Saturday, November 27, 2010

Arab League denounces home demolitions
Arab League denounces home demolitions

CAIRO (Ma'an) -- The Arab League on Saturday denounced Israel's recent escalation in demolitions of Palestinians homes across the West Bank.

In a statement, Assistant Secretary-General of the Arab League for Palestine Mohammad Subeih said Israel's attacks on Palestinians exceeded the racism of the apartheid regime of South Africa, and called on human rights organizations to intervene.

Subeih said Israel's policy of demolishing homes in the West Bank -- under the pretext that they are in Area 'C', lack permits, or are near the separation wall -- aimed only to expel Palestinians.

The recent demolitions in Jerusalem, Salfit, Hebron and the Jordan Valley violated international law and conventions which prohibit an occupying power from arbitrarily attacking a civilian population, he said.

Economist: The Jordan valley... A dry bone of contention

The Jordan valley

A dry bone of contention

Israel refuses to leave the valley. But is it still a strategic asset?

YOU might have thought the Jordan Valley was already empty enough. After almost half a century of Israeli occupation its Palestinian population has shrunk from over 200,000 to fewer than 60,000. But UN monitors say that Israel is intensifying its efforts to curb residency for Palestinians. The space for them to roam has been squeezed by closed military zones, conservation areas, Jewish settlements and the building of grand-scale roads, mostly for the use of Israelis, that slice through the territory....READ MORE

Friday, November 26, 2010

The undefinable homeland: Palestinian-Americans struggle to go back

The undefinable homeland: Palestinian-Americans struggle to go back

By Sarah Daoud and Kate Mullersman | November 26th, 2010

Kholoud Ibrahim makes no effort to mask her pride and loyalty to her homeland. While standing behind a lunch counter at Aqsa, a private Muslim school, and selling cans of pop and extra-long Laffy Taffy to Saturday school students, she declares her country of origin with a dignified smile on her face. Speaking endlessly and effortlessly of its people, their need for liberation, and her intimate connection to the small piece of land that has seen so much bloodshed and turmoil, Ibrahim is clearly linked to Palestine.

While describing her heritage, Ibrahim drops a fact that cannot be ignored: “I never seen it. I never been there.”

Born in Kuwait in 1978, Ibrahim and her family moved to Jordan during the Gulf War when she was 12 years old. She then came to the U.S. with her husband in 1998. She knows the West Bank only through stories, pictures, and video chat sessions with family members living in “the blad,” or homeland. Although she has returned to Jordan several times, Ibrahim describes a relentless desire to go to Palestine, where a family and a home she has never been to are waiting for her.

“I always talk to my cousin over there with the Internet. She always put the camera to the window [and says] ‘Can you see this? This is our land. This is our street. This is your home.’”

But Ibrahim is not satisfied with the limited view.

“Of course I want to go there!” says Ibrahim. “I’ve never seen there.” Standing in a room which functions as a gymnasium, cafeteria, auditorium, reception area, and prayer space, Ibrahim looks up from a pencil box that is doubling as a cash drawer.

“It’s not make sense, you know?” says Ibrahim. “When you dad born there and his grandpa and his grandma and they got this and this and somebody come and told them, ‘No, this is not your home.’ What are you talking about? This is not make sense. Come on.”

Ibrahim’s experience is not unique amongst the Palestinian community in Chicago. Hamza Salim, a 24-year-old Master’s student of architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology and professional artist, identifies as a Palestinian regardless of the fact that he grew up in Jordan. His family didn’t ever really leave Palestine, he says, but “the borders changed and they just became Jordanian.”

Away from home

This dislocation is real not only for Palestinian-Americans, but a collective experience for most Palestinians. Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) reports that 67% of all Palestinians worldwide are displaced, including 6.6 million refugees and 427,000 IDPs, or internally displaced persons. The conflict of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, which ultimately resulted in the division of the Palestinian territory between Jordan, which annexed the West Bank, and Egypt, which took control over the Gaza Strip, caused the displacement or expulsion of between 750,000 and 900,000 Arabs from Palestine. Less than twenty years later, these borders again were disputed in the Six Day War of 1967. Israel quickly defeated Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, and effectively took control of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Golan Heights. Consequently, an estimated 250,000 Palestinians fled their homes in 1967 and during the decades after.

In 1949, the United Nations established the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to address the unique circumstance of Palestinian refugees. The agency works in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank on programs aimed at improving the general quality of life. Much of the Palestinian diaspora is concentrated in these areas; 1.9 million Palestinian refugees are registered with UNRWA in Jordan alone, making up approximately 70% of the country’s population. In the West Bank and Gaza, territories that currently maintain Palestinian leadership and some degree of autonomy from Israel, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are registered with UNRWA as refugees; ifdeven in the homeland, Palestinians are considered away from home.

For any immigrant or refugee, traveling back to one’s homeland is difficult. Palestinians, though, must also contend with what, and where, their homeland truly is. For many, home is an amorphous and unattainable concept.

“I’m like any Palestinian, you know?” says Ibrahim. “Just visiting countries.”

A complicated journey

No matter how Palestine is conceived, however, travelling back is a challenge logistically. Hazam Shehada, 23, an international student studying civil engineering at IIT, explains that making trips home while he is in school is not feasible because of the complicated process of getting to the West Bank. “It’s hard because of checkpoints,” he elaborates. “Officials said they’re trying to make it easier, but it’s still hard.”

As a Palestinian and resident of the West Bank, Shehade must first fly into Amman, Jordan, and then cross the border into the West Bank via the Allenby Bridge. Because he has a Palestinian Authority identification number, he is prohibited from flying through the international airport in Tel Aviv, Israel. This restriction can extend beyond people with an official PA ID number to include those who were born in the West Bank or Gaza but now have citizenship elsewhere, or even those who were not born in Palestinian territory but whose parents were.

Kholoud Ibrahim is hopeful that she will finally be able to visit her family in the West Bank now that she “has her American citizen[ship],” but the United States Department of State warns that all people attempting to enter Israel, Gaza, or the West Bank are subject to security and police record checks conducted by the Government of Israel, and that it is possible to be denied entry without explanation.

Canada Park

The troubles of Palestinians are not only logistical. Amena Shuahi, a teacher at Aqsa Saturday school, came to the U.S. as a Palestinian refugee in 1988. In laborious English, she recalls her hometown, a small village named Yalo near Ramallah in the West Bank. Her village, as well as three others close by, were bombed during the Six-Day War in 1967, destroying mosques, schools, and houses, she says. Shuahi recalls that when the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) forced the inhabitants to flee, her family ended up in Amman, Jordan, where they lived “in a house the size of a small room.”

Shuahi has returned to Palestine only once. Her village is now a garden and a park, she says, named Canada Park. After the bombings the rubble was cleared, and a recreational area was created using funds from Canadian benefactors of the Jewish National Fund. Now olive trees and gravel pathways stand in a place once familiar to Shuahi.

As she describes going back to her hometown, Shuahi tries to explain her feelings: “I feel sad. I’m crying. I’m crying because when I see my village without houses, without schools, without mosques…”

“Heartbroken,” her daughter offers.

“Yes,” Shuahi nods.

Keeping home with them

Traveling back to the homeland for Palestinians living in America is difficult, emotional, and sometimes altogether impossible. For the small subset of the Palestinian diaspora living in Chicago, returning to the homeland is not only, or principally, about being physically present in Palestine. Instead, it is about sharing stories, maintaining heritage and tradition, and planning for a more robust future in order to build and renew a strong sense of Palestinian national identity and solidarity.

Maysoon Hamdan teaches Saturday school because she wants the children she teaches to stay in touch with their Palestinian heritage.

“I want them really knowing how to read Qu’ran, knowing the Arabic language. It’s really important to know your culture.”

Her own children, she explains, have no interest in returning to Palestine permanently. “For them, [America] is their country…it’s all they know.”

Despite their reluctance to move to Palestine, Hamdan confidently states that her children still identify more strongly as Palestinians than as Americans.

Salim, the architecture student and artist, tries to explain his connection to the homeland through his art. As he stands by his work at a small showing on the IIT campus, he tries to explain his own identity: “I’m Palestinian, I’m an artist, but maybe I’m just a human being.” The goal of his art, he says, is to convey the identity and the mind of the Palestinian diaspora in general, not only in Gaza or the West Bank.

For Duhah Hamayel, an 18-year-old student who immigrated with her family from Abu Fallah at age two, staying in the U.S. means remaining in tighter solidarity with the Palestinian struggle than moving to the homeland. “When I think about saving Palestine, liberating it, I think it’s easier to do that here, through political means, says Hamayel. “The work done here could be better for Palestine.”

A sense of unity is not realized without guidance, however. Ibrahim says that it is somewhat of a struggle to help her elementary school-aged children understand Palestine as a place, a community, and their homeland.

“They ask me, ‘Mom, what is Palestine?’ They say ‘Why we not there? Aren’t we Jordanian?’” Ibrahim smiles as she impersonates them. “You know, year by year they are going to understand it more.”

Never having been to Palestine herself, Ibrahim relies on stories and photos and online video chatting with family in Palestine to try to convey Palestinian heritage to her children. She’s aware of the risks for future generations, as Palestinians in America grow farther from their Palestinian roots.

“Exactly what mom she did for me, exactly I did it for them. I show them the story.”

My letter to the Guardian RE Memories and maps keep alive Palestinian hopes of return

RE: Memories and maps keep alive Palestinian hopes of return

Dear Sir,

Memories and maps are here to stay- as are passports and many other forms of IDs. A one-state solution pretending to end the Israel/Palestine conflict does not guarantee respect for the Palestinian refugees right of return, nor does a one-state solution guarantee freedom or justice for the persecuted and oppressed people of historic Palestine.

Negotiating a secular two state solution to once and for all end the Israel/Palestine conflict really is the best way forward. International law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights need to be the guidelines. Please do not dismiss, distort, politicize or diminish the importance of the Palestinian refugees inalienable right of return to original homes and lands. It simply is- was- and always will be.

Anne Selden Annab

Refugees, Borders & Jerusalem...

Refugees and the Right of Return

Palestinian refugees must be given the option to exercise their right of return (as well as receive compensation for their losses arising from their dispossession and displacement) though refugees may prefer other options such as: (i) resettlement in third countries, (ii) resettlement in a newly independent Palestine (even though they originate from that part of Palestine which became Israel) or (iii) normalization of their legal status in the host country where they currently reside. What is important is that individual refugees decide for themselves which option they prefer – a decision must not be imposed upon them.

"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

Memories and maps keep alive Palestinian hopes of return Refugees remain the most intractable issue of the Middle East conflict, as two new books...

Memories and maps keep alive Palestinian hopes of return

Refugees remain the most intractable issue of the Middle East conflict, as two new books show

Ian Black Middle East editor, Friday 26 November 2010

A Palestinian girl at a refugee camp in Jordan. 1948 is a key date in Palestinian collective memory. Photograph: Ali Jarekji/Reuters

Memories and maps feature prominently in the experience of Palestinians – a people scarred by dispossession, dispersion, occupation and profound uncertainty about their future. So amid the latest wrangling over the stalled peace talks with Israel come two sharp reminders of the depth of the conflict and how difficult it will be to resolve.

Salman Abu Sitta, a refugee from 1948, has spent years cataloguing the course and consequences of the nakbah (disaster) that Israel's "war of independence" represented for his people. Now he has published an updated version of his massive Atlas of Palestine, stuffed with tables, graphs and nearly 500 pages of maps that trace the transformation of the country starting with its conquest by the British in 1917 and the Balfour declaration's promise to create a "national home" for the Jews.

Aerial photographs taken by first world war German pilots are combined with mandate-era and Israeli maps supplemented by digitally enhanced satellite images that record old tribal boundaries, neighbourhoods and even individual buildings. Most striking are the hundreds of Arab villages that were destroyed or ploughed under fields, as well as postwar Jewish settlements and suburbs. The Abu Sitta family lands, for example, are now owned by Kibbutz Nirim, near the border with Gaza.

Abu Sitta is a leading expert on the nakbah and what is nowadays widely described as the "ethnic cleansing" it involved. There can be no mistaking where his sympathies lie and where he stands in the febrile debate about Zionist intentions. Still, large parts of his account draw on the history of the 1948 war as rewritten by revisionist Israeli scholars in recent years as archives have opened up and old myths been demolished.

He is also a passionate advocate of the "right of return", under which Palestinian refugees must be allowed to go back to their lost lands and property. Refugees are the single toughest issue of the Middle East conflict: the Oslo agreement between Israel and the PLO implied that the right would not be exercised inside pre-1967 Israel, but only in a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, and so, apart from a symbolic number of family reunifications, there would be no mass "return" to west Jerusalem, Haifa, Lydda or hundreds of now non-existent villages...READ MORE

A Thanksgiving Poem.... Cornucopias by Anne Selden Annab

A Thanksgiving Poem

In the Grocery store again...
How many others here
are also buying good food
for family in need
too tired or too old
or too sick
to shop

How many others
add a bag of sweets
for a visiting child

and flowers for a friend.

Making memories
as holidays tend to do

Seeing grace
saying grace
being grace
in looking for
And sharing
the best
that we can find.

poem & photo copyright ©2010 Anne Selden Annab

How the EU could entice Israel to seek peace

Making Europe's cosiness with Israel dependent on commitment to fair peace would be more effective than a blunt boycott

Khaled Diab,

In Israel, the European Union is often regarded as too pro-Palestinian. But it would be a mistake to see the occasional criticisms of Israel delivered by European politicians as a sign of anti-Israeli sentiment.

It may come as a surprise, for instance, to learn that the EU – not the United States – is Israel's main trading partner, with a relationship worth a handsome €20bn (£17bn) per year.

Not only that, but Israel enjoys the status of a "privileged partner". Recent years have witnessed the EU and Israel striving to "develop an increasingly close relationship, going beyond co-operation, to involve a significant measure of economic integration and a deepening of political co-operation".

When it comes to the Eurovision song contest and football, Israel is counted as part of Europe. But it doesn't stop there. Israel "is a member of the European Union without being a member of its institutions," as the EU's former foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, put it succinctly.

In a new book, Europe's Alliance with Israel, Brussels-based journalist David Cronin reveals just how cosy the EU institutions in Brussels and the capitals of numerous member states have become with Israel, although not comprehensively nor monolithically so, but without any democratic mandate to do so.

Despite the book's occasional resorting to polemic and hyperbole, which sometimes weaken the case it is making, it is a welcome study of a reality that is under-reported and under-scrutinised. "The European Union has allowed itself to become a fig leaf for an illegal occupation," Cronin writes.

Although he might have done more to set the relationship in a historical context, Cronin chronicles the depths of EU-Israel ties in all spheres, from the economic and scientific to the cultural. Among the most shocking revelations is how funding under EU programmes – such as the seventh framework programme and the competitiveness and innovation framework programme – is being awarded to Israeli defence and security firms and companies which profit from Israeli settlements.

Even European aid to the Palestinians can benefit Israel and help sustain its occupation. An estimated 45% of European aid to the Palestinians finds its way into the Israeli economy, Cronin says, citing unnamed UN sources.

A perversely destructive triangle has emerged in which the US provides Israel with military aid which it uses to destroy Palestinian infrastructure, while the EU foots the bill for cleaning up the mess. "Are EU taxpayers really happy to pay to reconstruct what US taxpayers have paid to destroy?" the progressive Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti asked MEPs.

So, what can be done? ...READ MORE

Israel train line plan draws Palestinian ire

AS ALWAYS PLEASE go to the original link to read the story in full

Israel train line plan draws Palestinian ire

JERUSALEM – An Israeli plan for a new train line linking its central region to settlements deep in the West Bank is drawing criticism from Palestinians.

Transport Ministry spokesman Ilan Leizerovich says the project is only in the planning stage and that there is "no intention to carry it out at this time."

The local daily Maariv reported on Friday that Israel Railways has budgeted $820,000 to plan the line.

Palestinian spokesman Husam Zomlot says the plan is a "colonial project" aimed at rendering the establishment of a Palestinian state impossible.

The line would go into the heart of the northern West Bank — an area where Israel's presence is not internationally recognized and which Palestinians want as part of their future state.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

WEST BANK: Israel bulldozes Fayyad’s Freedom Road

WEST BANK: Israel bulldozes Fayyad’s Freedom Road

Israeli police 'mistreated' east Jerusalem children

AS ALWAYS PLEASE go to the original link to read the story in full

Israeli police 'mistreated' east Jerusalem children

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israeli police were accused of "flagrant violations" of the law Thursday over their harsh and at times violent treatment of Palestinian children suspected of stone-throwing in east Jerusalem.

The allegations were detailed in a letter sent to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by a group of 60 Israeli professionals, among them experts in medicine, psychology, education, social work and law -- all of whom work with children.

The letter expresses concern about the growing number of testimonies submitted by Palestinian minors who have been arrested by police in occupied and annexed east Jerusalem, notably in the flashpoint neighbourhood of Silwan.

"We are writing ... to express our deep concerns about the physical and emotional welfare and proper development of children and young people in east Jerusalem in the light of police behaviour during the investigation and arrest of minors in this area," it said.

"Over the last few months, there has been a growing number of testimonies of minors and their families which point to flagrant violations of the rights of detained minors, and of the use of violence during the investigation of children and young people who are suspected of throwing stones in Silwan."

Youngsters have testified how they were dragged out of bed in the dead of the night, cuffed and taken for investigation without being accompanied by their parents -- and sometimes without their family even being informed, it said.

During the investigation, "they suffered threats and humiliation at the hand of the investigators .. which sometimes involved substantial physical violence," it said, noting with concern that even children under the age of 12 were being detained.

The crumbling neighbourhood of Silwan, which lies just south of Jerusalem's Old City, is the focal point of regular clashes between locals and hardline Jewish settlers, with police frequently arresting youngsters on charges of stone-throwing.

The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their promised state and oppose any attempts to extend Israel's control over the part of the city that was captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.

Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its "eternal and indivisible" capital, a status not recognised by the international community.

Israeli army still using children as human shields in 2010.... Voices from the Occupation
Defence for Children International-Palestine Section (DCI-PS) is dedicated to promoting and protecting the rights of Palestinian children in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), as well as other international, regional and local standards.

Motto: Affecting positive change in the best interests of children

25 November 2010
Voices from the Occupation

Silwan (East Jerusalem): On 25 October 2010, a 12-year-old boy is arrested on his way to school and taken to al-Mascobiyya interrogation centre for questioning.


Israeli army still using children as human shields in 2010

22 November 2010] – One day after an Israeli military court imposed a suspended sentence on two Givati Brigade soldiers for using a nine-year-old boy as a human shield in Gaza, DCI-Palestine has just obtained an affidavit from a 13-year-old boy who reports being used as a human shield on 19 August 2010. This brings to three, the number of human shield cases documented by DCI-Palestine in 2010.

18 February 2010 - Voices From The Occupation (16-year-old girl from Nablus)
16 April 2010 - Voices From The Occupation (14-year-old boy from Beit Ummar)
19 August 2010 - Voices From The Occupation (13-year-old boy from near Nablus)

The practice of using human shields involves forcing civilians to directly assist in military operations or using them to shield an area or troops from attack. Both of these circumstances expose civilians to physical, and sometimes, mortal danger. Civilians are usually threatened and/or physically coerced into performing these tasks, most of the time at gunpoint. The practice is illegal under both international and Israeli domestic law.

In the latest case documented by DCI-Palestine, a 13-year-old boy from a village near Nablus, in the occupied West Bank, was beaten and then forced at gunpoint to search and open doors in a house where the army suspected a wanted person might be hiding – Nazzal A. – Voices From The Occupation.

Since April 2004, DCI-Palestine has documented 16 cases involving Palestinian children being used as human shields by the Israeli army. Fifteen of the 16 cases, occurred after the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled the practice to be illegal in October 2005, suggesting that the army is not effectively implementing the Court's decision, or simply disregarding the Court’s order altogether....READ MORE

On airport security, do we really want to be like Israel?

"If Americans adopt Israel's approach to security, they should be prepared for racial and ethnic profiling, questions about their religious preferences, and careful examination of their reading material. Maybe full-body scans are a less intrusive after all. I suspect the real reason for the outrage over body scanners and pat-downs is that the majority of Americans are finally experiencing the kind of discomfiting scrutiny that has long been routine for those who are repeatedly profiled and humiliated..." Joel Dreyfuss

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Film Explores Mickey Mouse Diplomacy: Disney cartoon animators helped combat Nazi propaganda on the brink of World War II

Walt Disney in full gaucho dress at an event hosted by the Cartoonists Association of Argentina.

El Grupo

"Walt and El Grupo" explores a diplomatic mission of artists with sketchpads. Thomas says Disney and his team set in motion what Washington had hoped for: goodwill toward the United States. "Art has profound power in a beneficial way and can transform how we feel about each other. The most important step in getting to know each other is to start a dialogue and art and music can do that often that words cannot."

Those words mean something to senior animation student Sidney Marra, who attended a recent screening of the documentary at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. "It wasn't like his artwork was propaganda. It was more sending out a positive message, instead of trying to be against others. It was trying to unify others. That's what I want to do with my artwork. I want it to be a universal feeling among everybody."

Fellow animation student Tyler Naugle agrees. He says that take-away message for him from the film is an appreciation for place. "You really have to appreciate the environment that you're in, and be constantly observing it and appreciating it because that's where you get all your ideas."

Thomas hopes his documentary, which uses archival photos, letters, sketchbooks and home movies, will introduce film-goers to a unique cultural exchange that helped develop both political goodwill and creative talent.

"Walt and El Grupo" has played in theaters, museums, and film festivals across the United States. Its November 29 commercial release on DVD includes a bonus - the original 1942 animated live-action cartoon "Saludos Amigos."
24 November 2010 Rosanne Skirble | Washington, DC

On August 17, 1941 Walt Disney, his wife Lillian, and colleagues step off the plane in Rio de Janeiro to begin a nine-week trip through Latin American countries.

Thanksgiving: Peace, Love and Puritanism

"The most far-reaching of these Puritan reforms concerned the civil law and the workings of justice. In 1648, Massachusetts became the first place in the Anglo-American world to publish a code of laws — and make it accessible to everyone. Believing that the rule of law protected against arbitrary or unjust authority, the civil courts practiced speedy justice, empowered local juries and encouraged reconciliation and restitution. Overnight, most of the cruelties of the English justice system vanished. Marriage became secularized, divorce a possibility, meetinghouses (churches) town property.

And although it’s tempting to envision the ministers as manipulating a “theocracy,” the opposite is true: they played no role in the distribution of land and were not allowed to hold political office. Nor could local congregations impose civil penalties on anyone who violated secular law. In these rules and values lay one root of the separation of church and state that eventually emerged in our society."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

WEST BANK: Palestinian courts scuffle over land sale to Israelis

WEST BANK: Palestinian courts scuffle over land sale to Israelis

Palestinians Criticize Israeli Land Bill: Ending the occupation of Palestinian land "is not and cannot be dependent on any sort of referendum."
23 November 2010
VOA News

Palestinians are criticizing a new bill passed by Israel's parliament that would make it difficult for Israel to withdraw from the captured territories of East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights.

The legislation, approved Monday, requires a two-thirds vote of parliament to approve any withdrawal from those areas, considered crucial to peace negotiations with the Palestinians and Syrians.

If parliamentary approval is not given, withdrawal from either territory would become subject to a national referendum.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat denounced the measure as "a mockery of international law."

In comments Tuesday, he said under international law, Israel has a "clear and absolute obligation" to withdraw from areas it has occupied since the 1967 Mideast war.

Erekat also said ending the occupation of Palestinian land "is not and cannot be dependent on any sort of referendum."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a referendum on a future peace deal would prevent an irresponsible agreement and provide strong public support for an accord that will answer Israel's national security interests.

The law would not affect territorial concessions within the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, areas that Israel has not annexed.

On Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he will not return to peace talks with Israel unless it stops building settlements on all land the Palestinians want for a state, including occupied East Jerusalem.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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Jewish settlers move into house after Israeli police evict Palestinian family

Family of 14 [Palestinians] driven out of house in Jabel Mukaber, an Arab neighbourhood targeted by ideologically motivated [Israeli] settler activists

Harriet Sherwood in Jabel Mukaber

Jewish settlers today moved into a house in East Jerusalem after Israeli police evicted a Palestinian family of 14 and removed all their possessions.

The move will dismay US officials who are striving to discourage settler activity in East Jerusalem in an attempt to restart the stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Armed police arrived early this morning in the area of Jabel Mukaber, a new target for ideologically driven settler activists, following a court ruling that ownership of the house was now in Jewish hands. Three removal trucks took away the family's belongings as they watched from a neighbour's house.

Scores of heavily armed police surrounded the area, initially refusing to let non-residents through makeshift checkpoints.

At the property, several muscular Israeli men refused to identify themselves or explain what they were doing. One, who had carried two flak jackets inside, said: "This is a private home. Nothing is happening here. Have a good day." The sound of drilling and hammering could be heard while on ground outside the house men equipped with bolt-cutters measured up heavy-duty steel window-shields.

Fadi Kareem, 21, a member of the evicted family, said: "They came when I was asleep. Police came with loaded weapons aiming them at us, and told us to get out. We knew it was coming but had no warning of today. We knew settlers wanted to take over the place."

Asked how he felt, he said: "I can't even speak."

A neighbour, Raid Kareem, 36, said the newcomers were the first Jewish settlers in the area. "It's not good, it's a problem," he said. "Now they will bring in security. My children won't be able to play on the street. My son is already scared of the police."

Anti-settlement activists at the scene claimed that Elad, an organisation that finances Jewish settlement in Arab neighbourhoods of Jerusalem, was behind the purchase of the house...READ MORE

Monday, November 22, 2010

At a glance: Occupied Palestinian Territory - UNICEF psycho-social teams bring relief to Palestinian children in East Jerusalem

Living with uncertainty

In the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, some families have already lost their homes and others are at risk of being evicted. “This has affected children badly,” says Ms. Atshan, “When the home is gone in minutes and the parents can’t protect the family, it affects every aspect of family life.”

UNICEF - At a glance: Occupied Palestinian Territory - UNICEF psycho-social teams bring relief to Palestinian children in East Jerusalem

Israeli soldiers who used Palestinian boy, 9, as a human shield avoid jail

Mother says suspended sentences and demotions for forcing her son to check bag for bombs at gunpoint are 'a scandal'

Palestinian Leader Insists on Halt to Settlements

Palestinian Leader Insists on Halt to Settlements

JERUSALEM — The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said Sunday that any American proposal for restarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations must include East Jerusalem as part of a complete halt in Israeli settlement building.

It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Abbas’s position, which is consistent with Palestinian policy, would scuttle a proposed deal that the Americans hope will lead to resumption of the negotiations. In the past the sides have found ways to surmount such difficulties.

Speaking to reporters in Cairo after meeting President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Mr. Abbas said that he had received no official American proposal regarding the peace process, but that for negotiations to take place, “there has to be a complete halt in settlements in all the Palestinian lands, first and foremost in Jerusalem.” His remarks were carried by the official Palestinian news agency, Wafa....READ MORE

Israeli bill seen as threat to future peace deals

Israeli bill seen as threat to future peace deals

By AMY TEIBEL, Associated Press Amy Teibel, Associated Press 32 mins ago

JERUSALEM – With Mideast peacemaking at a standstill, Israel's hard-line parliament called a vote Monday to push through a bill that could sink future peace deals with the Palestinians and Syria.

The proposed legislation, which appeared headed for approval later in the day, would make it much harder for an Israeli government to cede east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights— captured territories that would be central to any future accords.

The legislation would require 80 of Israel's 120 lawmakers to approve any withdrawal from those two areas. Without that super majority, the government would need to win approval in a binding national referendum.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Cabinet supports the bill....READ MORE

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Excellent letter by Janet Baker in the Kansas City Star: Middle East peace solution

Middle East peace solution

According to a Nov. 15 letter, all that is needed to close the Middle East peace deal is for the Palestinians to recognize “tiny Israel as the one and only Jewish state.”

What do I know? I thought the negotiations included permanently stopping settlement building on the West Bank, the right of return or compensation for Palestinian refugees, sharing Jerusalem holy sites, going back to the 1967 borders and Israel ceasing to occupy a land that Palestinians have lived on for hundreds of years.

As for the terrorism mentioned, which side is completely innocent? I’m in favor of a viable, just two-state solution.

Oh, did I mention it would be nice if Israel quit destroying Palestinian homes, took down the wall, and did away with the checkpoints, too?

Janet Baker


OPT: Economic Prison Zones

OPT: Economic Prison Zones

Full_Report (pdf* format - 252.8 Kbytes)

Sam Bahour

November 19, 2010

(Sam Bahour is a Palestinian business management consultant living in Ramallah. This essay was made possible with partial support from the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.)

When a project mixes the feel-good words of jobs, economic development and Israeli-Palestinian cooperation, how can anyone complain? These things are some of what the international community has been promising to deliver through the construction of industrial free trade zones in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The free trade zone model has been promoted locally and globally by powerful third parties like the United States, France, Germany, Turkey and Japan for two decades, but none has much to show for the enormous efforts and amounts of money spent to bring these zones to life. Nonetheless, the project's proponents expect the zones to constitute the economic foundation for a future Palestinian state. They hope that, by bolstering Palestine's economy, the zones will make Palestinians less prone to social upheaval, less insistent on their national rights and more amenable to the status quo. The idea is that a peace agreement with Israel will ensue.

While this expectation is unlikely to be realized -- at least not in the way that the projects' advocates anticipate -- these mega-employment projects present a serious challenge to those who strive to build an independent and viable economic foundation for a future Palestinian state. Because the zones will depend on Israeli cooperation to function, and because they will exist within an Israeli-designed economic system that ensures Palestinian dependence on Israel, they cannot form the basis of a sovereign economy. Relying on them will perpetuate the status quo of dependency.

My letter to the Wash Post RE With settlement deal, U.S. will be rewarding Israel's bad behavior

RE: With settlement deal, U.S. will be rewarding Israel's bad behavior

Dear Editor,

The settlement/weapons deal is inciting cynicism worldwide- and reinforcing very real doubts about negotiations to create a two state solution to once and for all end the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Zionist one-staters benefit from a continuation of the status quo, Palestinians individually and collectively do not... Frankly I have to wonder how much of this deal is all about Zionist spin and innuendo aimed at undermining Palestine.

Abbas wisely responded to the rumors of this 'settlement deal' by pointing out that there is no link between the peace process and USAid to Israel:
"The United States is an ally of Israel and we can not prevent that," said the Palestinian president. "But let their aid be carried out far removed from the Palestinian peace negotiations and not be used as a pretext for giving more weaponry to Israel,".

Anne Selden Annab

Refugees, Borders & Jerusalem...

Core Issues


The PLO has accepted that Israel’s 1967 Pre-Occupation borders (the “Green Line”) shall serve as the international border between the states of Palestine and Israel. In other words, Palestinians have recognized Israel on 78% of historic Palestine while accepting to create a state on the remaining 22%.

The PLO’s position is consistent with international law which forbids Israel from acquiring territory by force.

Israeli actions jeopardize two-state solution

Israel's refusal to cease Jewish settlement construction will make it impossible to create a viable Palestinian state. Failure of the two-state solution has ramifications for the region and the U.S.

ATFP Resources on Palestinian State and Institution Building
ATFP's unique collection of online resources on Palestinian state and institution building, including hundreds of relevant documents

Growing Gardens for Palestine

Moment of Truth