Archive for the 'Column' Category

 The Inside Story on Our UN Report Calling Israel an Apartheid State

Richard Falk
Source: The Nation

 A Palestinian woman argues with Israeli soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint south of Hebron on August 16, 2016. (Reuters / Mussa Qawasma)

 A Palestinian woman argues with Israeli soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint south of Hebron on August 16, 2016. (Reuters / Mussa Qawasma)

 Six months ago, the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) asked Virginia Tilley and me to write a study examining the applicability of the international criminal law concept of apartheid to Israel’s policies and practices toward the Palestinian people. We were glad to accept the assignment, and conceived of our role as engaging in an academic undertaking. ESCWA, one of several UN regional commissions, requested the study as a result of an uncontested motion adopted by its 18 Arab member governments.

Almost within hours of its release on March 15, our report was greeted by what can only be described as hysteria. The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, denounced it and demanded that the UN repudiate it. The newly elected secretary general, António Guterres, quickly and publicly called for ESCWA to withdraw the report from its website, and when Rima Khalaf, the head of the commission, resisted, Guterres insisted. Rather than comply, Khalaf resigned. Soon thereafter, the report was withdrawn from the commission’s website, despite its having been published with a disclaimer noting that it represents the views of its authors and not necessarily that of ESCWA or the UN.

What is striking about this response, which resembles in many respects the US government response to the Goldstone Report (the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict of 2008-9), is the degree to which Israel’s supporters, in response to criticism, have sought to discredit the messenger rather than address the message.

 Tilley, a professor of political science at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and I, as well as ESCWA, would welcome substantive discussion of and critical feedback on our report, and we had hoped that our analysis and conclusions would provide the basis for dialogue and further consideration of the recommendations appended at the end. ESCWA, for its part, took steps to ensure that the report lived up to scholarly standards, submitting the draft text to three prominent international jurists, who anonymously submitted strong positive appraisals along with some suggestions for revision, which we gratefully incorporated before the final text was released. For government officials and others to dismiss our report as a biased polemic is irresponsible, with respect both to the authority of the UN and to international law. Read more »

How Israel Uses Gas to Enforce Palestinian Dependency and Promote Normalization

Tareq Baconi
Al-Shabaka Policy Brief


Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory does not only exist above ground. Since 1967, Israel has systematically colonized Palestinian natural resources and, in the field of hydrocarbons, has prevented Palestinians from accessing their own oil and gas reserves. Such restrictions have ensured the continued dependence of Palestinians on Israel for their energy needs. The Palestinians’ own efforts to develop their energy sector fail to challenge Israel’s overarching hegemony over Palestinian resources. Rather, they pursue growth and state building within the reality of the occupation, further reinforcing – even if inadvertently – the asymmetric balance between occupied and occupier.

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Israel’s Legalizes Settlement Options as a Prelude to the Netanyahu Visit to Trumpland

Richard Falk

Cartoon: Amos Biderman

Cartoon: Amos Biderman

Responses to four questions posed by Rodrigo Craveiro, a journalist from the Brazilian newspaper Correio Braziliense

1- How do you see the decision of the Knesset taken last night about legalizing settlement outposts and what are the likely consequences of this legislative initiative?

It is one more act of defiance by Israel that is both a repudiation of international law relating to settlements in Occupied Palestine and of the UNSC, which in December passed Resolution 2334 condemning settlement expansion and reaffirming their illegality. Whether Israel experiences adverse consequences depends especially on the reaction of European governments and of civil society. Israel expects that Trump’s presidency will insulate the country from any show of real pressure at the UN or via sanctions, but there are mixed signals as usual emanating from the White House. The Knesset’s provocative move of legalizing the 50 or so settlement ‘outposts’ that were previously illegal even under Israeli law, an internationally controversial move that may in due course be nullified by Israel’s judiciary. Actually, the move was not so radical as the Israel state had long accommodated the outposts by providing them with subsidies and security, and overlooking their formally unlawful status in domestic law.

2– Do you believe Israel is interested in annexing West Bank? Why?
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Work for the future

Mazin Qumsiyeh


First the positive news: Large demonstrations last Monday in front of 10 Downing street for the Theresa May-Benjamin Netanuyahu visit. The demonstration was a mixture of people of all religions, skin colors, and backgrounds.

By contrast, the much smaller group of paid Zionist elites was very homogeneous (Jewish white Ashkenazi). Let us hope for an even larger demonstration for Netanyahu’s visit to Trump on February 15.

Locally, Israel is proceeding with more colonial settlements hoping that if they saturate the landscape, we native Palestinians will leave and they can have their racist Jewish state. But people are not leaving and much of the world now sees that there was never a “two state solution” to a colonial anti-coloniial struggle.

The best scenario forward is like in most postcolonial countries, such as South and Central America and much of SE Asia.

We are working on that with Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and other colleagues here – some of them also hold “Israeli” citizenship.

We are collectively building things on the ground, not leaving, and resisting daily (yes sometimes injured, sometimes killed, sometimes jailed, sometimes arrested…). Read more »

Dehumanizing and delegitimizing

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Palestine-children (400 x 225)

There is a growing movement of applying Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) on Israel just like we did to defeat apartheid in South Africa.

Zionist apologists are understandably declaring war on this nonviolent and moral movement. In many countries including several states in the USA, there are attempts to delegitimize the movement and declare BDS illegal. Of course this is contrary to the principles of free speech and free association. People’s right to boycott was recognized in key legal precedents but more legal challenges are needed to dispel the myth that engaging in BDS is somehow illegitimate.

Israeli apologists around the world engage in all sorts of dirty tricks to keep the racist system going (a racket to keep the flow of cash if I may say so). Having faced Israeli apologists in public debates, many do not want to debate again because they lose badly as they attempt to delegitimize and dehumanize their victims. They have no facts and they are defending injustice. So they resort to personal attacks and strange racist mythologies (for example that we Palestinians sacrifice our children for publicity or that we “hate Jews”).

This is expected from a colonial power, to dehumanize their victims.

Elie Wiesel died recently. He spent most of his life defending Israel and dehumanizing Palestinians. He was challenged on many occasions to say something about the Palestinian victims and all he could muster was regurgitating Zionist lies about colonizers needing to “defend themselves”. Here is what a real prophetic Jew (Sara Roy, a senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University) wrote on September 9, 2014. Read more »

The ICC and Palestine: A Case of Doubtful Justice

Sarah Kanbar
Al Shabaka Palestinian Policy Network

Kanbar-Commentary-Photo (400 x 216)

It has been over a year since Palestine became a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) began its preliminary examination of the “situation in Palestine.” While Israel’s almost complete refusal to cooperate with the ICC on matters related to Palestine has hindered the examination, Israel is not the only impediment to justice being served: The OTP itself has played a key role in stymieing the process. 1 Read more »

BDS: Discussing Difficult Issues in a Fast-Growing Movement

Omar Barghouti

Source: Al Shabaka

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Israel’s attacks on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and other human rights defenders living under occupation, such as Al Haq staff, have dominated the headlines in recent weeks, including the direct threats made by leading Israeli officials against BDS activists and in particular against the movement’s co-founder Omar Barghouti.

Beyond the headlines, the work goes on, as does continuous debate and discussion to further the movement amongst Palestinians at home and abroad as well as among global solidarity activists. There is much to discuss and some of the issues are difficult ones, including questions of framing. Al-Shabaka Executive Director Nadia Hijab discussed some of these issues in a wide-ranging conversation with Omar Barghouti. Read more »

Hypocrisy, land news and action

Mazin Qumsiyeh

Budding roses at Palestinian Museum of Natural History

Budding roses at Palestinian Museum of Natural History

The Israeli Knesset rejected a bill that calls for equality (after all this must remain a state by and for Jews). And a video emerged of Israeli prime minister Netanyahu praising Israeli Fascist Group Im Tirtzu which believes in “Jewishness” of Palestine and acts and supports to effect ethnic cleansing of native Palestinians in favor of European and other Jewish colonization.

The Zionist leaders attacked Ban Ki Moon for mildly speaking about the need to end the occupation and let Palestinians live free.

The heads of the EU missions in Jerusalem issued a report saying that Israel must respect human rights. They explained that 660 Palestinians are being held without charge or trial. They also mention Mohammad AlQeeq, a Palestinian Journalist on hunger strike for 70 days since his illegal detention.

The tragedies around us continue and we sympathize with suffering people seeking freedom from tyranny and from terrorism (much of it emanating from the USA through its “protectorates” like Israel and Saudi Arabia). Read more »

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.]

map-of-Palestine (400 x 344)

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 »

Conflict and Sustainable Development

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 »

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

IJ (400 x 217)

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 »

Confessions of a terrorist sympathiser

By Richard Jackson
Source: richardjacksonterrorismblog

2014-635519464132569900-256_resized (400 x 267)

I confess that I am a terrorist sympathiser. Of course, it is a profanity, a kind of blasphemy, to admit to such a thing, perhaps the greatest blasphemy in our society at the present time. Some may also consider that this is not the right time to make this confession and all that it entails. It will be said that in the immediate aftermath of an attack, condemnation and standing united against the enemies of freedom is the only ethically-defensible stance. But, for reasons I hope will become clear, I believe that this is exactly the right time to claim the ignominious label of terrorist sympathiser, and that sympathy for the terrorist is what is most needed right now if we are to break the current international cycle of violence and find more ethical and peaceful ways of responding to the challenge of contemporary political violence.

I am a terrorist sympathiser because I can understand how a young woman from Gaza might consider that she has no real future, nothing but daily humiliations, the continued threat of being shot by an Israeli soldier or firebombed by a settler, or being arrested and tortured by the police. I can understand that she might have had a family member, or a friend, killed in one of the periodic ritualised Israeli invasions of Palestinian territory. I can understand how living under a callous, apartheid-like regime could ignite into a smouldering sense of rage, humiliation, and powerlessness. I can understand how an intelligent, sensitive woman like that might feel that hitting back at her oppressor, that sacrificing her life for her community, that choosing the time and place of her own death, might seem like a way to reclaim her shattered sense of self-worth and self-respect, her agency, her sense of purpose, and in the end, advance the struggle for a free Palestinian state. Read more »

Links that Kill: International military cooperation with Israel

Palestinian BDS National Committee

“I endorse this call for an arms embargo because we desire peace and justice for Palestinians and Israelis through non-violent ways.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

“This much-deserved military embargo is a crucial step towards ending Israel’s impunity.” Naomi Klein

Israeli arms factories across the world have been blockaded and occupied

Israeli arms factories across the world have been blockaded and occupied

Tens of thousands of mostly young Palestinians have participated since the beginning of October in protests against Israel’s intensifying repression, forcible displacement of communities, particularly in Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and Naqab (Negev), and ongoing attempts to colonize occupied East Jerusalem, especially the Old City. The tools of repression, whether drones, vehicles, surveillance systems, teargas, IT systems, bullets, “skunk water” or other creations are all produced or imported from other countries by a vast Israeli military-industrial complex that is at the heart of Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.

The functioning of this system depends on the willingness of governments and companies around the world to cooperate with Israel’s military, weapons industry and military research institutions. Read more »

The ‘European’ refugee crisis

Afro-Middle East Centre
Brief No. 12/2015

REfugees (400 x 216)

The refugee crisis currently affecting Europe has elicited comparisons to the refugee crisis resulting from the Second World War. This comparison, while worthwhile insofar as it has helped mobilise sections of the European community to assist the refugees, misses a key point: the Middle East and African regions are confronting the refugees crisis to a far greater extent than Europe. Europe is seeing merely a fallout of the crisis that is catastrophically affecting Lebanon, Turkey and certain other Middle East nations. Refugees making their way to Europe represent barely 0.068 per cent of the total European population, while over 25 per cent of the residents of Lebanon are refugees.

Refugees seeking rehabilitation in Europe are from many countries, with the largest group being from Syria. As Eurostat illustrates, the number of people seeking asylum in Europe from Syria numbered 130 000 in 2014, far more than the next largest group – from Afghanistan – numbering 40 000. The ‘refugee crisis’ is, then, primarily the result of four years of protracted war in Syria. Read more »

No to temporal division of Al-Aqsa Mosque

By Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk

mazouk (400 x 222)

The Israeli occupation forces closed the gates of Al-Aqsa mosque from 7:30 am to 11:30 am, and prevented prayers and Murabiteen (worshipers staying at the mosque) from entering or staying in Al-Aqsa mosque during that period, while the Arabs remain silent and the Palestinian leadership is busy with projects that divide and separate the Palestinian people.

The Israeli occupation closed the gates of Al-Aqsa Mosque and it now attempts through legal pretexts to eliminate Al-Rabat (presence for prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque) and hurt the worshipers and endowment staff. Read more »

The National Council and the crazy move

By Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk

Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk

Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk

To invite the Palestinian National Council (PNC) for an exceptional session is one of the most controversial issues, as it came after 10 members of the PLO Executive Committee had resigned. Debate here is on the legality of the session for, according to the Article 14/c of the PLO bylaws, exceptional sessions are held to complement the membership of the absentee members whether by death or resignation.

Therefore, if the invitation was for an ordinary session; then PNC’s members have ignored the reconciliation issue, the issues of national unity, as well as Cairo’s Meeting in March 2005 in which a PLO committee was formed with Abbas as its chairman, and this committee was considered to be the provisional leading body in the reconciliation talks in 2011 and was therefore assigned to re-constitute the PNC, mainly through election, and by national consensus in the areas where elections cannot be held. Read more »

Hamas follows in the PLO’s footsteps, Part Two

by Abdul Sattar Qassem
Middle East Monitor

Dr Abdus Sattar Qassim

Dr Abdus Sattar Qassim

On 27April 2008, I wrote an article titled “Hamas follows in the PLO’s footsteps”. This is a continuation of the same article, in which I said that Hamas’s actions and steps towards Israel are not radically different to the steps taken by the PLO, which ended up selling the Palestinian cause and pawning inalienable national rights.

The main premise in that 2008 article was that it seemed as if Hamas, in its political and diplomatic actions, was no different than the first actions taken by Fatah in the early 1970s. It also seemed that Hamas was not responding to the pressures in the form of initiatives, which would confuse the other side, but in the manner expected by the other side. I listed the following points as evidence of the similarity in political actions between the PLO and Hamas: Read more »

Corruption in Palestine: A Self-Enforcing System

by Tariq Dana
Source: Shabaka

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As many as 81% of the Palestinians living in the occupied Palestinian territory believe there is corruption in Palestinian Authority institutions according to a recent survey, perceptions reinforced by the recently launched annual report of the Palestinian Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (AMAN), the Transparency International chapter in Palestine. These perceptions persist despite former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s much-touted state-building efforts to root out corruption – and are at variance with international reports finding that suggest improvement in good governance.

Al-Shabaka Policy Fellow Tariq Dana makes the case that corruption is structural to the Palestinian body politic and pre-dates the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. He argues that the problem needs to be tackled at its roots and cannot just be addressed through conventional measures used in other countries, particularly against the background of prolonged Israeli colonization and occupation and the way in which Israel both reinforces and exploits corruption.(1) Read more »

Crisis in northern Sinai worsens

Source: Afro-Middle East Centre

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On 24 October 2014, an armed attack on an Egyptian security detail in the Sheikh Zuweid area of Egypt’s North Sinai Governorate left more than thirty soldiers dead and dozens wounded. Details of the attack are still unclear, but the Egyptian government immediately declared a three-month state of emergency in the governorate, and deployed additional military and security troops to the region, adjacent to Egypt’s eastern border with Gaza and Israel.

Cairo also indefinitely closed the Rafah Crossing with Gaza, and postponed indirect negotiations between Hamas and Israel, scheduled for the end of October in Cairo. Subsequently, the Egyptian authorities began establishing a buffer zone along Egypt’s border with Gaza, ranging from 400 metres to two kilometres, thus forcing thousands of residents in the area from their homes and agricultural lands. Read more »

After Gaza, What Price Palestine’s Security Sector?

By Sabrien Amrov and Alaa Tartir

Source: Al-Shabaka Policy Brief


Israel’s 51-day assault on Gaza calls for redoubled efforts to shake off its carefully constructed system of control of Palestinian lives throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and secure Palestinian rights. A necessary first step must be to address the donor-supported creation of Palestinian security forces that primarily serve Israel’s colonial ambitions. This is increasingly urgent with the PA set to move back into Gaza in the wake of the unity deal.

Al-Shabaka Policy Member Sabrien Amrov and Program Director Alaa Tartir tackle these issues by examining the state of the security sector today, its origins and purposes, and the fast-growing authoritarianism that is turning “Palestine” into a security state. While touching on the Gaza security sector, they focus primarily on its development in the West Bank. They urge that the foundations of security sector reform be challenged as a key step towards setting the Palestinian quest for freedom, justice, equality, and self-determination back on track. Read more »

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