Posts Tagged ‘Palestinian Authority’

Exclusive: Leaked documents show Palestinian Authority undermined Turkey’s push for UN flotilla probe

June 23, 2010

Asa Winstanley, The Electronic Intifada, 22 June 2010

A document sent to Ibrahim Khraishi, Palestinian Authority representative at the UN in Geneva, proves that the PA attempted to undermine Turkey’s push for a UN Human Rights Council investigation in to Israel’s attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla (Patrick Bertschmann/UN Photo)

The Palestinian Authority attempted to neutralize a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution condemning Israel’s deadly attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, leaked UN and Palestinian Authority documents obtained by The Electronic Intifada show. Israel’s 31 May attack killed nine Turkish citizens, including a dual US-Turkish citizen, and injured dozens of others aboard theTurkey,  Mavi Marmara in international waters.

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Jerusalem Under the Fire of Death Squads

March 18, 2010

Kawther Salam, March 17, 2010

Today Wednesday, the Palestinian newspapers, especially the PA newspaper Al-Hayat Jadidah and Al-Quds in Jerusalem, came out with miserly and censored news about a day of bloody clashes between the Palestinians and Israeli occupation forces in occupied Jerusalem, which was otherwise described as “the hardest clashes between Palestinians and Israeli occupation forces in the years after the outbreak of the Aqsa Intifada”. The Palestinian Authority, under the orders of the corrupt minister of Salam Fayyad, issued censorship instructions to the media, telling them to not concentrate on the news about the daily confrontations between the Israeli occupation and the local Palestinians in East Jerusalem, citing as a pretext that allegedly the Hamas “illegal” government had issued a call to take part in the confrontation and demos.

Israeli soldiers and the so-called borderpolice chasing women in the streets.

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A Tale of Two Richards

March 6, 2010

By Nadia Hijab, Agence Global,  March 4, 2010

They hail from opposite parts of the globe, but they have much in common: Jewish; experts on and passionate defenders of international law; and pummeling bags for Israel and the Palestinian Authority. And the future of the law of war lies at the heart of the campaigns against them.

Richard Goldstone, whose international stature was cemented as chief prosecutor in the Yugoslavia and Rwanda tribunals, has been excoriated by Israel and its allies ever since his team submitted the report on the Gaza war requested by the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2009. The steady stream of invective (the report is “full of lies,” and he has “used his Jewishness to jeopardize the safety and security of Israel” are just two of the milder attacks) has also targeted his family and taken a toll on the publicly stoic judge.

Richard Falk, professor emeritus at Princeton University and UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, has been attacked by Israel for years. But now, in a new twist, he is being hung out to dry by the Palestinian Authority in perhaps the unkindest cut of all.

The PA pummeling is more discreet. It has quietly suggested to Falk himself that he resign. One reported reason is that Falk can’t do his job because Israel will not allow him into the country — though this should, one would have thought, be all the more reason to defend him.

And the PA has asked the Human Rights Council to take Falk’s report off the March 22 agenda and “postpone” it to June, which the Council has done. The PA-appointed representative to the UN in Geneva insists that there are simply more important reports than Falk’s on the agenda — yet at the same time he says the PA has “many” reservations about the Falk report. The real reasons seem to be that the PA did not like the mention of Hamas in Falk’s report and his earlier criticism when the PA tried to “postpone” the Goldstone Report in September under pressure from Israel and the United States. A public outcry among Palestinians reversed that decision.

The attacks on Falk and Goldstone are hard for the two men to bear. And they tear at the very fabric of international law and the mechanisms put in place to uphold it. The Human Rights Council has stepped on a slippery slope by agreeing to postpone Falk’s report. Instead of listening to the PA (and Egypt) the Council should have backed its special rapporteur. If it does the unthinkable and relieves Falk of his duties because the PA does not want him, the system of independent special rapporteurs would be undermined, just as it would if the Council gave in to Israeli or American pressure.

Undermining the Goldstone Report would be an equally harsh blow to the human rights system. Several earlier reports have called for the application of international law to the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the International Court of Justice’s seminal opinion on the illegality of Israel’s separation wall in the West Bank. But the Goldstone Report has been published at a time when people are ready to listen, which is partly why Israel is fighting it with such ferocity and on so many fronts.

On one of those fronts, Israel is trying to change international law itself, as Israeli human rights advocate Jeff Halper reveals in an important article, “The Second Battle of Gaza.” Halper identifies the Israeli figures leading the campaign “to alter international law in ways that enable them — and by extension other states involved in ‘wars on terror’ — to effectively pursue warfare amongst the people while eliminating both the legitimacy and protections enjoyed by their non-state foes.”

No one is more aware of the dangers to international law than Palestinian human rights advocates. Their organizations have acted as a group to support the implementation of the Goldstone Report and to protect Falk and his role.

Last month, 11 Palestinian human rights groups wrote to the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressing dismay at the PA actions against Falk. His reports have provided “powerful instruments to advocate for Palestinian people’s rights” they said, urging Pillay to ensure that Falk enjoyed the highest level of support from her office. They also called on her to reinforce the independence of the special rapporteurs from UN member states so as to protect the UN’s own credibility.

More recently, 19 Palestinian groups wrote to PA president Mahmoud Abbas criticizing Falk’s treatment and pointing out the repercussions for the Palestinians’ internationally recognized human rights.

If the attacks on the two Richards succeed, the Palestinian cause will suffer and the world will be a poorer and more dangerous place — one in which the might of the strong is legally allowed to prevail against the rights of the weak.

Nadia Hijab is an independent analyst and a senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies.

Copyright © 2010 Nadia Hijab – distributed by Agence Global

Falk: The PA betrayed its own people

October 8, 2009


Richard Falk, , October 7, 2009

GAZA, (PIC) — Richard Falk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that that the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Ramallah betrayed its own people at a moment when the international community was so close to endorse Goldstone’s report accusing Israel of war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

“The Palestinians have betrayed their people, this was a moment when finally the international community endorsed the allegations of war crimes and it would have been an opportunity to vindicate the struggle of the Palestinian people for their rights under international law and for the Palestinian representatives in the UN themselves to seem to undermine this report is an astonishing development,” he told al-Jazeera.

The UN official, however, said that the report, despite being delayed, is still very important because it exposed the inadequacy of Palestinian representation at the international level and will encourage groups supporting the Palestinian struggle to continue their efforts in this regard.

For his part, member of the central committee of the popular front for the liberation of Palestine Kayed Al-Ghoul said that delaying the vote on Goldstone’s report is a sin committed by Mahmoud Abbas, demanding him to apologize for this wrongdoing before the Palestinian people.

Ghoul stressed that this apology is a necessary step to stop the negative repercussions and to hold accountable all Palestinian officials who were responsible for what happened.

In the same context, PA official Sa’eb Erekat told Al-Jazeera satellite channel on Tuesday that the PA in Ramallah is responsible for delaying taking action on Goldstone’s report, alleging that there was a misunderstanding of the PA position.

Erekat during his talk to the channel appeared to be trying to absorb the popular anger towards the PA astonishing position against Goldstone’s report.

Senior Fatah leader and former Palestinian ambassador to Egypt Nabil Amr held Abbas on Monday in remarks on the same channel fully and directly responsible for what happened in Geneva and called on him to stop fabricating excuses.

How Israel bought off UN’s war crimes probe

October 7, 2009

By Jonathan Cook, Information Clearing House, Oct 6, 2009

Israel celebrated at the weekend its success at the United Nations in forcing the Palestinians to defer demands that the International Criminal Court investigate allegations of war crimes committed by Israel during its winter assault on the Gaza Strip.

The about-turn, following vigorous lobbying from Israel and the United States, appears to have buried the damning report of Judge Richard Goldstone into the fighting, which killed some 1,400 Palestinians, most of them civilians.

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The Israel donors conference

March 5, 2009

Amira Haas | Haaretz, Israel, March 4, 2009

The extent of the funding pledged to the Palestinian Authority by donor countries reflects the extent of their support for Israel and its policies. The American taxpayers’ contribution to the Ramallah government’s bank account is dwarfed by the large sums the U.S. government donates to Israel every year. It’s impossible to get excited over the American pledge of $900 million (two-thirds of it for strengthening Salam Fayyad’s government and the rest for Gaza’s recovery) and forget the $30 billion the United States has promised Israel in defense aid by the end of 2017, as last week’s Amnesty International report noted.

The $900 million pledged to the Palestinians in Sharm el-Sheikh should be seen as part of the regular American aid to Israel. As an occupying power, Israel is obligated to assure the well-being of the population under its control. But Israel is harming it instead, after which the United States (like other countries) rushes to compensate for the damage.

The Clinton and Bush administrations – and Barack Obama appears to be following in their footsteps – erased the phrase “Israeli occupation” from their dictionaries and collaborated with Israel in ignoring its commitments as enshrined in international law. The billions of dollars that Israel receives from the United States for weapons and defense development – which played a significant role in the destruction in the Gaza Strip – are part of Israel’s successful propaganda, which presents the Rafah tunnels and Grad rockets as a strategic threat and part of the Islamic terror offensive against enlightened countries.

The West has blown the Hamas movement out of proportion, exaggerating its military might to the point of mendacity; this allowed for an extended siege and three weeks of Israeli military intractability. In the Palestinian and larger Arab world, this embellishment helps Hamas depict itself as the real patriotic force.

The hundreds of millions of euros that have been donated or pledged to help Gaza, as though it were beset by natural disasters, are overshadowing the trade ties between Europe and Israel. The Western countries concerned about humanitarian aid for the Palestinians also buy from Israel arms and defense knowledge developed under the laboratory conditions of the occupation, that serial creator of humanitarian crises.

And the 1 billion petrodollars? First of all, they were generated from a natural resource that logic dictates should benefit the Arab peoples. Second, they were pledged at a conference that boycotted Gaza (neither Hamas nor business people or social activists from the Strip participated in the donors conference). This is how Saudi Arabia lends its hand to the American and Israeli veto of inter-Palestinian reconciliation.

Every cent paid to the Palestinians – whether for the Ramallah government’s budget or medical treatment of children wounded by Israeli pilots or soldiers – lets Israel know that it can continue its efforts to force a capitulation deal on the Palestinian elite. Only by recognizing that surrender is the goal can one understand that 16 years after Oslo, no Palestinian state was established. When did Shimon Peres, Ariel Sharon and Tzipi Livni begin talking about two states? Only after their bulldozers and military bureaucrats crushed the realistic physical basis of a Palestinian state. And this basis is: June 4, 1967 land (including East Jerusalem), Gaza – an inseparable part of the state – and zero settlements (and that applies to Gilo and Ma’aleh Adumim).

During the 1990s it was still possible to describe donations to the Palestinians as an expression of confidence and hope in Israel’s readiness to free itself of the occupation regime it had created. But not in 2009. Support for Israeli policy – this is the only way to understand the fact that other countries keep pouring in hundreds of millions of dollars meant to put out the fires set by this policy, without extinguishing the source of the blaze.

Gaza: Failed Siege

March 4, 2009

Pledging aid for Gaza is the easy bit. Getting it delivered to Gazans living in tents after Israel‘s three-week bombardment is another matter. The $3bn that donors promised in Sharm el-Sheikh yesterday will have to penetrate a labyrinth of barriers and conditions, the complexity of which King Minos of Crete would have been proud. The money will be given to the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas, even though the PA’s writ does not run in Gaza. The aid will pass through crossings currently closed by Israel. It will be distributed in such a manner as to avoid ending up in the hands of its governors. But how? This is like trying to spoon a thin gruel into a dying man, without letting it touch any part of his throat.

Forget the difficulty of getting macaroni or paper into Gaza, neither of which fell into Israel’s definition of humanitarian aid. How can the 14,000 homes, 219 factories, 240 schools, which Israel destroyed, or damaged, be repaired without cement? Cement, Israel argues, has a dual use. It can be used to build Hamas’s bunkers and tunnels, although the dual use of macaroni and paper is harder to fathom. But why repair Gaza’s infrastructure, if Israeli warplanes could return at any moment to destroy it again? Operation Cast Lead did not re-establish Israeli deterrence over Hamas and Gaza’s other rejectionist groups. About 120 rockets and mortars have been fired into southern Israel since the army withdrew. Which means, short of re-occupation and putting the leadership of Hamas on a boat to Tripoli, the only way to stop the rockets is political, not military.

There was scant recognition of that yesterday. In her first sally into the region as US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton had strong words for Hamas. She said it was time “to cut the strings pulled by those who exploit the sufferings of innocent people”. Israel’s blockade of Gaza, which the Quartet supported, is now universally acknowledged to have failed. It has not dislodged Hamas from Gaza. Tony Blair admitted as much on his first visit to the enclave. But no one, as yet, is prepared to contemplate a way around the conditions which Israel and the Quartet attached to ending Hamas’s isolation.

Hamas is not going to recognise Israel. If it did, another and more extreme group would take up the cudgels. But it is equally clear to everyone that Hamas will have to be included in a national unity government for peace to succeed. The only scant chance lies in the reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas, two groups who currently hate each more than they do their occupiers. Without a fundamental rethink about how to engage Hamas politically, the international community is willing the end while continuing to deny the means.

Hillary Clinton reprises “peace process” fraud

March 3, 2009
Bill Van Auken | WSWS, March 3, 2009
In her  first trip to the Middle East as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state, Hillary Clinton insisted that the new US administration is determined to press for a “two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Decades of US and Israeli policies, however, have made it abundantly clear that the two-state solution will neither resolve the democratic and social aspirations of the Palestinian people nor secure an end to the ceaseless militarism of the Israeli state, which in the end poses a mortal threat to Jewish working people in Israel itself.

Clinton made her pitch for the revival of the decades-old and deeply discredited “peace process” in the context of an international donors’ conference called in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to raise money for the rebuilding of the devastated Gaza Strip.

At the end of the 23-day Israeli onslaught against Gaza, over 1,300 Palestinians had been killed, many thousands more wounded and half a million driven from their homes. It remains a humanitarian catastrophe, with tens of thousands still homeless, sleeping in tents in the cold, inadequate food supplies and the threat of disease posed by the destruction of water and sewage infrastructure. Meanwhile, Israel continues to exercise a tight blockade at Gaza crossings, preventing access to essential supplies.

In her public statements, Clinton managed, incredibly, to make no mention of this destruction wrought by the Israeli military, referring only once to an abstract “crisis in Gaza.” At the same time, however, she repeatedly condemned rocket attacks from Gaza, demanding that they stop. Needless to say, the American secretary of state made no such demand upon Israel to halt its continuing military actions against Gaza.

On the eve of Clinton’s Middle East trip, which is taking her to Jerusalem and Ramallah as well, Washington announced that it is boycotting a United Nations-sponsored conference against racism. It refused to participate because a draft document for the conference described Israel’s policy towards Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank as a “violation of international human rights, a crime against humanity and a contemporary form of apartheid.”

Washington’s problem is that, while posturing as the champion of peace, it has been-and under Obama remains-an indispensible partner in these crimes. The weapons used to slaughter men, women and children in Gaza were made in the USA.

The amount of money that the US pledged at Sharm el-Sheikh for reconstruction in Gaza-$300 million-is a pittance compared to the money lavished on Israel for the arms used to carry out the destruction in the first place. Since 2002 Washington has given the Israeli state $21 billion in military aid, while signing a 10-year agreement last year to provide it $30 billion.

The Obama administration will continue this aid. As Clinton’s performance in Egypt made clear, the Washington-orchestrated “peace process” will consist, as in the past, of US negotiators pressuring the Palestinians to bow to Israel’s demands.

As Clinton put it in Sharm el-Sheikh, this process demands that the Palestinians “break the cycle of rejection and resistance”; in other words, that they acquiesce and submit.

This modus operandi of US Middle East diplomacy has persisted over the course of more than a decade and a half under Democratic and Republican administrations alike, from Yassir Arafat’s appearance in the White House Rose Garden with Ms. Clinton’s husband and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1993, to subsequent conferences at Wye River in 1998, Camp David in 2000 and Annapolis in 2007.

It has produced a situation in which the so-called “two-state solution” is today manifestly unviable.

The Palestinian state advocated by the Clinton administration and subsequently by that of George W. Bush, has taken the form of a grotesque farce in the form of the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas, which has become synonymous with corruption and impotence. Its mandate is restricted to scattered Palestinian towns in the West Bank, cut off from each other by Israeli settlements and militarized zones. It is cut off entirely from the Gaza Strip, the Israeli-blockaded territory governed by the Islamist Hamas movement.

US policy towards the Palestinians has essentially been an attempt to build up Abbas’s regime and its security forces as a surrogate force for American and Israeli interests in the region and to use it to suppress Hamas. This was reiterated at Monday’s donors’ conference in which Clinton and other US officials insisted on iron-clad guarantees that not a cent of US funding would go to the Hamas administration in Gaza, a stipulation that will obviously impede reconstruction.

In a report prepared in conjunction with Clinton’s trip, the Israeli Peace Now movement revealed that the Israeli government has drawn up plans to build at least 70,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank, potentially doubling the settler population in the occupied territory. This population is already four times what it was a decade ago, and its continuous expansion-together with accompanying Israeli military forces and security road networks-has taken up fully 40 percent of the land on the West Bank.

Any Palestinian state would be physically and economically completely dependent on Israel, and through it the United States. The Palestinian Authority, built up by the United States, would be tasked with policing the the Palestinian population and suppressing popular opposition.

The policy being promoted by Clinton is in fundamental continuity with that pursued by the Bush administration for the last eight years. Its objective is not “peace” in the Middle East, but rather the promotion of American hegemony over the region and its vast oil reserves.

A genuine settlement of the 60-year-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be found neither under the auspices of US imperialism nor through the division of the territory into religious and ethnic-based statelets. It requires the unification of Arab and Jewish working people on a secular, socialist and internationalist perspective in a common struggle against Zionism, imperialism and the ruling elites of the Arab countries for a socialist federation of the Middle East.

The Charade of Not Talking to Hamas

March 3, 2009

by Robert Dreyfuss | The Nation, March 2, 2009

Looming over Hillary Clinton’s foray into the Middle East are two extremist movements that aren’t likely to be persuaded to support Clinton’s vision of a two-state solution. The first is Hamas, which runs Gaza, and the second is the Netanyahu-Lieberman bloc in Israel, which is preparing to take over the Israeli government.

In Egypt yesterday, Clinton reaffirmed America’s pledge to give $900 million in aid to the West Bank and Gaza. One-third of that will go to Gaza, and she made it clear that all of the aid will be funneled through the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas, so it won’t end up in the “wrong hands”:

We will work with our Palestinian partners, President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, to address critical humanitarian, budgetary, security, and infrastructure needs. We have worked with the Palestinian Authority to install safeguards that will ensure that our funding is only used where, and for whom, it is intended, and does not end up in the wrong hands.

She added that the United States will “vigorously pursue a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

In all, the conference of aid donors for Gaza is planning to assemble a $3 billion package for Gaza, the equivalent of $2,000 for each of the 1.5 million Gaza residents. Since most of the cash will be funneled through the PA, it’s clear the Abbas and Fayyad will gain patronage points. But Israel still maintains its blockade of Gaza, preventing key items — such as building materials, like cement — from reaching rebuilding projects.

Egypt is mediating between Israel and Hamas in search of a workable arrangement, but a deal will be hostage to the Netanyahu regime, which has pledged to destroy Hamas.

Egypt is also taking the lead in trying to reconcile Hamas, Fatah, and other elements of the Palestinian national movement. Were they to succeed, it would confront the Obama administration with a quandary: will Obama send hundreds of millions of dollars to the Palestinians if, indeed, those with the “wrong hands” are part of the equation? The Palestinian dialogue will start in earnest in Cairo on March 10, involving Hamas, Fatah, and several smaller factions, including left-leaning ones and Islamic Jihad. They’ve created five committees aimed at “forming a national unity government, reforming the Palestine Liberation Organization, rebuilding the security apparatus, preparing for presidential and legislative elections, and the committee of reconciliation.”

Theoretically, it ought to be easy to finesse the problem, diplomatically, for the United States. So far, Washington has said it won’t talk to Hamas unless the group halts violence and accepts Israel’s right to exist. If Hamas does indeed reunite with Fatah in the PA, the United States can use that as an excuse to halt aid, or it can pretend to look the other way and continue the aid on the theory that the PA itself is engaged in two-state talks with Israel.

In fact, Israel is already talking to Hamas, through Egypt’s mediation efforts, and if the Hamas-Fatah talks succeed — with Egypt’s help — Hamas will be at the table there, too. Not talking to Hamas is quickly becoming a charade.

Robert Dreyfuss, a Nation contributing editor, is an investigative journalist in Alexandria, Virginia, specializing in politics and national security. He is the author of Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam and is a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone, The American Prospect, and Mother Jones.

Obama urged to halt Israel demolitions

February 25, 2009

From correspondents in Ramallah

Herald Sun, February 24, 2009 04:42am

THE Palestinian Authority has urged the US president to press Israel to scrap a plan to raze almost 90 homes in annexed Arab east Jerusalem.

“We call on President Barack Obama to intervene personally to have this project stopped,” Yasser Abed Rabbo, one of the main aides of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, said overnight.

The Palestinian owners of 88 houses in the Silwan neighbourhood have received eviction notices saying the structures will be destroyed because they were built or expanded without the necessary permits. The move would affect about 1500 people.

“It is a massacre that Israel will commit in this Holy City,” Abed Rabbo said, calling for “urgent Arab and international action to halt this dangerous project”.

He said some of the houses affected by the orders had been built before Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan during the 1967 Six-Day War.

He called for a day-long strike in east Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied West Bank to protest against the plan.

The Gulf Cooperation Council, which groups the six Gulf Arab states, backed the call for US intervention to stop what it called these “racist acts that defy human rights and international law”.

“This is a dangerous step taken within the Zionist entity’s strategy to change the demographic reality in Jerusalem, signalling the occupier’s attempts to turn the city Jewish,” the grouping’s secretary-general Abdulrahman al-Attiya said according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Silwan, which abuts the Old City of Jerusalem, is home to 10,000 Palestinians.

Sixty Jewish families also live in the neighbourhood around the City of David archaeological park which Israeli authorities say was the capital of the ancient Israelite kingdom.

Israel, which considers the whole of Jerusalem its “eternal, undivided” capital, rarely grants building permits to Arab residents of east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want to make the capital of their promised state.

According to the Israeli B’Tselem human rights organisation, Israeli authorities have demolished about 350 houses in east Jerusalem since 2004, saying they were built without permits.

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