ABBAS: PEACE PARTNER OR COLLABORATOR?

This photo was taken in 2003 … 21 years after the massacre of Palestinians in Sabra and Shatilla. If you were a Palestinian would you trust him to speak about Peace on your behalf?

Photo by Reuters

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AT LEAST ONE PA OFFICIAL FINALLY SEES THE LIGHT

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff

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Eirekat lashed out at Israel for deciding on Sunday to annex large parts of the Jordan valley, (which makes up 25% of the West Bank), calling the Israeli measure “the ultimate antithesis of peace.”
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Eirekat’s belated admission
From Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Palestine
 

With frustration and anger clear in the tone of his voice, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Eirekat admitted on Monday that “peace talks” with Israel were going nowhere due to  “Israel’s recalcitrant  refusal” to end her military occupation that started in 1967.  Speaking in Ramallah, a visibly disillusioned Eirekat said the Palestinian Authority (PA) should immediately resume efforts to join international organizations and obtain recognition of a Palestinian state based on the 1967-borders. 

Under American pressure, the PA leadership agreed in September to suspend a diplomatic drive to gain recognition and obtain membership at various world bodies.

Eirekat lashed out at Israel for deciding on Sunday to annex large parts of the Jordan valley, (which makes up 25% of the West Bank), calling the Israeli measure “the ultimate antithesis of peace.”

“Israel is proving to everyone that it is absolutely unconcerned for reaching the two-state solution. Moreover, this government of Binyamin Netanyahu is simply transforming its repulsive occupation into annexation”

Israel, under the rubric of peace talks with the PA, seized large parts of the West Bank. 

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Similarly, Israel has been speeding up construction of Jewish colonies, which most pundits believe has effectively decapitated any remaining chance for the establishment of a viable and territorially-contiguous Palestinian state worthy of the name.

Hamas and other Palestinian political factions as well as non-conformist Fatah leaders had warned the PA leadership against entering in open-ended talks with Israel in the absence of real guarantees, especially from Israel’s guardian-ally, the United States.

However, the PA, which depends for its financial survival on politically-driven aid by western powers and oil-rich Arab sheikhdoms in the Arabian Gulf, refused to say “No” to the Americans.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to arrive in Occupied Palestine later this week to push the seemingly futile talks forward.

However, with the extreme right-wing government of Benyamin Netanyahu in power, and with the Israeli Jewish society drifting to religious fanaticism and national jingoism, it seems the American official has a little chance of making any real breakthrough.

Added to this is the ever-dwindling American ability to exert any meaningful pressure on Israel due to the powerful influence of the American Jewish lobby on American political life and institutions, especially Congress.

The increasingly apparent failure and possible collapse of the peace process in Palestine is likely to force many Palestinians to demand the “one-state solution” whereby they conceivably would acquire citizenship in a bi-national state extending from the Mediterranean to the River Jordan.

However, Israel is utterly unlikely to accept this scenario as its Jewish Zionist identity would be seriously compromised with the inclusion of more than five million non-Jews to Israel’s population.

It is widely believed that the Arab population west of the river Jordan already exceeds the number of Jews, although Israeli officials wouldn’t admit that. 
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to arrive in Occupied Palestine later this week to push the seemingly futile talks forward.

However, with the extreme right-wing government of Benyamin Netanyahu in power, and with the Israeli Jewish society drifting to religious fanaticism and national jingoism, it seems the American official has a little chance of making any real breakthrough.

Added to this is the ever-dwindling American ability to exert any meaningful pressure on Israel due to the powerful influence of the American Jewish lobby on American political life and institutions, especially Congress.

The increasingly apparent failure and possible collapse of the peace process in Palestine is likely to force many Palestinians to demand the “one-state solution” whereby they conceivably would acquire citizenship in a bi-national state extending from the Mediterranean to the River Jordan.

However, Israel is utterly unlikely to accept this scenario as its Jewish Zionist identity would be seriously compromised with the inclusion of more than five million non-Jews to Israel’s population.

It is widely believed that the Arab population west of the river Jordan already exceeds the number of Jews, although Israeli officials wouldn’t admit that.

ABBAS PRAISES APARTHEID IN SOUTH AFRICA

He might as well have …
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Mahmoud Abbas, de facto leader of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, has made his clearest statement in opposition to the global campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
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In South Africa, Abbas opposes boycott of Israel

 Ali Abunimah 
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A BDS South Africa banner at the FNB Stadium in Soweto, site of the memorial service for Nelson Mandela.

 (BDS South Africa)

Mahmoud Abbasde facto leader of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, has made his clearest statement in opposition to the global campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) on Israel in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

His comments have drawn strong condemnation from Palestinian and South African activists.

It has also emerged that South Africa’s chief rabbi, who spoke at Nelson Mandela’s memorial, is a committed supporter of Israel’s colonization of occupied land, a denier of its abuses of Palestinian rights and lived in a radical Israeli settlement.

Abbas opposes BDS

“No we do not support the boycott of Israel,” Mahmoud Abbas said at a press conference in South Africa, which he has been visiting to attend the Mandela memorial, The Starnewspaper reported on 11 December.1

“But we ask everyone to boycott the products of the settlements. Because the settlements are in our territories. It is illegal. … But we don’t ask anyone to boycott Israel itself. We have relations with Israel, we have mutual recognition of Israel.”

It is unclear what Abbas meant by “mutual recognition.” While Abbas and the Palestine Liberation Organization have recognized Israel, Israel does not recognize a Palestinian state or indeed any Palestinian rights whatsoever and continues to aggressively steal Palestinian land.

“Oblivious” to Palestinian struggle

Abbas’ comments conflict “with the Palestinian national consensus that has strongly supported BDS against Israel since 2005,” Omar Barghouti told The Electronic Intifada.

A founder of the BDS movement, Barghouti emphasized that he was commenting in a personal capacity.

“There is no Palestinian political party, trade union, NGO [nongovernmental organization] network or mass organization that does not strongly support BDS. Any Palestinian official who lacks a democratic mandate and any real public support, therefore, cannot claim to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people when it comes to deciding our strategies of resistance to Israel’s regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid,” Barghouti said.

The Palestinian civil call for BDS urges “people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era” and does not limit such campaigns only to settlement goods.

“Any Palestinian official who today explicitly speaks against boycotting Israel – particularly in a country like South Africa, where the ruling party, leading trade unions, churches and other civil society groups have warmly endorsed BDS – only shows how aloof he is from his own people’s aspirations for freedom, justice and equality, and how oblivious he is to our struggle for their inalienable rights,” Barghouti added.

Israel and its lobby in South Africa will be particularly pleased to hear Abbas’ comments, which come just weeks after South Africa’s foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabanesaid that her country was reducing its ties with Israel.

Akin to Bantustan leaders

Salim Vally, spokesperson of the Palestine Solidarity Committee in South Africa, told The Electronic Intifada that Abbas’ comments were “shocking” and represented an “attack on the global solidarity movement.”

Abbas’ words were “akin to what our erstwhile bantustan leaders would have said and this has the potential of undoing much of the work of the solidarity movement which is supported by the vast majority of South Africans,” Vally added.

Bantustans were nominally independent “states” set up by the apartheid regime with subservient leaders to disguise and legitimize apartheid. “Mandela and his movement fought against the Bantustan leaders all their careers,” Vally said.

Undermining Palestinian struggle

This is not the first time Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have sought to undermine the increasingly high-profile BDS movement.

In 2010, the PA launched a short-lived campaign urging Palestinians to boycott settlement goods. While welcomed by many, as I wrote at the time, its true purpose appeared to be to undermine the broader BDS movement.

Abbas himself took part in that campaign while urging trade with Israel. “We are not boycotting Israel, because we have agreements and imports from it,” he said.

Trade with Israel directly benefits Palestinian elites and the Palestinian Authority, which is entirely reliant on Israeli goodwill.

A now-defunct PA website supposedly meant to encourage the boycott of settlement goods even stated that “Regarding trade with Israel, the Palestinian Ministry of Economy confirms continuing its cooperation as it was agreed at the [1994] Paris summit.”

The Abbas-led PA is deeply entrenched in the Israeli occupation and relies on Israel for weapons to use in its crackdown against any form of Palestinian resistance.

As recently as October, Abbas boasted about the work PA security forces have done on behalf of the Israeli occupation army.

“The Palestinian Authority has achieved 100 percent success rate at security coordination with Israel,” Abbas said.

Abbas has also been leading a tenacious campaign against the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Refugee rights are a key pillar of the BDS call.

South Africa’s Chief (settler) Rabbi

This week, South African chief rabbi Warren Goldstein was one of the official speakers at the public memorial service for former President Nelson Mandela, lauding the late freedom fighter’s “mighty power of forgiveness.”

Goldstein, it turns out, earned his education at a radical religious school in an Israeli settlement on occupied Palestinian land. He “is a graduate of the Beth El Yeshiva, the organization that founded and maintains Arutz Sheva.”

Arutz Shevawhich reported this, is a far-right pro-settler and anti-Palestinian media organization.

Beit El is a colony near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. The Beit El Yeshiva (alternatively spelled Beth El) was founded in 1977 by radical Jewish settlers from the Mercaz Harav religious school in Jerusalem.

“The foundations for the religious settlements in the West Bank were forged in Mercaz Harav,” according to Haaretz and it was from there that the earliest settlers to colonize the occupied territories set out after the 1967 war.

The Beit El Yeshiva was established with the support of the Israeli occupation army which provided housing for the settlers on one of its bases.

Last Saturday, Palestinian schoolboy Wajih Wajdi al-Ramahi, 14, was shot dead by an Israeli sniper. According to the boy’s father, the shots that killed his son were fired from a Beit El watchtower overlooking the adjacent Jalazone refugee camp where the family lives.

Occupation denier

In keeping with the Beit El Yeshiva’s extreme teachings, Goldstein himself has taken strongly anti-Palestinian positions. He even denies the occupation.

“The … untruth is the accusation of illegal occupation of Arab land,” Golstein wrote in aletter to Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Calling South African Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim “unfit to hold public office,” Goldstein demanded he resign over the South African government’s support for Palestinian rights.

Goldstein even accused Ebrahim of “apartheid-style control of information and censorship” for calling on South Africans to avoid visiting Israel due to its ongoing human rights abuses.

In a recent interview, Goldstein called any comparison between Israel and its occupation on the one hand, and apartheid South Africa on the other, a “modern blood libel.”

Baleka Mbete, national chairperson of the African National Congress and master of ceremonies at the Mandela memorial, would disagree.

Last year she declared that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians was “far worse than apartheid South Africa.”


  1. The article, which appears on page 24 of the 11 December late edition, can be verified by searching for its headline “Palestinian head rejects boycott of Israel” at pressdisplay.com

 

Written FOR

ISRAEL’S GUARDIAN ANGEL

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Apart from the political dimension, one can’t really find the right words to describe the scandal of PA willingness to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on protecting the security of Israeli settlements in the West Bank when more than 70% of Palestinians live under the poverty line.
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Israel builds settlements, PA guards them
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By Khalid Amayeh in Occupied Jerusalem
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PLO official Nabil Shaath threw a bombshell this week when he told Israeli reporters in Ramallah that the Palestinian Authority (PA) spends a large portion of its meager budget on guarding Israeli colonies against possible attacks by Palestinian resistance fighters.

Shaath, who is known for his honesty and candidness, said the PA was spending more funds on protecting Israeli settlements than it was on education and health in the occupied territories.

Fatah spokespersons said Shaath was trying to tell the Israeli public that the PA was doing all it could to keep the peace and honor signed agreements with Israel .

This is really a shocking, though not surprising- admission which should embarrass all Palestinians, especially those still giving the PA the benefit of the doubt and thinking that the PLO is still the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

We all know that the PA is filling the ether with never-ending complaints about Jewish settlement expansion. So one wonders how the world will take the PA seriously ever after this scandalous revelation, which really illustrates the moral and political schizophrenia overwhelming the PLO-PA leadership. Others, who are less diplomatic, would not hesitate to consider the matter a brazen treason to the Palestinian people and their aspiration for independence and freedom.

The PA used to call itself “the Palestinian National Authority.” Now, The State of Palestine” is replacing the PA as the official name of the semi-autonomous regime. Unfortunately both names are devoid of substance as the Israeli occupation continues to control every street and neighborhood in the West Bank .

It is really disgraceful that the PA regime always strives to appease the Israeli occupiers, not only by allocating hard-earned or politically-motivated aid money for protecting Jewish colonies but also by continuing to arrest and round up Palestinians deemed supportive of Islamic groups.

This is actually more than disgraceful. In the final analysis, we are protecting child-killers, land-grabbers, and terrorists who vandalize our mosques and torch our grain fields and live orchards.

As to terrorizing Palestinians on behalf of Israel, it shows that the PA is decidedly at Israel’s beck and call, which means that the PA is actually answerable to the Zionist regime, its whims and vagaries when the Ramallah regime ought to be responsible to the Palestinian people.

Apart from the political dimension, one can’t really find the right words to describe the scandal of PA willingness to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on protecting the security of Israeli settlements in the West Bank when more than 70% of Palestinians live under the poverty line.

More to the point, the PA, including the new government headed by Rami Hamdallah, lacks the courage to tell the truth to the Palestinian masses about its umbilical subservience to Israel.

Instead, the PA continues to indulge in cheap rhetoric and lies about Palestinian statehood when even the most casual observers have come to realize that establishing a viable and territorially contiguous state is no longer a realistic possibility in light of the massive expansion of Jewish settlements and the adamant rejection by Israel of any compromises that would allow the Palestinian people to reclaim even a small part of their usurped rights.

In fact, the PA is not only deceiving the Palestinian people. It is also deceiving Arab states and the Muslim public opinion by insisting that donated Arab aid would enhance Palestinian steadfastness and thwart colonialist Zionist schemes. Well, the truth, the naked truth, is that Arab and non-Arab aid money is used to enhance the security of Jewish settlements, not Palestinian steadfastness.

Well, the next time a PA official comes to ask for more money from Arab states; he should be asked how much money the PA spends on education as opposed to protecting Nazi-like Jewish settlers hell-bent on ethnically cleansing our people from our ancestral homeland.

The Palestinian people, thoroughly exhausted by an economic meltdown and cheated by the world community as well as its own leadership, should also bring the PA to account and ask it about the merits of keeping up and funding 70,000 security personnel whose main job is protecting Israeli settlement security.

This week, PA economy minister reportedly met with his Israeli counterpart and agreed on more “economic coordination.” This shows that the PA never learns from its mistakes.

Following the hapless Oslo Accords, the PLO promised the Palestinian people that the West Bank and Gaza Strip would soon become the Hong Kong and Singapore of the Middle East. The truth of the matter, however, is that the occupied territories effectively became the Somalia of the Arab world as poverty, economic depravity and unemployment skyrocketed as never before.

The former PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad eventually reached the conclusion that it was impossible to build a prosperous economy under a sinister foreign military occupation.

Now, the new government in Ramallah is walking in the same path, which proved catastrophic, thinking that Palestinians can achieve economic prosperity in the absence of Palestinian sovereignty and freedom of movement.

Politically, the PLO-PA establishment is behaving like Alice in Wonderland. PA officials, including Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, continue to make daily statements claiming that there is still a chance for reaching a peaceful settlement for the protracted conflict when every observer and every pundit, Palestinian and Israeli alike, know well that time has passed peace by, due to massive settlement expansion.

So why is the PLO-PA refusing to see the obvious? Are they blind? Are they drunk? Are they stupid?

PALESTINE SOLD TO HIGHEST BIDDER FOR $4 BILLION

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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The situation has gotten worse since THIS was posted ….
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It is vital we make things amply clear for our people. The U.S. simply wants to bribe the easy-going easy-coming PA leadership into giving up the paramount right of return for Palestinian refugees, East Jerusalem and accept a deformed state-let on parts of the West Bank, all in order to enable the resumption of the so-called peace process.
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Kerry bullies Abbas to cede right of return for 4b. dollars
By Khalid Amayreh

During the recently held World-economic Forum in Amman , U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry revealed that the U.S. would offer the Palestinian Authority (PA) $4 billion dollars for reactivating the Palestinian economy.

However, Kerry made it unmistakably clear that the implementation of the American inducement package was dependent on the resumption of the stalled peace process between an imperial Israel, armed to the teeth and in tight control of the American government. And the PA, a vanquished supplicant whose very survival depends on Israeli good will as well as western handouts.

Some gullible observers have hailed the American “gesture,” ignoring the poisoned chalice the Palestinians are being urged to drink as part of the deal. The PA has denied that it would sacrifice Palestinian rights in return for some transient economic benefits. However, from early Palestinian reactions it is noticed that a majority of Palestinians have deep suspicions as to whether Abbas will be able to withstand and resist America’s bullying.

It is vital we make things amply clear for our people. The U.S. simply wants to bribe the easy-going easy-coming PA leadership into giving up the paramount right of return for Palestinian refugees, East Jerusalem and accept a deformed state-let on parts of the West Bank, all in order to enable the resumption of the so-called peace process.

In other words, Kerry wants to get Abbas, et al, to agree to liquidate the essence of the Palestinian national cause in return for some financial inducements. They just want to reproduce the same false optimism and euphoria that accompanied all peace conferences ever since the Oslo Accords. And as we all know, all these conferences ended up in a gigantic fiasco, with the main reason being Israel’s adamant refusal to give up the spoils of the 1967 war and allow for the repatriation of the refugees to their homes and villages from which they were expelled at gunpoint when Israel was created 65 years ago.

It would be a huge disaster if the Palestinian leadership were to relate seriously to the American proposal. It would amount to a kind of committing an act of lewdness with the enduring national cause, something the Palestinian people would never allow to happen.

In fact, one could claim that the very American offer carries with it a great deal of naivety if only because everyone knows that economic prosperity is impossible under a sinister foreign military occupation. Indeed, one doesn’t have to be a great economic expert to realize that in the absence of sovereignty and freedom of movement, there is a little chance for sustained economic development. It would be lamentable if the PA failed to realize this point after all the lessons of the past 20 years.

Peres: notorious liar, war criminal

During the economic conference mentioned above, the elderly Israeli President Shimon Peres, a certified war criminal par excellance, tried to cajole Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas into coming to terms with the fait accompli which Israel created ever since 1967.

Peres, a figurehead head of state, delivered a “moving speech” urging the Palestinians to return to the peace table without conditions. He claimed that a majority of Israelis wanted peace. However, Peres didn’t say why Israel was building dozens of colonies in the West Bank and transferring hundreds of thousands of fanatical settlers to live on land that belongs to another people,

Abbas, notoriously known for his complacency, seemed overly eager to respond positively to Peres’ tricks and deception. He told reporters in Jordan that there was still a chance for the two state solution.

The Palestinian leader simply didn’t know what he was taking about. Well, in order to give Abbas the benefit of the doubt, one would have to disbelieve one’s eyes and up all his mental faculties.

This is so because Israel has killed any remaining possibility for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state as dozens of Jewish settlements have been created in and around East Jerusalem, the contemplated capital of the contemplated Palestinian state.

This is not to mention the estimated 150-200 other settlements and settlement outposts which Israel built all over the occupied territories.

In short, the Palestinian people must not be duped into being bitten by the same snake again. Some people learn from other people’s mistakes, others learn only from their own mistakes. Unfortunately, there are certain people with the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah who learn neither from their nor from other people’s mistake. This is really a disaster.

 

 

IS THE IDF INCITING A THIRD INTIFADA?

Image ‘Copyleft by Carlos Latuff
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There is nothing more the State of Israel wants at this time than a new Intifada in the West Bank. The defunct ‘President’ of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas has been successful in garnering the support of the United Nations, but not from the people of his own nation. The frustration felt by the Palestinian people today is moreso aimed at him than at Israel itself, especially after speaking out against the Right of Return of displaced Palestinians to THEIR HOMES. If any movement emerges as a result, it won’t be in the form of an Intifada against Israel, but one against the Palestinian Authority and Abbas for allowing their nation to suffer as they do.
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The IDF and the Israeli media disagree with my analysis as can be seen in the following …
‘West Bank on verge of intifada’

IDF officials warn tensions in West Bank close to boiling point following PA’s successful UN gambit, say coming March’s Nakba and Naksa days will foretell potential violence

Is a third intifada unavoidable? The recent Palestinian successin the UN, the deadlocked Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the achievements noted by Hamas during Operation Pillar of Defense have prompted greater agitation in the West Bank, and the IDF is concerned that the area may soon reach a boiling point.
According to Shin Bet data, the unrest in the area is ripe for the development of the kind of infrastructure that could potentially support a third intifada – prolonged and violent unrest the likes of which Israel had to deal with in 1987 and 2000.

In recent weeks, the number of arrests made by the Palestinian Authority’s security forces against Hamas operatives in the West Bank has plummeted, and the PA no longer seems motivated to curb their activities in the area.

Almost simultaneously, military intelligence has seen a spike in alerts suggesting terror groups are planning attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians alike.
According to the data, 130 attacks or attempted attacks were launched from the West Bank in November alone, the majority of which were classified by the defense establishment as “difficult to contain.”

עימותים ביהודה ושומרון במהלך מבצע "עמוד ענן" (צילום: AFP)

West Bank riots during Gaza op (Photo: AFP)

Still, an IDF military source in the Judea and Samaria Division told Ynet that, “We’re able to reach everyone eventually, even those who hurl Molotov cocktails or throw rocks at cars.”
The senior officer hedged that despite the palpable tension in the West Bank, the atmosphere is still far from resembling that which led to the al-Aqsa Intifada.

“We’ll have a better assessment of the situation in March, after the Palestinians mark the Nakba and Naksa days and the Prisoners Day. That’s a critical window. The Palestinians have a clear interest in maintaining their coordination (with the IDF) and the calm in the area. It’s an asset for them,” he said.

The IDF and Shin Bet’s near-complete intelligence network in the area has enabled the arrest of five terror cells in the Ramallah sector in the past four months alone, all of which were planning to abduct soldiers.

The defense establishment believes the timing was not coincidental, as all of the plots were set to be executed on or around the anniversary marking the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in the Shalit deal.

The coming weeks will see dozens of former Palestinian prisoners return to the area, after the term of their imposed exile – stipulated in the deal – will end.

 

Riots in Issawiya (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)

The IDF considers Ramallah to be a barometer for the atmosphere in entire Palestinian Authority and it seems that the latter no longer considers Hamas’ presence in its cities illegal.

According to a top military source, “There are two scenarios that may indicate the future: The reopening of Hamas’ da’wah institutions in the West Bank and the complete suspension of Hamas’ operatives’ arrests.”

Still, he stressed that both were theoretical, and will require “a closer relationship” between Fatah and Hamas.

“The Palestinian security forces in the West Bank have been targeting Hamas, crisscross-wise, for a long time, right down to bugging mosques and arresting muezzins for incitement,” he said.

The PA still has a firm grip on the ground and its security forces are able to successfully ward off riots in the Palestinian cities.

Commanders of the IDF’s spatial brigades still hold regular coordination meetings with their Palestinian counterparts and the defense establishment is tracking any potential escalation in the area.

The defense establishment has, however, expressed concern that the trigger for a third intifada may end up being Jewish terror, such as “price tag” acts or clashed between Palestinians and settlers.

Israeli security forces have increased their efforts to contain and thwart such incidents.

Source

THE NON AUTHORITIVE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY

The Palestinian Authority – devoid of any authority

The Oslo Accords, initially intended to create Palestinian self-government, have in fact left them with autonomous pockets that only reinforce Israel’s rule.

By Amira Hass
Palestinians for Dignity protesting in Ramallah, with a permit from police.
Palestinians for Dignity protesting in Ramallah, with a permit from police.  Photo by Amira Hass

“Everything Will Be Fine,” the enjoyable program broadcast by Army Radio, has a younger relation over at the Voice of Palestine: At “Good Morning Palestine,” the microphone is sometimes open to regular citizens with complaints about various institutions of the Palestinian bureaucracy. As at “Everything Will Be Fine,” the program hosts find it easier than regular people to locate the phone number of whoever is in charge and extract a promise that the matter under discussion will be taken care of. For example, Saturday morning, an officer in the Hebron police was put on the line to answer allegations made by a Yatta resident (who declined to identify himself ) that the Palestinian police are shirking their duty and are slow to intervene in internal conflicts of the large town. The complainant didn’t want to hear about Area A and Area C and interrupted the officer several times.

Another radio program provides airtime to family members of people imprisoned in Israel. It is a particularly important show for prisoners whose parents, wives and children aren’t allowed to visit them for obscure, unspecified “security reasons.” Some relatives make do with a brief, “How are you, habibi? We’re all fine, don’t worry about us. We hope you’re taking care of yourself and your health, and that you’ll be released soon – you and all the other prisoners.” Others go on at length, especially the women. A mother will tell her son that she sent him money for snacks or that his younger brother is out of control and that she’s worried. She’ll speak as if the conversation weren’t one-way and part of a broadcast to which lots of people are listening – cab drivers, their passengers, store clerks and several hundred other prisoners.

Speaking of cabs: As a result of a string of fatal traffic accidents involving taxi drivers, the Palestinian Ministry of Transportation has issued an order limiting the speed of all public transportation vehicles on intercity roads to 90 kilometers per hour. From now on, all new cabs will be modified mechanically to disable higher speeds.

Between a talk show and a news edition, one may hear a public service announcement encouraging people to pay off their debts to the electric company because non-payment strengthens the occupation. A recent installment of “Women’s Voices” was dedicated to an extensive discussion of the phenomenon of men preventing their ex-wives from seeing their children, and of the legal means available to women to fight this injustice.

Speaking of injustices: The Coalition for Palestinian Human Rights Organizations has criticized unnamed figures in the office of President Mahmoud Abbas who, according to the coalition, ordered the police to violently suppress demonstrations held two months ago by the new group Palestinians for Dignity. The youths were protesting the invitation extended to Shaul Mofaz to meet with Abu Mazen. But the criticism had its impact. Two weeks ago, the police allowed the group to march as far as the Muqata wall in Ramallah and shout, without interference, “Traitor, traitor, our government is a traitor.”

What is the common denominator of these anecdotes? What is this compilation doing here? It’s my way of addressing an assertion made in the book, “The Bureaucracy of the Occupation: The Regime of Movement Permits 2000-2006,” by attorney Yael Barda, recently published by the United Kibbutz Movement and Jerusalem’s Van Leer Institute. The book is based on her master’s thesis in the sociology and anthropology department at Tel Aviv University. The research started with Barda’s stubborn slog through the trenches while representing Palestinian laborers who got lost in the intentionally repressive labyrinth of official red tape. Barda argues against the conclusion drawn by Neve Gordon in his book, “Israel’s Occupation” (University of California Press, Berkeley, 2008 ), which she summarizes as follows: “Since the Oslo Accords, the force used against the Palestinians has changed and is now a sovereign power employing legal control by means of the law and policing forces; it does not intervene in civil decisions and does not distinguish between those who oppose the occupation and those who accept it …”

By contrast, Barda’s conclusion is as follows: “After the administrative and regional separation enacted as a result of the Oslo Accords, control over the lives of the Palestinians and interference in their civilian matters did not decrease; on the contrary, it grew.” Barda has accompanied hundreds of laborers on their Via Dolorosa to an entrance permit to Israel and has interviewed many functionaries within the system. That is how she has learned up close how invasive, non-transparent and unsupervised the Israeli authorities are – from the Shin Bet security service to the Supreme Court – that dominate the lives of Palestinians seeking to realize their right to freedom of movement, and come up against walls of concrete, orders and injunctions.

I have not read Gordon’s book, but I assume he saw the range of prohibitions in force during the period of the direct occupation: on construction, reading and writing, unionizing and broadcasting opinions, plays and movies, on planting and seeding. The people in charge in the civilian offices were Israeli bureaucrats/military personnel. They carefully parceled out permits to hook up a telephone line here or build another floor there, while putting petitioners through a gauntlet of depressing humiliations. The offensive, intentional neglect of infrastructure was always a key part of the mechanism of dominating the natives. Even getting a driver’s license was a grind through the same mechanism. The Shin Bet used collaborators even before the ban on freedom of movement that started in 1991, preceding the implementation of Oslo by three years. It’s enough to think about the terrifying presence of the Border Police, Special Patrol Units and National Insurance Institute inspectors in East Jerusalem neighborhood and villages, turned into choking pockets of poverty by the Israeli government, in order to remember the potential of direct control and its predatory nature. It’s enough to remember Area C in which Israel will not allow an old Palestinian community to build toilets or install a solar energy system.

Area C, the 61-62 percent of the West Bank over which the Oslo Accords give Israel full authority, surrounds pockets of Palestinian self-rule in which direct Israeli control over civilian matters has, in fact, become very tenuous despite frequent military incursions, Israel’s authority to arrest any Palestinian at any time, and restrictions on movement. In these pockets, autonomous moments and spaces of a civilian community are created and experienced despite the huge shadow cast by the ever-present occupation. People get used to the internal logic of these pockets. Is the normality only a mirage? A self-delusion? No. The regime created is a confusing hybrid of military-colonial state of emergency and civilian autonomy. The duality and all its contradictions are the glue that makes it hard to undo what there is, i.e. the Palestinian Authority.

This, too, is the genius of the authors of Oslo, who formulated a vague business contract open to opposing interpretations. And since the interpretation of the strong wins, we’re left with autonomous pockets that only reinforce Israel’s rule.

Source

PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY WAKES UP TO THE REALITIES OF APARTHEID

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that…
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“The establishment of a politically and economically viable State of Palestine is impossible without ending the Israeli occupation of the whole West Bank and Gaza Strip, including East Jerusalem.”
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Israel logjam threatens statehood, Palestinians warn

 
A Palestinian baker removes unleavened bread off a tray at a traditional bakery in the Palestinian Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday (AFP photo)

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RAMALLAH — The Palestinian Authority warned on Saturday that long-standing lack of movement towards peace with Israel was threatening the concept of a two-state solution and could lead to Palestinians being left in an Israeli-run “apartheid” state.

“Without a tangible shift from a conflict management approach towards a just and lasting political agreement… Israelis and Palestinians will inevitably slide into one state governed by the principles of apartheid,” it said in a report prepared for a meeting of international donors in New York on Monday.

“The status-quo is not sustainable neither politically, nor economically,” the report in English wrote.

“The establishment of a politically and economically viable State of Palestine is impossible without ending the Israeli occupation of the whole West Bank and Gaza Strip, including East Jerusalem,” the 22-page document, published on Saturday, said.

It called on donor members of what is known as the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee to pressure Israel to dismantle its checkpoints in the West Bank and allow unhindered development of all areas, including so-called Area C, which is under full Israeli control and which covers some 60 per cent of the West Bank.

It also asked them to make diplomatic protests to Israel over its demolition of Palestinian homes.

A coalition of global NGOs said in a statement on Friday that demolition rates had hit a three-year high.

Citing UN statistics, the group of 30 aid, development and human rights organisations said demolitions of Palestinian property had tripled in the past three years, rising to an average of 64 per month in 2012, up from 23 in 2009.

The monthly average of people displaced as a result had doubled, increasing from 52 in 2009 to 103 in 2012, it said.

Direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have been on hold since late September 2010.

 

Source

ACTION ALERT: DEMAND FREEDOM FOR PALESTINIANS ARRESTED BY PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY

Take Action: Demand Freedom for Palestinians Arrested by the PA!

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On Tuesday, September 18, 2012, as Palestinian hunger strikers Samer al-Barq, Hassan Safadi and Ayman Sharawna struggle for their lives within Israeli prisons, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank launched a campaign of arrests throughout the area, rounding up 60 political activists, including youth organizers, journalists, writers and former political prisoners. The arrest total has now risen to 114 and none of the detainees have been released. Act today to demand immediate freedom for the arrestees!

Among the detainees are at least 35 freed prisoners, including some freed in recent weeks from Israeli jails. Fuad al-Khuffash, director of the Ahrar Centre in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners – and who has now declared an open hunger strike –  was one of the arrestees, as was journalist Walid Khaled, released from occupation prisons only 2 weeks prior. Among the detainees, rounded up by the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence and Preventive Security, are participants in the recent hunger strikes in occupation prisons and a number of recently freed prisoners. Adel Shawamra, one of today’s detainees from Bethlehem, was recently released after 13 years in Israeli prisons.

The PA’s role here is nothing new. As part of the Oslo Accords and its subsequent security corollaries, the Palestinian Authority and its Preventive Security/General Intelligence have acted as security subcontractors for the Israeli occupation, trained by US military officials (such as Gen. Keith Dayton) to round up Palestinian resistance fighters and political dissidents.

It is not coincidental that these arrests come shortly after mass protests in response to economic inequality swept the West Bank, soon focusing on the Oslo Accords and their economic corollary, the Paris Agreements. The existence of Palestinian Authority security forces engaging in “security coordination” with the Israeli occupation, effectively undermining the Palestinian resistance, links directly back to the Oslo Accords.

Amid Hassan Safadi’s hunger strike, his brother Saleh was arrested by the PA; Palestinian prisoners including Ahmad Sa’adat, Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, Ahmed Qatamesh and many others have spent time in PA prisons as well as Israeli prisons. This practice has been part and parcel of “security cooperation” with the Israeli occupation from the earliest days of the Palestinian Authority.

As we mark the nineteenth anniversary of the Oslo Accords with a series of PA arrests, we also note that there remain 111 prisoners who have been imprisoned since before the Oslo accords – these prisoners remain inside the occupation’s jails to the present day. Prisoners throughout the Israeli prisons engaged in a one-day hunger strike on Thursday, September 13 – the anniversary of Oslo – and again on Tuesday, September 18 – demanding the freedom of these long-time prisoners. Just as Oslo did not bring freedom, justice or liberation to Palestine, nor did it for its prisoners, a group of Palestinians who despite their centrality to the Palestinian national movement – were ignored and excluded from the Oslo “peace process.” Oslo’s latest victims – the political detainees in the West Bank – are demanding freedom. Act today to support their freedom and united Palestinian struggle against Israeli apartheid, occupation, and settler colonialism.

Take action!

1. Email the Palestinian Embassy or PLO Mission in your country. Click here for a list of contact information. Act now to send this email message!  Make it clear that Palestinians around the world and international activists stand together to confront occupation, end security coordination, and free these detainees – including the former prisoners who have already given so much to the Palestinian struggle for liberation.

2. Call the Palestinian Embassy or PLO Mission. This is a case where phone calls can make a real difference! Palestinians and internationals around the world can raise their voice and demand action. Phone numbers for some missions follow: PLO Delegation in Washington, DC:  202-974-6360. Palestinian Mission to the UN: 212-288-8500. Palestinian General Delegation in Ottawa, Canada: 613-736-0053. Palestinian Mission UK: +44 (0)20 8563 0008. More may be found here!

3. Act to support Palestinian prisoners in occupation prisons. Hassan Safadi, Samer al-Barq and Ayman Sharawna are all still on hunger strike demanding their freedom! Write now to take action to demand their freedom from occupation prisons!

Write to Palestinian Authority/PLO Missions To Demand an End to the Political Arrest Campaign

Send an email to international missions of the Palestinian Authority and PLO to demand that the political arrests end and the detainees be freed immediately.
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Prepared BY .. click on link to get text of letter

DOES THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY WORK FOR ISRAEL OR PALESTINE?

 
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Even Netanyahu admits PA is an Israeli interest
By Khalid Amayreh in Israeli-occupied Jerusalem
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The fact that Israel, which continues to murder Palestinians nearly on a daily basis, narrows Palestinian horizons and steals Palestinian land is hastening to rescue the Palestinian Authority (PA) from its crushing financial-economic crisis may raise a lot of eyebrows both among Palestinians themselves and others around the world.

After all, millions of people around the world grew up thinking that Palestinian and Israeli interest are inherently paradoxical and contradictory. So the last thing a casual observer would expect with regard to the Palestinian-Israeli strife is a concordance of Palestinian and Israeli interests in the form of a “positive” Israeli intervention to help the PA overcome the current crisis.

The truth of the matter, however, is that Israelis are not being charitable, generous, magnanimous or good neighbors.

In fact, Israel has always been a racist murderer and thief; it continues to be murderer and thief and is not expected to change her skin in the foreseeable future.

To begin with, Israel is the root-cause of all problems and troubles, economic and otherwise, facing the Palestinians. Indeed, one would have to be totally gullible to believe that a real, prosperous economy can be maintained under a sinister foreign military occupation.

This is undoubtedly one of the stupidest blunders committed by the PA leadership which still must go back to Grammar Schools to learn the meanings of such words as freedom, independence and sovereignty.

In the final analysis, Israel tightly and completely controls all Palestinian infrastructures, including water resources, electricity, roads, skies and border crossings. In fact, not a single matchbox or a small sewing needle can get into or out of the occupied territories without Israeli consent.

So, one could imagine the extent to which the Palestinian economy is subservient to the Israeli occupation.

It is also important to keep in mind that whatever money Israel transfers to the PA coffers is actually Palestinian money the occupying power collects on behalf of the PA in accordance with the scandalous Paris protocol which effectively put the entire Palestinian economy under Israel’s mercy.

Israel levies an estimated $100 million per month on commodities imported by Palestinians through Israeli ports. Normally, Israel devours bloated commissions and hefty salaries for Israeli operatives handling clearance operations at border crossings.

Speaking hours after ordering the transfer of some $63 million to the PA last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said helping the PA overcome the current economic crisis in the West Bank was an Israeli interest.

He described those Israeli officials objecting to aiding the PA in this regard as “politically myopic and not understanding what they are talking about.”

“We are working on several fronts in order to help the Palestinian Authority cope with its economic problems. We have made several agreements in the taxation agreements. We are advancing several transfers. We have also helped with Palestinian workers and with a series of other steps in order to make things easier for them.

“Of course, there is a global reality and it is also related to the internal management of every economy, but for our part we are making efforts to help the Palestinian Authority survive this crisis. I hope they will succeed in doing so, this is in our common interest.”

Interestingly, the PA leadership doesn’t deny that the survival of the Ramallah regime is a paramount Israeli interest.

Last week, a high-ranking PA official told reporters in Hebron that Israel was interested in weakening the PA regime, but never in destroying it.

“Israel wants to weaken the Palestinian Authority to a certain point which would enable the Jewish state to impose its will and conditions on the Palestinians.”

The official added that Israel wants to see the PA perpetually busy and occupied with its internal political and economic problems which would give Israel a sort of carte blanche to pursue its settlement scheme.

He disclosed that at least some of the protesters who assaulted and vandalized the main police station at al-Haras in Hebron last week were saboteurs and provocateurs working for the Israeli intelligence.

If indeed the survival and “prosperity” of the PA is a mutual Palestinian-Israeli interest, then there must be a huge flaw in the relations between the Palestinian victims and their Israeli victimizers.

It is lamentable that the PA leadership is oblivious of this flaw. It is also a real calamity that the PA is willing to function and operate under crippling Israeli constraints. In this case, the PA behaves and acts as a collaborator and colluder with the occupying power, rather than a national authority aspiring to become an independent state.

PA leaders had argued ad nauseam that the creation of the autonomous authority was a step toward the creation of a fully-independent and completely sovereign Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Now, almost everyone, including some PA officials, realizes that the PA is probably the biggest obstacle impeding the establishment of a viable Palestinian state worthy of the name, after the Israeli occupation.

There is no doubt that the scandalous Oslo Accords put the Palestinians, including the PLO itself, the so-called sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, in a lose-lose situation whereby they will have to choose between two unattractive choices: Direct Israeli occupation on the one hand or indirect but equally sinister Israeli domination on the other.

The PA regime has given Israel unconditional recognition without receiving a reciprocal Israeli recognition of a putative Palestinian state.

The Palestinian harrowing toward the political and moral abyss reasserted itself earlier this month when Chairman Abbas told a visiting Israeli delegation, which included some rabbis, in Ramallah that “Israel was created to last forever.”

Unfortunately, virtually all Fatah leaders were mum, fearing Abbas’s fury and reprisals.

There is no doubt that the Palestinian cause is being gradually and quietly liquidated while PA leaders keep babbling about a state that seems ever more unlikely to see the light of the day with the passage of everyday.

Is there an exit out of this political labyrinth? Of course there is, provided we put our national interests before the immediate and precarious interests of maintaining the status quo.

This necessarily requires the liquidation of the Oslo Accords. I realize that exiting the Oslo Accords, or more correctly delivering our people from its clutches, wouldn’t be easy or safe. But it can be done and it must be done.

Otherwise, we sacrifice Palestine for the sake of maintaining an authority that has no future if only because that authority is inherently subservient to and dependent upon Israel.  

AN URGENT APPEAL FROM ARNA’S CHILDREN IN JENIN

 Remember this video? Following it is a report on the situation today…
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From The Freedom Theatre …
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Urgent Call for Action: Free Zakaria Zubeidi

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On the 9th of September Zakaria Zubeidi announced that he will embark on a death fast, a complete food and fluid strike, in response to the continuous postponement of his release from Palestinian Authority prison. This effectively means that unless the Palestinian Authority releases Zakaria he will most probably not make it through the week.

Zubeidi, co-founder of The Freedom Theatre and former leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, has been imprisoned by the Palestinian Authority for close to four months. No charges have been made against him, no evidence presented and throughout his imprisonment his rights have been severely violated, as described by among others Human Rights Watch (http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/07/27/israelpalestinian-authori
ty-theater-group-hit-both-sides).

Being one of the last survivors of Arna’s Children(1), Zakaria joined the armed resistance during the second Intifada and became one of its leading figures. After co-founding The Freedom Theatre in 2006 Zakaria decided to lay down his weapons in order to join a cultural resistance, which he deemed a more powerful tool against the Israeli occupation. Surviving numerous assassination attempts by the Israeli army and vowing to never again enter an Israeli prison, Zakaria is now instead facing death in a Palestinian prison unless immediate action is taken.

The Freedom Theatre urges all its friends and supporters to:

- Contact the local representative office of the Palestinian Authority(2) and demand Zakaria Zubeidi’s release. Since the situation is urgent we also ask you to take more direct actions such as organising protests at PA representative offices.
- Contact local or regional human rights offices and organisations such as Amnesty International and urge them to take action.
- Contact your local MP and MEP and urge them to take action.
- Contact your country’s representative office in the occupied Palestinian territory and urge them to take action(3).
- Call these numbers to demand Zakaria’s release:

+972 (0)599000011 Abo Mohammad Shadeh, Head of the Palestinian Authority President’s Security Office

+972(0)2000011 Said Abualheja, Ministry of Interior

+972 (0)-597778887 Majd Faraj, Head of Palestinian Intelligence

PRESIDENT’S OFFICE
Tel +972(0)22959928/81370-5

Secretary General
Tayyeb Abdul Rahim
Tel +972(0)2959928 / (0)82824171

Director General
Intesar Abu Ammara
Tel +972(0)2959928

Media Unit
Tel. +972(0)2959928

Legal Unit
Tel +972(0)2959928
Tel +972(0598929900

Public Relations
Director General Hussam Dabbas
Tel +972(0)22981377
Tel +972(0599478478
Email hdabbas@president.ps

Special Representative
Rawhi Fattouh
Tel +972 (0)22959928

Presidential Spokesperson
Nabil Abu Rudaineh
Tel +972 (0)22959928
Fax 022963170

PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE
Tel +972(0)22968989
Email pm@pmo.pna.p
http://palestinecabinet.gov.ps

Dir. Gen., Prime Minister’s Office
Mohammad Jarrad
Tel +972(0)22968989
Email mjarrad@pmo.pna.ps

International Relations Unit
Dir.Gen Manal Zeidan
Tel +972(0)22968989
Advisor to the Prime Minister
Omar Al-Ghoul
Tel +972(0)22951766/ (0)599408871

MINISTRY OF INTERIOR
Minister: Saed Abu Ali
Director General: Bassam Queder
Tel +972 (0)22429878

Deputy Minister: Hassan Alawi
Tel +972 (0)22429248

Legal Affairs: Nehaya Al-Saqqa
Tel +972 (0)22409964

Public Relations: Nasser Abu Fekhedeh
Tel +972 (0)22422684
Jenin Office: Dir. Mostafa Jaradat
Tel +972 (0)42503199/2501375

MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
Minister: Dr. Ali Khashan
Tel +972 (0)22973263 / +972 (0)2599549015
E-mail minister@moj.gov.ps, khashan@alqudsnet.com
Media & PR Unit
Dir. Samer Sharqawi
Tel +972 (0)599774335
E-mail sharq@moj.gov.ps

The Freedom Theatre will continue to monitor Zakaria’s case closely and we will keep you updated.

SAMPLE LETTER

To [Name], representative of the Palestinian Authority

I am a staunch supporter of the Palestinian people and therefore I am now contacting you on an urgent matter. It has come to my knowledge that Zakaria Zubeidi, co-founder of The Freedom Theatre in Jenin and former military leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has been kept in Palestinian prison for over four months without any charges or accusations brought against him. I have also been informed that Zakaria’s human rights have been violated on several accounts and that as a result he has started a death fast, refusing water or food. That means that he will die within 8-10 days and most probably before that suffer irreversible effects to his health. I urge you to take immediate actions for Zakaria’s release. If you, as a representative of the Palestinian Authority will allow Zakaria to die then you must also know that I and many others will consider you partly responsible for his death.

I trust that you understand the need for your immediate response to this case.

Sincerely Yours,

[Name]
[Place]

REFERENCES
(1) http://www.arna.info/Arna

(2)http://www.palestinecabinet.gov.ps/site/456/default.aspx
http://www.minfo.ps/English/index.php?pagess=main&id=193&but
t=5

http://www.un.int/wcm/content/site/palestine/
http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/Palestine#5057
http://embassy.goabroad.com/embassies-of/Palestine

(3)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_diplomatic_missions_in_
Palestine

Twitter: #Freezakaria
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thefreedomtheatre

Previous press releases, background and updates

Zakaria Zubeidi remains in prison (02092012)
http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/news.php?id=275

Zakaria Zubeidi’s release postponed (27082012)
http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/news.php?id=274

Zakaria Zubeidi to be released on bail (22082012)
http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/news.php?id=272

Zakaria Zubeidi temporarily released (19082012)
http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/news.php?id=271

Human Rights Watch calls for end to harassment of The Freedom Theatre (28072012)
http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/news.php?id=263

New information on Nabil and Zakaria (11072012)
http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/news.php?id=257

Nabil and Zakaria on hunger strike (05072012)
http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/news.php?id=256

Latest news on Nabil and Zakaria (01072012)
http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/news.php?id=251

Action Alert: Free Nabil Al-Raee and Zakaria Zubeidi (07062012)
http://www.thefreedomtheatre.org/news.php?id=239

WHAT SECRETS LIE BURIED WITH ARAFAT?

Arafat had suffered intestinal inflammation, jaundice and a blood condition known as disseminated intravascular coagulation, or DIC, according to French medical records. But the records were inconclusive about what brought about DIC, which has numerous causes including infections, colitis and liver disease.
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As PA prepares to exhume body, Israel calls Arafat poisoning claim ‘baseless’

Government officials rejected suggestions Israel may have poisoned Yasser Arafat with lethal radioactive isotopes in 2004; top Muslim cleric gives go-ahead for autopsy.

A woman walks past a mural depicting Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Yasser Arafat in Gaza.
A Palestinian woman walking past a mural depicting Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, left, and Yasser Arafat in Gaza City on Wednesday, July 4, 2012. Photo by AFP

As the Palestinian Authority prepared to exhume the body of former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Israeli government officials on Wednesday rejected suggestions that Israel may have poisoned him with a lethal radioactive isotope, polonium.

“The report is baseless,” said one senior official on condition of anonymity, adding that it was not Israel that decided to keep the late Palestinian leader’s medical records closed.

“The circumstances of Arafat’s death are not a mystery,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. “He was treated in France, in a French hospital by French doctors and they have all the medical information.”

A Swiss lab announced that it found elevated levels of polonium on Arafat’s belongings. The lab said it tested the items in response to a request by the Al Jazeera TV station, who approached the lab on behalf of Arafat’s widow Suha at the beginning of this year.

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Suha Arafat rejected an autopsy at the time of her husband’s death nearly eight years ago. She has requested one now in light of lab tests that found the lethal substance polonium on his belongings.

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Suha said the items, including a toothbrush and a fur hat, were used by Arafat in his final days. She said they have since been kept in a secure room at her attorney’s office in Paris.

While the lab said it found “very small” quantities of polonium on some items, there were higher quantities in, for example, a urine stain on underwear worn by Arafat and a blood stain on hospital clothing than on belongings he hadn’t used, such as new and unworn socks stored in the same bag.

These developments reignited a storm of speculation over what killed Arafat, who died on Nov. 11, 2004 at the age of 75, at a military hospital outside Paris.

On Wednesday, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas cleared the way for a possible autopsy on Arafat’s remains, following a request from Suha. While Suha had rejected an autopsy at the time of her husband’s death, she now said she wanted one done in the wake of the lab’s findings. She did not explain why she waited nearly eight years to have the belongings tested.

Suha’s request had put Abbas in a bind, since digging up Arafat’s remains would go against the traditions of conservative Muslims and could stir angry protests. But refusing to exhume the body could be seen as an attempt to block an investigation.

The top Muslim cleric in the Palestinian territories, Mufti Mohammed Hussein, also said Wednesday he would not object to an autopsy on religious grounds.

When Arafat died, French doctors identified the cause of death as a massive brain hemorrhage, which occurred weeks after he fell violently ill at his Ramallah compound in the West Bank.

Arafat had suffered intestinal inflammation, jaundice and a blood condition known as disseminated intravascular coagulation, or DIC, according to French medical records. But the records were inconclusive about what brought about DIC, which has numerous causes including infections, colitis and liver disease.

Many in the Arab world had alleged he was killed by Israel, an accusation Israeli officials vociferously denied.

The lab’s head, Francois Bochud, said the findings do not necessarily mean Arafat was poisoned, and that it is impossible to say where the polonium might have originated.

A French military doctor said he did not know whether doctors had checked Arafat for polonium when he was hospitalized in 2004. He also said he was unaware of any mention of poisoning in the 558-page classified report on Arafat’s death.

Source

DOZENS OF ARRESTS AS PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PAVES THE WAY TO INTERNET MONITORING

At work in the Occupied West Bank… Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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Yesterday I reported with disgust about the new Israeli military censor’s plans to monitor FaceBook, Twitter and Blogs….
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Well, guess what …. PA security forces have arrested dozens of Palestinian journalists, bloggers, students and activists in recent weeks. Many have been detained for statements they made on social networking sites like Facebook that were critical of the PA, while others were targeted for articles and other work they published. It looks like Israel’s representative in the Occupied West Bank beat the master to this..
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Dozens of journalists, activists arrested as PA cracks down on dissent
Jillian Kestler-D’Amours
 
Demonstrators hold banners protesting restrictions on free speech

Palestinian journalists in Gaza City protest the arrest of West Bank journalist Yousef al-Shayab, 4 April 2012. (Mohammed Asad / APA images)

The Palestinian Authority’s arrest of journalists and activists critical of its policies are threatening freedom of expression in the West Bank, according to local human rights groups.

“We monitored a new trend of arresting people and journalists and the oppression of freedom of expression,” Shawan Jabarin, director of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq, said. “There are many people I’m sure that are afraid and will count to ten before they say anything. Maybe they’ll push people to speak underground instead of expressing their opinions freely.”

In the most recent case, the Palestinian Authority security forces summoned 23-year-old Hasan Abbadi for interrogation near his home in the West Bank village Sebastia, in the Nablus area. Abbadi, a student at An-Najah University, was accused of “creating disunity” through his political cartoons.

He spent some days in jail, before being released on 3,000 Jordanian dinars ($4,200) bail, and is currently awaiting trial.

Failure to protect freedom

“I think they’re using different words here and there, just to undermine these people in the eyes of the public and to say that they are creating trouble and creating divisions. It’s a political judgement more than [anything] illegal,” said Jabarin.

Jabarin said most charges leveled against Palestinian journalists are based on the Jordanian Penal Code, dating back to 1960. Palestinian attorney general Ahmad al-Maghni has failed to protect Palestinian freedoms in the West Bank and should be held responsible for the arrests, he added.

“Al-Maghni’s role is to protect the freedoms and the rights of the people in the face of arbitrary detention, instead of arresting people. Here, we see him acting quickly and exaggerating with all of these [charges]. And at the same time, he’s closing his ears and his eyes on the crimes going on,” Jabarin said.

“He is not taking into his mind that the law that he is using was approved in 1960 and these days, we are in 2012 and the main principle now in all the world is freedom of expression.”

Arrested for Facebook posts

PA security forces have arrested dozens of Palestinian journalists, bloggers, students and activists in recent weeks. Many have been detained for statements they made on social networking sites like Facebook that were critical of the PA, while others were targeted for articles and other work they published.

Jordan Valley activist Jamal Abu-Rihan was interrogated on 1 April in relation to a Facebook page he runs that pushes for an end to corruption. He was accused of writing political statements against PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinian journalist Yousef al-Shayab was also arrested, in late March, after publishing an investigative report in the Jordanian al-Ghad newspaper that questioned the activities of the Palestinian Authority embassy in Paris, and refusing to reveal his sources.

“The protection of sources is universally accepted as an essential tenet of independent reporting,” president of the International Federation of Journalists, Jim Boumelha, said in a statement condemning the arrest. “Journalists the world over will be outraged that [al-Shayab] has been sentenced for upholding such a basic principle. He has no case to answer and should be released immediately.”

Protests

Al-Shayab was eventually jailed and accused of libel and of creating disunity among Palestinians. He conducted a hunger strike in protest against his detention before being released on bail in early April. Protests were also held in the West Bank while al-Shayab was in prison, calling for his release. He is now awaiting trial.

“Arrests and harassment and attacks against journalists in Palestine are enhancing fear and censorship among journalists,” Moussa Rinawi, director of the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) said.

“The level of local media will become worse and worse, and psychologically, it is affecting journalists. We are against harassment and attacks against journalists, either by the Israeli side or Palestinians.”

In late April, Ma’an News Agency reported that the PA had instructed Internet service providers to block access to news websites that were critical of Abbas.

Since the report came out, PA communications minister Mashour Abu Daka has resigned from his post. Attorney General al-Maghni, for his part, has defended the decision to block the websites, arguing that they were censored for security reasons and because personal complaints had been made against their content.

According to Rinawi, the censorship is a bad sign for media freedoms in Palestine.

“We were proud that the Internet is open in Palestine and there is no censorship on the Internet and any journalist can post anything and can open any site. The last few months, we noticed there is some control of Facebook and social media in general, and they blocked some sites. It’s a bad phenomenon,” Rinawi said.

He added that mobilizing Palestinian campaign groups in order to protect freedom of speech is crucial.

“When there is a strong reaction on the arrest of [al-Shayab], they released him. We need to increase the pressure from the Palestinian civil society organizations. Civil society activities are having a result.”

Reported AT

PRESIDENTIAL CENSORSHIP

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has been trying to muzzle press freedom and freedom of expression under the rubric of “upholding the rule of law”.
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Fettering the press in Ramallah

By Khalid Amayreh
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Frustrated with the dead end in the supposed peace process with Israel, Palestinian Authority leaders are getting increasingly edgy about criticism, writes Khalid Amayreh in Ramallah
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The Palestinian Authority (PA) has been trying to muzzle press freedom and freedom of expression under the rubric of “upholding the rule of law”.Several Palestinian journalists have been interrogated and imprisoned of late in connection with articles they wrote or opinions they voiced about leading PA figures, including President Mahmoud Abbas.

One of the highlighted cases is that of Youssef Shayeb who has been put in jail since mid-March following an article he penned mid-January exposing alleged financial and administrative corruption plaguing the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) diplomatic mission in Paris.

In the article, which was published in the Jordanian newspaper Al-Ghad, Shayeb alleged that members of the Palestinian mission in Paris were involved in financial mismanagement, illegal security operations and espionage for the benefit of unnamed foreign intelligence organisations. Shayeb quoted detailed testimony from anonymous sources that he refused to disclose.

Initially, the Ramallah Magistrates Court decided to remand Shayeb for 48 hours pending further interrogation. This led him to declare a hunger strike in protest at “this flagrant treatment”.

The Palestinian press law, which is yet to be complete and take a final form, prevents the executive authority — via the security agencies — from questioning or interrogating or harassing journalists over matters pertaining to their professional work. However, the PA security apparatus has more or less failed to uphold the rule of law in this regard, often justifying its encroachment and abuse by citing security considerations.

According to Shayeb’s wife, Badeia, the interrogation of her husband centred on the identity of his sources, although the Palestinian press law, in its fourth clause, grants journalists the right to keep their sources anonymous.

“The attorney-general has no right to demand that a given journalist disclose his or her sources unless there is a court order to this effect.”

The attorney general’s office, however, argued that the interrogation of Shayeb and his subsequent detention was legal, “because no one, including journalists, has the right to defame, libel and smear the reputation of people without indicting evidence.”

The office said it was duty bound to address formal complaints by those whose names were mentioned in the investigative article, including PA Foreign Minister Riyadh Maliki, the Palestinian ambassador to France, and his deputy.

Ahmed Al-Mughni, the attorney-general, told reporters in Ramallah this week that Shayeb was charged with defamation and libel as well as perjury in violation of the law.

The continued arrest of Shayeb generated protests by Palestinian journalists who called on Abbas to free the man. However, sources at Abbas’s office pointed out that the president couldn’t and wouldn’t interfere with the work of the judiciary.

On Sunday, 2 April, the Magistrates Court decided to release Shayeb on bail, set at $7000. However, Shayeb is still in jail, apparently due to the intervention of “powerful people” within the PA regime.

Another less publicised case involving PA encroachment on freedom of expression has been that of journalist Ismat Abdel-Khaleq who has been in jail for over a week over “insulting and ridiculing” PA Chairman Abbas on her Facebook page.

The female journalist was transferred to hospital on Monday, 3 April, following deterioration in her health. She has been remanded for 15 days for further investigation.

According to Nehad Abu Gohsh, a Journalists’ Union spokesman, Abdel-Khaleq has been interrogated by the Preventive Security Services. Abdel-Khaleq reportedly argued that the controversial content on her Facebook page was not hers, but comments added by others.

The attorney-general charged the journalist with verbally abusing high-ranking government officials, a charge many journalists are worried will muzzle press freedom and seriously undermine the ability of the press to carry out its function as a watchdog over the government.

The increasingly draconian PA approach to press freedom and other civil liberties is raising many eyebrows in the occupied West Bank. One PA official intimated to Al-Ahram Weekly that the Ramallah regime is feeling increasingly insecure due to the political dead end facing the peace process with Israel.

A visibly frustrated Abbas has been saying he will send a “decisive letter” to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, warning — even threatening — that the Palestinians would soon abandon the two-state solution strategy if Israel continued to expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

In an article published this week, Fatah’s leading figure in the occupied territories, Ahmed Qurei argued that it was pointless and irresponsible to continue pursuing a peace process that is void of any real content.

He called the peace process, among other things, a mirage, a great deception and a big lie, pointing to ongoing Israeli efforts to de-Arabise and de-Islamicise the demographic and cultural identity of occupied East Jerusalem.

The PLO hopes to establish a viable and territorially contiguous Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital. However, intensive and ubiquitous expansion of Jewish colonies throughout the West Bank, especially in Jerusalem, has rendered this Palestinian hope unrealistic.

Written FOR

ISRAEL QUICKLY LOSING ITS STATUS AS THE ONLY DEMOCRACY IN THE REGION

 As the Palestinian Authority itself continues to erode away at Human Rights..
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How ironic that Mahmoud Abbas is slowly turning the Occupied West Bank into a mini Israel void of Human Rights and Civil Liberties…
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Are these the ploys he wants to use to convince the West that Palestine is as Democratic as Israel is and deserves Nation  Status? (sic)
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Here are some of the latest violations;
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From a report by Amira Hass in today’s HaAretz….
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What happens when a Palestinian journalist dares criticize the Palestinian Authority?

Palestinian journalist Yusuf Al-Shayeb dared raise suspicions of corruption at the PA’s mission in France. Now he languishes in a Ramallah cell.

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And an AP Report from the same edition….
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Palestinian woman arrested for alleged anti-Abbas Facebook post

A 37-year-old university lecturer is being detained over comments found on her Facebook page calling for Abbas’ retirement.

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Finally, a comment from our own Khalid Amayreh, written FOR
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A game of make believe
By Khalid Amayreh

Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas is behaving in a theatrical manner these days. It is very much like “now you see it, now you don’t,”

The talk about his mythical “letter” or “ultimatum” to Israel reminds us of the notorious illusions of the past few years such as the “September entitlement,” the Annapolis conference and the numerous other lies and events orchestrated in coordination with the U.S. and meant to deceive and mislead the Palestinian public by giving the masses a false hope that something is in the offing.

The PA-run media has been babbling and blathering about “Abbas’s letter” as if the Day of Judgment would take place the day after the letter is delivered to the “graceful hands” of Bibi Netanyahu.

According to the latest reports, the Americans and their European partners have convinced Abu Mazen to delete any indication or threat from the letter alluding to the dismantlement of the PA.

On some occasions, Abbas alluded to the possible dissolution of the PA regime if the world community failed to force Israel to end the occupation that started in 1967.

But neither the US nor Israel took this warning seriously. It also seems that many Palestinians as well, perhaps a sizeable majority, don’t believe the PA leadership.

There is no doubt that the very existence of the PA is an Israeli achievement and vital interest. This is why Israel, and especially the United States, will think twice before allowing Abbas to reach the Rubicon.

This is not say though that the Israelis and their guardian-allies, the Americans, will meet Abbas’s demands, including taking a decision to freeze all Jewish settlement expansion activity and seriously revive the effectively moribund two-state solution.

The maximum the Obama administration would do, especially at this juncture, is to give the PA some extra money and tell it to shut up. They would also do a little bit of cajoling and bamboozling, along with some prodding and bullying.

Hasn’t this been the American and European modus operandi in dealing with the PA ever since the death of Yasser Arafat and even before?

I believe a great majority of our people, both at home and in the Diaspora, are fed up with Abbas’s whimsical rituals. Some unctuous hangers-on and hypocrites would portray the huge disillusionment of the people as support for Abbas. But this is the task of these sycophants, namely to falsify facts to make their boss feel that all’s right.

But this is not the case.

First of all, the PA and Mr. Abbas in particular, ought to be frank and honest with the people, and tell them in straightforward manner that the goal of establishing a viable and sovereign state in the West Bank is no longer realistic due to the ubiquitous proliferation of Jewish colonies.

And there is no shred of evidence that a prospective Israeli government, let alone the present Nazi-like coalition of hard-line Zionists and brashly racist Talmudic gurus, would under no circumstances agree to dismantle or depopulate these colonies, even in return for a perfect peace offer.

The Israeli political-military establishment is too arrogant, too insolent and ideologically too rigid to allow any real transformation toward peace. In fact, the only transformation that we notice in Israel these days is a transformation toward Jewish fascism.

The recent election of Shaul Mofaz, a certified war criminal by every standard of imagination, as Leader of the Kadima party should provide us with some food for thought in this regard.

Second, the United States, on which the PA and like-minded Arabs still pin their hope for achieving peace and justice, is actually part of the problem. Israel through its powerful Jewish lobby is simply grabbing America by the throat, so much so, that most American politicians have come to realize that without throwing themselves squarely into the Jewish lobby’s lap, they would have no chance of winning elections or staying in their jobs for five minutes.

And, of course, Barack Obama, is no exception.

I know that most American politicians shake at the mere notion of criticizing Israel or saying a kind word about the Palestinians. I also know that many others are virtual political whores who would just side with richer and more powerful party, and American Jews have both the political power and money.

This American reality should enable us to argue rather objectively that if the Palestinians wanted to wait until the US restores a sense of justice, morality and balance to its Middle Eastern policy, they would have to wait decades, many decades, perhaps even centuries.

In short, America is part of the problem, it can’t be part of the solution.

As to the Europeans, their role seems innocuous, but they can’t be relied upon to make Israel budge. Europe is simply too weak, too undetermined, too unprincipled and too divided to force Israel to succumb to the logic of peace.

Added to this is the fact that the two-state strategy is actually dead, even though its kept alive by artificial means. Yes, the Americans, Europeans and some Palestinian leaders keep talking about it, but they all know in their hearts that this solution is no longer possible.

Last week, PLO official Ahmed Qrei’ pointed out that it was too late for establishing a Palestinian state, especially one enjoying territorial continuity, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

It is really mind-boggling why Abbas and his coteries in Ramallah don’t really listen to these words. Are they blind? Or are they treating the national interests and legitimate rights of their people with recklessness and nonchalance?

Well, it is time these people sought an alternative strategy to put our people on a definitive track that would lead to freedom and liberation.

We certainly are not demanding miracles from President Abbas and his partners. We only would like to see them think right for the future.*

Adding to the irony of the situation, THIS report was filed before I even finished editing this post…*

Jerusalem Mayor aims to establish new settlement in East Jerusalem

About 200 new homes are being planned for the new neighborhood, known as Kidmat Zion, on a plot of land purchased by U.S. millionaire Irving Moskowitz.

US BREAKS ITS OWN LAWS TO SUPPORT ISRAELI TERRORISM

The Foreign Assistance Act, signed into law in 1961, stipulates that “no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”*

US sent 600,000 tear gas canisters to Israel, says new report

David Elkins
Israeli soldier fires tear gas cannister

Israeli soldiers have killed and injured Palestinians and US citizens with weaponry supplied by the US government.

(Najeh Hashlamoun / APA images)

WASHINGTON  - A new policy paper published earlier this week by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation documents a number of cases occurring over the past decade in which weapons and ammunition produced and financed by the US have been used to kill unarmed Palestinians and US citizens.

“US military aid to Israel is a policy that is running on autopilot and must be reconsidered,” Josh Ruebner, the national advocacy director for the organization and author of the new policy paper, said on Monday.

“US weapons provided to Israel at taxpayer expense make the US complicit in Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians living under Israel’s 44-year military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip and defeat US foreign policy objectives of halting Israeli settlement expansion, ending Israeli military occupation and establishing a just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace,” Ruebner added.

Between the years 2000 and 2009, the US transferred “more than 670 million weapons, rounds of ammunition and related equipment,” according to the report.

Violating US law

During the same period, “Israel killed at least 2,969 unarmed Palestinians, including 1,128 children, often with US weapons in violation of the Foreign Assistance Act and Arms Export Control Act.”

The Foreign Assistance Act, signed into law in 1961, stipulates that “no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”

Several US administrations have sanctioned or withheld funding from countries, including Israel, that violated laws such as the Foreign Assistance Act. But according to the report, official inquires and investigations into US military aid to Israel over recent decades have been met with growing resistance from groups both within and outside of the US government.

Although more expensive weapons systems such as tanks and aircraft make up the bulk of purchasing contracts made between the Israeli government and US manufacturers, small arms and ammunition purchases account for the largest number of deaths.

Killing with American bullets

The report notes evidence that the Israeli military loads many of its guns with high-velocity tear gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets manufactured in the US — a frequent culprit in deaths throughout the West Bank.

“From fiscal year 2000 to 2009, the State Department licensed — and US taxpayers funded — the delivery of more than 595,000 tear gas canisters and other ‘riot control’ equipment to the Israeli military, valued at more than $20.5 million,” according to the report.

In a 2007 “memorandum of understanding,” the US pledged $30 billion in military assistance to Israel between 2009 and 2018 — a 25 percent increase in average annual military aid over previous years. Israel will receive roughly $3.1 billion in US military aid for fiscal year 2012.

Speaking at a conference held at the Palestine Center on Monday, Ruebner argued that, apart from the seeming contradiction of US pledges to protect human rights for everyone, military aid to Israel imperils US strategic interests in the region.

It also defers much-needed US tax revenues away from domestic programs, and contributes to a positive feedback loop that conditions the fulfillment of stated US goals in the region, such as a negotiated, two-state settlement, on even more military aid that, in turn, is used to continue the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, he said.

Citing data obtained for the US Internal Revenue Service and Census Bureau, the report places the quantity of US military aid in a larger context.

Liability

“With the same amount of money that the US gives each year to fund weapons for Israel, the federal government could instead fund affordable housing vouchers for 350,000 low-income families, or green jobs training for 500,000 unemployed workers, or early reading programs for 900,000 at-risk students, or primary health care to 24 million people without insurance,” according to the report.

“Far from being a strategic benefit to the US, [military aid to Israel] is actually a growing political, economic and strategic liability,” Ruebner said.

The release of the policy paper coincided with the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a Zionist lobbying group, in Washington that included speeches by senior US government officials, including President Barack Obama.

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta reaffirmed America’s security commitment to Israel, including financing for a missile defense and fighter-jet weapons systems in a speech during the conference.

“This is an ironclad pledge which says that the United States will provide whatever support is necessary so that Israel can maintain military superiority over any state or coalition of states, as well as non-state actors,” Panetta said.

On Monday, US Congressmen Eric Cantor and Steny Hoyer introduced legislation that will “expand Israel’s authority to make purchases under the foreign military financing program,” and require the president to report to Congress on “actions to improve the process relating to Israel’s purchase of F-35 aircraft to improve cost efficiency and timely delivery.”

“Today, my friend Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and I are introducing legislation to reaffirm our enduring commitment to the US-Israel strategic relationship and to ensure that threats to Israeli and American security will be answered with strength,” Cantor stated on Monday.

“It is a bond that reflects the shared values of our people and our shared interests in preserving stability in the Middle East…It is a reminder that support for Israel is not and should never be a partisan issue,” Congressman Hoyer added.

Ruebner emphasised several steps US lawmakers could take to prevent additional human rights violations, most notably the enactment of laws that would make US military aid conditional on freezing Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and ending theblockade of the Gaza Strip.

Source

WHERE WILL ABBAS’ ‘KISSING UP’ TO ISRAEL LEAD TO?

See THIS humourous post as well
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The great Arab poet, Abu’ttayeb al-Mutannabi, said:
wa’inna domo’a la’yni ghodron berabbeha  Itha konna ithra al ghadereena jawariya
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(The tears of the eye betray a man if they keep running after the traitors)
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PA must end security coordination with Israel now
By Khalid Amayreh in occupied Jerusalem

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The apartheid Israeli regime decided last week to freeze the transfer of tax and customs revenue levied by Israel on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
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The illegal and immoral measure, which Israel resorts to rather routinely, is intended to bully the Ramallah leadership to capitulate to Zionist whims and blackmailing tactics.
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Israel never stopped threatening to strangulate the PA economically and financially if the latter didn’t succumb to the Israeli will.
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The systematic Israeli blackmail of the PA is a disgraceful expression of the Oslo Accords and other subsequent accords and understandings between the pseudo autonomous authority and the Nazi-like Israeli occupation regime. 
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Needless to say, these scandalous agreements which effectively reduced the Palestinian regime-from the supposed equal partner envisioned in these so-called agreements-to a vanquished supplicant begging for virtually everything from the Israeli side, from travel permits to basic commodities without which any modern society wouldn’t be able to function.
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But the story doesn’t end here, which reminds us of what the legendary Arab poet, Abu’ttayeb al-Mutannabi, said about slaves who cling to their masters while crying out for freedom:
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The great Arab poet said:
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wa’inna domo’a la’yni ghodron berabbeha  Itha konna ithra al ghadereena jawariya
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(The tears of the eye betray a man if they keep running after the traitors)
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The PA does possess numerous cards which, if used properly and   forcefully, can force Israel to treat the Palestinians with a semblance of respect and dignity.
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For example, there is strong ongoing security coordination between the Israeli occupation army and Palestinian security agencies. 
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This security coordination, which is actually no more than a mere subordination, subjugation and  subservience by the PA security apparatus to the Israeli occupation army, covers the entirety of the West Bank and commits the PA to protect and safeguard Israeli interests, including guarding hundreds of Jewish settlers, most of whom indoctrinated in a Nazi-like ideology that teaches that non-Jews, e.g. Palestinians, living under Jewish rule,  must submit to the Chosen People or master race and resign to a status of water carriers and wood hewers.
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If the goyem (or non-Jews)  don’t submit and continue to demand human rights and civil liberties,  then they must be either expelled or killed.
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As mentioned above, Israel had resorted to withholding the transfer of Palestinian monies several times for the purpose of forcing the PA on its knees, with the PA doing virtually nothing to respond to the hostile provocation apart from issuing statements of denunciation and condemnation.
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The estimated $100 million dollar which Israel transfers to PA coffers per month constitutes the lion’s share of the Palestinian monthly budget. Hence, PA inaction and ostensible indifference with regard to this issue must invite the strongest condemnation from the Palestinian masses, especially those tens of thousands of civil servants and wage earners who receive their income from the PA regime.
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The scandal becomes even more clarion and shocking when we know that a good part of the money  withheld is used to pay salaries for those very  soldiers and officers tasked with  coordinating security matters with Israel, or, more correctly,  guarding the Nazi-like settlers.
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What can the PA do?
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Without making a short story long, the PA can and must terminate all forms of security coordination with Israel. To begin with, this coordination is a stigma upon the forehead of every Palestinian political and security official, because in its simplest form, security coordination means collaboration with the enemy against the forces of resistance and freedom.
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Moreover, it is amply clear that Israel accords “security coordination” with a pliant PA a paramount  importance since that very coordination  allows Israel to maintain its enduring occupation with minimal costs. 
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During the heights of the first and second intifadas or uprisings, Israel maintained a heavy security presence of more than 80,000 troops in the occupied territories. 
Hence, a genuine threat by the PA to terminate security coordination with the Zionist regime is very likely to sound alarm bells in Tel Aviv and Washington. Needless to say, it is the latter than finances that security coordination and bribes the PA with more money to maintain that sinful relationship with Israel.
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In any case, it is illogical and unethical to keep the Palestinian loaf of bread hostage to the rapacious and cannibalistic instincts of Talmudic sages who view all non-Jews as subhuman creatures whose lives have no sanctity and who have no human rights or dignity.
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It is these so fuehrers of Zionism who control rather tightly the present Israeli government of Binyamin Netanyahu.
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This throws the proverbial ball rather squarely onto the PA court.
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In addition, I believe the PA should immediately revoke the scandalous Economic Protocol of Paris which made the very lifeline of the Palestinian economy subject to   Israel’s whims and haphazard, sadistic fantasies.
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The PA regime did commit an unforgivable blunder in 1994; it is time the Ramallah leadership rectified and corrected that blunder which has cost our people dearly.
Finally, the PA and other Palestinian forces ought to do their utmost to get  friendly Arab, Muslim and other states involved in enabling our people to withstand Israeli bullying and blackmail.
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For example, the PA ought to press the new rulers of   Egypt to make the Egyptian commitment to honor and uphold  the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty subject to  Israeli treatment of the Palestinian people.
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The same thing applies to all new governments and regimes in the Arab world. This is what everyone would call smart politics.
Otherwise, the Palestinian people should wait to seeing a mere reproduction of the same futility and same failure characterizing PA performance over the years.

IF PALESTINE GIVES UP ITS BID FOR STATEHOOD, ISRAEL WILL RELEASE MORE PRISONERS

That’s what I read in the following ….
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Over the last two weeks, the Israeli official said, several of Abbas’ advisors, including his chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, have urged him to disband the PA and hand responsibility for the territories back to Israel. This has strengthened the army’s view that gestures to bolster Abbas are needed.
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Israel mulls freeing Fatah prisoners as gesture to Abbas

Cabinet split over bolstering PA leader or punishing him for UN statehood bid; next month IDF to give government list of recommended goodwill gestures, including releasing additional Palestinian prisoners.

Israel should make a series of gestures to the Palestinian Authority to reduce the damage caused the PA by last week’s deal for the return of Gilad Shalit, the Israel Defense Forces’ General Staff believes. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s advisors vehemently oppose the idea, as do several members of his forum of eight senior ministers, arguing that PA President Mahmoud Abbas “should be punished” for his unilateral bid for UN recognition of a Palestinian state.

“We don’t want the Palestinian Authority to collapse,” one advisor said, “but if it happens, it won’t be the end of the world.”

Next month, the IDF will give the government a list of the gestures it recommends, including releasing additional Palestinian prisoners and perhaps transferring additional parts of the West Bank to Palestinian security control. The army considers this necessary to help Abbas regain the upper hand in his ongoing battle with Hamas for control of the territories, since Israel’s intelligence agencies all concur that the Shalit deal, in which Hamas obtained the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for one kidnapped soldier, bolstered the Islamic organization at the PA’s expense.

One senior Israeli official told Haaretz that Abbas thinks the deal was deliberately intended to strengthen Hamas and weaken him, in order to punish him for his UN bid.

One of the IDF’s proposals relates to the second stage of the Shalit deal, in which Israel will free another 550 prisoners of its own choosing. While the list has not yet been drawn up, it seems that most will be low-level terrorists belonging to Abbas’ Fatah party, and the army deems the Fatah affiliation critical.

The army also proposes that Israel release additional prisoners beyond these 550 as a gesture to Abbas in honor of Id al-Adha, the Muslim holiday that falls in another two weeks.

Last-minute orders

Another proposal is to transfer part of what is known as Area B – areas of the West Bank that, according to the Oslo Accords, are under Palestinian civilian control but Israeli security control – to Area A, which is under full Palestinian control. Most of the territory the army favors transferring is in the northern West Bank, between Jenin, Nablus and Tul Karm, as this area has few Israeli settlements.

A fourth idea is returning the bodies of slain terrorists to the PA. That was supposed to have happened a few months ago, but was canceled at the last minute on orders from Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Senior PA officials have said in recent days that the principal gesture they want from Israel is the release of Fatah terrorists who have been imprisoned since before the 1993 Oslo Accords. They also said they have had several discussions with Israel recently about transferring additional territory to Area A, but all have gone nowhere.

In the past, Barak has voiced support for far-reaching gestures toward Abbas. But Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has consistently opposed the idea and Netanyahu is unenthusiastic. Thus, when the army proposed gestures to the PA in the run-up to last month’s UN bid, with the goal of calming the atmosphere and preventing an explosion, the government rejected the proposal.

With the Shalit deal concluded, the IDF is hoping the government will be more amenable. But given Jerusalem’s anger at Abbas’ statehood bid, that seems doubtful.

The issue is further complicated by uncertainty over Abbas’ intentions – a question on which both government officials and intelligence professionals are split. Some believe that Abbas has no interest in resuming negotiations with Israel, preferring to pursue his case at the UN and among the international community in the hope of forcing concessions on Israel. Members of this camp see no point in making any gestures to him.

The IDF, in contrast, thinks Israel must make substantial gestures to bolster Abbas. Minor steps – like dismantling unmanned roadblocks or releasing Palestinian prisoners convicted of crimes other than terrorism – won’t suffice, it argues.

The senior Israeli official said the army’s concerns were on full display at a briefing for Barak last week given by Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, the coordinator of government activities in the territories. Dangot, he said, expressed great concern over the messages he has been getting from senior PA officials recently – namely, that Abbas is depressed and threatening to resign in light of the impasse in negotiations, the boost the Shalit deal gave Hamas and the fear that his UN bid will fail even without an American veto, given his difficulties in recruiting the necessary nine votes in the Security Council.

Over the last two weeks, the Israeli official said, several of Abbas’ advisors, including his chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, have urged him to disband the PA and hand responsibility for the territories back to Israel. This has strengthened the army’s view that gestures to bolster Abbas are needed.

Netanyahu’s advisors, however, don’t take Abbas’ resignation threats seriously, noting that such threats tend to recur frequently. “There’s nothing new in this,” said one. “He threatens all the time.”

Source

RAMADAN FAST EXTENDED DUE TO POVERTY IN PALESTINE

“Last year my family had two or three types of food on our iftar [daily meal to break the Ramadan fast] table and now we barely have enough.”

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Meanwhile, iftar tables in Gaza are often barren, power cuts are frequent and nearly half the population lacks a guaranteed access to adequate nutrition, according to the World Food Program.

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Barren tables at Ramadan as PA loses $35 million in aid each month

Economic woes are affecting Palestinian families’ abilities to put food on the table for Ramadan.(Mamoun Wazwaz/MaanImages)

RAMALLAH  – Palestinian families are facing increasing financial woes this Ramadan, as the Palestinian Authority (PA) juggles with its dwindling budget.

August salary payments for the PA’s estimated 150,000 employees, about half in the West Bank and half in the Gaza Strip, arrived late and it is unclear when September payments will arrive.

“The PA’s financial situation has deteriorated due to shortfalls in donor financing, and revenue collection has been lower than budgeted,” Udo Kock, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) representative in Jerusalem, said.

“Mostly Arab donors are not paying,” Ghassan Khatib, spokesman for PA prime minister Salam Fayyad’s office, said.

Foreign donations account for just over a quarter of the total Palestinian budget of $3.7 billion used to pay salaries and for other public spending.

The PA budget has been missing about $35 million monthly in donor payments since the start of the year, said Khatib. He estimated the total unpaid amount since January to be about $300 million.

According to the PA finance ministry, between January and July, 33 percent of required external budget support has been spent, instead of the 58 percent that should have been spent during this period.

Saudi Arabia made a partial payment of $30 million in July. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the largest Arab donors to the PA.

Experts say Arab nations have been focused on other concerns since the January uprising erupted in Egypt, and crises in other parts of the Arab world, like Libya and Syria.

Cutbacks to Ramadan meals

“Last year my family had two or three types of food on our iftar [daily meal to break the Ramadan fast] table and now we barely have enough,” said Mohammed Musa, a 48-year-old guard at a municipal building in Ramallah and a PA employee.

His monthly salary of about $460 supports a family of ten living in Amari refugee camp in Ramallah, which has high unemployment and a population of about 10,000.

In response to the crisis, PA President Mahmoud Abbas ordered PA institutions to stop holding official Ramadan iftar dinners and to divert the allocated funds to poor Palestinians.

Several public and private institutions followed suit, like telecommunications company Paltel Group, the largest private sector company in the West Bank and Gaza.

Wael Qadan, director of planning with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), said: “In response to Abbas’s request, PRCS cancelled the iftar meal for businesspeople and redirected the funds — about $20,000 — to our emergency budget.” These funds (about $35,000) are used to assist Palestinians with medical care, education fees, and home building, he said.

According to Fayyad’s office, the PA social affairs ministry has a fund of about $223,000 from the Emirates Red Crescent which is being spent on Ramadan meals for 12,000 individuals in the West Bank and Gaza, and new clothing for the holiday.

No money to spend

Palestinian families and businesses say they are feeling the pressure.

“I am selling a quarter of what I sold last Ramadan,” said cafeteria owner Amjad Baker, 28 years old from Ramallah, as he prepared qatayef, a traditional pancake-like holiday sweet.

“The economy is down, aid is not coming in, and people do not have money to spend,” said Amjad.

He said new elections should be held.

The PA’s current financial crisis is being exacerbated by uncertainty surrounding the potential Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN in September, and the outcome of a reconciliation agreement between Palestinian factions Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza.

Salaries for the estimated 25,000-30,000 military and civilian employees of the Hamas-led government in Gaza will be paid in full after delays over the past eight months, a Gaza official who preferred anonymity said.

“The Gaza government collects $10-12 million in local revenue, and the rest of the government operating budget [estimated at about $30-35 million, according to Hamas officials interviewed by IRIN in 2010] comes from outside sources,” said the official.

There may be additional delays, said the official, mostly related to logistical problems in receiving the funds due to political upheaval in the region.

Meanwhile, iftar tables in Gaza are often barren, power cuts are frequent and nearly half the population lacks a guaranteed access to adequate nutrition, according to the World Food Program.

This item comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. All IRIN material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

 

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HOW THE GRINCH STOLE RAMADAN IN PALESTINE

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Some Arab states have been dawdling in paying their pledged financial assistance to the PA, complaining about the spread of corruption and financial mismanagement with the self-rule authority.

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On Ramadan’s eve, severe financial crunch hitting occupied territories

By Khalid Amayreh in Ramallah

Muhammed and Sarah Sawabha live at a middle class Ramallah neighborhood, with their six children, including two college students. Muhammed has a Bachelor of Science and earns a monthly salary of about $800 US dollars as a teacher at a local school.

His wife, who has a BA in Arabic Language and Literature earns nearly the same amount, teaching Arabic at one of the largest and most prestigious high schools in suburban Ramallah.

Like many other Palestinian families, the Sawabhas are ill-prepared to receive the Muslim holy month of Ramadan during which family spending increases substantially.

“We always struggled to make ends meet. But this is the first time we feel we are fighting on many fronts and losing,” said Muhammed.

The family, which doesn’t own a home, pays an annual rent amounting to $3000. And with ever increasing college tuition, school expenses and disappearing government subsidies, only a meager amount of money is left for a decent living.

His wife concurred. “We are really frustrated; we only received half of our salaries this month. It is now the end of the month, and we are yet to receive the other half. Ramadan is coming and the government keeps telling us to be patient, but for how long?”

Muhammed explains that with Ramadan “knocking on the door,” and with the new college season only a few weeks away, and with three schools kids ready to go to school in mid September, he simply doesn’t know how he could meet the staggering financial obligations.

“I don’t know what do. But Allah befrejha, God will help us overcome the problem,” says the 48-year-old teacher, his eyes looking heavenward.

According to PA officials, the current financial crisis hitting the occupied territories is probably the severest in living memory, certainly since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA), following the conclusion of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO in 1993.

The crisis stems from direct and indirect causes. The direct causes includes the failure of mainly Arab donors to honor their pledges to a cash strapped PA living on a tight budget, the lion’s share of which goes to paying salaries to as many as 160,000 civil servants and public employees.

Last week, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas implored Arab states to “save us from going down.”

He explained that the current crisis was real; saying his government in Ramallah had been unable to pay salaries and meet urgent financial obligations.

Some Arab states have been dawdling in paying their pledged financial assistance to the PA, complaining about the spread of corruption and financial mismanagement with the self-rule authority.

Others, like Kuwait, are fed up with the chronic PA inability or failure to wean itself off dependence on foreign assistance.

Another key factor contributing to recurrent financial problems besetting the PA stems from the unnecessarily bloated security establishment which devours a huge chunk of the Palestinian budget.

The PA has as many as 80,000 security personnel on its payroll. The bloated force, built on instructions from the western donor countries, particularly the United States, consumes as much as $50 million per month.

The various Palestinian security agencies do very little work besides controlling and pacifying the Palestinian populace, including preventing any form of proactive resistance against the Israeli occupation.

Some security experts have opined that for the purposes of keeping law and order, the Palestinian community in the West Bank needs no more than a moderate civilian security force totaling 10,000-20,000 police officers.

However, the PA thinks that the huge security force is necessary to protect its own survival, especially in the face of a possible revolution and also to prevent the recurrence of what happened in the Gaza Strip in 2007 when the Islamic Liberation Movement, Hamas, wrested control over the coastal enclave, from Fatah militias which tried, with vigorous US assistance, to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Hamas.

A few years ago, the PA forced thousands of pro-Arafat activists within the security agencies into early retirement, fearing a possible revolt against the policies of Mahmoud Abbas and his pro-western government, headed by Salam Fayyad, who is largely viewed as unpatriotic or not patriotic enough.

However, to appease and pacify these people, many of them still in their mid 30s and early 40s, the Fayyad government paid them hefty retirement salaries reaching in some cases $4,000 dollars per month. The amount is considered a dream retirement for even the highest-ranking university professors who receive comparatively modest pension salaries.

Then there is the ghoul of corruption corroding through the PA financial structure whose tide successive Palestinian governments failed to stem. It is widely believed that hundreds of millions of dollars are lost to corruption every year.

Some observers believe that the PA is so-much infested with corruption that stemming its tide can’t be achieved without a comprehensive surgical intervention that would upset and alienate large segments of the PA hierarchy.

One Palestinian economist opined recently that “corruption within the PA financial system is structural, not rudimentary. I am afraid we can’t eliminate corruption without eliminating the overall structure of the PA.”

True, the corruption readings are not as high as they were five or six years ago, when embezzlement, nepotism, favoritism, bribery were the norm, rather than the exception.

Moreover, the PA government has shown a determination and a willingness to fight corruption, especially its stark and brazen forms. For example, a special ad hoc court has been established to prosecute corrupt officials.

The court head, Rafik Natshe, a veteran Fatah leader and former Speaker of the Legislative Council, recently ordered two cabinet ministers to appear before a special panel of judges for questioning in connection with allegations of financial mismanagement.

However, there are those, and they are many, who think that PA efforts are “too little and too late” and that the PA needs to declare fighting corruption a real national priority.

Some of the fundamental problems exacerbating recurrent financial problems hitting the PA lie in the fact that the PA is not a sovereign state or even a semi state given the fact that Israel continues to control Palestinian border crossings, financial resources, taxes and all other components of a healthy economic process.

In recent months, especially since the PA leadership announced plans to seek UN recognition of a putative Palestinian state, Israel suspended the transfer of customs and tax revenue payments to the Palestinian government in Ramallah. The financial strangulation was only relaxed after the PA pressed the Obama administration and EU states to pressure Israel to reconsider the draconian measure, resorted to every time the PA refuses to be at Israel’s beck and call.

Finally, it has always been a fantasy to build a prosperous economy with a sound financial system under a foreign military occupation. This is what many Palestinian and non-Palestinian intellectuals had warned about. This is why the current financial predicament facing the PA is the price the PA and the rest of the Palestinian people are paying, for venturing to placing the cart before the horse by trying to build a state before liberation from one of history’s most criminal and evil military occupations.

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