Saturday, September 24, 2011

CNN NEWSROOM 2:08 PM EST September 23, 2011

HUSSEIN IBISH, RESEARCH FELLOW, AMERICAN TASK FORCE ON PALESTINE: "I think we really need to focus now on the day after, and that's two different things.

One is, making sure that aid to the P.A. isn't cut as people in Congress and people in Israel are threatening to do, which could create both a political and a security nightmare for the Israelis and the Palestinians alike, and also protect the achievements of the state and institution-building program, and the security cooperation that has brought law and order to parts of the West Bank that were formerly chaotic.

And to also use the space that's now emerging since the Palestinians are going to make this formal request to Secretary-General Ban, but not push for a vote to try to look for a Quartet statement or an EU initiative or something that can help get us past a difficult period where, because the parties are so far apart, and because we're in an election season in the United States, meaningful negotiations will be difficult to resume in the immediate future.

So focus on the ground, build there, make sure the quality of life is maintained and the security cooperation is maintained, and we can have a soft landing rather than a hard landing. And that's what everybody needs."

Transcript: CNN interview with Hussein Ibish and Jamie Rubin immediately following Netanyahu UN address

Abbas at UN: Palestine is being reborn

President Mahmoud Abbas holds up a copy of the letter that he had just
delivered to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon requesting full UN representation
for a Palestinian state, during his address before the 66th UN General Assembly
at UN headquarters in New York, Sept. 23. (Reuters/Mike Segar)

UNITED NATIONS (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas asked the United Nations on Friday to recognize a state for his people, in an impassioned plea for the international community to take on responsibility for ending the six-decade conflict.

"I am here to say, on behalf of the Palestinian people ... We extend our hands to the Israeli government and the Israeli people for peacemaking," Abbas told the world body.

"Let us build the bridges of dialogue instead of checkpoints."

Addressing the delegates, he said, "Your support for the recognition of the state of Palestine is the greatest contribution to the state of peace in the region. I hope we shall not have to wait for long."

He added: "Loss of hope is the greatest threat to peace; despair is the surest route to extremism."

Abbas handed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon a letter requesting full UN membership, which the Security Council must consider -- although this may take some time and the US is firmly opposed.

His appeal to the council reflects a loss of faith after 20 years of failed peace talks sponsored by the United States, Israel's main ally, and alarm at relentless Israeli settlement expansion eating into Palestinian land.

It also exposes Washington's dwindling influence in a region shaken by Arab uprisings and shifting alliances that have pushed Israel, for all its military muscle, deeper into isolation.

"Our people will continue their popular, peaceful resistance," Abbas declared.

"This (Israeli settlement) policy will destroy the chances of achieving a two-state solution and ... threatens to undermine the structure of the Palestinian National Authority and even end its existence."

It was the first time Abbas has spoken so starkly of the prospect of the PA's demise, highlighting the predicament faced by a body set up as a state-in-waiting but now seen by its critics as a big municipality, managing the civilian affairs of the main Palestinian cities under Israeli occupation.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed Abbas to the UN podium and argued that only direct negotiations between the two sides could lead to a Palestinian state.

US President Barack Obama, who told the United Nations a year ago he hoped Palestinians would have a state by now, said on Wednesday he shared frustration at the lack of progress.

But he said only Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, not actions at the United Nations, could bring peace -- despite a long history of fruitless peace talks.

Abbas is resorting to the United Nations even though Israeli and US politicians have threatened financial reprisals that could cripple the PA, which employs 150,000 people.

PLO official Saeb Erekat said the PA could dissolve itself, throwing responsibility for ruling the whole of the West Bank back to Israel as the occupying power.

"We will invite you to become the only authority from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean," he told Israel Radio.

In the West Bank, Palestinians expressed a mix of pride and wary anticipation ahead of their UN claim to statehood.

Flags and portraits of Abbas and his predecessor, the late Yasser Arafat, draped buildings in a central Ramallah square where Palestinians awaited a live broadcast of Abbas' speech.

"This is something we should have done a long time ago," said Khaled Shtayyeh, 42, carrying a Palestinian flag. "It was always stopped by international pressure. I am very proud."

Burden of history

A gulf of mistrust separates Israelis and Palestinians, who each feel their existence is at stake in a bitter struggle over borders, security, refugees and Jerusalem.

Political rifts among Palestinians, and the constraints of US domestic politics, where support for Israel is strong, further complicate efforts to bridge the gaps.

The divisions are rooted in a heavy burden of history, painfully contested narratives and recurring bloodshed.

The United Nations partitioned Palestine in 1947, but Arab states rejected that and declared war on the new state of Israel, which then captured more territory than it had been allotted under the UN plan and dispossessed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, who became refugees.

Two decades after Israel seized the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war, the Palestine Liberation Organization recognized Israel and reduced its demands to a state on those territories.

A 1993 agreement signed by PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin set out a plan for Palestinian self-rule, which was never fully implemented.

Israel has continued to expand settlements in the West Bank, although it dismantled them in the Gaza Strip, now ruled by Hamas.

Palestinian uprisings erupted in 1987 and 2000, but failed to end Israeli occupation or bring statehood closer.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States would continue to push for a durable, negotiated peace.

"Regardless of what happens tomorrow in the United Nations, we remain focused on the day after," she said on Thursday.

Abbas, who has won new popularity at home for his UN plan, accepts that negotiations are still necessary, but argues statehood will put Palestinians on a more equal footing.

Israel sees the initiative at the United Nations as a sinister attempt to shear away its own legitimacy.

Hamas rejected Abbas' statehood bid as unworthy.

"Our Palestinian people do not beg for a state," said Ismail Haniyeh, who heads the Hamas administration in Gaza.

"States are not built upon UN resolutions. States liberate their land and establish their entities."

Diplomats are trying to limit the fallout from the Palestinian statehood application.

The Security Council could delay action on Abbas' request, giving the mediating "Quartet" -- the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations -- more time to craft a declaration that could coax the two sides back to the table.

But the Quartet, whose envoys met again on Friday, has spent months trying to agree on a statement acceptable to the parties.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said the Quartet would await the speeches of Abbas and Netanyahu before setting out "some guidelines, key points and even some red lines."

"It's better to take one or two days more, rather than accelerating and having a weak statement," he said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed that the General Assembly vote to upgrade the Palestinians to a "non-member state," while reviving direct peace talks.

Israel rebuffed the idea.

"A Palestinian state should be the outcome of negotiations, which means a Palestinian state should mark the end of conflict and cessation of claims," Netanyahu's cabinet secretary, Zvi Hauser, told Israel's Army Radio.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ban receives Palestinian application for UN membership

Ban sends Palestinian application for UN membership to Security Council

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) submits application to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for Palestine to become a UN Member State

Earlier, in his address (FULL TRANSCRIPT) to the Assembly’s annual general debate, Mr. Abbas said the application for full membership of the UN is on the basis of the so-called 4 June 1967 borders.

“Palestine is being reborn. This is my message,” he said, adding that he hoped it did not have to wait long for the application to be approved.

Mr. Abbas said that Israeli Government policies were responsible “for the continued failure of the successive international attempts to salvage the peace process.”

He cited the construction of settlements in the West Bank, the refusal of permits for Palestinians to build in East Jerusalem, and the extensive number of military checkpoints limiting Palestinian movement and the ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip as examples of such policies.

“All of these actions taken by Israel in our country are unilateral actions and are not based on any earlier agreements. Indeed, what we witness is a selective application of the agreements aimed at perpetuating the occupation.”

He stressed that over the past two years Palestinian authorities have worked hard to implement a programme of building up State institutions, as well as strengthening civil society, increasing government accountability and promoting the participation of women in public life.

General Assembly
Security Council
Economic and Social Council
Human Rights Council

The United Nations has been working on the question of Palestine since the first special session of the General Assembly on 28 April 1947, which established a body to investigate the issue and return with its recommendations. Over 60 years later, the range of the UN's work on the issue has continued to adapt to meet new challenges and address changing realities on the ground.

History of the question of Palestine
The question of Palestine and the United Nations (pdf)
Key issues in a permanent settlement
Chronology of key events
UN system's response
UNISPAL library of documents
Map collection
UN events calendar

My letter to the Economist RE Israel, Palestine and the United Nations, Yes to Palestinian statehood:

RE: Israel, Palestine and the United Nations, Yes to Palestinian statehood:
Efforts to stop the Palestinians from winning statehood at the UN are misguided and self-defeating

Dear Sir,

YES, I totally agree- yes to Palestinian statehood! Great to see the headline "Yes to Palestinian statehood" (can't repeat that bold phrase enough!!!)... BUT I am horrified by your editorial approach which foolishly attempts to swat away the Palestinian refugees' individual and inalienable right to return to original homes and lands.

UN Resolution 194 from 1948 quite clearly and specifically affirms the very civilized notion that all people should have free access to Jerusalem and that the Palestinian refugees "
wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors 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"

Can't unring that bell. Furthermore never forget that "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood..." The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

A fully secular two state solution to once and for all end the Israel/Palestine conflict ends the conflict, whereas a religion based formula crafted to empower Jewish immigrants (at the expense of the native non-Jewish men, women & children) only perpetuates existing injustices and the very real plight of the Palestinians.

Anne Selden Annab

Help Build A Golden Rule Peace for the Holy Land

The Arab Peace Initiative

"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

"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."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Israeli-Palestinian conflict

A Palestinian refugee student peers from behind a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school door at Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon, September 22, 2011. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plans on Friday to submit an application for full U.N. membership for the state of Palestine based in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the coastal Gaza Strip -- lands occupied by Israel in 1967. REUTERS/ Ali Hashisho

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is rooted in a seemingly intractable dispute over land claimed by Jews as their biblical birthright and by the Palestinians, who seek self-determination.

Palestinian Push for U.N. Membership

Transcript for:
Palestinian Push for U.N. Membership
on NPR's Diane Rehm Show

Ziad Asali: "You have to make progress on both and lead to a resolution, which is a two-state solution, 'cause there are no other solutions. There are many other options, none of which would be a conflict-ending solution. So if the -- if both parties do not find ways to work during the days of quiet and even prosperity, and during the days of conflict, to actually aim and plan to reach to that end, then the whole system will fall apart. I fear this is what's at stake now."

Obama at the UN on Israel-Palestine: Good Politics, Poor Diplomacy - The Atlantic

Hussein Ibish: "But what was missing was virtually any acknowledgment of the Palestinian narrative, except for the right to statehood. He made no mention of the occupation, the settlements, the 1967 borders, the refugees, Jerusalem, or any other aspect of the Palestinian narrative or concerns."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Obama: "The measure of our success must be whether people can live in sustained freedom, dignity, and security."

"Something is happening in our world. The way things have been is not the way that they will be. The humiliating grip of corruption and tyranny is being pried open. Dictators are on notice. Technology is putting power into the hands of the people. The youth are delivering a powerful rebuke to dictatorship, and rejecting the lie that some races, some peoples, some religions, some ethnicities do not desire democracy. The promise written down on paper -- “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” -- is closer at hand.

But let us remember: Peace is hard. Peace is hard. Progress can be reversed. Prosperity comes slowly. Societies can split apart. The measure of our success must be whether people can live in sustained freedom, dignity, and security. And the United Nations and its member states must do their part to support those basic aspirations..."

Remarks by President Obama in Address to the United Nations General Assembly

Jane Goodall Celebrates International Day of Peace... How might you play your part?

Jane Goodall realized early on that we won't be able to take care of animals and the environment until we're able to take care of each other. In that spirit, the Jane Goodall Institute is asking us all to make a pledge to cultivate peace in our daily lives throughout the year.
(Photo by Nicole Glass)

Jane Goodall Celebrates International Day of Peace

Make a Difference Every Day

“We all come into this life with certain gifts, in addition to our life” she said. “Certain ways in which we can contribute, excel, change the world around us…When you actually think about it, you can’t live through a day without making some kind of impact.

“We have a choice: what kind of impact is that going to be? How will we use the gift of our lives each day? … We can choose. We can choose what we buy, what we wear–at the least we can choose how we interact with people or animals or the environment.”

These small changes may at first seem ineffective and people might complain “What can I do in my one little day?”

“But it’s not just me and my one little day,” she responds. “It’s a growing number of people around the world…” How might you play your part?

My letter to USA Today RE Palestine progress seen up in air with U.N. bid

Palestinian vegetable vendors ride a horse cart past a banner supporting the Palestinian statehood bid in the West Bank city of Hebron, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011. The number 194 represents the Palestinians hope to become the 194th member state of the UN. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)

RE: Palestine progress seen up in air with U.N. bid

Dear Editor,

Good to see news of Palestine and serious efforts to help shape a just and lasting peace with a two state solution to once and for all end the Israel/Palestine conflict. Specifically I am delighted to see that your article quoted Ziad Asali president and founder of the American Task Force for Palestine, a think tank that advocates for a two-state solution and a demilitarized Palestinian state, for I think that Asali & his ATFP organization have good intentions, professional standards, accurate analysis, helpful advice and are very much on the right track.

The U.N. bid has already drawn crucial attention towards the dire necessity of supporting a negotiated settlement, as well as the importance of diplomacy and widespread international support for a sovereign Palestinian state. This obvious momentum can either be used to help build a sovereign and viable Palestinian nation state to live in peace along side Israel, or it can be used to generate even more conflict and misunderstandings. Seems to me what matters most is not what happens this week, but what happens in the coming months. Will efforts for Palestine be the bridge between East and West, or will things get worse world wide as hate mongers, religious tyrants, and violent militants make life miserable for all.

Anne Selden Annab

My letter to the Boston Globe RE Jeff Jacoby's No to statehood.

RE: Jeff Jacoby's No to statehood. Palestine has refused statehood in the past because it’s not its real goal

Dear Editor,

Obviously many Israelis are absolutely convinced that Palestinians refuse to negotiate in good faith while many Palestinians are absolutely convinced that Israel is the one refusing to negotiate in good faith.

One could argue back and forth for decades about who is most in the wrong and who has sabotaged a negotiated settlement most... but really for everyone's sake the goal needs to be to once and for all end the conflict, not exasperate it. The Arab Peace Initiative "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" was and remains a very good start to the process of ending the conflict with a fair and just negotiated settlement.

Israel and Palestine need to be two separate sovereign nation states committed to peace and progress for all. S
upporting a fully secular two state solution to once and for all end the conflict really is the best way forward- for everyone's sake.

Anne Selden Annab

The Golden Rule

Growing Gardens for Palestine

ATFP Resources on September UN Initiative: An extensive set of resources on a possible Palestinian UN initiative in September, covering Palestinian and pro-Palestinian, Israeli, American, Arab, European and other international perspectives, as well as general news items. This resource list is in chronological order within each category, beginning with the most recent items, and will be updated daily. The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP)

"The truth elided by both parties is that the Palestinian and Israeli identities are 20th-century phenomena that emerged in parallel and in contradiction to each other. One hundred years ago, the words “Israeli” and “Palestinian” were meaningless. This is not to say that Arabs and Jews don’t have deep histories, but both political identities are recent constructs, forged in the context of the ongoing conflict." Hussein Ibish: Two Narratives for Two Peoples

What would Palestinian statehood mean?

A Palestinian boy at rally in Ramallah in support of Abbas's bid for UN recognition of an independent Palestine. Photograph: Darren Whiteside/Reuters

What would Palestinian statehood mean?

Mahmoud Abbas's appeal to the UN to recognise Palestine has dominated the agenda. What are its implications?, Wednesday 21 September 2011

World leaders gathering in New York for the United Nations general assembly are convulsed by the call to effectively recognise an independent state of Palestine.

Why are the Palestinians doing this?

Frustrated after years of negotiations, which have gone nowhere, and alarmed by Israel's ever-expanding settlements on land that is expected to be part of their future state, the Palestinian leadership has decided to appeal to the international community as a way of breaking the deadlock....READ MORE

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jordan committed to support building of Palestinian nation

NEW YORK (Petra) - Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh on Monday underlined Jordan's commitment to support the Palestinian Authority in its efforts to build institutions for a Palestinian state.

He made his remarks in a ministerial meeting between the US, Norway, and Morocco, in addition to Arab League and Gulf Cooperation Council countries, which was held on the sidelines of a gathering of donor nations to the PA as part of the UN General Assembly meetings.

Judeh called for ensuring that Palestinians have the freedom of mobility, urging donor countries to commit to their obligations to the Palestinian Authority to enable it to continue building the state's institutions.

A compromise at the UN must be found

Potentially A Pyrrhic Victory
Palestinian leaders argue convincingly that they have little confidence in the willingness of the present Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to enter into serious negotiations leading to their independence, and that the bilateral negotiating process brokered by the United States has essentially broken down, at least for the time being. So it is understandable that they are looking for an alternative.

But the practical consequences of a confrontational approach at the UN, which alienates much of the West -- especially the United States -- and provokes Israeli retaliation, could prove a Pyrrhic victory.

Worse still, if the United States, Israel and others overreact by cutting off funds to the PA and leaving the Palestinians destitute and in despair, this could provoke an outpouring of anger and even violence that would turn into a security and political nightmare for Israel and the PA alike.

In both of these instances, the "cure" would be worse than the disease, and measures designed to make matters better or make an important point could actually render the existing political situation far more difficult.

Since the Palestinian leadership has taken no formal action yet, the window for a compromise is not yet closed. It is strongly in the interests of all parties to find one.

Hussein Ibish: A compromise at the UN must be found

ATFP's Hussein Ibish... Palestine and Kosovo: "virtual statehood" vs. de facto statehood

September 20, 2011 - 12:00am

Now Lebanon
Palestine between fact and fiction

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ announcement that he intends to seek full United Nations membership from the Security Council raises a wide range of interesting, and in some ways alarming, scenarios for the coming weeks. However, the move is unlikely to ultimately bring Palestinians any closer to actual independence.

Abbas knows that if such a vote ever takes place at the Security Council, the United States is committed to vetoing it. There is even some question whether the Palestinians can achieve a nine-vote majority in favor of a state, with Israel’s UN ambassador citing Portugal as a key swing vote that might prevent such a majority.

Either way, Palestinians cannot win full UN membership at this stage, no matter how much they want or deserve it. Indeed, there are numerous procedural methods in which this request can get bogged down in the UN apparatus for weeks, months, even indefinitely....READ MORE

Israeli settlers cut Palestinians' trees

Palestinians march during a rally to support the Palestinian statehood bid in the United Nations, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011. The Palestinians brushed aside heated Israeli objections and a promised U.S. veto Monday, vowing to submit a letter formally requesting full U.N. membership when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the General Assembly. Number 194 represents the Palestinian hope to become 194th member of the UN. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Palestinian villagers say Israeli settlers in the West Bank have set fire to dozens of acres of agricultural land and cut down about 500 olive, fig and almond trees.

Palestinian officials said Tuesday that settler attacks on Palestinian property have doubled in the past year, with 40 reported in the past month. Israeli police say a task force has been set up to deal with such cases.

It was not clear whether Monday's attacks near the villages of Einabous and Deir Istiya were linked to the Palestinian bid this week to win U.N. recognition for a state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.

Settlers were planning rallies later Tuesday. Organizer Boaz Haetzni says the message is that "this is our land and no Palestinian state will be here."

Maan News Agency: Palestinians set up 'settler attack' watchdog

Maan News Agency: Palestinians set up 'settler attack' watchdog

Monday, September 19, 2011

ATFP's Hussein Ibish: Last-minute deal could avert a collision course at the UN
Sept 20, 2011

The insistence by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he will present a request for full UN membership for Palestine in its 1967 borders to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the General Assembly meeting later this week - although telegraphed months in advance - has sent shock waves through international relations, and Israeli and US domestic politics as well.

Mr Abbas could have announced that he had already submitted this letter and that it is a fait accompli. Instead, he gave world leaders another week to act. So far Israel, the United States, the European Union and the Middle East Quartet have provided him with virtually nothing he can present to the Palestinian public as a plausible alternative.

Renewed negotiations, a new framework for talks or a statement clearly outlining the contours of a two-state solution might have sufficed. None of these have been forthcoming, but the window of opportunity is still open.

There are genuine reasons of state for this Palestinian move, no matter how risky and even potentially disastrous it might prove....READ MORE

Fighting for Jerusalem, Book by Book

"Since 2000, schools in occupied east Jerusalem have taught the Palestinian curriculum, devised by the Palestinian Ministry of Education. Then, after a complaint from Israel Beiteinu parliament member Alex Miller, Israel decided things needed to change. “The whole curriculum should and must be Israeli,” he said during a meeting of the Knesset’s committee on education. "
"Just to offer an example of the changes made to Palestinian schoolbooks, a first grade book requires children to color in the Palestinian flag. This part of the lesson has been struck from the book completely. In other grades, passages about the Palestinian refugee right of return have been deleted. Mention of Acca [Acre] has been taken out and national sentiments towards Jerusalem have been struck from books that now host the Israeli Jerusalem municipality logo.

The changes are not random. Israel has had a long history of “judaizing” east Jerusalem, which it considers part of Israel. International law does not concur; neither do the world’s nations, even the United States. According to them, east Jerusalem is occupied territory. Palestinians in Jerusalem consider themselves just that: Palestinians. They do not take it lightly when their occupiers dictate to them what they can or cannot teach in their schools.

Legally, Palestinians say the municipality has no right to change the PA books, which are copyrighted, without the latter’s consent. One measure being considered by Palestinian lawyers in Jerusalem is to take the Israeli municipality to court for this breech. As all things Palestinian in Jerusalem, this will certainly be another uphill battle..." Joharah Baker for MIFTAH Fighting for Jerusalem, Book by Book

US and EU try to pacify Israel as it threatens to withhold customs revenue from Palestinian Authority over bid UN status