ISRAELI SACRILEGE ANGERS MUSLIMS, CHRISTIANS

By Khalid Amayreh

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Muslim and Christian leaders across the occupied Palestinian lands are shocked with repeated Israeli insults of the prophets and religious sanctities.

“I don’t really know when Jews will start to respect the religious sensitivities of non-Jews,” the Chief religious judge of Palestine, Dr. Taysir Tamimi, told IslamOnline.net on Saturday, February 28.

“It is very shocking and very telling that Jewish religious leaders in Israel and abroad have not condemned these blasphemous acts.”

Israeli media shocked millions of Muslims and Christians last week by mocking Jesus, his mother Mary and Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).

A TV comedy skit, hosted by Israeli comedian Lior Shlein, last week depicted Jesus as being “too fat” to have walked on water and that Mary was not virgin.

The insult came after the host angered million of Muslims when he pointed to one of his shoes, saying “This is Muhammad.”

“Muslims throughout the world have been shocked by the evil campaign waged against Islam and the Prophet (PBUH) and abuse of this shameful campaign against the sanctities with insults addressed against the Prophet and a religion followed by more than 1.5 billion Muslims,” said Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

“This shameful conduct came a few days after broadcasting insulting rhetoric against Prophet Jesus and his virgin mother, Mary, peace be upon them.”

Wicked, blasphemous

Salim Kubti, a lawyer representing Christian courts in Israel, said he was considering a libel suit against Channel-10, which hosted the comedy show.

“Such remarks go beyond satire and dark humor,” he told IOL.

“These are serious utterances insulting the sensibilities of every Christian and anyone who possesses values and mutual respect for other religions.

“It’s clear that Shlein is a failure and as a result is looking for any way to improve his ratings, and he is jumping on a sensitive issue.”

The Vatican labeled the Israeli show “a vulgar and offensive act of intolerance toward the religious sentiments of the believers in Christ.”

Some Christian leaders and clergymen even Pope Benedict XVI to postpone or cancel his planned visit to Israel, scheduled to take place in May.

The outcry forced outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to apologize for Pope Benedict XVI, saying the comedy segment didn’t represent Israel’s views.

IOL has contacted some Jewish leaders for comment, but they refused to talk.

Muslim leaders also denounced the Israeli TV show, calling it “wicked and blasphemous.”

“We believe in freedom of expression, but we don’t believe in freedom of vulgarity and blasphemy,” Ikrema Sabri, head of the Supreme Muslim Council in Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem), said in the weekly Friday sermon.

“You can’t insult and offend people under the pretext of freedom of expression.”

He said the “apparent acquiescence” of the Israeli government to these vulgarities reflected “malice and ill-will” toward Muslims, calling on Muslims worldwide to send an “unmistakable warning” to Israel to refrain from insulting religious symbols.

Israel has a long history of showing disrespect to Muslim and Christian faiths.

In 1948, the Israeli army and paramilitary Jewish groups systematically destroyed hundreds of mosques in Palestine in an effort to obliterate the country’s Arab-Islamic identity.

Mosques left intact, such as the Beir al Saba’a Mosque, were converted into bars or brothels. Others were simply left to fall into disrepair.

Shortly after the 1967 Middle East war, the chief rabbi of the Israeli army, Shlomo Gorin, urged the military to blow up Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest shrine, “once and for all”.

In January 1984, armed Jewish extremists, led by Rabbi Moshe Levinger, one of the leaders of Gush Emunim, the Jewish settler movement, attempted to dynamite and destroy Al-Aqsa mosque.

Jewish insults of Muslim and Christian symbols became more common and audacious in recent years.

Nearly ten years ago, a Jewish immigrant from the former Soviet Union drew an offensive image depicting Prophet Muhammad as a pig writing the Qur’an.

In 2006, a Jewish couple walked into the Basilica of Annunciation Church in the Arab town of Nazareth in Israel, carrying 19 gas canisters, bottles of turpentine and kerosene, 64 firecrackers and 25 rocket-shaped fireworks.

The couple placed the fireworks and the gas canisters in a corner then poured kerosene on them, causing a fire.

Moreover, Yeshiva (Talmudic school) students have been spitting on Christian clergymen in Al-Quds and breaking their crucifixes.

Some other fanatical Jews don’t hesitate to refer to Jesus as “Hitler of Bethlehem.”

CAMPUS JEWS BEING BULLIED……

This according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center….
Seems the zionists have their feathers ruffled over the international events dealing with Israeli Apartheid Week. Strange that the actual problem is completely overlooked by them. Rather than pressure Israel to do away with Apartheid, it seems easier to just brand anyone opposed to it as an anti Semite or in this case, a bully.
Just ask yourself…. who is the real bully when it comes to Apartheid or genocide….. the answer should be quite obvious.
The following is a report from the Jerusalem Post, featuring the now very famous poster of Carlos Latuff…..
###############################

Wiesenthal Center to combat bullying of Jews

By Abe Selig

Growing harassment of Jewish students on college campuses across Britain, the US and Canada has prompted the Simon Wiesenthal Center to announce plans for an international effort to counter the phenomenon.

An ad for this year's Israel...

An ad for this year’s Israel apartheid week.
Photo: Courtesy

The whole idea of the campaign is “to debunk the mythology of the anti-Israel forces,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the center’s associate dean, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

The campaign will include a so-called “iCAN” ad to run in student newspapers during this year’s Israel Apartheid Week (which starts on Sunday), in which protesters worldwide will attempt to compare the Jewish state with the former racist regime in South Africa.

The ad, which features two aluminum cans connected together by a string, asks where modern society would be if it boycotted Israeli technology.

“Committed to boycotting Israel?” the ad asks. “Be Zion-free – do not use cellphones, voicemail, AIM and ICQ instant messaging, Google (which runs on Israeli algorithms), Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, Microsoft Office, Intel microchip, Pentium chip and microprocessor, and firewalls and virus protection software.”

The ad goes on to relate that all of the items were developed in Israel, and implies that those who wish to go ahead with a boycott, should understand exactly what that entails.

The ad is part of a wider campaign to counter hostile events that have taken place on college campuses with increasing frequency and severity in recent months, especially since the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip.

Recent incidents on college campuses in Canada – most notably a near-riot at York University in Toronto in which Jewish students were besieged in the school’s Hillel house – are among the reasons for heightened concern, along with other anti-Israel efforts, including calls to boycott Israeli academia and products.

Earlier this week, B’nai B’rith Canada sent a letter to the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police regarding “the inadequate policing of university campuses, which have become breeding grounds for promoting hatred against Jewish students,” and decrying “clear and emerging patterns of support for radicalism, civil disobedience, and ultimately violence, on university campuses.”

California schools have also been hotbeds of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activities in recent years, including the University of California, Irvine, where anti-Israel activity has reached a fever pitch during previous Israel Apartheid Week events.

UCLA professor Dr. Judea Pearl, father of slain Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl, is slated to join the Wiesenthal Center’s effort, and will attend a protest in Los Angeles on Friday with senior Simon Wiesenthal officials to denounce the increasing intimidation of pro-Israel students on California campuses and the demonization of Israel by academics.

“The Wiesenthal Center has received calls for help from Jewish students at prestigious universities in the UK, Canada, throughout the United States, and especially right here in the state of California,” Cooper and Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center, said in a statement. “The intensity of these incidents has escalated since Israel’s incursion into Gaza to stop Hamas’s relentless rocket barrage against its civilians.”

“In addition to meeting with chancellors, presidents of universities and law enforcement, with this ad, we are launching a major effort to expose the hypocrisy of all who hide behind the facade of academia to target one country and one country only – Israel – for vilification,” the Wiesenthal Center said.

The iCan ad is scheduled to run in student newspapers across the UK and North America, including York University, the University of Toronto, Columbia University, the University of Chicago, UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, San Jose State and San Francisco State.

ISRATOONS FOR A FRIDAY AFTERNOON

Danger lurks no matter who forms the government…..

Images by Skulz Fontaine

NETANYAHU’S DILEMMA



Khalid Amayreh

With Kadima refusing publicly to join Likud, time is running out for Netanyahu to form a government, writes Khalid Amayreh in occupied East Jerusalem


Tasked with forming the next Israeli government, Likud leader Benyamin Netanyahu has been trying in vain to convince Kadima leader Tzipi Livni to join him in a coalition government that would be acceptable to the international community, particularly the new US administration.

This week, Netanyahu met with both Livni and Labour Party leader Ehud Barak. However, the meetings ended fruitlessly as both refused to join a Likud-led government, citing “diametrically opposed agendas” and opposition to a partnership with the Likud by their respective constituencies.

Prior to her meeting with Netanyahu on Sunday, 21 February, Livni told reporters that joining a Likud government would be a “breach of Kadima voters’ trust”. “These days are a test for Kadima. People are looking at us. We presented our stance. We spoke during the campaign about content and ideology, about the differences between hope and despair and between ‘two states for two peoples’ and no path at all.”

Elucidating the “wide gap” with the Likud, Livni suggested that a partnership with the Likud amounted to sacrificing Kadima’s principles, saying “this is not what our voters want.” “We spoke about Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. That is why we asked for the trust of the public. We received a wave of support on the condition that we keep our promises. If we compromise… by joining a government with a path that is not ours, we would violate the trust of our voters,” she said.

However, it is uncertain if Livni’s initial refusal to join a Netanyahu-led coalition government is motivated by ideology and principles, or is a mere bargaining tactic aimed at extricating more concessions from the Likud. Responding to Livni’s obstinacy Netanyahu warned, “I won’t wait forever for a unity government.”

“I want to give Livni a real chance to join us, but we can’t wait forever,” Netanyahu told the Likud faction following a recommendation by party hawks, who constitute a majority within the party, to give up on Livni and Barak and start formal negotiations with extremist right-wing and religious factions. Exuding not a small amount of desperation, Netanyahu argued that political parties ought to work together for the sake of Israel.

“Our emergency situation requires putting aside political and personal reasons that are legitimate at a different time and that are not legitimate now,” Netanyahu said. The Likud leader has reportedly offered Kadima three top portfolios for joining the government: foreign affairs, defence and finance. However, the “generous offer”, which is likely to be met with stiff opposition from the Likud rank and file, has so far failed to woo Livni.

Nonetheless, Kadima’s refusal to join a Netanyahu-led government doesn’t seem to be absolute and irreversible. Shaul Mofaz, Kadima’s number two, was quoted as saying that the party should join a Likud government. “The Israeli people want to see a unity government. We have great challenges, and we need to influence them from within the government.”

Mofaz added: “If in the end we don’t come to an agreement regarding the platform and a change in the system of government, then we will go to the opposition.”

Mofaz is a notorious hawk and his views on the Palestinian problem have more in common with those of the Likud and extremist factions than with Livni’s. One Israeli newspaper reported Tuesday that Livni was coming under pressure from her party’s senior members urging her to accept a national unity arrangement. Unconfirmed reports suggest that some high- ranking Kadima officials, including Mofaz, would leave the party should Livni choose to go into opposition.

Netanyahu’s running after Livni seems to reflect a real political dilemma he is facing following the indecisive outcome of the recent Israeli elections. The Likud leader could easily form a narrow-based government comprising the Likud, Shas, Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu, United Torah Judaism and other extremist parties, including the National Union. However, such a government, while harmonious on the Palestinian issue, would be rife with contradictions given the diametrically opposed agendas and platforms of parties such the ultra- Orthodox Shas and the ultra-secular Yisrael Beiteinu. Moreover, such an extremist government would be a public relations disaster for Israel in the world, especially in the United States and Europe.

Netanyahu, a veteran and experienced politician, is aware of the ramifications and repercussions that such a rightist government would have on paramount relations with the United States. Hence, exhaustive and desperate efforts to include Kadima in the coalition government he is trying to form. But if the Israeli prime minister designate fails to win over Kadima and the Labour Party, he will have no choice but to form a government with the right-wing and religious parties. Netanyahu then would seek to fend off criticisms, domestic and international, for partnering up with brazenly fascist parties, such as National Union and the Jewish Home, by arguing that he had made his utmost efforts to include Kadima and Labour but to no avail.

The other choice available to Netanyahu is simply to admit failure and return to Israeli President Shimon Peres and tell him that he is unable to carry out the task of forming a stable and durable government. This seems an unlikely scenario, however. Nonetheless, if the political stalemate continues, and if Netanyahu reaches the conclusion that no government is better than a failed government beset by crises, it is possible that Peres will task Livni with forming the next government. This wouldn’t be necessarily good news for the Kadima leader, if only because her chances of forming a stable and durable government would be even worse than those of Netanyahu.

ZIO WEB ATTACKS ~~~ ARE YOU A ‘VICTIM’?

Do you write articles giving the truth about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? Do you have a Blog known for its anti zionist viewpoints? Have you been getting extra ‘visitors’ to your Blog who leave negative comments or participate in polls?

If yes to any of the above, there is a good reason for all of this….it’s a project called Megaphone Israel. It is a new desktop tool that alerts its subscribers to any entries that might be anti Israel or anti zionist.

After notification, the ‘warriors’ jump into action and attack the source of the article. Are we to quiver in our seats because of this? Are we to stop posting because of this? I THINK NOT!

As long as Israel continues its existing genocidal policies and actions against the people of Palestine, Blogs such as this one will continue to expose their crimes. Where the media fails to, we will present the facts.

So Megaphone Israel should be kept busy for the next (hopefully) short while.

Do any of my readers have suggestions as to how we might also be alerted….. to racist or zionist postings on the Web? We too should be posting OUR comments on their sites, just to let them know we are aware of their ‘games’.

Thanks to Mary Rizzo for the alert on this situation…..

REMEMBERING ODETTA, WHO SANG OF FREEDOM

Earl Wilson/The New York Times

Pete Seeger at a memorial service at Riverside Church for Odetta, who died on Dec. 2.

The poet Maya Angelou sat perched on a tall stool in Riverside Church in Manhattan on Tuesday night, both mimicking and remembering the folk singer Odetta, her longtime friend, who died on Dec. 2 at 77.

Earl Wilson/The New York Times

Maya Angelou

Earl Wilson/The New York Times

Geoffrey Holder, left, and Harry Belafonte

“We were both tall black ladies with attitude, and most people were really scared of us,” Ms. Angelou told a crowd that filled the pews and balconies as Pete Seeger warmed up offstage. “To be in the ’50s, black and turned away from almost everything and to say, ‘I have come here to stay’ and to be a sister of somebody who had courage is no small matter.”

The occasion was a celebration of an artist who gave rhythm and voice to the civil rights era — who “sang us into freedom,” as Ms. Angelou put it. The event had both a neighborly and a historical feel. Many in the crowd were New Yorkers who had grown up to Odetta’s music, listening to her and her guitar in Greenwich Village coffeeshops, in concert halls or in Central Park. Born Odetta Holmes in Birmingham, Ala., she had made Manhattan her home.

Others came to honor her wider social and musical legacy, represented onstage by a who’s who of folk, blues and gospel musicians and other performers. Besides Mr. Seeger, there were Harry Belafonte, Geoffrey Holder, the singer and guitarist Steve Earle and the vocal group Sweet Honey in the Rock.


To read the rest of this article and view a wonderful video, click HERE

GAZA: DEATH’S LABORATORY

By Conn Hallinan
It was as if they had stepped on a mine, but there was no shrapnel in the wound. Some had lost their legs. It looked as though they had been sliced off. I have been to war zones for 30 years, but I have never seen such injuries before.

—Dr. Erik Fosse, Norwegian cardiologist who

worked in Gaza hospitals during the recent war.

What Dr. Fosse was describing was the effects of a U.S. “focused lethality” weapon that minimalizes explosive damage to structures while inflicting catastrophic wounds on its victims. While the weapon has been used in Iraq, Gaza was the first test of the bomb in a densely populated environment.

The specific weapon—the GBU-39—is a Dense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME) and was developed by the U.S. Air Force, Boeing Corporation, and University of California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 2000. The weapon wraps the high explosives HMX or RDX with a tungsten alloy and other metals like cobalt, nickel or iron, in a carbon fiber/epoxy container. When the bomb explodes, the container evaporates and the tungsten turns into micro-shrapnel that is extremely lethal up to about 60 feet.

Tungsten is inert, so it does not react chemically with the explosive. While a non-inert metal like aluminum would increase the blast, tungsten actually limits the explosion.

Within the weapon’s range, however, it is inordinately lethal. According to Norwegian doctor Mad Gilbert, the blast results in multiple amputations and “very severe fractures. The muscles are sort of split from the bones, hanging loose, and you also have quite severe burns.”

Those who survive the initial blast quickly succumb to septicemia and organ collapse. “Initially, everything seems in order … but it turns out on operation that dozens of miniature particles can be found in all their organs,” says Dr. Jam Brommundt, a German doctor working in Kham Younis, a city in southern Gaza. “It seems to be some sort of explosive or shell that disperses tiny particles … that penetrate all organs, these miniature injuries, you are not able to attack them surgically.” According to Brommundt, the particles cause multiple organ failures.

If, by some miracle, victims do survive, they are almost to certain develop rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS), a particularly deadly cancer that deeply embeds itself into tissue and is almost impossible to treat. A 2005 U.S. Department of health study found that tungsten stimulated RMS cancers even in very low doses. Out of 92 rats tested, 92 developed the cancer.

While DIMEs were originally designed to avoid “collateral” damage generated by standard high explosive bombs, the weapon’s lethality and profound long-term toxicity hardly seems like an improvement. And in Gaza, the ordinance was widely used. Al-Shifta alone has seen 100 to 150 such patients.

Was Gaza a test of DIME in urban conditions?

Dr. Gilbert told the Oslo Gardermoen,“There is a strong suspicion I think that Gaza is now being used as a test laboratory for new weapons.”

The characteristics of the GBU-39 are likely to make it a go-to weapon in the future. The bomb is small and light—less than six feet long and only 285 pounds—that means an aircraft can carry four times as many weapons. It can also be dropped 60 miles from its target. Internal wings allow the bomb to navigate to its target. It can penetrate three feet of reinforced concrete. It can also be mounted on drones, like the Predator and the Reaper, and compared to other weapons systems, is a bargain.”

Marc Garlasco, Human Rights Watch’s senior military advisor, says “It remains to be seen how Israel has acquired the technology, whether they purchased weapons from the United States under some agreement, or if they in fact licensed or developed their own type of munitions.”

In fact, Congress approved the $77 million sale of 1.000 GBU-39s to Israel in September, 2008, and the weapons were delivered in December. Israel was the first foreign sales of the DIMES.

DIME weapons are not banned under the Geneva Conventions because they have never been officially tested. However, any weapon capable of inflicting such horrendous damage is normally barred from use, particularly in one of the most densely populated regions in the world.

For one thing, no one is sure about how long the tungsten remains in the environment or how it could affect people who return to homes attacked by a DIME. University of Arizona cancer researcher Dr. Mark Witten, who investigates links between tungsten and leukemia, says that in his opinion “there needs to be much more research on the health effects of tungsten before the military increases its usage.”

DIMEs were not the only controversial weapons used in Gaza. The Israeli Self-Defense Forces (IDF) also made generous use of white phosphorus, a chemical that burns with intense heat and inflicts terrible burns on victims. In its vapor form it also damages breathing passages
International law prohibits the weapon’s use near population areas and requires that “all reasonable precautions” be taken to avoid civilians.

Israel initially denied it was using the chemical. “The IDF acts only in accordance with what is permitted by international law and does not use white phosphorus,” said Israel’s Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi on Jan. 13.

But eyewitness accounts in Gaza and Israel soon forced the IDF to admit that they were, indeed, using the substance. On Jan 20, the IDF confessed to using phosphorus artillery shells as smoke screens, as well as 200 U.S.-made M825A1 phosphorus mortar shells on “Hamas fighters and rocket launching crews in northern Gaza.”

Three of those shells hit the UN Works and Relief Agency compound Jan. 15, igniting a fire that destroyed hundreds of tons of humanitarian supplies. Al-Quds hospital in Gaza City was also hit by a phosphorus shell. The Israelis say there were Hamas fighters near the two targets, a charge that witnesses adamantly deny.

Donatella Rovera of Amnesty International said, “Such extensive use of this weapon in Gaza’s densely-populated residential neighborhoods … and its toll on civilians, is a war crime.”

Israel is also accused of using depleted uranium ammunition (DUA), which in a UN sub-commission in 2002 found in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, the International Convention Against Torture, the Conventional Weapons Convention, and the Hague Conventions against the use of poison weapons.

DUA is not highly radioactive, but after exploding some of it turns into a gas that can easily be inhaled. The dense shrapnel that survives also tends to bury itself deeply, leaching low-level radioactivity into water tables.

Other human rights groups, including B’Tselem, Gisha, and Physicians for Human Rights, charge that the IDF intentionally targeted medical personal, killing over a dozen, including paramedics and ambulance drivers.

The International Federation for Human Rights called upon the UN Security Council to refer Israel to the International Criminal Court for possible war crimes.


While the Israelis dismiss the war crimes charges, the fact that the Israeli cabinet held a special meeting on Jan 25 to discuss the issue suggests they are concerned they could be charged with “disproportionate” use of force. The Geneva Conventions require belligerents to at “all times” distinguish between combatants and civilians and to avoid “disproportionate force” in seeking military gains.

Hamas’ use of unguided missiles fired at Israel would also be a war crime under the Conventions.

“The one-sidedness of casualty figures is one measure of disproportion,” says Richard Falk, the UN’s human rights envoy for the occupied territories. A total of 14 Israelis have been killed in the fighting, three of them civilians killed by rockets, 11 of them soldiers, four of the latter by “friendly fire.” Some 50 IDF soldiers were also wounded.

In contrast, 1330 Palestinians have died and 5450 were injured, the overwhelming number of them civilians.

“This kind of fighting constitutes a blatant violation of the laws of warfare, which we ask to be investigated by the Commission of War Crimes,” a coalition of Israeli human rights groups and Amnesty International said in a joint statement. “The responsibility of the state of Israel is beyond doubt.”

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann would coordinate the defense of any soldier or commander charged with a war crime. In any case, the U.S. would veto any effort by the UN Security Council to refer Israelis to the International Court at The Hague.

But, as the Financial Times points out, “all countries have an obligation to search out those accused of ‘grave’ breaches of the rules of war and to put them on trial or extradite them to a country that will.”

That was the basis under which Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested in Britain in 1998.

“We’re in a seismic shift in international law,” Amnesty International legal advisor Christopher Hall told the Financial Times, who says that Israel’s foreign ministry is already examining the risk to Israelis who travel abroad.

“It’s like walking across the street against a red light,” he says. “The risk may be low, but you’re going to think twice before committing a crime or traveling if you have committed one.”

Source

PALESTINIANS RECONSIDER TWO-STATE STRATEGY

By Khalid Amayreh

RAMALLAH — While the west-backed Palestinian Authority is still clinging to the two-state solution as the only feasible strategy for ending the 40-year Israeli occupation, a growing number of Palestinian intellectuals and lay people are coming to the conclusion that the creation of a viable Palestinian state is no longer possible in light of the ubiquitous proliferation of Jewish settlements.

“There is no doubt that the two-state solution is dead. In fact it has been dead for quite a long time,” Laila el-Haddad, a Gaza-based writer, told IslamOnline.net.

“The metastasizing of Jewish settlements, along with the overriding deliberate policies of ‘politicide’ have rendered the two-state solution impossible,” she believes.

With their horizons constantly narrowed and lingering peace talks with Israel reaching a virtual dead-end, mainly over Israel’s refusal to give up the spoils of the 1967 war, Palestinians are increasingly advocating the one-state solution.

“The only feasible, sustainable, and just solution is One state, with equal rights for all,” says el-Haddad.

According to public opinion surveys, faith in the two-state solution has been steadily dwindling among Palestinians as they watch unmitigated Jewish settlement expansion swallows up more and more of their land.

Since 1967, Israel has built more than 150 Jewish-only settlements on the occupied West Bank, inhabited by as many as half a million settlers.

Most of the settlers are classified as “ideological settlers,” who believe that the West Bank is the “Biblical Land of Israel” which must never be given up even in return for a lasting peace with the Palestinians.

Hence, many observers have come to believe that no Israeli government will be able, even if willing, to dismantle these large settlements which have become well-established demographic realities in the occupied territories.

At the same time, there is a near unanimity among Palestinians and Arabs that without the elimination of at least the bulk of settlements and removal of most settlers, the goal of Palestinian statehood will be utterly unachievable.

During the last few months, Ahmed Qurei’, chief negotiator and Fatah leader, warned that the PA would decide to abandon the peace process with Israel if “it becomes clear that the creation of a viable Palestinian state is no longer possible.”

“We certainly will resort to the one-state solution. We will not allow Israel to impose apartheid on us for ever.”

Tough Choices

Hazem al-Qawasmi, an economist and prominent proponent of the one-state solution, argues that there is no viable alternative to it.

“We must not be made to pay the price for Jewish settlement expansion. Israel has effectively killed the two-state solution for the purpose of liquidating the Palestinian cause,” he told IOL.

“Hence, the Palestinians ought to struggle for a unitary and democratic state which would preserve our national existence and continued survival,” he believes.

“The alternative would be national demise, especially in the long run.”

Palestinians in general are fully aware that the one-state strategy is fraught with problems and having no guaranteed consequences.

The firm Israeli rejection of the idea makes many Palestinians refrain from wholly embracing the quest for the one-state solution.

They also think that decades of violence and bloodshed would make the implementation of this vision very unlikely.

“The world is under no more of a moral or legal obligation to maintain Zionism in Israel than it was to maintain apartheid in South Africa,” Qawasmi insists.

“The Palestinian people’s right to freedom and human rights override whatever rights Israel thinks it has to remain Jewish.”

Palestinians opposed to the idea argue that Palestinian weakness vis-à-vis Israel doesn’t allow the Palestinian people and their leadership to handle the one-state idea successfully.

Ziad abu Ziad, a former Palestinian negotiator, believes that most Israelis are not ready for peace and that the Israeli political leadership is unable to effect a real transformation in the public mood.

“We can’t escape the fact that the expanding settlements leave no room for a prospective Palestinian state,” he told IOL.

“I think that we should work on three levels. First, to guarantee the steadfastness of our people. Second, to try on the short term to mobilize international pressure on Israel to force it to stop its settlement activities as a step toward removing Jewish colonies from the occupied territories,” maintains abu Ziad.

“Third, in the long term, we should prepare ourselves for a long , durable struggle to recover our rights.”

WEDNESDAY’S OBAMAWARTOONS

Image by Bendib


Image by Mr. Fish

SECOND CANADIAN UNIVERSITY BANS ISRAELI APARTHEID WEEK POSTERS

Following the undemocratic banning at Carleton University, the University of Ottawa joins in banning the display. (See THIS post and THIS one) The following is a Call to Action….

University of Ottawa Bans Israeli Apartheid Week Poster
Call to Action
On February 20, 2009, the University of Ottawa became the second Ottawa
administration to ban the posters of Israeli Apartheid Week 2009, following
the lead of Carleton University in a blatant violation of free expression
for students speaking out on human rights. Like Carleton University's
administration, the University of Ottawa's Communications Office used
spurious "human rights" claims to ban the poster. The Communications
Office's short communique to Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights reads:

"A poster from the campus group Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights has
recently come to the attention of the Communications Office. All posters
approved by the Communications Office must promote a campus culture where
all members of the community can play a part in a declaration of human
rights recognizing the inherent dignity and equal rights of all students.
Consequently, we will not place this particular poster on our campus
billboards."

Please view the poster here:
http://www.apartheidweek.org/sites/apartheidweek.org/files/Israeli%20Apartheid%20Week%202009%20poster.jpg



This curt note notably fails to explain how the poster by noted cartoonist
Carlos Latuff, depicting an Israeli attack helicopter (labeled "Israel")
firing a missile at a Palestinian child (labeled "Gaza"), does not
"recognize the inherent dignity and equal rights of all students". In fact,
the banning of the poster is a failure to recognize the dignity and equal
rights of Palestinian students and those who seek to expose the violations
of human rights of Palestinians.

The poster is symbolic but it also depicts a factual situation. 430 children
were killed by the Israeli military in its latest attack on Gaza. It seems
that according to a growing number of campus administrations, depicting
these killings on a poster is some kind of human rights violation, while the
killings themselves, or the bombing of a University in Gaza, are not
(neither campus administration condemned the killings of civilians or the
bombing of the Islamic University in Gaza).

In contrast to these campus administrations, the movement for Palestinian
human rights is at the forefront of the struggle to recognize the inherent
dignity and equal rights of all students, and indeed, all people. As the
students at Carleton wrote when the poster was banned on their campus, "the
campaign is proudly anti-racist, and founded on the principles of opposition
to all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. It draws its
inspiration from the global campaign to end South African apartheid and is
led by many of the same individuals who were at the forefront of that
earlier struggle."

We present the same demands to the University of Ottawa as the students at
Carleton University demanded of their administration:

1. Immediately lift the ban on the Israeli Apartheid Week poster and
publicly apologize for the banning.

2. Explain, publicly and precisely, how the profound error of banning the
poster was made and address how to prevent such violations from occurring in
future.

3. Sponsor a full public debate--ensuring generous access to the entire
university community--on the University of Ottawa's position on the proposed
institutional boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

4. Appoint a university/community Commission to investigate the record of
the University in relation to democratic discourse and equity around issues
of Palestine solidarity.

We call on student organizations, social justice groups and concerned
individuals around the world to support students at the University of Ottawa
and the broader fight for freedom of expression.

Please take the following actions:
* Email/Fax/Call the President of the University of Ottawa, Allan Rock,
demanding that he immediately restore the Charter rights of students and
send a copy of your message of support to the Director of the Communications
Office, Andree Dumulon.  Please send a copy of your letter to
sphr.uofo@gmail.com
Allan Rock: email president@uOttawa.ca, fax (613)562-5103, phone
(613)562-5809
Director of communications: email adumulon@uOttawa.ca, phone (613)562-5800
ext. 315

AMNESTY’S SCANDALOUS OBLIQUITY

By Khalid Amayreh in occupied East Jerusalem

Palestinians incinerated to death by Israel’s White Phosphorous bombs

In an apparent effort to sound “balanced” and “unbiased,” the London-based human rights group, Amnesty International  (AI) , has urged the international community to halt arms sales to the Israeli apartheid regime and the Palestinian Islamic liberation movement, Hamas.



A report issued by the group on Sunday, 22 February, pointed out that arms supplied to “the two sides” were used in attacks on civilians and civilian objects” which constituted war crimes.


Non the less, a careful examination of the report shows a clear propensity on the part of AI to create a false symmetry between Hamas, a small liberation movement resisting a decades-old Nazi-like foreign military occupation, and Israel, a manifestly criminal state armed to the teeth, which has been committing every conceivable crime under the sun for the purpose of maintaining its colonialist occupation and brutal domination over the Palestinian people.


To be sure, no one claims that Hamas is completely blameless. Targeting innocent civilians is unacceptable.


However, equating the resistance of a long-persecuted people languishing under an evil military occupation, even if wrongs are done, with an immensely superior state terror unjustifiably perpetrated by an occupying power is morally unconscionable, to say the very least.


Indeed, doing so would be analogous to equating European resistance to the attacking Nazi armies during the Second World War, with the Nazi aggression itself.


Well, with all due respect to AI and its efforts to safeguard and defend human rights, there is no legal or moral equation between a rape victim’s right to defend herself against her attacker and the criminal act initiated by the rapist.


I am using this analogy because the enduring Israeli oppression meted out to the Palestinian people is an enduring act of rape.


Yes, firing home-made and other comparatively primitive projectiles on Israeli civilians is a regrettable act. However, the firing of these projectiles, which killed a few Israelis in 10 years of hostilities (virtually one Israeli per year), can’t be compared with the nearly complete annihilation of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure and wholesale murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children.


The excessive, disproportionate and often pornographic use of deadly violence against an essentially imprisoned and unprotected civilian population is more than just a mere miscalculation or faulty reasoning It is rather a deliberate war crime the perpetrators of which are vile war criminals who ought to be prosecuted and punished for their crimes.


More to the point, it is imperative that one gives context if one is truly interested in producing an honest and objective analysis of the recent outrage in Gaza.


Hence, one must be honest enough to remember that Israel had been forcing the 1.5 million Gazans to choose between dying quietly by succumbing to a genocidal hermetic siege that pushed most of the region’s inhabitants to the brink of a silent holocaust, or fighting back, using whatever primitive and extremely limited means at their disposal.


I strongly believe it is absurd and ludicrous, if not outright malicious, to compare Hamas with Israel as far as the use of violence is concerned.


Hamas is a small movement of persecuted Palestinians who have been on the receiving end of Israeli persecution and repression. Hamas poses no real or strategic threat to Israel, a military superpower which also, to a large extent, controls American politics and policies.


In its recent genocidal onslaught on Gaza, Israel used the deadliest weapons of death, including F-16 warplanes, apache helicopters, Merkava tanks, heavy artillery, depleted uranium, chemical agents that eat through the human flesh and eventually cause death, white Phosphorus, dart shells and a variety of other lethal weapons.


On the other hand, Hamas used notoriously primitive weapons, mainly to deter Israel from carrying out a genocide on a wider scale.


During that blitz, Israel knowingly and deliberately targeted civilian neighborhoods, apartment buildings, private homes, mosques, college dorms, university buildings, UN-run schools, grocery stores and businesses. It was a no-holds-barred rampage of murder and terror against an imprisoned and thoroughly starved civilian population.


As a result, as many as 7000 Palestinians were murdered, or maimed and injured, many with life-long deformities. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of other Gazans suffered long-lasting psychological traumas.


On the Israeli side, we are talking about a dozen Israeli fatalities , some of whom killed or injured by “friendly fire.”


So, we are dealing with an extremely lopsided situation where the death ratio is nearly 1 -100. Needless to say, one doesn’t have to be a great military expert to realize that this is not really a war, it is rather a huge massacre.


This is why, AI is called upon to call the spade a spade and refrain from hiding behind technical jargons that not only fail to communicate the facts about what really happened in Gaza but also give a false impression of symmetry in guilt between Israel and Hamas.


More to the point, it is important to remember that Israel didn’t impose the draconian blockade of Gaza as a retaliation for the largely innocuous firing of projectiles onto Israel. The criminal blockade was imposed, first and foremost, as a cruel punishment of Palestinians for electing a political party that Israel didn’t like.


Hence, the imposition of the siege, which is continuing unabated, is per se a war crime or a crime against humanity.


The world betrayed them, the Arab world stood silent, with some Arab regimes even colluding with Israel to perfect the siege in the hope that Gazans would turn against Hamas and bring it down.


And the hypocritical West had the audacity to blame the victims while babbling, as usual, about Israel’s right to defend itself.


This happened while an entire people was being imprisoned, starved, tormented and quietly exterminated, mainly for political reasons pertaining to Israeli territorial aggrandizement.


In short, it was the Nazi-like Israeli savaging of the Palestinians that made Palestinian resistance inevitable. The Palestinians, long tormented by this cruel occupation, have every legal and moral right to resist, using whatever means available to them.


Indeed, instead of blaming the victims for resisting their oppressors, the world, including AI , ought to tell Israel that it can’t just incarcerate 1.5 million civilians within the confines of an open-air prison, surrounded by barbed wire, watchtowers, tanks, landmines, and other state-of-the-art machines of death, and then expect the victims to display love and understanding toward their tormentors and oppressors.


Israel did transform the Gaza Strip into a real concentration camp, by denying the prisoner population access to fuel, electricity, food, medicine, medical care, and basic consumer products.


Meanwhile, the Israeli death machine never stopped murdering innocent Palestinians, nearly on a daily basis.


It is essential that AI and other human rights groups take these facts into account when dealing with the situation in Gaza.


Failing to do so, by cowering before Israeli pressure, would further corrode AI image as the world’s premier human rights organization.

IN DEFENCE OF CANADIAN FREEDOM

Poster by Carlos Latuff

Some Canadians still retain the humility and decency that is an integral part of their very being. Despite the attempts of the Harper administration to Americanise the thinking of the Canadian population, letters such as the following will prove him to be a failure. The letter was sent as a comment to THIS post, it can serve as an example for others to follow. Thank you Barbara!


Please take the following actions:

  1. Immediately email the Carleton University President, Roseanne Runte, at presidents_office@carleton.ca demanding that she immediately restore the Charter rights of Carleton students and send a copy of your message of support to Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA Carleton) at saia.carleton@gmail.com
2. Call or fax Carleton University President, Roseanne Runte, at 613 520-3801(phone) or 613 520-4474 (fax) demanding that she immediately restore the Charter rights of Carleton students.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Crafted Letter to Carleton, In the interest of diplomacy and success, I was almost too mild. I took a look at the image of this woman. A blonde bland type with thin blue blood was my estimation, and a bony cold handshake.

My Dear Dr. Roseanne Runte!

On Feb 9, 100 posters put up around the Carleton campus by Students Against Israeli Apartheid to announce an internationally connected series of lectures and public events. They were removed according to the LUDICROUS rationale they “could be seen to incite others to infringe rights protected in the Ontario Human Rights code” and might be “insensitive to the norms of civil discourse in a free and democratic society”. This goes beyond idiotic. Yes, Carlos Latuff’s fine art is forceful and gets the message across, a fine testament to the power of art. But what you have done is downright embarrassing, a rotten egg in the face of Canada’s international image.

I would have thought this sort of repression might occur in China, North Korea, Egypt, or even perhaps parts of the States, but here in CANADA? A country in which free speech is supposed to be a given right? This stance you support makes a mockery of our country and the ideals we are supposed to protect and represent. Free speech is one of the very ideals your grandparents pehaps fought to protect, (as the war was sold back then). It is appalling enough that you do not have humanity to take a stand against perpetrators of injustice and the vilest of war crimes, but to also forbid students, who probably also pay a nice hefty student fee for access to facilities, from the right to advertise events in which there will be SPEAKING and DISCUSSING these criminal actions? For shame! Unless of course you condone what has been going on in Palestine as nothing much to worry about. In that instance, we have a serious problem.

Carlos image shows a white-washed image of a child watching an IDF bomber, an incident that took place many thousands of times in the past months.The picture is to promote dialogue and help people learn about humanity, to tear down walls, not build them, perhaps help prevent such things happening again. What is your university afraid of that there are fears of violations and perhaps incitement? Has Canada suddenly become North Korea while I was out walking the dog? Or, have Bn’ai Brith and/or AIPAC taken over? I fear the latter is more likely the case.

We all know that it is through educational institutions that young minds are prepared for their roles as the next generation in our society. They are shaped and trained by teachers and examples given them but those around them. As they are bent, so is society. Do Canadian Universities, and in this instance Carleton, think that if denied, human rights issues are ignored these young people will go away? Will students who care about what is not “politically correct” in our society just disapppear? Does Carleton intend to teach that “politically correct” can support war crimes and hush voices that dare speak out? To double this crime by threatening students with expulsion for CARING about their fellow humans rather than just grow up to be well-trained consumers focused on self or government-sanctioned “charitable works”, is just too reminiscent of Nazi Germany for this Canadian. Sorry, Ms. Runte, but Carlton just got a failing grade from this citizen.

Do you have any idea how fast news of this foolishness has traveled around the globe and how it has blackened Canada’s eyes in the international community? I heard of this issue from offended friends in Cairo and Kuwait before Canada! If it is being discussed in a coffee house in Cairo (not Starbucks), you can bet it is not just a small thing. That you do not allow debate on the academic boycott is bad enough. It would make Canadians proud to have a university with the gumption to take such a stance! Perhaps it is not the support of the ordinary people you pander to?

Internationally, the movements against Isreali’s WAREHOUSING (forget apartheid, the day for that is past) has been endorsed by hundreds of groups, educational facitilies, religious groups, everyone. These people are not racist, they are anti-racist,antisemitic as well as anti-Islamic. They are PRO HUMAN. Is this not what integration is about? But for some reason, as I write, I am beginning to smell a rat that has nothing to do with the “freedom of speech”that is being doubly insulted by Carleton.

How on EARTH can a meeting or lectures or sharing of information constitute racial or religious intolerance? I smell AIPAC or the ADL or Bn’ai Brith or some other paranoid and supremely racist scent in the air. In fact, this entire situation REEKS of their style of scare tactics. These folks flex their muscles and prefer to let people such as yourelf do their work for them. Most of us who can think are not hoodwinked into prejudice against the Jewish people. Because of course that is where this attitude of Carleton’s denial originates. Those of us who care about the human species have the brains and common sense to know the difference between religion and political action disguised as religion! For of course, that is the difference between Jews and Zionists, is it not? But, for some reason, Latuff’s posters are removed and students threatened with expulsion. This over-reaction and paranoid behaviour is to be expected if that is the mindset you are operating under.

Along with many other Canadians, I ask, nay demand, that the ban on the posters be lifted. A public apology would be wonderful, but I am not expecting miracles here, just human decency. It would also be expected that there will be an HONEST and instructional explanation of just how this poster offended so that such a thing does not happen again. Just what rules were broken, not just the party line please. Some guidelines that can be worked with would do so that everyone is happy. Yes, inclusionism is MUCH better than the other route, Ms. Runte.

I know there are other demands and retributions being demanded of you for this abominable stance, BUT I do believe, if you are a decent human being, and you look like you might be once you let your hair down, you would throw open the proposed institutional boycott of Israeli academic institutions out there and let your intelligent and competent staff and students decide the course of events to be followed. Then HONOR THE RESULTS of said actions and debates. Even an election on the issue would be better than a downright shutdown.

I know, and YOU know, we have feisty strong young people in this coming generation. I, for one, am proud of my own with their academic accomplishments and attitudes towards the earth and those of us upon it. For several years I worked as a phone poll taker for educational and government institutions. One of the things I remember asking students, HUNDREDS of them, in a polls was “Do you feel that — University/College encouraged/allowed you the freedom to express yourself, grow… etc”. THOUSANDS of students are asked this question during various polls taken regularly. Not ONE I ever spoke to said.. “well, noooo.” Do you want Carlton to go on record as being the first?

You cannot suppress free speech! The right to speak and debate is what makes young minds the great things they are and give us hope for the future. This attempt to repress free expression will ultimately fail. Carleton University administration should understand that debates on campuses on some of the most important human rights questions of our times cannot be silenced by administrative rulings.

Please, if you are a true Canadian, YOU WILL RESTORE TO THESE YOUNG PEOPLE THEIR STUDENT RIGHTS ACCORDING TO THEIR CARTER RIGHTS. Do the right thing here and let the posters go up, let the students hold their week of education, let the staff and students take a vote or whatever regarding the boycott. Just do the right thing for them, for Canada ~ and ultimately your own conscience.

Sincerely

ZIONIST DOG ATTACKS 100 YEAR OLD PALESTINIAN

One would think it is bad enough that the Israeli army constantly targets and kills innocent children…..but why stop at that? 100 year old people at rest in their own homes and beds are also equal and defenseless targets.
They can always ‘blame it on the dog’ just as we did when our homework wasn’t finished…..

100 year-old man attacked by Israeli army dog

In the early morning of February 20th at 2am, Israeli Forces invaded the town of Tamoun, located in the Tubas region of the northern occupied West Bank. Around 50 soldiers in seven jeeps surrounded two houses in the town, firing sound bombs and live ammunition before breaking into the residences.

Salem Fadel Bani Odeh (100)

Salem Fadel Bani Odeh (100)

During the course of the invasion, an army attack dog mauled the face of Salem Fadel Bani Odeh, aged 100 while he lay helpless in his bed. Two men, Na’el Odeh Bani Odeh, aged 23, Muhamad Mustafa Bani Odeh, aged 25, were also arrested by Israeli Occupation Forces. The windows of a nearby parked car were all shot out by army gunfire.

Salem Fadel Bani Odeh awoke to the explosions of sound bombs and live bullets. The door to his home was smashed down by soldiers, who entered the house and ordered everyone outside. But Salem, who is partially paralyzed and bedridden, could not move. As the soldiers searched the house, an army dog leaped up onto his bed and began biting his face and chest. Though nearly ten soldiers were inside the same room, they did nothing to stop the attack, and the dog continued to knaw on Salem’s face. Finally, after more than half an hour, the soldiers stopped the dog and called for an ambulance. Salem was taken to Rafidia Hospital in Nablus, where he remains in moderate condition with parts of one ear bitten off and bites on his face, chest and right shoulder.

dscn3062

According to Ha’aretz, the Israeli army has admitted that the incident occurred.

Source

THIS IS WHAT WAS BANNED AT CARLETON UNIVERSITY IN CANADA

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff


Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an annual international series of events held in cities and campuses across the globe. The aim of IAW is to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system
and to build Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns as part of a growing global BDS movement.

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is taking place in more than 40 cities across the globe (the number of cities is growing daily). This year, IAW happens in the wake of Israel’s barbaric assault on the people of
Gaza. Lectures, films, and actions will make the point that these latest massacres further confirm the true nature of Israeli Apartheid. IAW 2009 will continue to build and strengthen the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement at a global level.

IN ISRAEL THE RIGHT HAS RIGHTS…..

One settler gets compensated by a Court Order…… what about the THOUSANDS of Palestinians that suffered (and continue to suffer)?
Is this the type of ‘Justice’ we can expect from the new Government?

Rightist assaulted by police to be compensated

Court orders two officers accused of manhandling settler during evacuation of West Bank outpost near Ramallah to pay him NIS 4,000 in damages. ‘Being a public official cannot cover violent acts,’ says Yesha Council
Efrat Weiss

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court ruled recently that police officers who struck a right-wing activist during the evacuation of a West Bank outpost were liable for NIS 4,000 (about $963) in damages.


The incident took place about 18 months ago, as several right-wing activists were attempting to build an outpost near the West Bank settlement of Hashmonaim, near the city of Ramallah. One of the activists, who is currently an Israel Defense Forces soldier, alleged he was attacked by Special Patrol Unit officers with the Judea and Samaria District Police.

The man claimed that one police officer slapped him, while his commander choked him and threatened him.

The settlers documented the event, and the video, with the assistance of the Yesha Council’s Human Rights Group, was transferred to the Police Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB).

A subsequent investigation resulted in one of the officers undergoing disciplinary action.

Attorney Benny Levin, who provides legal aid on behalf of Yesha’s human rights group, also assisted the man in filing a damages suit against the police officers who assaulted him.

The State Prosecutor’s Office argued that the case had no merits, since no harm was caused to the plaintiff, adding that the suit was a part of an ongoing trend, facilitated by the Yesha human rights group, to file charges against police officers. The court denied the argument.

Orit Struck, head of the Yesha human rights group, categorically rebuffed the allegations: “There cannot be a norm where police officers offend and abuse settlers. Even if a person does not suffer any physical injury, this is not something one should experience as part of police procedures. We are not second or third class citizens.”

“The State’s approach sets a new level for the perception that a public servant is always right, and that being a public official can be used to cover any violent act,” added Levin.

The Yesha human rights group, added Struck, “has never filed a suit against police officers duly performing their job, even if we didn’t agree with them, but this kind of norm is not something anyone should experience.”

SUNDAY’S OBAMATOON

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
Also see THIS post……

PHOTO ESSAY ~~ ANGRY NEW YORKERS PROTEST RACISM AT THE NEW YORK POST

Despite President Obama’s present destructive course in the Middle East, to attack him for his race is just plain WRONG!

DesertPeace’s roaming photographer Bud Korotzer was there to capture the spirit of the ongoing protests outside the New York Post’s building.

YES WE CAN COMBAT RACISM!


Photos © by Bud Korotzer


The offensive ‘cartoon’ that appeared in the Post







































SATURDAY’S OBAMAWARTOONS

Looks like the people are the losers once again :(

Both images ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

FRIDAY’S OBAMATOON

This is NOT what the people wanted……

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

AS EXPECTED, THE ‘RIGHT’ WRONGLY ASSUMES POWER IN ISRAEL

Netanyahu chosen to be Israeli PM

Netanyahu’s Likud party won one less seat in the Knesset than the rival Kadima party [AFP]

Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, has asked Benyamin Netanyahu, the leader of the Likud party, to form a new coalition government within six weeks.

Peres and Netanyahu held a news conference in Jerusalem on Friday where Netanyahu accepted the offer.

“I hereby designate Benyamin Netanyahu to form the upcoming government … there are many challenges ahead,” Peres said.

He added that parties representing 65 legislators backed Netanyahu to become prime minister.

Security and peace

Netanyahu said that he now had a “responsibility to establish security in our state and to establish peace with our neighbours.”

He emphasised the need for political unity saying: “Lets join hands and co-operate to ensure the future of Israel.”

“I think the rhetorics of the new government will be different, but I’m not sure the deeds will be so different”

Gideon Levy, columnist for the Haaretz newspaper

Netanyahu will now have to negotiate with other parties to form a coalition government.

He said he wanted to form a broad coalition government that also included the Labour party, headed by Tzipi Livni, Netanyahu’s main political rival.

Earlier on Friday Livni rejected talks of joining a coalition with Netanyahu.

“I will not be a pawn in a government that would be against our ideals,” she said after meeting Peres.

“Things are clear. What is being created is a government without political vision, a government with no values.”

“We need a government based on a two-state solution,” Livni said, referring to Netanyahu’s stance on negotiating peace with the Palestinians.

While Kadima won one more seat than Likud in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, during general elections on February 10, the president traditionally asks the party most likely to be able to form a coalition to lead the new government.

Far-right support

Netanyahu’s bid to become the next prime minister was boosted on Thursday when he won the backing of Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the far-right Yisrael Beitenu party.

Al Jazeera’s Rob Gilles, reporting from Jerusalem, said that while Netanyahu is being asked to lead the government, his prime ministership is “far from a done deal”.

“Yesterday, 65 MPs pledged their support to him, but to actually get those pledges turned into real action, he has to do some horse-trading with the various parties. He has to offer them certain positions.”

“If those positions are offered and they agree, then those pledges will be turned into firm offers, in which case, he will have enough to form a [government].”

The rise of Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu in general elections and the choice of Netanyahu to lead a new government represents an apparent shift to the right in Israeli politics.

Despite this, Gideon Levy, a columnist for the Haaretz newspaper, said he expected “more of the same” from a new coalition government.

“I think the rhetorics of the new government will be different, but I’m not sure the deeds will be so different. Don’t forget that the key is still in Washington,” he told Al Jazeera.

“The right-wing parties are so eager to be joined by the central parties like Kadima because they know that this right-wing policy will not be accepted in Washington, and will not lead to anywhere.”

Palestinian reaction

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesperson for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president reacted to the news of Netanyahu’s selection.

Peres said that 65 MPs had backed
Netanyahu to form a coalition [AFP]
“We will deal with any Israeli government if that government commits itself to the two-state solution, previous agreement, halting settlement activities, and international law,” he said from Bahrain.

Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Ramallah, in the occupied Palestinian territory, said that Palestinian government’s had dealt with parties across the Israeli political spectrum in the past, and politicians felt that none, including Likud, would improve their situation.

“The peace process and negotiations have been suspended … so really it will be much of the very bad same.

“There will be no progress – stagnation at the very best, if not escalation.”

Source

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