Saturday, April 17, 2010

Secretary Clinton Reaffirms US support for two-state solution

"For nearly 20 years, Fatah and Hamas have vied for the right to chart the future of the Palestinian people. Today they articulate opposing arguments for how best to realize Palestinians aspirations. To those disillusioned by a peace process that has delivered too little, Hamas peddles the false hope that a Palestinian state can somehow be achieved through violence and uncompromising resistance. Across the divide, President Abbas. Prime Minister Fayyad and the Palestinian Authority argue for the two-track approach of a political settlement and institution building."
In remarks delivered at the Daniel S. Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton strongly restated US support for “two tracks in the Middle East - negotiations between the parties aimed at reaching a two-state solution and also institution building that lays the necessary foundations for a future state.”

My letter to the Guardian RE PR & The Palestinian Authority

Documents detailing the state and institution building program of the 13th Palestinian Government, including the overall plan and priority interventions for 2010.

RE: The Palestinian Authority's skin-deep makeover, The Palestinian government's latest PR drive looks like little more than a tactical attempt to dispel its 'collaborator' image

Dear Sir,

If you want to talk about PR perhaps you need to be noticing that Palestinians are free to be rude to and about America- and Americans are free to walk away in disgust. Yesterday Hamas executed two "collaborators". Palestinians are of course free to elect Hamas and believe that Hamas tactics are their ticket to victory, and "pro-Palestine" activists here and there are free to call anyone and everyone a "collaborator" if they want. Furthermore Israelis and Palestinians and pundits worldwide are totally free to sabotage efforts to build a real Palestinian state, but I for one would rather not.... No matter what happens in the end there are either negotiations- or nothing left to negotiate about.

I think, for everyone's sake, that it is crucially important to support a fully secular, carefully negotiated two state solution to end the Israel/Palestine conflict ASAP. One by one we need to be empowering reasonable arguments and initiatives that help make Palestine a political reality rather than a rally cry for hate mongers, religious idiots, bigots and crooks who thrive on perpetuating the very real plight of the Palestinians.

Anne Selden Annab


The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world." Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, April 16, 2010

An evening with Acclaimed Author, Poet, and Proud UNRWA graduate: Ibtisam Barakat April 29, 2010 Washington, DC

An evening with

Acclaimed Author, Poet, and Proud UNRWA graduate:

Ibtisam Barakat

Thursday, April 29, 2010

6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Zenobia Lounge, Georgetown

1025 31st Street, NW

Washington, DC 20007

Please RSVP by calling (202) 223-3767 or by email to

Ibtisam Barakat is a Palestinian-American writer, poet, and educator. A bilingual speaker of Arabic and English, Ibtisam grew up in Ramallah, West Bank, and now lives in the United States. Her work focuses on healing social injustices and the hurts of wars, especially those involving young people. She is the founder of Write Your Life seminars to empower people from various backgrounds to contribute to writing history by sharing their voices and stories.

Ibtisam’s memoir, Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood (FSG, 2007), about growing up under Israeli occupation following the 1967 Six-Day War, won numerous awards and honors, including the International Reading Association’s Best Non Fiction for YA, 2008; the Middle East Council Best Literature Book Award, 2007; the 2008 Arab American Book Award in the Children/ Young Adult Category, and has been translated to several languages.

An international speaker and human rights advocate though the arts, Ibtisam was a delegate to the 3rd UN conference on the elimination of racism, represented Palestine in the 6th World Poetry Conference in Venezuela, and this month she will be one of the judges in the semifinals for Poetry Out Loud, the national poetry recitation contest in all of US schools organized by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, to be concluded in Washington DC.


Ibtisam Barakat ابتسام بركات " Let's -- In an acting improv meeting, we played the game Let's! Someone says "tigers" and we all say Let's! We all become tigers. We acted monkeys, flowers, other things. I said let's be Palestinians! Everyone said Let's and started to write on their hands or on the air. I realized I am the Palestinian they know! A wri...ter. So whatever I do is Palestinian. I almost cried with responsibility." -- Ibtisam Barakat 2010.

Celebrating some GREAT Palestinian-American Artists, Writers & Poets

Mideast Conflict News 4-16-2010

IBISHBLOG: Obama's blunt message to Congress: lack of peace costs us "blood and treasure"

Obama's blunt message to Congress: lack of peace costs us "blood and treasure"

Yesterday Pres. Obama gave the first clear indication of exactly where he stands in disputes embroiling the administration on how to go forward with Middle East peace in the context of the standoff with PM Netanyahu over settlements in Jerusalem. The President said that resolving the conflict is a "vital national interest of the United States," and, echoing points made with varying degrees of emphasis by Gen. Petraeus, Adm. Mullen and Sec. Gates, very significantly added that such conflicts are "costing us significantly in terms of blood and treasure." These are unprecedented comments from this or any other US president, and reflect the shift in the context of US-Israel relations and the new way in which Israeli policies are perceived in Washington, about which I have been writing for many months.

Please note that neither the President nor any of his aides are saying, as is sometimes wrongly suggested, that Israel or Israeli policies are threatening American security or American lives. But what they are saying is that the lack of peace, the continuation of the conflict and the occupation are serious strategic problems for the United States throughout the Arab and Islamic worlds, including in Afghanistan and Iraq and with regard to Iran. The bottom line is that Israeli policies are no longer viewed primarily as either simply a matter of bilateral relations between Israel and the United States or functions of domestic American political considerations, as they sometimes have been in the past. Instead, they are increasingly being placed in a much broader context that gives them a very different significance and implication...READ MORE

My letters to The Chicago Tribune, The LA Times & New York Times RE Israel/Palestine WAR, When Armageddon lives next door & The Living and the Dead

RE: The heavy lifting,0,474968.story

Dear Editor,

Delighted and relieved to see the Chicago Tribune's "The heavy lifting- On Thursday, King Abdullah II of Jordan visited the Tribune editorial board and offered a healthy perspective on this. In essence, he said the U.S. president's involvement is welcome but the responsibility for advancing peace terms falls squarely on the leaders in the Middle East."

Caught in between Israeli extremism and the rise of Islamic militancy a real Palestinian state might fail before it ever even has a chance to become anything more than a precious dream for countless people.... and the ramifications such a failure would be horrifically tragic for all involved- and every neighbor.

A fully secular two state solution in line with international law (as well as respecting all basic human rights and freedoms on all sides of every border) would help stop the religious extremism, corruption, tyranny, violence and escalating injustice and despair created by the contentious Israel/Palestine conflict.

Anne Selden Annab

RE: When Armageddon lives next door,0,6295075.story

Dear Editor,

Israeli Benny Morris targeting Iran, writes of a perceived threat in his "When Armageddon lives next door"... Morris myopically ignores the very real Armageddon that Israel has been imposing on the men, women and children of historic Palestine for the past century and how Israel's anti-Palestinian policies and propaganda have very much inspired and empowered the rise of Islamic militancy all through out the Middle East.

Morris also foolishly forgets the fact that Israel with its huge arsenal of lethal weaponry (plus its ongoing anti-Palestinian policies) has very much led the way for a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. As news of the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland drifts over Europe closing airports (as well as making some very pretty sunsets far far away from the original eruption) can we really pretend that the fallout from any nuclear detonation will be contained within the borders of the country attacked.

Anne Selden Annab

RE: The Living and the Dead By Roger Cohen

Dear Editor,

Roger Cohen's most recent seemingly reasonable column "The Living and the Dead"
addresses the Palestinian refugees and the right of return as if to dismiss it. My concern is that Israel, as a fully sovereign nation, has been violating international law since the beginning regarding Refugees, Borders & Jerusalem

Please note from the start: "The United Nations had certainly not intended that the Jewish State should rid itself of its Arab citizens" 5 May 1949 Application of Israel for admission to membership in the United Nations

Six decades later, in refusing to respect the Palestinian refugees right of return Israel finds it far too easy to continue to demolish Palestinian homes, fragment Palestinian families, and deny Palestinian men, women and children full and equal rights and real freedom anywhere. In 1948 United Nations Mediator Count Folke Bernadotte pointed out that "It would be an offence against the principles of justice if those innocent victims of could not return to their homes while [Zionist] immigrants flowed into Palestine to take their place." This is still true today.

Cohen is right that moving beyond war is crucial for everyone's sake. I also agree that Fayyad's state building plans are a great idea AND for the sake of their own identity I very much hope most Palestinian refugees decide they would rather be legally and officially Palestinians invested in Palestine rather than Israelis invested in Israel. BUT Cohen is wrong to assert that the right of return as an objective "locks Palestinians in an illusory past" for it is a very real current reality of continued home demolitions and forced displacement that proves the importance of fully understanding, respecting and honoring the Palestinian refugees right of return.

Anne Selden Annab

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world." Eleanor Roosevelt

Need the facts on Palestine?

Palestinian artist Mohammed Al-Shalabi 43, adds stars to a painting of U.S. President Barack Obama, at his studio in the West Bank town of Jenin, Thursday, April, 15, 2010. President Obama gave a surprisingly downbeat assessment earlier this week of the chances for a U.S.-brokered peace settlement in the Middle East, saying that the United States cannot help if Israel and the Palestinians decide they cannot negotiate. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Which way forward for Palestinian liberation... “What is our actual goal?”

Hussein Ibish: If you are involved in Palestinian national liberation for decades, as I have been, then it is clear that to have an effective political program you need a clear and well-defined goal. Without it, you can have no coherent strategy, and, without a coherent strategy, you cannot be effective. Things will just be random and ad hoc, and whatever momentary victories take place end up getting lost in the ether. So the question, “What is our actual goal?” is crucial.

Of course, there are organizations that will not take a stand. For example, the US Campaign to End the Occupation claims to be agnostic, so as not to alienate any potential activists. But the effect of such agnosticism has to be recognized. It means that such organizations can have no serious policy role or direct political effect. At best, they will only have an indirect effect, because they limit their work to public education.

If you are interested in affecting the Obama administration’s policy, rather than changing attitudes in the next 50 years among the general public in the United States, then one must be clear about goals. I am interested in policy now. There is a fierce urgency to ending the occupation as soon as possible. Let me delineate a scenario. You represent an organization that takes no position on the one-state/two-state question. You go to see a senior legislative aid in the office of your Congressman, and they ask, “You have two minutes. What do you want? What is your policy goal?” You will not get far if you begin a response with, “Well, umm…well you see…” So, honestly, if you are content with just raising awareness about the evils of Israeli policy, there is no problem with not taking a stance. But if you have a broader ambition, a political ambition, then it is simply inadequate.

Which way forward for Palestinian liberation?

Remember- and move on...

"Landscapes of Desire" by John Halaka

Remember- and move on... but how can any one move on as long as Israel continues to play the same cruel game of refusing to honor its obligations vis-a vis Refugees, Borders & Jerusalem

Refugees, Borders & Jerusalem... "The State of Israel, in its present form, directly contravened the previous recommendations of the United Nations"

Eleanor Roosevelt regarded the Universal Declaration as her greatest accomplishment.

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."Eleanor Roosevelt


A/C.1/SR.207Palestine UN Mediator report - GA First Cttee debate, Arab Higher Committee statement - Summary record
Complete document in PDF format

This remains true today as any Jew, regardless of national origin, can gain automatic citizenship while Palestinian Arabs are denied their right to return to original homes and lands.

UN Resolution 194 from 1948 : The refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible

FYI United Nations Mediator Count Folke Bernadotte was later assassinated by Zionists.

please note

Application of Israel for admission
to membership in the United Nations (A/818)

"The State of Israel, in its present form, directly contravened the previous recommendations of the United Nations in at least three important respects: in its attitude on the problem of Arab refugees, on the delimitation of its territorial boundaries, and on the question of Jerusalem.

The United Nations had certainly not intended that the Jewish State should rid itself of its Arab citizens. On the contrary, section C of part I of the Assembly's 1947 resolution had explicitly provided guarantees of minority rights in each of the two States. For example, it had prohibited the expropriation of land owned by an Arab in the Jewish State except for public purposes, and then only upon payment of full compensation. Yet the fact was that 90 per cent of the Arab population of Israel had been driven outside its boundaries by military operations, had been forced to seek refuge in neighbouring Arab territories, had been reduced to misery and destitution, and had been prevented by Israel from returning to their homes. Their homes and property had been seized and were being used by thousands of European Jewish immigrants."

Israelis demolish West Bank homes Palestinian woman weeps as she stands in front of her house that was demolished by Israeli army bulldozers in the village of Hares, near the West Bank city of Nablus, on Wednesday (AFP photo by Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

Israelis demolish West Bank homes

Israeli bulldozers, flanked by troops, demolished properties in two West Bank villages on Wednesday, leaving nine Palestinians homeless, Agence France-Presse reported citing Palestinian rights organisations.

The Israeli military confirmed demolition of a home in the village of Khader, near Bethlehem, and what it said was an unfinished and uninhabited building in the northern village of Haris.

A military spokesman said both structures had been put up without the necessary construction permits.

The West Bank-based Popular Struggle Coordination Committee said the Khader building had been home to nine members of the Musa family, including a baby.

Under a 1993 agreement with the Palestinians, Israel has complete control over 60 per cent of the West Bank, where it frequently demolishes unauthorised buildings. Palestinian and Israeli rights groups say that permits to build there are rarely granted, leading to the demolition of thousands of structures over the past decade.

Jewish settlers vandalised a mosque in the West Bank on Wednesday, Reuters cited Palestinian officials as saying, the latest in a series of attacks blamed on settlers that have fuelled tension in the occupied territory.

The Israeli army said the Bilal Ben Rabah Mosque in the village of Hawara near Nablus had been vandalised by “anonymous suspects”. Two cars were also set ablaze in the village. The army condemned the attack and ordered an investigation.

“The Star of David symbol and the word ‘Mohammad’ in Hebrew were among the graffiti painted on the wall of the mosque,” the army said in a statement, adding that the graffiti was erased by the Israeli authorities.

Kamal Odeh, a Hawara resident and representative of the Palestinian Fateh Party, said it was the second time settlers had attacked the village this week. They torched one car and opened fire on a shop in Hawara on Monday, he said.

“The situation is very tense,” said Odeh, 40. “There is real anger.”

The settlers, who live in hilltop enclaves dotted around the area, have grown ever bolder, Palestinians say.

There are around 500,000 Jewish settlers living in the West Bank and areas near Jerusalem annexed by Israel. Settlers in the Nablus area tend to be religiously-motivated, claiming a biblical link to lands occupied by Israel since 1967.

Major world powers view the settlements as illegal and an obstacle to any Palestinian-Israeli peace deal.

Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activities in the Nablus governorate, said the rate of settler attacks had increased in the first quarter of this year compared to 2009.

The Israeli authorities have launched investigations into at least two other attacks on Muslim sites in the Nablus area since December. They could not immediately say whether either probe had resulted in charges being brought against suspects.

Palestinians believe Jewish settlers were behind both the December arson attack on a mosque in the village of Yasuf and acts of vandalism in a cemetery in the village of Awarta in January.

The Israeli police arrested one teenager from a Jewish settlement in connection with the Yasuf mosque attack. He was questioned and released without charge.

15 April 2010

Michael Jansen: Israel defies international law, again

Israel defies international law, again

By Michael Jansen

Israeli amendments to standing military orders that took effect last Tuesday were fresh punitive measures in a long line of destructive and illegal acts designed to deny Palestinians their basic human rights.

The orders, signed by Major General Gadi Shamni, former commander of Israel's armed forces in the West Bank, broaden the interpretation of "infiltrator" to mean anyone who does not have a valid Israeli residence permit, and expand the powers of Israeli forces to deal with anyone they decide is a "security threat".

One of the amended orders was adopted in 1969 to deal with Palestinians entering the West Bank and Gaza clandestinely to mount resistance operations against the occupation, which began in 1967. The other is security related. Taken together, they could be used to classify Palestinians as "infiltrators" and to jail or deport them.

The orders do not define what Israel means by residence permits. Would such permits be documents other than the current blue and orange identity cards Palestinians carry?

According to Israeli human rights organisation HaMoked, the orders will be first used to deport to Gaza Palestinians with Gaza identity cards and their children born in the West Bank. The next targets will be foreign spouses of Palestinians and Palestinians living in the West Bank who have had their residency permits, withdrawn by the Israeli authorities for various reasons, including lengthy stays abroad for study or work. These people will be sent abroad and thereby lose their right to live in Palestine.

The measures could also be used against Palestinians involved in popular protests against land confiscations and the West Bank wall, and other political activity.

HaMoked warns that in theory, the amended orders could be used against "the vast majority of [Palestinians] now living in the West Bank [who] have never been required to hold any sort of permit to be present therein". Deportation orders can be executed within 72 hours, making it impossible for those designated for deportation to appeal.

HaMoked observes that the orders could be used to "turn all residents of the West Bank into criminals who may be imprisoned for up to seven years or deported from the area". The organisation says tens of thousands of Palestinians could be at risk of imprisonment and/or deportation.

The orders are in flagrant contravention of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which states: "Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the occupying power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive."

Ever since the founding of the Zionist movement, it has advocated policies effecting "transfer" to rid Palestine of Palestinians.

Influential Palestinians have complained, Israel's liberal daily Haaretz wrote a critical editorial, and a few Western newspapers carried articles about the measures. But there has been no public rebuke from the US or a European power. What, then, will be done about these measures?

Almost certainly nothing.

Israel has long followed a strategy of creating multiple challenges in order to confound peacemakers and evade sanctions for egregious violations of human rights, as well as for waging wars of aggression on the Palestinians and neighbouring countries. Pugnacious Israel is well aware that if it piles up enough illegal and punitive policies, the world will focus on one or two and let Israel get on with carrying out others. But the world will never end the Israeli-Arab conflict if powerful governments do not address the entire range of Israeli challenges.

At present, the Obama administration - the only power on the face of the globe that can curb Israel's actions - is focused on its colonisation activities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and getting Israel to agree to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority on the emergence of a Palestinian state. So far, the US has, according to Haaretz, compelled the rightist government of Premier Benjamin Netanyahu to "put on hold" construction in colonies both in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This is a minor achievement that is swamped by a range of actions which must be addressed before Israel can be reined in and compelled to comply with international law and acceptable norms of behaviour....READ MORE

Gaza: “If you really want to empower people…”

Gaza: “If you really want to empower people…”
15 April 2010
By Hedinn Halldorsson, Communications Advisor, IFRC Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support
In a Red Cross Red Crescent Community Centre in Gaza city, 20 women sit in a circle and share their joys and sorrows. Umm Mahmood is here for the first time. She talks of not being shown respect by her family. Her husband is unemployed, her son is handicapped, and the economic plight, caused by the Israeli closure, is adding an increased burden. By telling her story, Umm Mahmood realizes that the other women face the same challenges, that she is not alone.

The question I am here to find an answer to is how they cope. How does one find strength to keep going when life seems to have come to a halt, when rebuilding infrastructure is not an option, and the future is equally as bleak as the past? How do the women cope with an on-going emergency, having lost friends, relatives? And how can the Red Cross Red Crescent assist and minimize their suffering?

Community based psychosocial support

Assistance can and is being provided through psychosocial support programmes, run by several Red Cross Red Crescent National Societies, both in the West Bank and the Gaza strip. Community based psychosocial support has advantages that one-on-one support can never achieve. Groups and communities posess power that individuals do not have.

“We don’t know it all”, says Despina Constandinides, a psychologist working for the Palestine Red Crescent Society in the West Bank. “They went through the disaster, they felt these feelings”. And these feelings are still vivid with those who experienced the conflict in Gaza first hand, in the beginning of January 2009.

“Psychosocial support workers are not among people all the time. So if you really want to empower people, you do it in a way so they can support each other when you are not there. This is what working with communities gives you”, Despina explains.

At some point, Abrar, the psychosocial facilitator leading the women’s session, asks them to imagine and draw a safe place. How would their world look like, how would it sound, smell and feel, if they could get out of Gaza? One draws a house made of plastic. “Because I think there will be another war and I don´t want my home to be demolished again”.

The woman, dressed in black, with a white veil, tells of how she witnessed houses collapse, a little more than a year ago, knowing that there were women and children inside. “I cannot forget”, she says. One of the aims of psychosocial support is to help the affected to overcome such experiences and to learn to live with them.

“My husband is not there”, says another one, explaining her drawing. The issue of domestic violence is often brought up during the sessions. With disrupted social networks and soaring unemployment rates, the men of Gaza, brought up to be breadwinners, sometimes take out their wrath on their family members, spouses, children.

Domestic violence is thus one of many consequences of the chronic emergency the inhabitants of the Gaza strip find themselves in. One of the women says she’ll take the drawing home to her husband.

Different drawings of similar stories

Although most of the drawings tell similar stories, they are all different. They convey hurtful experiences, as well as simple wishes of living in safety. Wishes of basic rights, such as living in freedom, free from harm´s way. One of the women draws a beautiful garden, which gate is wide open. There is also a doorkeeper who lets people pass freely in and out.

The session is to give the women strenght and provide them with tools to tackle situations that can happen in family life. Another participant talks about how she has started expressing herself, managing thoughts and frustrations, after starting coming to the Red Cross Red Crescent sessions.

“I provide them with a key, and then they are to learn to help themselves and those around them”, the psychosocial facilitator Abrar explains.

During the relaxation, close to the end of the session, one of the mothers leans on the shoulder of a new friend, as she is about to nap, before leaving the room to face another day in Gaza city. Abrar asks the women to form a circle and hold hands. “I sense strenght, I’m surrounded with friends”, says Umm Mahmood when Abrar asks her how she is feeling.

Abrar tells them to use what they have learned, and in cases of anxiety, fear or anger, to remember the safe place they drew, and how the culture of dialogue and non-violence can solve problems. The session has come to an end.

The aim of the IFRC Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support ( is to facilitate psychosocial support, to enhance emotional assistance to staff and volunteers, and to increase awareness of psychological reactions in times of crisis or social disruption.

The National Red Cross Red Crescent Societies that run the psychosocial projects in the Gaza strip and the West Bank are Palestinian, French, Danish, Italian and Icelandic.

Daoud Kuttab: Israeli military commander acts as a dictator towards Palestinians

There is a reason for the fact that in modern times laws are written by representatives of the people to whom these laws are applied. Governments and parliaments come and go, but laws often outlive them.

Except for dictatorships, laws are not written by the executives who have to enforce them or the judges that have to interpret them. Many totalitarian rulers create a symbolic legislature, made up of people’s representatives so as to be able to carry this important task. Laws are certainly not written by foreign rulers, and for sure they are not written by foreign military rulers. Well, everywhere except in the occupied Palestinian territories.

When the Israeli army occupied Palestinian lands in June 1967, the Israeli military commander issued an order giving himself the sole right to legislate for the people under his army’s control. Military order # 1 gave him the sole power to control all three branches the executive, legislative and judicial. Since then, thousands of laws have been issued by successive military commanders who single-handedly can amend existing laws or issue totally new laws without discussion, debate or even a public announcement. The orders are issued in Hebrew and the Palestinian public is by and large unaware of their existence.

The Palestinian human rights organisation Al Haq began, in the 1980s, the hard work or translating and publishing these laws. One of the co-founders of Al Haq, Raja Shehadeh, wrote an entire book on the process of Israeli control that turns around the concept of the rule of law to rule by law. Shehadeh’s book “Occupier’s Law” has been praised by The Washington Post back in 2003 “as an invaluable resource that captures the rage and despair of lives stunted by occupation”.

This long introduction is meant to highlight the Kafkaesque legal structure that Palestinians under occupation are subject to. They have an elected Palestinian parliament whose laws are argued by civilians coming from the communities where the laws are to be implemented. Local press and electronic media cover the debates, often publish draft laws and announce the agreement on these laws once voted on. Once these laws are signed by a president, they are published in the Official Gazette and have the power of laws that local Palestinian judges can enforce using local lightly armed police, on condition that they only serve the court decisions within areas A (the highly populated cities) of the Palestinian territories.

At the same time, the signature of a single military commander can make law that is enforceable in all Palestinian areas with the help of a powerful military army and its bands of intelligence officers and local collaborators. Such was the case on October 13, 2009, when Major General Gadi Shamni, commander of the Israeli army in the West Bank, redefined who is an infiltrator (anyone without a special Israeli-issued valid permit) and what the punishment of infiltration is: up to seven years in jail, NIS 7,500 ($2,000) and deportation.

To be fair, order number 1650 gave Palestinians six months to get their act in order. However, few Palestinians were even aware of this military order until an Israeli reporter quoted Israeli human rights organisations saying that the six months are to expire on April 13, putting tens of thousands of Palestinians in danger of imprisonment, fine and deportation.

Deportations are not new, of course, even though the Israelis have not been using them directly.

The Israeli human rights organisation B’tselem says that Palestinians from the occupied territories are deported pursuant to the authority of regulation 112 of the Defence (Emergency) Regulations, 1945. This regulation authorises the regional commander “to make an order under his hand, requiring any person to leave and remain out of Palestine”.

The emergency regulations were called “Nazi” by Menachem Begin.

The regulation was rescinded within Israel in 1979, but remains in force in the occupied territories. According to B’tselem, from the beginning of the Israeli occupation, in 1967, to 1992, when Israel ceased deportations, 1,522 Palestinians were deported from the occupied territories. None of the deportees had been charged with a criminal offence, nor tried and convicted. By law, they must therefore be considered innocent of any offence.

While public deportation had stopped in 1992, a much more sinister plan was implemented, that of transfer, whereby Palestinians are “encouraged” to leave and not return by use of various administrative orders, such as this latest order. Ironically, this infiltration order does not apply to Jewish settlers who are indeed infiltrating into Palestinian territories, nor does it apply to Jewish settlers residing in the so called “outposts” that have not been even authorised officially by the occupying state of Israel.

In the Monday summit in Washington, His Majesty King Abdullah and US President Barack Obama agreed that both Israelis and Palestinians should avoid actions that undermine chances of reviving stalled peace talks, according to the White House.

In the past few months, we have seen clear evidence that Israel is undermining peace by building Jewish settlements in occupied territories, in defiance of the roadmap and commitments made to the US administration. Now the Israelis are showing that the original Zionist theory of lusting for the land, without its people, continues to be the main pillar of this right-wing Israeli government.

If Obama and his advisers are genuinely interested in this issue, they do not need to send an envoy all the way to the Middle East. Obama, his secretary of state or his national security adviser need only go across town in Washington, DC to get details. The man who had the power to make laws in the occupied territories and who signed military order 1650, Major General Shamni, has been the military attaché at the Israeli embassy since November 2009.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dr. Hussein Ibish LIVE on Arab Voices Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Time: 7 p.m. - 8 p.m. central time

Hussein Ibish
Senior Fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) and Executive Director of the Hala Salaam Maksoud Foundation for Arab-American Leadership. Dr. Ibish has served as Communications Director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and was Vice-President of the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom. Dr. Hussein Ibish is author of numerous books and publications.

Topics: The new Israeli orders that could lead to the expulsion of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank in Palestine, and its implication on the prospects for peace; Israel's ongoing measures to remove Palestinians from occupied Jerusalem; the ongoing Israeli siege on Gaza; and much more.

Tune in and participate live by calling the studio at 713-526-5738

Listen LIVE

Did you miss the last show, or the previous shows?
(click on the date to listen to any of the shows)

Obama remains fully engaged in ending the Israel/Palestine conflict BUT says US can't impose peace- proximity talks should begin as soon as possible

US President Barack Obama (C) speaks during a trilateral meeting with Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and President Mahmoud Abbas (R) at
the Waldorf Astoria in New York on 22 September 2009. [MaanImages/Omar Rashidi/POOL]

Report: Obama says US can't impose peace
Published today (updated) 14/04/2010 10:47

Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agencies - US President Barack Obama said Tuesday that Israelis and Palestinians may not be ready to resolve the conflict, in spite of pressure Washington exerts on the two sides, he told reporters after hosting a nuclear security summit.

Obama said he had little hope for progress toward Middle East Peace during a news conference, according to Reuters.

"The truth is in some of these conflicts the United States can't impose solutions unless the participants in these conflicts are willing to break out of old patterns of antagonism," he said.

US-brokered "proximity talks" were quickly derailed when Israel announced a settlement expansion plan during US Vice President Joe Biden's trip to the region in a bid to renew negotiations. Despite US condemnation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to have given little ground over Israeli-only building on land occupied in 1967 during talks with Obama in Washington last month.

However, Obama said that despite frustration with the peace process, the US would press on, "constantly present, constantly engaged," the news agency reported.

"It's going to take time, and progress will be halting," he said. "And there will be frustrations."

"The Israeli people, through their government, and the Palestinian people, through the Palestinian Authority, as well as other Arab states may say to themselves, 'We are not prepared to resolve these issues no matter how much pressure the United States brings to bear,'" Obama said.

On Monday, Obama and Jordan's King Abdullah agreed on the sidelines of a Washington nuclear summit, that Palestinian and Israeli officials should immediately restart proximity talks, Israeli media reported.

"During these discussions, both agreed that Israeli-Palestinian proximity talks should begin as soon as possible, and transition quickly to direct negotiations," the White House said, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz. "They also agreed that both sides should refrain from actions that undermine trust during these talks."

Dispute over naming of occupied Palestinian territories stalls water strategy

Palestinian children queue to fill up containers from a water pump in Khan
Younis refugee camp, southern Gaza, on 4 July 2006. At the time, the Israeli
airforce bombed the sole power plant, leaving only two water pumps
functioning in the southern Strip. [MaanImages/Magnus Johansson]

Dispute over naming of oPts stalls water strategy
Published today (updated) 14/04/2010 11:27

Bethlehem - Ma'an - Failure to agree on how to name the occupied Palestinian territories has prevented representatives of the 43 countries of the Union for the Mediterranean (UFM) from approving a joint strategy for guaranteeing the water resources of the whole Mediterranean basin, a news release from the Spanish Presidency of EU said.

A document intended to promote common initiatives for water management, which was due to be the first major strategy of the recently created UFM had been expected to come out of the 4th Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference, The European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (EPNI) said Wednesday.

However, during a news conference following the meeting, the insurmountable obstacle was a nuance of terminology, since Israel’s representatives would not accept the document referring to "occupied territories," instead proposing the term "territories under occupation," which, EPNI wrote, was not acceptable to the Arab block.

The strategy was meant to establish the political, methodological and financial framework for bringing in regional policies on the matter. It envisaged reducing the consumption of water between now and the year 2025, to levels 25 percent below those of 2005.

The conference, jointly chaired by the Spanish Minister for the Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs Elena Espinosa, brought together ministers from the 43 countries of the UFM, together with representatives of the European Commission and the Arab League, along with representatives of civil society and financial institutions.

In her opening speech, Espinosa described the Mediterranean as an imbalanced hydrological basin, with extreme phenomena of cyclical floods and droughts, requiring UFM nations to adopt a "common strategy for a scarce resource."

The U.N. Partition Plan and Arab ‘Catastrophe’

The U.N. Partition Plan and Arab ‘Catastrophe’

by Jeremy R. Hammond
April 13, 2010

The following is excerpted from The Rejection of Arab Self-Determination: The Struggle for Palestine and the Roots of the Arab-Israeli Crisis.

In 1947, Great Britain, unable to reconcile its conflicting obligations to both Jews and Arabs, requested that the United Nations take up the question of Palestine. In May, the U.N. Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) was created by a General Assembly resolution. UNSCOP’s purpose was to investigate the situation in Palestine and “submit such proposals as it may consider appropriate for the solution of the problem of Palestine”.

At the time, the U.N. consisted of 55 members, including Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria. Palestine by then remained the only one of the formerly Mandated Territories not to become an independent state. No representatives from any Arab nations, however, were included in UNSCOP.[1] Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia requested that “The termination of the Mandate over Palestine and the declaration of its independence” be placed on the agenda, but this motion was rejected. The Arab Higher Committee thus announced it would not collaborate, although individual Arab states did agree to meet with representatives from UNSCOP.[2]

UNSCOP’s investigation included a 15-day tour of Palestine, splitting time between visits to Arab and Jewish communities. Seven days—nearly half that same amount of time spent touring Palestine itself—were spent touring Displaced Persons (D.P.) camps in Germany and Austria and witnessing the plight of the Jews there.[3] The proposal to visit the D.P. camps passed by a vote of six to four with one abstention, despite the objection from two members that it would be “improper to connect the displaced persons, and the Jewish problem as a whole, with the problem of Palestine”.[4] More time was spent visiting D.P. camps than the total number of days spent visiting the Arab nations neighboring Palestine and meeting with representatives there.

Public hearings were held in which 37 representatives were heard, 31 of whom were Jews representing 17 Jewish organizations, but with only one representative from each of the six Arab states.[5] Two proposals emerged: a federal State plan and a partition plan. The latter passed by a vote of seven to three with one abstention, the dissenting votes being cast by India, Iran, and Yugoslavia, who all favored the federal state plan.

On September 3, UNSCOP submitted its report to the U.N. General Assembly. The report noted that the population of Palestine at the end of 1946 was estimated to be almost 1,846,000, with 1,203,000 Arabs (65 percent) and 608,000 Jews (33 percent). Again, the growth of the Jewish population was mainly the result of immigration, whereas the Arab growth was “almost entirely” natural increase.

Complicating any notion of partition, UNSCOP observed that there was “no clear territorial separation of Jews and Arabs by large contiguous areas.” In the Jaffa district, for example, which included Tel Aviv, “Jews are more than 40 per cent of the total population”, with an Arab majority.[6]

Land ownership statistics from 1945 showed that Arabs owned more land than Jews in every single district in Palestine. In Jaffa, with the highest percentage of Jewish ownership of any district, 47 percent of the land was owned by Arabs versus 39 percent owned by Jews. At the opposite end of the spectrum, in Ramallah district, Arabs owned 99 percent of the land and Jews less than 1 percent.[7] In the whole of Palestine, Arabs were in possession of 85 percent of the land, while Jews owned less than 7 percent.[8] ...READ MORE