأميركي – الصهيوني.

    فُرِض التطبيع في الأردن بالقوة في كثيرٍ من الحالات، كما قُمِعت الاحتجاجات ضده في كثيرٍ من الحالات الأخرى، مثل اعتصام “جك” السلمي ضد السفارة الصهيونية في عمان، وهو أطول اعتصام في تاريخ الأردن، واستمر أسبوعياً منذ نهاية أيار/مايو 2010 حتى بداية عام 2016، وتم سحقه بالقوة في النهاية. 

    وتكريساً لفكرة التكامل الإقليمي، جرى في عز الحرب على سوريا تحويل مرفأ حيفا إلى بوابة تصدير واستيراد، عبر الأردن، إلى الدول العربية. وكتبت صحيفة “جيروزاليم بوست”، في تقرير لها في الـ21 من شباط/ فبراير 2016، تحت عنوان “ارتفاع ضخم في المنتوجات الأوروبية المارة عبر إسرائيل إلى الدول العربية”، أن المنتوجات التركية والبلغارية بصورة خاصة تأتي على متن عبّارات تحمل شاحنات أو في حاويات إلى ميناء حيفا، ليتم شحنها براً إمّا إلى الأردن، وإمّا عبر الأردن إلى العراق والدول الخليجية، وأن عدد الشاحنات التي نقلت منتوجات تركية وبلغارية عبر الكيان بلغ نحو 13 ألفاً في عام 2015، دفع كلٌّ منها رسوماً إل العدو الصهيوني عند دخوله فلسطين العربية المحتلة وخروجه منها، وأن عدد تلك الشاحنات ارتفع بمقدار 25% عن عام 2014، إذ بلغت آنذاك 10.300 شاحنة. وهو ما يشكل، في رأينا المكتوب والمنشور، أهم عائق في فتح الحدود البرية على مصاريعها مع سوريا من جانب قوى الشد العكسي المستفيدة من مرفأ حيفا، في الأردن وخارجه.    

    وفي شهر تشرين أول/أكتوبر 2016، أعلن الكيان الصهيوني تدشين خط سكة حديد بيسان – حيفا بتكلفة مليار دولار، الذي كان جزءاً من سكة حديد الحجاز قبل ذلك بقرنٍ ونيف. وقال بوعز تسفرير، المدير العام لشركة قطارات “إسرائيل”، بمناسبة التدشين وقتها، “إن خط قطار حيفا – بيسان سوف يربط ميناء حيفا بجسر (الشيخ حسين)، الواقع في منطقة الأغوار الشمالية، ثم سوف يواصل مسيره إلى الأردن، حيث مدينة إربد وصولاً إلى العاصمة عمَّان. وهو سيكون أيضاً قطاراً لشحن البضائع، وسوف يخدم سكان منطقة وادي الأردن، ويعزّز حركة التجارة لميناء حيفا، كما سيتم تعزيز عمل خط القطار الجديد خلال الأعوام المقبلة”. 

    قبل التطبيع “الإبراهيمي” المعلن بأعوام، في 3/2/2017 تحديداً، نشرت وسائل الإعلام تصريحات لوزير المواصلات الصهيوني، يسرائيل كاتس، آنذاك، يقول فيها إنه يدفع في اتجاه تعزيز تبادل المعلومات بين الكيان الصهيوني والدول الخليجية، بسبب ما لذلك من تأثير إيجابي “في خطة التواصل البريّ المزمع إنشاؤها من إسرائيل مع دول الخليج”. كما أشار إلى أنّه، بصفته أيضاً وزيراً للمواصلات، يعمل على الدفع قُدُماً في هذا الاتجاه، وهناك “موافقة من رئيس الحكومة الإسرائيليّة بنيامين نتنياهو، على توسعة خط القطار بين إسرائيل والأردن، ليصل إلى المملكة العربيّة السعوديّة”، مُعتبراً أنّ “الأردن سيكون حلقة الوصل بين إسرائيل ودول الخليج في قضية السكك الحديديّة التي تربط بينهما”.  

    وكان رشح، في صيف عام 2015، أن “الإدارة المدنية” للضفة الغربية، والتابعة للجيش الصهيوني، قرّرت المصادقة على مخطط لمدّ شبكة سكك حديدية في جميع أنحاء الضفة الغربية، وأن المخطط يشمل 473 كيلومتراً من السكك الحديدية، و30 محطة قطار في 11 خط سكة حديدية، “يتجاهل الحدود السياسية القائمة”، بحيث ستربط السكك الحديدية بين المدن الفلسطينية، كما ستربط هذه المدن بالمدن في “إسرائيل”، وبالأردن و”سوريا أيضاً”، “وستخدم جميع سكان المنطقة”. وبسبب الطبيعة الجبلية للضفة، فإن المخطط يشمل عشرات الجسور والأنفاق، بحسب مواقع متعددة عبر الإنترنت.

    ليس الأردن والسلطة الفلسطينية، إذاً، إلّا منطقتين طرفيتين تمثّلان موطئ قدم للوصول إلى العراق وسوريا والدول الخليجية. وبالتالي، فإن مشروع “الكونفدرالية الثلاثية” (بين الأردن والدويلة الفلسطينية والكيان الصهيوني)، والذي يبرز بين الفينة والأخرى، ليس إلّا صيغة سياسية لتسهيل التغلغل الصهيوني في المشرق العربي.  

    أسست معاهدة وادي عربة قاعدة لربط البنية التحتية في الأردن بالكيان الصهيوني من خلال عدد من المشاريع، مثل اتفاقية الغاز مع العدو الصهيوني بقيمة 10 مليارات دولار لمدة 15 عاماً لتوليد الكهرباء عام 2016، والتي أصدرت المحكمة الدستورية قراراً في أيار/مايو 2020 أنها لا يمكن أن تُلغى على الرغم من الاحتجاجات، ولا حاجة إلى عرضها على مجلس النواب… ومن تلك الاتفاقيات أيضاً مشروع قناة البحرين (الميت – الأحمر) لتحلية المياه وإنقاذ البحر الميت، بسبب سرقة “إسرائيل” مياه نهر الأردن، والذي لم يتم إعلان صيغة نهائية له بعد.. وهناك أيضاً المناطق الصناعية المؤهلة Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ’s) والتي يتم بموجبها التصدير إلى الولايات المتحدة منذ التسعينيات من دون جمرك ما دام يوجد فيها مُدخل “إسرائيلي”، وأغلبية الشركات والعمالة فيها غير أردنية أصلاً.. ناهيك بتقارير كثيرة عن تطوير وادي الأردن ومشاريع مناطق حرة وصناعية ثلاثية مع السلطة الفلسطينية.

    التطبيع لا ينجح إن لم تضمن “إسرائيل” روافع تمكّنها من قطع الكهرباء والماء والحياة الاقتصادية عن الدول المطبّعة إن هي قررت تغيير رأيها.  فلا أمان للكيان الصهيوني مع رأي شعبي عربي يمكن أن يمارس ضغوطاً تدفع في اتجاه وقف التطبيع. لذلك، فإن النموذج الأردني لإنتاج الكهرباء بغاز فلسطيني مسروق يضع كل مواطن أمام خيار صعب: إمّا أن يقبل التكامل الإقليمي مع “إسرائيل”، وإمّا أن يقبل العيش بلا كهرباء وماء واقتصاد… إلخ. ثم يقال له: إن شئت ألّا تطبّع، فلا تطبِّعْ!  

    وستكون لنا عودة إلى البعد الاقتصادي للتطبيع، في مقالات مقبلة، إن شاء الله.

    إن الآراء المذكورة في هذه المقالة لا تعبّر بالضرورة عن رأي الميادين وإنما تعبّر عن رأي صاحبها حصراً

    Hamas Calls for “Unified Command” Against “Israel”, Urges PLO to Abolish Oslo Accords

    May 14, 2022

    By Staff, Agencies

    In response to the cold-blooded killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by “Israeli” Occupation Forces [IOF], the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has called for a unified command against the occupying regime.

    In his remarks late on Friday, Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Gaza-based resistance movement’s political bureau, urged the “speedy formation” of the command to lead the struggle against the “Israeli” entity.

    The call came two days after 51-year-old Abu Akleh was brutally murdered while covering an “Israeli” military raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the northern part of the occupied West Bank.

    The long-time Al-Jazeera Arabic journalist, who shot to fame while covering the second Palestinian Intifada between 2000 and 2005, was accompanying a group of local journalists when she was targeted.

    Haniyeh said the Palestinian liberation struggle is going through a “new stage,” which demands the adoption of “incisive and strategic decisions”.

    He said the unified command will be tasked with directing the resistance against the apartheid regime.

    Formation of the unified front is indispensable in the light of the regime’s “bestiality,” which manifested itself in the “assassination of the daughter of Palestine,” Haniyeh said, referring to Abu Akleh.

    The Hamas leader said Palestinians need to get their act together in the face of Tel Aviv’s unbridled aggression, advocating unity between different Palestinian political groups.

    He cited examples of “Israeli” aggression such as the increase in settlement construction activities across the occupied territories, assaulting Palestinian worshippers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the holy occupied city of al-Quds, the longstanding and crippling siege of Gaza, detention of thousands of Palestinians, and denying them the right to return to their homeland.

    Haniyeh called on the West Bank-headquartered Palestinian Authority [PA] to end its cooperation with the regime in Tel Aviv and scrap the so-called Oslo Accords, which were signed in 1993 and marked the first time the “Israeli” regime and the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO] recognized each other.

    The Oslo Accords were signed in the White House but named after Norway’s capital city, where the secret back-channel dialogue took place.

    The Hamas leader urged the PA to withdraw its “recognition of ‘Israel’,” stop its “security cooperation” with Tel Aviv, “and concentrate on the resistance’s comprehensive plan for confronting the occupier.”

    Pertinently, it came on the eve of Nakba Day, [the Day of Catastrophe], when in 1948 hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly evicted from their homeland and the “Israeli” entity came into existence as an illegal and illegitimate entity.

    As Ramadan Ends, Israeli Provocations Seem Aimed at a Religious War

    Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° 

    Jessica Buxbaum

    “Israel uses this month [of Ramadan] to humiliate Palestinians, as much as they can. Especially at the doors of al-Aqsa Mosque, knowing how much this situation is sensitive for Palestinians.” – Younes Arar, PLO Colonization and Wall Resistance Commission

    OCCUPIED EAST JERUSALEM, PALESTINE — On the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, at least 42 Palestinians were injured when Israeli police raided al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in occupied East Jerusalem, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said. With nearly 300 Palestininians injured in the last two weeks at al-Aqsa compound, this year’s Ramadan in Palestine has been marked by bloodshed once again.

    Since the start of Ramadan on April 2, human rights organizations have monitored a significant increase in violence against Palestinians. Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq has documented a worrying trend “in killings, excessive use of force, settler colonial violence, attacks on holy sites and worshippers, and collective punishment measures against Palestinians, including widespread raids, arbitrary arrests, and movement restrictions.”

    According to Al-Haq’s information, the Israeli army has killed 17 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in April. Since Al-Haq’s publication, Israeli forces fatally shot 18-year-old Ahmad Fathi Masad in the head during a raid on the Jenin refugee camp this week.

    Uptick in religious violations

    Israeli police raids on al-Aqsa compound have become routine this month, with the PRCS noting the majority of injuries were to the upper areas of the body. Israeli forces have used rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, pepper spray and stun grenades against Palestinian worshippers at al-Aqsa.

    In recent weeks, Israeli forces have also broken the iconic stained-glass windows of al-Qibli Mosque, the main mosque in the compound, and have attacked Palestinian journalists, children, women and the elderly at the holy site.

    Palestinian Authority (PA) Minister for Religious Endowments Sheikh Hatem al-Bakri told MintPress News that Israel’s actions at al-Aqsa compound are in violation of international regulations, UNESCO resolutions and religious traditions.

    In 2016, UNESCO, the UN’s world heritage organization, adopted a resolution decrying Israeli violations at al-Aqsa including restricting access to Muslim worship and storming of the compound by Israeli forces and extremists.

    “Israel is not respecting religious treaties at all, instead using their privilege of power to enact these policies,” al-Bakri said, emphasizing how the Jordanian Ministry of Waqf has full jurisdiction over the holy site. “And because of our weaknesses, we cannot run any military confrontation with Israel. We have to just witness what’s happening.”

    Israeli police are not the only ones violating the sanctity of al-Aqsa. This month, the Jewish festival of Passover coincided with Ramadan. Jewish extremists used the holiday season to storm the compound and pray at the site more frequently. On April 17, Israeli forces shut Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron to Muslim worshippers for two days. That following Tuesday, hundreds of Jewish settlers stormed the mosque to perform Talmudic rituals in celebration of Passover. The Israeli army also erected military barricades surrounding the area of the mosque to facilitate the settlers’ movement. The director of the mosque, Ghassan Al-Rajabi, said the closure was a continuation of “Zionist authorities’ attempts to dominate and occupy the mosque.”

    In 1994, Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Muslim worshippers at Ibrahimi Mosque during Ramadan. Following the massacre, Israel divided the holy site into Muslim and Jewish sections, with Muslim access cut to 40%.

    Last year, Israel authorities initiated excavation works at the mosque in order to install an elevator there. A Palestinian petition against the settler project was rejected by Israel’s Supreme Court on the grounds the elevator’s purpose is to ensure greater disability access. However, Palestinans stress the plan isn’t humanitarian in its purpose, instead giving cover for an attempt to confiscate land and further Judaize the mosque.

    Sheikh al-Bakri, who is also a preacher at Ibrahimi Mosque, said Israel’s tightened security measures around the religious site suggest a more sinister intention. “Israel has been trying to control that site through converting it from a place for worshipers to a military zone,” al-Bakri said. “All of the events that have been happening around that site make us believe that Israel is trying to turn the Muslim praying side into a synagogue.”

    April saw an escalation against Palestinian Muslim and Christian worship as well. According to documentation from the Jerusalem Governorate, on April 23 Israeli forces prevented hundreds of Palestinian Christians from reaching the Church of Holy Sepulcher to celebrate the “Holy Fire” ceremony on the eve of Orthodox Easter.

    Minister al-Bakri said Israeli violations against some mosques in Jerusalem have occurred this Ramadan, but emphasized the main offenses against Islam have been at the al-Aqsa and Ibrahimi mosques.

    “If Israel is violating these two big sites, then they can violate every site in the country,” al-Bakri said. “And we keep saying that if Israel is violating al-Aqsa, it’s violating every single Palestinian.”

    Israel seeking a religious war

    As the end of Ramadan nears, Israeli police have banned non-Muslims from entering al-Aqsa compound for the last ten days of Ramadan. According to Jerusalem Governorate statistics, about 3,670 Jewish settlers invaded al-Aqsa Compound during the Passover holiday.

    Amid the spike in Jews praying at the site, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid asserted Israel is committed to maintaining the status quo at al-Aqsa Compound.

    “Muslims pray on the Temple Mount [what Israel calls al-Aqsa Compound], non-Muslims only visit. There is no change, there will be no change,” Lapid said during a press conference.

    Yet Jordan, which has custodianship over the site, disagreed. The Jordanian Foreign Ministry warned in a statement that Israel is taking “targeted steps to change the historical and legal situation in the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif,” specifically condemning Israeli forces for raiding the area and allowing Jews to pray at al-Aqsa Compound.

    Jewish extremists often argue that denying Jewish prayer at al-Aqsa Compound is an obstruction of freedom of worship, given the area is deemed the holiest site in Judaism.

    “Al-Aqsa is only for Muslims,” PA Deputy Governor of Jerusalem Abdullah Siam told MintPress News, in response to accusations of religious discrimination. He suggested the current status quo has pushed Israel to take the site through force.

    Al-Bakri also agreed that al-Aqsa is strictly for Muslim worship.

    But Jewish extremists who spout claims of religious discrimination ignore the stark political element at play, Israeli journalist and activist Haggai Matar said. “[T]here are no equals in Israel-Palestine,” Matar wrote in +972 Magazine. “[I]t is Israel that has created a system of apartheid wherein … Jewish supremacy over Palestinians is guaranteed, maintained, and entrenched by law and by force.”

    Just before the start of Ramadan, Israeli parliament member and leader of the far-right Jewish Power Party Itamar Ben-Gvir toured al-Aqsa Compound, escorted by police. This wasn’t his first incursion, and Minister al-Bakri said such provocative, politically-charged tours are how the Israeli government attempts to stabilize its fragile coalition. “Through these practices, [the government is] trying to get political acquisitions,” al-Bakri said. “The government of [Prime Minister] Naftali Bennett is weak, and in order for them to keep going, they have to encourage settlers to do more raids so as to win from that situation.”

    Yet ultimately, Israel’s ongoing violations against Muslim worship, al-Bakri said, are “leading the area to a religious war between Islam and Judaism.” “We always say that our main problem is not with Judaism as a religion, but with the occupation,” al-Bakri said. “Although Israel has been using Judaism to shape its occupation.”

    Ramadan violence on repeat

    As they were last year, tensions in Palestine have been at a maximum high during Ramadan.

    In May 2021, violence erupted into a war between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic faction governing Gaza. Israel’s 10-day assault on the besieged Gaza Strip left 256 Palestinians dead, including 66 children. Media pundits and experts have feared this Ramadan may reach last year’s deadly levels.

    For Minister al-Bakri, the atmosphere in Palestine is always volatile during Ramadan because Israel encourages a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. “Three months ago, Israel started talking in the media about a potential escalation, while the Palestinians hoped for a quiet month,” al-Bakri said, highlighting the number of Palestinians killed recently as meeting Israeli predictions. “Israel has been preparing the area for a potential problem by repeating these crisis slogans.”

    Younes Arar, director of international and public relations and media for the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Colonization and Wall Resistance Commission, suggested the large number of Palestinians flocking to Jerusalem during Ramadan is part of why the holy month is a tense time — emphasizing how the restrictions on freedom of movement add to the provocations. “Israel uses this month to humiliate Palestinians, as much as they can,” Arar said. “Especially at the doors of al-Aqsa Mosque, knowing how much this situation is sensitive for Palestinians.”

    Blatant Display of Hypocrisy

    2 May 2022

    Source: Al Mayadeen

    Samia Nasir-Khoury 

    Despite regularly calling for peace, the Israeli occupation’s actions speak otherwise. From the non-stop aggressions it continues to commit against the Palestinian people to the refusal to make the slightest concession, the occupation seems to understand only the language of force.

    Ever since the partition plan of Palestine on November 29, 1947, and the immediate recognition of “Israel” by the United States of America, “Israel” has had the unwavering support of the USA

    The sight of the Ukrainian refugees evoked very sad memories of our own eviction from Palestine, which ceased to exist in 1948.  Not only because of the eviction but because of the massacres and the razing of hundreds of villages and reducing leading cities into ghost towns, which took place at the time, so as to obliterate the history of our country, some of which were only made public many years later on by the Israeli new historians.  It was a  historical event known as “the Nakba” (Catastrophe), which turned out to be an ongoing Nakba to this day, as Israel, the occupying power,  continues to deprive the Palestinians of their right of return according to the UN GA  resolution 194  on December 11, 1948, and refuses to withdraw from the rest of the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967 according to UN Security Council resolution 242 on November 22, 1967, over and above tits daily violations of Palestinian human rights.

    I am not going to dwell on the political atmosphere, and the role of the USA and NATO in provoking that war, but it had hardly started when the cry for sanctions on Russia was loud and clear.  However,  never did the international community come up with the word “sanctions” regarding “Israel”, despite its brutal measures against the Palestinians as well as its flouting of UN resolutions for the last seven decades. It is high time “Israel” realizes that it will never feel secure while it continues to kill, confiscate, and deprive the Palestinians and the prisoners of their freedom and their basic human rights.  Furthermore, it allows the settlers to terrorize the Palestinians in their towns, in their fields, vineyards, and olive groves, as well as in their holy places, all under the protection of the Israeli police force.  In fact, three renowned organizations monitoring the region, Amnesty International, B’Tselem, and Human Rights Watch came to the conclusion in their reports recently,  that “Israel” is an apartheid state.  Of course, “Israel” refuted their reports and labeled them as anti-Semitic. Ironic indeed when one of them is an Israeli organization.

    It is unreasonable to forget two facts.  One pertaining to the Oslo Accords, and the other pertaining to the Arab Countries  The Oslo Accords signed between the PLO and Israel on September 13, 1993, gave us the impression at the beginning that they were going to bring about a  new dawn of hope for peace and liberation, especially after seeing the Israeli army withdraw from the Palestinian towns occupied in 1967.  However, it did not take long to expose the loopholes in these accords, especially when the basic issues like al-Quds, borders, as well as refugees, and the building of illegal settlements were deferred to the last stage of negotiations, over a period of five years. This turned out to be an open-ended period of five-times-five that stopped abruptly with the incursion of the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, to Al-Aqsa mosque which led to the Second Intifada. That gave “Israel” the excuse to end all the negotiations. The following years gave “Israel” the opportunity to create a new reality on the ground as its settlements mushroomed all over the occupied Palestinian territories.  Over and above, the issue of security for Israel was to be coordinated with the new Palestinian Authority.  This certainly seemed to be a unique situation when the occupied had to coordinate security matters with the occupiers. The absurdity of these two items alone showed that those accords were never studied thoroughly and scrutinized by the PLO before they signed them and recognized “Israel” as a state in the region, whereas Israel never committed itself to recognizing a Palestinian state as it signed those accords with the PLO.

    The second fact is the stand of the Arab countries who despite their rhetoric were never able to bring about the pressure to end the occupation. However, all the Arab countries endorsed the Saudi initiative  made by Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, crown prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabic during the Arab summit meeting in Beirut in 2002 in which the prince presented his initiative calling for “full Israeli withdrawal from all the Arab territories occupied since June 1967, in implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, reaffirmed by the Madrid Conference of 1991 and the land-for-peace principle, and ‘Israel’s’ acceptance of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, in return for the establishment of normal relations in the context of a comprehensive peace with Israel.”

    Had “Israel” been sincere about peace it would have jumped at the Saudi initiative, but it seems that “Israel” cannot survive in times of peace.  However, peace with the Gulf countries was offered to “Israel” on a silver platter. Those countries who signed the “Abrahamic Accords” had no war with “Israel”, nor did they share borders with “Israel”.  Once again a colonial power, the USA, during the Trump presidency, was able to drive a wedge among the Arab countries, and seduce those Gulf countries into a peace agreement with Israel claiming to have common security interests.

    Ever since the partition plan of Palestine on November 29, 1947, and the immediate recognition of “Israel” by the United States of America, “Israel” has had the unwavering support of the USA. This has been a major factor in Israel’s flouting of all UN resolutions regarding Palestine without any sanctions. The most we have heard from the USA and the European countries is “concern” about the  clashes and the demolishing of Palestinian homes, and that “the settlements are not conducive to peace.” 

    Unfortunately, during these times,  the vested interests of the powerful forces, and their hegemony over-rules the principle of the common good and the welfare of all people, whereby they coerce the weaker people by blackmailing them, supposedly to guarantee their survival. And of course whoever dared to defy those powers had no chance to survive.  

    The brutality of the Israeli police while storming the Al-Aqsa mosque and limiting and violently blocking Palestinian Christians in particular from worshiping in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the old city of al-Quds (Jerusalem), the holiest of Christian sites is beyond imagination. “Israel” wants to turn the Palestinian struggle into a religious war whereas it is not, and it has never been so. Nonetheless, with the support of the colonial powers, they have turned the whole region into a fertile ground for religious extremism.

    However desperate the situation is, we cannot afford to lose hope, and we will not lose hope because justice is on our side. Furthermore, we hope our Palestinian struggle will become an example of steadfastness, “Sumud” and a guiding force in the struggle of all oppressed people.

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

    Will a regional war over Al-Aqsa Mosque revive The Palestinian cause?

    27 Apr 2022

    Source: Al Mayadeen

    Robert Inlakesh 

    “Israel” has, for long, not had to worry about the Arab and Islamic nations attacking it to liberate their own lands, as well as those of the Palestinians, today we are growing closer to a new equation.

    At this point, a multi-front war with “Israel” will completely change the equation in the struggle for the liberation of Palestine.

    Violent Israeli incursions into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, during the Holy Month of Ramadan, threaten a renewed round of violence in the Palestinian occupied territories and perhaps beyond. Why is the regional dimension to the Palestinian question being left out of Western analyses and what difference will another ‘Arab-Israeli’ war make?

    Last May, the ‘Joint Room’ of armed resistance factions in the Gaza Strip launched Seif al-Quds (Sword of Jerusalem), a military operation to defend the al-Aqsa Mosque, after it had been repeatedly desecrated and its worshippers attacked, leading to an embarrassing set back to the Israeli regime. The 11-day war, as it is now called, spelled massive death and destruction in the Gaza Strip. Roughly 270 Palestinians were killed and at least 14 Israelis (the number of soldiers killed is still unconfirmed), clearly showing the suffering on the Palestinian side to have been much greater. However, the symbolic victories won during the battle with “Israel”, not only launched from Gaza but everywhere inside occupied Palestine, left the Israeli regime begging for a ceasefire.

    The battle of Seif al-Quds represents an important marker in the history of modern Palestinian armed struggle, emerging as a symbolic driver of the armed struggle much like the battle of Karameh. The battle of Karameh, which took place in 1968, when PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] aligned forces and the Jordanian military fought the Israeli regime, was not a conventional military victory over “Israel” for the PLO, but instead proved “Israel” to be beatable. Prior to this battle, in which Jordanian and Palestinian forces still suffered heavy losses, the Fidayeen operations did not carry as much symbolic weight and provided a light at the end of the tunnel for Palestinians. The battle of Karameh however, proved that Israeli military vehicles could be destroyed and their military could be fought for over 15 hours and not achieve a decisive military victory over a dedicated Arab fighting force.

    Up until May of 2021, it was generally thought that the armed factions in Gaza could not outwit their Israeli opponents and any war would produce the same results as previous battles. That being, massive death, and destruction in Gaza, combined with the besieged territory’s isolation from all other fronts. The battle of Seif al-Quds flipped this way of thinking on its head and sent a strong message regionally. There then emerged a full unified militarized force inside the Gaza Strip that could unite the Palestinian people, outwit its Israeli opposition and provide an alternative path for the Palestinian movement. 

    What made the victory, led by Hamas, so important, was its ability to transform the way the Arab and Islamic nations view the Palestinian cause and the battle having signified the re-birth of the armed struggle as the principal means through which liberation is to be achieved. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had abandoned the armed struggle altogether by the end of the second Intifada, instead of pursuing fruitless dialogue with “Israel”, whilst committing itself to “security coordination”, which benefitted “Tel Aviv” solely. The Palestinian Authority (PA), as of earlier this year, officially absorbed the PLO into itself. This means that instead of the PA being an offshoot of the PLO, the roles are now reversed.

    The Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, was for long the consensus position of the Arab Regimes; that normalization comes only as the result of a withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967 and the formation of a Palestinian State, with “East Jerusalem” as its Capital. The Trump-era “Abraham Accords”, which saw Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco, join Jordan and Egypt in normalizing ties with “Israel” and spelled the death of the Arab Peace Initiative. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has no regional powers behind it, meaning no leverage over “Israel” that it can use to force through a so-called two-State solution. The PA does not even possess any symbolic power through mass support from the Arab and Islamic world, on top of this it continues to prevent democratic elections.

    Although the Palestinian cause had for long been the central issue of the Arab and Islamic world, the wars of aggression against Iraq, Libya, Syria, and other countries in the region took much of the attention that had been placed on the Palestinian issue in the past. Now, despite the suffering throughout the region, Palestine is again at the top of the agenda, however, there is still work that must be done in order to push towards the protection of Holy sites, revolution, and eventual liberation. 

    The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is the primary hindrance to a new Intifada, this PA is slowly weakening and is displaying its inability to control many areas, the most obvious case being in Jenin camp. The Israeli occupation forces receive the bulk of their intelligence on the activities of Palestinians, deriving their control, from the PA. Right now there seems to be an ongoing battle inside the ruling Fatah Party – which runs the PA – for the very soul of the organization and there are two possible conclusions to this phase of PA rule in the West Bank; the complete collapse of the PA, or a new Fatah leadership which will pursue a more hostile stance against “Israel”. In either case, “Israel” will be put in an extremely difficult position in the West Bank.

    A Regional Front Against ‘Israel’

    Following the battle of Sayf al-Quds last year, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, announced that he sought to form a multinational force which would transform any battle over al-Quds into a regional war with “Israel”. Later, groups from within the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Yemen’s Ansarallah, as well as the Palestinian factions, all signed on to this mission. 

    In Western media, the reporting on the repeated attacks on worshippers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound has not only been littered with lies to protect the image of the Israeli forces but has also left out the possible regional response that such attacks could trigger. It seems that this piece of the puzzle has not yet been factored into the Western analysis, which will only go as far as looking into the possible reaction of Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Gaza. 

    In a multinational ‘Quds Day’ conference, broadcast on Tuesday, we saw the emergence again of the regional axis that pledges to take on “Israel” and defeat its aggression against al-Quds. Key to this conference were leaders of resistance factions from Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, and Palestine, which all spoke of a regional coalition that will use armed struggle to liberate al-Quds. The Palestinian issue “cannot be resolved at the negotiation table,” said Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, whilst Hezbollah’s Sayed Hassan Nasrallah announced that his patry would be on the front lines of the fight for al-Quds. The issue of Arab normalization was also a central issue addressed during the conference, indicating that the coalition of resistance Parties is seeking to send the region a message through armed struggle.

    At this point, a multi-front war with “Israel” will completely change the equation in the struggle for the liberation of Palestine. If Lebanon, Yemen, and Iraq become involved in a battle, alongside the Palestinians, this will completely transform the issue and force the international community to take the Palestinian struggle seriously. Most importantly, however, the Arab and Islamic leaderships – which operate outside the resistance coalition – will have to reconsider their roles in the conflict if such a war breaks out. The only missing piece in this picture is Syria, if Damascus takes advantage of the situation and launches an offensive in the Golan Heights, this will force countries regionally to re-engage with the Syrian government and will give Syria a central role in seeking a solution for Palestine, tying the fate of its occupied territory to those of the Palestinians. 

    “Israel” has, for long, not had to worry about the Arab and Islamic nations attacking it to liberate their own lands, as well as those of the Palestinians, today we are growing closer to a new equation. The obstacles ahead are; who will be the accepted Palestinian representatives internationally? How to bring the region into a multi-faceted confrontation with “Israel”? And how to strive for the full initiation of a Third Intifada? If these questions can be answered, the Palestinian cause will not only be the central issue regionally, it will possess much greater power for liberating Palestine than ever before.

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

    ‘Israel’s’ Rational Enemy: Hezbollah, An ’Army’ Whose Surprises Never End

    April 21, 2022

    By Staff | Haaretz

    In a lengthy article for Haaretz, Amos Harel cited the outgoing commander of the 91st Galilee Division of the ‘Israeli’ military as saying: “As the division commander who lives the front here on a daily basis, I constantly assume that there could be surprises and that Hezbollah might make an unexpected move.”

    Next week, Brig. Gen. Shlomi Binder will conclude his tour of duty in the occupied northern border sector. He has been serving in his post for two years and eight months.

    Binder says the main change that has occurred on the border in recent years relates to the arrival of the Radwan Unit, Hezbollah’s elite force, and its deployment in southern Lebanon, after years in which they garnered experience in the Syrian war.

    “They have tools they didn’t have in 2006, notably an attack plan and capability in our territory,” he says, adding that they have expanded the firepower aimed at our front and they have improved their defensive capability in the face of an ‘Israeli’ military’s maneuver.

    One of the blatant signs of the transition from guerrilla status to an army is the development of broad offensive formations, and not only point-specific offense or defense, Binder explains. “That is not necessarily bad for us. The more of an army they become and create permanent patterns, the more they generate targets for attack by us.”

    At the end of the last war, there was a clear inclination in the ‘Israeli’ military to magnify Hezbollah’s combat capabilities and especially the fighting spirit of its troops, Binder says: “They know how to work with an envelope of intelligence, firepower and other means, as they did during the fighting in Syria. Our principal threat reference for many years is Hezbollah. We are planning, training and thinking about that.”

    Still, the ‘Israeli’ military finds it difficult to define for itself the essence of victory in a confrontation with an enemy that is not exactly an army. “In the first Lebanon war, in 1982, ‘Israeli’ forces reached Beirut, but withdrew in a despondent atmosphere, despite the fact that Yasser Arafat and PLO officials left. In 2006, against Hezbollah, they advanced only 10 to 15 kilometers and left Lebanon with the sense of a frustrating stalemate. That is a problem the high command continues to contemplate, but it’s clear that the tendency today is more to degrade the enemy’s assets than to seize territory and hold it for the long term.”

    The goal, Binder says, will be “to finish when Hezbollah has sustained a mortal blow. We will try to reduce significantly their arsenal of all types, to strike at commanders and fighters. The hope is that it will lead to deterrence of many years.”

    “Hezbollah,” the outgoing general says, “has a great deal of advanced weaponry. It won’t be possible to portray them as an impoverished army that is just taking a beating.”

    For years, he continues, ‘Israel’ made a mistake by describing its enemies not only as extremists motivated by ideological and religious hate for ‘Israel’, but also as irrational. That approach, regarding Hezbollah, and in the past two years has been voiced quite a bit even with regard to decisions made by Hamas’ leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar.

    Binder says that Hezbollah Secretary General, His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah “is rational, but not necessarily with our rationality. Is he sane and judicious in making his decisions? In my opinion, yes. The question is whether that leads to expected decisions from our point of view – and the answer is: not always. I have a certain cognitive difficulty in trying to understand him: I am an ‘Israeli’, not a Lebanese Shiite.”

    Assassination of Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad) Commemorated in Gaza (PHOTOS)

    April 17, 2022

    Palestinians in Gaza commemorate the assassination of Palestinian leader Khalil al-Wazir by Israeli forces in 1988. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

    By Palestine Chronicle Staff

    Palestinians in Gaza take part in a rally on Saturday, April 16, marking the 34th anniversary of the assassination of Palestinian leader Khalil al-Wazir by Israeli forces in Tunisia.

    Al-Wazir, better known by his nom de guerre Abu Jihad, was killed on April 16, 1988. Israel only admitted to his assassination in 2012, almost 25 years later.  

    Al-Wazir was a Palestinian leader and co-founder of the political party Fatah. 

    During his career, he was a member of the Palestine National Council, the Central Council of the PLO and the Higher Military Council of the Palestinian Revolution and deputy to the General Commander of the forces of the Palestinian Revolution.

    He was accused by Israel of being one of the main architects of the first popular Palestinian Intifada of 1987, which he supported until Israeli military unit Sayeret Matkal, led by Major Moshe Yaalon (who later became Minister of Defense), assassinated him at his house in the Sidi Bou Said neighborhood in Tunis.

    (All Photos: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

    Khalida Jarrar: PLO is ‘Hijacked, It Suffers from Hegemony, Exclusivity’

    March 10, 2022

    Palestinian political activist Khalida Jarrar. (Photo: via MEMO)

    Iconic Palestinian political activist Khalida Jarrar said that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) “is hijacked and suffers from hegemony and exclusivity, in an interview with Al Resalah newspaper on Wednesday.

    The senior leader of the Democratic (Popular) Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) added that the PLO “needs reformation and rebuilding via an elected national council or a transitional one pending the election of a new one.”

    Jarrar stressed that the new national council “should lay down the foundations of a new strategy of the national struggle that includes all parties.”

    At the same time, she said that rebuilding the PLO based on its national program “will regain respect to it,” reiterating that the bost is the sole representative of the Palestinians.

    Jarrar also said that hegemony and exclusivity pushed many national figures to refuse to participate in the meetings of the PLO’s National Council as they believed that the PLO is in urgent need to be rescued from those who have hijacked it.

    (MEMO, PC, Social Media)

    %d bloggers like this: