Posts Tagged ‘occupied territories’

Palestinians Must Unite against Racist Israel

October 10, 2008

Dr Abdul Ruff Colachal

There is a striking similarity in the anti-Muslim policies of the so-called “democracies” like basically conservative India, Israel and USA, both at home and abroad. The anti-Islamic chord has worked quite well to the regimes in covering up their state corrupt and criminal activities in the country and abroad. Practices of anti-Islamism have kept these regimes in good stead at least outwardly. These racist and fascist trends continue to dominate the national politics and, as a result, have resulted in genocide, and torture and insults to Islam and Muslims. Leader after leader, Israel keeps its flock together on an emphatic anti-Arab platform. So much so, any move towards peace with Palestinians evokes loudest protest and regime change in Israel.

ONE:  Israel Racism and Terrorism

In 1948 Israel came into being on lands annexed from Palestine. Palestinians in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, have lived under Israeli occupation since 1967. The settlements that Israel has built in the West Bank are home to around 400,000 people and are deemed to be illegal under international law. Leaders like Yasser Arafat sacrificed their lives for the establishment of Palestine state and safeguard the lives of innocent Palestinians living at the mercy of a terrorist Israel.  Israel under Ariel Sharon evacuated its settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and withdrew its forces, ending almost four decades of military occupation. But after his disappearance form public scene, things have gone worse for the Palestinians. USA and Israel worked over night to split the Palestinians and they succeeded. After the Islamic group Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007 following the dismissal of its elected government by PLO President Mahmoud Abbas at the behest of the USA and Israel, Israel intensified its economic blockade of the Strip.

While Kadima is embroiled in peace talks with the Palestinians, Likud says it will wait until there is a stronger negotiating partner on the other side and try to boost the West Bank economy in the meantime. The Kadima party was formed nearly three years ago when then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon split from Likud in what has been described as a “big bang” of Israeli politics. Instead of throwing out the rebel leaders from his Likud party, he himself came out to float a new party Kadima and came to power in the next poll.  The issue that tore Likud apart was Sharon’s plan to withdraw, or “disengage”, Israeli troops and settlers, first from the Gaza Strip, and then from parts of the West Bank.  It was an abrupt U-turn from a man who had urged Israelis to “settle every hilltop”.

Israel considers the Palestinians as ‘terrorists” because they have been struggling to get back their lands form the terrorist Israel. Racist Jews have been cruel to the Palestinians. More evidence is available to show how shabbily Israel treats the Palestinians whose lands it occupies. An Israeli civil rights group, the Association for Civil Rights, has said racism against Arab citizens of Israel has risen sharply in the past year. In a report, it said expression of anti-Arab views had doubled, and racist incidents had increased by 26%. Christian or Muslim Arab citizens of Israel make up 20% of the population. But the civil rights quoted polls suggesting half of Jewish Israelis do not believe Arab citizens of Israel should have equal rights. About the same amount said they wanted the government to encourage Arab emigration from Israel.

TWO: Human Rights Evasions

Israel considers Arabs less clean and less intelligent than themselves and Americans. Anti-Arab policies being pursued by Israel for decades have created a wedge between them and Arabs. A prominent Israeli Arab politician, Mohammed Barakeh, said the poll results were the natural outcome of what he called the anti-Arab policies of successive Israeli governments. Commenting on the findings of the report, the association’s president Sami Michael warned: “We live in a democratic regime whose foundations are constantly weakening.”

Occupied territories Part of the group’s annual report is dedicated to the situation in Gaza and the West Bank. The report says: “Most of the human rights violations in the occupied territories are by-products of the establishment of settlements and outposts.” Restrictions on the movement of Palestinians designed to allow settlers “free and secure movement”, have virtually split the West Bank into six separate parts. The organization says that the West Bank barrier “does not separate Palestinians from Israelis, but Palestinians from other Palestinians”. The report also asserts that despite its withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Israel retains “moral and legal responsibility” for the Palestinians there because Israel controls access to the coastal territory.

As usual, a government spokesman Mark Regev responded that the Israeli government was “committed to fighting racism whenever it raises its ugly head and is committed to full equality to all Israeli citizens, irrespective of ethnicity, creed or background, as defined by our declaration of independence”. As Israel keep expanding its illegal settlement projects in Palestine, Israel’s Construction and Housing Minister Zeev Boim said the rights group’s report was biased and without credibility.

THREE: Palestine Unity

The success of the fascist and racist terror forces of India, USA and Israel has much to do with the global “terrorism” trend and inability of the Muslims under siege and tortures to unite against the global enemies. There are many freedom groups in Kashmir, though they have just one point program of gaining sovereignty back from occupying India. Similarly Fatah and Hamas have been waging a mutual war, instead of fighting the enemy tooth and nail. Islamic world is hopelessly divided amongst themselves and unable to fight the global terrorists USA, and its “allies” Israel and Hindu India.

Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas – who is also leader of Fatah – ends his term in office on 8 January 2009. The parliament – which is controlled by Hamas – is currently scheduled to remain in power until January 2010. Hamas MPs have demanded Abbas hold presidential elections before 8 January, and said they would no longer recognize his legitimacy after that time. Many feel this would deepen the already-protracted rift.

There have been strenuous efforts from several quarters to bring about a unity among the Palestinian groups to force Israel to come up with a final settlement plan. Egypt, the mediator in the dispute, has proposed establishing a government of technocrats acceptable to all factions, re-organization of the Palestinian security forces, and new parliamentary and presidential elections. Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk said the factions would form technical committees to discuss the issues. The committees will take their time, one or two or three months, these are issues that cannot be resolved in days or weeks. Another official from Gaza said: “We in Hamas accept that elections are on the table for discussion.” However, he expressed opposition to simultaneous presidential and parliamentary elections for the Palestinian Authority.

Israel will finally concede and surrender the Palestinian lands only if they see the need and they are under international pressure to do so and a united force in Palestine. This writer had suggested way back for creating a Islamic Security Organization ISO (ref: Middle East Online) to defend the Islamic states and Muslims the world over from the anti-Islamic forces. Meanwhile the peace move from concerned Muslim nations could continue. Hamas officials in Cairo say they will meet representatives of the rival Fatah movement this month to discuss the timing of fresh Palestinian elections. Hamas leaders, the popular “militant” movement in control of Gaza, made the announcement after talks with Egypt’s intelligence chief in Cairo. Egypt hopes the Palestinian groups will reach a reconciliation agreement including elections and other reforms. But some analysts say there are few signs of a narrowing of their differences. Abbas should, without worrying about reactions form USA and Israel, take bold initiatives to unite the Hamas Fatah factions and form a government or hold the elections for smooth functioning of an elected government. As the senior most leader of Palestine, it is his duty– and has obligation — to take all factions into confidence in whatever he does about the establishment of Palestine state.

Dr Abdul Ruff Colachal has been a university teacher, and worked in various Indian institutions like JNU, Mysore University, Central Institute of English FL, etc. He is also a political commentator, researcher, and columnist. He has widely published in India and abroad, and has written about state terrorism.

Palestinians play a wild card

September 5, 2008

By Mark LeVine | Asia Times, Sep 5, 2008

Lost in the international uproar over Russia’s Olympic Games-eve invasion and occupation of Georgia and now the political and meteorological storms sweeping across the United States is a seismic shift in the dynamics of another conflict, one which offers a similarly vexing challenge to the core policy goals of the United States, Europe and many Middle Eastern governments to that posed by a newly belligerent Russia.

Largely unreported in the American and Western media, on August 10, two days after the start of both the Russian invasion and the Olympics, Palestinian lead negotiator Ahmed Qurie declared that if the peace process did not advance towards a final settlement soon, Palestinians would stop pursuing a two-state solution and demand the establishment of a bi-national state with Israel.

After the Annapolis peace conference held last November in the United States, Israel and the Palestinians agreed to form two negotiation teams to reach an agreement on major permanent status issues before the end of this year. Hopes are fading for any agreement within this timeframe, especially on statehood, which makes Qurie’s comments all the more pertinent.

Qurie, better known as Abu Alaa, explained, “The Palestinian leadership has been working on establishing a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders … If Israel continues to oppose making this a reality, then the Palestinian demand for the Palestinian people and its leadership [would be] one state, a bi-national state.”

In effect, pressure would be put on Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to halt all negotiations and demand that Israel annex the Palestinian territories with all their residents. Indeed, Abbas has hinted he might dissolve the PA and demand a bi-national state if progress is not made soon.

According to the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, a forum has begun activities in the Occupied Territories and the Palestinian diaspora aimed at dismantling the PA and the return of responsibility for the territories to Israel. A petition in this regard was published this week in the London-based, Arabic-language al-Hayat daily newspaper.

To date, Israel’s leadership has refused to get excited by the Palestinian threat of a bi-national state. “It’s all a tactic,” said a senor government official was quoted in the media as saying this week. “I would not bet on it in a casino.”

All the same, the issue represents a sea-change in Palestinian attitudes towards the peace process. Even at its lowest ebb, former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat threatened merely to declare a state within the West Bank and Gaza.

Today the mere possibility of a bi-national solution so frightens Israel’s leaders that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert equated it with apartheid, warning that if the two-state process failed, Israel would “face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, and as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished”.

The reason Israel would be “finished” is clear: given the current state of relations between Jews and Palestinians it is difficult to envision Jews maintaining control over the territory, holy places, military, economy and immigration of Israel/Palestine in a bi-national state, especially after the demographic balance shifts in favor of Palestinians, as many experts believe it is close to doing.

In such a situation, Israel as a Jewish state would either “vanish from the pages of time”, as Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has infamously advocated, or an all-out civil war would erupt that would likely result in the exile of the vast majority of Palestinians from both Israel and the Occupied Territories.

Despite these apocalyptic possibilities, the peace process today stands close to the bi-national abyss. The more Palestinians feel they have nothing left to lose, the more likely it becomes that they will press for “one person, one vote”, returning in essence if not rhetoric to the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s pre-1988 advocacy of a “secular democratic state” in all of pre-1948 Palestine.

In reality, this turn of events should not surprise anyone. Already a generation ago, Israeli geographer Meron Benvenisti argued in his 1987 West Bank Data Base Project that by the mid-1980s, the Occupied Territories had become so integrated into Israel that it was no longer possible to separate them. By the time Palestinians and Israelis were ready to negotiate a “divorce” in the early 1990s it was too late to do so.

Continued . . .

End of the two-state solution

July 29, 2008

A multicultural state can offer Jewish Israelis and Muslim and Christian Palestinians a future free of discrimination, occupation, fear and violence

By Saree Makdisi |, Monday July 28 2008

In order to try to create an exclusively Jewish state in what had been the culturally diverse land of Palestine, Israel’s founders expelled or drove into flight half of Palestine’s Muslim and Christian population and seized their land, their houses, and their property (furniture, clothing, books, personal effects, family heirlooms), in what Palestinians call the nakba, or catastrophe, of 1948.

Even while demanding – rightly – that no one should forget the Jewish people’s history of suffering, and above all the Holocaust, Israel has insisted ever since 1948 not merely that the Palestinians must forget their own history, but that what it calls peace must be premised on that forgetting, and hence on the Palestinians’ renunciation of their rights. As Israel’s foreign minister has said, if the Palestinians want peace, they must learn to strike the word “nakba” from their lexicon.

Some must never forget, while others, clearly, must not be allowed to remember. Far from mere hypocrisy, this attitude perfectly expresses the Israeli people’s mistaken belief that they can find the security they need at the expense of the Palestinians, or that one people’s right can be secured at the cost of another’s.

Little wonder such an approach has not delivered peace. The only way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to end the denial of rights that fuels it, and to ensure that both peoples’ rights are equally protected.

For some years it was thought that peace could be obtained by sidestepping the central fact of the nakba, and creating a Palestinian statelet in what remained of Palestine after 1948, namely, the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in 1967.

But such a two-state solution is no longer possible. The inescapable fact is that one state controls all of the land, and it has done so for over 40 years, affirming one people’s right to live, marry, work and settle by negating another people’s right to do the same, on land that two peoples – not just one – call home.

The only question now is how much longer this negation can go on, and how long it will be before a state premised on it is superseded by its opposite, an affirmative, genuinely democratic, secular and multi-cultural state, the only kind that can offer Jewish Israelis and Muslim and Christian Palestinians alike a future free of discrimination, occupation, fear and violence.

The question, in other words, is not whether there will be a one-state solution, but when; and how much needless suffering there will be in the meantime, until those who are committed to the project of creating and maintaining a religiously exclusivist state in what was historically a culturally and religiously heterogeneous land finally relent and accept the inevitable: that they have failed.

This last point is especially important, because the conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians is – and has always been –– driven by the notion that hundreds of years of cultural heterogeneity and plurality could be negated overnight by the creation of a state with a single cultural and religious identity.

It hardly matters that that identity was never as homogeneous as Zionists like to claim: witness Israel’s methodical de-Arabisation of its Mizrahi (Arab-Jewish) population in the 1950s and 1960s, or the perennial debate over “who is a Jew” – an unseemly question that in Israel is not merely a matter of arcane theological exegesis but tied directly to matters of citizenship, nationality, and law.

Israel’s claim to an exclusive Jewish identity – as symbolised by its flag – has been sustained ever since 1948 by denying the moral and legal right of return of those Palestinians expelled during the nakba, by forms of legalised discrimination inside the state, and by the maintenance of a much more violent system of apartheid in the territories Israel has militarily occupied since 1967.

Palestinian citizens of Israel – officially referred to by the state as deracinated “Arabs” because it cannot bring itself to acknowledge the fact that they are Palestinian – face institutionalised forms of discrimination far worse than those once encountered by African Americans. For example, while Jewish Israelis who marry non-citizens (or residents of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories) are entitled to have their spouses come live with them, Israeli law explicitly denies that right to Palestinian citizens who marry Palestinians from the occupied territories. Palestinian citizens are also denied various other privileges, including access to state lands, reserved exclusively for Jews.

Meanwhile, Israel maintains two separate infrastructures in the occupied territories, and it subjects the two populations there to two distinct legal and administrative systems. Indigenous Palestinians are subject to a harsh form of military rule, whereas Jewish settlers enjoy the protections of Israeli civil law, even though they have been transplanted -– in violation of international law – beyond the borders of their state.

Indeed, Israel’s intensive settlement of the occupied territories is the primary reason for the demise of the two-state solution. Not only is the settler population increasing at a rate three times greater than that of Israel itself, but, according to a UN report published last summer, almost 40% of the West Bank is now taken up with Israeli infrastructure to which Palestinians are denied access. The remainder of the territory has been broken up into an archipelago, each little “island” of territory in effect a small-scale Gaza, cut off from the outside and completely vulnerable to Israel’s whims. Under such circumstances, an independent Palestinian state is inconceivable.

Even if it were conceivable, the creation of a Palestinian statelet in the occupied territories would do nothing to safeguard the rights of the 20% of Israel’s citizens who are Palestinian; on the contrary, its existence would further empower the likes of former deputy prime minister Avigdor Lieberman, who wants all Palestinians removed to make room for Jewish immigrants (like himself). Nor would it address the right of return of the Palestinians who were deliberately expelled to make room for a Jewish state in 1948, who have been kept out and living in limbo – or in the prison that is Gaza – solely in order to preserve Israel’s tenuous claim to Jewishness.

Negation, denial and imprisonment have run their course. The future should be built on affirmation, cooperation, and the constitution of a democratic and secular state that guarantees the rights of Israelis and Palestinians, of Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike.

• Saree Makdisi is Professor of English Literature at the University of California, and the author of Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation, published by WW Norton.

‘This is like apartheid’: ANC veterans visit West Bank

July 11, 2008

By Donald Macintyre in Hebron | The Independent, Friday, 11 July 2008

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Veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle said last night that the segregation endured by Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories was in some respects worse than that imposed on the black majority under white rule in South Africa.

Members of a 23-strong human-rights team of prominent South Africans cited the impact of the Israeli military’s separation barrier, checkpoints, the permit system for Palestinian travel, and the extent to which Palestinians are barred from using roads in the West Bank.

After a five-day visit to Israel and the Occupied Territories, some delegates expressed shock and dismay at conditions in the Israeli-controlled heart of Hebron. Uniquely among West Bank cities, 800 settlers now live there and segregation has seen the closure of nearly 3,000 Palestinian businesses and housing units. Palestinian cars (and in some sections pedestrians) are prohibited from using the once busy streets.

“Even with the system of permits, even with the limits of movement to South Africa, we never had as much restriction on movement as I see for the people here,” said an ANC parliamentarian, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge of the West Bank. “There are areas in which people would live their whole lifetime without visiting because it’s impossible.”

Continued . . .

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