Labels

Saturday, March 29, 2014

My letter to the NYTimes RE Editorial: Peace Process on Life Support?

Palestinian Heritage
RE NYTimes Editorial: Peace Process on Life Support?
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/29/opinion/peace-process-on-life-support.html?ref=opinion

Dear Editor,

Israel as a sovereign country has a sovereign responsibilities:  Convincing Israel and its supporters and investors to end the ongoing illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories and the ongoing persecution, impoverishment and displacement of the native non-Jewish population of historic Palestine is one of the biggest challenges of this century. 

Golden Rule thinking has helped many people make good progress, as has the internet with its global instant reach around the world as well as back into time.

This year there will either be a carefully negotiated agreement based on full respect for international law and universal human rights shaping two sovereign but clearly separate secular nation states, one called Israel and one called Palestine, or there will be an ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict exasperating the angst of the Israelis and the very real plight and suffering of the Palestinians. 

Time will tell- but there is no way to predict much less quantify how much worse the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict might suddenly become, and no way to forecast the many negative ramifications for the entire region if we miss this one last chance to weigh in championing the rule of fair and just laws and a lasting peace with true security for all the people- regardless of supposed race, religion, nationality or gender.

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

NOTES
National Geographic rates the Abraham Path the #1 New Walking Trail in the World!

“Only just peace has a chance to stick and last for generations to come...” Professor Asad Al-Ghalith, Palestinian refugee
 
Noah Habeeb: Critics of Students for Justice in Palestine ignore crucial facts

Parenting peace & justice

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said on Tuesday that the United States must stand up for Palestinian human rights and hold Israel accountable

"Palestine transformed into the Land of Israel" Jeff Halper ...Israel's "Judaization" of Jerusalem and the West Bank continues apace

Arab summit refuses to recognize Israel as 'Jewish state'

Advancing Peace between Israelis and Palestinians: Obstacles and Opportunities Statement of ATFP Pres. Ziad Asali at the UN Conference on the Question of Palestine in Ecuador "...encouraging in word and deed the parties to do what they need to in order to make serious progress towards a peace agreement."

Choices Made, Choices Denied ... the gist of Filippo Grandi's most recent and last official speech: "The alleged status quo is in fact constantly spiraling downwards, and every day that passes erodes the norms and boundaries of international and human rights law that are needed to support a just solution of the conflict."  Annie's note: I blogged this very important speech by Filippo Grandi, UNRWA Commissioner-General, by selecting main crucial points that are direct sequential quotes from the text of his lecture at Birzeit University, interspersing his words with illustrations that might help an outsider better understand the situation... and the very real plight of the Palestinians.

Hussein Ibish: Dramatizing the negotiations The new play Camp David illustrates the necessity and difficulty of peace, and how little has changed in 35 years

Heart songs ... from Palestine & beyond

Arab League summit considers withdrawing Arab Peace Initiative

The "Return Unifies Us" day of action includes events organized by Palestinian refugees in a number of countries around the world, especially within the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, and Lebanon.

Israeli architecture association faces ban from international forum: Royal Institute of British Architects proposes boycott of Israeli Association of United Architects' over Palestinian settlements

U.N. rights investigator accuses Israel of 'ethnic cleansing'

Palestine Images.... flowering almond

Ashrawi: “There is a Global Rule of Law, and Israel Must be Subject to it”

In response to the concerns raised by Palestinian churches in Palestine and Israel, the World Council of Churches expresses its own grave concern about the law passed by the Israeli Knesset on 24 February 2014, which would define the status of Palestinian Arab Christians in the State of Israel against their own will.

"I believe that the root of all injustice and oppression has always been the same – the dehumanization of the other. It is the obsession with Us and Them that can lead us, regardless of racial or religious identity, into the abyss." Roger Waters: Why I must speak out on Israel, Palestine and BDS

Maen Rashid Areikat: Obama is right to criticize Israeli settlements

Celebrities press UN on Palestinian refugees in Syria

Old Man of Jerusalem... with an AP archive link to a wonderful old (& very brief) video made in 1957 of an amazing Palestinian, Mohammad Khalil Abulhawa, born in 1821

Outreach: American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) "Our Israeli and Palestinian partners in the Middle East as well as our partners in the U.S. believe as we do that a lasting peace must begin with a commitment to shared security for all."

"The best and most effective way to reduce the tensions and tragedies such as the murder of the Jordanian judge, is to end the occupation and totally remove the unwanted Israeli occupiers from Palestinian territories." Daoud Kuttab Analysis: Allenby killing highlights need for serious change

Netanyahu's demand for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state bizarrely inserts Palestinians into the 'Who is a Jew' debate: Ziad Asali of the American Task Force on Palestine

Ibish: How many times must the Palestinians recognize Israel?  

Video of the Late Amb. Sam Lewis, a Friend of both Palestine and Israel

American Task Force on Palestine... A Decade of Achievement: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About ATFP

U.N. Denies Altering Image of Palestinian Refugees in Damascus By the NYTimes' Robert Mackey

Visualizing Palestine: 20 Years of Talks Keeping Palestine Occupied

A UN Committee Expresses Concern over Recent Developments in Occupied Jerusalem... The committee said that Israel also continues to construct settlements in East Jerusalem, in violation of international law and in defiance of the international community's repeated calls for ending such illegal acts.

Plea to the Pope... Ash Wednesday Letter To Pope Francis: Speak Out Against Targeting of Palestinian Children


Palestinian Refugees (1948-NOW) refused their right to return... and their right to live in peace free from religious bigotry and injustice.

Refugees and the Right of Return

We call for a just solution to our refugee issue in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194. Our position on refugees is also included and supported in the Arab Peace Initiative (API), which calls for “a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.” A just solution to the refugee issue must address two aspects: the right of return and reparations.
Refugees, Borders & Jerusalem
"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

More than sixty years ago, back in 1949, the Application of Israel for admission to membership in the United Nations (A/818) clearly pointed out that Israel was directly contravening "the previous recommendations of the United Nations in at least three important respects: in its attitude on the problem of Arab refugees, on the delimitation of its territorial boundaries, and on the question of Jerusalem." http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/85255e950050831085255e95004fa9c3/1db943e43c280a26052565fa004d8174?OpenDocument 
Do Palestinians have a right to return to the places from which they or their ancestors were displaced? UNHCR’s support for the right of return is based on the idea that the right of return is a recognized customary norm of International law which is included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The Palestinian Refugee's Right of Return: No issue is more emblematic of the 20th century Palestinian experience than the plight of the approximately seven million Palestinian refugees.

What message do we send?

Reflections By An ARAB JEW by Ella Habiba Shohat "When my grandmother first encountered Israeli society in the '50s, she was convinced that the people who looked, spoke and ate so differently--the European Jews--were actually European Christians. Jewishness for her generation was inextricably associated with Middle Easterness. My grandmother, who still lives in Israel and still communicates largely in Arabic, had to be taught to speak of "us" as Jews and "them" as Arabs. For Middle Easterners, the operating distinction had always been "Muslim," "Jew," and "Christian," not Arab versus Jew. The assumption was that "Arabness" referred to a common shared culture and language, albeit with religious differences."

UNITED NATIONS: Give Peace a Chance... The year 2014 has been proclaimed the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People... “The objective of the  International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is to promote solidarity with the Palestinian people as a central theme, contributing to international awareness of (a) core themes regarding the question of Palestine, as prioritized by the Committee, (b) obstacles to the ongoing peace process, particularly those requiring urgent action such as settlements, Jerusalem, the blockade of Gaza and the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and; (c) mobilization of global action towards the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the question of Palestine in accordance with international law and the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.”

History of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, was the result of the experience of the Second World War. With the end of that war, and the creation of the United Nations, the international community vowed never again to allow atrocities like those of that conflict happen again. World leaders decided to complement the UN Charter with a road map to guarantee the rights of every individual everywhere. The document they considered, and which would later become the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was taken up at the first session of the General Assembly in 1946. " http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/history.shtml

U.N. Resolution 194 from 1948 Resolves that 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.
Do Palestinians have a right to return to the places from which they or their ancestors were displaced?
Palestinian refugees’ right to return to the homes from which they were displaced is well established in International law.  The first source of support for Palestinian refugees’ claims to a right of return is UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) Of December 1948, paragraph 11, in which the UN General Assembly,
“Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return 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;
Instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation…”
Since 1949, this resolution together with UNSC Res. 242 and 338 have been regularly reaffirmed by the UN General Assembly.

The rights outlined in this resolution are firmly grounded in international humanitarian, human rights, and refugee law.  According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Executive Conclusion No. 40, “…the basic rights of persons to return voluntarily to their country of origin is reaffirmed and it is urged that international cooperation be aimed at achieving this solution.”[xi]  UNHCR’s support for the right of return is based on the idea that the right of return is a recognized customary norm of International law which is included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Fourth Geneva Convention.[xii]  


  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
The Golden Rule... Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

 Live by the Golden Rule

National Geographic rates the Abraham Path the #1 New Walking Trail in the World!

Get closer to your destination and lace up your boots for a trekking trip — relying on a map and negotiating tracks under your own steam is as rewarding as it is healthy. Whether you’re keen to pace the Wales Coast Path, walk in the shadow of Caribbean volcanoes, or tackle the Himalayan peaks, here’s our guide to the world’s best new walking routes
 
Published March 06, 2014
By Ben Lerwill
 
01 Abraham Path, Middle East

“I started walking these hills when I was seven, collecting wild honey with my father,” says Habib, my guide. We’re in the northern West Bank. From east to west, he points out the outcrops of Jordan, the banks of the Dead Sea, an Israeli settlement, two Palestinian villages, pale hills, Ramallah city and, in the distant haze, Jerusalem. It’s a lot to take in. “I still love to walk. It’s in my head, in my heart. If I have a problem, a big thing to think about, I come here and walk,” Habib adds.

In the Middle East there are a lot of big things to think about. It’s one of the reasons the Abraham Path — a long-distance hiking trail that, once complete, will stitch a route across almost the entire region; through Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Israel — is such a singular project. It currently comprises over 280 miles of trails, with more added each year.

The route is based on the ‘cultural memory’ of Abraham — a key figure in Islam, Judaism and Christianity — and loosely traces the on-foot journey he made some 4,000 years ago. The overarching idea is for the path to build a connection between Middle East communities and visitors from across the world.

In the village of Al Mughayir, there’s a disturbance going on. My group is walking a three-day, 32-mile section of the path through the West Bank, winding along stony hillside tracks from the northern city of Nablus down to the outskirts of Jericho. It’s our second day, and after a morning spent passing through wheat fields and olive groves we reach the village as the day’s heat takes hold.

But we haven’t banked on coinciding with school break time. Spying the walkers, children begin charging at the playground fence: 10, 20 — suddenly more than 100. Their faces are urgent, their voices a frenzy. Through it all, it’s possible to pick out individual shouts. “How are you? Hello!”
“Welcome to Palestine!” “What’s your name?”

The landscape has a hardiness that conceals gifts: mistletoe, wagtails, dragonflies and pink cyclamen. And the walking is often dramatic, particularly in the canyons of Wadi Auja, where the only sounds are birdsong and footfall on loose rock.

We sleep in welcoming homestays. I learn that lamb-filled flatbreads and pomegranate juice make good hiking fuel, and the valleys glow gold at first light. There are surprises too, not least in the Christian town of Taybeh — pre-trip, I hadn’t envisaged myself ordering locally brewed beer from a nun.

It’s a spirit-lifting hike — and Habib provides an all-seeing eye throughout. Here the smoke from a Bedouin camp, there an Israeli military base. Here a porcupine print, there a sacred mountain. And this sense of immersion is what makes the Abraham Path project so extraordinary — it gives travellers the chance to shape their own perspective. abrahampath.org

Best for: Those looking for more than a scenic trek.
Difficulty rating: 6/10.

How to do it: In the West Bank, the Siraj Center runs tours along the Abraham Path from $650 (£398) for four days, including transfers from Jerusalem. EasyJet flies to Tel Aviv from Luton and Manchester; British Airways from Heathrow; El Al from Heathrow and Luton; Jet2 from Manchester. The airport is 27 miles from Jerusalem, with regular public transport. sirajcenter.org   easyjet.com   ba.com   elal.co.il   jet2.com

***

 We welcome YOU to experience Palestine through our walks!
Walking trails in Palestine are as old as the stones of Jerusalem. Caravan routes were used to cross Palestine through three different areas: the Jordan Valley (rift valley), the Central or Patriarch’s Route, and Via Maris. Caravans were used to trade and exchange goods with the people who lived in Palestine through all ages and civilizations. The people of Palestine have always offered great hospitality to first-time visitors, not knowing where they come from or how long they will stay. Hospitality and offering the best of what they have is still the main characteristic of the people of the land. Building on the great hospitality and kindness of the Palestinian people, and on the same routes that people have been using for thousands of years, new hiking and walking routes have been emerging in Palestine.

Friday, March 28, 2014

My letter to PBS Newshour RE Jimmy Carter on Ukraine, Israel and addressing injustices faced by women around the world

Palestinian Heritage
RE PBS Newshour: Jimmy Carter on Ukraine, Israel and addressing injustices faced by women around the world
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/jimmy-carter-ukraine-israel-addressing-injustices-faced-women-around-world/

Dear PBS Newshour,

I think Jimmy Carter has good intentions, and he certainly was been brave in writing his book Palestine, Peace, not Apartheid... BUT, in advocating peace and a negotiated settlement to once and for all end the Israel Palestine conflict, I think he is very very wrong to advise people that the Palestinian refugees' best alternative "is not to let them come back into Israel, but into the West Bank and Gaza"

Forced transfer of the native non-Jewish men, women and children of historic Palestine created a massive refugee crisis and has been exasperating bigotry and religious extremism on both sides ever since...  The best alternative for everyone, including the Palestinian refugees, is for all the world to recognize the vital importance of fair and just laws fully respecting universal human rights, including but not limited to the refugees inalienable right to return to original homes and lands.
 

"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...." The Office of International Religious Freedom ( http://www.state.gov/j/drl/irf/ )

Tax payers here and there should not be forced to fund and empower Israel's Jewish scholars and schemes.  Religion should be a personal private choice, not a state subsidized mandate. 

Sincerely,
Anne Selden Annab

NOTES
“Only just peace has a chance to stick and last for generations to come...” Professor Asad Al-Ghalith, Palestinian refugee

Noah Habeeb: Critics of Students for Justice in Palestine ignore crucial facts

Parenting peace & justice

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said on Tuesday that the United States must stand up for Palestinian human rights and hold Israel accountable

"Palestine transformed into the Land of Israel" Jeff Halper ...Israel's "Judaization" of Jerusalem and the West Bank continues apace


Arab summit refuses to recognize Israel as 'Jewish state'

Advancing Peace between Israelis and Palestinians: Obstacles and Opportunities Statement of ATFP Pres. Ziad Asali at the UN Conference on the Question of Palestine in Ecuador "...encouraging in word and deed the parties to do what they need to in order to make serious progress towards a peace agreement."

Choices Made, Choices Denied ... the gist of Filippo Grandi's most recent and last official speech: "The alleged status quo is in fact constantly spiraling downwards, and every day that passes erodes the norms and boundaries of international and human rights law that are needed to support a just solution of the conflict."  Annie's note: I blogged this very important speech by Filippo Grandi, UNRWA Commissioner-General, by selecting main crucial points that are direct sequential quotes from the text of his lecture at Birzeit University, interspersing his words with illustrations that might help an outsider better understand the situation... and the very real plight of the Palestinians.

Hussein Ibish: Dramatizing the negotiations The new play Camp David illustrates the necessity and difficulty of peace, and how little has changed in 35 years

Heart songs ... from Palestine & beyond

Arab League summit considers withdrawing Arab Peace Initiative

The "Return Unifies Us" day of action includes events organized by Palestinian refugees in a number of countries around the world, especially within the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, and Lebanon.

Israeli architecture association faces ban from international forum: Royal Institute of British Architects proposes boycott of Israeli Association of United Architects' over Palestinian settlements

U.N. rights investigator accuses Israel of 'ethnic cleansing'

Palestine Images.... flowering almond

Ashrawi: “There is a Global Rule of Law, and Israel Must be Subject to it”

In response to the concerns raised by Palestinian churches in Palestine and Israel, the World Council of Churches expresses its own grave concern about the law passed by the Israeli Knesset on 24 February 2014, which would define the status of Palestinian Arab Christians in the State of Israel against their own will.

"I believe that the root of all injustice and oppression has always been the same – the dehumanization of the other. It is the obsession with Us and Them that can lead us, regardless of racial or religious identity, into the abyss." Roger Waters: Why I must speak out on Israel, Palestine and BDS

Maen Rashid Areikat: Obama is right to criticize Israeli settlements

Celebrities press UN on Palestinian refugees in Syria

Old Man of Jerusalem... with an AP archive link to a wonderful old (& very brief) video made in 1957 of an amazing Palestinian, Mohammad Khalil Abulhawa, born in 1821

Outreach: American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) "Our Israeli and Palestinian partners in the Middle East as well as our partners in the U.S. believe as we do that a lasting peace must begin with a commitment to shared security for all."

"The best and most effective way to reduce the tensions and tragedies such as the murder of the Jordanian judge, is to end the occupation and totally remove the unwanted Israeli occupiers from Palestinian territories." Daoud Kuttab Analysis: Allenby killing highlights need for serious change

Netanyahu's demand for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state bizarrely inserts Palestinians into the 'Who is a Jew' debate: Ziad Asali of the American Task Force on Palestine

Ibish: How many times must the Palestinians recognize Israel?  

Video of the Late Amb. Sam Lewis, a Friend of both Palestine and Israel

American Task Force on Palestine... A Decade of Achievement: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About ATFP

U.N. Denies Altering Image of Palestinian Refugees in Damascus By the NYTimes' Robert Mackey

Visualizing Palestine: 20 Years of Talks Keeping Palestine Occupied

A UN Committee Expresses Concern over Recent Developments in Occupied Jerusalem... The committee said that Israel also continues to construct settlements in East Jerusalem, in violation of international law and in defiance of the international community's repeated calls for ending such illegal acts.

Plea to the Pope... Ash Wednesday Letter To Pope Francis: Speak Out Against Targeting of Palestinian Children


Palestinian Refugees (1948-NOW) refused their right to return... and their right to live in peace free from religious bigotry and injustice.

Refugees and the Right of Return

We call for a just solution to our refugee issue in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194. Our position on refugees is also included and supported in the Arab Peace Initiative (API), which calls for “a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.” A just solution to the refugee issue must address two aspects: the right of return and reparations.
Refugees, Borders & Jerusalem
"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

More than sixty years ago, back in 1949, the Application of Israel for admission to membership in the United Nations (A/818) clearly pointed out that Israel was directly contravening "the previous recommendations of the United Nations in at least three important respects: in its attitude on the problem of Arab refugees, on the delimitation of its territorial boundaries, and on the question of Jerusalem." http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/85255e950050831085255e95004fa9c3/1db943e43c280a26052565fa004d8174?OpenDocument 
Do Palestinians have a right to return to the places from which they or their ancestors were displaced? UNHCR’s support for the right of return is based on the idea that the right of return is a recognized customary norm of International law which is included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The Palestinian Refugee's Right of Return: No issue is more emblematic of the 20th century Palestinian experience than the plight of the approximately seven million Palestinian refugees.

What message do we send?


Reflections By An ARAB JEW by Ella Habiba Shohat
"When my grandmother first encountered Israeli society in the '50s, she was convinced that the people who looked, spoke and ate so differently--the European Jews--were actually European Christians. Jewishness for her generation was inextricably associated with Middle Easterness. My grandmother, who still lives in Israel and still communicates largely in Arabic, had to be taught to speak of "us" as Jews and "them" as Arabs. For Middle Easterners, the operating distinction had always been "Muslim," "Jew," and "Christian," not Arab versus Jew. The assumption was that "Arabness" referred to a common shared culture and language, albeit with religious differences."

UNITED NATIONS: Give Peace a Chance... The year 2014 has been proclaimed the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People... “The objective of the  International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is to promote solidarity with the Palestinian people as a central theme, contributing to international awareness of (a) core themes regarding the question of Palestine, as prioritized by the Committee, (b) obstacles to the ongoing peace process, particularly those requiring urgent action such as settlements, Jerusalem, the blockade of Gaza and the humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory and; (c) mobilization of global action towards the achievement of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution of the question of Palestine in accordance with international law and the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.”

History of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, was the result of the experience of the Second World War. With the end of that war, and the creation of the United Nations, the international community vowed never again to allow atrocities like those of that conflict happen again. World leaders decided to complement the UN Charter with a road map to guarantee the rights of every individual everywhere. The document they considered, and which would later become the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, was taken up at the first session of the General Assembly in 1946. " http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/history.shtml

U.N. Resolution 194 from 1948 Resolves that 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.
Do Palestinians have a right to return to the places from which they or their ancestors were displaced?
Palestinian refugees’ right to return to the homes from which they were displaced is well established in International law.  The first source of support for Palestinian refugees’ claims to a right of return is UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) Of December 1948, paragraph 11, in which the UN General Assembly,
“Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return 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;
Instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation…”
Since 1949, this resolution together with UNSC Res. 242 and 338 have been regularly reaffirmed by the UN General Assembly.

The rights outlined in this resolution are firmly grounded in international humanitarian, human rights, and refugee law.  According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Executive Conclusion No. 40, “…the basic rights of persons to return voluntarily to their country of origin is reaffirmed and it is urged that international cooperation be aimed at achieving this solution.”[xi]  UNHCR’s support for the right of return is based on the idea that the right of return is a recognized customary norm of International law which is included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Fourth Geneva Convention.[xii]  


  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
The Golden Rule... Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

 Live by the Golden Rule

“Only just peace has a chance to stick and last for generations to come...” Professor Asad Al-Ghalith, Palestinian refugee

Ismail Shammout 1997 painting: Madonna of the Oranges
  (Works in Arabic by Palestinian refugee Ghassan Kanafani: ard al-burtuqal al-hazin, 1963 (أرض البرتقال الحزين, The Land of Sad Oranges

 The Land of Sad Oranges: Trials and Tribulations of a Palestinian Refugee

[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://www.bupipedream.com/news/33260/sjp-speaker/

Palestinian professor recounts time as a refugee

A Palestinian refugee spoke on campus Monday, recounting the hardships he and his family faced and discussing what it will take to achieve a peaceful solution on the ground.

Professor Asad Al-Ghalith teaches at the University of Tabuk in Saudi Arabia, but he got his start in academia in the United States, attending both the University of Missouri and West Virginia University. His talk Monday, called “The Land of Sad Oranges: Trials and Tribulations of a Palestinian Refugee,” was hosted by the Binghamton University English department, BU Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the BU sociology department and the Graduate Student Employees Union.

Al-Ghalith discussed life as a refugee for him and his family. His family had to flee Palestine during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and moved between several refugee camps during Al-Ghalith’s childhood. Born in 1956, Al-Ghalith talked about what the land meant to his family and their community of mainly farmers.

“Their relationship to the land was existential,” Al-Ghalith said. “That harmonious relationship with the land was suddenly and severely ruptured … in 1948 and the Palestinians found themselves refugees in many countries.”

Al-Ghalith described his life when his family had to again become refugees, when he was in fifth grade. He recounted running with his family, standing near a bridge on the Jordan River, when violence struck.

“We were about 50 yards, maybe 100 yards away from the river, when the Israeli jets came on the last day of the war and bombed the bridge,” Al-Ghalith said.

The bridge wasn’t totally destroyed, Al-Ghalith said, but the shelling left large holes that rendered it uncrossable.

He described a moment that stuck with him: seeing a pregnant woman who had been shot in the stomach, as her daughter tried to use mud from the river to stop her mother’s bleeding.

“No one dared to stop and help this bleeding woman or her daughter or the people who were dismembered on the bridge,” Al-Ghalith said. “They feared that [they] were coming again to finish the job.”

Al-Ghalith also talked about the living quarters for refugees. For several months, he lived in a classroom with two other families — a total of 21 people.

“Of course there is no privacy, no chance to take a shower, no chance to sleep with all those kids crying and running, no food,” Al-Ghalith said.

He said his family received a loaf of bread each day to eat and, if they were lucky, a piece of moldy cheese.

That summer, Al-Ghalith and his family moved to a refugee camp in the Jordan Valley, where they lived in a tent with a dirt floor. 100,000 refugees were placed on the one-square-kilometer area, he said.

Al-Ghalith also discussed the future for peace in the region. He said an unjust solution will not last in the long run.

“Only just peace has a chance to stick and last for generations to come,” Al-Ghalith said.

Steve Knauss, a fifth-year graudate student studying sociology, said bringing speakers like Al-Ghalith to campus are important in expanding views represented on campus.

“We have a warped reality on this campus, and the experiences of Palestinian refugees have been all but wiped out of it,” Knauss said. “Having a personal firsthand account of the tribulations of a Palestinian refugee really helps drive home just how much the Palestinian people have really sacrificed, in a way that facts and numbers don’t to the average student.”

Tyler Albertario, president of SJP and a senior majoring in political science, said Al-Ghalith “exuded personal strength” and appealed to the audience.

“He provided an inspiring appeal to the better instincts of human beings in the room,” Albertario said.

“His main point is that we can have peace, but there has to be justice.”

Noah Habeeb: Critics of Students for Justice in Palestine ignore crucial facts

Tufts University
Motto Pax et Lux (Latin)
Motto in English Peace and Light
[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]

Op-Ed | Critics of SJP ignore crucial facts

Published: Thursday, March 27, 2014

   Just when you thought it was over, here’s a new opinion on Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW). I, too, came back from spring break expecting the discussion to have dissipated, only to find yet another criticism of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) in the op-ed section of the Daily. First, let me be clear that I am not a member of SJP. I find that their tactics during IAW are an example of activists preaching to the choir. The demonstrations and events only seem to resonate with those inclined toward their cause, while students who are uninformed or neutral tend to be put-off by IAW. Having said that, the many op-eds published in the Daily are evidence alone that IAW resulted in campus dialogue. To claim that SJP has inhibited such discussions is, in my view, inaccurate.

    Even more worrisome, however, is the persistent claim that the application of the term “apartheid” to Palestine is offensive to those who “really” endured apartheid, namely black South Africans. While not popular in American political discourse, the apartheid analogy is given more credence in other parts of the world. The portrayal of Israeli Apartheid as a fringe argument that is offensive to those who were victims of “actual apartheid” is a great inaccuracy. Certainly, there are some South Africans who might object to the comparison, but many prominent leaders and groups have expressed solidarity with Palestine.

    As noted in Haaretz two weeks ago, Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said, “I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces ... their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.”

    He’s not the only one. The African National Congress, the political party of Nelson Mandela and the current ruling party of South Africa, issued a press release titled “ANC in solidarity with the people of Palestine — supporting Israeli Apartheid Week.” It read in part, “The ANC is proud to join the over 75 South African organizations, trade unions, civil society groups, schools, universities, religious communities, NGOs and other formations in participating in this year’s 10th International Israeli Apartheid Week.”

    In addition... READ MORE

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Parenting peace & justice

Palestine Sunbird: The national bird of Palestine THE LOVELY PLANET ( Image: Sakhr Abdullah )

Mike Hanini Odetalla: "Once, when I was a child, my grandfather (ay) berated me for disturbing a bird's nest, asking me how I would feel if someone came and destroyed my home... AND yet, the Zionist Jews destroy Palestinian homes on a daily basis and in the process they destroy lives, and leave life long scars... 

I WONDER where in the HELL are those Jewish Grandfathers and what lessons are they imparting on their own children/grandchildren with their complicit silence???"
"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin?

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said on Tuesday that the United States must stand up for Palestinian human rights and hold Israel accountable

"For decades, we have been subjected to a system of direct control and captivity; Israel is violating our human rights and freedoms and annexing Palestinian land and resources, while completing the siege and ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem," Ashrawi said.
[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://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=684785
Ashrawi: US must hold Israel 'accountable'

RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said on Tuesday that the United States must stand up for Palestinian human rights and hold Israel accountable, stressing that there was "no hope for peace" if it failed do so.

The comments came during a meeting with US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, Catherine Russell, at the PLO Headquarters in Ramallah on Tuesday.

During the meeting, both parties discussed the role of women in the "peace process," the importance of the women's movement in Palestine, the ongoing negotiations, and Israel's creation of "facts on the ground."

"For decades, we have been subjected to a system of direct control and captivity; Israel is violating our human rights and freedoms and annexing Palestinian land and resources, while completing the siege and ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem," Ashrawi said.

"The US is not exercising the political will needed to curb Israeli violations of international and humanitarian law. Unless there is an American commitment to treat Palestinians equally and to hold Israel accountable, there is no hope for peace," she added.

Ashrawi also noted the accomplishments of women in Palestine in the face of tremendous odds:

"Despite the gender discrimination in Palestine and obstacles imposed by Israel's military occupation, among other barriers, Palestinian women persist in their struggle for equality, dignity, and social justice."

"Palestine transformed into the Land of Israel" Jeff Halper ...Israel's "Judaization" of Jerusalem and the West Bank continues apace

Ma'an News file image
Published yesterday (updated) 26/03/2014

"In 1967, between 2-320,000 Palestinians lived in the Jordan Valley; today only about 55,000 remain, and of those only 15,000 remain in the Area C outside of the city of Jericho -- an area comprising 30 percent of the West Bank -- half of them Bedouin.

The communities in Area C, which under tremendous pressure of demolition and displacement. A full 94 percent of their agricultural land is off-limits to them.

The destruction of Palestinian homes does not occur only in the Occupied Territories, of course. The entire country is being Judaized; Palestine transformed into the Land of Israel. In recent years the Israeli government has demolished three times more homes inside Israel than it has in the Occupied Territories."

Analysis: Demolishing homes, demolishing peace
Jeff Halper is the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
 http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=684984

[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]

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Arab summit refuses to recognize Israel as 'Jewish state'

President Mahmoud Abbas attends the 25th Arab League
summit in Kuwait City non March 25, 2014.(AFP/Yasser Al-Zayyat)
[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://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=684874

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) -- Arab leaders fully back a Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, an Israeli demand that threatens to derail peace talks, a joint statement said on Wednesday.

"We express our total rejection of the call to consider Israel as a Jewish state," said the final declaration of the two-day Arab summit in Kuwait.

President Abbas told the 25th Arab League summit that the Israeli government was trying to renege on its commitment to release Palestinian prisoners and was not serious about peace talks.

"The Israeli government took every chance to foil the American efforts. This proves what we say about the lack of seriousness and preparedness of the Israeli government to withdraw and create peace."

Abbas rejected partitioning the al-Aqsa mosque either physically or by imposing a schedule in which Jews and Muslims be able to worship separately.

Ahead of the summit, Arab officials told Ma'an that Arab envoys were considering withdrawing the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002.

The initiative -- which calls for two states on the 1967 borders and a "just settlement" of the refugee issue in exchange for full normalization between Israel and the Arab world -- was largely rejected by Israeli officials after it was approved at the 2002 Beirut summit.

The PLO recognized Israel's right to exist in 1988, but say that recognizing Israel as a "Jewish state" is unnecessary and could jeopardize the right of return for Palestinian refugees and limit the rights of Palestinians living in Israel.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report

Advancing Peace between Israelis and Palestinians: Obstacles and Opportunities Statement of ATFP Pres. Ziad Asali at the UN Conference on the Question of Palestine in Ecuador "...encouraging in word and deed the parties to do what they need to in order to make serious progress towards a peace agreement."


UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL MEETING ON THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE
March 25, 2014 Quito, Ecuador
Statement of ATFP Pres. Ziad Asali

Introduction:

Over recent decades, particularly in the context of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 and all subsequent resolutions following the 1967 war, an overwhelming international consensus has emerged in favor of peace in the Middle East based on two states -- Israel and Palestine -- living side by side in peace, security and dignity. The Palestinian state will be highest form and vehicle for realizing the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people through the exercise of self-determination. 

Since it was established in Madrid in 2002, this international consensus has been most directly expressed through the Middle East Quartet -- the United States, the European Union, the UN Secretariat, and Russia -- which has effectively given the imprimatur of the entire international community to the project of seeking this outcome. Moreover, a solid majority of both Israelis and Palestinians have expressed a preference for this outcome in virtually every poll and survey over more than two decades. Despite the enormous frustrations resulting from a lack of peace, these majorities remain committed to this goal. The Arab League has unanimously expressed the Arab consensus in favor of this as well, through the Arab Peace Initiative. With the exception of a few outliers internationally and in any given society, the whole world essentially agrees on both a two-state solution and its fundamental outlines: a Palestinian state alongside Israel based on the 1967 borders with mutually agreed land swaps and its capital in East Jerusalem, a fair and just resolution of the refugee issue, and full regional acceptance, recognition and integration of Israel in the Middle Eastern family of nations, and guarantees for its security.

There is an obvious reason for this consensus: it is the only potential conflict-ending solution. Other outcomes are achievable, most notably a continuation of the conflict in its present or modified forms. All other formulas are either fanciful and unachievable or would simply extend the conflict, albeit potentially in a somewhat altered context. Both of the parties, their neighbors and the entire world have a large stake in resolving this most long-lasting and politically damaging of conflicts. It is in the interest of no responsible party and no sensible people to wish to continue the Israeli-Palestinian conflict any longer. And this has been true for decades now. The problem before us today is, why have we been unable to achieve a conflict-ending two-state peace agreement, and what can be done to advance that crucial goal?

Obstacles to Advancing Peace:

The fundamental problem confronting all efforts to develop a two-state solution and realize the international consensus on a two-state peace agreement boils down to a fundamental disconnect between stated policy versus practical politics at several registers. Practical politics interferes with the stated policy aim of achieving a two-state solution. Everyone says they are for it, yet everyone is held back -- at least to some extent -- by political considerations and restraints.

The first, and perhaps most far-reaching of these, is a fundamental lack of trust that political leaders on both sides confront. For both Israelis and Palestinians, there is a lack of trust between the two sides, both at the political leadership and popular registers. Israelis and Palestinians do not believe each other, and while strong majorities of both say they want a two-state solution, they also say they believe the other side does not. They believe, in other words, that they are telling the truth but the other side is lying and has actual goals that are fundamentally incompatible with a two-state agreement. Second, there is a gap between the leaderships and their own publics. Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders have not done enough to prepare their peoples for the necessary and inevitable concessions that must be made to secure a viable peace agreement. Often the general publics on both sides don't trust their political leaderships to secure their interests, and leaders find themselves harassed on peace issues from both their left and right wing flanks. Finally, on both sides, political leaders lack strong personal and political incentives to make bold steps towards peace, even if that is clearly in the national interest of both Israel and the Palestinians. They face opposition within their own political establishments, which, on both sides, include significant and empowered actors that are either not committed to a two-state solution, or who find a personal or political benefit in opposing the necessary steps to advance one. There are powerful forces in both the Israeli and Palestinian political establishments opposed a two-state solution, in some cases under the present circumstances, and in some cases altogether. This is particularly damaging, and presents the most direct obstacle to leaders for the necessary compromises to move the process forward.

The agreed-upon final status issues themselves present another serious set of obstacles to advancing peace, because – despite significant progress in bridging the gaps over the past quarter century – the distance between the parties on these specific issues remain real and substantive. As the peace process has ground on, there have been several highly sanguineous and traumatizing eruptions of violence during the past two decades. Expanded settlement construction, ongoing occupation, violence, incitement, and regional and international meddling have exacerbated these problems. All these factors have led to a hardening of positions. In the past, both negotiators and the publics they represent appeared to be more flexible, and have more wiggle room, on the final status issues.

Amid growing cynicism about the prospects for the realization of a genuine and lasting two-state solution, self-serving narratives about the history of the peace process on both sides have intensified their grip on the public imagination, making compromise more politically difficult both to propose and to implement. Everyone agrees there are difficult choices to be made, but the political conditions render making them far more difficult than it should be.

The Middle East and North Africa region is currently undergoing a period of protracted instability and change, the outcome of which cannot be predicted or controlled (although it can be strongly influenced by sound policies). Under circumstances of uncertainty, societies typically fall back on familiar narratives, traditional positions that do not easily lend themselves to compromise, and an attachment to traditional assumptions that are familiar even though they may also be unsustainable and dangerous. Regional dynamics have also proven to be an impediment given the relentless interference in Israeli-Palestinian dynamics, and internal Palestinian politics, by various regional actors, some of whom are not committed to a two-state solution. Most notably Iran has used the Palestinian issue as a tool for its own foreign policy, and used proxies in the occupied Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Syria to undermine the prospects for a peace agreement. These forces use Palestine as a proxy for their own, independent, and sometimes entirely unrelated, purposes, and as a means to distract from other realities.

Another major impediment to peace arising from the present condition of instability in much of the region is the present inability of Egypt -- which is an indispensable partner in achieving a sustainable Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, and even significant progress towards such an agreement -- to play such a role because it is undergoing a period of difficult transition of its own. Over the past three years, it has become increasingly clear that it is more difficult than ever to attempt to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in isolation from its regional context. Instead, it must be part of a broader transformation throughout the Middle East. And, in particular, crucial peace partners such as Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf states must be in a position to play their necessary roles.

Regional turmoil, in Syria and many other Arab states, also means that the Israeli-Palestinian issue has receded as an immediate priority for much of the international community, including many in the American political establishment, and even in the Arab world. Simply put, Palestine is no longer the overriding issue on the international and regional agenda that it was for so long, although its long-term strategic significance remains undiminished. The relative de-prioritizing of Palestine in the minds of many is a mistake, but also an unsurprising outcome of the broader turmoil facing much of the rest of the region. In Israel, this turmoil is often misinterpreted as arguing for a strategic imperative that emphasizes security based on a "fortress" mentality, emphasizing walls, missile-defense systems and a risk-averse approach to regional changes. But it could, and should, prove a catalyst for greater cooperation, or at least understanding, between Israel and many of the Arab states that share some of its core concerns about the strategic future of the Middle Eastern region. However, lack of progress towards a two-state solution is greatly hampering prospects of turning these potential convergences into open cooperation.

Opportunities for advancing peace:

Despite this relatively gloomy assessment, there are real reasons to hope and assume that a two-state solution remains not only a plausible outcome, but the most likely one because it is in the interests of all parties over the long run. The most obvious new opportunity for progress is the dynamic personal engagement of the American Secretary of State John Kerry. Through skill and determination he has accomplished more than most thought possible a mere 12 months ago.

If, for the reasons outlined above, the present circumstances are not conducive to a major breakthrough on final status issues in the immediate term, in their own core interests all parties need to "buy time" to sustain the viability of a two-state solution. Should no major breakthrough emerge in coming weeks for both political and strategic reasons, the parties, the region and the international community all have a major incentive to keep the prospects for peace alive. They should work together to achieve such progress or measures as can be realized in order to ensure that Israelis and Palestinians, other Middle Easterners, and people and leaders around the world do not give up on the prospect for a two-state, conflict-ending peace agreement.

The prospect for a real engagement by significant regional players in the Israeli-Palestinian dynamic in a positive, rather than a counterproductive, manner is foreseeable. Jordan has made its willingness to play a significant and helpful, and indispensable, role clear. Many of the Gulf states, too, appear interested in playing a constructive role if possible. And it is likely that Egypt, once it has reestablished domestic security and secured its new political system, will once again emerge as a central player in the pursuit of a conflict-ending agreement. However, a series of horizons can be identified to all of the regional obstacles and opportunities outlined above. They must be taken advantage of when they present themselves, or cultivated and encouraged to emerge. Otherwise, they may become yet another footnote in the endless catalog of missed opportunities in the Israeli-Palestinian annals.

One of the more encouraging recent developments that presents a new opportunity for advancing the peace agenda is the emerging policy of the European Union and key EU member states individually of declining to subsidize or be involved in Israel's settlement project. The recent negotiations over the "Horizon 2020" EU-Israel joint research project, in which Europe insisted that no funding would be extended to areas not under Israel's jurisdiction before 1967, was an excellent model of how the international community can emphasize to Israel that while it emphasizes Israel's legitimacy, it does not accept the legitimacy of its settlement project and will not cooperate with it. Efforts by Germany and other European states to extend this multilateral approach to existing and future bilateral agreements, and to include private sector initiatives as well as purely public sector ones, are also highly encouraging. This European approach is based firmly in international law, pursuant to a two-state agreement, and a responsible intervention to try to de-incentivize Israel from further provocative settlement construction and other unlawful activity in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Similarly, some official American rhetoric increasingly constitutes a kind of "tough love" for Israel by emphasizing the potential consequences of a failure to compromise with the Palestinians on peace and to maintain the occupation and the status quo. Recent comments by US President Barack Obama that, should peace talks fail, the United States might not be able to contain the international consequences for Israel are a prime example of such rhetorical toughening. Palestinians, too, have been hearing from both Europe and the United States about the urgent need for them to not only compromise with Israel, but also to reform their own governance and public-sector structures. Some of these warnings have been tied to aid and other assistance programs to the Palestinian Authority, just as the EU is making its investments in Israel contingent on its funding not being expended in the occupied territories. All of this is heartening because it constitutes friends and allies doing what they always should: encouraging in word and deed the parties to do what they need to in order to make serious progress towards a peace agreement, or at least maintain its viability and prevent any significant re-eruption of violence on the ground. On the whole, Western friends of both Israel and the Palestinians are becoming less knee-jerk and more critical in their responses to the conduct of the parties. A further such measure might be holding senior officials on all sides accountable for statements that gratuitously and brazenly undermine the two-state solution, and credibility and viability of efforts to achieve it.

What can be done now?

If it's true that a major substantive breakthrough on the core final status issues is unlikely in coming weeks, then what can be done immediately to maintain the viability of peace and improve the situation on the ground? Short of the urgent goal of ending the occupation, certainly Palestinians are in dire need of greater economic assistance, development and reform. The PA is under-funded and its ongoing fiscal crisis exacerbates the difficulties in maintaining stability and empowering leaders to compromise. It is a source of tension that can be fairly easily dealt with, given the political will in the West and among the Arab states to provide the necessary financial aid. Palestinians, too, must do their part in heeding the advice of all of the multilateral and international economic and financial institutions by trying to shift from a top-heavy, public sector-based economy to one that focuses more on private sector initiatives. Palestinians will need significant external assistance, and at least non-interference, if not cooperation, from Israel, in order to create more small and medium-sized private sector businesses. These can form the basis for a sustainable domestic economy into the future, and in a Palestinian state to come. In this regard there have been several encouraging Israel-Palestinian private sector initiatives that are worthy of support.

Similarly, Palestinian institution-building, which was initiated at the end of the last decade, and has been fraying somewhat of late for both political and financial reasons, needs to be reinvigorated. This will require significant efforts on the part of all parties. The Palestinians must have the will to reengage institution-building in a focused and determined manner. Israel must not use the occupation to thwart or stymie the creation of the institutions for a future Palestinian state. And the international community, particularly the West and the Arab world, must provide the political, technical, institutional, educational and financial backing for such projects. Not only will they help to provide the basis for Palestinian statehood, such efforts will foster and engender hope in the future within Palestinian society and promote stability and enhance the prospects for peace.

Palestinian political and institutional reform should be strongly encouraged. Notwithstanding the significant practical and political difficulties involved, municipal and national elections should be held. Palestinian political space would benefit from a wider public debate and engagement with civil society. The primary initiative for this must come from the Palestinians themselves, but, again, they will require international assistance and Israeli non-interference in order to achieve this important goal. The Palestinian people, Israel and the international community all should have a strong interest in helping Palestine engage in a thoroughgoing process of institutional development.

Finally, the international community should continue to develop and intensify efforts to de-incentivize Israel from any further illegal activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, particularly additional settlement construction, home demolitions, the expansion of the separation barrier, land seizures, population displacement, and many other practices that are prohibited under the Fourth Geneva Convention and other key bedrocks of international law. As the occupying power, Israel has rights and responsibilities, but also clear restrictions which it cannot be allowed to violate without consequences. As long as Palestinians perceive the occupation as intensifying and further entrenching with every year of the peace process dragging on without a clear path to Palestinian independence, all other obstacles will be exacerbated. Nothing is more damaging to the prospects for achieving a conflict-ending, two-state peace agreement, or more detrimental to stability.

Because of some of Israel's occupation policies, especially settlement expansion, the Israeli-Palestinian relationship is not a static one, but rather is a dynamic that is in almost continuous deterioration. This must stop. If final-status issue breakthroughs are to be achieved in the future, encouraging Palestinians to focus on institution-building and reform and discouraging Israel from unlawful and damaging occupation policies is crucial. The international community has a major opportunity and responsibility to take significant measures to improve conditions on the ground, and between the parties, through such incentives and disincentives which can stabilize the situation in the immediate term. Ultimately this also can lay the groundwork for progress on a final-status, conflict-ending Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.