For Palestinians, there is no Obama-Netanyahu rift

 by Ali Abunimah, in Huffington Post,  02/28/2015

Palestinians do not see any substantive Obama-Netanyahu rift on life and death matters for them. But there urgently needs to be one. (Chuck Kennedy / White House Photo)

Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech to the United States Congress next week has led to much talk of a rift between the Israeli prime minister and the US president, and even between their two countries.

Tuesday, national security adviser Susan E. Rice said the growing partisanship regarding Israel is “destructive of the fabric of the relationship.”

Citing protocol of not meeting foreign leaders too close to an election, President Barack Obama will shun his Israeli counterpart in Washington, and Vice President Joe Biden will stay away from the joint session of Congress when Netanyahu appears.

The dispute has taken on rancorous partisan tones with more than two dozen Democratic lawmakers vowing to boycott the speech. They charge that Netanyahu’s goal is to undermine the president’s diplomacy with Iran, and that Republican House Speaker John Boehner invited the Israeli leader to defy and humiliate the White House.

Yet all those objecting to the speech, whether in the United States, or Netanyahu’s rivals at home, where he faces an election next month, protest that their concern is to guarantee US-Israeli relations on whose strength the very future of Israel is said to hang.

But what all this sound and fury misses is that for the Palestinians, there is no meaningful Obama-Netanyahu rift. Indeed US-Israeli relations have never been stronger, nor more damaging to the prospects for peace and justice and for the very survival of the Palestinian people.

Just look at the recent record. Last December, the Palestinian Authority put forward a tepid resolution in the UN Security Council that did little more than repeat long-standing US policy on the outlines of a two-state solution. Obama’s UN ambassador Samantha Power marshaled all her resources to defeat it.

She claimed that the resolution was “deeply imbalanced” and took “no account of Israel’s legitimate security concerns.”

The next day, after disappointed Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas signed the treaty acceding to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Obama’s State Department declared itself “deeply troubled,” accusing Palestinians of an “escalatory step” that “badly damages the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace.”

Power said the Palestinian move “really poses a profound threat to Israel.”

These words are perverse. Israel’s 51-day long attack on Gaza that left more than 2,200 people dead didn’t “damage the atmosphere” as far as the Obama administration was concerned, but any Palestinian effort to use international bodies in pursuit of justice and accountability is tantamount to an act of war.

I challenge Power to go and repeat her words to any of the 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza still living in the damp and freezing rubble of their homes, to the surviving parents of more than 500 children killed in the Israeli attack, or to the thousands who will live with lifelong injuries.

Neither the ambassador nor her president has commented on the findings of Amnesty International, which said that Israel “brazenly flouted the laws of war by carrying out a series of attacks on civilian homes, displaying callous indifference to the carnage caused.”

Few Palestinians will forget that when Israeli fire was raining down on them, the Obama administration authorized the transfer of grenades and mortar rounds to resupply the Israeli army.

Last summer’s war was something even Hamas leaders tried to avoid. After it began, armed Palestinian groups declared that their goal was a ceasefire accompanied by a lifting of the eight-year siege that has devastated Gaza’s economy and isolated its 1.8 million people from the rest of humanity.

Since the war, promises that the siege would be lifted have been broken. Billions pledged in reconstruction aid have failed to materialize. As a result, cash-strapped UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, has suspended repairs on Gaza homes.

Israel’s view tends to be unquestioningly echoed by US officials and media: that Palestinians are at fault for the repeated surges of violence.

Yet even senior Israeli leaders and officers have often acknowledged that Palestinian armed groups, especially Hamas, have meticulously stuck to ceasefire agreements, as they are doing currently.

Despite this, the US put no pressure on Israel to end the years-long blockade.

As a result, the lesson Palestinians have repeatedly learned is that whether they fight or stay quiet, Israel will be allowed to do as it pleases. It can besiege and slaughter them in Gaza, seize and colonize their land in the West Bank, deprive them of their most fundamental rights, and Obama will have Israel’s back.

Just because Obama, Netanyahu and their partisan followers may be peeved at each other does not change the basic dynamic of full US support for Israel’s occupation of millions of Palestinians, the continuation of which guarantees ongoing suffering with regional repercussions.

Sure enough, despite the supposed rift, the US is proceeding with the sale of more of the most advanced F-35 fighter jets to Israel.

That’s why Palestinians do not see any substantive Obama-Netanyahu rift on life and death matters for them. But there urgently needs to be one.

It is long past time for the American people and their representatives to challenge Israel on its seemingly permanent subjugation of the Palestinians.

This post was first published by The Huffington Post.

How Israel is turning Gaza into a super-max prison

How Israel is turning Gaza into a super-max prison


Palestinians walk under the minaret of a destroyed mosque in Gaza. Israel not only are profiting from the reconstruction but also turning the territory into a super-maximum prison. Photo: Mohammed Saber / EPA

According to the United Nations, 100,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged, leaving 600,000 Palestinians – nearly one in three of Gaza’s population – homeless or in urgent need of humanitarian help.

Roads, schools and the electricity plant to power water and sewerage systems are in ruins. The cold and wet of winter are approaching. Aid agency Oxfam warns that at the current rate of progress it may take 50 years to rebuild Gaza.

Where else in the world apart from the Palestinian territories would the international community stand by idly as so many people suffer – and not from a random act of God but willed by fellow humans?

Continue reading

Obama Urged to Heed Warnings of ‘Palestine on Fire’

[President Obama, who has carefully clung to his Zionist-loyalist agenda (while his meaningless rhetorical differences with Israeli settlement policies have been exaggerated by his ‘liberal’ spin-doctors), is being warned by a comprador-trained Palestine Authority official that things may get uncontrollable if he does not make a dramatic show of concern for Palestinian prisoners.  If Obama decides to heed this warning,   his upcoming trip to Israel may test his rhetorical and theatrical skills.  Those who think Obama will launch a meaningful change in US-Zionist relations should, however, sober up. — Frontlines ed.]

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Palestinian officials warn of possible third intifada in wake of Arafat Jaradat’s death

by Lauren McCauley, staff writer, Common Dreams

In the wake of the death of detained Palestinian Arafat Jaradat, officials with the Palestinian Authority have issued a warning to President Obama that Palestine could be “on fire” during his upcoming visit to the region if he does not exert pressure on longtime ally Israel regarding the ongoing treatment of prisoners.

Wrapped in the Palestinian flag, Arafat Jaradat received a ‘hero’s burial’ on Monday in the West Bank village of Saeer. (Photo: Ammar Awad/Reuters) On Monday, over 10,000 Palestinians took part in a funeral procession for Jaradat, the thirty year old Palestinian man who died Saturday after being in Israeli custody for less than one week. An autopsy showed that he had many broken bones, and the PA attributed his death to “extreme torture” inflicted by his captors.

“If President Obama wants to visit the region peacefully, he should exert pressure on Israel to release the prisoners—especially the ones who are on hunger strike—or else he will visit while Palestine is on fire,” said Palestinian Minister of Prisoner Affairs Issa Qaraqe, speaking at a news conference in Ramallah.

Obama’s trip to Israel in March will be his first since becoming US president. Continue reading

Palestinians voice resistance, PA suppresses dissent

Dozens of journalists, activists arrested as PA cracks down on dissent

Jerusalem, 1 May 2012

Palestinian journalists in Gaza City protest the arrest of West Bank journalist Yousef al-Shayab, 4 April 2012. (Mohammed Asad / APA images)

JERUSALEM (IPS) – The Palestinian Authority’s arrest of journalists and activists critical of its policies are threatening freedom of expression in the West Bank, according to local human rights groups.

“We monitored a new trend of arresting people and journalists and the oppression of freedom of expression,” Shawan Jabarin, director of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq, said. “There are many people I’m sure that are afraid and will count to ten before they say anything. Maybe they’ll push people to speak underground instead of expressing their opinions freely.” Continue reading

Will the Palestinian Authority collide with popular resistance in September?

The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) bid for United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state remains on track, despite heavy pressure from the U.S. and Israel.  But what has received scant attention is the possibility that the September bid may also result in a collision between popular, grassroots Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation and the PA’s preferred avenues to statehood.

Following imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti’s call for mass marches ahead of the September UN gambit for a state, the Palestinian Authority echoed Barghouti’s call.

“All of us are talking about resistance and it must be every day,” PA President Mahmoud Abbas said in late July.   Al Jazeera English reported August 1 on the PA’s planned mass rallies:

Palestinian officials have said they will begin mass marches against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank on September 20, the eve of a largely symbolic UN vote expected to recognise their independence.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a Palestinian official, said leaders hope to attract millions of people, and the protest will be the first of a prolonged effort.

He said the campaign would be called “Palestine 194″ because the Palestinians hope to become the 194th member of the UN.

“The appeal to the UN is a battle for all Palestinians, and in order to succeed, it needs millions to pour into streets,” Abed Rabbo said.

But this week, the form of the PA’s planned “resistance” became clear, and it will certainly not mark the end of coordination between PA security forces and the Israeli military, one of the most important–and disliked among Palestinians–results of the Oslo era. 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

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