AND THE ‘TIPPING POINT’
TRUMP TEAM PREPARING ECONOMIC PLAN AS PART OF MIDEAST PEACE PROPOSAL - OFFICIAL
Reuters Steve Holland, Editing by Yara Bayoumy and Toni Reinhold, July 26 2018
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A long-awaited Middle East peace plan from the Trump administration will include what the White House is calling a robust economic plan to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an official has said.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s envoys are also working on the most detailed set of proposals to date for the overall plan, the White House official said in a briefing with reporters on Monday.
The plan thus far has no release date. Trump had hoped to reveal it early this year but his decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the embassy there, reversing decades of U.S. policy, inflamed tensions in the region.
The Palestinians have said that they have lost faith in the Trump administration to act as a fair mediator and have boycotted the process since last December’s Jerusalem announcement.
The White House has offered few details on a peace plan that has drawn widespread scepticism even before its unveiling.
Trump’s proposals are the product of shuttle diplomacy to regional capitals by senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka, and Jason Greenblatt, a lawyer who is playing a role in the negotiations.
The two envoys have asked leaders in the region to outline for each issue an outcome that they could live with and that the other side could accept, the official said.
Past attempts by American presidents at negotiating peace between Israel and Palestine have fizzled based on differences over the status of Jerusalem and borders.
The Trump team has studied past efforts as a guidepost to the future, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The official said the Trump plan would be the most detailed package of solutions ever offered and that some finishing touches were being put on the main proposals and economic plans.
A rollout strategy was being developed, the official said.
Trump had asked his team how the embassy announcement would affect peace negotiations. He was told it would cause some short-term disruption, but that long-term the prospects for peace would be improved, the official said.
Despite Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ refusal to engage on the subject, Trump’s advisers expect the Palestinian leadership to read it and provide some realistic feedback and offer some proposals on how to improve it, the official said.
The Palestinian topics in www.jewishwikipedia.info were being updated. Our estimate for this work was a few days. We were still working on it a few months later.
The effect of the Tipping Point is seen in the new picture created after the change is implemented.
For example until the end of World War 1 Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire. They lost it and the League of Nations made it a British mandate. The British gave approximately 80% of its territory to the Arabs. This became Transjordan (now Jordan) leaving it with a mainly coastal area. In 1937 the British submitted proposals to the Jews and Arabs to split their territory between them. The Jews accepted, the Arabs refused. So, no change in this picture. Had the Arabs accepted the picture would have changed. In 1948 the United Nations proposed that the area be split between the Jews and Arabs. The Jews accepted, the Arabs refused and surrounding countries invaded for total control. The Arabs were defeated. The new picture gave revised boundaries to the Jews and Jordanians. The 1967 war saw Jordanian territory on the West Bank occupied by Israel and control over Gaza passing from Egypt to Israel. Again a new picture.
The 1948 war saw Palestinian refugees now living largely in Jordan. Many of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries settled in Israel. Thus population transfer took place, as with India and Pakistan. They created a new picture. The term ‘Jewish refugees’ vanished quickly and so the picture around them is different from the Palestinians.
The past 70+ have seen the inability of Israel and the surrounding Palestinians to come to a lasting peace agreement.
The future will tell of the effect of the Trump Peace proposals (starting 2018) will have any effect (see above and Appendix A). Reports have claimed that proposals to the Palestinian leadership have been rejected before being seen.
The Palestinian refugees appeared after the 1948 War of Independence between what is now Israel and the surrounding Arab states. They are the only refugee group of that period still in existence and the only worldwide refugee group that applies the hereditary principle and so their rapid expansion and why the original 700,000 is now over 5,000,000 – an increase of seven times despite the estimate that only 40 - 60,000 of the original refugees are still alive. Gaza claims to have 1,300,000 refugees in what is said to be one of the most densely populated area of the world. Using the existing rate of growth this will become almost 10,000,000 in 70 years' time.
There would have been no ‘Palestinian Refugee Problem’ had the Arab countries followed the same path as Jews leaving Arab countries – absorption as citizens – so there was no ‘Jewish Refugee problem’. Instead the Arab League decided they should not be absorbed but be used as a political weapon. Since then western countries have donated an incredible amount of money to support them and their administration.
The 1951 refugee convention has a lengthy definition of refugee that is personal: A refugee is a person who “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”
In 1965, UNRWA changed the eligibility requirements to be a Palestinian refugee to include third-generation descendants, and in 1982, it extended it again, to include all descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children, regardless of whether they had been granted citizenship elsewhere. This classification process is inconsistent with how all other refugees in the world are classified, including the definition used by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the laws concerning refugees in the United States.
Under Article I(c)(3) of the 1951 U.N. Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, a person is no longer a refugee if, for example, he or she has “acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of his new nationality.” UNRWA’s definition of a Palestinian refugee, which is not anchored in treaty, includes no such provision.(For more detail see UNWRA Has Changed the Definition of Refugee)
The Palestinians have had three major leaders - the Mufti of Jerusalem while Palestine was under British control. He was eventually expelled by the British. During World War 2 he sought an alliance with Hitler against the Jews. Yasser Arafat who led attacks on Israel and Black September against Jordan. After expulsion by Jordan he went to Lebanon from where he was eventually expelled. Later he refused to sign an accord with Israel at Camp David. The size of his bank balance, obtained through corruption, was seen after his death at his mansion in France. The current president Mohammed Abbas wrote an antisemitic thesis for his PhD in Russia. Corruption played/plays a major part in their leaderships lives. While they prosper Palestinian refugees suffer.
Why should Palestinian Refugees be different from refugees in all other countries? The Arab countries persuaded the UN to establish an organization to look after them (UNWRA). The following year the UN established another organization to look after all other refugees (UNHRC). Some questions since asked are why UNWRA didn’t become part of UNHRC and why western governments have donated such a high proportion of the annual UNWRA budget and Arab countries so little. (UNWRA and UNHCR)
Israel/Palestinian negotiations have always been held between leaderships with little success. Today most Palestinian refugees live in poor conditions, in 58 camps and as second class citizens by the Arab world. Those in other Arab countries are classified as second class citizens. ( The Palestinians Say ’No’ A New Future for the Palestinians (1) ).
The first stage of actioning a new ‘Tipping Point’ would be the abolition of UNWRA (Why UNWRA should be abolished). Arab countries would allow Palestinian Refugees to settle, delete legislation classifying them as second class citizens. (Effect of Arab Legal Discrimination) and stop calling them 'refugees'.
UNWRA has become the largest organization in Palestine and some Arab countries with 30,000 employees and a budget of over $1 billion per annum. It is often described as a mini state. Corruption helps it to survive. Most employees of the PLO and Hamas are employed by UNWRA. No UNWRA means no employment for many of them and their management. They are therefore solidly opposed to its abolition. Calls for its removal have been made for a long time (Why UNRWA Should be Abolished). Needs for refugees from all other countries are met by UNHCR. Palestinian refugees will then be on the same footing as refugees from other countries. Functions such as education will no longer be split between them and the state.
The Jews were expelled/fled/left the Arab countries. They were adopted as full citizens within a few years and have never become a ‘problem’. Today, they are often referred to as ‘The Lost People’ (see ‘Why Did the Jews Flee/Leave Arab Countries’)
SO WHAT CAN WE DO?
1. Review the appendices below
2. Go to
SUMMARY - JEWISH EXILES FROM ARAB COUNTRIES and PALESTINIAN REFUGEES
3. Review the information in the buttons
on the right hand side of the screen
4. Do any further research
5. Decide how you can be of most help
in bringing peace and prosperity to all in this area
KUSHNER SAID PUSHING TO CLOSE UNRWA,
END REFUGEE STATUS FOR PALESTINIAN MILLIONS
Report quotes Palestinian official saying US peace envoys asked Jordan to move toward halting UNRWA's operations there as part of wider apparent efforts to shutter agency
Times of Israel, TOI Staff, The Associated Press contributed to this report. 4 August 2018
Under Trump, the US has frozen hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, with the US president linking the decision to the Palestinians’ refusal to speak with his administration after he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
According to emails published Friday by Foreign Policy magazine, Kushner has been highly critical of UNRWA, with he and other White House officials weighing its closure as part of their peace efforts.
“It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA,” Kushner wrote in an email dated January 11, just days before the US froze $65 million in funding for UNRWA. “This [agency] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace.”
“Our goal can’t be to keep things stable and as they are… Sometimes you have to strategically risk breaking things in order to get there,” he added in the email, according to Foreign Policy.
Uniquely, UNRWA grants refugee status to all descendants of Palestinians who left or fled Israel with the establishment of the state in 1948, swelling the number to an estimated five million at present, when the number of actual refugees from that conflict is estimated to be in the low tens of thousands. In peace talks, the Palestinian leadership has always demanded a “right of return” to Israel for these millions — an influx that, if accepted by Israel, would spell the end of the Israel as a majority Jewish state.
Israel argues that the Palestinian demand is an UNRWA-facilitated effort to destroy Israel by demographic means. The Palestinians also seek an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Months of ongoing violent protests fueled by Hamas at the Gaza border with Israel were initiated under the banner of a “March of the Return,” and encouraged by Hamas leaders with the declared ultimate goal of erasing the border and destroying Israel.
Israel argues that an independent Palestinian state, if agreed upon in negotiations, would absorb Palestinian refugees and their descendants, just as Israel absorbed Jewish refugees from Middle Eastern and north African countries over the decades.
Palestinians collect food aid at a United Nations food distribution center in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on January 28, 2018. (Said Khatib/AFP)
In an email from later in January, an adviser to Jason Greenblatt — Trump’s Middle East peace envoy — suggested UNRWA’s closure as part of the US peace push.
“UNRWA should come up with a plan to unwind itself and become part of the UNHCR [UN High Commissioner for Refugees] by the time its charter comes up again in 2019,” wrote Victoria Coates.
Coates described the proposition as one of the “spitball ideas that I’ve had that are also informed by some thoughts I’ve picked up from Jared, Jason and Nikki,” referring to Haley, the US ambassador to the UN.
Other proposals raised were moving UNRWA to a monthly operating budget and coming up with “a plan to remove all anti-Semitism from educational materials.”
The report also quoted Palestinian officials saying Kushner and Greenblatt in June asked Jordan to remove the refugee status of some 2 million Palestinians in order to end UNRWA’s operations in the country.
“[Kushner said] the resettlement has to take place in the host countries and these governments can do the job that UNRWA was doing,” said Palestinian Liberation Organization official Hanan Ashrawi, according to Foreign Policy.
“They want to take a really irresponsible, dangerous decision and the whole region will suffer,” she added, claiming the White House wanted Gulf states to pick up the tab for whatever this would cost Jordan.
Saeb Erekat, speaks at the Haaretz and New Israel Fund conference at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York on December 13, 2015. (Amir Levy/Flash90)
Shortly after the reported request, top Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat accused Kushner and Greenblatt of seeking the “termination” of the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency.
“They want to terminate the role of UNRWA by proposing direct aid to the countries hosting the Palestinian refugees and sideline the UN agency,” Erekat said at the time. “On top of this, they are planning financial aid to the Gaza Strip worth one billion dollars for projects, also separate from UNRWA and under the title of solving a humanitarian crisis.”
He added: “All this is actually aimed at liquidating the issue of the Palestinian refugees.”
The White House would not directly comment on the Foreign Policy report, though an official told the magazine that the US position on UNRWA “has been under frequent evaluation and internal discussion. The administration will announce its policy in due course.”
Israel, which has also sometimes accused UNRWA of employing Palestinians who support terrorism, says UNRWA’s definition of Palestinian refugees helps to perpetuate the Palestinian narrative of Israeli illegitimacy. It notes that UNRWA’s policy of granting refugee status to the descendants of Palestinian refugees, even when they are born in other countries and have citizenship there, does not apply to the refugees cared for by the UN’s main refugee agency, UNHCR, which cares for all other refugees worldwide. The population of Palestinian refugees thus grows each year, even as other refugee populations in the world shrink with each passing generation.
A spokesman for the Israel Embassy in Washington, Elad Strohmayer, told Foreign Policy: “We believe that UNRWA needs to pass from the world as it is an organization that advocates politically against Israel and perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem.”
US President’s peace process envoy Jason Greenblatt, left, meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the President’s office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Tuesday, March 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
The Foreign Policy report came as US officials say the Trump administration is staffing up a Middle East policy team at the White House in anticipation of unveiling its long awaited but largely mysterious Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
The National Security Council last week began approaching other agencies seeking volunteers to join the team, which will work for peace pointmen Kushner and Greenblatt, according to the officials.
The creation of a White House team is the first evidence in months that a plan is advancing. Although Trump officials have long promised the most comprehensive package ever put forward toward resolving the conflict, the emerging plan has not been described with even a small amount of detail by Kushner, Greenblatt or any other official.
The Palestinian refugees have been led by terrorist organisations. Fatah, later known as the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) on the West Bank and HAMAS in Gaza from 2006/7
The Palestinians have had three leaders
MUHAMMAD AMIN AL HUSSEINI, THE GRAND MUFTI OF JERUSALEM,
Muhammad Amin al-Husayni (189?-1974) was the Mufti (chief Muslim Islamic legal religious authority) of Jerusalem under the political authority of the British Mandate in Palestine from 1921 to 1937. His primary political causes were:
1) establishment of a pan-Arab federation or state;
2) opposition to further immigration of Jews to Palestine and Jewish national aspirations in Palestine;
3) promotion of himself as a pan-Arab and Muslim religious leader.
In exile between 1937 and 1945, al-Husayni, claiming to speak for the Arab nation and the Muslim world, sought an alliance with the Axis powers (Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy) based on their publicly recognizing
1) the independence of the Arab states;
2) the right of those states to form a union reflecting a dominant Muslim and specifically Arab culture;
3) the right of those states to reverse steps taken towards the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine; and
4) al-Husayni himself as the spiritual and political representative of this pan-Arab, Muslim entity. In exchange, al-Husayni collaborated with the German and Italian governments by broadcasting pro-Axis, anti-British, and anti-Jewish propaganda via radio to the Arab world; inciting violence against Jews and the British authorities in the Middle East; and recruiting young men of Islamic faith for service in German military, Waffen-SS , and auxiliary units. In turn, the Germans and the Italians used al-Husayni as a tool to inspire support and collaboration among Muslim residents of regions under Axis control and to incite anti-Allied violence and rebellion among Muslims residing beyond the reach of German arms.
Despite his collaboration, the Axis powers were unwilling to promote al-Husayni's political ambitions as he wished. As the Nazi regime collapsed in 1945, French authorities took al-Husayni into custody. He escaped to Egypt in 1946. Al-Husayni devoted the remainder of his life to supporting Palestinian nationalism and to agitating against the State of Israel. He continued to produce and disseminate anti-Zionist, anti-Jewish, and anti-Israel propaganda. He died in Beirut, Lebanon, on July 4, 1974. See also Muhammad Amin Al Husseini, The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem,
Yasser Arafat - Top 10 Nobel Prize Controversies
Time, Jak Phillips Oct. 07, 2011
One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Whatever your views may be on Yasser Arafat, he is in fact a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Arafat scooped the gong in 1994 along with then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and then Foreign Minister Shimon Peres for their work on the Oslo accords, which created "opportunities for a new development toward fraternity in the Middle East." While his critics condemned the award, calling Arafat an "unrepentant terrorist with a long legacy of promoting violence," his supporters offered praise and compared the Palestinian leader to Nelson Mandela. As for his efforts toward fraternity in the Middle East: an uneasy relationship with Hamas, allegations of corruption and an aversion to compromise mean the ambitions of the Oslo accords were never fully realized.
Yasser Arafat - In Memorium
Time, Johanna McGeary, Dec. 19, 2004
The crude joke in Israel is that Yasser Arafat deserves a second Nobel Peace Prize for dying. Arafat, felled by a mysterious illness, had spent his early career championing the cause of Palestinian nationhood. But his final legacy was shaped by his refusal to accept compromises that could have achieved that dream. The kaffiyeh-clad fighter drove the Palestinian cause onto the global agenda through brute violence and canny propaganda. As a revolutionary in exile, he invented TV terrorism and tenaciously waged long-distance guerrilla war. Though Palestinians never stopped loving him for his devotion to their cause, they might have fared better under a more flexible ruler. When Arafat came home to the occupied territories as chairman of a constricted Palestinian Authority, he wasted the respect of his citizens with his corrupt, authoritarian rule. As a diplomat, he left a lamentable trail of missed opportunities. He wanted history to revere him as the founding father of Palestine, but his inability to renounce violence cost him and the Palestinians the international allies they needed to achieve independence. Israel and the U.S. finally cast him out as a negotiating partner. Small wonder, then, that those he led and those who loathed him see in his death the best chance in years to make peace
Mahmoud Abbas (Arabic: مَحْمُود عَبَّاس, Maḥmūd ʿAbbās; born 15 November 1935), also known by the kunya Abu Mazen (Arabic: أَبُو مَازِن, 'Abū Māzin), is the President of the State of Palestine and Palestinian National Authority. He has been the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) since 11 November 2004, and Palestinian president since 15 January 2005 (Palestinian National Authority since 15 January 2005, and State of Palestine since 8 May 2005). Abbas is a member of the Fatah party.
Abbas was elected on 9 January 2005 to serve as President of the Palestinian National Authority until 15 January 2009, but extended his term until the next election in 2010, citing the PLO constitution, and on December 16, 2009 was voted into office indefinitely by the PLO Central Council. As a result, Fatah's main rival, Hamas, initially announced that it would not recognize the extension or view Abbas as the rightful president. Yet, Abbas is internationally recognized and Hamas and Fatah conducted numerous negotiations in the following years, leading to an agreement in April 2014 over a Unity Government, which lasted until October 2016, and therefore to the recognition of his office by Hamas. Abbas was also chosen as the President of the State of Palestine by the Palestine Liberation Organization's Central Council on 23 November 2008, a position he had held unofficially since 8 May 2005.
Abbas served as the first Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority from March to September 2003. Before being named prime minister, Abbas led the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department.
(He is still the President of Palestine in 2018.)
His PhD thesis was written in Moscow in 1984 (Wikipedia)
The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism (Arabic: al-Wajh al-Akhar: al-'Alaqat as-Sirriya bayna an-Naziya wa's-Sihyuniya is a book by Mahmoud Abbas,published in 1984 in Arabic. It is based on his CandSc thesis, completed in 1982 at Patrice Lumumba University (now the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia) under the title The Connection between the Nazis and the Leaders of the Zionist Movement, and defended at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Soviet Academy of Sciences.
In the book, Abbas argues that the Nazi-perpetrated Holocaust had been exaggerated and that Zionists created "the myth" of six million murdered Jews, which he called a "fantastic lie". He further claimed that those Jews which were killed by the Nazis were actually the victims of a Zionist-Nazi plot aimed to fuel vengeance against Jews and to expand their mass extermination. The book also discussed topics such as the Haavara Agreement, in which the Third Reich agreed with the Jewish Agency to facilitate Jewish emigration from Germany to Mandate Palestine.
Portions of The Other Side have been considered as Holocaust denial by some critics, especially the parts disputing the accepted number of deaths in the Holocaust as well as the accusations that Zionist agitation was the cause of the Holocaust, a charge that Abbas denies.
When Abbas was appointed the Palestinian prime minister in 2003, he wrote that the "Holocaust was a terrible, unforgivable crime against the Jewish nation, a crime against humanity that cannot be accepted by humankind" and that he does not deny it, and said that "When I wrote The Other Side … we were at war with Israel. Today I would not have made such remarks". In 2014, he stated the Holocaust was the "most heinous crime in the modern era".
In 2013 Abbas reasserted part of his thesis to the extent that "the Zionist movement had ties with the Nazis".
JARED KUSHNER CRITICIZES ABBAS, QUESTIONING HIS ABILITY TO MAKE PEACE
New York Times David M. Halbfinger, June 24, 2018
JERUSALEM — Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser on the Middle East, said the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, was afraid to make peace with Israel, bore responsibility for the deteriorating situation in Gaza and was prioritizing his own political survival at the expense of his people’s needs.
Mr. Kushner, who is on a multination trip to the Middle East, made his comments in an interview published early Sunday by the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds. He said the Trump administration was “almost done” preparing its peace plan and would roll it out soon.
He appeared to be attempting to goad Mr. Abbas into talks the leader has vowed to boycott, while doing considerable pre-emptive damage control in the event that Mr. Abbas does not relent.
[Read the White House’s transcript of Jared Kushner’s interview.]
But Mr. Kushner offered little in the way of enticements to Mr. Abbas. Asked what the leaders of other Arab nations wanted to see in an Israel-Palestinian settlement, the White House aide mentioned nothing about a sovereign Palestinian state or of Palestinian refugees.
He also did not mention Israeli settlements on the West Bank or using the 1967 lines as a starting point to draw borders; and nothing about East Jerusalem serving as the Palestinian capital. He instead spoke of a potential Palestinian capital “in East Jerusalem.”
Mr. Kushner alluded to Arab nations’ desire that Al Aqsa Mosque “remain open to all Muslims who wish to worship” — but said nothing about its being in the custodianship of a Palestinian state, suggesting it could remain under Israeli control in the administration’s plan.
Mr. Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, had angrily rejected American-led negotiations after Mr. Trump reversed decades of United States policy in December by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Since then, Mr. Trump has cut aid for Palestinian refugees and moved the United States Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
Mr. Kushner’s interview, published on the website of Al Quds after Mr. Kushner met twice over two days in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, was replete with criticism of Mr. Abbas, the aging, unhealthy and highly unpopular Palestinian leader. A translation of the interview was released by the White House.
Asked by the newspaper’s editor, Walid Abu-Zalaf, about an Abbas spokesman’s dismissal of Mr. Kushner’s trip as a “waste of time” that was “bound to fail,” Mr. Kushner said he believed Palestinian leaders were “saying those things because they are scared we will release our peace plan and the Palestinian people will actually like it.”
Mr. Kushner questioned Mr. Abbas’s flexibility and capacity to make peace, and said the “global community” was frustrated with Mr. Abbas. “He has his talking points, which have not changed in the last 25 years,” Mr. Kushner said. He added: “To make a deal, both sides will have to take a leap and meet somewhere between their stated positions. I am not sure President Abbas has the ability to do that.”
Mr. Abbas has raged at the Trump administration, Mr. Kushner observed, but he questioned whose interests that served.
“There are a lot of sharp statements and condemnations, but no ideas or efforts with prospects of success,” Mr. Kushner said. “Those who are more skeptical say President Abbas is only focused on his political survival and cementing a legacy of not having compromised, than on bettering the lives of the Palestinian people.”
Mr. Abbas was elected for the first and only time in 2005 to a four-year term, and recent polls show a majority of Palestinians believe he should resign. Mr. Kushner alluded to this unpopularity, saying: “I don’t think the Palestinian people feel like their lives are getting better, and there is only so long you can blame that on everyone other than Palestinian leadership.”
Mr. Kushner said the Trump administration was determined to find solutions to the “core issues” of the conflict — including Jerusalem, borders and refugees — “that both sides can live with.” But he said that “without creating a pathway to better life,” no solution would be durable.
Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has angrily rejected American-led peace negotiations, saying the Trump administration cannot be a neutral mediator. CreditAbbas Momani/Agence France-Presse — Getty Image
To that end, he said his team had “spent our time focusing on the people and trying to determine what they actually want,” which he said was “more and better-paying jobs and prospects for a better life.”
He suggested that could involve “massive investments in modern infrastructure, job training and economic stimulus,” could allow the “industrious, well-educated” Palestinian population to leapfrog to the forefront of the “technological industrial revolution” and said Palestinians would particularly benefit from integrating their economy with that of Israel, “the Silicon Valley of the Middle East.”
“Israeli’s prosperity would spill over very quickly to the Palestinians if there is peace,” he said, and Egypt and Jordan would also see a windfall.
Dennis Ross, a veteran Middle East peace negotiator, said Mr. Kushner’s conjuring of an economic leap forward for Palestinians could be “appealing,” but he warned that leaders of neighboring Arab countries would require a political compromise between Israel and the Palestinians to be able to support an American-led deal.
“Arab leaders need to be able to justify their position by pointing to what the Palestinians would be getting and what is important to Arab audiences,” he said. “That certainly suggests something credible from their standpoint on Jerusalem and a Palestinian state.”
“There is a challenge to Abu Mazen here,” Mr. Ross added, referring to Mr. Abbas and the overall tone of Mr. Kushner’s remarks. “But the door is open to him, as well.”
Notably, Mr. Kushner did not mention Mr. Abbas’s counterpart, Mr. Netanyahu, or offer any criticism of the Israeli side. Mr. Abbas and his advisers have complained that the Trump administration has dispensed with any pretense that the United States can be a neutral mediator of the conflict and has essentially taken Israel’s side.
Indeed, Saeb Erekat, the Palestinians’ chief negotiator, said that Mr. Kushner’s description of the American plan could have been drafted by the right-wing Israeli government. Mr. Erekat said in an interview, “That is verbatim what we heard from Netanyahu.”
Mr. Erekat said that he had repeatedly asked Mr. Kushner to facilitate direct talks between the Palestinians and Israelis, but that Mr. Kushner had rebuffed him.
“They want to dictate a solution, not negotiate it,” Mr. Erekat said. “He’s trying to blame us, that’s it — he’s trying to show that the Palestinians want away from the table. They’re preparing the ground for finger-pointing and assigning blame on us.”
In the interview, Mr. Kushner laid considerable responsibility for the deterioration of the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the militant Islamic group Hamas, at the feet of Mr. Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade of the coastal enclave for more than a decade, but Mr. Abbas imposed harshly punitive financial measures in the past year, including cutting the salaries of tens of thousands of civil servants in Gaza.
“The political dysfunction, greatly exacerbated by the P.A.’s salary cuts, has made Gaza ungovernable,” Mr. Kushner said. “It’s time for the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to stop using the people of Gaza as pawns.”
Mr. Kushner welcomed the idea of a referendum on a peace plan as a way to bypass recalcitrant leaders in both the West Bank and Jerusalem. “That’s something that the leadership of both sides should consider doing,” he said.
Rhetorically, at least, he spent much of the interview appealing to ordinary Palestinians to give the Trump administration’s proposal a fair hearing.
“Don’t let your leadership reject a plan they haven’t even seen,” he said. “The world has moved forward while you have been left behind. Don’t allow your grandfather’s conflict to determine your children’s future.”
Follow David M. Halbfinger on Twitter: @halbfinger.
THE COVENANT OF THE HAMAS - MAIN POINTS
The Hamas Covenant or Hamas Charter, formally known in English as the Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement, was originally issued on 18 August 1988 and outlines the founding identity, stand, and aims of Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Movement). A new charter was issued by Hamas leader Khaled Mashal on 1 May 2017 in Doha.
The original Charter identified Hamas as the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine and declares its members to be Muslims who "fear God and raise the banner of Jihad in the face of the oppressors." The charter states that "our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious" and calls for the eventual creation of an Islamic state in Palestine, in place of Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and the obliteration or dissolution of Israel. It emphasizes the importance of jihad, stating in article 13, "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors." The charter also states that Hamas is humanistic, and tolerant of other religions as long as they "stop disputing the sovereignty of Islam in this region".
The Charter adds that "renouncing any part of Palestine
means renouncing part of the religion" of Islam.
The 2017 charter accepted for the first time the idea of a Palestinian state within the borders that existed before 1967 and rejects recognition of Israel which it terms as the "Zionist enemy". It advocates such a state as transitional but also advocates "liberation of all of Palestine". The new document also states that the group doesn't seek war with the Jewish people but only against Zionism which it holds responsible for "occupation of Palestine".
Mashal also stated that Hamas was ending its association with the Muslim Brotherhood
EXCERPTS FROM THE HAMAS COVENANT:
Goals of the HAMAS:
'The Islamic Resistance Movement is a distinguished Palestinian movement, whose allegiance is to Allah, and whose way of life is Islam. It strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.' (Article 6)
On the Destruction of Israel:
'Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.' (Preamble)
The Exclusive Moslem Nature of the Area:
'The land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf [Holy Possession] consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgment Day. No one can renounce it or any part, or abandon it or any part of it.' (Article 11)
'Palestine is an Islamic land... Since this is the case, the Liberation of Palestine is an individual duty for every Moslem wherever he may be.' (Article 13)
The Call to Jihad:
'The day the enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem. In the face of the Jews' usurpation, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised.' (Article 15)
'Ranks will close, fighters joining other fighters, and masses everywhere in the Islamic world will come forward in response to the call of duty, loudly proclaiming: 'Hail to Jihad!'. This cry will reach the heavens and will go on being resounded until liberation is achieved, the invaders vanquished and Allah's victory comes about.' (Article 33)
Rejection of a Negotiated Peace Settlement:
'[Peace] initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement... Those conferences are no more than a means to appoint the infidels as arbitrators in the lands of Islam... There is no solution for the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility.' (Article 13)
Condemnation of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty:
'Egypt was, to a great extent, removed from the circle of struggle [against Zionism] through the treacherous Camp David Agreement. The Zionists are trying to draw other Arab countries into similar agreements in order to bring them outside the circle of struggle.
...Leaving the circle of struggle against Zionism is high treason, and cursed be he who perpetrates such an act.' (Article 32)
'The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: 'O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.' (Article 7)
'The enemies have been scheming for a long time ... and have accumulated huge and influential material wealth. With their money, they took control of the world media... With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the globe... They stood behind the French Revolution, the Communist Revolution and most of the revolutions we hear about... With their money they formed secret organizations - such as the Freemasons, Rotary Clubs and the Lions - which are spreading around the world, in order to destroy societies and carry out Zionist interests... They stood behind World War I and formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains... There is no war going on anywhere without them having their finger in it.' (Article 22)
'Zionism scheming has no end, and after Palestine, they will covet expansion from the Nile to the Euphrates River. When they have finished digesting the area on which they have laid their hand, they will look forward to more expansion. Their scheme has been laid out in the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion'.' (Article 32)
'The HAMAS regards itself the spearhead and the vanguard of the circle of struggle against World Zionism... Islamic groups all over the Arab world should also do the same, since they are best equipped for their future role in the fight against the warmongering Jews.' (Article 32)
The Muslim Brotherhood’s presence in the Palestinian territories dates back to the 1960s, when the group established a set of charities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. From the 1960s to the 1980s, the Brotherhood continued to amass support within the Palestinian territories. In 1987, a group of Brotherhood activists established a formal Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood, Hamas.* Hamas maintains that it operates independently of the Brotherhood,* publicly disavowing the Brotherhood in March 2016.* Nevertheless, Hamas and the Brotherhood have cooperated in recent years, particularly during the Egyptian Brotherhood’s year in power. Further, Hamas continues to label itself in its charter as “one of the wings of the Moslem Brotherhood in Palestine.” According to the charter, the Brotherhood is “a universal organization…. The largest Islamic Movement in modern times.”* On May 1, 2017, Hamas convened a press conference in Qatar to unveil a new policy document, the first since the release of its organizational charter in 1988. However, the revised document does not replace the original 1988 charter, which remains in effect with its linkage to the Brotherhood.*Moreover, the new language has no bearing on Hamas’s commitment to violent “armed resistance” against Israel, and the “liberation” of all of Palestine “from the river to the sea.”*
Hamas is responsible for hundreds of terrorist attacks against Israel, and is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States* and the European Union,* among other governments and organizations. In 2006, Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza, to which the so-called quartet of Middle East peacemakers—the United States, European Union, United Nations, and Russia—responded by demanding that Hamas renounce violence, formally recognize the State of Israel, and abide by past agreements between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in order to receive international recognition.* Hamas has refused to comply and ousted its political opponent, Fatah, from Gaza the following year.* Hamas has since run the coastal enclave separately from the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, which maintains control over the West Bank.*
Hamas’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood have strained its relations with Egypt’s government led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Following the 2013 overthrow of Egypt’s Brotherhood government, Egypt has increasingly cracked down on Hamas. In late 2013, the Egyptian army closed most of the underground smuggling tunnels beneath the Gaza-Egypt border, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars in revenue.* In 2014, Egyptian courts labeled Hamas a terrorist organization, although the designation was later overturned.*
In June 2015, Egypt’s chief prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, died in a car bombing in Cairo. The Egyptian government later accused Hamas of coordinating the assassination with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.* As part of spring 2016 discussions to repair their relationship, Egypt demanded that Hamas renounce the Brotherhood ahead of any rapprochement.* In March 2016, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denied any links between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.* Egypt also accuses Hamas of facilitating terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula.*Despite the accusation, Egypt and Hamas have reportedly agreed to cooperate to enhance security along the Gaza-Egypt border in a joint effort to weaken ISIS’s Egyptian affiliate there, Wilayat Sinai.*
In addition to ties with the Egyptian Brotherhood, Hamas also reportedly maintains a relationship with the Jordanian Brotherhood. Former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, for example, was believed to maintain a close relationship with Jordanian Brotherhood leader Hammam Saeed.* Saeed has publicly supported Hamas’s violent activities, and criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for curtailing the Palestinian “armed struggle.”* Israel has accused the Jordanian Brotherhood of providing material support to Hamas.* In November 2014, Jordanian authorities arrested members of a suspected Brotherhood cell that was allegedly passing weapons and money to suspected terrorists in the West Bank.*
Hamas continues to remain in power in the Gaza Strip. Despite its claims to have severed ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas is deeply rooted in the Brotherhood and the groups remain ideologically linked.
The Palestinians want nothing to do with President Trump's plan: they know it will never satisfy their demands. The Palestinians are not opposed to the peace plan because of a dispute over a border or a settlement or a checkpoint or the status of Jerusalem. They are against Trump's plan -- and any other peace initiative -- because the Palestinians have something else in mind.
The two Palestinian parties, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, may disagree on everything -- except the elimination of Israel. The only peace plan acceptable to current Palestinian leaders would be one that facilitated their mission of pursuing jihad against Israel to obliterate it.
If Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt wish to learn more about the true ambitions of the Palestinians, they would do well to take in a sermon at a mosque on some Friday or stop into a school in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Perhaps then they would see for themselves that no peace plan in the world can, at the moment, counter the poison that is injected daily into the hearts and minds of the Palestinians and their children.
The Palestinians have never laid eyes on US President Donald Trump's plan for peace in the Middle East. The Palestinians know nothing about the plan, which still has not been made public.
That fact, however, has not stopped them from categorically rejecting the yet-to-be-announced plan -- a stance the Palestinians repeated this week as US Middle East envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt visited Israel and a number of Arab countries to discuss the plan.
The Trump plan has not even been finalized and, as such, has not officially been presented to any of the parties to the Israeli-Arab conflict. Kushner and Greenblatt have been working on the plan for several months; their current tour of the region comes in the context of Jordan and Egypt.
It is only the Palestinians who are boycotting the US administration. In the past six months, the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership has refused to have any dealings with the US administration -- except, of course, when it comes to receiving financial aid from the US. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his senior associates in Ramallah have not only refused to meet with any official from the US administration, they have also been waging a smear campaign of hate and incitement against President Trump and top US administration representatives and officials.
Most of the Palestinian attacks have thus far been directed against Trump's "Jewish and Zionist" advisors, including Kushner, Greenblatt and US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.
In the past six months, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his senior associates have not only refused to meet with any official from the US administration, they have also been waging a smear campaign of hate and incitement against President Trump and top US officials.
The vicious attacks on Trump and the senior US administration officials have also been accompanied by statements from Abbas and other Palestinian officials concerning the US president's Middle East peace plan. In these statements, the Palestinians have not only voiced their rejection of the plan that does not yet exist, but have also, on almost a daily basis, been condemning it, dubbing it a "conspiracy" designed to eliminate Palestinian rights. In the most recent Palestinian attack on the plan, Palestinian Authority leaders are now claiming that it is actually aimed at "dividing the Palestinian people" by establishing two separate Palestinian entities -- one in the West Bank and another in the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian position regarding this unseen Trump plan, is largely based on rumors and media speculation. Palestinian officials have admitted that they get their information mostly from the media.
So, the Palestinians have rejected something they know nothing about. What, then, is bothering the Palestinians about the Trump plan or any other peace initiative? Attempts by the US administration to arrange meetings with PA leaders in Ramallah to consult with them about the proposed plan have fallen on deaf ears. The Palestinians express zero interest in even seeing if they might find something good in the plan.
The Palestinians want nothing to do with Trump's plan: they know it will never satisfy their demands. The Palestinians are not opposed to the peace plan because of a dispute over a border or a settlement or a checkpoint or the status of Jerusalem. They are against Trump's plan -- and any other peace initiative -- because the Palestinians have something else in mind.
The kind of "peace" that the Palestinians are seeking is one that no peace initiative would ever provide. The Palestinians want a peace without, not with, Israel. The reason the Palestinians have a problem with the Trump plan is that they see it as an obstacle to their plan to eliminate Israel. The Palestinians know that the Trump plan -- regardless of its details -- will not facilitate their mission to destroy Israel. The Palestinians, in fact, see any peace plan presented to them - whether by Trump or anyone else - as an obstacle hindering their effort and dream to continue the jihad (holy war) against Israel and Jews. They do not want to have to say "No" to the Trump Administration; it is safer just to duck the issue, stall and buy time until a friendlier US administration comes along.
When the Palestinians denounce the Trump plan as a "conspiracy," they mean that this is a US conspiracy to thwart their efforts to annihilate Israel. What the Palestinians are saying is: "Who are these Americans to come and preach to us about peace with the Jews living here when our real goal is to drive the Jews out of this land?"
In the summer of 2000, Yasser Arafat walked out of the Camp David summit (with President William Jefferson Clinton and then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak) after realizing that the proposals on the table did not satisfy the Palestinian aspirations and dreams – of destroying Israel. What Arafat wanted was Israel to give him control over the entire West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. What he wanted was to establish a Palestinian state on these territories so that the Palestinians could use it as a launching pad to "liberate the rest of Palestine" – that is, to destroy Israel. When a furious Arafat realized that he would not get what he wanted, he returned to Ramallah and incited Palestinians to wage against Israel another wave of terrorism, called the Second Intifada.
Now Mahmoud Abbas is sitting in Arafat's seat. Abbas does not like the Trump peace plan, sight unseen: he knows that it will not advance his goal of fulfilling the "phased solution," in which Palestinians would take land bit by bit of and use it as launching pads to pursue the jihad against Israel.
The Palestinian position is and has been very clear: Israel must give us as much land as possible so that we can continue to build our power, force and energies to continue the struggle to achieve our ultimate goal – eliminating Israel. The Trump plan, as far as Abbas and his associates are concerned, is a bad deal because it does not require Israel to surrender completely and abandon territories that would be later occupied by Hamas, Islamic State, Iran and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
There is only one peace plan that the Palestinians will accept; it is the plan that enables them to achieve the "phased solution" of wiping Israel off the face of the earth.
Abbas is opposed to Trump's plan because Abbas wants a temporary Palestinian state that would be used in the future as a launching pad for Arab armies and Palestinian and Islamist terror groups to wage attacks on Israel. The Trump plan, as far as he is concerned, does not take into consideration the Palestinian dream of eliminating Israel -- and this omission goes way over his red lines.
The world already saw what happened the last time Israel gave Abbas land. That was in 2005, when Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip and handed it over to Abbas and his security forces.
Within a few months, Abbas and his cronies fled the Gaza Strip after Hamas and had thrown Palestinian Authority members to their deaths from the top floors of tall buildings, and handed the entire area over to Hamas. The rest, as they say, is history. If Israel withdraws from the West Bank, the same scenario would likely repeat itself there. This time, however, Hamas would take over the West Bank not within months, but days or weeks.
In addition, no Palestinian leader is in a position to accept any peace agreement with Israel -- especially not after both Abbas in the West bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip have spent an entire lifetime radicalizing their people against Israel through incitement and indoctrination.
Decades of incitement in mosques and in the media have turned Israel, in the eyes of most Palestinians, into one large settlement that needs to be uprooted. Consequently, the Palestinian public is not prepared to hear about any peace plan, not from Trump and not even from Prophet Mohammed.
The Palestinians have a problem with Israel's presence in the Middle East: most of them have still not come to terms with the Jews' right to live in a secure and sovereign state of their own anywhere in the Middle East.
Undoubtedly, Trump and his envoys come with the best intentions about making peace between Arabs and Jews in our part of the world. However, what they do not seem to see, however, is that as things stand today, there is no partner on the Palestinian side for any deal with Israel.
The Palestinians are divided into camps -- one that openly states that it does not want to make peace with Israel because its goal is to destroy Israel and replace it with an Islamic state, and a second camp that, even if it wanted to make peace with Israel – and it does not – could never do it because it has trained its own people to accept only a mandate for murder.
The first camp is called the "radical camp." This is the camp that is opposed to Israel's presence in the Middle East.
The second camp is what the Palestinians call the "Abbas camp," which is corrupt and weak and sends conflicting messages to its people and speaks in more than one voice.
The two Palestinian parties, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, may disagree on everything -- except the elimination of Israel. The only peace plan acceptable to current Palestinian leaders would be one that facilitated their mission of pursuing jihad against Israel to obliterate it.
If Kushner and Greenblatt wish to learn more about the true ambitions of the Palestinians, they would do well to take in a sermon at a mosque on some Friday or stop into a school in the West Bank.
Gatestone Institute, Bassam Tawil July 12, 2018
For years, Palestinian leaders have been complaining that the Gaza Strip was "on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe." Time and again, they have warned that unless the world helps the Palestinians living there, the Gaza Strip will "erupt like a volcano."
Israel and the US are now offering to help improve the living conditions of the Palestinians living under Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip. But guess who is fiercely opposed to any attempt to resolve the "humanitarian and economic crisis" in the coastal enclave, home to some two million Palestinians? Answer: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his ruling Fatah faction.
In the past few weeks, both Israel and the US administration have come up with different ideas to help the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip.
US envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, who recently visited the Middle East, are said to have presented initiatives that included providing necessities such as electricity, desalinating drinking water, employment opportunities and reviving the industrial zone in the Gaza Strip.
Israel, for its part, has asked Cyprus to consider the possibility of establishing a seaport on the island for shipping goods to the Gaza Strip. According to reports, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has reached an understanding with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to pursue the port plan. Liberman's office said that Israel is working internationally in a number of ways to try to "change the reality" in the Gaza Strip.
One would think that the Palestinian leaders would be extremely happy about these initiatives to alleviate the suffering of their people in the Gaza Strip. The plans to improve the living conditions of the residents of the Gaza Strip should be music to the ears of the Palestinian Authority leadership, right? Wrong.
What, exactly, is behind this mystifying desire on the part of the Palestinian leaders to deny their people a shot at a decent life? Why does the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, which claims that it cares about the well-being of all Palestinians, vehemently oppose any plan to create job opportunities and other forms of aid for its people?
LET US TAKE IT STEP BY STEP.
First, Abbas and his West Bank-based government seek to prolong the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip so that they can continue damning Israel for the crisis. They want the international community to continue to believe that Israel is responsible for the ongoing, intense suffering of the Palestinians. Difficult as it appears to for the global community to grasp, however, Israel's maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip is aimed solely at preventing the smuggling of weapons into the coastal enclave. The border between the Gaza Strip and Israel remains open for delivering food and humanitarian and medical aid into Gaza.
The border between Israel and the Gaza Strip remains open for delivering food and humanitarian and medical aid into Gaza.
(Image source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Second, the Palestinian Authority and its leaders are opposed to any humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip because they fear that this would embolden Hamas by encouraging it to maintain its tight grip on the Gaza Strip and absolving it of its responsibilities towards the residents living there. Once others start providing the residents of the Gaza Strip with aid, Hamas would be able to continue investing millions of dollars in building tunnels to attack Israel and smuggling more weapons into the Gaza Strip. Hamas would no longer have to worry about paying salaries to Palestinians or purchasing medicine and food.
The Palestinian Authority is hoping that conditions in the Gaza Strip will get so bad that the Palestinians there will rise up against Hamas. It is worth noting that the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah itself has imposed severe sanctions on the Gaza Strip in the past year.
These punitive measures include halting payments to thousands of civil servants and suspending social welfare assistance to hundreds of families. The sanctions have triggered a wave of protests throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip in recent weeks, prompting Abbas's security forces to use force to disperse the protesters.
Third, the Palestinian Authority leadership are assuring us that the Israeli and US plans to help the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip are part of a wider "conspiracy" to force the Palestinians to accept US President Donald Trump's yet-to-be-unveiled plan for peace in the Middle East.
Abbas and his senior officials are using this issue to whip up anti-American and anti-Israel sentiments among the Palestinian population. They are telling the Palestinians that the economic and humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip are primarily designed to extract "political concessions" from the Palestinians. Their argument: The Palestinians would be required to give up their "national rights," including the "right of return" for refugees and their descendants to their former homes in Israel proper, in exchange for improving their living conditions.
Palestinian Authority leaders are inciting their people by telling them that the US and Israel are seeking to "blackmail" the Palestinians. Consider, for example, what Abbas's Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah, said on July 5: "We won't accept any plan to turn our national rights into humanitarian or financial rights. We have fixed political, historical and legal rights that are non-negotiable."
Another senior Abbas loyalist, Mahmoud Al-Aloul, was quoted on July 2 as saying: "We don't want your flour and wheat; we don't want your humanitarian aid."
And note another recent statement, made by Al-Aloul, who serves as Abbas's deputy in Fatah and is touted as the next Palestinian Authority president: "We are prepared to starve, but we can't, in return for resolving our humanitarian issues, give up Jerusalem and our basic rights."
The message should be obvious – after all, it is being broadcast loud and clear: Palestinian leaders would prefer to see their people starve than make any form of concessions for peace with Israel.
Yet Al-Aloul and Abbas are not the ones who are facing starvation. Life in Ramallah and the rest of the West Bank is pretty good for Abbas and his senior entourage. Unlike the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Authority leaders enjoy freedom of movement and live in luxury apartments and villas. There is nothing more comfortable than sitting in your fashionable house in Ramallah or Nablus and talking about starvation and humanitarian aid.
When Al-Aloul and other senior Palestinian leaders talk about the harsh conditions in the Gaza Strip, they conveniently forget to mention that it is, in part, their own sanctions that have aggravated the crisis there. But the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, who are desperate for jobs and a better life, do not really care about Trump's upcoming peace plan.
They also do not really care about a settlement or a checkpoint in the West Bank. Abbas and his officials seem dead-set to pursue their jihad against Israel and the US at the expense of the last surviving Palestinian. They go on selling their people old slogans about "national rights and principles and Jerusalem" while watching them die in the streets.
The final lesson to be drawn from the statements of the Palestinian Authority leaders against plans to improve the living conditions of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not about economic or humanitarian issues.
By insisting on all Palestinian " national rights," including the "right of return," and by refusing to recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, the Palestinians are in fact signaling that their true goal is to see Israel removed from the Middle East. How do we know that they want to destroy Israel? Abbas says he sees Israel as a "colonialist project that has nothing to do with Judaism."
This statement means that he does not see Israel as a legitimate state. Abbas and his officials do not care about the suffering of their people in the Gaza Strip because they are hoping to use the crisis there to pursue their campaign to delegitimize Israel. Hamas, for its part, is clearly stating that it will not give up its dream of "liberating Palestine, from the river to the sea," even if that means the starvation and death of its people. Both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas could have ensured a better life for their people a long time ago, but this is not what is on their mind. They care less about their people and more about finding ways to undermine and delegitimize and demonize Israel and Jews.
Abbas and his loyalists are saying in easy-to-understand language: "You can give us as much money as you want, we will not change our stance towards Israel and we will not give up any of our demands." In this regard, at least, they are telling the truth.
This conflict is not about money or economic aid. It is about the existence of Israel, whose presence the Palestinians refuse to tolerate in the Middle East.
This is the essence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: The Palestinians' number one priority -- the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinians in general -- is destroying Israel. They would rather die than give up their dream of destroying Israel.
Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.
Palestinian factions need to reinvent themselves and find successful strategies
to give the public hope, analysts say.
Al Jazeera Jonathan Cook, 12 May 2018
The Palestinian national movement, which has led the decades-long struggle against Israel's takeover of Palestine, has reached the lowest ebb in its history, according to analysts.
But as Palestinians mark this week the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, the "Catastrophe" that followed the dispossession of their homeland and the creation of Israel in its place, there are signs of possible change.
For more than a quarter of a century, the Palestinian movement has been split into two increasingly irreconcilable ideological factions, Fatah and Hamas - now reflected in a profound geographical division between their respective strongholds of the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
Both camps have not only failed to bring about any significant achievements, say analysts, but illegal Jewish settlements have steadily spread across the West Bank and a 12-year blockade, bolstered by Israeli military attacks, has choked Gaza into a humanitarian disaster.
There is no tangible regional or international support for the Palestinian cause, and the Trump administration barely bothers to conceal its role now as a cheerleader for Israel.
That includes a decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem this week, effectively recognising Israel's claim on a city Palestinians regard as their future capital.
"The Palestinian national movement has moved beyond crisis to the point of bankruptcy," said Ghassan Khatib, a former cabinet minister in the Palestinian Authority (PA), and now a lecturer at Bir Zeit University, near Ramallah.
"Neither the armed resistance of Hamas nor the diplomacy of Fatah has made any gains," he told Al Jazeera. "They are failed governments, and the public is deeply dissatisfied."
The dire situation has left observers wondering whether the Palestinian national movement can reinvent itself and find more successful strategies over the coming years and decades.
Both Fatah and Hamas are preparing for major demonstrations, hoping to bring attention to decades of oppressive Israeli rule.
But the events are also likely to underscore how much ground they have lost to Israel - and how the pressure for new thinking is coming from the ground up, not from the leadership.
Recent weeks have seen regular protests at Gaza's perimeter fence attracting tens of thousands of Palestinians and dominated by young people. The emphasis has been on direct, non-violent mass action, spurning the high-level diplomacy of Fatah and Hamas' traditional commitment to armed resistance.
Although the Gaza protests - under the banner of the Great March of Return –-were not initiated by Hamas, it had shown a willingness to support them, noted Diana Buttu, a former legal adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
"Hamas has recognised the utility of the marches," she told Al Jazeera. "It adopted them rather than crushed them. The hope must be that Fatah will soon realise this too - that they understand there is utility to people resisting."
Ahmed Al-Naouq, a youth activist in Gaza, pointed out that the focus of the protests was the demand that the refugees - a large majority of Gaza's population - be allowed to return to the lands, now in Israel, they were expelled from in 1948.
"In Gaza, we are more creative and flexible in our thinking because we have no other choice. We want to break out of this prison," he told Al Jazeera.
"My father worked for many years inside Israel. We are ready to live alongside Israeli Jews in peace – they need to set aside their fears."
Nathan Thrall, a local analyst with the International Crisis Group, a conflict resolution organisation based in Washington and Brussels, pointed out that the Gaza protests were returning the Palestinian struggle to its historical roots.
"Even before the founding of the PLO, the central issue in Palestinian nationalism was the refugees - more so than the 1967 issue [of the occupation]," he told Al Jazeera.
The right of the 750,000 Palestinians made refugees by the 1948 war and their descendants to return to their ancestral lands originally lay at the heart of the platforms of all the political parties," he said.
"The national movement slowly compromised on that."
Under the Oslo process launched in 1993, it was widely assumed that the refugees, if they returned at all, would move to a separate and minimal Palestinian state rather than their former towns and villages.
"There was an intentional ambiguity: the leadership talked about the right of return at the same time as it promoted the two-state solution, even though the two principles appear contradictory," said Thrall.
But the Palestinians' historic compromise had turned into a dead-end.
"The two-state idea was never seen as ideal. No one marches for it or is prepared to sacrifice their life for it," he said.
"But that pragmatism has yielded no results and has led to great popular disenchantment. Now ordinary people are going back to the roots of the Palestinian issue."
That appears to return Palestinian nationalism to its original vision of a single state, as long propounded by the PLO under its leader Yasser Arafat.
He only accepted the partition of historical Palestine in the late 1980s, faced with overwhelming western pressure.
"It is significant that there has been a steady increase in support for one state among the Palestinian public, now at around 30 percent," Buttu said.
"That is surprising, given that today, not one Palestinian party, in the West Bank and Gaza or the 48 areas [of Israel], publicly supports it."
Even Hamas, she said, had effectively followed Fatah and abandoned its traditional goal of Palestinian-Islamic rule over all of historical Palestine.
"Gradually Hamas has adopted the two-state formula, plus, in its case, a long-term truce with Israel," Buttu said.
In an indication of Hamas' growing desire to compromise, Israeli media reported this month that "unprecedented strategic distress" had led the movement to offer Israel a truce in return for easing the blockade and allowing it to rebuild Gaza's infrastructure.
What was evident, said Khatib, was a "critical gap" between the national leaderships and Palestinian public opinion, especially among the youth.
The latter was increasingly interested in popular, non-violent struggle as a way to break out of the Palestinians' isolation.
"But there are strong vested interests that will try to maintain the current situation," he said, pointing to the Palestinians' dependence on foreign donors, Israel's control over the transfer of income to the PA, and, in turn, the vast number of families relying on PA salaries.
"Neither Fatah nor Hamas are in a position to advance popular struggle. They are bureaucratic governments, with structures, leaders and ideologies that militate against non-violence as a tactic."
But Khatib and others admit that change is likely to happen - some think rapidly - once 82-year-old Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas departs the scene.
Asad Ghanem, a politics professor at Haifa University, said ending the factionalism was a precondition for turning the different parties into an effective vehicle of national struggle.
"There must be a unified national movement," he told Al Jazeera.
"The PA has to stop being the security contractor for Israel. Then we can solve the real problems. We must demand an elected and unified leadership with a single platform."
The biggest problem currently facing the Palestinian national movement, said Buttu, was that, despite its various institutions, it was dominated by one person in the figure of Abbas.
"Abbas has made all these institutions irrelevant, and they have allowed themselves to become irrelevant," she said.
"That has entirely marginalised other approaches, like boycotts and the one-state solution. It has ensured the alternatives can't be effective."
She noted that Abbas had all but ignored imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti during the Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike last summer.
Barghouti is widely reported to be a student of non-violent strategies of resistance like those of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. He is said to have found support among the jailed leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
"Look at the difference between the way the ANC [in South Africa] kept attention on Nelson Mandela while he was in jail," said Buttu.
"They made sure people knew who he was. But Abbas has done his best to extinguish Barghouti, so young people barely know who he is after so many years behind bars.
"The prisoners are a hugely powerful and symbolic issue for Palestinians, and yet Abbas has preferred not to capitalise on it."
With Abbas gone, Thrall thinks Fatah and Hamas may be capable of adapting to new thinking. "But they will do so only if there is a groundswell of popular sentiment that forces them to," he said.
He pointed to the decisions in January of the PLO's Central Council to urge the ending of security cooperation with Israel, which Abbas has previously termed "sacred", and to adopt the anti-apartheid-like struggle of the boycott (BDS) movement, even though it conflicts with Abbas's strategy.
Thrall said the moves reflected pressure, in the case of security cooperation, from the Palestinian public and, in the case of BDS, from civil society organisations in the West Bank and Gaza.
Buttu noted that Palestinians were still conducting popular forms of struggle, despite the lack of institutional support.
"Look to the Ahed Tamimis," she said, referring to the 17-year-old girl arrested and jailed for slapping an Israeli soldier who invaded her home.
"She isn't choosing to be a teenager like her peers around the world. She chooses to resist; she is defiant like the rest of her village of Nabi Saleh. The same is true of those marching in Gaza.
"At the moment they have to operate as one-offs, because of the failure of the bigger political structures."
Thrall observed that what happens in occupied East Jerusalem could prove decisive. Israel, he noted, was extremely concerned about large numbers of Palestinians there seeking Israeli citizenship and voting in city elections.
"If a majority starts applying for citizenship that could prove to be a deadly blow to a two-state solution, and it could happen very rapidly," he said.
"Then the PA would no longer speak on behalf of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, which is supposed the future Palestinian capital."
That might be the point at which Palestinians were driven into mass protests for equal rights in a single state, along the lines of a civil rights or anti-apartheid struggle.
Buttu agrees that Israel could be gravely mistaken in thinking it has crushed Palestinian nationalism.
"I often wonder what it looked like in Algeria in the 1930s or 40s, or in South Africa in the early 1980s," she said.
"The French in Algeria and apartheid's leaders in South Africa thought they had the situation wrapped up, with a pretty ribbon on the package. They did not realise that in a few years everything would utterly change."
THE WORLD OBSESSION WITH ISRAEL
NEW RESEARCH CONFIRMS UN OBSESSION WITH ISRAEL
Israel alone is considered the “occupying power” by the U.N.
Frontpage Mag, Joseph Puder, September 19, 2016
At a recent presentation by Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid, he was asked to name the key obstacles to peace between the Palestinians and Israelis. He replied by citing two institutions; UNWRA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) and the U.N. (United Nations). New research by both Professor Eugene Kontorovich of the international law department at the Kohelet Policy Forum, and Penny Grunseid, a researcher, support Bassem Eid’s assertion, pointing out the double standard and gross bias in the treatment of Israel at the U.N.
In Israel, all governments and the public in general have been in agreement about one thing, the UN’s anti-Israel bias. Early on in the Jewish state’s history, its first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion called the U.N. “um Shmum,” a derogatory term meant to denounce its lack of fairness and objectivity. In addition to being the “dumped on” scapegoat by all U.N. agencies, Israel is the only U.N. member-state never to have been elected to the U.N. Security Council.
Professor Kontorovich’s research confirms the U.N. obsession with Israel. In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece (September 14, 2016), Kontorovich and Grunseid point out that “Israel is referred to as the ‘occupying power’ 530 times in U. N. General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions. Yet, in seven major instances of past or present prolonged military occupation – Indonesia in East Timor, Turkey in northern Cyprus, Russia in areas of Georgia, Morocco in western Sahara, Vietnam in Cambodia, Armenia in Azerbaijan, and Russia in Ukraine’s Crimea - the number is zero. The UNGA has not called any of these countries an “occupying power.’ Not even once.”
According to the research study, since 1967, “General Assembly (GA) resolutions have referred to Israeli-held territories as ‘occupied’ 2,342 times, while the territories mentioned above are referred to as ‘occupied’ a mere 16 times combined. The term appears in 90% of resolutions dealing with Israel, and only in 14% of the much smaller number of resolutions dealing with all the other situations. Similarly, U.N. Security Council (UNSC) resolutions refer to the disputed territories (Judea and Samaria) in the Arab-Israeli conflict as ‘occupied’ 31 times, but only a total of five to all seven other conflicts combined.”
Shai ben-Tekoa, author of Phantom Nation: Inventing the “Palestinians” as the Obstacle to Peace, asserted that in categorizing 870 UNSC and GA resolutions on Israel since the U.N.’s founding in 1945 (through 1989), forty-two percent were neutral, while of the remaining fifty-eight percent, 96% criticized Israel, leaving 4% critical of an Arab state or states. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was never criticized.
In the mid-1970’s, the Arab/Muslim and Soviet Bloc joined together to form a pro-PLO lobby at the U.N. At the time, a joke went around that said “if an Arab state brought a resolution to the U.N. that the earth was flat, it would receive the majority vote at the General Assembly.” The assemblage of Arab dictatorships, Third World autocracies, and Soviet Bloc authoritarian regimes passed resolutions attacking Israel and supporting the PLO, a terrorist organization with the blood of innocent civilians on its hands.
In 1974, the UNGA invited Yasser Arafat to address the body. Arafat gave his address while carrying a gun and an olive branch (for theatrics). A year later, the UNGA awarded permanent representative status to the PLO. The same year, at the instigation of the Arab/Muslim and Soviet Bloc, the UNGA approved Resolution 3379, which considered Zionism a form of racism. U.S. ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan called the resolution an “obscene act,” while Israel’s ambassador at the time, Chaim Herzog, chided his fellow delegates, and told them that the resolution was based on hatred, falsehood and ignorance. “Hitler,” he declared “would have felt at home listening to the U.N. debate on the measure.”
Sixteen years later, in December, 1991, UNGA repealed the shameful resolution 3379 by a vote of 111-25. The Arab states nevertheless abstained or voted against the repeal, and the PLO condemned it.
In 1977, the U.S. withdrew from the International Labor Organization for two years because of its anti-Israel stance. The Reagan administration in 1984 left UNESCO, in part because of its bias against the Jewish State. In April, 2016, UNESCO once again adopted a resolution called “occupied Palestine.” The title revealed its clear bias, but then again, all texts adopted by UNESCO concerning the Middle East carry an anti-Israel bias. The April, 2016 UNESCO resolution was, in the words of Guy Milliere, “poisonous, fraudulent resolution is not only biased: it is negationist. It eliminates all traces of Jewish presence in Jerusalem and Judea in ancient times at a stroke of a pen.”
In January, 2006, U.S. ambassador John Bolton sent a sharply worded letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, threatening to cut funding to the U.N. if it continues to promote anti-Israel events. It came in response to the previous November 29th event celebrating the annual “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.” The event was attend by Annan and other diplomats. A map that “erased Israel” was disclosed by Ambassador Bolton.
In March, 2013, the U.S. sent a letter to the president of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in which the U.S. lamented what they saw as blatant anti-Israel bias within the council. The letter by U.S. ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe stated, “The legitimacy of this Council will remain in question as long as one country is unfairly and uniquely singled out under its own agenda item. The absurdity and hypocrisy of this agenda item is further amplified by the resolutions brought under it including, yet again, a resolution on the ‘human rights in the occupied Syrian Golan’ motivated by the Syrian regime, at a time when that regime is murdering its own citizens by the tens of thousands (now hundreds of thousands-JP).”
The above cited examples are only a fraction of the anti-Israel biased resolutions by the U.N. In his research, Professor Kontorovich also addressed the term “settlements.” In his new article titled Unsettled: A Global Study of Settlements in Occupied Territories, Professor Kontorovich shows that settlements by other states far “eclipse Israel’s.” Yet, the term “settlements” by the U.N. only applies to Israeli civilian communities in Judea and Samaria. It has been applied to Israel 256 times in the UNGA and 17 times in the UNSC. Neither body has ever used the word in relation to any other country with settlers in occupied territory.
Professor Kontorovich’s research clearly reveals that the U.N. practices a double standard. It also negates the assertion by the U.N. that it represents global justice, a claim that has no basis in reality. The U.N. has in fact done little to prevent wars, end hunger, or pursue justice - not in Syria, Darfur, Bosnia or Rwanda. It has been caught in corruption schemes, and it has fostered anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. The same U.N. has no interest in resolving conflicts, especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, rather, as Bassem Eid said, “it perpetuates it, because it stands to gain from it.” The U.N. is prone to get involved only when it can blame Israel.
In conclusion, Professor Kontorovich writes, “At a time of serious global crises - from a disintegrating Middle East to a land war and belligerent occupation in Europe - the leaders of the free world cannot afford to tempt the U.N. into indulging its obsessions with Israel. Especially when the apparent consequence of such scapegoating (of Israel) is that the U.N. ignores other situations and people in desperate need of attention.”
THE REAL VICTIMS OF THE UNITED NATION’S OBSESSION WITH ISRAEL
By focusing on democratic Israel, the UN has distracted attention
from the world’s true human rights abusers.
The Times of Israel, Raymond M Berger. August 13 2018
Toward the beginning of her tenure as US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley commented that the UN is a strange place.
Haley’s comment reflected her astonishment at the extreme nature of the UN’s anti-Israel bias. This bias is reflected in a number of UN bodies.
THE UNITED NATION’S OBSESSION WITH ISRAEL
In 2016, the UN General Assembly, comprised of all 193 member states, adopted 26 country-specific resolutions.1 Twenty of these condemned Israel. The General Assembly issued an unprecedented ten critical resolutions against Israel in a single day. From 2012 to 2015, 86 percent of all country-specific resolutions passed by the General Assembly were directed at Israel only.
The UN’s Human Rights Council also points a laser eye on Israel to the exclusion of other countries. From 2006 to 2016, fully half of their critical resolutions were directed at Israel—-a tiny country with only 0.11 per cent of the world’s population. To anyone concerned with fairness this is galling, especially given that the members of the Human Rights Council have included some of the world’s top human rights abusers—-countries such as Libya, China, Cuba, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
It doesn’t end there. In 2016, UNESCO, the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, declared Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, old city and other ancient Jewish holy sites to be “Palestinian territory.” In doing so they erased over 3,000 years of Jewish history and gave false credit to a Palestinian national identity that did not exist until the 1960s.
This anti-Israel bias is so extreme that in 2016 even former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon felt moved to comment on it. Normally impartial to a fault, he observed, “Decades of political maneuverings have created a disproportionate volume of resolutions, reports and conferences criticizing Israel…… In many cases, rather than helping the Palestinian cause, this reality has hampered the ability of the United Nations to fulfill its role effectively.”
This anti-Israel bias is no accident. It reflects the reality that the United Nations is dominated by Muslim states and their allies, including many nations that are dependent on Arab oil. These Muslim countries and their enablers have become a consistent source of anti-Israel bias.
WHAT ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE REST OF THE WORLD?
To an objective observer this anti-Israel bias must seem strange. After all, Israel is a tiny country that has only a fraction of a percentage of the world’s population. And more importantly, it is a beacon of freedom and human rights when compared to all of its neighboring countries, as well as many countries in other regions of the world.2
The rest of this post is a summary of the dire human rights situation in a few countries around the world. (There are many more countries that abuse human rights than I was able to include here.) This will highlight the absurdity of singling out Israel, a relative paragon of human rights, while ignoring or minimizing horrific human rights abuse around the globe.
How do the Palestinian territories—-Israel’s next door neighbors—-fare on the human rights scale? This is a good place to start.
The great majority of Palestinians living in the territories are under self-rule by the autonomous governments of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In its 2017/2018 report on human rights in the PA and Gaza, Amnesty International paints a bleak picture.3
During 2017/2018, the PA carried out 147 attacks on media freedom. According to the report, “These included arbitrary arrests, ill-treatment during interrogations, confiscation of equipment, physical assaults, bans on reporting and the banning of 29 websites critical of the West Bank authorities.” Suppression of press freedoms is even worse in Gaza.
In 2017, the PA passed the Electronics Crimes Law that criminalizes journalists and others who criticize PA officials in social media and other on-line sites. This law allows for arbitrary detention and imprisonment for up to 25 years’ hard labor for anyone who commits the vaguely defined offense of disturbing “public order, national unity or social peace.” This new law merely extends to electronic media the PA’s well-established practice of quashing all forms of criticism of the government.
In both the West Bank and Gaza, government authorities used threats, excessive force and arbitrary arrests to suppress public demonstrations.
Hamas is known for its quick justice and public executions of detainees, often on poorly substantiated charges of “collusion” with Israel.
According to Amnesty International, “[T]orture and other ill treatment of detainees remained common and was committed with impunity by Palestinian police and ssecurity forces in the West Bank, and by Hamas police and security forces in Gaza.”
In the PA and Gaza the lower status of women and girls is reflected in the law and its application. Women and girls have little recourse against sexual assault and gender-based violence. Honor killings of women and girls are part of Palestinian culture and are perpetuated by the law and police practice. In the year covered by the Amnesty International report, 28 women and girls were killed by male relatives in order to restore “family honor.” Police and government authorities often fail to intervene and Palestinian courts minimize or eschew punishment for the murderers. Palestinian law also enables men who rape or commit sexual assault against women to avoid punishment by marrying the victim.
Gay men are routinely murdered by male relatives with impunity.
Human rights in Gaza have been further eroded by a political conflict between the rival PA and Hamas factions. In order to pressure Hamas to relinquish rule of Gaza to the PA, the PA has taken a number of actions that have harmed the civilian population in Gaza. These include cutting electricity supplies and other essential services, cutting salary payments to 60,000 PA government workers who live in Gaza, and suspending payments for transfers of Gaza residents for medical care outside of the Gaza Strip. These restrictions have further impoverished Gazans and deprived them of even a basic standard of living, at the same time that the rulers of the PA and Gaza have enriched themselves with government graft.
DO ISRAEL’S OTHER ARAB NEIGHBORS FARE ANY BETTER ON HUMAN RIGHTS? 4
In 2014, military leader Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi overthrew the popularly elected Muslim Brotherhood government. Although Egypt has always had repressive governments, under al-Sisi the repression has grown exponentially. Ever fearful of political dissent, Egypt’s military rulers have silenced the political opposition, employing systematic torture, arbitrary arrests and “disappearances.” New legislation has allowed the government to systematically destroy civil society organizations, especially opposition news media and non-governmental human rights organizations. There has been a brutal crackdown against gay and lesbian people, employing forced confessions and prison terms. Even performers such as belly dancers have been arrested and imprisoned. The government has also acted against organized labor.
Many thousands of civilians have been killed and many more injured in an armed conflict between Iranian-backed Houthi militants and coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia. The humanitarian situation is dire, characterized by lack of food, water and medical care, as well as thousands of destroyed homes and civilian infrastructure. Hundreds of thousands of children are on the verge of dying from starvation.
Neither side in this civil war has been constrained by the Geneva Convention or the laws of war. Houthi forces have indiscriminately launched artillery into civilian areas and have planted internationally banned land mines. The Houthis have detained, abused and “disappeared” many individuals. The Saudi coalition has used banned cluster weapons. US and Saudi Coalition strikes have resulted in many civilian deaths.
What began as a small popular uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad in 2011 has now become one of the deadliest conflicts in the world. Civilians are caught among the al-Assad government, backed by Iran and Russia, various militias, and the coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia and the US.
To date almost half a million civilians have died and millions have been displaced internally or forced to flee to refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. Millions have fled to Europe. The Syrian government has used banned chemical weapons. They have indiscriminately bombed cities, often targeting schools, hospitals and food markets. They have withheld humanitarian aid as a weapon of war. Many thousands have been arbitrarily imprisoned and tortured. And thousands are missing. ISIS has planted land mines and used human shields. US and US-led coalition forces carried out airstrikes that resulted in high civilian casualties.
Sudan is ruled by one of the most ruthless mass murderers of modern times, President al-Bashir. Al-Bashir has used the existence of political and armed opposition groups as a pretext to slaughter thousands of people. He has sent armed helicopters to strafe villagers who are armed only with bows and arrows. Government forces have repeatedly attacked, killed and raped civilians and looted and destroyed property. As a result, hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled their homes. His government censors the media and arrests and tortures political opponents of the regime.
The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir for crimes against humanity in the Darfur region of Sudan. Despite this, the US and European Union have continued to support the al-Bashir government, citing its support for counterterrorism and control of illegal migration.
Unfortunately, human rights abuses are not confined to the Arab world. Below I discuss just a few of the most egregious abusers outside the Arab countries.
The Uighur Minority in China
The Uighurs (pronounced “Wee-gers”) are an ethnic minority group, eleven million of whom live in northwest China. They are mostly Muslim. They live primarily in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and speak a distinct Uighur language. For years, the Chinese have faced unrest
among the Uighurs. The Uighurs have carried out a number of gruesome terrorist attacks against Chinese civilians.
The Chinese have ruled the Uighurs with a heavy hand. In 2018, the Economist reported that the Uighurs lived under a “fully-fledged police state with extensive controls and restrictions on their religious, cultural and social life.”
Hundreds of thousands of Uighurs have been placed in “re-education camps” under cramped and dirty conditions. The purpose of these camps is to stamp out Uighur culture, language and religion. One expert described these camps as “ a form of enforced disappearances in a very organized way.” China defends its repression by calling it “extremism eradication” and argues that the reeducation centers are a necessary measure to control terrorism.
In a BBC Radio interview, a Chinese doctor described his role in harvesting organs from Uighur prisoners.5 The “surgery” took place in a van parked on the Chinese execution grounds. In order to preserve the integrity of the harvested organs, surgeons had to remove them while the “donor” was still alive. No anesthesia was used. Instead, the Chinese prison authorities carefully shot the donors in the right side of the chest, leaving them semi-conscious and alive, but effectively paralyzed. Thus, the donors were unable to resist the organ removal.
“I took his liver and two kidneys,” the doctor told the BBC Radio interviewer. “I didn’t feel guilty,” continued the doctor. “I was born into a society that brainwashed us” into believing these were enemies of the state.
The Chinese government also engages in systematic human rights abuses of other ethnic minorities such as Tibetans.
South Sudan split from the nation of Sudan in an attempt to bring peace to the region. Far from securing peace, civil war broke out between factions within South Sudan. Over three million civilians have fled their homes and hundreds of thousands have taken refuge in United Nations compounds and refugee camps. Armed groups have destroyed clinics, schools, hospitals and other civilian structures. The government has arrested thousands of journalists, politicians and others.
Central African Republic
Armed conflict between warring factions has triggered escalating violence. Militias target civilians and the government is unable to keep control. Almost half a million civilians have been internally displaced and a similar number are living in refugee camps in neighboring countries.
The current government, headed by reactionary Islamic clerics, came into power as the result of a revolution in 1979. The new government solidified its hold on the country by arresting and executing thousands of dissidents. In a 1980-1988 war with Iraq, half a million Iranians died, including over 30,000 schoolchildren recruited by the government to serve as human mine sweepers.6
Despite the trappings of democracy—-elections and a parliament—in reality the country is governed by theocrats who have severely restricted human rights in the service of retaining power. The security forces and judiciary severely inhibit the rights of free expression and assembly. The government imposes strict Islamic codes of behavior in every sphere of life. Minority rights are ruthlessly suppressed.
Recently, thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets in cities across the country to protest government repression, lack of basic freedoms, corruption, and poor economic conditions.
In recent years, Turkey’s President Recep Tayip Erdogan has systematically transformed Turkey from a relative democracy to an autocracy. In response to an aborted coup in 2016, Erdogan instituted a state of emergency which has allowed him to rule with dictatorial powers.
Tens of thousands of public officials, teachers, journalists and others suspected of disloyalty to the regime have been dismissed from their jobs or imprisoned. The minority Kurds are repressed with attacks on Kurdish villages and the imprisonment of Kurdish opposition leaders. Three and a half million Syrian refugees reside in Turkey but face extensive discrimination in education, employment and other areas. In 2017, voters approved a referendum expanding presidential powers and weakening the parliament and judiciary. This is likely to increase government repression.
In 2016, human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi assumed leadership of the country after her release from house arrest by the military. Many in the international community hoped that, under Suu Kyi’s leadership, Myanmar would improve its dismal human rights record. Unfortunately, the opposite happened.
The military and civilian governments have targeted ethnic minorities. The army’s campaigns against ethnic militias in the north of the country have displaced thousands of civilians. But the Myanmar army’s greatest human rights violations have been against the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group concentrated in Rakhine State. Entire Rohingya villages have been burned to the ground. The army has committed mass killings and widespread rapes. These actions are crimes against humanity. As a result of this campaign, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh for safety, where they remain in squalid and overcrowded refugee camps, dependent for survival on foreign humanitarian assistance.
Despite the appearance of civilian rule, the military controls key parts of government and is able to act independently of civilian control. In addition, the government prosecutes journalists and political opposition figures so that freedom of expression is severely curtailed.
Unfortunately, this is just a partial list of countries that routinely abuse human rights.
Israel is a nation committed in law and practice to human rights. Even those who are critical of Israel on this score will have to admit that the human rights abuses of other states are far greater than any abuses Israel might commit.
The UN’s obsession with criticizing Israel is motivated by geopolitical considerations and alliances among UN member states.
It is time to state the obvious. By focusing on democratic Israel, the UN has distracted attention from the world’s true human rights abusers. In this way, the UN has harmed the cause of human rights.
The real victims of the UN’s obsession with Israel have been the people repressed, injured, imprisoned, raped, silenced, and murdered—-not by Israel, but by the world’s true human rights abusers.
Many of the statistics presented here were drawn from: Fact Check: Does the UN Single Out Israel? Sivak, D. (Fact Check Editor). Check Your Fact. Retrieved August 3, 2018 from: http://Checkyourfact.Com/2017/12/24/Fact-Check-Does-The-Un-Single-Out-Israel/
Freedom House [website]. Freedom in the World: 2018, Table of Country Scores. Retrieved August 11, 2018 from: https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world-2018-table-country-scores
Amnesty International [website]. Retrieved August 11, 2018 from:https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/palestine-state-of/report-palestine-state-of/
The material that follows was largely drawn from: Human Rights Watch [website]. List of Countries. Retrieved August 8, 2018 from: https://www.hrw.org/countries
BBC World Service. Uighur Exile Describes Life in China, August 2, 2018.
Retrieved August 8, 2018 from: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06gcp5t
Berger, R.M. We All Want the Same Thing: Or Do We? Times of Israel Blog. April 22, 2018. Retrieved August 13, 2018 from: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/we-all-want-the-same-thing-or-do-we/
THERE ARE 70 CONFLICTS WORLDWIDE, SO WHY DO WE FOCUS ON JUST ONE?
Irish Examiner Stephen King, May 13, 2009
Yes, there is public feeling about the Palestinians and their rotten deal. I’ve never heard Chechnya being discussed on the DART, whereas I have heard Israel being trashed on buses as well as at smart dinner parties. Besides, who’s ever heard of a “Sri Lanka out of Tamil Eelam” march through Cork or calls for a boycott of Russia?
I owe Micheál Martin an apology of sorts. I admit that when I read media reports of his discussions with Ban Ki-moon in New York at the weekend my eyes rolled up to the heavens.
The country’s most senior representative to the rest of the world has a rare opportunity to raise Ireland’s issues with the UN secretary-general and what’s his top priority? Yes, you guessed it – Gaza.
It’s not that Gaza isn’t an important issue facing the world. It is. What Gaza is not, though, is an issue where Europe, let alone Ireland, can wield much positive influence. Gaza will only be sorted when the Arab states, the US and Israel – probably in that order – decide it should be sorted.
But I was wrong. I had swallowed the media line. Yes, Micheál Martin and Ban Ki-moon did talk about Gaza, but it was just one subject among others.
In fact, when you look at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) press release, the first item of discussion listed was one where Ireland has a very direct interest, namely Chad.
So what caused my blood pressure to rise? Was Gaza the topic the DFA’s spin-doctors were pushing? Possibly. Was the position on Gaza the most objectively newsworthy? Again, possibly: the Pope is in the region and Ireland tends to be at one end of the European spectrum of opinion on anything to do with Israel.
The third possibility, and the one that seems to me most likely, is that the media has a fixation on Israel (and its supposed crimes) which is, for want of a better word, disproportionate. That’s why the line about Gaza led several media reports of Minister Martin’s meeting.
If I were Jewish, I would be told I’m paranoid for thinking the world and its media are out to get me. After all, the fact that Israel is the world’s one and only Jewish state – amidst a vast ocean of Muslim states – inevitably makes many Jewish people think it’s them, and not Israel as such, which is in the media’s sights. But I’m not Jewish. Besides, just because people are paranoid doesn’t mean others aren’t out to get them.
A quick scan of the world’s trouble spots makes my point. The well-respected International Crisis Group is currently tracking 70 conflicts around the world, from Afghanistan and Algeria to Yemen and Zimbabwe. Yes, 70: we live in a dangerous world.
Some of these are very familiar to us: Northern Ireland, Iraq, the Basque country, North Korea and, of course, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Others are not nightly news: Kashmir, Burma, Eritrea and so on. And then there are the conflicts we have forgotten about, or never really heard about too much because they are far away or poor, or both: Armenia versus Azerbaijan, Mindanao in the Philippines, Morocco/western Sahara and Aceh.
Some of the 70 hotspots are especially deadly. Millions of black Africans have died in Congo in the past decade, well below most people’s radar.
Sri Lanka has had a bit of a focus in recent weeks – though hardly the minute-by-minute wraparound coverage Gaza had in January. How many of us were really aware of the fact that more than 80,000 people have died in a quarter of a century of civil war?
Try this. Google “Tamil Tigers” and you will receive 2.3 million results. Google “Hamas” and you get 10 times as many – and Hamas hasn’t been around nearly as long. It’s the same if you Google “Tamils” and “Palestinians”. Is the difference that the Tigers might have killed Rajiv Gandhi but, unlike the Palestinians, have rarely brought their murderous tactics to Europe directly? The Sri Lankan conflict, at least in its military phase, looks as though it is coming to an end. The work of peace-building will last for years to come.
The same could be said about Chechnya. The Russians have just announced the end of their “counter-terrorism” operation. There are no solid figures for the number of civilians killed since the second war began there in late 1999, but estimates range anywhere between 25,000 and 200,000.
Put that in context. Israel might be geographically small – smaller than Munster – but in population terms Chechnya is absolutely tiny. A region with a little more than one million inhabitants has seen anything up to one-fifth of its civilian population killed in two decades of war. And one school siege aside, we have largely looked the other way.
By comparison, 6,000 Palestinians – armed and civilian together – out of a Palestinian population in the territories three to four times that of Chechnya have died since the second intifada of 2001.
It goes without saying that any civilian death is a tragedy – and, very often, an outrage – but search for Chechnya on the DFA website and you only receive one-tenth of the number of hits that you do for Israel. No-one believes the DFA is somehow in league with the Russians and supports their quasi-colonial war against Chechnya, but it does go to show some perspective has been lost somewhere along the line.
Yes, there is public feeling about the Palestinians and their rotten deal. I’ve never heard Chechnya being discussed on the DART, whereas I have heard Israel being trashed on buses as well as at smart dinner parties. Besides, who’s ever heard of a “Sri Lanka out of Tamil Eelam” march through Cork or calls for a boycott of Russia?
But whose fault is that? Dare I suggest, the media? As a result, Israel has learned a lesson from the Russians and the Sri Lankans: impose a media ban and the world leaves you pretty much alone. No one could condone the ban during the Gaza offensive – and being host to the world’s second largest press corps, after Washington, means you pay a high price in terms of stroppy hacks – but it does seem to work.
So why the obsession with Israel? It’s the only country in the world whose existence is queried is one reason. It’s the Holy Land to the world’s two largest faiths is another. That al-Qaeda sometimes backs the Palestinian cause makes Israel/Palestine strategically important – but that’s true of Chechnya, too.
Maybe it’s the oil in the Middle East region that makes Arab countries important in western capitals (while distracting from their own despotism)?
Could it be some wrongheaded notion of guilt for having set up Israel after the Holocaust, when actually Israel fought British imperialism for its independence? Could it be, as many Israelis believe, that we see Israelis as Jews and, therefore, as bloodthirsty sub-humans in the latest manifestation of centuries-old antisemitism?
Or is it just anti-Americanism? Perhaps it’s a little to do with each of these factors. But could it actually be that we see Israelis as very much like ourselves – sophisticated, prosperous, well-educated, fairly pale-skinned democrats? Do we hate ourselves that much? It’s either that or Israel simply isn’t deadly enough to deter the journalists too afraid to work in fly-ridden Congo.
Gaza for breakfast, back to the pool at the American Colony Hotel in time for tea, and pick up an attractive girl or strapping lad at a bar after dinner. Same again tomorrow, please. Just try doing that in Darfur.
WHY ARE THERE STILL
Prager University 2016 (4.22)
It's been seven decades since the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, and yet there are still an estimated 4 million Palestinian refugees
...and zero Jewish refugees.
With so many nearby Arab allies of the Palestinians, how did this happen?
What does it say about Israel?
What does it say about its Arab neighbors?
Diversity Outreach Coordinator
for Christians United for Israel, explains.
Israel alone is considered
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner in the East Room of the White House in Washington,
May 18, 2018.
Buttons Bar for more information
Peace and Prosperity
for Palestinians and Jews
THE PLIGHT OF THE PALESTINIAN REFUGEES
Jerusalem U 2015 (13.06)
Different narratives shape different memories of the 1948 War for Israelis and Palestinians. In Israel and among most Jewish communities, the war of 1948 is best known as the War of Independence - it is a day filled with joy, pride and celebration. In the Arab world, and particularly among Palestinians, the war of 1948 is known as al-Nakba (the catastrophe) - it is a day filled with sadness, humiliation and longing. This film tells the story of the war, reveals how so many people became refugees, and speculates on what is perpetuating their suffering today.
THE ARABS OF PALESTINE
The Atlantic, Martha Gellhorn, October 1961
(excert from article)
…………………………..THE Palestinian refugees are a chain reaction. Arab politicians and apologists would have us believe that the explosion began with the Balfour Declaration to "view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a home for the Jewish people." More likely, the explosion started in the depths of time when the Romans drove the Jews from their one and only homeland, the soil that grew their history, the Bible. Nearly two thousand years later, Hitler and his followers committed such barbarous crimes against the Jews as all Christendom and all Islam, barbarous too, had never inflicted in the centuries of the Jewish dispersion. The Nazis and the gas chambers made the state of Israel inevitable: the Palestinian Arabs and the five invading Arab armies determined the boundaries of Israel.
The Palestinian refugees are unfortunate victims of a brief moment in history. It is forgotten that Jews are also victims in the same manner, of the same moment. The Arab-Israel war and its continuous aftermath produced a two-way flight of peoples. Nearly half a million Jews, leaving behind everything they owned, escaped from the Arab countries where they lived to start life again as refugees in Israel. Within one generation, if civilization lasts, Palestinian refugees will merge into the Arab nations, because the young will insist on real lives instead of endless waiting. If we can keep the peace, however troubled, the children of Palestinian refugees will make themselves at home among their own kind, in their ancestral lands. For the Jews there is no other ancestral land than Israel.
Appointed by the British
He was expelled by them
His anti-Semitic credentials where highlighted when he spent WW2 in Germany.
One of the Arab leaders against Israel in the Israel War of Independence in 1948.
Shimon Peres and Bill Clinton
President of Palestine
PLO/FATAH AND THE NAZIS
FACESHIRHOME 2013 (15.11)
Traces the history of PLO/Fatah, now better known as the 'Palestinian Authority,' the organization that will govern a future Palestinian State. The video shows how PLO/Fatah emerged from the German Nazi Final Solution. Hajj Amin al Husseini, father of the Palestinian Movement, creator of Fatah, and mentor to Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, was co-director with Adolf Eichmann of the death camp system
that exterminated between 5 and 6 million European Jews in WWII.
PLO/FATAH AND IRAN: THE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP
FACESHIRHOME 2015 (9.54)
PLO/Fatah, now better known as the “Palestinian Authority,” will govern a Palestinian State in the militarily strategic territories of Judea and Samaria (or “West Bank”) if the Middle East “peace process” concludes with a “Two-State Solution.” Given that Iranian leaders daily promise the destruction of Israel, most people assume that PLO/Fatah has nothing to do with Iran. It would be absurd,
SYRIA INTERRUPTS HILLEL NEUER
DURING THE UN’S
‘HATE ISRAEL DAY’
UN Watch 2018 (3.45(
Agenda Item 7 — "Occupied Palestine"
UN Human Rights Council
July 2 2016
US LEAVING UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
CBC News, June 2018 (14.oo)
WHY ISN’T THERE A PALESTINIAN STATE
PragerU 2017 (5.34)
Why don't the Palestinians have their own country? Is it the fault of Israel? Of the Palestinians? Of both parties? David Brog, Executive Director of the Maccabee Task Force, shares the surprising answers.
JEWISH vs PALESTINIAN REFUGEES
ConfuseMeWithFact, 2012 (3.01)
The story of how they became refugees and why they have stayed that way.
It also shows the history of Jewish refugees from Arab lands - a story that's been ignored
-- until now.