Several of you responded to my question of why Obama does not want the Palestinians to appeal to the General Assembly at the UN to recognize the West Bank and Gaza (the 1967 lines) as a Palestinian state. I appreciate your taking the time to give me your opinion. Interestingly, those of you who responded had one and the same answer: AIPAC. Perhaps. I’m not sure. After all, Netanyahu gives the Palestinians no choice. His ‘nos’ today cut short any hope of negotiations: no to 1967 lines, no to Palestinian refugees returning to Jaffa or Haifa or elsewhere in Israel, no to negotiations with Hamas, and, in addition, it isn’t sufficient for Netanyahu that Palestinians recognize Israel. No. They must recognize it as a Jewish state (imagine recognizing the US as a Christian state!). And of all the insolent supercilious remarks, the one that got me the most was that ‘Israel would be generous to the Palestinians.’ Ha! When has Israel ever been generous to them? Truth is, that Netanyahu is interested in stalling, not in making peace.
Item 1 of the 7 below reports the Palestinian reaction to Netanyahu’s speech. I personally did not expect anything much different from it, but was shocked to see how the Congress of the great United States of America slobbered and licked up every word.
In item 2 Gershon Baskin relates his face-to-face experience with IOF aggression.
Item 3 is an update on demolitions and other events concerning the Bedouin villages in the Negev. How could Netanyahu lie so openly that Arabs who have Israeli citizenship have equal rights with Jews?
Item 4 is a call for support for the right of Palestinian refugees to return.
Item 5 is also a call, one by Mazin Qumsiyeh, to support and join important challenges this summer, which he lists.
Item 6 is a link to yesterday’s ‘Today in Palestine.’ Please at least run through the summaries.
Item 7 is a video of Ilan Pappe’s speech in Stuttgart. I have not heard it yet, but because I am familiar with his ideas and works, I am sure that it must be interesting.
All the best dear friends. Unless something surprising and unexpected happens, it seems as if we will have lots of work on our hands for a long time before we see justice and peace here in this unholy land.
. Haaretz Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Palestinians: Netanyahu speech to U.S. Congress is obstacle to peace
Spokesman for Palestinian President Abbas said that the things stated in Prime minister Netanyahu’s speech ‘will not lead to peace.’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vision for ending conflict with Palestinians put “more obstacles” in front of the Middle East peace process, the spokesman for the Palestinian president said.
“What came in Netanyahu’s speech will not lead to peace,” Nabil Abu Rdainah, the spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters following Netanyahu’s address to the U.S. Congress on Wednesday.
The prime minister addressed the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, where he called on the Palestinians to destroy the recent reconciliation deal they made with Hamas.
“I say to Abbas, tear up your pact with Hamas, make peace with a Jewish State,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister spent a significant part of his speech speaking about the conflict with the Palestinians, claiming that it was not about the creation of a Palestinian state but about “the existence of the Jewish state.”
“If the benefits of peace with the Palestinians are so clear why has peace eluded us?” Netanyahu asked. “Because so far the Palestinians have been unwilling to accept a Palestinian state if it meant accepting a Jewish state beside it.”
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat slammed the prime minister’s speech, saying it was “full of lies” and “distorted history and geography.”
MK Ahmed Tibi said that Netanyahu “misled” the Congress members by describing Israel as a place where Arabs are equal citizens.
“There is not one are where there is equality between Jews and Arabs,” Tibi said.
Palestinians have said that they will meet in Ramallah on Wednesday to determine what their next step will be, following Netanyahu’s visit to Washington.
A recent trip to the weekly demonstration in Nabi Saleh shed a new light on the IDF and its operations.
For months I have been hearing about disproportionate use of force by the army against weekly demonstrations in Nabi Saleh – a small pastoral Palestinian village northwest of Ramallah. Last week, I watched several YouTube videos filmed by activists in the village, providing vivid visual images of the forceful arrests of protesters by the army. I was disturbed because all of the clips showed how the demonstrations ended; none showed how they began. I was convinced that there must have been stone-throwing by the shabab in the village which provoked the violent army responses. So I decided I had to see for myself.
When I contacted the Israeli activists who regularly participate in the Nabi Saleh demonstrations, I was warned that it was dangerous and that there was no way to know in advance when we would get home. They also warned that there was a high possibility we would be arrested. I am 55 years old, and have been demonstrating since the age of 12. I have been in dangerous situations before, and was prepared for another one.
ON FRIDAY morning I was picked up from French Hill at 10:30. We drove on 443 until the Shilat junction, and turned toward the West Bank. We drove off the beaten settlers’ track through the Palestinian villages in the area. We then turned off the road and parked in an olive grove. From there, we began a trek of about an hour through the hills, finally arriving, after a steep climb, at the edge of the village. Every Friday morning the army seals off the area and prevents entry and exit for all.
The 500 residents of Nabi Saleh, all from the Tamimi family, are demonstrating against the continuous encroachment of the Helamish settlement on their land. Since 2009, Nabi Saleh has been demonstrating every Friday.
In that time, some 200 villagers have been injured, more than 40 percent of them children.
More than 15% of the villagers have been jailed, and about 10 homes face demolition orders by the IDF; the village is located in Area “C,” which, according to Oslo, is under full Israeli control (62% of the West Bank is in Area C). Nabi Saleh has not received the same fame as Bil’in, whose six-year weekly struggle continues with a great deal of international attention
We arrived in the center of the village and were greeted warmly by the residents. In all, there were about 20 Israelis and 20 internationals, along with some 60 locals – boys and girls, men and women. When the noon prayers ended, everyone assembled in the village square. Carrying flags and chanting of freedom, we marched toward the main road, some 800 meters from the village entrance. After less than 100 meters, the army launched its first barrage of tear gas. Fired at the crowd from at least three points, dozens of canisters exploded all around us. I have experienced tear gas, but this was more potent than anything I had known. It lingers in the air, burns the skin, and stings your eyes so sharply that it’s impossible to open them; it penetrates your lungs and makes it hard to breathe. I ran as far away as I could, only to face another gas canister exploding next to me.
For eight hours, this went on. The army surrounded the village and gradually moved in toward the center. The crowd would reassemble in the central square next to the grocery store.
There they would hand out pieces of onion to breathe in and alcohol pads to combat the effects of the gas. Palestinian Red Crescent volunteers were there to help all who needed medical care.
At one stage the gas got into my eyes, and the pain was excruciating. I was brought into someone’s house, where I was fanned with a piece of cardboard. The owner of the house, Abed, a man of about 40 who used to work in construction in Tel Aviv, gently wiped my face and around my eyes with an alcohol pad. His wife then came and applied a slice of cold raw potato to my eye, which relieved the pain. They have certainly become experts in dealing with this.
Eventually the troops, which comprised about 50 soldiers, command cars, and jeeps from the Border Police and the paratroopers, took over the center of the village. Taking command of several houses around the main square, they set up command positions on the rooftops.
At this point, the demonstrators were sitting next to the grocery store occasionally chanting songs and slogans against the occupation.
Many of the chants were Palestinian versions of the chants from Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Not a stone was thrown at the soldiers, although some had been thrown from a distance earlier as the army entered the village; an act of anger more than any real aggression. The villagers are committed to and largely stick to a strategy of non-violence, even in the face of horrible aggression from the soldiers.
As someone who served in the army and was involved for years in the education of officers, I was amazed at the abuse of power, the lack of any real purpose, and the pure show of force for force’s sake demonstrated by our soldiers. There is absolutely no purpose to this aggression, and nothing to be gained by it.
At about 5 p.m. the brigade commander, with the rank of colonel in the paratroopers, and his counterpart from the Border Police decided they would declare the village a closed military area and announced that all had to disperse. I approached him at that point and appealed to his rationality – what is the point of arresting everyone, I argued? The answer I got was an order to move away.
Ten minutes later, they threw some 50 percussion grenades at the dispersing crowd, which stun your senses and your ears. I made a strategic decision to take out my Government Press Office-issued press card so that I could continue to document what I witnessed. I filmed throughout the day and posted segments of what I saw on myFacebook site. After the arrests of 11 Israelis and one foreigner, the army vehicles left the village once again, leaving about a dozen Border Police and paratroopers in charge. Standing under a mulberry tree, three paratroopers began picking the ripe berries and eating them. I approached them with the film running and asked who had given them permission to eat from that tree. Do you open refrigerators and eat the food when you enter the Palestinians’ homes uninvited, I wanted to know? Clearly embarrassed, they turned away in shame.
THE RESIDENTS of Nabi Saleh treated us to remarkable hospitality. Although exhausted from the Friday ritual of military attack every week for two years, they welcomed us into their homes.
A final show of force from the army came in the form of the “skunk.” After all had ended, the army came back into the center of the village and sprayed a ton of the most putrid-smelling liquid that any genius Israeli chemist could concoct.
They completely doused one of the houses that had offered us refuge, food and drink, and poured the remaining liquid on the village square. The odor was the worst I have ever smelled. In a sign of solidarity, villagers, Israelis and foreigners spent the next hour washing the entire house and the village square.
Filled with a spirit of solidarity, morality and justice, the 60 remaining demonstrators were invited to another villager’s home for a latenight dinner. The host family laid out salads, vegetables and rice. The villagers told us how much they appreciated our presence because, as they said, when Israeli activists are not there, the brutality of the army is far worse. What I had witnessed was more than enough to make me feel ashamed and angry, and committed more than ever to ending this occupation, which forces our children to run away to India and other countries in order to forget what they did during their army service.
On Wednesday, May 11 there was a wave of demolitions across the Negev with the ILA visiting the villages of Al Arakib, Umm Ratam, Al Rara, Al Zarnog and Al Bcherah.
About half a dozen structures in Al Arakib, outside of the cemetery, were demolished by the ILA. The JNF continues its works to build terraces of earth suitable for planting the north west of the village.
In Umm Ratam, during the demolition of a family home, three people including a woman were wounded and one man was arrested. One home in each of the villages of Al Rara and Al Zarnog was also destroyed while in Al Bcherah a sheep pen was leveled to the ground.
Sana Ibn Bari attending the UNPFII
Advocate Sana Ibn Bari is now in New York to attend the annual UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The UNPFII is an advisory body to the Economic and Social Council and this will be the seventh year that a Bedouin representative of the NCF will be attending. Sana will work to draw international attention to the challenges facing the Bedouin the Negev and particularly the policy of home demolitions.
Al Arakib: Ownership claims before court
There are interesting legal developments underway regarding ownership claims in Al Arakib, particularly that of Dr Awad Abu-Freich. Advocates Michael Sfard and Carmel Pomerantz are representing Dr Awad in this matter and they kindly provided NCF with this update.
By way of background, it is the state’s responsibility to create a land registration system, however, it has failed to do so over all territories in Israel. In most areas in the Negev where there are land ownership claims by the Bedouin, the process has been delayed by the state for over three decades. After being un-frozen in the last ten years, almost all of the land has been registered in the name of the state. Following the establishment of the state in 1948, the Bedouin remained as residents on their lands until the 1950s when the state moved to evict them through legislating to confiscate the land (Land Acquisition Law 1953). In order to rely upon this particular law, it needed to be declared that the area was needed for security, settlement or development reasons (both before the confiscation and in the proceeding period) and that the owners were not present on the land at the time. Thus, in order to fulfil these legal conditions, the government evicted the residents of Al Arakib by ordering them to move temporarily so that military training could be carried out on their land and that once they were finished, they could return. The land was confiscated upon their departure with no warning or advice to the residents.
In the 1970s, Israel began the land registration process in the Negev and announced that whoever has property claims should so declare. The land registration Officer is obligated to register the land in the name of whoever claims it or in case of disputed ownership, transfer the matter to the District Court to decide. In the case of Al Arakib, as with other areas, this process was frozen after the Bedouin residents submitted their ownership claims.
In the 1990s, the JNF began afforestation work around Al Arakib which prompted the residents to return to their village and to later file motions in the District Court seeking an order that the land be registered in their name. Dr Awad is among the applicants. In response, the state claimed that this cannot be done on the grounds that the land was already confiscated (and registered in the state’s name in the Deeds registration). Additionally, after over 30 years of deferral the state renewed the land registration process and file counter claims to have the land registered in the state’s name. Thus the case was transferred by the Bedouin land registration officer to the District Court to determine the ownership of the land.
It is procedurally unclear how parties are to prove their claims, however, both sides filed their legal arguments in the matter. Disputably and according to the state, the burden of proof lies with Dr Awad. On March 15, 2011 the court delivered an unclear, partial ruling (1162/07). Judge Shpeser said that even if there is a “narrow gate” to present claims against those in the expropriation certificate, that opportunity has now passed in this particular case (and in fact, in all similar cases) on the grounds of unreasonable delay (laches). In other words, too much time has passed since the 1950s for the court to consider the Bedouins’ arguments as it cannot be checked if they were present or not on the land at the time of the expropriation, and whether the land was used before 1952 for the purposes of security, development or settlement.
Dr Awad filed an appeal in the Supreme Court on April 26, 2011 and the following day afforestation began work on the disputed land. This led Dr Awad to file a request on April 28 for a temporary injunction against the state and whoever is working in its name to cease all work. An immediate decision was received providing that until the state responds, the injunction is in force forbidding the state and whoever is working in its name to carry out any work.
The court is expected to reach a decision in the next few days. It is anticipated that the court will either set down a hearing, dismiss the injunction allowing the state (JNF) to return to work, or request Dr Awad to file a response.
More charges against activists
In further developments, NCF Executive Director, Haia Noach, received notification last week of additional charges being laid against her following the incident during the sixth demolition on October 13, 2010. The two new charges are disturbing a policeman in his duty (article 275) and beating a policeman in his duty (article 273) . The materials indicate that she is being accused of trying to escape the scene – ignoring the fact that she had her hands tightly handcuffed behind her back.
Further, Dr Awad was taken in for further questioning at Rahat police station on May 9 and interrogated for more than 3 hours. He believes that the state is preparing their case to lay charges against him.
Resource Development Coordinator
Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality www.dukium.org 054 747 1914
The right to return is a core goal of the Palestinian liberation struggle. Since 1947-1948, when over 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly expelled from their homes – and more than 700,000 were ethnically
cleansed from their country altogether – they and their descendants have organized to demand the rectification of this historic injustice. The refugees of the Six-Day War in 1967 (after which Israeli forces drove 300,000 Palestinians out of the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank ), the 1967-1994 Israeli administration of the occupied territories (during which Israel stripped 140,000 Palestinians of their residency rights), and the ongoing colonization of Palestine and displacement of its indigenous
inhabitants, have added their voices to the growing global movement for return.
In recent years, the right to return has also emerged as a key demand of international solidarity activists supporting Palestinian aspirations for freedom. On July 9, 2005, for example, the Palestinian Civil
Society Call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) – the founding document of a Palestinian-led global movement for justice in Palestine – stated that “non-violent punitive measures should be maintained until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by … [r]especting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties.”
Today over seven million Palestinian refugees are the world’s largest group of refugees, comprising one-third of its total refugee population. Their rights to return to their homes, and to receive compensation for the damages inflicted on them, are enshrined in international law. Resolution 194, which the United Nations General Assembly adopted on December 11, 1948 and Israel agreed to implement as a condition of its subsequent admission to the United Nations,
[r]esolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.
Additionally, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly on December 10, 1948, states that “[e]veryone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to
his country.” And Resolution 3236, which the General Assembly adopted on November 22, 1974, “[r] eaffirms … the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return to the homes and property from which they
have been displaced and uprooted, and calls for their return.”
Despite its clear obligations under international law, Israel continues to resist demands by Palestinian refugees that it allow them to return to their homes. Most recently, on Sunday, May 15, the 63rd commemoration of the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” the 1947-1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine, Israeli troops responded to demonstrations by unarmed refugees marching towards their homes with lethal force.
Israeli forces killed at least 15 demonstrators on three borders (with occupied Gaza, Lebanon, and between Syria and the occupied Golan Heights), wounded hundreds more with live gunfire, artillery
shells, and tear gas, and unleashed a wave of arrests and repression in the occupied West Bank. This massive violence could only have been planned as a show of brute force, intended, along with Benjamin Netanyahu’s repeated assertions that “it’s not going to happen,” to dissuade Palestinian refugees from asserting their historic rights and the global consensus for the right of return.
Yet the most enduring story from May 15 may be that of Hassan Hijazi. A 28-year old Palestinian refugee living in Syria, he braved the gunfire that killed four others along the border with the occupied Golan Heights, then hitchhiked, and finally took a bus, to his family’s home in Jaffa. Before turning himself in to Tel Aviv police, he told Israeli reporters, “I wasn’t afraid and I’m not afraid. On the bus to Jaffa, I sat next to Israeli soldiers. I realized that they were more afraid than I was.”
Millions more are resolved to follow Hijazi’s path. On Sunday, June 5, the 44th commemoration of the Naksa, or setback, Israel’s 1967 expulsion of 300,000 Palestinians following the Six-Day War, Palestinian refugees will return en masse to the borders. Announcing the mobilization on May 18, the Third Intifada Youth Coalition said, “The last few days proved that the liberation of Palestine is possible and very achievable even with an unarmed massive march if the nation decides it is ready to pay all at once for the liberation of Palestine.”
The Preparatory Commission for the Right to Return, a nonpartisan coordinating body, has requested that supporters of the Palestinian liberation struggle also take action on June 5, by staging rallies,
marches, and protests throughout the world demanding Palestinian refugees’ right to return. Appropriate venues could include Israeli embassies, consulates, and missions, BDS campaign targets,
and foreign governments and international organizations that enable Israeli crimes.
”The May 15 marches were not an isolated incident, but were rather a declaration of the foundation of a new stage of struggle in the history of the Palestinian cause, entitled: ‘The refugees’ right to return to their homes,’” a statement by the Commission says.
For the first time ever, the Palestinians have switched from ommemorating their displacement with statements, festivals, and speeches, to actual attempts to return to their homes.
The scene of refugees marching from all directions towards their homeland of Palestine sent a powerful message to the entire world that the refugees are determined to return to their homes however long it may take; and that 63 years were not enough to kill their dream of return; and that the new generations born in forced exile who have never seen their homeland are no less attached than their grandparents and fathers who witnessed the Nakba.
What happened on May 15 was only a microcosm of the larger march soon to come, a march that will be made by Palestinian refugees and those who support them. They will pass the barbed wire and return to their occupied villages and cities.
The crowds will head out from everywhere there are Palestinian refugees toward the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and occupied Palestine’s borders with Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, in peaceful marches raising the Palestinian flag and the names of their villages and towns, the keys
to their homes, and certification papers.
The Arab Spring’s “winds of change” are blowing through the refugee camps, no less than the Arab capitals, toward Palestine. And they show no signs of stopping.
President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to the Israel
lobby in Washington essentially promising to liquidate the central struggle
for freedom today. Politicians whether Hosni Mubarak or Netanyahu or Obama do not change their behavior unless we the people change ourselves and decide to take matters into our own hands. We the people in the Arab world and all people of conscience are doing so and we urge you to join us in this summer of change.
Palestinian civil society organizations applaud the Freedom Flotilla that
will again, in June, challenge the brutal and illegal siege of the people of
Gaza. Decent people around the world will be working in support of this
international initiative. While we rightly focus on Gaza we must not forget
that Israeli colonial authorities are implementing their racist apartheid
policies throughout historic Palestine. In the West Bank (including East
Jerusalem) and in the Negev and the Galilee, ethnic cleansing and
killing/injuring civilians are just some of the many violations of basic
human rights. The aim is always to keep us isolated as well as divided, the
better to achieve the goal of dispossessing us.
We call on civil society organizations and people of conscience around the
world to support and join the other important challenges this summer to the
Israeli apartheid system. After the very successful events on May 15, there
are now two dates of significance: June 5 and July 8-16. On June 5, again,
there is a call for everyone to converge on borders and on checkpoints
throughout Palestine and on embassies and consulates of the apartheid state
everywhere in the world.
We will also have a week of solidarity and action 8 – 16 July. Hundreds of
men, women and children will fly into Tel Aviv airport to visit us in
Palestine. The international community must recognize our basic human right to receive visitors from abroad and support the right of their own citizens to travel to Palestine without harassment. Where Israel works to isolate us, we invite you to join with us openly and proudly as the decent human beings you are. We do not accept the attempts to keep us apart or to force you to speak less than with the honesty you are used to.
Dozens of local groups and popular resistance committees* have sponsored the events and many have been working hard on mobilizing locally. But this work will need to be intensified to make it a great success that it will be with your help. We could use all kind of volunteer help (locally and
internationally). Volunteers with different backgrounds and with varied
skills or those willing to be trained are welcome. Email us at <mailto:[email protected]> [email protected] with your name, location, and background so that you can join us to be part of this practical response to the machinations of politics.
Sponsoring local groups in Palestine
[Local list in formation. Many international groups joined us and organized delegations. Send us name and contact of your organization/group if you would like to join]