Of peacemakers, prisoners, racism, land grab, and solidarity!

Palestine Updates 23/2017

Editorial Comment

Of peacemakers, prisoners, racism, land grab, and solidarity!

The Question of Palestine has two three features to it. One is the dreadful occupation replete with chronicles of unheard crimes against humanity. Secondly, there is the resistance of Palestinians who have adopted the right to say NO to illegalities and, who have, rejected the demand to be subordinate to Israel’s absurd conditions. Their resistance disregards the fact that Israel is a mighty military power. It defies Israel knowing that it is a pauperized moral force that is holding together an occupation that is not sustainable. Thirdly, there is a defiant core of people, churches, civil society, academics, trade unions and others who have formed a chain of global solidarity. That solidarity sternly warns Israel that it risks being pushed to ‘recluse’ status in the international community in due time if it will not accede to the demand to abide by international law in quick time. Patience with Israel is wearing thin and more and more countries and groups are speaking out as never before against Israel.

Palestinian options for peaceful resistance have lasted over two decades now since it signed off on the armed struggle. With Oslo, Palestinians and Israelis were meant to talk through a peace process and settlement. Palestinians are known to have crossed the religious divide in the search for peace. Sadly, their peaceful ways have brought them more by way of punitive reprisals. With an estimated 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, there is hardly a family which has not seen one of its members in prison. Since 1967, around 750,000 Palestinians have been in custody. Global campaigns have done little to shame Israel and alter behaviour. Jail conditions are atrocious as films, documentaries, and books reveal. Israeli army machinery destroy water pipes thus depriving ordinary people of safe drinking water – and, in some cases, go without water for days. It’s not different when it comes to roads for settlers. Each settlement means that new roads are built and, always, on Palestinians land and after destroying agricultural fields. The litany of atrocities is endless.

Meanwhile attempts to forge a just peace are stalled by Israel because it implies adopting UN resolutions and obeying international law. Political thinkers and analysts, diplomats, and government leaders know that the Palestine-Israel conflict does not need rocket science to be learned before a solution is found. It simply requires conscience and an aspiration for peace. It requires rejecting the enforcement of Israel’s extra-judicial practices, and making of laws which have no rationale or precedence in law-making anywhere else in the world barring Israel. When well-meaning mediators offered Israel painless, yet beneficial solutions Israel spurned them and walked away.

And the international community seems, as if, under political or, even, schizophrenia. Aid, for example, has been used as a weapon to stifle Palestinians – given with generosity on one occasion, and withdrawn at the next most convenient pretext.

A handful of countries – mostly in what is referred to the Global South – have remained loyal to the claim for justice for the Palestinians and steadfastly opposed to Israel’s religious and political claims to the land. At the time we write this editorial, 700 representatives and parliamentary delegations from over 50 of these countries are meeting together in Teheran to consider what may be their solidarity to a Third Intifada.

It has been repetitively argued that governments are not the instruments that will create the conditions for peace. Too often, they are tempted by deals that offer them crumbs from under the table of the rich and powerful countries. This explains why an issue that has some straightforward solutions is dragged out and made more complicated with each passing day. It will be people- such as those now in Teheran, who will be the difference. The people will speak loud enough and end the violence.

In the end, we must adhere to hope. The wise words of the iconic American General, Robert E Lee, spoken in the1800’s resound now: “The dominant party cannot reign forever, and truth and justice will prevail at last”.

Ranjan Solomon

Palestinian Bishop receives peace prize

Bishop Dr Munib Younan of Palestine, who is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, will receive the award from the Niwano Peace Foundation at a ceremony in Tokyo in July. At the ceremony Bishop Younan will receive a medal and an undisclosed amount of prize money.

The awarding body praised Bishop Younan, also President of the Lutheran World Federation, for the way he “has devoted his life to building peace with justice in the Middle East and globally.”He “continues tirelessly in a self-sacrificing manner promoting dialogue and joint action between religions and over ethnic and national divisions,” the body added. The Niwano Peace Foundation was chartered in 1978.Past winners of the prize include Catholic theologian Hans Kung and Brazilian Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns of Sao Paulo.

Read more on Premier Christian Radio

Film on Israeli imprisonment of Palestinians wins top award in Berlin

A film depicting the torture, humiliation and violence experienced by Palestinians imprisoned by Israel won the first ever “Silver Bear” award at the Berlinale international film festival. The film, “Istiyad Ashbah” (Ghost Hunting), was produced by Palestinian filmmaker Raed Andoni.
Andoni’s film “Ghost Hunting” involves a powerful re-enactment of interrogation rooms and prison facilities in the infamous ‘Russian Compound’ prison run by Israel. The director began by confronting his own ghosts, having been imprisoned during the first intifada in the late 1980s. He then “turned to newspaper ads as he set out to find a group of former inmates able to work as set designers and craftsmen in recreating a prison on the film set. He also sought out ex-detainees willing to play the roles of prison wardens and prisoners. And so this group of people, who had themselves, experienced imprisonment, began to meticulously build their own prison.”

Read what International Middle East Media  Center has to say

Lost Time: Palestinian prisoners in Israel
The poignant stories of Palestinian prisoners in Israel and the effects of imprisonment on them and their families

 There are an estimated 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Since 1967, around 750,000 Palestinians have been in custody. Lost Time hears the deeply personal stories of some of the prisoners and their families, exploring the social, emotional, financial, physical, and psychological effects of long-term imprisonment.
Diya and Mohamed Al-Agha were imprisoned in 1992 and 2003, respectively, and their mother, Najat, feels that she lost precious years with her boys. When Mohamed was released, Diya went on hunger strike. “I hope God grants me life to see them like any mother would see her children. I’ve missed 46 Eids and 23 Mother’s Days. It is unfortunate that I don’t get to celebrate,” laments Najat, whose husband was also detained in 1973. As trauma and stress affect Palestinian prisoners, they also affect members of their families.

View film

Israeli soldiers destroy internationally-funded drinking water pipeline

Israeli military bulldozers destroyed a drinking water pipeline that was funded by The United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in the Central Plains of the occupied West Bank. This destruction is the second of its kind in one month.

A Palestinian official in charge of Israeli colonies’ file at the Palestinian Authority in central West Bank, said many Israeli army jeeps and bulldozers invaded the area, during early morning hours, and destroyed a drinking water pipeline, providing water to Palestinian communities. The pipeline provided clean drinking water to 47 families, and extended on 8.5 kilometers. The pipeline’s installation and equipment costs were 12500 euros, provided by the UNICEF to enable access to clean drinking water, and added that the soldiers confiscated large sections of the pipeline.

Read more on the International Middle East Monitor

Israel settlements road to cut through East Jerusalem

 Hundreds of Palestinians in the Jabal al-Mukaber area of occupied East Jerusalem say they are living in a state of anxiety and fear as Israeli occupation authorities begin excavations for the “American road” project, set to be built on the ruins of their homes. The road that constitutes only one section of a larger highway, titled al-Touq, will cut through East and West Jerusalem, with the unstated aim of connecting illegal Israeli settlements north, south, and east of the city. It is set to bridge between the West Bank settlements of Har Homa and Maale Adumim, passing through Jerusalem.

Read more on Al jazeera

US offered Israel secret peace deal in 2016,  ‘Netanyahu walked away’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned down a regional peace initiative last year that was brokered by then-American Secretary of State John Kerry, in apparent contradiction to his stated goal of involving regional powers in resolving Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.  Netanyahu took part in a secret summit that Kerry organized and included Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.According to the report, which cited anonymous Obama administration officials, Kerry proposed regional recognition of Israel as a Jewish state — a key Netanyahu demand — alongside a renewal of peace talks with the Palestinians with the support of the Arab countries. Netanyahu reportedly rejected the offer, saying he would not be able to garner enough support for it in his hard-line coalition government.
Read more on the Independent

New York Times openly promotes formal apartheid regime by Israel

That the New York Times demonstrates a systematic editorial bias in favor of Israeli state power and against Palestinian rights is old news. Whether it is reporting on the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement, the deadly Gaza flotilla raid, cease fire violations between the IDF and Hamas, or any other aspect of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, the New York Times reliably acts as a mouthpiece for propagating Israeli hasbara (propaganda). Aside from its “objective” reporting, this editorial bias also manifests itself in the narratives that make their way into the Opinion section. On Feb. 14, the paper allowed a spokesperson for the illegal settlers in the occupied territories to openly advocate violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the establishment an apartheid state in Mandatory Palestine.

Read more on  Counter punch 

US made serious mistake in blocking Palestinian pick for Libya: UN

 UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says Washington made a “serious mistake” by blocking a former Palestinian Prime Minister from heading the global body’s political mission in Libya.  “I believe that it’s essential for everybody to understand that people serving the UN are serving in their personal capacities. They don’t represent a country or a government.” Last week, the United States blocked the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to lead the UN mission in Libya in a move intended to reassure the Tel Aviv regime of the new US administration’s support for Israel.
Read more on Press tv

Gaza mother holds baby in Jerusalem after six-month wait
A Palestinian baby was reunited with her mother after more than six months on Monday, after Israel granted Jumana Daoud a permit to travel from Gaza to Jerusalem to fetch her. The baby smiled as she was picked up by her mother for the first time since her premature birth on August 1. “It’s a very beautiful feeling. Finally I can take her in my arms. Now I just hope that she’ll be happy forever,” her grinning mother said. Daoud and rights groups said she had submitted an application several months ago to re-enter Jerusalem to retrieve baby Maryam from a hospital in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, but received no reply.
Read what Alaraby says

What EU shift in financial support policy means for Gaza

It is no secret that the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) financial crisis is mounting with declining foreign support. Donors’ funding is decreasing and the PA’s financial crisis is ongoing. A new financial support policy for 2017 was adopted by the European Union, and that the EU contribution of 30 million euros ($32 million) that had gone to pay the salaries of PA civil servants in the Gaza Strip will be used to support families in need, provide job opportunities and fund development and infrastructure projects. Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah launched efforts to prevent the EU decision, but to no avail. According to the statement, this means that the PA’s financial burden will grow and the $39 million monthly budget deficit will increase.

Read more

Explainer: Israel-Palestine Conflict, the Two-state Solution (VIDEO)

Israeli occupation soldiers manning a military
checkpoint in the West Bank. (Photo: Tamar Fleishman,)

What is a two-state solution; what is a one-state solution; and why are they now at the heart of the Palestine-Israeli discussion?
Watch on Palestine chronicle

6th Intl. Conf. on Palestinian Intifada opens in Tehran

A two-day event, held at Iran International Conference Center, is hosting around 700 foreign guests and representatives including nearly 20 high-ranking parliamentary delegations. The event is focused on confronting illegal settlements in occupied territories, normalization of ties with Zionist regime and discussing possible ways out of the crisis. Iran’s Parliament is the host of foreign delegations and would hold a meeting among Iranian and foreign NGOs working on Palestine.

Read more on the Mehr news agency