Saturday, December 5, 2009
Palestinian fishermen paddle out to sea as sun sets on the last day of the muslim Eid Al-Adha festival in Gaza City, Monday, Nov. 30, 2009. Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, is celebrated to commemorate the prophet Ibrahim's faith in being willing to sacrifice his son.(AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)
A Palestinian woman watches a Jewish settler carry out the belongings of a Palestinian family from a house in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2009. In an unrest Tuesday, a Jewish family took over a house in an Arab neighborhood of east Jerusalem, sparking a protest by rock-throwing Palestinians and a few Israeli and foreign activists who joined them, police said. One of the family members was lightly injured in the head when a protester hit him with a metal bar, and police arrested five people. Both sides claim ownership of the building. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
Israeli left wing activists walk with a banner during a protest in Jerusalem, Friday, Nov. 27, 2009. The protest was organized by groups supporting Palestinians evicted from their homes in east Jerusalem by Israeli authorities. Hebrew sign reads 'enough with the east Jerusalem settlements' (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
An Israeli left wing activist holds a sign during a protest in Jerusalem, Friday, Nov. 27, 2009. The protest was organized by groups supporting Palestinians evicted from their homes in east Jerusalem by Israeli authorities.(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Muslim pilgrims gather at Mount Arafat. Iranians chanted death to America and Israel on Thursday as some 2.5 million Muslims, drying out after a day of torrential rains, continue their hajj pilgrimage and mass at the site of the prophet Mohammed's last sermon.(AFP/Mahmud Hams)
A Palestinian worker operates a construction vehicle in a construction site at the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim, near Jerusalem, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009. Jewish settlers pressed ahead Thursday with their refusal to abide by a government-ordered freeze of new building in West Bank settlements, blocking inspectors from entering one such community to enforce the edict. (AP Photo/ Tara Todras-Whitehill)
A Jewish settler, foreground left, looks on as Palestinian construction workers build a synagogue at the Jewish settlement of Kedumim, in the northern West Bank, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009. Jewish settlers pressed ahead Thursday with their refusal to abide by a government-ordered freeze of new building in West Bank settlements, blocking inspectors from entering one such community to enforce the edict.(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Palestinians returning from the Hajj pilgrimage hold hands with relatives on the other side of the fence as they cross back from Egypt into Gaza through the Rafah crossing, southern Gaza Strip, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009. A total of 2.5 million pilgrims attended the hajj this year. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
RNPS IMAGES OF THE YEAR 2009 MEA - Smoke rises during Israeli's offensive in Gaza January 8, 2009. Palestinians faced even grimmer conditions in the Gaza Strip on Thursday after a U.N. aid agency halted work, saying its staff were at risk from Israeli forces fighting Hamas militants, after two drivers were killed. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem (GAZA)
RNPS IMAGES OF THE YEAR 2009 - A Palestinian man tries to extinguish a fire that started after youths threw a petrol bomb during clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem's Old City October 25, 2009. Israeli police fired stun grenades at Arab youths who threw rocks at them in the compound of Jerusalem's flashpoint al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City on Sunday, Israeli and Palestinian officials and witnesses said.REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (JERUSALEM POLITICS CONFLICT)
Voluntary contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
Remarks by U.S. Senior Advisor Richard Erdman, at the Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the announcement of voluntary contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
United States Senior Advisor
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, NY
I am pleased to represent the United States Government in expressing its support of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). As we acknowledge next week the 60th anniversary of the passage of the resolution that called for establishment of UNRWA, the United States remains committed to supporting the agency's critical mandate.
In 2009, the United States continued to be UNRWA's largest bilateral donor, providing nearly $268 million to support the education, health, relief, social and emergency needs of 4.7 million registered refugees in the region. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Agency's achievements and steadfast dedication to the welfare of Palestinian refugees. Over the past 60 years, the commitment of UNRWA's staff has helped to better the lives of generations.
The United States remains concerned about the chronic shortfalls facing the organization. UNRWA faces a shortfall of $90 million in 2009. Furthermore, the Agency expects that it will face a deficit of $140 million against its core needs in 2010. UNRWA is confronting increased demands on its services at a time of record financial shortfalls and economic uncertainty. We commend UNRWA on developing a budget that clearly reflects UNRWA's needs and, for the first time, is linked to meeting the organization's medium-term strategic goals.
UNRWA requires adequate funding so that it can continue to provide quality services and meet the pressing needs of Palestinian refugees in the region. Pending the availability of funds, the United States intends to provide an early and significant contribution in 2010 and urges all UN Member States to consider robust contributions to UNRWA's 2010 budget.
"The UNRWA financial crisis will not only affect the services offered to the more than four million of Palestinian refugees but also the cause of Palestinian refugees," An-Nahal said. "UNRWA is the only body in charge of the well being of the refugees until we can realize UN resolution 194," that calls for a just solution for Palestinian refugees, the official explained.
Last week UNRWA officials in Gaza announced that the organization had a "zero budget" for the new year, noting the financial crisis could mean failure to pay salaries of UNRWA workers and a decrease in the provision of services for refugees across the Middle East. On Thursday, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan of the UAE ordered the donation of 2.5 million dollars to the agency, marking the donation for Palestine refugees in the Near East.
It is not clear how much UNRWA needs to ensure the regular provision of services.
An-Nahal said he hoped the financial crisis would not be solved by reducing services to refugees, and urged UNRWA and the UN to insist that donor countries follow-through on their pledges so the agency can continue its work.
Friday, December 4, 2009
By Dalila Mahdawi
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Reflections on the Badil “Palestinian Refugees under International Law” Course Written by Nidal Azza
Reflections on the Badil “Palestinian Refugees under International Law” CourseWritten by Nidal Azza
“… for us, the inclusion of the international law course on Palestinian refugees in the academic program is a distinct step reflecting our duty toward law students, as well as our commitment to Palestine and Palestinian rights. On one hand, it provides students interested in international law and human rights law with new course material. On the other hand, it explores, through the lens of Palestinian refugee rights, the prolonged conflict from a comparative legal perspective.” (Muhammad Shalaldah, Dean of the Al-Quds University Law School, University Press Release, 19 May 2008)
“I studied International public law, international humanitarian law, the law of international organizations, and international human rights law, but I had not realized the importance of international law for ending the Israeli occupation before I took the course on Palestinian refugees under international law.” (Kifah Froukh, course of fall 2007)
“I have never believed that international law and mechanisms might be of any benefit for the rights of the Palestinian people. Even after I had taken three courses in international law, I could not see in international law any more than a tool in the hands of colonial powers. The course on Palestinian refugees under international law opened my eyes to see the possibility of using the same tool for defending our rights.” (Bader al-Tamimi, course of Spring 2009)
A new blog entitled "Palestinian Youth Writes" has recently been launched as the outcome of a journalism workshop training for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. The workshop was organized by the British Embassy and Lebanon's Al Hayat newspaper, the Daily Star reported .
According to the newly-launched site:
"The "Palestinian Youth Writes Blog is a media project that creates an additional space for young Palestinians men and women, from all casts and affiliations, to express their views and concerns. They can do so by using the many different multimedia tools provided on the blog, such as texts, images and videos. This project thus aims to attract a wide spectrum of both the Palestinians and the Diaspora, in order to highlight their common concerns and problems, whether they are social, cultural or political in nature.
Joanna Abu Jaoude, the project manager told the Daily Star:
"Palestinian issues are usually covered by non-Palestinians, and the reports tend to focus on the security aspects of the camps. We want to empower Palestinian youths to report on issues of their interest."
According to the daily:
The participants, recruited through NGOs, the Internet and word-of-mouth, were introduced to various techniques of journalistic work, complete with training sessions on how to succeed at investigative reporting, feature-writing or online journalism. Seasoned journalists of Al-Hayat, BBC and NowLebanon acquainted them with the challenges of the job and the importance of objective reporting.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Excellent to see Ben White's enlightening article "Shattering Israel's image of 'democracy'": May many more voices of reason and compassion speak out clearly to help shape better policies- and better investments for both pubic and private funds.
AND Tempting though it might be to launch into an angry tirade about "Israel" in response, the real point is that bigotry is wrong: Palestinians do not need our rage- they need realistic solutions to end the Israel/Palestine conflict. The Arab Peace Initiative is a good start....
Emanating from the conviction of the Arab countries that a military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for the parties, the council:
1. Requests Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace is its strategic option as well.
2. Further calls upon Israel to affirm:
Furthermore, one does not have to support the Boycott campaign (Palestinian Call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS)) to agree with its demands that Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people‘s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:
I- Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.
II- Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194.
III- The acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4, 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194 [from 1948].
Anne Selden Annab
THANK YOU for publishing a Palestinian perspective- in particular such an articulate one! Daoud Kuttab sums up so much so perfectly with his statement: "What’s more, it is politically horrifying that Israel is willing to reward radical Hamas with a prisoner exchange instead of honoring the commitments of the Road Map, which call for, among other things, a freeze in settlements in the occupied territories."
I wonder how many other ways has Israel helped empower Hamas and undermine Abbas, systemically sabotaging a secular two state end to the Israel/Palestine conflict.
Anne Selden Annab
FILE - A Palestinian stone thrower faces an Israeli tank, during clashes at the Karni crossing point between Israel and the Gaza Strip, on the outskirts of Gaza City, in this Oct. 29, 2000 file photo. According to Enaam Udah, 41, her son Fares Udah, 13, is the boy in the picture and was shot dead by Israeli gunfire on November 8, 2000. 'We don't send our sons to an easy death, ' said Udah 'But if this is fated by God, then I cannot change that'. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours, File)
My letter to the Washington Post RE Israel revoked Jerusalem residency of 4,500 Palestinians in 2008
Thank you for headlining "Israel revoked Jerusalem residency of 4,500 Palestinians in 2008", rather than ignoring ongoing Israeli efforts to displace the native non-Jewish population of the Holy Land.
According to the Jordan Times December 3 2009 Editorial "East Jerusalem, Israel’s unilateral and unrecognised annexation notwithstanding, is occupied territory (indeed, all of Jerusalem remains, under international law, a corpus separatum). As such, the residents of Jerusalem and their descendants have their right of residency guaranteed under international law." Furthermore: "Israel needs to be held accountable for its racism before it becomes a precedent for other countries to follow." http://www.jordantimes.com/index.php?news=22017
One obvious reason why it is so very crucial to understand, respect and fully support the Palestinian refugees inalienable legal and natural right of return to original homes and lands is to help prevent future evictions- and crimes against humanity... This is not only about Israel, but about every country on earth where bigotry and burglary can too easily become public policy, undermining basic human rights and true democracy everywhere.
Anne Selden Annab
Message from the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Karen Koning AbuZayd, on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Letter dated 23 November 2009 from the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General
Letter dated 23 November 2009 from the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (A/ES-10/470–S/2009/605)
Tenth emergency special session
Agenda item 5 Illegal
Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem
and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory
The situation in the entirety of the Occupied Palestinian Territory in all its aspects remains critical, with conditions deteriorating and tensions rising daily. In this regard, the situation in the Gaza Strip is particularly grave.
It has been over two years since Israel, the occupying Power, began its illegal, inhumane blockade on the Gaza Strip; a blockade that has brought Gaza's economy to a grinding halt and has caused the socio-economic living standards for 1.7 million Palestinian civilians to plummet. The suffering of the civilian population was further deepened by the brutal, merciless military aggression waged on Gaza by the Israeli occupying forces. The wounds, scars and trauma inflicted by the series of Israeli assaults that wreaked human havoc and wanton physical destruction throughout the Gaza Strip continue to be felt to this day as the population remains under siege and reconstruction and recovery continue to be obstructed by the occupying Power. Successive Israeli military attacks, which peaked a year ago during the 22-day aggression, have killed and injured thousands of Palestinian civilians, including hundreds of children and women.
Today, while the memory of the Israeli atrocities in the last aggression are still fresh in our memory, Israel, the occupying Power, is attempting to further raise tensions and reignite the cycle of violence, with the attendant grave consequences.
On Sunday, 22 November 2009, in the early morning hours, Israeli warplanes struck several civilian targets in the Gaza Strip. These attacks injured eight Palestinian civilians and caused widespread trauma to the families living in the area. Israeli warplanes also targeted metal workshops in a densely populated neighbourhood in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip and also struck areas in Nuseirat in central Gaza as well as other areas near the Rafah border in southern Gaza.
These attacks are stark manifestation of recent statements made by the Israeli military Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, before high school students on Friday, 13 November 2009, when he clearly stated that war is Israel's response to United Nations General Assembly resolution 64/10 on the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (Goldstone Report). Ashkenazi said that "the Goldstone report deserves a response", and that Israel "must explain the justice of that war and explain that there is the possibility that we will be forced to act again". Such statements warrant the immediate attention of the international community as they constitute clear threats and indicate the blatant contempt Israeli leaders have towards the United Nations, international law and the lives of the Palestinian civilians under their occupation. Moreover, such statements reaffirm the deplorable mindset of impunity guiding the actions and policies of the occupying Power's political and military leadership.
It is also abundantly clear that Israel's intention is to deflect world attention from its ongoing illegal settlement campaign in the West Bank, particularly in and around Occupied East Jerusalem, by taking such provocative and violent actions in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, Israeli leaders have made it clear that they have not given any serious consideration to the findings and conclusions of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, hence the threat of carrying out yet another merciless and destructive military aggression against the besieged and suffering civilian population in Gaza.
Israel is flagrantly rejecting and violating its obligation as a Member State to respect the General Assembly resolution on the Goldstone report by launching investigations into the serious violations of human rights law and grave breaches of international humanitarian law it committed during its military aggression against Gaza between December 2008 and January 2009. The international community must uphold its responsibilities in this regard and act to defend its expressed collective will and the integrity of the international system by ensuring Israeli compliance. Israel's disregard of civilian lives and of international law must be confronted directly, firmly and immediately. Standing idly by while such threats and actions continue can only encourage the occupying Power to add another long list of war crimes to its heavy dossier. Palestinian children in Gaza, who are still suffering trauma from Israel's last war, deserve a principled international position to ensure that they are spared further undue suffering.
This letter is in follow-up to our previous 349 letters to you regarding the ongoing crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, since 28 September 2000. These letters, dated from 29 September 2000 (A/55/432- S/2000/921) to 18 November 2009 (A/ES-10/469-S/2009/598), constitute a basic record of the crimes being committed by Israel, the occupying Power, against the Palestinian people since September 2000. For all of these war crimes, acts of State terrorism and systematic human rights violations committed against the Palestinian people, Israel, the occupying Power, must be held accountable and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.
I should be grateful if you would arrange to have the text of the present letter distributed as a document of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly, under agenda item 5, and of the Security Council.
(Signed) Riyad Mansour
Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations
Israel needs to be held accountable for its racism before it becomes a precedent for other countries to follow.
|Thursday, December 3rd, 2009,|
Israel stripped over 4,500 Jerusalemite Palestinians of their “residency rights” in 2008.
This marks a huge acceleration of a policy that has been in force since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967. In these 41 years, Israel has now stripped over 12,000 Palestinians of their “permits” to live in Jerusalem, 35 per cent or so of those in 2008 alone.
It also maps out exactly where the current right-wing Israeli government, which has made no secret of its wish to Judaise Jerusalem, a travesty of history if ever there was one, is heading.
The policy shows many things about Israel to anyone who wants to see. One is this: Israel does not even bother to pretend to adhere to any kind of international law or internationally accepted standards for behaviour towards a population under occupation.
East Jerusalem, Israel’s unilateral and unrecognised annexation notwithstanding, is occupied territory (indeed, all of Jerusalem remains, under international law, a corpus separatum). As such, the residents of Jerusalem and their descendants have their right of residency guaranteed under international law.
They cannot be stripped of that right simply because of some arbitrary rule that Israel made up about having to prove your “centre of life” is in Jerusalem and not being absent for too long. After all, what kind of uproar would there be if Jews who live in Israel were similarly stripped of their residency rights in America, Poland, Germany or wherever they are originally from?
But of course, the key here is that the Palestinians of Jerusalem are not Jews. And that is what this is all about. There is no way to sugar coat what Israel is doing here. It is ethnic cleansing, pure and simple. It is not quick and dramatic like in 1948, when many people were forced to flee at the point of a gun. Rather, it is slow and administrative, forced out by the stroke of a pen.
There is no excuse for this kind of behaviour. There is certainly no excuse for international inaction over the issue. Israel will claim that Palestinians in Jerusalem would not face this problem if they accepted Israeli citizenship rather than the “residency permit” the colonising power is issuing the indigenous population. But that is tantamount to forcing Palestinians to accept an illegal occupation of their land.
What next? All visitors to Jerusalem will have to sign a paper acknowledging Israel’s “eternal right to Jerusalem” before being allowed to enter?
Israel needs to be held accountable for its racism before it becomes a precedent for other countries to follow.