Justice demands that Israel and the United Nations address the enormous inequities that exist in Palestine. There is no justice if the division of the land remains 86 percent to 14 percent when both populations are of approximately equal size, especially if the right of return is acted upon according to international law. There is no justice if Israel remains the controlling power over a faux state that cannot manage its own affairs and control its own destiny. By William A. Cook. April 2010.
The recent history of the Palestinian people, particularly from the 1940s onward, has been marked by confrontations, segregation, overcrowded living conditions and massive geographic displacements throughout the Middle East.
According to international law, Palestine is a 27,000 square-kilometre region situated west of the Jordan River, which the League of Nations gave to Great Britain to administer under "Mandate" in 1918. The British Foreign Secretary, Lord Balfour, had promised the Zionist movement that a "Jewish national homeland" would be established in Palestine. But his proposal for partitioning the territory –into two separate Jewish and Arab states- was rejected by the Arabs. After the end of World War II, Great Britain turned the problem over to the newly formed United Nations (UN).
In 1947, the UN General Assembly approved a new Partition Plan. At that time there were 749,000 Arabs and 9,250 Jews in the territory proposed for the Arab state, while 497,000 Arabs and 498,000 Jews were living in the area assigned to the future Jewish state.
To force Palestinians to leave their lands, some Zionist groups resorted to terrorism. On 9 April 1948, forces of the organization Irgun, under the command of Menahem Begin, penetrated the village of Deir Yassin, killing 254 civilians. Terror spread over the population and led to the exodus of tens of thousands of Palestinians.
On 14 May 1948, Israel unilaterally declared itself an independent nation, and came out of the war with the neighboring Arab countries with a larger territory than the one proposed by the United Nations. More than half of the Palestinian population had fled their homes. Most of them lived as refugees on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which came under Egyptian government, but also in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, while few of them went to Iraq and Egypt.
For the United Nations and, therefore, for international law, Palestinians were not a people. Instead they were seen merely as refugees, a "problem" that needed to be solved.
Any political decisions concerning the Palestinian cause were adopted by the Arab governments, at least until 1964, when the Palestine National Council, gathering for the first time in Jerusalem, founded the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
Palestinian groups that were already operating underground, such as Al Fatah, were wary of this organization because it was backed by Arab governments and focused on diplomatic actions. These groups were convinced that the territory would only be recovered through military operations. On 1 January 1965 the first armed operation took place in Israel. Fighting intensified over the following months, leading up to the Seven Day War, which erupted in 1967. Israel forces occupied all of Jerusalem, the Syrian Golan Heights, the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt and the Palestine territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The defeat of regular Arab forces strengthened the conviction that guerrilla warfare was the only effective means for liberation. In March 1968, following the retreat of Israeli forces in the town of Al Karameh, armed groups joined the PLO, obtaining the support of the Arab governments. In February 1969, Yasser Arafat was elected chairman of the Organization.
The program of the PLO called for "the establishment of a secular and independent state in the whole of the Palestinian territory, where Muslims, Christians and Jews can live in peace, enjoying the same rights and duties." This necessarily implied the end of the present state of Israel. Without giving up this ultimate goal, however, the PLO gradually came to accept the “temporary solution” of setting up an independent Palestinian state “in any part of the territory that might be liberated by armed force, or from which Israel might withdraw."
Thirty years later, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is still a problem awaiting solution. Several peace agreements have failed since then, including the Camp David (1980), Madrid (1991) and Oslo (1993) agreements, while the number of Jewish settlements in the West Bank has multiplied, more and more Palestinian lands have been taken over, and tension has increased in the occupied territories. Repeated votes against such measures at the United Nations proved totally ineffective in practice, as the US veto in the Security Council has made it impossible to this day to adopt any type of sanctions against Israel.
Isaac Rabin, the prime minister from the Labour Party and the main peace interlocutor of Arafat in the Oslo agreement, was assassinated by an Israeli fundamentalist in 1995. His assassination lead to the election of the Likud prime minister Benyamin Netanyahu, who interrupted the peace process and made a radical deviation in the Israeli position vis-à-vis the Palestinian state.
In January 1996, Arafat was elected President of the Palestinian Authority with 87% of the votes. The tension in the region never died down, although there were some periods of relative calm, interrupted by outbreaks of violence. But towards the year 2000, the issue of Jerusalem, a holy city for both Muslims and Jews, became the greatest obstacle to negotiations, as both sides intended to establish their capital in this city. In September of that year, the second Intifada (or Palestinian uprising) was launched. A few months later, former Defense Minister Ariel Sharon’s victory in the Israeli elections of February 2001 was seen as yet another blow to the injured peace process.
Palestine resistance to the occupation was met with selective killing of alleged terrorists by the Israeli army, who expanded its military offensive by attacking Palestinian villages and townships. This resulted in more suicide attacks against Israeli targets.
In December 2001, Sharon severed all ties with Arafat. The new Israeli strategy was based on the non-acknowledgment of the Palestine leader as a valid interlocutor, and the breakup truncated any attempts at negotiation. Arafat was pressured into creating the office of prime minister, to whom he also entrusted the appointment of a new cabinet.
In late 2002, the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations presented a new peace plan known as the ‘Road Map’, which included the establishment of a Palestine state by the year 2005. The plan was accepted by both sides, although the Israeli government raised 14 objections on the proposed text. Israel did not diminish its aggressions on the Palestinian population and proceeded to build a security fence with the aim of stopping any Palestinian extremists from attempting to enter Israel. The international community condemned the construction of this wall, but Sharon’s government went ahead with its plans.
The same condemnation –with the explicit exception of United States- received the assassination of Ahmed Yassin, spiritual leader of the radical group Hamas. The action, held on 22 March 2004 in Gaza, was the 327th extrajudicial execution of a Palestinian by Israel, including 160 “collateral victims”.
The death of historical leader Yasser Arafat on 11 November 2004 and the triumph of Hamas in January 2006 parliamentary elections, radically changed the Palestinian political scenario.
In March of the same year, Israel’s elections confirmed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert – successor of seriously ill Ariel Sharon – in his post. His government has announced it will continue withdrawals of Jewish settlements from Gaza and has expressed its willingness to hold peace talks with Palestinians. However, it would act unilaterally if necessary, with the aim of establishing permanent borders for Israel by the year 2010.
If justice becomes the beacon that guides the UN toward peace, it would have to begin at Resolution 181 (November 1947), the partition of Palestine. Assumptions were made at that point, assumptions that had both positive and negative effects. A moral determination was made that the Jews deserved a homeland as a consequence of the horrific slaughter that had decimated their people. The world accepted a moral responsibility to right that atrocity; in so doing, they assumed, perhaps unwittingly, that they could grant to the Jews a portion of another people's land. By William A. Cook. April 2010.
The present economic, social and political conditions in Israel and Palestine are an indictment of the Zionist project and the nation state as the solution to the oppression of the Jews. The Zionist state was conceived as the answer to the problem of the European persecution of the Jews—a state where the Jews would find a safe haven, social justice and equality. It was realised in the form of a capitalist state created by the dispossession of another people and maintained through war and repression, and social inequality at home. Indeed, it is impossible when presenting this report, to avoid pointing out that the Jewish people, sections of whom have a long history in every progressive movement, not least the international socialist movement, are now themselves widely regarded as oppressors with blood on their hands. January 2009.
The systematic carving out of Palestine by Israel which involved forcing its inhabitants off their lands as well as killing them, began in 1948 after the UN decreed the establishment of the state of Israel. Below is a review of the book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe who believes that exposing Israeli Jews to the “painful journey” into their past is the only way forward to peace for Palestinians and Israelis. January 2008.
That Europe owes a psychological and physical debt to the Jewish people is undeniable. That Europe has been trying for sometime now to come to grip with this debt and wipe the slate as clean as is possible is also undeniable. That Israel and the Jewish people have been steadfast in ensuring the repayment of this debt by any means necessary is also undeniable. That the repayment of the debt has been contracted in terms of words, hard currency, bloodshed and land is also irrefutable. However, what is not so well discussed is that the largest part of the down payment of that debt has been on the backs of and with the blood of a people not a party to the original and historic deeds—the Palestinian people. August 2006.
While traveling in the West Bank it is impossible to escape a view of Israel’s settlements, scattered all around. They are easily spot by their red roofs, the paved roads and nice green lawns. Were you in any other country, the image would be one of peaceful countryside life. But settlements are anything but a peaceful image. “Settlements are the occupation” itself, as Ran HaCohen has put it. July 2006.
In its comprehensive historical scope, the study ranges from the inception of the Zionist movement in the late 19th century, which paved the way for early Jewish immigration to Palestine and acquisition of land there, to very recent developments such as the building of ‘the Wall’ in the Israeli occupied West Bank and the wave of housing demolitions. It takes in: the late Ottoman period, which ended a few years after World War I; the British Mandate period, which began between the wars and ended with the creation of the State of Israel through force of arms in 1948; the subsequent destruction and depopulation of Arab villages and towns, the forced exodus of the Palestinian refugees; and the progressive encroachment on and constriction of Palestinian life and development, involving massive loss of territory, housing and other property, and ongoing erosion and violation of economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights. May 2005 (pdf version).
Israel has long lived in fear of the so-called "demographic bomb" -- the fact that the Palestinian population in Israel and the occupied territories is increasing much faster than the Israeli Jewish population. While Israeli Jews thought the day they would become a minority was perhaps still twenty years away, the evidence is increasing that the bomb has already exploded and Palestinians are already a majority in historic Palestine, as they were until Israel was created. March 2005.
Based on intensive research and an original public opinion poll, the study details the changes the Palestinian family has undergone during the present Intifada, the attitudes of the Palestinian family toward women's and children's rights, and the hardships the family faces as a result of the Israeli occupation (pdf version).
Around 4000 BC, the Canaanites, a Semitic people from the inner Arabian peninsula, settled in the land which became known as Canaan and later, Palestine. The Jebusites, one of the Canaanite peoples, built a settlement that they called Urusalim (Jerusalem), meaning ‘the city of peace’…
PASSIA has endeavored to present here a broad range of maps covering much of Palestine's modern history. While many of these maps represent PASSIA's own work, others are drawn from secondary sources - as indicated beneath the individual maps. In the event of discrepancy, confusion or mistake, please see the original sources for clarification.
Palestinian dependence on Israel for water and on the international community for healthcare services underscores the crippled state of Palestinian welfare and its subjugation to Israeli military decisions. This is not the result of shortcomings of the traditional development approaches (in particular the differing incentive and sanction structures behind state and market approaches to basic service provision) but of Israeli military and government policy towards the West Bank and Gaza.
Israel must address the occupation and violation of human rights and international humanitarian law it engenders in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and "not invoke the justification of terrorism as a distraction, as a pretext for failure to confront the root cause of Palestinian violence: the occupation". This message was highlighted by United Nations Special Rapporteur John Dugard in his latest report on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. February 2008.
The UN's Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, John Dugard, has issued a harshly critical report on Israel's human rights record in regards to its treatment of the Palestinians in occupied Palestine. "The international community, speaking through the United Nations, has identified three regimes as inimical to human rights: foreign occupation, apartheid and colonialism," Dugard says. In his report, the South African law professor accuses Israeli regime of all three. February 2007.
One year after Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed an Agreement on movement and access to Gaza strip, Israel has considerably restrained Palestinian access to the West Bank and the outside world, invoking "security reasons." According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), such limitation on Palestinian movement has led, since March 2006, to serious constraints on economic activities, mounting unemployment and increased violence in Gaza. Some observers qualify the worsening of the situation in Gaza to a "siege" of the Palestinian territory. December 2006 (pdf version).
This report from UNCTAD argues that the severity of the current crisis requires urgent, innovative measures to sustain and protect the Palestinian economy. Shocks to the economy following the January 2006 elections have included increased Israeli restrictions on financial flows and the movement of goods and people, the destruction of physical capital, Israel's decision to withhold the tax and customs revenue collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the cessation of direct support to the PA by most traditional donors. October 2006 (pdf version).
At this site, you may access information on important issues related to Palestine and the United Nations, as well as information regarding the work and official documents of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations. You will also find information on Palestinian affairs including, historical pieces and documents of the Middle East peace process. Featured as well is the monthly publication of Palestine & The UN.
The Division for Palestinian Rights in the United Nations Department of Political Affairs (DPA) works to heighten international awareness of the Question of Palestine and gains wider recognition of and support for the achievement of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.
The Security Council is the United Nations' most powerful body. It has "primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security." Since 1948, the Security Council has addressed the situation in the Middle East and the Palestinian Question on many occasions.
The Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are on the verge of humanitarian catastrophe, largely as the result of extremely harsh security measures imposed by the occupying Israeli forces since the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000. The Special Rapporteur expresses his deep compassion and sympathy for both Israelis and Palestinians, who are living through a horrifying tragedy, but he cannot ignore the terrible situation of malnutrition that is being created in the OPT today (pdf version).
Years of bloody conflict have weakened both Israeli and Palestinian economies, though the latter has suffered the brunt of the decline. Because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict plays a central role in international politics, significant aid has been sent to the region. Currently, foreign aid (in the form of humanitarian assistance and development aid) is a defining feature of the Palestinian economy. The amounts of aid sent to the OPT and Israel are among the highest per-capita aid disbursements in the world. This report will attempt to understand the reasons for this, and to assess the ways in which aid affects the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. November 2008.
In April 2006, key donors including the USA, EU, and Canada suspended international aid to the Palestinian Authority government (PA), following the overwhelming victory of Hamas in parliamentary elections. One year later, the number of Palestinian people living in poverty has jumped by 30 per cent, essential services are facing meltdown, and previously unknown levels of factional violence plague Palestinian streets. April 2007.
The United Nations humanitarian agencies working in the occupied Palestinian territory are deeply alarmed by the impact continuing violence is having on civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza, which has resulted in a sharp decline in the humanitarian situation facing 1.4 million people, more than half of them children. August 2006.
This paper examines the humanitarian risks in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the coming months. It warns of an extremely bleak humanitarian situation for the Palestinian people. The analysis has been organised according to three scenarios. Scenario 1 reflects the current situation. A more critical forecast is related to the withdrawal of funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA). This has prompted humanitarian agencies to initiate planning based on two further scenarios (2 and 3). April 2006 (pdf version).
During the month of May 2004, the Gaza Strip witnessed a shocking upsurge in the level of violence and destruction, with the Israeli Defence Forces conducting largescale incursions into densely populated areas of Rafah. Sixty Palestinians were reported killed and 221 wounded, including many civilians. Some 298 residential buildings housing 710 families were destroyed or damaged beyond repair. Apart from 47 buildings, all were occupied by Palestine refugees. In the wake of these events, the population in the areas affected find themselves in a dire humanitarian situation, one that is more bleak and precarious than at any time since the start of the Intifada (pdf version).
Palestinian collective revolts are not a singular response to singular problems caused by outsiders, for example the British mandate, Zionist colonial designs, Israeli occupation, and so on. What is often missed are the internal factors which anger the Palestinian masses, such as their leadership's failures, divisions, u-turns, corruption, nepotism, and so on. November 2008.
Over the past six years – since the start of the Aqsa Intifada on September 29, 2000 - all sectors of Palestinian society have suffered under the various measures put in place by the Israeli occupation throughout the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. However, as one marginalized sector of society, Palestinian women have bore the brunt of these measures. July 2006.
The report examines the impact on women of the spiralling violence and unprecedented level of restrictions of movements imposed by Israel on Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, as well as increased violence against women in the family and discriminatory laws and practices. Sweeping restrictions have led to unprecedented levels of poverty, unemployment and health problems for the entire Palestinian population in the Occupied Territories. Mobility restrictions, refusal or delay of passage at Israeli army checkpoints, blockades and curfews, have caused multiple complications for women in need of medical care, and in some cases have even resulted in the death of patients. March 2005.
Since the start of the Intifada on the 28th of September 2000 -triggered by Ariel Sharon's famous visit to the Haram Al Sharif- 4,342 Palestinians and Israelis have been killed. Of those 1,008 were Israeli and 3,334 Palestinian. 82% of Palestinians killed were civilians, and 621 were children below the age of 17, all victims of the Israeli occupation forces. September 2004.
Dr Ilan Pappe is one of Israel's most prominent ‘new historians’. In May 2002, Pappe was threatened with expulsion from his university, the University of Haifa, for supporting a Jewish graduate student whose dissertation documented a massacre of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers. The expulsion proceedings were suspended due to a protest by international academics. Green Left Weekly's Nick Everett spoke with Pappe during his recent visit to Australia. September 2004.
Whether a student, community activist, politician or an average citizen, these fact sheets will provide you with concise information on the different issues related to the current Intifada and Palestine.
The Palestinian uprising against Israel has entered its fourth year, making it clear that the bloody conflict in the Middle East cannot be resolved by force, as the loss of more than 3,200 lives since the Intifada began three years ago proves.
The Palestinians have long sought, and Israel has long resisted, the internationalization of efforts to construct a process that would lead to a durable and comprehensive peace. Independent advocates for a just peace have echoed this call out of the realization that the near monopoly of Washington on stewardship of Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy has hindered (and even obstructed) meaningful progress. April 2007.
135 respected global leaders -- former presidents, prime ministers, foreign and defence ministers, congressional leaders and heads of international organisations -- have today joined in a call for urgent international action to comprehensively resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. The outlines of what is needed are well known, based on UN Security Council resolutions 242 of 1967 and 338 of 1973, the Camp David peace accords of 1978, the Clinton Parameters of 2000, the Arab League Initiative of 2002, and the Roadmap proposed in 2003 by the Quartet (UN, US, EU and Russia). The goal must be security and full recognition to the state of Israel within internationally recognized borders, an end to the occupation for the Palestinian people in a viable independent, sovereign state, and the return of lost land to Syria. October 2006.
The following is a performance-based and goal driven roadmap, with clear phases, timelines, target dates, and benchmarks aiming at progress through reciprocal steps by the two parties in the political, security, economic, humanitarian, and institution-building fields, under the auspices of the Quartet (US, Russia, European Union and United Nations) (pdf version).
On April 24-27, 2003 a group of Israelis and Palestinians participated in a workshop during which time a “Road Map for Jerusalem” was produced. This Road Map is directed to the Israeli Government, the PLO and the Members of the Quartet. The authors of the document firmly believe that it is essential to include the issue of Jerusalem in the Quartet’s Road Map in order to ensure a greater possibility of success for peace.
With the current leaderships in Israel, Palestine and the US, the Road Map for Peace remains the only accepted political process for moving from a state of violence towards peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Despite some initial optimism following the outcome of the Palestinian presidential elections, there has been no obvious progress towards peace negotiations. This is of little surprise, since the conditions for holding negotiations simply do not exist and possibly have not even been thought through by either party. While opportunities for peace talks are fast disappearing as the region appears again to slide into outright confrontation, the writers, former anti-apartheid activists from the Netherlands, South Africa and Great Britain respectively, look back on this crucial period in South African history in the first of two articles in a series, to reflect upon and provide inspiration to the Palestinian struggle for liberation. February 2005.
On the eve of the meeting intended to restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians at Annapolis, Maryland, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that Israel will build no new West Bank settlements, but will not "strangle" existing Israel settlements. This means that construction in the 149 existing Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank that are strangling Palestinians will continue unchecked. Olmert's cynical announcement underlines the fear that Israel, with US support, will insist on retaining most West Bank settlements in the upcoming negotiations, locking Palestinians into a "separate but unequal" position. November 2007.
Pretty much no one is taking it seriously. Even mainstream analysts usually willing to take Bush administration Middle East initiatives at face value are rolling their collective eyes. The New York Times' senior correspondent Steven Erlanger immediately acknowledged that Bush's latest "vision," a U.S.-Israeli-Fatah alliance creating a model Palestine in the West Bank designed to snub the isolated "Hamastan" in Gaza, is not a "vision shared by other American allies or other members of the so-called quartet - Russia, the European Union and the United Nations." (Yes even the Times said "so-called" quartet). August 2007.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's "convergence plan" (now renamed a "realignment plan"), based on the massive "facts on the ground" Israel continues to impose unilaterally with overt American support, cannot possibly give rise to a viable Palestinian state. According to Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, the bottom line of his convergence plan is clear: the establishment of a permanent, institutionalized regime of Israeli domination over Palestinians based on separation between Jews and Arabs. May 2006.
"The sheer fact that the Israeli military are getting away with killing hundreds and hundreds of innocent children, without paying any consequences whatsoever, is so outrageous, so unbelievable, that it paralyses you", says Leigh Brady writing from Yamun, occupied Palestine. "It renders you helpless, unable to react, unable to focus on what actions to take to remedy the situation." April 2006.
The Oslo agreement was explicit in emphasizing the need to maintain the geographic integrity of the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly to create a geo-political link between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Geographic integrity is a necessary condition for the creation of a viable state, making this link of the highest priority. March 2006.
"Just as the wishes of the 1.4 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip play no part in the public debate being waged in Israel over the withdrawal, the fact that Palestinians have now become the disengagement's first victims has been lost amid a sea of blue and orange ribbons, representing the current competition between Jewish and ultra-Jewish nationalism." August 2005.
"As you know, Amnesty International has repeatedly condemned and called for an end to human rights abuses committed by Israeli security forces and by Palestinian security forces and Palestinian armed groups. Today, I am writing to express our deep concern about a number of issues related to human rights contained in your recent letter to Mr Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister of Israel, and in your statement to the press of 14 April 2004, on the occasion of your meeting with Mr Sharon. We note that some of these positions are contrary to international law and appear to be at variance with previous United States (US) government policy. We fear that these statements may contribute to a further deterioration of the human rights situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories."
The visit of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to Washington on April 14, 2004, intended to solicit American support for Sharon's unilateral plan for Gaza and to formalize letters of assurances between Sharon and United States President George W. Bush, was an unprecedented affair, not only in Israeli-American relations, but in the history of American foreign policy. It is difficult to remember any previous occasion on which an American president so bluntly contradicted specific stipulations of United Nations Security Council resolutions and international law.
Politicians and commentators are declaring that Sharon is mad and that by killing Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, he is throwing the whole area, if not the world, into chaos. "But I don't think Sharon is mad or acting in retaliation", says Eyad el Sarraj. "He has a plan, and it is working."
The killing of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, spiritual leader of Hamas, in March 2004 was a new kind of killing, even in the midst of the protracted conflict that began in the fall of 2000 and has claimed some 2,800 Palestinian and some 900 Israeli lives.
Two years ago, Israel completed its unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. We all remember the intense media campaign shamelessly portraying the settlers as dispossessed victims of a bold move for peace. Among others, Harvard economist Sara Roy argued that Israel's version of disengagement would bring disaster to an already desperate Gaza. Today, we are witnessing emergence of an unparalleled economic catastrophe in the Gaza Strip and with it, the evaporation of the last remaining hopes for a Palestinian state. November 2007.
Calling to the international community to get mobilised and bring the Israeli occupation to an end, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights has launched an international campaign to demonstrate that the Gaza Strip remains under Israeli effective control despite its claims otherwise. The campaign comes one year after the completion of the Israeli Unilateral Disengagement from Gaza in September 2005. October 2006.
"Mr. Sharon was not a man that the Palestinian people in general liked. He's identified in the mind with Sabra and Chatila, Qibya ... and many other massacres and horrible days. He's also identified ... with settlements and the building of new settlements," said Dr. Nabil Sha'ath, deputy prime minister of the Palestinian Authority. January 2006.
While world attention is focused on Israel as it begins evicting the last Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip, it should be noted that the Gaza settlers represent only 2% of the 430,00 Israelis who now live on land taken from the Palestinians since 1967. Also, observers point out that, after the withdrawal, if the Israeli army remains along Gaza’s border with Egypt, ‘Gaza will still be one big prison’. August 2005.
The disengagement plan is intended to forestall international intervention and Israeli public dissension. As incomplete as Palestinians perceive the roadmap plan to be, this broadly accepted document talks about ending the occupation, establishing a viable Palestinian state, and incorporating an international framework outside the sole purview of the United States. "Sharon will fight with a few more settlers, everyone will say that is wonderful, and the roadmap will be discarded," predicts Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. In the meantime, the strategic settlement project will grow. May 2005.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan for unilateral "disengagement" from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank has left many observers scratching their heads. It is especially perplexing that disengagement now seems to be the prelude to a larger Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. After all, Sharon has been an outspoken opponent of past Israeli evacuations of occupied Palestinian territory, and a long-time ally of the very settlers he now accuses of having a "messianic complex." Is Sharon really now prepared to countenance an independent, viable Palestinian state on lands he and his allies have considered part of Greater Israel? In this provocative essay, Gary Sussman of Tel Aviv University suggests another possibility. What if the Israeli premier has quietly held on to his once openly expressed belief that "Jordan is Palestine"? March 2005.
Away from international attention, the destiny being prepared for the Palestinian people is showing its true face more clearly than ever before in the new Israeli plans presented to the public in the past few months. The Apartheid Wall, with its horrendous effects on Palestinian life and land, does not stand alone, but is today merging with the longstanding Israeli settlement policy and the creation of Jewish-only infrastructure into a comprehensive scheme for colonial domination and conquest. January 2005.
Palestinians never took seriously the verbal Israeli commitments to withdraw from Gaza. This is not only as a result of long, bitter Palestinian experience not to expect anything good especially from such a right-wing Israeli government, but also because Palestinians have learned that there is always a rather large gap between what Israeli leaders say and do. This edition of Bitterlemons offers four points of view on the issue, by Israelis and Palestinians.
The Israeli armed forces have illegally razed thousands of homes, regardless of military necessity, to clear Palestinians from the Gaza-Egypt border and create a “buffer zone,” Human Rights Watch said in a report called "Razing Rafah: Mass Home Demolitions in the Gaza Strip". The Israeli government is calling for the destruction of hundreds more homes to widen the zone as part of a plan to “disengage” from the territory. October 2004.
Israel's plan to "disengage" from Gaza, which is part of a scheme to break up Palestinian territory into a series of Bantustans and torpedo the project of Palestinian statehood altogether, must be opposed worldwide - just as apartheid was. July 2004.
Many critics of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon depict him as an adroit tactician who has a ready answer for every immediate problem, but entirely lacks a long-term strategy. Ari Shavit, a columnist for the liberal Israeli daily Haaretz, recently characterized the present Sharon government as having "no principles, inspiration or vision...no comprehensive, coherent concept." Of course, Shavit's comment referred above all to the prime minister himself. On the eve of Sharon's April 2004 visit to the United States, where he seeks George W. Bush's license for a unilateral Israeli "disengagement" from the Gaza Strip, many speculated that this scheme, too, is only a tactic.
The Egyptian efforts simply stem from the different components and obligations that make up the first phase of the roadmap, in addition to other components taken from the Sharon plan of unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip. This report by Bitterlemons offers four different points of view on the subject.
Roughly 1400 activists from 43 countries converged in Cairo on their way to Gaza to join with Palestinians marching to break Israel's illegal siege. They were prevented from entering Gaza by the Egyptian authorities. As a result, the Freedom Marchers remained in Cairo. They staged a series of nonviolent actions aimed at pressuring the international community to end the siege against Palestinians. This declaration arose from those actions. January 2010.
Forty-two years of military occupation and sixteen years of the Oslo Process have made Gaza a smaller place. Already one of the most densely-populated strips of land in the world, its population has grown during this period from less than 360,000 in 1967 to 1.5 million today. Meanwhile, its borders have not only become more impermeable, but they have been progressively closing in on what some have called "the world's largest open air prison." December 2009.
This report documents the humanitarian impact of the blockade imposed by Israel since June 2007 on the 1.5 million people living in the Gaza Strip. It focuses on the effects of the import and export restrictions and the travel ban to and from Gaza on livelihoods, food security, education, health, shelter, energy and water and sanitation. The report also describes how the recurrent cycles of violence and human rights violations, stemming from the Israeli- Palestinian conflict and Hamas's rule over Gaza, have compounded the suffering of the population in Gaza. August 2009 (pdf).
On 27 December 2008, Israeli occupying forces launched a full-scale military offensive on the Gaza Strip from the sea, land and air. For 22 days the Israeli military indiscriminately shelled homes, mosques and schools, leaving no area of Gazan society untouched. During Israel's barbaric military campaign, approximately 1300 Palestinians were killed. According to Al-Mezan for Human Rights almost 4 of every 5 persons killed was a civilian. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, more than 1 of every 3 fatalities was a child . Practices and tactics adopted by the Israeli military during its offensive, which included bombing and shelling densely populated areas, strongly indicate that civilians were deliberately targeted. January 2009.
Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army and has never questioned the state's legitimacy. But its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions. January 2009.
It is hard to demarcate Israel's Palestine policy from the former South Africa's egregious ideology and politics of apartheid, says Praful Bidwai. He also comments on the now-rejected Sharon proposal for unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The plan had nothing to do with Palestinian independence, Bidawi says, but was rather a way of getting rid of a "trouble-spot" to consolidate the much larger settlement issue in the West Bank preventing the emergence of a sovereign Palestinian state.
Israeli forces invaded the northern part of Gaza Strip on Tuesday September 28, 2004. Dozens of tanks and bulldozers, backed by Apache helicopters have been used in Israel’s operation “Days of Penitence”. More than 129 Palestinians, including several children and women, have been killed and more than 400 wounded since the army's operations in Gaza. The Palestine Monitor calls upon the international community to take urgent action, to speak out against the Israeli massacre of a civilian population and to demand that Israel is held to international law. October 2004.
Operation Days of Penitence, launched on September 29, 2004, is the Israeli military's most extensive incursion into the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the current Palestinian uprising and its largest offensive within the Occupied Territories since the 2002 reconquest of West Bank cities during Operation Defensive Shield. The backdrop for the incursion is, of course, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan for "unilateral disengagement" from the Gaza Strip, initially unveiled in late 2003. November 2004.
On 9 June 2006, an Israeli naval boat stationed off the coast of Beit Lahya fired seven successive artillery shells at civilians on a Gaza beach, killing Seven civilians from the same family (father, mother and five children). A further thirty-two civilians, including thirteen children, were injured. On 13 June another attack was carried out on a Gazan highway, killing eleven and injuring thirty. Israel's Defense Minister Amir Peretz announced that Israel is preparing a global "propaganda offensive" to counter the recent barrage of news reports and writings that condemned Israel for the recent killing of 10 civilians, including 5 children, on a Gaza beach. June 2006.
The consequences of the Lebanon attacks remain uncertain. But it is in Gaza that the humanitarian crisis is skyrocketing and there is serious danger that escalating tensions on the Israeli-Lebanese border will divert the world's attention from that crisis. As was evident in sanctions-devastated Iraq in 2003, a new war in the area does not improve the lives of those already suffering extreme humanitarian disaster, but rather exacerbates those problems. These attacks represent a massive collective punishment against the 1.3 million people of Gaza, and thus under international law constitute a war crime, violating Israel's obligations as Occupying Power under the Geneva Conventions. 12 July 2006.
Jihad Abu Snaima, 14, is just the most recent of more than 37 children and teenagers under 18 killed (out of a total death toll, including militants, of 228) in the operations mounted by the Israeli military in Gaza since 25 June, according to figures from the Palestinian Centre of Human Rights (PCHR). September 2006.
Israel is now incarcerating nearly a million and a half helpless Palestinians in the Gaza Strip into a hell similar in nature to the Warsaw Ghetto. The Gaza concentration camp is not only fitted with a wall, but also with every conceivable tool of repression, such as electric fences and watch towers manned by Gestapo-like trigger-happy Jewish soldiers who shoot first and ask questions later. August 2007.
Certainly, free movement was the promise held out in the comprehensive Agreement on Movement and Access, signed more than two years ago by Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). The first of the six components of this agreement was that there would be a crossing between Gaza and Egypt at Rafah, controlled by the PA and Egypt. At the time, this was hailed as an historic step on the road to a Palestinian state -- for the first time, it was said, Palestinians would have access to the outside world free from Israeli control. So, how was Israel still able to impose a suffocating blockade on the Strip, home to almost 1.5 million Palestinians, eighty percent of them refugees? February 2008.
The situation for 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is worse now than it has ever been since the start of the Israeli military occupation in 1967. The current situation in Gaza is man-made, completely avoidable and, with the necessary political will, can also be reversed. March 2008.
According to Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, Israel has conducted state-sponsored genocide against the Palestinians for decades and intensively in Gaza, where an humanitarian disaster is taking place. November 2008.
"(...) If we are serious about ending this carnage, this time, we have no choice but to try to analyze, try to figure out what caused this most recent massacre, how to stop it, and then how to continue our work to end the occupation, end Israel’s apartheid policies, and change U.S. policy to one of justice and equality for all," writes Phyllis Bennis. January 2009.
In February 2008, Israel’s Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai warned that if Hamas continued firing rockets, they would bring upon themselves a ‘bigger shoah,’ the word used by Israelis to refer to the Nazi genocide or holocaust. This statement came in the wake of attacks on Gaza which left 32 Palestinians dead, including eight children, the youngest a six-month-old baby. These regular attacks, combined with a blockade which deprived Palestinians in Gaza of food, fuel, potable water, medicines and educational materials, was the slow-motion shoah which had been taking place up to December 27, 2008. The full-scale bombing which began on that date is surely the ‘bigger shoah’ promised by Vilnai, and, according to Israeli reports, it was being planned as long back as February. January 2009.
Where is the international community when we need it so badly? What has happened to the world’s conscience? Why is it silent? And how long will it maintain its deafening silence? Silence is crime. Silence is complicity with the oppressor. Those who see evil and do nothing about it also share the responsibility. March 2008.
Veteran journalist Robert Fisk has published an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times about U.S. mainstream media coverage of Palestine/Israel. In the face of pressures on American journalists in the Middle East, let's call a colony a colony, let's call occupation what it is, let's call a wall a wall. And maybe express the reality of war by showing that it represents not, primarily, victory or defeat, but the total failure of the human spirit. December 2005.
On May 15, 1948, one day after the British mandate over Palestine ended, the Jewish state of Israel was officially created. That date marked the beginning of a 62-year exile for 750,000 Palestinians, who along with their descendants now comprise the world’s largest refugee population at nearly five million people. By Tammy Obeidallah. April 2010.
15 May 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the Palestinian “Nakba,” the “catastrophe” that led to the forcible displacement of more than half of the population of Historic Palestine. For 60 years, the Palestinian refugees have been denied their internationally guaranteed right to return to their homes. While the State of Israel is celebrating its independence, the fate of the Palestinian refugees and those subsequently expelled over the course of Israel’s 40 years of occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, remains unresolved. May 2008 (pdf version).
"After 60 years of expulsion, exile and refuge; after 60 years of international impotence, and the failure of international organizations to enforce their own decisions; and after 60 years of Israeli arrogance, we declare that the commemoration of the Nakba as of today will nothing but a date to renew our commitment to struggle until we achieve our return to our original homes and lands. We declare the return to be the program of our struggle, and not just a demand, and will continue as such until the end of the Nakba, 'whether they like it or not' as Yasser Arafat once said. We shall return." May 2008.
A new report from the Arab Association for Human Rights documents the danger of eviction facing the Palestinian residents of the Ajami neighborhood in Jaffa and reveals the true motives behind this process. For these residents, ethnic cleansing did not end in 1948. It continues to this day, albeit by different means. The process being implemented in Jaffa (and in other locations in Israel) amounts to the "quiet transfer" of the Palestinian residents. May 2008.
The Palestinian Authority is planning to mark the 60th anniversary of the Nakba (the expulsion of the Palestinian people from their land in 1948, which gave way to the creation of the State of Israel), by calling on all Palestinians living abroad to converge on Israel by land, sea and air. The plan, drawn by Ziad Abu Ein, Fatah’s Deputy Minister for Prisoners' Affairs in the Palestinian Authority, states that the Palestinians have decided to implement United Nations Resolution 194 (December 1948) regarding the refugees. April 2008.
Today, Palestinian refugees outside the occupied territories and Palestinian exiles feel completely excluded from the body politic and national debate currently taking place in the occupied territories. They listen to the feuding emanating from the territories in helpless dismay. They watch those on the inside who are caught up in a carefully engineered web of power struggles and passionate rifts that seem incomprehensible in their intensity and misdirection. January 2007.
Amid widespread sectarian violence in Iraq, Palestinian refugees in Iraq face particularly grave security threats, including targeted killings by mostly Shi`a militant groups and harassment by the Iraqi government, Human Rights Watch said in this report. September 2006.
At this very moment in the Arab world, Europe, and further afield, Palestinians from all walks of life have been gathering together in large and small meetings to discuss the issues that concern them, in open debate. They choose the things they wish to speak about, and raise the issues that concern them. They discuss how to advance their rights - and there are certainly a multitude of them - legal, economic, civic, political, and social. May 2005.
The individual right to self-determination requires States to respect all rights in human rights conventions they have agreed to including the right of (Palestinian) refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes and repossess their properties. But this doesn’t always happen. The US and Israel often vote with a few others against United Nations resolutions, otherwise passed unanimously, that include provision for basic human rights. The following looks at the rights of return and self determination in international law. December 2004.
Palestinian nationalism as it exists today was born with the expulsion of more than half the Palestinian people from their land in 1948. We are obliged to address the problem of the Palestinian refugees as fundamental to any solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Their advocacy includes the right of Palestinians to return to their homeland, and to full restitution of all their confiscated and destroyed property in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International law and implementation of United Nations Resolutions which uphold these rights.
Palestine Remembered was founded by a group of ordinary Palestinians who have dedicated themselves to preserving and documenting the collective experiences and heritage of the Palestinian refugees. PalestineRemembered.com works under the general umbrella of al-'Awda Organization. The web site is based in USA.
The recent history of Palestinians, especially since the 1940s, has been marked by confrontations, enforced segregation, overcrowding and massive geographic displacement throughout several Middle East regions.
The bulldozers have been working around the clock building the separation barrier, and it is now clear that the end is at hand. The residents' expulsion is imminent; they will soon be forced to move from their homes and ancestral land. This, at least, is the impression that activist Neve Gordon had after leaving the small village Nu'eman. June 2004.
When Israeli-Palestinian permanent status negotiations resume, a key stumbling block is likely to be the Palestinian refugee question. The plight of the refugees and the demand that their right of return be recognised has been central to the Palestinian struggle since the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
The question of Palestinian refugees has been one of the core issues facing negotiators in the Middle East peace process. Palestinians can find their right of return on international law (the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Fourth Geneva Convention).
On January 19 Israel's international secret police, the Mossad, sent an eighteen member death squad to Dubai using fake European passports, in order to assassinate the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud al Mabhouh. International media and diplomatic circles are buzzing with stories and theories about how the Israelis planned the whole thing and executed with professional precision. The question is how long will Israel get away with murder? And how long will its Western friends and allies protect it? February 2010.
A century old conflict between the state of Israel and stateless Palestinians, many of whom have been disposed from lands that created the Israel state, has precipitated a argument: Is it preferable to have two states living side by side or have one state from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River that includes Jews and Palestinians without prejudice and with equal rights for all? May 2008.
For the residents of the Occupied Territories, particularly West Bank residents, sweeping restrictions on freedom of movement are not a new phenomenon. Since the early 1990s, Israel has gradually and steadily expanded and refined its movement restrictions’ policy. Until 1991, Israel allowed all Palestinians from the Occupied Territories − except for a relatively small group of persons who were classified as security threats − to enter and stay in Israel during daytime hours. From time to time, Israeli security forces set up checkpoints in the West Bank to capture wanted persons and imposed restrictions on Palestinians wanting to go abroad. This ability to move around was a crucial factor in the creation of a Palestinian economy that depended heavily on Israel’s economy. It also aided in the establishment of social, cultural, and commercial ties between the West Bank and Gaza and with Palestinian citizens of Israel. August 2007 (pdf).
The breaching of the Israeli-built wall dividing the Gaza Strip from Egypt brought some critical relief for the population of 1.5 million Palestinians whom Israel had kept locked into a kind of prison since January 2006. That lock-down was tightened in June 2007, and by the end of this January it had created a rising humanitarian crisis as Israel completely cut off access into and out of a walled-off Gaza, and halted crucial supplies of fuel, food, and already scarce medicines and medical equipment. February 2008.
Following the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, Israel almost immediately adopted what was known as the Alon Plan, which advocated the establishment of Jewish settlements in areas with so-called "security importance". While these initial settlements were built in areas where Palestinian populations were sparse, such as the Jordan Valley and areas outside Jerusalem, this quickly changed in the late 70s under the more aggressive Likud government, which accelerated settlement expansion into areas near Palestinian populated regions in the heart of the West Bank, not only for so-called "security considerations" now, but also for ideological reasons. December 2007.
During the Cold War, the conservative Arab governments used the threat of "international communism" to squelch internal dissent and secure their unpopular regimes while cultivating closer ties to Washington. In the "post-9/11" era, "communism" has been replaced by the specter of "terrorism." Deeply unpopular at home and unable to rely on any notion of nationalism or Pan-Arab unity, Arab leaders have instead resorted to the politics of fear to bolster their rule by appealing to the basest elements of sectarian and ethnic bigotry: fear of a Shiite revival, or of Persian hegemony, or the chaos in Iraq. These tactics have emerged in Palestine since Hamas' election victory, and have become more pronounced since the organization took over Gaza in June. October 2007.
What would be the truly radical ethico-political act today in the Middle East? For both Israelis and Arabs, it would be to renounce the (political) control of Jerusalem—that is, to endorse the transformation of the Old Town of Jerusalem into an extra-state place of religious worship controlled (temporarily) by some neutral international force. What both sides should accept is that, by renouncing the political control of Jerusalem, they are effectively renouncing nothing—they are gaining the elevation of Jerusalem into a genuinely sacred site. What they would lose is only what already deserves to be lost: the reduction of religion to a stake in political power plays. August 2006.
The machine of displacement never tires. It continues its work in the occupied territories and in Israel proper, from Rafah to the Negev, from Hebron to Jerusalem, from Budrus to Bil'in, from Jenin to Sakhnin. It grabs an acre here and an acre there. Let me be clear: no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is possible so long as it continues its work. But dismantle it, and everything is possible. June 2007.
It should have happened sooner, but at least it has happened now. Israel has been exposed by the august World Bank for its oppressive control of the West Bank. Three weeks before global protests begin against 40 years of Israel's occupation, the report reveals what every government knows, but not one has been prepared to stop. May 2007.
This report examines long-term trends with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The report argues that Israeli national security thinking has reached a point in which disengagement from the Palestinians is considered the central security interest. The author argues that Palestinian statehood may help Israel realise the goals of disengagement while at the same time realising the Palestinians' right of self-determination. February 2007 (pdf version).
There are many aspects of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in urgent need of legal scrutiny as part of a much-needed critical dialogue. One such issue is Israel's claim towards Hamas to acknowledge that it has a 'right to exist'. This claim has not only been uncritically taken on board by the Quartet. It has become one of the top conditions to be fulfilled by Hamas for receiving aid by the Quartet and other international donors. At the risk of stating the obvious, we argue that this position lacks any basis under international law and will serve no constructive political purpose in seeking to resolve the conflict. March 2007.
The rapid, almost hasty, developments on the Arab Israeli front, almost immediately following the Saudi sponsored Makkah Agreement on February 2, should be examined in their proper context, as a part and parcel of the regional shifts, exasperated by the US war in Iraq and the dramatic adjustment in Iran’s position vis-à-vis the region and its sectarian, religious composition. March 2007.
Now is the time for a serious international push to launch an Arab-Israeli peace initiative. Catastrophic as the recent series of developments in the Middle East have been, they can give new impetus to the search for a comprehensive settlement. The latest report from the International Crisis Group analyzes all the obstacles to peace in the current climate. But it also charts a way forward. October 2006.
Lost in the discussion of peace processes, military raids, Qassam rocket fire and unilateralism carried out by the Israeli government for 'security purposes,' is the climate of fear that is the defining feature of Israeli and Palestinian life. June 2006.
Conflicts are unique and so are the mechanisms set up to resolve them. But in most cases, human rights are considered an important element for conflict resolution. What makes the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and its resolution particularly unique is the virtual absence, in any peace proposals to date, of human rights regulations or provision for the establishment of human rights institutions. This implies that the two parties have yet to agree on the underlying root causes of the conflict and how they should go about resolving the conflict.
European organisations defied the refusal of EU Ministers to publish a report compiled by their own diplomats regarding Israeli violations of international law with regard to East Jerusalem. The report, which states that "Israel's activities in Jerusalem are in violation of both its Roadmap obligations and international law" was shelved by EU foreign ministers at their 12 December Foreign Affairs (GAERC) meeting in Brussels, for fear of alienating Israel and reducing the EU's influence. December 2005.
Since the current Palestinian uprising began in 2000, Israeli forces have killed or seriously injured thousands of Palestinians who were not taking part in the hostilities. However, this report proves that the Israeli authorities have investigated fewer than five percent of the fatal incidents to determine whether soldiers were responsible for using force unlawfully. The investigations they did conduct fell far short of international standards for independent and impartial inquiries. June 2005.
Ron Kampeas, writing on JTA, "The Global News Source of the Jewish People," on December 14, 2004, reports that President Bush's views of the Middle East have been formed by Israeli Minister Natan Sharansky's book, "The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror." If true, this story is just one more example of the poor sources of information used by the current US administration. December 2004.
Israelis have always talked about peace, sung about it, made art and poetry about it as if it is something almost supernatural, some kind of a paradise that they yearn for but that has nothing to do with their everyday reality, and that they have no idea how to create. January 2005.
Fifty-seven years ago the United Nations recommended that Palestine be split into two states, one Arab and the other Jewish (General Assembly Resolution 181). Since then, the country and the region have been racked by almost continuous violence, including several wars. Two years ago, the United Nations Security Council reaffirmed the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine (Resolution 1397). And yet military occupation and violence has continued. December 2004.
The Palestinians are used to an American bias toward Israel. But Bush and his administration went beyond just the ordinary US bias toward Israel and against the Palestinians--its traditional military, political and economic support for Israel. This administration sunk to new levels in its lack of sensitivity to specific stipulations of international legality and relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council that used to govern at least the official American position on the conflict. November 2004.
Ariel Sharon’s push for unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and four forlorn West Bank settlements in the spring of 2004 came after a year of mounting criticism inside and outside Israel that he had no long-term “solution” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As the prime minister conceded, his scheme was designed to forestall solutions brokered by international actors, as well as locally engineered initiatives, like the Geneva Accord of November 2003, that would implement a two-state solution based upon the last formulas discussed by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators at Taba in January 2001. With disengagement, Sharon seeks to exploit the perception that there is no Palestinian partner for negotiations, and to impose Israel’s power on the weaker party.
Operation Rainbow -- the biggest Israeli incursion into Gaza since the second intifada erupted in late September 2000 -- officially began on May 18, 2004, though forces began moving in the previous day. Ostensibly to locate and seal off arms smuggling tunnels into Egypt and arrest armed Palestinians, the army sent some 100 tanks and APCs into Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza. Palestinians in Rafah had been expecting the worst for some time.
Since the occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has zealously attempted to counter Palestinian demographic strength by encouraging Israeli Jewish immigration into the city and by employing discriminatory policies of restricting Palestinian building, revoking Jerusalem residence rights, almost completely abandoning the provision of social services to Palestinian neighbourhoods and isolating communities from one another and from the West Bank.
For much of its history, Israel has focused on the neighbouring Arab states and Palestinians living in the occupied territories. Too often overlooked has been the status of those Israeli citizens who are Arab. They have attracted national attention only at times of heightened crisis, and even then in a highly reactive fashion. Unless systemic inequities facing Arab Israelis are addressed and an inclusive process is launched to define the state's long-term attitude towards this segment of its citizenry, prospects for internal strife and instability will remain high.
Jewish settlements built in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have entangled the people, making a solution based on two states look increasingly unlikely. Now, the separation barrier Israel is building deep inside the West Bank and which Prime Minister Ariel Sharon wants to turn into a boundary between Israelis and Palestinians is final evidence that Israel is not interested in allowing the creation of a viable Palestinian state.
"While recognizing the importance of keeping the issue of the occupation of Palestine at the center of the diplomatic stage, we must simultaneously recognize the larger failure of the international community to end that occupation", said Phyllis Bennis during the Solemn Commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People at the United Nations.
Four hundred kilometers and counting -- for Jewish Israel the West Bank barrier represents a longed-for separation from Palestinians, couched in the comfortable narrative of security. But as its varied malign effects on Palestinian society become clear, the barrier along its chosen route is becoming an icon of dispossession, opportunism and brutality, exposing Israel's willingness for Palestinians to pay the price for its own security and prosperity as an ugly choice. This slideshow looks at some of the ways the barrier is affecting Palestinians. But it also examines the barrier's limitations, both physically as a wall easily climbed by young Palestinians during holy festivals and symbolically as it becomes a focal point for protesters and graffiti artists pushing for a fairer solution. August 2007.
As a Palestinian non-governmental organisation dedicated to the protection and promotion of international human rights and humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), Al-Haq is gravely concerned at the planned land confiscations in the vicinity of East Jerusalem, and requests that the Quartet assert itself as a relevant actor in defending the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people. November 2007.
Then there are those times when a simple glance at the obvious is enough to clarify the complete injustice of the Israeli occupation. This is not even about the more significant issues such as political assassinations, home demolitions, prisoners or military operations that claim scores of lives. No, this is about everyday matters, most often taken for granted, which when one takes a moment to contemplate, show just how sinister a military occupation can be. August 2007.
Through the violent occupation of Iraq, the US is laying the foundations to further open the economy of the Middle East for their corporate interests. Countries once protected by oil revenues are lining up to sign bilateral agreements leading to a Middle East Free Trade Agreement. MEFTA would impose free market policies that have enslaved other regions of the global south to global capital. In Palestine, the World Bank has played a key role in facilitating the cooperation of global capital and occupation. November 2005.
One hundred pictures throughout the book tell the whole story. The book is an impressive mix of detailed report, photo journal, activist resource guide, and an anthology. Contributors to the publication include the PENGON member organizations and the Wall Campaign Emergency Centers. Nine guest articles covering a range of topics and angles give further depth to this massive construct, while highlighting the point that is consistent throughout the report and testimonies: in whatever which way, the Wall is meant to control, destroy, and oppress.
This Legal Report starts with an overview of the mandate, role and composition of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and then provides extensive detail on the separation wall. The second section of the report consists of a discussion about the Court's ability to rule in this case and then an analysis of the actual decision. October 2004 (pdf version).
The Palestinian Arab minority and the Jewish majority in the State of Israel live largely in separate areas. With the exception of the mixed cities, in which a significant Palestinian minority lives alongside a clear Jewish majority, most of the Palestinian population lives in its own communities, as does the Jewish majority. This territorial separation is also seen within the mixed cities: most of the Palestinian minority lives in its own neighborhoods, which are distinct from the neighborhoods inhabited by the Jewish majority. June 2006.
Overlay a map of the wall on a map of the West Bank's aquifers, and the picture becomes clearer. The course of the wall neatly takes in the main basin of the Western Aquifer. Former Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu's defense minister, Yitzak Mordechai, during his tenure proposed that the green line should be moved 6-15 km east for this purpose. The wall has achieved this in fact. With complete Israeli control over the Western Aquifer, Palestinian agriculture will cease to exist in the northern areas of the West Bank, leaving those farmers no choice but to either become cheap labor on Israeli settlements or seek alternative employment in the major Palestinian cities. Some villages, including Nazlat Issa, Baqa Al Sharqiyyeh, Izbet Jubara, and Al Tayyeh will be unable to survive, further cementing Israeli control over the land. August 2004.
I have been asked, Why did I come from outside Israel to participate in political activity here? The first and simplest answer is because it is the right thing to do. The international community needs to insist on justice for all, for the sake of all. Secondly, I came from outside Israel to engage in political activity here because my country, the United States, bears the greatest responsibility for perpetuating the violence here. July 2004.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has rendered its advisory opinion on "the legal consequences arising from the construction of the wall being built by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory". On July 21, the General Assembly of the UN overwhelmingly agreed with the ICJ opinion, by a vote of 150-6 with ten abstentions. Though the near-term fate of the wall is unclear, subject as it is to international power politics, the Court's ruling speaks with the utmost clarity. July 2004.
The International Court of Justice, principal judicial organ of the United Nations, has rendered its Advisory Opinion in the case Friday 9 July, 2004. The Court finds that Israel must respect the right of the Palestinian people to self‑determination and its obligations under humanitarian law and human rights law. And that Israel must also put an end to the violation of its international obligations flowing from the construction of the wall.
What this wall is really doing is taking Palestinian lands. It is also — as the Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling has described Israel's war of "politicide" against the Palestinians — helping turn Palestinian communities into dungeons, next to which the bantustans of South Africa look like symbols of freedom, sovereignty and self-determination.
Israel's decision to construct a controversial ''security fence'' deep inside the occupied territory of the West Bank has sparked strong condemnation from U.S. academics, Middle East experts and a U.N. human rights investigator.
The current Israeli government is currently building a wall in the West Bank. Its construction has raised strong and conflicting emotions within Israel, within the Occupied Palestinian Territories and among the International community. This article examines what the wall is and its legality under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
There are some positive features in the Geneva Accord that were missing from earlier "peace processes" including the Madrid, Oslo and Camp David approaches. They include the recognition that the fundamental issues -establishment of a Palestinian state, borders, refugee rights, settlements, Jerusalem, etc- cannot be delayed until a mythical "final status" long after negotiations are underway, but must be spelled out at the beginning so both parties are clear as to what the results will be.
This latest peace initiative, devised and pursued by a group of Israelis and Palestinians under the auspices of the Swiss government, could not present itself at a more opportune moment. It is the end of Ariel Sharon's third year in office and Israel's standing has taken a turn for the worse.
Three days after the administration of President George W Bush shrugged off the unofficial Israeli-Palestinian peace plan released last week in Geneva, a bipartisan group of eight former top US national security officials said they supported the so-called "Geneva Accord".
The signatories and supporters of the Geneva Accord are spreading the idea that the Accord will achieve a historic reconciliation, defined primarily as each party recognizing the other’s right to a state. And yet, the main issue does not lie in the recognition of a Palestinian state, but in the composition of the Palestinian state, as the kind of state the Accord refers to is the main reason why Palestinians, overwhelmingly, reject the Accord. The fact remains that the Accord is almost totally removed from the reality of the Occupation, which, like the Wall, continues unhindered.
This edition of Bitterlemons International offers four articles on the issue: "It's for the parties to adopt" - an interview with Marc Otte; "One American’s view" - by Aaron David Miller; "Laudable in rekindling hope" - by M. Cherif Bassiouni; "Recycled delusions in Geneva" - by Rime Allaf.
The Geneva Accord, the latest unofficial framework for Israeli-Palestinian peace made public in mid-October 2003, has not become the basis for official negotiations. But the initiative has already been successful in one respect: it has uncorked as many vocal hopes as it has protests among Israelis and Palestinians, even though the Israeli government has rejected it and the Palestinian Authority (PA) has not formally endorsed it.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly denounces Switzerland 's involvement and endorsement of the so-called “Geneva Accord.” PCHR asserts that Switzerland's support of the Geneva Accord contradicts its duties both as the depository of the Geneva Conventions and as a High Contracting Party to the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War , 1949 (Fourth Geneva Convention).
Since the creation of the state of Israel , the Israelis try to get from the Palestinians to give up the right of the Palestinian refugees to return. Finally, they found a Palestinian group that is going to make it.
The notion that peace and human rights must coexist is widely accepted. The issue becomes much more complex and divisive when we ask, which has to come first? The case of Palestine provides a clear enough answer that without respect for human rights there can be no peace. October 2008 (pdf).
The report documents violations of the right to water and sanitation resulting from Israeli policy and practice in the occupied West Bank, particularly in relation to lack of Palestinian access to water resources and water and sanitation services and facilities. December 2008 (pdf).
Most Palestinians can testify that they have witnessed or experienced inhumane treatment at the hands of an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldier. Arbitrary detentions, confiscation of ID cards, strip-searching, the use of human shields, physical and vocal abuse - all done in the name of security, and all flouting the IDF’s code of conduct. November 2008.
A new report by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel provides a detailed description of the permits mechanism instituted by Israel and of the growing restrictions placed by this mechanism on the access of patients to medical care unavailable in Gaza. The report describes how patients' access to medical care is conditioned on their collaboration with Israeli intelligence. August 2008 (pdf).
"I am a Palestinian journalist from Gaza", writes Mohammed Omer. "At the age of 17, I armed myself with a camera and a pen, committed to report accurately on events in Gaza. I have filed reports as Israeli fighter jets bombed Gaza City. I have interviewed mothers as they watched their children die in hospitals unequipped to serve them because of Israel's embargo. I have been recognized for my reporting, even in the United States and United Kingdom, where I have won two international awards. I have also been beaten and tortured by Israeli soldiers." August 2008.
Israel's practice of denying family reunification permits and denying entry to foreign passport holders (many but not all of whom are of Palestinian origin) is part of a campaign of ridding the occupied territories (including East Jerusalem) of Palestinians and tightly controlling those it is obliged to retain. The practice takes aim at Palestinian families: it splits families apart, denies Palestinian communities access to foreign and expatriate talent, deprives the economically hard-hit territories of foreign currency, and further isolates the Palestinians under occupation. September 2007.
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Amnesty International called on the Israeli authorities to end the land-grabbing, blockades and other violations of international law carried out under the occupation. These have resulted in widespread human rights abuses and have also failed to bring security to the Israeli and Palestinian civilian populations. June 2007.
Gaza has again been the focus of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). The West Bank has also experienced serious human rights violations resulting from frequent military incursions; the construction of the Wall; house demolitions and checkpoints. January 2007 (pdf version).
A mission of the International Federation for Human Rights was in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) between 25 June and 2 July 2006. The mission was set up in order to examine the situation of economic and social rights in Gaza and the West Bank, almost one year after Israel 'disengaged' from the Gaza strip and three months after Israel and the international community decided to suspend all contacts with the government of the Palestinian Authority and to interrupt all aid channelled to and via that government, following the taking into office a government led by the Hamas on 29 March 2006 after elections were held on 25 January 2006. October 2006 (pdf version).
The situation of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) has deteriorated since 2001, and is "intolerable, appalling, and tragic" for the ordinary Palestinian, according to the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in the OPT. Mr John Dugard, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, made this assessment during discussions at the Human Rights Council on country-specific reports of experts. September 2006.
In their long-running quest to end Israel's belligerent 35-year occupation of the Gaza strip and west Bank (including east Jerusalem) and secure the implementation of international humanitarian law, human rights NGOs in the OPT face the unique double challenge of confronting both a formidable military power (backed by the world's only superpower) and a repressive quasi-state at the same time. Yet Palestinian civil society in the OPT is the most vigorous and independent in the Arab world and is dynamic by any standard.
The last months clearly show that as a people under Occupation, we are the ones to pay the price in the latest round of war crimes in the Middle East. We pay for the success as well as the failures of the Zionist and US/European policies. We pay for the weaknesses as well as the determination of our own struggle. Likewise we pay for the support to our struggle, as well as the lack of solidarity. Amidst the bloodshed, the ghettos and the prison cells our beliefs remain united that the Zionist dream of a Palestine without Palestinians will not materialize. August 2006.
The lightening success of Hamas in forcefully taking over the supposed symbols of Palestinian power in Gaza cannot and ought not obscure the fact that, given the overbearing presence of Israel's military occupation, the bloody clash between the Islamist group and its secular counterpart, Fatah, and irrespective of motives, has descended into a feud between two slaves fighting over the crumbs thrown to them, whenever they behave, by their common colonial master. June 2007.
Fratricidal fighting is threatening to engulf, or already engulfing, the occupied Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Iraq. Both Syria and Iran could soon be next, torn apart by attacks Israel is reportedly planning on behalf of the US. The reverberations would likely consume the region, according to writer Jonathan Cook. December 2006.
With the absence of any viable third option to date, Palestinian public support has become increasingly dichotomised between a paralysed HAMAS-led government and a FATEH-led presidency whose credibility, integrity, and popularity have arguably all but diminished since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority more than 12 years ago. 31 August 2006.
This document, signed by Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails (representing FATEH, HAMAS, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, and DFLP), is being put forth as a complete package, with the hope that it will get the support and approval of everyone and that it can contribute to reaching a Palestinian national conciliation document. May 2006.
Hamas' victory in the Palestinian Authority legislative elections has everyone asking "what next"? The answer, and whether the result should be seen as a good or bad thing, depends very much on who is asking the question. Although a Hamas success was heavily trailed, the scale of the victory has been widely termed a "shock." Several factors explain the dramatic rise of Hamas, including disillusionment and disgust with the corruption, cynicism and lack of strategy of the Fatah faction which has dominated the Palestinian movement for decades and had arrogantly come to view itself as the natural and indisputable leader.
Palestinians express a range of feelings towards the election on 25 January 2006, from enthusiasm to apathy. The impact of Israel's occupation on the election for the 132-member Palestinian Legislative Council remains unclear but certain key factors have to be taken into consideration. January 2006
The Sharm El-Sheikh summit of Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas is hailed in the Western media as the opening of a new era. But the new "peace plans" are no more real than the previous ones, and on the ground, the Palestinians are losing more of their land and are being pushed into smaller and smaller prison enclaves, surrounded by the new wall that Sharon's government keeps constructing. February 2005.
Speaking at a 10 January 2005 briefing at the DC-based Palestine Center, Diana Buttu, special advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) noted that Israel did not facilitate the election process. Instead, it complicated the process, especially in East Jerusalem. January 2005.
The transition in the Palestinian Authority following Arafat's death has gone well but the situation is fragile in the run-up to the 9 January presidential election. The extent to which the new dynamics present an opportunity for peace is dependent on whether visible efforts to rejuvenate Palestinian institutions are accompanied by renewed commitment to moving toward a viable, comprehensive settlement. Palestinian political reform is important but internal reform cannot be the only focus: defects in democracy did not cause the Israeli-Palestinian conflict any more than addressing them will resolve it. The new president, likely Mahmoud Abbas, must deliver tangible improvements to daily life and offer hope of a political settlement -- and here Israel and the international community need to deliver as well. Abbas probably has about three months to prove himself; if he fails, the situation is likely to revert quickly to chaos and conflict. December 2004.
Elections for a new President of the Palestinian Authority will be held on 9 January. Even then, it is still uncertain whether Israel will cooperate to enable a peaceful process, since it has de facto control over the occupied Palestinian territories. For example, will Palestinians in East Jerusalem be allowed to vote? November 2004.
On the eve of Arafat's death, Bidwai writes, that Arafat has never been an obstacle to peace, but rather a precondition for it as he has done more than anyone else to put the cause of the Palestinian people on the world map. After Arafat, and in the face of the Sharon's "Disengagement plan", after which Gaza will become a giant prison, the PLO has to forge a strong, effective, collective leadership, he urges. November 2004.
Few modern figures were as controversial as Yasser Arafat, who died in Paris at the age of 75 on Thursday, 11 November 2004. Lionized by some and vilified by others, Arafat was a complicated figure. He was the leader of the PLO since before most Palestinians alive today were born. Even among his most vocal Palestinian critics, Arafat could inspire affection and loyalty in a way no other living Palestinian could. Palestinians, though, were also always his first and most vocal critics, a reality rarely conveyed by the mainstream press. November 2004.
A Palestinian-led movement of Palestinian and International activists working to raise awareness of the struggle for Palestinian freedom and an end to Israeli occupation. The movement utilizes nonviolent, direct-action methods of resistance to confront and challenge illegal Israeli occupation forces and policies.