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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Israeli settlers pump sewage into ancient Palestinian village

The Israeli settlement of Shafi Shamron, in the northern part of the West Bank, has routed its sewage pipes to dump directly into the historic village of Sabastiya, home to several thousand Palestinian families.
Sewage stream from Shafi Shamron (image by ISM)
http://www.imemc.org/article/65061?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+PalestineNews+%28Palestine+News%29&utm_content=FaceBook

The villages have filed a legal action in Israeli court against the settlement's sewage dumping, but say that they do not expect the court action to succeed, since Israeli courts are weighted in favor of Israelis.

Sabastiya is an ancient city located just 10 km north of Nablus, West Bank. Palestinians have continuously lived in this village for nearly 2,000 years. But just over ten years ago, Israeli settlers decided to establish a settlement colony on village land and claim the land for the state of Israel.

According to the International Solidarity Movement, “Sabastiya contains Canaanite, Israelite, Hellenistic, Herodian, Roman and Byzantine ruins as well as the tomb of John the Baptiste. The winding city streets along with its history make Sabastiya an ideal place to visit. Yet, as charming and beautiful as the old city is, the nearby Israeli settlement of Shafi Shamrom is making lives of Sabastiya’s residents very difficult: settlers uprooted olive trees, introduced wild boars into the environment to damage the land, and most recently, sewage has started leaking from the settlement flooding Palestinian fields.”

In 2001 settlers uprooted and destroyed around 1000 olive trees, substantially damaging the land of several families. In 2006 the army put up a fence in an attempt to confiscate the land where the trees had originally been. Sabastiya’s farmers pulled the fence down in a defiant act of resistance and since that time there have been no further attempts to install it again.

The most recent action on the part of illegal settlers of Shafi Shamron is pumping their raw, untreated sewage directly onto Palestinian fields. As the sewage is absorbed into the land, olive and apricot trees are rendered diseased and, according to the residents, “poisoned”. The flow of human waste begins from a pipe on the perimeter of the settlement, creating a sort of reservoir which then runs through the adjacent Palestinian fields, compelling each subsequent land owner to create a canal in order to drain the sewage water on to his neighbors land and further away.

All Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law, and are a direct violation of past signed agreements between the Israelis and Palestinians, as well as the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids the transfer of civilian populations to an area occupied by a nation's military.

In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the number of settlers increased by 4.7% over the last year, in January 2013 the total number reached 360,000, compared to 343,000 at the same time last year.

Economist: An Arab village is asked to bow to the wishes of Israel's Jewish settlers

Divided Jerusalem

An Arab haven dissected

An Arab village is asked to bow to the wishes of Jewish settlers

BEIT SAFAFA, Arabic for “summertime home”, was the only one of some 40 Arab villages in the district of West Jerusalem to survive the war of 1948 that created Israel; the others were more or less emptied of their inhabitants, who mostly fled the killing and found their return barred by the victorious Israelis. As a result, the people of Beit Safafa have generally been loyal to the state of Israel. Many of its townsfolk welcomed the 1967 war, when Israel captured what was left of Palestine, because it reunited the town which for 20 years had been divided by the armistice line running down the middle of it. When other Palestinians rose up in protest against Israel’s occupation of the entire city, Beit Safafa remained a picture of harmony.

No longer. To speed up their travel from dwellings in the West Bank south of Jerusalem, Israel’s settlers have persuaded the government to plough a six-lane motorway (in some places it has ten lanes) through the Arab-populated town. Once the road is complete, the settlers will be able to drive from the West Bank to central Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial capital on the coast, without having to go through a traffic light. To make way for the motorway, which will slice through a community 9,000-strong, bulldozers demolish olive groves, terraces and caves hugging Bethlehem’s foothills.
For the Palestinian townsfolk who once championed integration with their Jewish fellow citizens, the motorway is a bitter blow ...READ MORE

Friday, February 15, 2013

My letter to the NYTimes RE The Success That Failed By Roger Cohen

Valentine's Day photo from Dr. Salam Fayyad's facebook page 2-14-2013
RE: The Success That Failed By Roger Cohen http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/15/opinion/global/roger-cohen-The-Story-of-Palestinian-Prime-Minister-Salam-Fayyad-.html?ref=global

Dear Editor,

Don't give up yet- Fayyad's economic and diplomatic efforts for Palestine have helped shift many people towards understanding the vital importance of supporting and empowering a two state solution to once and for all end the Israel-Palestine conflict... for everyone's sake. 

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

NOTES
The American Task Force on Palestine today warmly welcomed reports that following a year of holds and delays, Congress appears to be preparing to release all outstanding US aid, totaling more than $500 million, to the Palestinian Authority.

"I have no memory of a time without struggle" Emad Burnat is a Palestinian farmer and director of the Oscar-nominated documentary "5 Broken Cameras"...  "
As the world listens, Gibreel, I want to say to you: I am from Palestine. I have lived my whole life under military occupation, and I have no memory of a time without struggle. But you, son, you will know better times. Someday, you will make new, happy memories.... And that will be the true award."

Global hotspots top agenda as UN chief meets with new US Secretary of State: "We all need to make special efforts to forge a two-State solution "

Anger That a Herod Show Uses West Bank Objects

Museum exhibit becomes front in Israeli-Palestinian struggle
 
Rising From Ruins: Even as Israel neglects a major archaeological site in the West Bank, it is preventing the Palestinian Authority from tending to it.

'Herod the Great' show causes row over artifacts


Kerry seeks to unblock $700 million in aid for Palestinians

"Herod the Great" show in Israel angers Palestinians


Israel unveils Herod's archaeological treasures: Herod's mausoleum headlines Israel's most ambitious archaeological show but Palestinians say treasures should stay where they were found

Pope Benedict tells Abbas that hope for Mideast solution is "a fair and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which may be reached only by resuming negotiations between the parties, in good faith and according due respect to the rights of both"

ATFP News [& Commentary] Roundup, February 11, 2013: Pres. Obama's upcoming Middle East trip stirs hopes for peace.

Amidst a brutal war, Syria’s Palestinian community finds itself seeking refuge yet again—this time, in Lebanon’s famous Sabra and Shatila camps.

Number of Palestinian refugee deaths in Syria increasing, UN agency warns

Palestinian family home demolished by Israeli forces in Jerusalem

Letter sent to my elected leaders: Peace and Palestine need to be taken seriously by American leadership now more than ever.

Palestine's Amb. Maen Rashid Areikat: Bias against Palestinians on display at congressional hearing


ATFP Hosts Washington Briefing on Israeli and Palestinian Schoolbooks

Palestine developing school curriculums that teach coexistence, tolerance, justice, and human dignity


Palestinian leadership on Wednesday welcomed US President Barack Obama’s announced plans to visit the region in March.

RAJA SHEHADEH: More Than a Land Grab ...Settlers increasingly impinging on Palestinian lives: Jewish settlers aren't just taking empty space, they're destroying Palestinian property and threatening their lives.

Israel demolishes yet anouther Palestinian home in East Jerusalem

Foriegn Policy: An interview with Palestinian negotiator-in-chief Saeb Erekat 


PBS: Mariam Said on the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra


*******
".... it being clearly understood that nothing
          shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious
          rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine..."
"Legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." Thomas Jefferson

The Office of International Religious Freedom ( http://www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/)   Given the U.S. commitment to religious freedom, and to the international covenants that guarantee it as the inalienable right of every human being, the United States seeks to:
Promote freedom of religion and conscience throughout the world as a fundamental human right and as a source of stability for all countries
Palestinian Refugees(1948-NOW) refused their right to return... and their right to live in peace free from religious bigotry and injustice.

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


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.

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.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The American Task Force on Palestine today warmly welcomed reports that following a year of holds and delays, Congress appears to be preparing to release all outstanding US aid, totaling more than $500 million, to the Palestinian Authority.


http://www.americantaskforce.org/in_media/pr/2013/02/14/1360818000
Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact Information: Hussein Ibish
February 14, 2013 - 12:00am

The American Task Force on Palestine today warmly welcomed reports that following a year of holds and delays, Congress appears to be preparing to release all outstanding US aid, totaling more than $500 million, to the Palestinian Authority. This aid is essential for the PA budget, to meet the payroll for public employees, fund crucial institution-building programs and finance the PA security services. ATFP thanks the Obama administration and leaders in Congress for taking the initiative to release this vital assistance to the Palestinian people.

Below please find more details of the impending release in a CQ Roll Call report by journalist Emily Cadei.


CQ NEWS – POLICY Feb. 14, 2013 – 6:23 a.m.
Dropping Holds, Lawmakers Clear Path for Palestinian Aid
By Emily Cadei, CQ Roll Call

After a year of resistance, Congress appears on track to release all U.S. foreign assistance to the Palestinian government in the West Bank, which is struggling to maintain stability amid an economic crisis.

The State Department notified lawmakers in recent weeks that it wants to send more than a half-billion dollars, almost entirely economic aid, to the Palestinian Authority. In the last Congress, two House Republicans — Kay Granger of Texas, the chairwoman of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds the State Department and foreign aid, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the then-chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — put holds on the majority of those funds, which were from fiscal 2012.

But given worsening conditions in the West Bank and the prospect for a new push on Middle East peace talks, Granger decided not to renew her holds this Congress, an aide confirmed. And Ros-Lehtinen’s successor on Foreign Affairs, Ed Royce, R-Calif., indicated Wednesday that while he has concerns about some Palestinian Authority behavior, he is inclined to let the money out the door, with certain conditions attached.

“There are television and radio programs run out of the West Bank that actively encourage prejudice and hate and incite violence, and they’re run by the Palestinian Authority. There are also textbooks that incite violence” against Jews and Israel, Royce said. Instead of holding up aid funds, however, he has been in talks with the State Department about conditioning all U.S. assistance to the West Bank on Palestinian efforts to stamp out anti-Semitic activity. That would fall along the lines of a 2012 bill Royce introduced with California Rep. Howard L. Berman, the since-retired ranking Democrat of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

“We tie it to the package in a way that allows the State Department to utilize this as a tool in order to end the incitement,” Royce said in an interview. “I would like to see some effort, some serious effort on the part of the Palestinian Authority to cease supporting this type of counterproductive activity because it makes reconciliation all the more difficult and creates conditions which are conducive to violence.”

At issue is more than $500 million in assistance to the Palestinians Authority for fiscal 2012 and 2013. In its notification to Capitol Hill, the State Department indicated it wants to deliver $495 million to fund economic aid programs and another $200 million in direct budgetary support for the West Bank government. Another $100 million for security and law enforcement programs had already been released, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday.

“We are continuing to work with the Congress to get appropriated money released for the Palestinian Authority, because we think it’s very, very important that they remain effective in supporting the needs of the Palestinian people,” she told reporters.

There is a growing sense of urgency about the funding, given rising unemployment and general restiveness in the territory, which is largely dependent on international donors to support government functions and pay its employees.

In that regard, Israel’s decision late last month to transfer tax revenue to the Palestinian Authority — after threatening to withhold it in response to the Palestinians’ successful push to upgrade its status at the United Nations in December — was a particularly important signal.

“The Palestinian Authority is about to collapse financially, and that’s the last thing Bibi wants,” said a Democratic House aide with knowledge of the matter, referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Both President Barack Obama and newly installed Secretary of State John Kerry are slated to travel to the region in the coming months to discuss efforts to restart the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel and the West have incentives to prop up the moderate government in the West Bank, which has indicated at least some interest in reaching a peace agreement, as opposed to the militant Hamas-led government in the Palestinian territory of Gaza. Israel and the United States both label Hamas a terrorist organization.

“This is a matter of stability,” agreed a Republican House aide involved in deliberations on the release of aid. “If the Palestinian Authority is not in a stable economic situation, then they’re less inclined to come back to the negotiating table.”

"I have no memory of a time without struggle" Emad Burnat is a Palestinian farmer and director of the Oscar-nominated documentary "5 Broken Cameras"...

 "As the world listens, Gibreel, I want to say to you: I am from Palestine. I have lived my whole life under military occupation, and I have no memory of a time without struggle. But you, son, you will know better times. Someday, you will make new, happy memories.... And that will be the true award."
Co-director Emad Burnat with his five broken cameras

 http://edition.cnn.com/2013/02/11/opinion/emad-burnat-documentary/

By Emad Burnat, Special to CNN
February 12, 2013 -- Updated 0255 GMT (1055 HKT)
 
Editor's note: Emad Burnat is a Palestinian farmer and director of the Oscar-nominated documentary "5 Broken Cameras", which he co-directed with Israeli Guy Davidi. In this deeply personal piece, he reflects on his family's experiences living in the West Bank and as part of the Palestinian non-violent resistance movement.

(CNN) -- I come from Palestine. I have lived my entire life under military occupation, and I have no memory of a time without struggle.

I have seen my neighbors beaten, blindfolded, and kidnapped. I have seen children snatched from their mothers in the dead of night. I have seen my brother shot and friend murdered.

I can't tell you how this holy land felt before the armored jeeps' rumble. I can't trace a path from here -- from where the Wall surrounds me -- to the sea.

But for as long as I can remember, I could not forget. Forget the checkpoints, the harassment, the detentions. Forget that I am not free.

Like all prisoners, my memories are what sustain me. But what I need now are new memories. Happy memories.

That's why I started filming.

I wanted to make memories of my son, Gibreel. I wanted to capture his smile, to chronicle his life in close-up. I wanted to crop out the occupation, the violence, the hopelessness...READ MORE

Global hotspots top agenda as UN chief meets with new US Secretary of State: "We all need to make special efforts to forge a two-State solution "

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) and US Secretary of State John Kerry at a joint press conference. UN Photo/Mark Garte
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44148&Cr=united+states&Cr1=#.UR1aVdY1aS5

“We all need to make special efforts to forge a two-State solution before the window of opportunity closes,” said Mr. Ban, who welcomed the plans of President Barack Obama and Mr. Kerry to visit the region.
 
“It is important that the right of Israel to exist should be respected and also the viable Palestinian authorities, in terms of the political and financial situation, be supported so that both can live side by side in peace and security. That is a two-State solution,” he stated.

Mr. Ban also noted that at a time when families and government everywhere are feeling severe financial strains, the benefits of working with the UN are clear – burden-sharing, wise use of the global taxpayers’ money, and international solutions in the national interest.

“I look forward to strengthening the US-UN partnership and working closely with Secretary of State Kerry towards our shared goals of peace, development, and human rights.”

Anger That a Herod Show Uses West Bank Objects

The exhibition “Herod the Great: The King’s Final Journey” includes a reconstruction of his tomb, with his sarcophagus, center. Jim Hollander/European Pressphoto Agency
"Hamdan Taha, director of the Palestinian Authority’s department of antiquities and cultural heritage, said that while Oslo provides for Israel’s excavation in the West Bank, exhibiting the material was another story. He complained that the Palestinians were never consulted about the project, which he called “an aggression against Palestinian cultural rights in their own land,” and said it would “not help to reconstruct peace between the Palestinians and Israel.”"

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/14/world/middleeast/israel-museums-herod-show-draws-anger-over-use-of-west-bank-objects.html?ref=global-home

By
Published: February 13, 2013

JERUSALEM — In one room sits a sarcophagus of reddish-pink limestone believed to have held the body of King Herod, painstakingly reconstructed after having been smashed to bits centuries ago. In another, there are frescoes from Herod’s elaborate underground palace, pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle. Throughout, elaborate animated videos show the king’s audacious construction — atop the desert fortress Masada; at his burial place, Herodium; and his most famous work, the Second Temple of Jerusalem.

The Israel Museum on Tuesday opened its most ambitious archaeological exhibition and the world’s first devoted to Herod, the lionized and demonized Rome-appointed king of Judea, who reigned from 37 to 4 B.C.E. and is among the most seminal and contentious figures in Jewish history. But the exhibition, which the museum director described as a “massive enterprise” that involved sifting through 30 tons of material from Herodium and reconstructing 250 artifacts, has also brought its own bit of controversy.

The Palestinian Authority says the exhibition is a violation of international law because much of its material was taken from near Bethlehem and Jericho, both in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. An Israeli group of archaeologists and activists complains that the museum, however unwittingly, is helping the Jewish settlement movement advance its contention that the West Bank should be part of Israel and not a Palestinian state. 

“What the Israel Museum is doing is like coming and saying, ‘Listen, the heritage of the West Bank is part of our heritage first of all,’ ” said Yonathan Mizrachi, an archaeologist who helped found the Israeli group, Emek Shaveh, in 2009. “It’s part of the idea to create the narrative that those sites, no matter what the political solution,” are “part of the Israeli identity.” ....READ MORE

Museum exhibit becomes front in Israeli-Palestinian struggle

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images - A museum worker does preparatory work before the opening of the "Herod the Great" exhibition, at the Israel Museum this week in Jerusalem.
 “The museum can grant legitimacy to the occupation this way, by presenting this as part of Israeli and Jewish heritage... The message is: This past is ours.” Yonathan Mizrachi, an Israeli archeologist with Emek Shaveh, a group that focuses on the role of archaeology in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/museum-exhibit-becomes-front-in-israeli-palestinian-struggle/2013/02/13/dca47284-7614-11e2-95e4-6148e45d7adb_story.html

JERUSALEM — A major exhibit at Israel’s national museum that is devoted to Herod the Great, the Roman-era king of Judea, has become the latest front in a struggle between Israelis and Palestinians over cultural heritage.

The show is billed as the most ambitious and expensive archaeological exhibition put on by the Israel Museum outside of its permanent collections, and its centerpiece is a partial reconstruction of what is believed to be the king’s tomb at Herodium, a hilltop palace-fortress south of Jerusalem in the West Bank.

On display are some 30 tons of material from the site, including masonry from the tomb structure and a reconstructed sarcophagus thought to have held the king’s remains, along with frescoes and mosaics restored by the museum staff, a massive royal bathtub and other finds excavated in Jerusalem and at desert palaces in Jericho and ancient Cypros, also in the West Bank.

The exhibit, which opened to the public Wednesday and is scheduled to run for eight months, has drawn criticism from Palestinian officials. They charge that the removal of the ancient artifacts to Israel violates international law and appropriates cultural property that should remain in the West Bank, which the Palestinians seek as part of a future state

Maintained by Israel as a national park, Herodium is in Area C, the part of the West Bank that remains under full Israeli control and where excavations are supervised by the Israeli military administration. ...READ MORE

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Rising From Ruins: Even as Israel neglects a major archaeological site in the West Bank, it is preventing the Palestinian Authority from tending to it.

"The Oslo Accords list Sebastia among the archeological sites of importance to Israel, yet Israel is not taking care of the place, arguably one of the most important set of ruins in the West Bank. Nor is it allowing the Palestinian Authority to do so. And even though USAID-supported renovation work is taking place in the village, supposedly to improve the ailing Palestinian economy by encouraging tourism in the West Bank, the international community has done nothing to oppose Israeli actions that impede tourism (and are contrary to international law)." RAJA SHEHADEH in the NYTimes
Signs outside a village in the West Bank identical to those at the entrance of Sebastia. Photo credit Bassam Almohor
[AS ALWAYS PLEASE GO TO THE LINK TO READ GOOD ARTICLES IN FULL: HELP SHAPE ALGORITHMS (and conversations) THAT EMPOWER DECENCY, DIGNITY, JUSTICE & PEACE... and hopefully Palestine]

http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/ruins-in-the-west-bank-are-another-victim-of-the-israeli-palestinian-conflict/

'Herod the Great' show causes row over artifacts

A general view of Herodion, near Bethlehem.(MaanImages/file)
13/02/2013

[AS ALWAYS PLEASE GO TO THE LINK TO READ GOOD ARTICLES IN FULL: HELP SHAPE ALGORITHMS (and conversations) THAT EMPOWER DECENCY, DIGNITY, JUSTICE & PEACE... and hopefully Palestine]


JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- The first major museum exhibition on the divisive biblical figure of Herod the Great has provoked a modern-day row between Israel and the Palestinians over who has the right to dig up his artifacts.

The Israel Museum in Jerusalem on Tuesday unveiled a display dedicated to Herod - branded a baby-killer in the Christian tradition but remembered by many in Israel for rebuilding a Jewish Temple two millennia ago.

Palestinian Authority officials have complained many of the exhibits were taken from the West Bank, under Israeli military occupation since 1967.

The show includes busts and statues of figures from the period when the Romans occupied the Holy Land and appointed Herod the monarch of Judea.

The highlight is a reconstruction of part of Herod's mausoleum housing what experts believe is his sarcophagus.

Palestinians said the artifacts were removed without their consent from Herodion, the builder-king's excavated palace on an arid hilltop near Bethlehem.

The Palestinian Authority minister of tourism and antiquities, Rula Maayah, told Reuters all Israeli archaeological activities in the West Bank were illegal.

"Many dig locations (in the Palestinian territories) fall under Israeli control ... and we are unable to reach them. All the work at digs in the occupied territories are against the law, but Israel carries them out and even if they don't dig themselves they don't allow us to do so," she said.

Israel Museum director James Snyder said archaeological digs on occupied Palestinian territories were carried out according to international conventions and protocols laid down in interim Israeli-Palestinian peace accords.

Snyder said he was unaware of any discussions with Palestinian archaeological officials over the exhibit and there had been no way to study the artifacts properly on site at Herodion.

The relics, he said, would eventually be returned to Herodion once proper facilities to house them were in place.

In the Christian story, Herod ordered his men to kill all baby boys in and around Jesus' birthplace Bethlehem, fearing one would grow up to become "King of the Jews" and challenge his rule.

According to The Gospel of Matthew, Jesus and his family escaped the slaughter by fleeing to Egypt.

Historians said Herod ruled Judea from about 37 BC until his death in 4 BC - four years before Jesus' official birth day, though that date is also contested.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report


********* 
Visitor Information Center .... Ancient King Herod’s Palace is visible from Bethlehem: It is located in the Judean desert, 6 km to the south east of Bethlehem
Ruins of Herodium Seen from Above
MAP of Greater Jerusalem, May 2006. United States. Central Intelligence Agency: Shows settlements, refugee camps, fences, walls, etc.

Kerry seeks to unblock $700 million in aid for Palestinians

Kerry seeks to unblock $700 million in aid for Palestinians
News February 12, 2013 

“The secretary feels extremely strongly that it is time now to get this support to the Palestinian Authority.”

Secretary of State John Kerry is working to try to free up almost $700 million in aid for the Palestinians which has been held up in Congress, a top US official said Monday.

“The secretary feels extremely strongly that it is time now to get this support to the Palestinian Authority,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

The department was working with Congress “to get appropriated money released for the Palestinian Authority because we think it’s very, very important that they remain effective in supporting the needs of the Palestinian people.”

Some $495.7 million was set aside for the Palestinian Authority in the fiscal year 2012 which ended on October 1, while another $200 million for this fiscal year was notified to Congress last week.
The money is earmarked for specific things in the Palestinian budget such as security as well as administrative costs.

However, an additional $100 million has been released, but can only be used on narcotics and law enforcement.

The Palestinian Authority is facing its worst economic crisis in years, in part because of a failure by donors to deliver pledged funds. But its finances were plunged further into chaos after president Mahmud Abbas won upgraded UN observer status at the UN General Assembly.

Israel, which strongly opposed the move along with the United States, said it was suspending monthly transfers of the tax and tariff revenue it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the wake of the decision.

It did, however, transfer $100 million in a one-off payment in late January.

Nuland said Kerry had been very active on the issue of the Palestinian aid with Congress since he took over as secretary of state on February 1.

*****
ATFP News Roundup
 
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[NOTE: The format of ATFP's news roundup has been revised and streamlined. We hope you will enjoy the new format and earlier delivery. Please click on the links within the text to go to the full article at its original site.]

"Herod the Great" show in Israel angers Palestinians

A man walks near sarcophagi during a media preview of an exhibition titled "Herod the Great: The King's Final Journey" at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem February 12, 2013. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
A woman looks at archaeological artifacts during a media preview of an exhibition titled "Herod the Great: The King's Final Journey" at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem February 12, 2013. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Museum employees prepare an exhibition titled "Herod the Great: The King's Final Journey" at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem February 12, 2013.  REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
People arrive to a media preview of an exhibition titled "Herod the Great: The King's Final Journey" at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem February 12, 2013. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/12/us-israel-archaeology-herod-idUSBRE91B1G220130212

JERUSALEM | Tue Feb 12, 2013 3:22pm EST
 
(Reuters) - The first major museum exhibition on the divisive biblical figure of Herod the Great has provoked a modern-day row between Israel and the Palestinians over who has the right to dig up his artefacts.

The Israel Museum in Jerusalem on Tuesday unveiled a display dedicated to Herod - branded a baby-killer in the Christian tradition but remembered by many in Israel for rebuilding the Jewish Temple two millennia ago.

 
 
Palestinians have complained many of the exhibits were taken from the occupied West Bank, land Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and which Palestinians seek as part of a future state.
The show includes busts and statues of figures from the period when the Romans occupied the Holy Land and appointed Herod the monarch of Judea.

The highlight is a reconstruction of part of Herod's mausoleum housing what experts believe is his sarcophagus.

Palestinians said the artefacts were removed without their consent from Herodium, the builder-king's excavated palace on an arid hilltop a short drive from Jerusalem.

The Palestinian minister of tourism and antiquities, Rula Ma'ayah, told Reuters all Israeli archaeological activities in the West Bank were illegal.

"Many dig locations (in the Palestinian territories) fall under Israeli control ... and we are unable to reach them. All the work at digs in the occupied territories are against the law, but Israel carries them out and even if they don't dig themselves they don't allow us to do so," he said....READ MORE

[AS ALWAYS PLEASE GO TO THE LINK TO READ GOOD ARTICLES IN FULL: HELP SHAPE ALGORITHMS (and conversations) THAT EMPOWER DECENCY, DIGNITY, JUSTICE & PEACE... and hopefully Palestine]

Israel unveils Herod's archaeological treasures: Herod's mausoleum headlines Israel's most ambitious archaeological show but Palestinians say treasures should stay where they were found

A stone sculpture of the Roman emperor Augustus, who ruled at the time of Herod the Great – part of the Israel Museum exhibition. Photograph: Jim Hollander/EPA

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/12/israel-archaeological-exhibition-herod-the-great

"The show has met with opposition from the Palestinian Authority (PA), which says Israel is in breach of international law by exhibiting artefacts excavated and removed from the West Bank.

Hamdan Taha, a PA official responsible for antiquities, said the Israel Museum had not consulted it on the excavation and exhibition. Herodium is located in Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli control, and the site is administered by the Israeli Parks Authority.

The exhibition was an attempt to use "archaeology to justify Israel's political claims on the land", Taha said. The site, along with Jericho, was "an integral part of Palestinian cultural heritage", he added."...READ MORE

Monday, February 11, 2013

Whisper Campaigns ... a poem by Anne Selden Annab




   Whisper Campaigns

Censors everywhere
are erasing Palestine
elevating the insane
eliminating the rational
the compassionate
reasonable
Golden Rule stuff
that might free the people
from the conflict itself.

Censors everywhere
lurking in search engines
and news rooms
and lists

Censors everywhere
pushing peace and justice
and negotiations away

Whisper campaigns
crippling meritocracy
and the market place of ideas

Censors everywhere
deleting dignity
decency

... & civilization itself.


Pope Benedict tells Abbas that hope for Mideast solution is "a fair and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which may be reached only by resuming negotiations between the parties, in good faith and according due respect to the rights of both"

December 12 2012 Pope tells Abbas of hope for Mideast solution
VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday the Vatican hoped the recent de facto recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations would spur the international community to find a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Abbas, who is on a tour of Europe to thank countries that supported the Nov. 29 resolution by the U.N. General Assembly recognising Palestine, held private talks with the pope for about 25 minutes in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

"It is hoped that (the resolution) will encourage the commitment of the international community to finding a fair and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which may be reached only by resuming negotiations between the parties, in good faith and according due respect to the rights of both," a Vatican statement said...READ MORE

Madame Maha Seca, the head of the Palestinian Heritage Center, and the handmade Palestinian stole for the Pope
*************

POPE BENEDICT XVI TO STEP DOWN


Dear IHT/NYTimes,


Your photo essay POPE BENEDICT XVI TO STEP DOWN has several nice pictures of the Pope pointing out his outreach to Jewish people ( Pope Benedict XVI at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in May 2009  & The pope visited the Nazi death camps Auschwitz and Birkenau in Poland in 2006) but none about his outreach to Palestinians and his recognition of the importance of Palestinian statehood ... AND his clear message that hope for the Mideast is  "a fair and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which may be reached only by resuming negotiations between the parties, in good faith and according due respect to the rights of both"


Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

ATFP News [& Commentary] Roundup, February 11, 2013: Pres. Obama's upcoming Middle East trip stirs hopes for peace...

ATFP News Roundup, February 11, 2013
 
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[NOTE: The format of ATFP's news roundup has been revised and streamlined. We hope you will enjoy the new format and earlier delivery. Please click on the links within the text to go to the full article at its original site.]
 
 
NEWS:
Pres. Obama's upcoming Middle East trip stirs hopes for peace at little. (New York Times)
 
Israel is rushing to move ahead with settlement construction before Obama's visit. (AP)
 
A Palestinian official rules out a three-way meeting with Israeli leaders during Obama's trip. (Xinhua)
 
Pres. Abbas thanks the Pope for support the recent UN resolution designating Palestine a non-member observer state. (Reuters/AP)
 
Israeli troops detain an AP photographer. (AP)
 
Palestinian refugees continue to flee Syria for Lebanon. (Daily Beast)
 
A Palestinian delegation visits Syria to try to arrange protection for Palestinian refugees there. (UPI)
 
Israeli forces prevent Palestinians from setting up a protest camp to stop settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank. (Reuters)
 
The Oscar-nominated film "5 Broken Cameras" angers many on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide. (AP)
 
Palestinian unity talks collapse again over the issue of a firm date for new elections, which Hamas reportedly does not want. (Jerusalem Post)
 
The Palestinian election commission begins to update voter registers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. (AP)
 
Hamas complains Egypt is restricting travel in and out of Gaza and destroying smuggling tunnels by flooding them. (Xinhua/Ha'aretz)
 
Israeli products are filling Gaza's supermarket shelves. (Al Monitor)
 
Witnesses say settlers vandalized a Palestinian community center in occupied Hebron. (Ma'an)
 
Cyprus becomes the latest EU state to upgrade Palestine's diplomatic status. (AFP)
 
An Israeli journalist says the Syrian media is mispresenting the views on Israel of a prominent Syrian opposition leader. (New York Times)
 
Yasser Arafat's widow reportedly calls her marriage a "big mistake." (The Guardian)
 
 
COMMENTARY:
Amira Hass says Israeli authorities subject Palestinian prisoners to sleep deprivation. (Ha'aretz)
 
Daniella Peled criticizes Israel's reaction to a new study of Palestinian and Israeli schoolbooks. (Ha'aretz)
 
Chemi Shalev says over-zealous supporters of Israeli overreacted foolishly to a BDS conference at Brooklyn College. (Ha'aretz)
 
Mira Sucharov says the BDS movement isn't compatible with two states. (Daily Beast/Open Zion)
 
Naftali Rothenberg says Arab parties need to be included in Israel's governing coalitions. (YNet)
 
Armin Rosen looks at the first planned Palestinian city in the occupied West Bank, Rawabi. (The Atlantic)
 
Alon Pinkas says Obama's visit will boost US-Israel relations, but not the peace process. (YNet)
 
The Guardian says Obama needs to offer the parties more than solidarity. (The Guardian)
 
Elias Harfoush says Abbas briefly confusing Pres. Morsi with his predecessor Mubarak was "a Freudian slip" revealing much truth. (Al Hayat)
 
Shlomi Eldar asks why former Deputy FM Ayalon suddenly supports a Palestinian state. (Al Monitor)
 
 
If you appreciate this ATFP news roundup service, please help sustain it with a generous donation by clicking here.
 
 
 
ATFP Hosts Washington Briefing on Israeli and Palestinian Schoolbooks: Dr. Asali told the capacity-crowd audience that, "We are very proud to host the distinguished team of scholars. The study shows the need to educate for peace. Narratives in conflict perpetuate the conflict, and are perpetuated by it."

 
ATFP is strictly opposed to all acts of violence against civilians no matter the cause and no matter who the victims or perpetrators may be.  The Task Force advocates the development of a Palestinian state that is democratic, pluralistic, non-militarized and neutral in armed conflicts.

Amidst a brutal war, Syria’s Palestinian community finds itself seeking refuge yet again—this time, in Lebanon’s famous Sabra and Shatila camps.

"He tells me he comes across many cases of discrimination. One refugee needed an asthma inhaler, a common item that costs around $13. “Nobody would give it to him,” Abdullah says, “No hospital or pharmacy, because he was Palestinian Syrian. He died from an asthma attack.” " 

Syria’s Palestinians Seek Refuge in Lebanon

Feb 11, 2013

A Palestinian family who fled their home in the Yarmouk camp for Palestinian refugees in south Damascus, look out through the window, at the Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp, in the southern port city of Sidon, Lebanon, Jan. 15, 2013. The Palestinian exodus from Syria has also revived decades-old debate over the Palestine refugees' 'right of return' to their homes that are now in Israel, adding to the complexity the conflict whose sectarian and ethnic overtones have spilled over into neighboring countries raising fears of a regional war. (Mohammed Zaatari/AP)

This is the second time he has had to leave his home in Yarmouk and come to Lebanon to escape the Syrian conflict.



“Now we have two rights of return,” he says, smiling wryly. “One to Palestine and one to Syria.”

....READ MORE

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Number of Palestinian refugee deaths in Syria increasing, UN agency warns

A Palestinian child. Photo: UNRWA
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=44106&Cr=palestin&Cr1=#.URg1qdY1aS4
10 February 2013 – A United Nations agency today expressed concern over the rising number of deaths and injuries among Palestinian refugees in Syria, following reports of 12 casualties last Thursday in a Damascus suburb.

“These deaths mark the end of a particularly tragic week for Palestine refugees in Syria, with an estimated total of 30 killed,” the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said in a news release.

More than 60,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in early 2011. Recent months have witnessed an escalation in the conflict, which has also left more than four million people in need of humanitarian assistance.

According to UNRWA, many of the casualties were caused by the use of heavy weapons and five of the 12 Palestinian refugees killed on 7 February in Yarmouk were members of the same family.

“These Palestine refugees are unable to move safely, are subject to severe movement restrictions and face escalating threats from shelling and armed clashes,” UNRWA said, adding that poverty and deprivation are increasing in the Palestinian community, exacerbating vulnerabilities that existed prior to the Syrian conflict.

“These developments have left the Palestine refugee community, alongside their Syrian neighbours, profoundly traumatized and fearful of the future.”

UNRWA has repeatedly deplored the armed conflict and the extreme suffering it is inflicting on civilians. The agency once again called on all sides to comply with their obligations under international law and ensure the protection of Palestine refugees and other civilians across the country.

UNRWA statement on killing of 12 Palestine refugees in Syria



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