Toward Palestine’s ‘Mubarak moment’

New elections will not give Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas the credibility he needs, writer says

The slow collapse of Palestinian collective leadership institutions in recent years has reached a crisis amid the ongoing Arab revolutions, the revelations in the Palestine Papers, and the absence of any credible peace process.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled by Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction has attempted to respond to this crisis by calling elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and the PA presidency.

Abbas hopes that elections could restore legitimacy to his leadership. Hamas has rejected such elections in the absence of a reconciliation agreement ending the division that resulted from Fatah’s refusal (along with Israel and the PA’s western sponsors, especially the United States) to accept the result of the last election in 2006, which Hamas decisively won.

But even if such an election were held in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it does not resolve the crisis of collective leadership faced by the entire Palestinian people, some ten million distributed between those living in the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank, inside Israel, and the worldwide diaspora.

A house divided

There are numerous reasons to oppose new PA elections, even if Hamas and Fatah were to sort out their differences. The experience since 2006 demonstrates that democracy, governance and normal politics are impossible under Israel’s brutal military occupation. Continue reading

Middle east, the fire grows: “Israel says ready for Friday protests”

Ma’an News Agency, Jerusalem
10/02/2011

JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli security forces are preparing for “any fallout” from the mass protests in Tunis and Egypt, an Israeli official told the Hebrew-language website Enyan Merkazi.

Police, border guards, army, intelligence forces, and the Mossad are on alert, according to the report.

With Facebook groups calling for protests Friday, against both the Hamas and Fatah governments in the West Bank and Gaza, and Israelis protesting a recent hike in water and electricity prices, the official said there are fears that protests will spread to Palestinian areas in Israel.

Training drills were conducted during the previous week, the officials said, and preparations were made for the rapid closure of main roads across the country.

Forces will be thickest around the Palestinian population centers of Haifa, Accre, Jaffa, Lod, Ramla, Jerusalem, and Bersheba, the official said. Continue reading

Palestinian Authority suppresses demonstration in support of Egyptian uprising

[The alliance of the Mahmoud Abbas-led Palestinian Authority and the Hosni Mubarak-led Egypt, both basic supporters of the Zionist-Jewish Exclusivist State of Israel, has long been notorious.  In the current regime-threatening uprising in Egypt, the PA is dutifully suppressing Palestinians who support their rebellious Egyptian brothers and sisters. — Frontlines ed.]

Occupied Ramallah-02-2-2011: About two hundred demonstrators gathered in Al-Manara square in Ramallah to support the uprising of “[their] families in Egypt,” as invites circulated on Facebook and Twitter stated hours before the demonstration began. Within minutes of the demonstration beginning, Palestinian Authority security officers, dressed as civilians and aided by uniformed police, arrested two male demonstrators despite attempts by other demonstrators to stop the arrests. A large group of PA police immediately dragged arrestees to a nearby police station. PA police officers then formed a line and violently harassed protestors using sticks. Numerous officers physically pushed demonstrators outside Al-Manara square, breaking up the demonstration. Several participants reported being beaten by police officers during the demonstration. One demonstrator reported being forced to delete images from his camera.

“This demonstration was called for a few hours before it started, using Twitter, Facebook, and text messages,” said one organizer.

“Due to previous PA crackdown on demonstrations in support of the revolution in Egypt and Tunisia, it was not possible to call for this demonstration before then.” He continued,

“The PA’s suppression is but a continuation of its crackdown on activists, and anyone expressing dissent. It is a clear violation of our basic rights.”

Another demonstrator said, “The PA’s increased suppression of freedoms, including its crackdown on demonstration in support of Egypt and Tunisia can only be seen as a sign of fear by official PA bodies that the Jasmine revolution will soon reach Palestine.”

Another demonstration in support of the people’s revolution in Egypt and Tunisia is called for on Saturday, February 5th in Ramallah at noon, as a part of activities of a global day of Solidarity with Tunisia and Egypt.

After Tunisia: Poet Mourid Barghouti on Palestine

Mourid Barghouti

“Nothing goes off suddenly; even the earthquakes set in motion from the depth of the earth to the rooftops of villages.”

This line from a poem I had written two decades ago jumped into my mind when the youth of Tunisia turned their ruler from a mighty dictator into a frightened rat looking for a place to hide and, in a month of civilian protests, managed to change history.

As I write these words now, images are coming from Cairo where the anti-Mubarak demonstrators are waving the Tunisian flag and chanting the most famous line of Tunisian poetry: “When the people decide to live, destiny will obey and chains will be broken.”

The Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, embattled after the al-Jazeera leaks revealing its co-operation with the Israeli occupation, opted to show no enthusiasm for the Tunisian revolution but could in no way condemn it as the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shamelessly did. “We are not Tunis,” shouted the other ageing Arab dictators who are all fond of dyeing their hair and moustaches. But they are. And they are really shaken, puzzled and afraid. Continue reading

The Israeli state’s war on children: 1,500 arrested in a year

East Jerusalem: Palestinian youths throw stones at Israeli occupation forces for third day in September 2010. 18 stone throwers were arrested for commiting “acts of violence.”

Counterpunch, December 13, 2010

by Jonathan Cook

Israeli police have been criticised over their treatment of hundreds of Palestinian children, some as young as seven, arrested and interrogated on suspicion of stone-throwing in East Jerusalem.

In the past year, criminal investigations have been opened against more than 1,200 Palestinian minors in Jerusalem on stone-throwing charges, according to police statistics gathered by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).

That was nearly twice the number of children arrested last year in the much larger Palestinian territory of the West Bank.

Most of the arrests have occurred in the Silwan district, close to Jerusalem’s Old City, where 350 extremist Jewish settlers have set up several heavily guarded illegal enclaves among 50,000 Palestinian residents.

Late last month, in a sign of growing anger at the arrests, a large crowd in Silwan was reported to have prevented police from arresting Adam Rishek, a seven-year-old accused of stone-throwing. His parents later filed a complaint claiming he had been beaten by the officers. Continue reading

Hillary Clinton Attempts to Rescue Zionism at Palestinians Expense

Armed Zionists from Israeli settlement in Hebron, Palestinian West Bank

The Electronic Intifada, 13 December 2010

Rescuing Zionism at Palestinian Expense

by Ali Abunimah

Standing in front of a huge banner of an Israeli flag merging into the American Stars and Stripes last Friday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave yet another set-piece speech laying out how US “engagement” would help bring peace in our time.

Speaking at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center in Washington, DC with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and key Israel lobby figures looking on — including Salam Fayyad, the puppet “prime minister” of the US- and Israeli-backed Palestinian Authority — Clinton asserted that “a Palestinian state achieved through negotiations is inevitable” (“Remarks at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy Seventh Annual Forum,” 10 December 2010).

What Clinton laid out in diagnosis and prescriptions, however, ensures that a Palestinian state is anything but inevitable. It is vanishingly unlikely.

Clinton’s much-anticipated intervention followed the Obama administration’s latest capitulation to Israel on settlement construction in the West Bank. After almost two years of attempting to bribe Israel into “restraining” the expansion of its Jewish-only colonies on occupied, stolen land, and its violent Judaization of Jerusalem, the administration concluded that it could do nothing. Of course one thing the Obama administration never tried was real pressure using as leverage the billions in annual no-strings aid the fiscally-bankrupt United States provides to Israel. Continue reading

Grand jury subpoenas hit more Palestine solidarity activists

The intensification of the people's struggle in Palestine is pushing Israel and its US backers to crack down on the Palestine solidarity movement in the US and other countries

WBEZ, Dec. 03, 2010

Grand-jury subpoenas Friday afternoon may signal that the federal government is expanding a probe of Midwest antiwar activists. Attorney Jim Fennerty said the FBI served subpoenas to at least two Chicago-area women who visited the Israeli-occupied West Bank this summer.

Fennerty represents some antiwar activists who defied an order to appear before a grand jury in Chicago this October.
Fennerty said at least one new subpoena requires the recipient to appear before a grand jury on January 25.
He declined to name the recipients but said they’re both young and frightened.

“They’re widening the scope of this investigation,” Fennerty said. “They’re trying to squeeze anybody they can.
This is an attack about people who do solidarity work around Palestine.”

Subpoenas served to 14 Midwest activists in September suggest an investigation relates to foreign groups the  federal government calls terrorist. A spokesman for the FBI’s Chicago office said officials can’t comment on grand-jury proceedings.

http://www.wbez.org/story/antiwar-activists/federal-subpoenas-hit-more-palestine-solidarity-activists#

A Nation Behind Bars: 8500 Palestinian Political Prisoners abused, denied medical care, tortured in Israeli prisons

Intifada Palestine

By Reham Alhelsi

The 8500 Palestinians are our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, children, cousins, they are our families, they are us, every single one of us. Their pain is our pain, their suffering is our suffering, their struggle is our struggle, their captivity is our captivity and their freedom is our freedom. We are their voice and they depend on us to keep their issue alive and not forgotten.


While the whole world demands the release of the Zionist soldier Gideon Shalit, who was captured by Palestinians in Gaza while he was on a mission to kill and destroy, the so-called “free world” continues to ignore that the Zionist entity holds a whole nation hostage.

The Palestinian people in occupied Palestine have been held hostage by a brutal military occupation, confined to ghettos built on their own lands. Some 2.5 Million Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are captives in their own homes, towns and villages, with military checkpoints locking them up, controlling and limiting their movement. 1.5 Million Palestinians are held hostages in the open-air prison Gaza, not allowed to leave even for urgently needed medical treatment.

In addition to that, there are over 8500 Palestinians locked up behind bars in Israeli dungeons. These 8500 Palestinians unite occupied Palestine from the River to the Sea; they unite Jerusalem with Yafa, Jenin with Ara, Hebron with Nazareth, Gaza with Akka. These 8500 Palestinians unite families, unite the pain, unite the hope and unite the struggle for freedom.

Almost every Palestinian family has had at least one family member detained by Israel. Almost every Palestinian family has been abused by Israeli soldiers while visiting their loved ones. Almost every Palestinian family has known the pain of waiting, the fear of what might happen behind bars, the hope for a near release and a safe return home. Every Palestinian family knows the meaning of detention, has felt it directly through its members. Every Palestinian family knows the meaning of freedom, for we pay the highest price for the sake of this freedom, and we love our freedom, we cherish our freedom and we yearn for our freedom and would always fight for it. Continue reading

The long, unjust imprisonment of PFLP general secretary Ahmad Sa’adat

Ahmad Sa’adat: A Prisoner of Conscience

By Stephen Lendman

Ahmad Sa’adat is  the 1967-founded Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s (PFLP) General Secretary, one of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners, sentenced in 2002 to 30 years in prison “for a range of ‘security-related’ political offenses,’ ” including his prominence in a prohibited organization.

A 1993 document stated that: “The strategic aim of the PFLP’s struggle alongside the other forces of the Palestinian revolution is to liberate Palestine from Zionist colonial occupation. The PFLP aims for the establishment of a democratic state on the entire Palestinian land, with its capital in Jerusalem. This state would guarantee legal rights and equality of opportunity to all citizens, without discrimination on the grounds of religion, sex, belief or color. It would oppose Zionism and imperialism and be oriented towards democratic unity with other Arab countries.”

“Achieving this aim presupposes a radical solution for the Palestinian national cause and readiness to wage a prolonged, complicated and difficult struggle (against Zionism), a racist, aggressive, expansionist, settler-colonial entity which aims at elimination of our people.” Great sacrifices are needed to prevent it.

Sa’adat’s Background

Born in 1953 in Deir Tarif village near Ramallah in the West Bank, the son of dispossessed refugees, he became an activist after the 1967 Six Day War. In 2001, he was elected PFLP General Secretary, replacing Abu Ali Mustafa, assassinated by Israel on August 27 that year.

In February 1969, Israel first arrested him for PFLP activities, detaining for three months – then for 28 months in 1970, 10 months in 1973, and 45 days in 1975. That year, he graduated from United Nations WRA’s Ramallah Teaching Training College, specializing in math. In 1976, he was arrested again and held four years. In April 1981, he was elected to PLFP’s Central Committee. In 1989, he was arrested and detained nine months, again in 1992 for 13 months, then released but declared a “wanted person,” subject to re-arrest without cause. Continue reading

Guardian UK: ‘Palestinians of Israel poised to take centre stage’

Palestine girls in Israeli-occupied Hebron confront member of the Israeli "Defense" Force

The Guardian UK, 10 November 2010

“With the two-state solution close to collapse, it may be that the Palestinians of Israel are at last about to move centre stage. . . . The sense of being one people is deepening.”

In a quiet street in the Sheikh Jarrah district of occupied East Jerusalem 88-year-old Rifka al-Kurd is explaining how she came to live in the house she and her husband built as Palestinian refugees in the 1950s. As she speaks, three young ultra-orthodox Jewish settlers swagger in to stake their claim to the front part of the building, shouting abuse in Hebrew and broken Arabic: “Arab animals”, “shut up, whore”.

There is a brief physical confrontation with Rifka’s daughter as the settlers barricade themselves in to the rooms they have occupied since last winter. That was when they finally won a court order to take over the Kurd family’s extension on the grounds that it was built without permission — which Palestinians in Jerusalem are almost never granted. It is an ugly scene, the settlers’ chilling arrogance underpinned by the certain knowledge that they can call in the police and army at will.

But such takeovers of Palestinian homes in Sheikh Jarrah have become commonplace, and the focus of continual protest. The same is true in nearby Silwan, home to upwards of 30,000 Palestinians next to the Old City, where 88 homes to 1,500 Palestinians have been lined up for demolition to make way for a King David theme park and hundreds of settlers are protected round the clock by trigger-happy security guards.

Throughout the Arab areas of Jerusalem, as in the West Bank, the government is pressing ahead with land expropriations, demolitions and settlement building, making the prospects of a Palestinian state ever more improbable. More than a third of the land in East Jerusalem has been expropriated since it was occupied in 1967 to make way for Israeli colonists, in flagrant violation of international law. Continue reading

Interview with Dr. Rabah Mohanna of the PFLP on the Palestinian people’s struggle for national liberation

Dr. Rabah Mohanna

[The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has articulated over many years the demand for a single secular, democratic state in historic Palestine, and the demand for a two-state solution based on a return to 1967 borders, with a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. These two views continue to be vigorously debated among Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, in Gaza, in presently constituted  Israel and throughout the Palestinian diaspora.  In this interview, which appeared on a blog on the Middle East, Dr. Rabah Mohanna of the PFLP Politburo assesses the current political situation and prospects for the advance of  the Palestinian struggle for national liberation.-Frontlines ed.]

November 24, 2010

In the Gaza HQ of the Popular Front

Interview by Flora Nicoletta

“We will transform every grain of sand into a mine under your feet.” Javara (Mohammad El-Aswat), the PFLP military commander of the Gaza Strip who was assassinated in a safe house belonging to Dr Rashad Mosmar, on the back of Es-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, by the Israeli Occupation Forces on a night of October 1973.

Dr Rabah Mohanna, a health doctor, is a prominent figure in Gaza. He is a member of the Politbureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a leftist group with a glorious past. On his email address are mentioned two numbers: 48, the year of his birth. His first name means winner; the root of his surname means happiness.

Here, Dr Rabah Mohannah gives us an assessment of the situation in Palestine seen from the headquarters of the PFLP in Gaza.  “From 1948 to this day there are in the Gaza Strip some socio-economical and political characteristics proper to the Gazans, but all of them come within the whole Palestinian issue, I mean Palestinians in historical Palestine, Palestinians in the West Bank and Palestinians living in exile. Continue reading

‘Economic prison zones’ exploit Palestinian labor, create dependency on Israel

 

Map of industrial zones, Israeli military bases, Zionist settlements and areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank

[This article describes the so-called industrial development zones being set up by Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Turkey, Japan and the EU imperialist powers in the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza and within Israel. The article also sets forth a plan for economic development that does not factor in:  The Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and ongoing siege of Gaza; Israel’s severe restriction of trade and movement between Gaza and the West Bank; and Israel’s slicing up  the West Bank into isolated cities and towns–all of which has made an independent Palestinian economy and state impossible. Economic development based on meeting the needs of the people in the West Bank and Gaza can only take place after Israel’s military and economic siege of Gaza is broken, the Israeli occupation forces and the 500,000 Zionist settlers are driven out of the West Bank,  the Apartheid Wall is demolished, and the corrupt and collaborationist Palestinian Authority is toppled. This could be an important step toward the liberation of all of historic Palestine by the people’s forces.–Frontlines ed]

MERIP Report, November 19, 2010

Economic Prison Zones

by Sam Bahour

When a project mixes the feel-good words of jobs, economic development and Israeli-Palestinian cooperation, how can anyone complain? These things are some of what the international community has been promising to deliver through the construction of industrial free trade zones in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The free trade zone model has been promoted locally and globally by powerful third parties like the United States, France, Germany, Turkey and Japan for two decades, but none has much to show for the enormous efforts and amounts of money spent to bring these zones to life.

Nonetheless, the project’s proponents expect the zones to constitute the economic foundation for a future Palestinian state. They hope that, by bolstering Palestine’s economy, the zones will make Palestinians less prone to social upheaval, less insistent on their national rights and more amenable to the status quo. The idea is that a peace agreement with Israel will ensue.

While this expectation is unlikely to be realized — at least not in the way that the projects’ advocates anticipate — these mega-employment projects present a serious challenge to those who strive to build an independent and viable economic foundation for a future Palestinian state. Because the zones will depend on Israeli cooperation to function, and because they will exist within an Israeli-designed economic system that ensures Palestinian dependence on Israel, they cannot form the basis of a sovereign economy. Relying on them will perpetuate the status quo of dependency. Continue reading

West Bank Palestinians and Bedouins resist attempts of Israeli occupation forces to raze their villages and give their land to settlers

Bedouins protest together with Israeli activists against the Zionist government's policy of land seizures and house demolitions in the Negev region of southern Israel.

 

Homeless Take on Israeli Forces

by Mel Frykberg

RAMALLAH  (IPS) – A bruising battle of will is taking place between Israeli security forces and Palestinians recently made homeless after two Palestinian villages were razed and hundreds left homeless.

During the last few weeks over a thousand heavily armed Israeli riot police, soldiers and police, at times accompanied by helicopters and bulldozers, have clashed with the expelled Palestinians and their supporters as the latter attempt to rebuild the villages.

Al-Araqib, a Bedouin village in Israel’s Negev desert, was destroyed in a pre- dawn raid at the end of July to make way for a Jewish National Fund forest. The razing of the village was carried out despite pending legal action on land ownership that Al-Araqib residents have launched in the local Beer Sheva District Court.

During the destruction hundreds of Palestinians — including at least 200 children – were left homeless. At least 45 homes, chicken co-ops, animal pens, carob trees and fruit orchards were leveled, and about 800 olive trees uprooted. A protesting Arab-Israeli member of the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) was amongst those injured.

The destruction of the village came two days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at a government meeting of the “threat” of losing Jewish majority in the Negev region. Bedouin constitute 25 percent of the population of the northern Negev, but occupy less than two percent of its land. Continue reading

US, Israel and Palestinian Authority seek to eliminate the right of return for Palestinian refugees in “peace” talks

 

Palestinian refugee camp in Gaza in 1948. During Israel's "war of independence," US-armed Zionist militias committed numerous massacres of civilians in order to drive 700,000 Palestinians into exile

 

[This article points out that “Israel’s Minorities Affairs Minister, Avishay Braverman, said that there were already agreements with the Palestinian negotiator on many issues, including the right of return.”  This is confirmation that Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority is joining with the US and Israel to liquidate the right of return. Already widely hated for its corruption and military collaboration with the Israeli occupation forces in suppressing dissent and resistance in the West Bank, the PA leadership has to make such agreements out of the public eye in order to avoid the wrath of the people.–Frontlines ed]

Middle East Monitor, November 4, 2010

The Right of Return for Palestinian Refugees Sacrificed?

by Ali Badwan

Leaks from Washington and those involved in the inner circles of the peace negotiations suggest that the right of return for Palestinian refugees is on the point of being sacrificed. The US is insisting that anyone agreeing to negotiate with Israel must abandon this fundamental issue. The right of return is, literally, reaching a point of no return; the pun is definitely intended.

The US position is consolidated by that of Israel itself. In his speech at the opening session of the direct negotiations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu highlighted the “Jewish nature” of the state of Israel and different ways that this can be made manifest on the ground; he called on the Palestinian negotiators to abandon the refugees’ right to return to their land, from which they or their ancestors have been driven out since 1948.

An explicit acknowledgement of the “Jewish state” would have the effect of turning Palestinians inside Israel into non- or second-class citizens, preparing the way for their “silent transfer” across the border, completing the ethnic cleansing that started in 1948.

According to some sources, the Americans have been pulling the strings to rearrange “old ideas and make them sound better than they actually are”, and still reject the right of return. This has the effect of turning the refugees’ cause into a humanitarian issue, not one of basic human and legal rights. Any “permanent solution”, it seems, will be reached without Palestinian refugees returning to their homeland. Continue reading

East Jerusalem: Israeli occupation forces assault Al Issawiya, demolish housing

Israeli bulldozer demolishes Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem while residents look on

Alternative Information Center, 14 November 2010

Israel Continues Assault on East Jerusalem’s Issawiya

On Wednesday morning (10 November), dozens of Israeli forces raided the northern entrance of Al-Isawiya while others entered through the south, residents reported. The police actions came several days after Issawiya residents threw stones at a car of Israeli university students who entered the area.

Israeli police and security forces then entered the neighborhood, claiming residents owned outstanding Jerusalem municipality taxes. Police and Border Guard forces arrested five residents, accused of rioting, on Wednesday night.

According to residents, throughout the week check points throughout the neighborhood targeted drivers, remanding almost 80 percent of vehicles that were pulled over to have service performed on them or face a revocation of permits for the cars, reported Maan news. Continue reading