Archive for September 4th, 2012
Below is the portion of the just-released 2012 Democratic National Party Platformthat discusses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Middle East. President Obama and the Democratic Party maintain an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security. A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States not simply because we share strategic interests, but also because we share common values. For this reason, despite budgetary constraints, the President has worked with Congress to increase security assistance to Israel every single year since taking office, providing nearly $10 billion in the past three years. The administration has also worked to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region. And we have deepened defense cooperation – including funding the Iron Dome system – to help Israel address its most pressing threats, including the growing danger posed by rockets and missiles emanating from the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. The President’s consistent support for Israel’s right to defend itself and his steadfast opposition to any attempt to delegitimize Israel on the world stage are further evidence of our enduring commitment to Israel’s security.
It is precisely because of this commitment that President Obama and the Democratic Party seek peace between Israelis and Palestinians. A just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian accord, producing two states for two peoples, would contribute to regional stability and help sustain Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state. At the same time, the President has made clear that there will be no lasting peace unless Israel’s security concerns are met. President Obama will continue to press Arab states to reach out to Israel. We will continue to support Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, which have been pillars of peace and stability in the region for many years. And even as the President and the Democratic Party continue to encourage all parties to be resolute in the pursuit of peace, we will insist that any Palestinian partner must recognize Israel’s right to exist, reject violence, and adhere to existing agreements.
Elsewhere in the region, President Obama is committed to maintaining robust security cooperation with Gulf Cooperation Council states and our other partners aimed at deterring aggression, checking Iran’s destabilizing activities, ensuring the free flow of commerce essential to the global economy, and building a regional security architecture to counter terrorism, proliferation, ballistic missiles, piracy, and other common threats.
Haaretz reports that “more than a few pro-Israeli party functionaries at the convention [are fuming]” that the platform left out a reference to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The 2008 platform read, “Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel.” These same functionaries are also evidently upset that the “language on Iran wasn’t tough enough.”
Mitt Romney has responded with the following statement:
It is unfortunate that the entire Democratic Party has embraced President Obama’s shameful refusal to acknowledge that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. Four years of President Obama’s repeated attempts to create distance between the United States and our cherished ally have led the Democratic Party to remove from their platform an unequivocal acknowledgment of a simple reality. As president, I will restore our relationship with Israel and stand shoulder to shoulder with our close ally.
The situation in the Palestinian enclave has reached a critical point. If no action is taken, by 2020, Gaza will become uninhabitable. This is stated in the report recently published by the UN. The greatest concern is the lack of clinics, hospitals, and schools. Only the global community can help. According to the UN, Israel is to blame for the problems of Gaza.
According to the UN report, by 2020, it will be necessary to build 440 new schools and increase the number of hospital beds to eight hundred. Furthermore, for the normal operation of medical institutions a thousand medical specialists will have to be found. Another, no less acute problem in the Gaza Strip is the disruption of power and water supply. The report notes that the water, electrical equipment, and the social services do not meet the basic needs of the population. In the future, lack of drinking water could reach 60 percent. In addition, sewage waste is often dumped into the sea without any treatment.
Perhaps most disturbing is the continuing rise in unemployment, which now stands at 45 percent. In the Palestinian territories under siege there is almost no industry, and obtaining permits for Palestinians to work in Israel cannot save the situation. The authors of the report call for the immediate attention to the key issues of the region.
If it does not happen, by the year 2020 Gaza will be unfit for life. If now the enclave’s population is 1.6 million people, eight years later the number will increase by half a million people – the average density of the population is 5,800 people per square km, the report stated. According to UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs Maxwell Gaylard, Gaza is under the siege, and its residents – under occupation. They require both political and practical help. To improve the lives of Palestinians the siege and the conflict must end.
The UN has been criticizing Israel for some years. It is fair to recognize that the Israeli government has committed a lot of strategic miscalculations, trying to combine the techniques of “carrot and stick” in dealing with the administration of the Palestinian Authority. A disproportionate use of force during Operation “Cast Lead” in 2009 hardly helped to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict. However, it should be noted that another attempt to shift all the blame for the state of affairs in the Gaza Strip on Israel only plays into the hands of extremists.
In this regard, the Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor expressed dissatisfaction with the UN position, which, in his opinion, is biased. He said that this week, Israeli children began the new school year to the unfortunately familiar sound of sirens and explosions, when terrorists from the Gaza Strip fired another six rockets at their communities. While Israeli schoolchildren were hiding in bomb shelters, the UN announced another biased report on Gaza. Apparently, the roar of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip did not reach the deaf ears of the UN experts who wrote the report, said the chairman Ron Prosor in his letter to the Security Council.
In any case, the current crisis in the Gaza Strip did not start yesterday. Analysts attribute the crisis to the advent of the radical group Hamas in 2007, which, incidentally, led to a toughening of Israel policy in the region.
“The main thing is the inability of Haniyeh to bring order to the economic situation in the Gaza Strip,” said Scheglovin, an expert from the Institute of the Middle East. “In particular, the population suffers greatly from a terrible expensive diesel fuel, which is the main source of electricity. Diesel has become a very important source of income for the Hamas functionaries, since the vast majority of it is delivered to Gaza by smuggling through tunnels. This allows to avoid tax payments that occur, for example, when diesel fuel is delivered to Gaza from Israel (about 40 percent of total imports),” the expert commented on the situation with electricity in the Gaza Strip in April of 2012.
It is obvious that the Palestinian Arab allies do not always provide adequate support for the residents of the autonomy because of a power struggle for influence in the region. In addition, contrary to the expectations, after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, some friction emerged in the relations between Egypt and Hamas group. Analysts point out that after the terrorist attacks in Sinai, Cairo further distanced itself from Hamas, and hundreds of people from the Palestinian enclave were banned from entering the country. It is unclear when and how a way out of the Palestinian impasse will be found. Neither the Arab countries, no the United Nations attended to the adoption of comprehensive measures to address the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, which means that the situation is likely to deteriorate further.
(english.pravda.ru / 04.09.2012)
Ashraf al-Qudra said ministry officials decided during a weekly meeting to reinstate doctors who lost their jobs for political reasons when Hamas took charge of Gaza’s institutions.
The Palestinian Authority meanwhile is failing to pay salaries for employees in Gaza, as it copes with a financial crisis across the occupied territories, workers say.
Since the Palestinian split, a small number of employees have been cut off from their salaries. Several told Ma’an that they were either cut off right away, or within the past two years.
Some of the employees say the PA has used the pretext of a financial crisis to justify the failure to pay.
Since Hamas took control of Gaza during a brief period of violence in the summer of 2007, the Fatah-controlled PA in Ramallah has ordered employees not to work for government institutions.
|The official position of Arab nations is unambiguous: solidarity with Palestine is paramount. But facts on the ground point to a disturbingly different reality, one in which Palestinians are mistreated beyond any rational justification in various Arab countries. The worst-fated among them are stateless refugees, who have for decades been granted only precarious legal status. In times of crisis thee refugees have repeatedly found themselves in a state of legal and political limbo.
At the recent Non-Aligned Movement summit held in Tehran, Arab leaders spoke with the same ardent passion about justice for the Palestinians. One Arab Emir warned that “preoccupation with issues of the Arab Spring…should not distract us from the Arab central cause of Palestine.” He labored to count all Israeli violations of Palestinian rights, as heads of states nodded in agreement. Absent from the speech, however, was any reference to the ongoing suffering of Palestinian refugees in Arab countries, where, arguably, Israel has no sway.
While there is no question that displaced Syrian refugees are going through a truly horrific experience during the civil war, the fate of Palestinian refugees is markedly worse. This is because Palestinians do not have the basic rights that passport-holding Syrian citizens do. ‘Stuck’, ‘stranded’ and ‘imprisoned’ are only some of the terms used to describe the state of Palestinian refugees, ill-treated and subjugated by none other than their ‘Arab brethren’.
Due to geographic necessity, thousands of Palestinian refugees are escaping the war to nearby borders in both Jordan and Lebanon. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) has registered nearly 5,000 fleeing refugees. But the number is likely much higher and will continue to grow as fighting escalates.
There are nearly half a million Palestinian refugees in Syria. Despite all attempts at sparing them the bloody outcomes of the conflict, they have still become embroiled in the fight. Regional powers desperate to gain ground in Syria have used their media to exploit the Palestinian issue, knowing well the sentimental value of the Palestinian narrative within the larger Arab discourse. The outcome has been devastating, and many Palestinians have been on the run for nearly a year and a half. Areas with a concentration of Palestinian refugees are no longer neutral territories. Despite pleas and assurances, Palestinian refugees in Syria remain most vulnerable.
In Jordan, hundreds of Palestinian refugees who fled Syria have been crammed into a poorly equipped living facility known as Cyber City, about 90km north of the capital, Amman. Human Rights Watch and other organizations have decried the mistreatment of refugees in Cyber City, reporting forced deportations back to Syria, and the prisoner-like status of those who have remained in Jordan.
In a July 4 report, ‘Jordan: Bias at the Syria Border’, Human Rights Watch claimed that those fortunate enough not to be deported are still threatened with deportation. “Since April 2012, the authorities have also arbitrarily detained Palestinians fleeing Syria in a refugee holding center without any options for release other than return to Syria,” stated the report.
One Cyber City resident, Samir, told UN humanitarian news network, IRIN: “It has been quite bad living like a prisoner, especially when you see other people come and go but you are trapped.” According to the report, “Palestinian refugees from Syria feel abandoned” and Palestinian refugees of Cyber City cannot cross over 30 meters from the main building.
Some of the stories imparted by Human Rights Watch are very disturbing to say the least. The organization acknowledges that Jordan has not signed or ratified the 1951 Refugee Convention; it is still required under international human rights law to respect the principle of non-refoulement, which “prohibits countries from sending anyone back to a country where their life or freedom would be threatened.” However, the phenomenon is reportedly recurring in the case of Palestinian refugees.
The situation is Lebanon is equally distressing. Margaret Besheer wrote from Beirut on the double misery of Palestinian refugees fleeing to Lebanon, mostly seeking shelter in the slums of the Shatilla refugee camp. There are 455,000 registered Palestinian refugees in Lebanon who are mostly distributed among 12 refugee camps throughout the country and subsisting in terrible conditions.
Since Lebanon’s Palestinian refugees are already victims of a host of discriminatory laws, one can only imagine the dilemma of newly arriving refugees. Ibtisam’s family shares one room with eight other people in the Shatilla camp. “We are three families staying in one room. What can we do? We escaped from the killing and shelling and now we are living like this.”
Ibtisam can be considered lucky for being allowed entry in the first place. However, unlike other refugees from Syria, Palestinians who are permitted to enter are expected to renew their permit on a monthly basis – at a cost of 50,000 LBP (US$33), an unaffordable feat for families lacking access to proper food or health care.
Many are not even fortunate enough to be able to leave Syria in the first place. According to NGO worker Rawan Nassar, families are forced to deposit large sums of money to obtain permission from authorities. The poor are naturally denied an exit permit, and some families risk their entire lifesavings to escape. Once at the Lebanon border, even more bribing is necessary. “I saw a Palestinian woman at the border, who did not know anyone in Lebanon and she was forced to pay $300 in bribes, $40 for each child,” a Syrian eyewitness told IRIN.
While hostility towards Palestinian refugees is rooted in histories laden with civil wars and conflicts, it is hard to justify the attitude of UN refugee agency, UNHCR, which manifestly differentiates between refugees of other countries and Palestinian refugees. The latter are supposedly the sole responsibility of UNRWA, which has only a tiny relief budget that is unable to keep up with even the most basic demands of those who bother to register.
The crisis ensuing from Palestinian refugees escaping regional conflict is not a new phenomenon, as wars in Iraq, Kuwait and Lebanon have demonstrated in the past. The tragedy is multiplied, however, because no real, long-term solution has been put in place despite the recurring humanitarian catastrophe.
Meanwhile, official speech decrying Israeli crimes continues unabated, with little attention paid to crimes committed elsewhere. This results only in the same disheartening outcome.
One refugee was quoted in UN news as saying: “People come and take pictures and speak with us, but they all leave at the end.” Such is the plight of the Palestinian refugees, sixty-four years after the Nakba.
(www.palestinechronicle.com / 04.09.2012)
The attack on Trappist Monastery in Latrun, in Ayalon Valley took place on Tuesday.
“The name of the unauthorized Migron settlement, which was cleared following a court order on Sunday, was scrawled on the well known Latrun Monastery, alongside the words “Jesus is a monkey,” Israeli police said.
Earlier on June 19, suspected extremist Israeli settlers torched a mosque and sprayed graffiti on its walls in the occupied West Bank.
The assailants wrote on the walls in Hebrew, “The war has begun” and “Pay the price,” according to a resident.
In recent years, extremist Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank have often assaulted Palestinians and vandalized their property under the so-called “price tag” policy. However, the Tel Aviv regime rarely detains the assailants.
On June 11, Israeli settlers damaged several Palestinian cars in East al-Quds.
The extremists say the “price tag” attacks are carried out against any Israeli policy “to reduce the presence of settlers and settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East al-Quds.”
More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds.
We the commanders and representatives of the Military Councils of the Free Syrian Army hereby proclaim these
• We believe in a free and democratic Syria where all Syrian citizens, regardless of their ethnicity, creed, religion or class
shall enjoy equal rights and live in liberty, justice and peace.
• We believe in a pluralistic, multi-ethnic, multi-religious society that honors and upholds freedom of expression,
thought and conscience.
• We believe in the freedom of association and assembly. No Syrian shall be forced into a political association or denied
equal participation in political life.
• We believe that the rule of law shall apply equally to all Syrians shall be honored by the governing bodies of Syria
and shall reign supreme throughout the nation.
• We believe that the governing bodies and public authorities shall protect all citizens from persecution, fear and cruel or unusual punishment.
• We reject all forms of terrorism and will fight against the scourge of revenge killing in our land.
• We recognize the threat posed by Syria’s chemical and biological weapons stockpiles and pledge to safeguard these
• We welcome peace and security along our regional borders and we look forward to establishing political partnerships and alliances in the Middle East and beyond.
• The Free Syrian Army is a military structure responsible to all Syrian citizens and will submit to under the authority of a democratically elected civilian government.
• We seek a peaceful end to Syria’s crisis but will fight if necessary to end the tyranny and dictatorship of the Assad
regime. Our aim is to protect Syria’s civilians and to guarantee them a brighter future.
• We will do our utmost to uphold international humanitarian law and norms, including by treating prisoners humanely,
even as the Assad regime engages in crimes against humanity.
• We welcome our international allies and partners joining us in this revolution for freedom and dignity.
Signed by the commanders of the Military Councils of the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo, Damascus, Daraa, Dayr azZawr, Hama, Homs, Idlib and Latakia
(www.syriansupportgroup.org / 04.09.2012)
Ismael Haniyeh’s Letter To the Bradley Manning Peace Camp at the Democratic Party Convention in North Carolina
Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh
To the Bradley Manning Peace Camp at the Democratic Party Convention in North Carolina:
I wish that I could be with you today to read these words to you myself, but obviously I cannot, as I remain unwelcome in the United States. Instead I have asked my friend of many years Stanley Cohen to deliver this message of solidarity on my behalf.
I send the heartfelt greetings of the Palestinian people, as we salute you in your fight against the American military machine, against its secrets and lies, and against its vision of an American world order maintained through coercion and control. You bring your protest straight to the heart of the political system, there in Charlotte, and we are there with you in spirit, we Occupy Charlotte with you!
Gaza and the West Bank stand in solidarity with you, as we have stood against US military might for decades—we have been on the ugly receiving end of American policy for so long, fighting for our own freedom against Israeli and US control, that to know of your efforts gladdens our hearts. We understand that you have designated your Peace Camp as a sister-city to Gaza. On behalf of almost two million people who live in Gaza, we thank you for this honor, to know that others in the world stand with us gives us strength!
It has been seven years since we drove the settlers and the military from Gaza. It has been six years since the first free and fair elections in the history of our nation occurred, and in which the people in Gaza and the West Bank chose Hamas to act as the elected representatives of the Palestinian people. And it has been almost four years since we repelled the latest full-scale attack by the Israeli occupation forces. During this time, our people have been subjected to a systematic effort to break our will, to destroy our spirit, and to isolate us from the world. This Israeli-US agenda has failed, as surely as my words in your ears prove today.
In the seven years since the complete blockade of Gaza, the Israelis have attempted to create the world’s largest outdoor concentration camp. Living constantly under siege and attack, we are denied access to sufficient medicine, fuel, foodstuffs; we are subjected to the destruction of our infrastructure—our roads, water treatment and sewage facilities, ports and buildings; we are victimized by criminal phosphor weapons, mines, and the rape our environment; we live with unemployment over 30 percent; and hundreds of our men women and children have been killed, with many more injured—this is collective punishment, and we live it every day in our struggle. Yet we remain defiant and determined to prevail.
But we are not alone in this struggle—as your camp reminds us. The world is joining our resistance—we welcome with open arms the flotillas on the sea, the convoys on the land, and those solidarity activists who have stood shoulder to shoulder with our people. We hail the memory of Rachel Corrie, and the courage of her family. Rachel gave her life trying to stop war crimes against our people, and she is a martyr to our struggle. The injustice done to her memory by Israeli courts last week makes her even more one of us—it reminds the world how Israeli law does not give justice to Palestinians or anyone who struggles with them. We salute another American, Tristan Anderson, who bravely opposed occupation troops in the West Bank, and has paid a horrible price for standing for justice.
Like you, we want a stop to the endless wars promoted or fought by the United States; no more attacks on the Muslim world by American troops! We Palestinians want people to know the truth about US power, and its dirty deeds exposed to the sunlight. Palestinians hail all those courageous truth-tellers and activists everywhere who have shattered the veil of secrecy, for making information public at terrible risk to themselves and their families, so that those who struggle for independence can know the truth.
Our struggle against Israel and its massive, high-tech military bought and paid for by US taxpayers will not be defeated. Today there are more than nine million Palestinians who are stateless—six million of them are refugees living in camps throughout the Middle East. More than three million of us live under apartheid. The West Bank remains occupied by Israel’s army; Gaza remains blockaded. Despite this, we have no choice but to resist and demand our rightful position at the table of nations. Palestine will have justice, and it will need people of good conscience in America to stand up for us, and for the truth. Your presence and your voices there in Charlotte give American voters an alternative to the corrupt narrative of US power—you say, there is another way, there is another story, and you challenge the official secrets and lies of this government.
The American political process is now a global process—and we watch it from our corner of the world, waiting for some sign of change at the top. But meanwhile, it is the growing force from below that gives us hope. This movement is a global movement–our numbers are vast, we are legion, and we do not forget.
September 1, 2012
(occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com / 04.09.2012)