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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Understanding the Current Palestinian Financial Crisis: In the long term, the only cure for the PA's recurrent budget deficit would be sustained, productive growth led by the private sector—not one bankrolled by massive foreign aid in a highly constrained and heavily distorted setting


 [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]

Mohammed Samhouri Article October 15, 2012

Early last month, thousands of Palestinians across the Israeli-occupied West Bank took to the streets to protest the rising cost of living, voice their anger over unpaid government salaries and the imposition of tax and fuel price hikes (later revoked under public pressure), and call for the resignation of Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad. Two weeks later, on September 23, in a meeting of donor countries held in New York City, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the United Nations reported their grim assessment of the Palestinian fiscal situation, warning of harsher times ahead and urging donors to provide the Palestinian Authority (PA) with $400 million urgently needed to bridge its funding gap for the rest of this year. Failure to act, they argued, would make things far worse and have grave political and social repercussions.

The severity of the Palestinian financial crisis was evident this summer when the cash-strapped PA struggled, for three months in a row, to pay its 150,000-plus employees their full salaries on time. It was only able to meet its obligations after receiving a $100 million grant in July from Saudi Arabia, and, in July and in September, a total of $110 million from Israel as advance payments on future monthly transfers of customs taxes that Israel collects on behalf of the PA in accordance with the 1994 economic protocol.

This fiscal crisis began in 2011, when domestic revenues, customs tax transfers from Israel, and international financial support all turned out to be lower than planned in the budget. This resulted in a higher recurrent deficit (13 percent of GDP), forcing the PA to bridge the funding gap by borrowing from domestic banks, accumulating arrears to the private sector, and continually failing to contribute the government's share of the already-insolvent public pension fund. By the end of 2011, the PA's debt to commercial banks had reached $1.1 billion, with arrears to domestic suppliers amounting to $530 million, and an estimated $1.5 billion of accumulated debt to the public pension system.
 The PA's financial troubles continued into 2012. The year started with a projected recurrent deficit of $1.1 billion, coupled with low prospects for both economic growth and donor assistance. More specifically, growth in 2012, and in sharp contrast to the impressive 9 percent annual average rate between 2008 and 2010, was forecast at 5 percent, the same as in 2011. Likewise, foreign budgetary support, though still high at an annual average of $1.27 billion over the last four years, was on a declining trajectory, reaching $814 million in 2011, down from $1.76 billion in 2008.

As 2012 progressed, so did the PA's financial misfortune. By midyear, the PA's public expenditure had climbed 4.5 percent higher than planned, gross revenues were 7 percent lower than budgeted, and the flow of donor funding was in decline. This led the PA again to turn to commercial banks and the private sector, asking for cash and credit to help finance an expanding recurrent deficit. With the PA already owing $1.7 billion to these parties, they were not in a position to extend more funds. Nor was the Palestinian public in the West Bank willing to put up with a higher cost of living when the PA raised taxes and fuel prices early last month.

 What makes the PA's current financial quandary even more serious is the fact that it has very few policy options to get itself out of the woods. Over the past four years the PA has implemented a host of reform measures principally designed to put its fiscal house in order. In the process, PA expenditure was streamlined and domestic revenues increased, mainly through improving tax administration and collection. As a result, the PA's recurrent deficit was brought down from 21 percent of GDP in 2008 to 13 percent of GDP in 2011. This policy of fiscal consolidation, successful and controversial as it has been, seems to have reached its limit now, and can only be pushed further at a high political and social cost, as recent public unrest in the occupied West Bank has vividly demonstrated.

While necessary, the preceding technical explanation of the PA's financial crisis—which considers the crisis through the prism of changes in revenues, expenditures, and foreign assistance levels—is grossly insufficient to fully understand the true nature of the PA's current fiscal predicament. To do that, one needs to look beyond the raw statistics and examine the political-economy aspect of the crisis. Through this lens, one would find a territorially-fragmented Palestinian Authority that operates under a prolonged colonial and military occupation that imposes all sorts of physical and administrative constraints on Palestinian economic activities, on access to markets and natural resources, and on the private sector's ability to plan, invest and grow over the long term.
In this extremely limiting setting, the chances of productive and sustained economic growth along with the capacity to generate enough domestic revenues to finance public expenditure are undermined. What's more, it is highly unlikely that foreign aid will have a lasting positive impact. Only in this sui generis context can one understand why, among other things, the PA—which received close to $6 billion in international budgetary and development support between 2008 and 2011—is currently experiencing such a severe financial crunch.

What can be done to solve this crisis? In the immediate to short term, donor funds are desperately needed and, politics aside, may be forthcoming. The United States is currently contemplating the release of some $200 million to the PA. The European Union is also considering granting the PA an extra 100 million euros. Israel has already made two advance payments of PA customs duties and may do so again in the near future. But this likely flow of much-needed funds, crucial as it is for the PA’s immediate financial survival, does not address the fundamental underlying causes of the PA's twenty-month-old financial predicament. Nor will the pressure on the PA to adopt more austerity-type measures, outlined in the IMF’s latest report on the Palestinian economy, be without risks.
In the long term, the only cure for the PA's recurrent budget deficit would be sustained, productive growth led by the private sector—not one bankrolled by massive foreign aid in a highly constrained and heavily distorted setting—that creates real jobs, increases per capita income, broadens the tax base, and provides the PA with more domestic revenues to finance its activities. In today’s occupied West Bank, the possibility of such growth taking place is virtually nil.

With the space for PA policy action vastly narrowing, the Palestinian public's patience growing thin, the stock of PA domestic debt piling up, donor financial support declining, and Israel's  occupation and settlement policies in the West Bank showing no signs of abating, the prospects for a solution to the PA's financial crisis anytime soon are very slim. Indeed, unless drastic action is taken on the political front, the Palestinian Authority as it has existed since its establishment in 1994 could very well be on the verge of collapse.

Mohammed Samhouri (msamhouri@yahoo.com) is a senior economist at the Cairo-based Regional Center for Strategic Studies, a former senior fellow and lecturer at Brandeis University’s Crown Center for Middle East Studies in Boston, and a former senior economic adviser in the Palestinian Authority.
 

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing cooperation between nations and promoting active international engagement by the United States. Founded in 1910, its work is nonpartisan and dedicated to achieving practical results. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Dear Miftah- A campaign to talk up a two-state solution

A campaign to talk up a two-state solution
Dear Miftah,

Are you aware of the fact that the Majority of Americans Want Equal Treatment for Israel, Palestinians but Sympathize More with Israel ... and that "Sympathy for Israel stood at 48 percent in 2002 and climbed to 61 percent in 2010, according to the survey."

I think it is obvious that Palestine has a huge PR problem here in America.

ATFP's Hussein Ibish wrote an article in 2011 Clarifying why Arab and Muslim Americans should be smart rather than stupid addressed to fellow Arab American and American Muslims that really should not be limited to just Americans, but to all Arabs and Muslims writing English language articles that Americans might read. Dr. Ibish concludes that: "Our point was that irresponsible, juvenile and unthinking rhetoric that plays into the hands of the anti-Arab racists and Islamophobes is something our community just can't afford, and yet many of the loudest voices on social media, the blogosphere and other decentralized forms of communication produce exactly that. This is a definite danger, because it gives ammunition to the worst of the racists and bigots. And, of course, politically it not only doesn't achieve anything, it makes matters worse. It's not a matter of declining to say something that really needs to be said out of fear of the reaction of others. It's a question of having a healthy respect for the sensitivities and sensibilities of our fellow Americans -- something we frequently and correctly demand Westerners and especially Americans show to Arabs and Muslims -- and trying to understand the difference between a receivable message that can have a positive impact as opposed to venting, preaching to the choir and providing the likes of Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller with more ammunition to spread their fear and hatred. It's just a question of being smart rather than stupid."

I like the idea that you are "The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy " and that your vision is An independent, democratic and sovereign Palestinian state, which grants Palestinians their basic rights, preserves their dignity, and enjoys international recognition and respect.

With that mission in mind I am hoping that you will read and carefully think about a recent article in the Washington Post "A campaign to talk up a two-state solution"
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-campaign-to-talk-up-a-two-state-solution/2013/02/28/90156f9e-7af7-11e2-82e8-61a46c2cde3d_story.html
and that your writers and contributors and readers will decide to look for ways that they can help empower diplomacy on all levels as well as serious support for a two state solution to actually end the Israel-Palestine conflict and the very real plight of the Palestinians.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

NOTES
All who have something to give for peace must give it... It Is Time For Palestine


“You can’t win against misogynist men, but you can help a movement have courage in the face of all that,”

Diplomats urge EU to block Jerusalem settlements


"We really hope everybody will step back a little and try to find a way to proceed very calmly and very thoughtfully in these next days (and) leave the opportunities for peaceful resolution open." U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

The Balfour Declaration: If wording counts....

Jordanian Diplomat Marwan Muasher (his country’s first ambassador to Israel, where he made many friends) points out the importance of The Arab Peace Initiative... & the fact that Obama Should Try to Help Solve Conflict

                                                                       *******

".... it being clearly understood that nothing
          shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious
          rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine..."
What is an Israeli settlement

"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
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.

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.



Emanating from the conviction of the Arab countries that a military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for the parties, the council:
1. Requests Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace is its strategic option as well.
2. Further calls upon Israel to affirm:
I- Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.
II- Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194.
III- The acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4, 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
3. Consequently, the Arab countries affirm the following:
I- Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region.
II- Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.
4. Assures the rejection of all forms of Palestinian patriation which conflict with the special circumstances of the Arab host countries.
5. Calls upon the government of Israel and all Israelis to accept this initiative in order to safeguard the prospects for peace and stop the further shedding of blood, enabling the Arab countries and Israel to live in peace and good neighbourliness and provide future generations with security, stability and prosperity.
6. Invites the international community and all countries and organisations to support this initiative.
7. Requests the chairman of the summit to form a special committee composed of some of its concerned member states and the secretary general of the League of Arab States to pursue the necessary contacts to gain support for this initiative at all levels, particularly from the United Nations, the Security Council, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the Muslim states and the European Union.

My letter to the Washington Post RE A campaign to talk up a two-state solution

Israel Palestine Peace
RE: A campaign to talk up a two-state solution
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-campaign-to-talk-up-a-two-state-solution/2013/02/28/90156f9e-7af7-11e2-82e8-61a46c2cde3d_story.html

Dear Editor,

Good to see " A campaign to talk up a two-state solution", outlining highly relevant obstacles such as the fact that polls show that each side is convinced the other does not accept a two-state solution.

My best guess is that as long as the conflict continues to rage, Palestine will continue to lose ground in every possible way, including diplomatically. Negative messaging by both leaders and followers does indeed play a large part in this ongoing tragedy, and is a very worrisome trend.

I totally agree with al-Omari & Makovsky that "In his visit, Obama should insist that senior officials from both sides publicly and consistently reiterate fundamental principles to allay the basic fears of the other’s citizens. He should make it clear that the United States is listening and will be critical of negative messaging. "

I also think Obama should reiterate the importance of fully respecting international law and universal basic human rights for everyone's sake. The Arab Peace Initiative is a good place to start that process with its emphasis on "enabling the Arab countries and Israel to live in peace and good neighbourliness and provide future generations with security, stability and prosperity."

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

NOTES
All who have something to give for peace must give it... It Is Time For Palestine


“You can’t win against misogynist men, but you can help a movement have courage in the face of all that,”

Diplomats urge EU to block Jerusalem settlements

"We really hope everybody will step back a little and try to find a way to proceed very calmly and very thoughtfully in these next days (and) leave the opportunities for peaceful resolution open." U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
The Balfour Declaration: If wording counts....

Jordanian Diplomat Marwan Muasher (his country’s first ambassador to Israel, where he made many friends) points out the importance of The Arab Peace Initiative... & the fact that Obama Should Try to Help Solve Conflict

                                                                       *******

".... it being clearly understood that nothing
          shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious
          rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine..."
What is an Israeli settlement

"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
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.

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.


Emanating from the conviction of the Arab countries that a military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for the parties, the council:
1. Requests Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace is its strategic option as well.
2. Further calls upon Israel to affirm:
I- Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.
II- Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194.
III- The acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4, 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
3. Consequently, the Arab countries affirm the following:
I- Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region.
II- Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.
4. Assures the rejection of all forms of Palestinian patriation which conflict with the special circumstances of the Arab host countries.
5. Calls upon the government of Israel and all Israelis to accept this initiative in order to safeguard the prospects for peace and stop the further shedding of blood, enabling the Arab countries and Israel to live in peace and good neighbourliness and provide future generations with security, stability and prosperity.
6. Invites the international community and all countries and organisations to support this initiative.
7. Requests the chairman of the summit to form a special committee composed of some of its concerned member states and the secretary general of the League of Arab States to pursue the necessary contacts to gain support for this initiative at all levels, particularly from the United Nations, the Security Council, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the Muslim states and the European Union.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

My letter to the NYTimes RE Zero Dark Zero by Roger Cohen

Zero Dark Zero

RE Zero Dark Zero by Roger Cohen
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/01/opinion/global/zero-dark-zero.html?ref=global

Dear Editor,

"Perfect Dark Zero" was a hugely popular first-person shooter video game not long ago and Roger Cohen's "Zero Dark Zero" op-ed is an exercise in exactly that type of game playing as he targets international law and universal basic human rights for destruction all so that Israel can have a peace process that continues to demonize, impoverish, imprison and/or displace the native non-Jewish population of Israel and Palestine.

The idea that “If the refugees were to return, you would not have a two-state solution, you’d have a Palestine next to a Palestine.”  is wrong.  You'd still have an Israel next to a Palestine. You'd still have a very strong already firmly established Israel with many Jewish citizens living and working alongside non-Jewish citizens. But you would also have a free Palestine living in peace and security alongside Israel, creating its own museums and national anthem and job opportunities and options for the people who chose to help build and invest in a sovereign Palestinian state.

A fully secular two state solution to once and for ALL end the Israel-Palestine really is the best way forward.  That idea should not cause deep despondency- it should inspire thoughtful and compassionate ponderings on how we can, each in our way, help bring a just and lasting peace to the people of both Israel and Palestine.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

NOTES
"We really hope everybody will step back a little and try to find a way to proceed very calmly and very thoughtfully in these next days (and) leave the opportunities for peaceful resolution open." U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

The Balfour Declaration: If wording counts....

Jordanian Diplomat Marwan Muasher (his country’s first ambassador to Israel, where he made many friends) points out the importance of The Arab Peace Initiative... & the fact that Obama Should Try to Help Solve Conflict
                                                                                *******

".... it being clearly understood that nothing
          shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious
          rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine..."
What is an Israeli settlement

"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
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.

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.


Emanating from the conviction of the Arab countries that a military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for the parties, the council:
1. Requests Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace is its strategic option as well.
2. Further calls upon Israel to affirm:
I- Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.
II- Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194.
III- The acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4, 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
3. Consequently, the Arab countries affirm the following:
I- Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region.
II- Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.
4. Assures the rejection of all forms of Palestinian patriation which conflict with the special circumstances of the Arab host countries.
5. Calls upon the government of Israel and all Israelis to accept this initiative in order to safeguard the prospects for peace and stop the further shedding of blood, enabling the Arab countries and Israel to live in peace and good neighbourliness and provide future generations with security, stability and prosperity.
6. Invites the international community and all countries and organisations to support this initiative.
7. Requests the chairman of the summit to form a special committee composed of some of its concerned member states and the secretary general of the League of Arab States to pursue the necessary contacts to gain support for this initiative at all levels, particularly from the United Nations, the Security Council, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the Muslim states and the European Union.

All who have something to give for peace must give it... It Is Time For Palestine


World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel

22 - 28 September 2013

"Pray, educate, and advocate for justice in Palestine"
An initiative of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches
It's time for Palestine.
It's time for Palestinians and Israelis to share a just peace.

It's time to respect human lives in the land called holy.
It's time for healing to begin in wounded souls.
It's time to end more than 60 years of conflict, oppression and fear.
It's time for freedom from occupation.

It's time for equal rights.
It's time to stop discrimination, segregation and restrictions on movement.
It's time for those who put up walls and fences to build them on their own property.
It's time to stop bulldozing one community's homes and building homes for the other community on land that is not theirs.
It's time to do away with double standards.

It's time for Israeli citizens to have security and secure borders agreed with their neighbours.
It's time for the international community to implement more than 60 years of United Nations resolutions.
It's time for Israel's government to complete the bargain offered in the Arab Peace Initiative.
It's time for those who represent the Palestinian people to all be involved in making peace.
It's time for people who have been refugees for more than 60 years to regain their rights and a permanent home.
It's time to assist settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories to make their home in Israel.
It's time for self-determination.

It's time for foreigners to visit Bethlehem and other towns imprisoned by the wall.
It's time to see settlements in their comfort and refugee camps in their despair.
It's time for people living more than 40 years under occupation to feel new solidarity from a watching world.

It's time to name the shame of collective punishment and to end it in all its forms.
It's time to be revolted by violence against civilians and for civilians on both sides to be safe.
It's time for both sides to release their prisoners and give those justly accused a fair trial.
It's time to reunite the people of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
It's time for all parties to obey international humanitarian and human rights law.

It's time to share Jerusalem as the capital of two nations and a city holy to three religions.
It's time for Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities to be free to visit their holy sites.
It's time in Palestine as in Israel for olive trees to flourish and grow old.

It's time to honour all who have suffered, Palestinians and Israelis.
It's time to learn from past wrongs.
It's time to understand pent-up anger and begin to set things right.
It's time for those with blood on their hands to acknowledge what they have done.
It's time to seek forgiveness between communities and to repair a broken land together.
It's time to move forward as human beings who are all made in the image of God.

All who are able to speak truth to power must speak it.
All who would break the silence surrounding injustice must break it.
All who have something to give for peace must give it.
For Palestine, for Israel and for a troubled world,
 
It's time for peace.

 


“You can’t win against misogynist men, but you can help a movement have courage in the face of all that,” says Kathryn Kish Sklar, who specializes in the history of women’s social movements at the State University of New York at Binghamton...

Library of Congress - A memorable image from the 1913 Women’s Suffrage Parade was that of Inez Milholland astride a white horse amid the 5,000 marchers.

"Milholland and Alice Paul, whom history remembers as an architect of women’s suffrage, organized the 1913 march, and infused it with allegory and symbolism. Justice, liberty, peace and hope were represented by women in robes and colorful scarves, accompanied by the sound of trumpets. Milholland helped wrap the broad themes of American life in canny visual appeals, including her youth and beauty at a time when suffragists were derided for being unfeminine and lacking respectability..."

100 years after suffrage march, activists walk in tradition of Inez Milholland

Diplomats urge EU to block Jerusalem settlements

 [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://news.yahoo.com/diplomats-urge-eu-block-jerusalem-settlements-142035564.html



RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Nearly two dozen European diplomats have urged the EU to intensify efforts to block Israeli settlement in and near Jerusalem, saying such construction on occupied lands is the "single biggest threat" to a Mideast peace deal, according to an internal report Wednesday.

The diplomats also said the EU must ensure that aid to Israel and preferential trade agreements don't inadvertently benefit settlements, according to the report obtained by The Associated Press.

They recommended that the EU "prevent, discourage and raise awareness" of direct investments by European companies in [Israeli] settlements ...READ MORE

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Elevating the best: Rosa Parks becomes the first black woman to be honored with a full-length statue in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall.

"She defied the odds and she defied injustice," Obama said at the unveiling of a statue of Rosa Parks at the U.S. Capitol. "She lived a life of activism, but also a life of dignity and grace. And in a single moment, with the simplest of gestures, she helped change America and change the world."
 
Rosa Parks statue in  in the Capitol's Statuary Hall photo by Jack Reed/Reuters

"We do well by placing a statue of her here," Obama said, "but we can do no greater honor to her memory than to carry forward the power of her principle and a courage born of conviction." Rosa Parks statue unveiled at Capitol

U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd L) takes part in the unveiling of the Rosa Parks statue in the U.S. Capitol in Washington February 27, 2013. (From L-R) are Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC). REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and congressional leaders unveiled a full-length statue of civil rights icon Rosa Parks in the Capitol Wednesday, paying tribute to a figure whose name became synonymous with courage in the face of injustice.

Parks becomes the first black woman to be honored with a full-length statue in the Capitol's Statuary Hall. A bust of another black woman, abolitionist Sojourner Truth, sits in the Capitol Visitors Center...READ MORE

My letter to CSM RE Is a third Palestinian intifada coming?

To Rise to the Challenge

RE: Is a third Palestinian intifada coming?  Someday, something is going to have to give in the cold peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. But that's been true for years.
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Backchannels/2013/0226/Is-a-third-Palestinian-intifada-coming?nav=87-frontpage-entryInsideMonitor

Dear Editor,

I certainly hope that a new intifada does not break out because the men, women and children of Palestine would, per usual, suffer most... and nothing new would be accomplished. 

I do not agree with the idea that the Palestinian Authority (and thus Palestinian state building efforts) exist because "Israel and the US permit it to exist and its funding comes either from those sources or because those sources allow that to come through".

The continuing quest for freedom, justice, security, and peace for the besieged and displaced people of historic Palestine has indeed been hindered by Israeli machinations... but it has also been sabotaged by ardent  "pro-Palestine" extremists and bigots worldwide who want the Israel-Palestine conflict to become a religious war, and/or a war on the West. Too many misguided outsiders and misinformed insiders want Palestine to be a rally cry rather than a real nation state of the people, by the people and for the people.

Diplomacy and negotiations to actually end the Israel-Palestine conflict and the very real plight of the Palestinians are best empowered by full respect for international law and universal basic human rights- and The Arab Peace Initiative which clearly calls for "The acceptance of the establishment of a Sovereign Independent Palestinian State on the Palestinian territories occupied since the 4th of June 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza strip, with east Jerusalem as its capital."

Sincerely
Anne Selden Annab

NOTES
"We really hope everybody will step back a little and try to find a way to proceed very calmly and very thoughtfully in these next days (and) leave the opportunities for peaceful resolution open." U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

The BDS movement explained by Palestine's Omar Barghouti in the NY Daily News

Bradley Burston: As Lincoln abolished slavery, Israel must abolish occupation... I realize now that I am an abolitionist and that occupation is slavery. I also realize that I need to pay more attention to Abraham Lincoln, in his ability to remind us all of the wisdom hidden in the obvious.

Hussein Ibish: The Muslim forest and the Islamist trees

In the West Bank village whose struggle to regain land taken by Israel was portrayed in an Oscar-nominated documentary, activists huddled around a campfire before dawn Monday to watch the ceremony

Palestine's Abbas: "The Israelis want chaos ... We will not allow them to drag us into it and to mess with the lives of our children and our youth..."

Palestine's Abbas: "The Israelis want chaos ... We will not allow them to drag us into it and to mess with the lives of our children and our youth..."

Intifada VS Oscar

Israeli Settlers Destroy 50 [Palestinian] Olive Trees Near Hebron

NYTimes: Settlers in West Bank Shoot Two Palestinians

The European Union Renews its Support to Improve Mental Health Services in Gaza

The Balfour Declaration: If wording counts....

Jordanian Diplomat Marwan Muasher (his country’s first ambassador to Israel, where he made many friends) points out the importance of The Arab Peace Initiative... & the fact that Obama Should Try to Help Solve Conflict
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".... it being clearly understood that nothing
          shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious
          rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine..."
What is an Israeli settlement

"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
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.

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.


Emanating from the conviction of the Arab countries that a military solution to the conflict will not achieve peace or provide security for the parties, the council:
1. Requests Israel to reconsider its policies and declare that a just peace is its strategic option as well.
2. Further calls upon Israel to affirm:
I- Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.
II- Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194.
III- The acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4, 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
3. Consequently, the Arab countries affirm the following:
I- Consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region.
II- Establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.
4. Assures the rejection of all forms of Palestinian patriation which conflict with the special circumstances of the Arab host countries.
5. Calls upon the government of Israel and all Israelis to accept this initiative in order to safeguard the prospects for peace and stop the further shedding of blood, enabling the Arab countries and Israel to live in peace and good neighbourliness and provide future generations with security, stability and prosperity.
6. Invites the international community and all countries and organisations to support this initiative.
7. Requests the chairman of the summit to form a special committee composed of some of its concerned member states and the secretary general of the League of Arab States to pursue the necessary contacts to gain support for this initiative at all levels, particularly from the United Nations, the Security Council, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the Muslim states and the European Union.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"We really hope everybody will step back a little and try to find a way to proceed very calmly and very thoughtfully in these next days (and) leave the opportunities for peaceful resolution open." U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

Feb 26 2013 - 3:42pm
Abbas to Palestinian Authority security officials: Don't get drawn into Israeli violence
February 26, 2013

U.S., while closely monitoring violence in West Bank, avoids high-level involvement, telling both Israel and the Palestinians to resolve the crisis through direct dialogue. 
 
 
Feb 26 2013 - 3:44pm
Kerry: Obama plans to 'listen', not present peace plan
February 26, 2013

"We really hope everybody will step back a little and try to find a way to proceed very calmly and very thoughtfully in these next days (and) leave the opportunities for peaceful resolution open."
 
 
 
 
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The BDS movement explained by Palestine's Omar Barghouti in the NY Daily News

The BDS call was launched on July 9, 2005, by an alliance of more than 170 Palestinian parties, unions, refugee networks, NGOs and grassroots associations. They asked international civil society organizations and people of conscience to “impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.”

Specifically, BDS calls for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967; an end to what even the U.S. State Department slams as Israel’s “institutional, legal and societal discrimination” against its Palestinian citizens; and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands from which they were forcibly displaced.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/boycott-israel-article-1.1271226#ixzz2M2aMEzyA

Palestinian protesters in a West Bank village throw stones towards Israeli troops during a weekly demonstration against Israel's controversial wall.


[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]

Bradley Burston: As Lincoln abolished slavery, Israel must abolish occupation... I realize now that I am an abolitionist and that occupation is slavery. I also realize that I need to pay more attention to Abraham Lincoln, in his ability to remind us all of the wisdom hidden in the obvious.

"I realize now why "apartheid" is too easy, too slick, too Madison Avenue a term, for what occupation truly is and does.

Occupation is slavery.

In the name of occupation, generation after generation of Palestinians have been treated as property. They can be moved at will, shackled at will, tortured at will, have their families separated at will. They can be denied the right to vote, to own property, to meet or speak to family and friends. They can be hounded or even shot dead by their masters, who claim their position by biblical right, and also use them to build and work on the plantations the toilers cannot themselves ever hope to own." Bradley Burston

http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/a-special-place-in-hell/as-lincoln-abolished-slavery-israel-must-abolish-occupation.premium-1.505908

Sally Field and Daniel Day-Lewis appear in a scene from "Lincoln." Photo by AP

[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]