Viser arkivet for stikkord palestinian

Statement Regarding the Palestinian Statehood Initiative

Salvaging September: A ICAHD Statement Regarding the Palestinian Statehood Initiative at the UN

The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) has been one of the leading critical Israeli peace and human rights organizations struggling for Palestinian rights during its more than 14 years of existence. ICAHD activists resist the demolition of Palestinian homes, both inside Israel and in the Occupied Territory, and together with our Palestinian and International partners, we have rebuilt 175 homes as political acts of resistance to Occupation. Besides our resistance efforts “on the ground,” we engage in a vigorous campaign of international advocacy on behalf of a just peace. In this we are aided by our branches abroad – ICA HD UK, ICAHD US and ICAHD Finland – as well as by hundreds of civil society groups around the world with which we work.

Where, then, do we stand on the question of the PLO/PA’s September initiative? As non-Palestinians, ICAHD activists do not advocate for a particular solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Overall, we subscribe to the three basic principles embodied in the Palestinian Civil Society Call: (1) ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
(2) recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
(3) respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194. Believing t hat it is the Palestinian people’s right to determine what they consider a just peace and it is our role as their Israeli partners to support them – with one caveat: that any solution be inclusive of all the people residing in Palestine/Israel – we will follow the lead of our Palestinian partners regarding particular initiatives or resolutions to the conflict.

As non-Palestinians, we find ourselves in a bind regarding “September.” During the months leading up to the approach to the UN in late September, and especially in the last couple weeks, we have received mixed messages from our Palestinian civil society partners. Most Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and Israel seem to be sitting out the September initiative at the UN – although Marwan Barghouti did issue an impassioned plea for international support and involvement from his prison cell. One influential Palestinian commentator has called September a “non-event;” others, especially in the Palestinian Diaspora, are act ively opposing it.

Even Abbas himself seems reluctant to go the UN. He recently told a group of visiting Israeli intellectuals that his post-September priorities are to “negotiate, negotiate, negotiate [with Israel].” But he is trapped by the high expectations the idea has generated around the world. The half-hearted juggernaut moves on towards the fateful date of September 21st.

Now, just two or three weeks before the approach to the UN, a fierce debate has erupted within the Palestinian community around a number of key questions:

Will the September initiative be based on the recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders? If so, then what does Abbas want to negotiate with Israel? Minor territorial adjustments or a return to the fruitless trap of negotiations of the past 20 years which render the 1967 borders irrelevant?

Who, in the absence of elections to the PNC or a referendum, has authorized Abbas to pursue a two-state solution? Even if he does approach the UN in his capacity as the head of the PLO and with the backing of its Executive Committee, will the Palestinian Authority, on becoming the recognized Government of the State of Palestine, replace the PLO and thus disenfranchise half the Palestinian people? In particular, would the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders compromise the refugees’ right of return and the national rights of Palestinians within Israel?

Does recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders foreclose forever the emergence of a single state in historic Palestine, be it democratic or bi-national, or will it permit further political efforts and evolution in that direction?

Until these questions are answered, it would be difficult for ICAHD to support the September initiative. This, however, raises two key issues. First, how do we deal with the fall-out of September? Regardless of internal Palestinian politics and the genuine problematics of Abbas’s approach to the UN, “September” is going to happen. With only a week to go, the PLO/PA’s game-plan is still not clear, but a General Assembly vote would undoubtedly see the vast majority of the international community recognizing Palestinian statehood within the 1967 borders.

What is our game-plan? How will we channel the energy, if not euphoria, of the “day after” – or the anger and despair if, in fact, nothing happens on the ground? While many Palestinian intellectuals and organizations of the left are critical of the initiative, the Palestinian “street” is nevertheless organizing for the non-violent assertion of their national rights, including marches on settlements. What can be done so as not to abandon them? And what about the expectations that have been raised amongst the thousands of activists around the world who have devoted so much time and effort to the Palestinian cause over the year s? If “September” simply fizzles, will they stay the course? Most important, what if the General Assembly vote does turn out to be a genuine game-changer, if it releases a political dynamic that neither the PA nor Israel nor any other actor can control – the resignation or collapse of the PA if, in fact, nothing does change in the occupied territory, perhaps triggering an Israel re-occupation of the cities of the West Bank and Gaza? How should we respond?

The second issue arises from the first: no struggle for Palestinian rights can be pursued without the leadership of the Palestinian people – which for ICAHD and many activists around the world, means our partner organizations on the Palestinian left, be they inside Palestine or abroad. The popular committees and other activists “on the ground” play a key role in keep the struggle alive and focused, but they have no political program. On the level of international advocacy, boycotts, divestment sanctions (BDS) has become a powerful campaign vehicle for raising public awareness of the Palestinian issue; in fact, ICAHD was one of the first Israeli organizations to endorse it. But, in the end, it is merely a tool. It cannot replace a multi-faceted political strategy.

Two requirements for an effective post-September program seem evident: our Palestinian civil society partners should articulate a clear vision of where they see the struggle headed, if not a detailed program; and all of us working for Palestinian self-determination – Palestinian, Israeli and international activists alike – should hold urgent and critical discussions regarding our next steps. Our activism and our campaigns need to be accompanied by Palestinian-led st rategizing, together with far more coordination and communication. We in ICAHD believe that the vote at the UN – or even a non-vote in the UN – is going be a game-changer. At least it is likely to clear the table of all the obstacles to pursuing a truly just peace: fruitless negotiations, the two-state “solution” and, very possibly, the PA itself, which has too long enabled Israel to prolong its occupation. We must be prepared for that shifting of the political ground. We must be pro-active, united and effective.

ICAHD, then, will respect the internal disagreement among its Palestinian partners. ICAHD has long argued that the two-state solution, which has anyway been buried under the Israeli settlements, cannot serve as a just and workable solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict. We would have supported the initiative as a stage in achieving full national rights for the Palestinian people, but since our partners have raised concerns that the recognition of Palestinian state in the 196 7 borders will foreclose those rights, and given the level of opposition, ICAHD will basically “sit it out.” We find this a painful decision, because we believe that civil society engagement in the political process is crucial. Our dilemma certainly highlights the need for all of us to be more strategic and pro-active, so we don’t get caught in such political paralysis.

Remaining concerned over how to deal with the fall-out of the September initiative, we urge the convening of a regular forum of consultation among all civil society activists, which can be networked if the issue of leadership is a problem. We remain committed to the struggle for Palestinian self-determination. We stand in solidarity with the people suffering on the ground, in the refugee camps as well as in the occupied Palestinian territory, and we look forward to close cooperation as we develop effective political strategies for achieving a just peace and equality for all the people of Palestine/Israel.

-Fuck Hamas. Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA!

A group of young people in Gaza are fed up with Hamas, Israel, Fatah, UN; UNWRA and USA. Well, that’s more or less all the major actors in the conflict defining the restrictions on their daily life. You’ll find their Mainfesto here. They are fed up with their situation, and they want an end to it.

They have a group on Facebook, where you may like or join the group or both. You’ll find it here.

The Guardian writes about them in today’s online edition.

Do you have love in your culture?

By Dahr Jamail

Muhammad Omer and I jointly received the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in London on 16 June. Omer is a 24-year-old Palestinian with whom I feel honoured to have shared this award, as I told the audience at the prize-giving ceremony. His work from his Gaza homeland has been a beacon of humanitarian reportage; it is a model of peace, and an attempt at reconciliation with Israel.

But Omer’s journey to London to receive the award was almost impossible. When I heard about the prize, I booked my flight from San Francisco and boarded my plane. By contrast, Omer struggled even to get an exit visa: His home has been crushed by an Israeli bulldozer, and most of his seven siblings have been killed or maimed by the Israeli army of occupation. The veteran journalist John Pilger, who presented our awards, described Omer’s journey: “Getting Muhammad to London to receive his prize was a major diplomatic operation. Israel has a perfidious control over Gaza’s borders, and he was only allowed out with a Dutch embassy escort.”

Then, after the ceremony, there were our even more different return journeys. My biggest problem was an hour’s delay for the flight back to my home country, the United States, which last year gave Israel $2.38bn in military aid, and will give that amount in the coming fiscal year, along with an extra $150m. (By July 2006 direct US aid to Israel had reached $108bn according to conservative estimates.)

On his return home, Omer was badly beaten up and physically and psychologically abused by Israel’s security forces, Shin Bet. At the Allenby Bridge crossing, from Jordan to the West Bank, he was met by the Dutch official who was to ferry him back into Gaza. The official waited outside as Omer entered the Israeli building. Omer was told to turn off his mobile phone and remove the battery. When he asked if he could call his embassy escort, he was told sternly he was not allowed. A Shin Bet officer searched his luggage and rifled through his documents. “Where’s the money?” he asked Omer. “Where are the English pounds you have?” They wanted to confiscate his prize money, which Omer was wise enough not to carry on his person.

Omer was surrounded by eight armed Shin Bet officers. This is how he described what happened next. “A man called Avi ordered me to take off my clothes. I had already been through an x-ray machine. I stripped down to my underwear and was told to take off everything. When I refused, Avi put his hand on his gun. I began to cry: ‘Why are you treating me this way? I am a human being.’ He said: ‘This is nothing compared with what you will see now.’ He took his gun out, pressing it to my head, and with his full body weight pinning me on my side, he forcibly removed my underwear. He then made me do a concocted sort of dance. Another man, who was laughing, said: ‘Why are you bringing perfumes?’ I replied: ‘They are gifts for the people I love.’ He said: ‘Oh, do you have love in your culture?’

“I had now been without food and water and the toilet for 12 hours and, having been made to stand, my legs buckled. I vomited and passed out. All I remember is one of them gouging, scraping and clawing with his nails at the tender flesh beneath my eyes. He scooped my head and dug his fingers in near the auditory nerves between my head and eardrum. The pain became sharper as he dug in two fingers at a time. Another man had his combat boot on my neck, pressing it into the hard floor. I lay there for over an hour. The room became a menagerie of pain, sound and terror.”

Moderate physical pressure
The Israeli Supreme Court has allowed the use of “moderate physical pressure” in the questioning of prisoners. Israel holds more than 10,000 Palestinian prisoners, many of them under administrative detention (no charges filed, detention can be renewed every six months).

The fourth Geneva Convention (GC) (1949) states: (1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons: (a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture © outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.”

The Israeli military regularly bombs and uses snipers to attack Palestinian ambulances. Article 20 of the 1949 GC states: “Persons regularly and solely engaged in the operation and administration of civilian hospitals, including the personnel engaged in the search for, removal and transporting of and caring for wounded and sick civilians, the infirm and maternity cases shall be respected and protected.”

Israel has blockaded Gaza, isolating and starving the 1.5 million Palestinians who live there. In 2006 Dov Weisglass, an adviser to the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”

Article 23 of the 1949 GC states: “Each High Contracting Party shall allow the free passage of all consignments of medical and hospital stores and objects necessary for religious worship intended only for civilians of another High Contracting Party, even if the latter is its adversary. It shall likewise permit the free passage of all consignments of essential foodstuffs, clothing and tonics intended for children under 15, expectant mothers and maternity cases.”

The Israeli government has threatened to close orphanages for Palestinian children in Hebron, which would be another violation of international law, for article 24 of the Geneva Convention states clearly: “The Parties to the conflict shall take the necessary measures to ensure that children under fifteen, who are orphaned or are separated from their families as a result of the war, are not left to their own resources, and that their maintenance, the exercise of their religion and their education are facilitated in all circumstances. Their education shall, as far as possible, be entrusted to persons of a similar cultural tradition.”

The Shin Bet violated many GC principles in the way it treated Omer. Part III of the 1949 GC, which covers the status and treatment of protected persons, section I, article 27, says: “Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity.” Article 29 of the same section states: “The Party to the conflict in whose hands protected persons may be, is responsible for the treatment accorded to them by its agents, irrespective of any individual responsibility which may be incurred.”

The gross imbalance of power Israel enjoys, thanks to US support, makes these atrocities possible. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. According to Alison Weir, the executive director of If Americans Knew, Palestinians receive 1/23rd of the amount of aid the United States provides to Israel.

According to Defence for Children International, Israel has “engaged in gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.” Between 1967 and 2003, Israel destroyed over 10,000 Palestinian homes, and that continues.

Attacking journalists is not new. On 16 April, Fadel Shanaa, a Palestinian cameraman working for the news agency Reuters, was killed by a rocket fired during an Israeli military incursion into the Gaza Strip. His assistant, Wafa Barbakh, was seriously injured. Both were in vehicle clearly marked “Press.” This appears to be part of systematic targeting of journalists by the Israeli military. Since the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000, the Israeli military has killed at least nine journalists, including an Italian and a Briton. At least 170 other journalists have been wounded by the Israeli military during this period.

Former Dutch ambassador Jan Wijenberg said of what happened to Omer: “This is by no means an isolated incident, but part of a long-term strategy to demolish Palestinian social, economic and cultural life… I am aware of the possibility that Mohammed Omer might be murdered by Israeli snipers or bomb attack in the near future. . . [Omer] is a moderating voice, urging Palestinian youth not to court hatred but seek peace with Israel.” Janet McMahon, managing editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, for which Omer writes, says he is still in hospital. “He may go home, or have an operation. He’s still in a lot of pain, and it’s hard for him to swallow, or to breathe deeply. He’s being fed intravenously.”

I cannot reconcile the disparity in our experiences. How can we reconcile something that is irreconcilable in the absence of all justice?

Dahr Jamail wrote Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2007, after eight months in Iraq as an independent journalist. He also covered the 2006 war in Lebanon.

© 2008 Le Monde diplomatique