Archive for January, 2016

The Complex Problematics of Palestinian Representation

Richard Falk
Global Justice in the 21st Century

[Prefatory Note: This post is a much modified and enlarged version of an article published on January 1, 2016 in Middle East Eye. It attempts to address the current quandary that arises from the collapse of Oslo diplomacy and the seeming continuing encroachment of Israel on the territories long believed to provide the Palestinian people with a sovereign state of their own. Such a prospect, now unattainable for both practical and political reasons, contemplated a Palestinian state that would enclose a territory that was 22% of historic Palestine, or less than half of what the 1947 UN partition plan envisioned. For this forthcoming compromise to have become non-negotiable is clear evidence that Israel is in the process of adopting a unilateral solution that is based on the priority of its biblical claims and ethnic origin narrative to the whole of historic Palestine, referred to as Judea and Samaria plus Jerusalem in internal Israeli discourse. In effect, the Palestine right of self-determination is being unconditionally denied, and the Palestinian people given several unpalatable choices with respect to their future.]

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While serving as UN Special Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine, especially in my early years between 2008 and 2010, I fully expected to encounter defamatory opposition from Israel and ultra-Zionist, but what surprised me at the time were various efforts of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to undermine my role at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Its representatives exerted various pressures to encourage my resignation, and made unexpected moves to challenge my reports, especially if they described the actuality of Hamas exercising governing authority in Gaza. At the time I had the impression that the PA was far more concerned with this struggle internal to the Palestinian movement than mounting serious criticism of the abusive features of the occupation. As I was trying my best on behalf of the UN to report honestly on Israeli violations of Palestinian rights under international humanitarian law and human rights treaties, I was puzzled at first, and then began to wonder whether the Palestinian people were being adequately represented on the global stage. Read more »

An icon two years on begs some unsettling questions

Chris Gunness, UNRWA Spokesperson

Iconic Yarmouk image (Photo: UNRWA)

Iconic Yarmouk image (Photo: UNRWA)

It is now two years since the iconic photo of thousands of bewildered, besieged civilians in the Palestine refugee camp of Yarmouk, Damascus was taken. Traumatized and drained of all emotion, children, women, the sick, the elderly, the dying waited in the besieged camp for food from UNRWA, the UN agency mandated to bring them aid. It was an image whose graphic power seared itself into the collective memory of our age, as the word “Yarmouk” was added to the appalling lexicon of man’s inhumanity to man. The photo went viral and thus became an icon of Syria’s pitiless conflict.

The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon was later to describe Yarmouk as akin to the lower regions of hell; a refugee camp that had become a death camp. Yarmouk was once home to some 150,000 Palestinians. Each has a humanity, an individual dignity that must be recognized, respected and nurtured.

Yet two years on, as peace talks begin in Geneva and just days before the London conference on Syria, this haunting image begs some discomfiting questions. Where are the individuals now, whose faces stare compelling out at us? Are they alive or dead? Did they become part of a lost generation? Were they left behind? The majority are Palestinians yet is the plight of this marginalized community being overlooked, dwarfed by the sheer enormity of the Syrian tragedy?

We owe it to each and every individual in that photo, to ourselves and to future generations to find answers to these questions. Without them, the stain that is Yarmouk will forever be on the conscience of humanity.

PM Hamdallah holds Israel responsible for the safety of al-Qiq

PNN

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The Palestinian Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah on Thursday said that he holds the Israeli government responsible for the safety of journalist Mohamed al-Qiq.

Hamdallah asked the international community to help secure his release, and reiterated the need for an international force to protect Palestinians against a brutal Israeli occupation.

Israeli authorities sentenced al-Qiq to six months administrative detention on the 17 of December without charge or trial, with his detention subject to indefinite renewal.

Al-Qiq has been on a hunger strike for 65 days; his health is deteriorating fast. According to health experts, the risk of death grows tremendously after 50 days of a hunger strike; few individuals are able to survive beyond 70 days on water alone. Read more »

Hamas’ surprise electoral victory, 10 years on

By Ola Atallah
Source: Alray

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In January 2006, Palestinian resistance movement Hamas swept Palestinian legislative elections, taking most political observers by surprise.

Although the Islamist group won 76 out of 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council, the U.S., the EU and Israel – along with the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas – all refused to recognize the results of the elections.

Following Hamas’ electoral victories, Israel began imposing a strict embargo on the Gaza Strip, the coastal enclave in which the group is based.

Over the course of the last 10 years, the embargo – which, with Egypt’s help, remains in place to this day – has largely destroyed Gaza’s economy and made life miserable for the strip’s roughly 1.9 million inhabitants. Read more »

Qassam members martyred in tunnel collapse

Al Qassam

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Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades, military wing of Hamas movement, announced that seven members were martyred in tunnel collapse on Thursday east of Gaza Strip.

In a statement, the Brigades identified its members as Ghazwan Ash-Shubaki, Waseem Hassouna, Nidal Oda, Kamal Basal, Jaafar Hamada, Thabet Ar-Rifi, Ezzedeen Qasem, all of them are from Gaza City.

Earlier, the Brigades announced that it has lost contact with an elite unit of its members inside a tunnel after its collapse in the Gaza Strip.

In a brief press released yesterday, the Brigades stated that the incident happened on Wednesday night as a result of the bad weather conditions.

A number of Freedom fighters in Gaza have been martyred by accidents during military training exercises in recent years, and the tunnel networks, which are largely used for resisting the Israeli forces during Israeli Offensives against Gaza Strip.

How the PA is Complicit in Israel’s Occupation

Visualizing Palestine

It was reported in the past week that Palestinian Authority (PA) paramilitary police have acted in coordination with Israeli authorities to arrest around 100 Palestinians since October. This won’t come as a surprise to seasoned Palestinian commentators, many of whom have long criticised “security coordination” as a means of securing Israel’s occupation at the expense of Palestinian human rights.

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The PA is the West Bank’s largest employer, and around one third of its annual budget is allocated to ‘security and public order’ – more than health and education combined. All new recruits are vetted by Israeli and US officials, and have been widely deployed to crack down on non-violent Palestinian civil society activities, while doing nothing to protect Palestinians from attacks by Israeli settlers or soldiers.

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Conflict and Sustainable Development

Column
Mazin Qumsiyeh

One of the dozens of workshops held in 2015 at the Palestine Museum of Natural History

One of the dozens of workshops held in 2015 at the Palestine Museum of Natural History

I published a book called “Sharing the Land of Canaan” in 2004. The text was written a bit earlier (2002 and 2003). Much has happened in Palestine since I wrote these things and my own emphasis has gone towards environmental justice and environmental conservation. I wanted to share this one chapter (chapter 10) with you on the Conflict and Sustainable Development and seek your thoughts because this is an area we are currently focusing on.

The situation on the ground has gone from bad to worse but there are occasional lights of hope in the grim picture (e.g. I mentioned we even started an environmental biology master program and we at the museum are working with ministry of health and the Environmental Quality Authority to improve environmental health). In the past 12 years we have published a number of research papers on environmental issues in Palestinian areas.

While this earlier book discussed both diagnosis and the only available solution (one democratic secular state), in my later book on “Popular Resistance in Palestine” [2012] I discussed how we Palestinians have resisted Israeli colonial onslaught and painted an optimistic outlook for our future which we are now realizing despite the horrific political elites “leading” our societies (I should say destroying our societies). Read more »

Haniya demands release of Palestinian hunger-striker Al Qeiq

Hamas

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Deputy Chairman of Hamas’s political bureau Ismail Haniya has demanded the immediate release of the Palestinian hunger-striker Mohammed Al Qeiq.

In a phone call with Al Qeiq’s family, Haniya confirmed that his Movement stands with the Palestinian hunger-striker in his battle against administrative detention.

He called on all Palestinian and international rights groups to assume their responsibilities towards Al Qeiq and his cause.

Earlier, Hamas has warned the Israeli occupation of jeopardizing the life of Palestinian captive Mohammad Al Qeiq.

The 33-year-old Palestinian journalist Mohammed Adeeb Al Qeiq has been on hunger strike in Israeli jails for 63 days in protest at his detention without trial or charges since last November.

Prisoner Al Qeiq enters third month of hunger strike

Press Release
Hamas

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As of today, the 33-year-old Palestinian journalist Mohammed Adeeb Al Qeiq enters his 61st day of hunger strike against his detention in Israeli prisons without trial or charge.

Having begun his hunger strike on Wednesday, 25 November 2015, Al Qeiq was detained 4 days earlier, on Saturday 21st November 2015, when Israeli forces kidnapped him from his house in Ramallah.

Following his kidnapping, he was taken to Beit El settlement and held there for 20 hours. He was then taken to Al Maskoubiya interrogation center in Jerusalem, and then to Al Jalama interrogation center.

According to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Al Qeiq was subject to various forms of torture, including mistreatment, humiliation, and the use of stress positions, which entailed sitting in uncomfortable and stressful positions for several hours.

On Wednesday, 25 November 2015, Al Qeiq began a hunger strike. Subjected to interrogation for 25 days, Al Qeiq was then transferred to solitary confinement in Megiddo prison and sentenced to administrative detention for 6 months.

After his health condition deteriorated, he was referred to Al Afoula Hospital. On Tuesday, 12 January 2016, as he had entered his 48th day of hunger strike, Israeli authorities implemented the notorious force-feeding law against Al Qeiq.

Force-feeding has for decades been labeled by the International Red Cross and the United Nations as violation of international law, and as a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, while the World Medical Association has maintained its view that the forced feeding of hunger strikers is a form of torture and abuse, and constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and internationally accepted standards of medical ethics that is never justified.

As he entered his 3rd month on hunger strike, Al Qeiq declared that he is determined to continue his hunger strike until his freedom or martyrdom.

Hamas, factions slam Faraj’s statements

PRESS STATEMENT
Hamas

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The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas, al-Jihad Movement, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine have on Thursday evening issued a joint statement condemning the remarks made by Palestinian Authority “PA” intelligence chief Majed Faraj.

In a recent interview conducted by the US magazine Defense News, Faraj stated that the PA security forces had aborted 200 resistance operations against the Israeli occupation during the current intifada.

In the joint statement, the factions said that Faraj’s remarks constitute an insult to the struggle and sacrifices of Palestinians, serving only to deepen the Palestinian rift and prolong internal division.

The statement added that Faraj’s remarks reflect the state of monopoly exerted by the PA over the Palestinian national decision, noting that they disregard the national consensus that rejects all relations between PA and the Israeli occupation.

The factions rejected the use of the security portfolio to gain Israeli endorsement, noting that Faraj’s remarks come in the context of an ongoing competition over who is going to lead the PA in the future.

Awadallah: PFLP engaged in the intifada, plays important role in confronting monopolistic leadership

PRESS RELEASE
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

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After one hundred days of this intifada, it is clear that it is continuing and expanding and will continue to do so in order to achieve the goals and rights of the Palestinian people, said Comrade Iyad Awadallah, member of the Central Committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Those that seek to oppose or avoid this intifada are on the losing side of history, said Awadallah. In an interview on Al-Aqsa TV, Awadallah said that “opening the all-out confrontation with the occupation is the choice of our people to achieve their objectives, and demonstrates the complete failure of the path of the so-called ‘peace process.’”

Awadallah said that the entire Palestinian people, in Palestine and in diaspora and exile, are well aware of the situation and are ready to offer enormous sacrifices to achieve their goals and continue the intifada and resistance to achieve them. “The path of the monopolistic Palestinian leadership over the past two decades has failed entirely, has reaped no benefits but has brought only destruction, and has achieved none of the objectives of our people,” said Awadallah. Read more »

UNRWA condemns forcible transfer, demolition of Palestine Refugee Bedouin homes; decries desperate humanitarian consequences

UNRWA
Press Release

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Jerusalem 7 January, 2016 Director of UNRWA Operations West Bank, Felipe Sanchez, has condemned the demolition of Bedouin homes in the West Bank by the Israeli authorities. “The humanitarian consequences of this destruction of property are grave and I am seriously concerned, particularly about the children who are now homeless”, said Sanchez.

The demolitions were carried out on the morning of 6 January 2016 by the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) in the vulnerable community of Abu Nwar, in Area C near East Jerusalem. In the midst of the winter, a total of five residential structures were demolished, leaving 26 refugees, including 17 children, displaced and without a home. Read more »

Islamic Jihad on the Quds intifada: Issues, positions, challenges and prospects

Source: Afro-Middle East Centre AMEC
Prepared by: Studies and Policies Unit, General Secretariat, Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine

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There have been numerous analyses of the current conflagration raging in Palestine. We present here another such analysis. This one, however, is from within one of the Palestinian factions – the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. This internal discussion document has been circulating within that movement, and was translated by AMEC in order to allow English-speaking readers to understand differing perspectives on the uprising. While the views expressed here are those of the Islamic Jihad Movement and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Afro-Middle East Centre, this paper is being published because it is important in representing a protagonist voice engaging fellow interlocutors. AMEC’s objective in making this analysis available is to enrich the discussion on the uprising specifically, and the broader Palestinian question in general. Read more »

Wibisono’s Resignation as UN Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine

by Richard Falk
Source: Global Justice in the 21st Century

Commentary on the Resignation of Makarim Wibisono

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(Prefatory Note: This post appeared on January 5th under a different title in the Electronic Intifada. It is published here in a slightly modified and extended form.)

Makarim Wibisono announced his resignation as UN Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine, to take effect on March 31, 2016. This is position I held for six years, completing my second term in June 2014.

The prominent Indonesian diplomat says that he could not fulfill his mandate because Israel has adamantly refused to give him access to the Palestinian people living under its military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“Unfortunately, my efforts to help improve the lives of Palestinian victims of violations under the Israeli occupation have been frustrated every step of the way,” Wibisono explains.

His resignation reminds me in a strange way of Richard Goldstone’s retraction a few years ago of the main finding in the UN-commissioned Goldstone report, that Israel intentionally targeted civilians in the course of Operation Cast Lead, its massive attack on Gaza at the end of 2008. Read more »

Abu Zuhri: Hamas ready to form unity gov’t

HAMAS

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In a press release on Wednesday evening, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri confirmed the Movement is ready and willing to support a national unity government formed through assembly of the Provisional Leading Frame, calling on the Palestinian Authority “PA” to end its partisan policies against Gaza in order to set the stage for such a development.

Abu Zuhri invited the PA to take decisions in accordance with the sacrifices of the Palestinian people, naming the suspension of security coordination with the Israeli occupation as one necessary such decision.

Among other allegations in his speech on Wednesday, PA president Mahmoud Abbas had accused Hamas of refusing to allow a new cycle of elections to be held in the occupied territories and preventing the formation of a national unity government.

Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestinian Territory resigns due to continued lack of access to OPT

PRESS RELEASE
UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights

Makarim Wibisono (UN Photo/Violaine Martin)

Makarim Wibisono (UN Photo/Violaine Martin)

GENEVA (4 January 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Makarim Wibisono, today submitted his resignation to the President of the Human Rights Council, effective as of 31 March 2016.

The independent expert expressed deep regret that, throughout his mandate, Israel failed to grant him access to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. “Unfortunately, my efforts to help improve the lives of Palestinian victims of violations under the Israeli occupation have been frustrated every step of the way,” said Mr. Wibisono.

The Special Rapporteur stressed that upon taking up the mandate in June 2014, he was assured that he would have access to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. “I took up this mandate with the understanding that Israel would grant me access, as an impartial and objective observer,” he said. Read more »

Joint Statement on the Appalling Sentencing of Leading Palestinian Human Rights Defender, Ms Khalida Jarrar

PRESS RELEASE

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London, Ramallah and New York, 04 January 2016 Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR), Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association (Addameer) and the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) are deeply appalled at the sentencing of leading Palestinian human rights defender, Ms Khalida Jarrar, to 15 months imprisonment by an Israeli military court on 7 December 2015. She was further fined 10,000 NIS and given a suspended sentence of 12 months within a 5 year period.

Ms Jarrar accepted a guilty plea on two of the 12 charges against her – membership in an illegal organisation and incitement to kidnap Israeli soldiers – despite her rejection of the merits of all charges. She reluctantly agreed the plea deal because she did not believe that the Israeli military court system – which has a reported[1] conviction rate of more than 99 per cent – would provide her with a fair trial. She was also aware that her sentence if convicted on all charges could range between 3.5 to 7 years. Read more »