Trump piles more erratic decisions; says settlements aren’t illegal

Palestine Update 308

Trump piles more erratic decisions; says settlements aren’t illegal

Trump has retained his ‘Real Estate boss’ image from yesteryears and treats Palestine as if it were a piece of land that can be bought, sold, leased, or simply donated away. That none of his decisions can stand scrutiny in the eyes of international law is clear to all sane thinking people. But Trump is not in that category of people possessed with sanity and one can only hope that his blunders within the US will reduce him into mere trivia in the history of the world. That he was even elected shocked the rest of the world – April Fool’s Day seemed to have arrived early in 2018. But when fact became reality, it had to sink in as a fault in democracy and took substance away from that long tested political method. Notice, how from the time Trump arrived, so has the expansion of totalitarianism. They are now electing fascists everywhere and these men (and women) are grouping together to confound the world.

When, recently, US Secretary of State stated: “Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law hasn’t worked. It hasn’t advanced the cause of peace,” he had just mouthed gobbledygook. Did he know what he said? Did his boss, the President understand what laws of civilized society stand for and why?

Palestinians must stand firm in rejecting any role for the US in the region. To achieve this, Israel must also be isolated and made to feel like a recluse – unwanted, and a wasted presence in the Middle East.

At this point, the international community has to allow Boycotts and Sanctions to intensify. But, all country’s must adopt sanctions and cripple Israel’s capacity to enjoy diplomatic ties, to trade, or just about anything in the form of relations until it reverses its colonial methods. The US must be ignored and shown the door too.

These are big asks in confronting a bully and many will feel bullied. But if even some regions, some influential powers in the world threaten Israel with economic and political sanctions, it would send out a threat and diminish the US. The US may seem invincible and so must Israel because it is, after all, the tail that wags the dog. But empires fall, powerful men crumple and cave in under pressure.

This Movement must arrive at the streets and with masses of people who say NO to Israel-US treachery and show those who govern these countries who have chosen the wrong and most immoral side of history, things will not change.

Simplistic and/or isolated actions at the level of churches and civil society must give way to a united coalition of mutlireligious groupings, trade unions, people’s movements, social movements taking to the streets and engaging in civil disobedience is the answer. It may take time to construct a global social protest. But it happened with apartheid, and for Vietnam. We must make it happen for Palestine.

Ranjan Solomon 

Occupied Palestine: From BDS to ODS

We spent the last week in Occupied Palestinian Territory, commonly referred to as Israel, where we traveled around the country to visit communities in Jerusalem, Jaffa, Bethlehem, the West Bank, the Nagab, and more.

We call Israel Occupied Palestine because it is not just the West Bank and Gaza that are occupied, but all of historic Palestine, the entire Palestinian nation. Palestinian people do not have equal rights and their communities are constantly encroached upon by settlers pushing them into small, crowded areas. The mistreatment of Palestinians happens right before the eyes of the Israeli Jews. If they do not see it, it is either because they do not want to see it or because they are encouraged not to see it. Just as Jim Crow racism was evident to all in the southern states of the US, apartheid in Palestine is obvious. This visit deepened our support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement because we saw modern apartheid, Jim Crow-segregation laws, ongoing land theft, and ethnic cleansing.

To end the colonization, there is great hope of developing a movement for the creation of One Democratic State (ODS). This is being organized by a large group of Palestinians and Jews as the formation of two separate states is impossible. ODS envisions a universally equal and democratic nation where minority communities are protected and every person can vote. ODS is the first step to the decolonization and healing of Palestine.

Christian leaders urge Congress to curb Israeli torture of children

Two dozen Christian leaders are calling on the US Congress to support a bill to curb Israeli torture of Palestinian children. This comes as progressive lawmakers are being challenged over their failure to uphold Palestinian rights. In Chicago, activists occupied the office of Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky to demand she back the bill. In a letter to US lawmakers, the faith leaders say that thousands of Palestinian children have been “prosecuted and incarcerated” by the Israeli army in recent years. “Often dragged from their homes in the middle of the night by armed soldiers, they suffer physical and emotional violence and frequently face verbal abuse, humiliation and intimidation,” the letter states. “These children are interrogated, usually without family or lawyers present, and often sign confessions in Hebrew, a language many do not understand.”

Introduced by Congresswoman Betty McCollum, HR 2407 would prohibit US funding to Israeli military units found to be involved in abuses of Palestinian children. It also allocates millions of dollars to investigate such abuses.

US no longer has role in peace process – Palestinians
The Palestinian Authority (PA) condemned an announcement Monday by United States (US) Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Israeli settlements in the West Bank will no longer be viewed as illegal “per se”. “It is null and void, condemned and totally contradicts international law and resolutions of international legitimacy,” the official Palestinian news agency Wafa said.
The US administration is not qualified or authorized to cancel resolutions of international legitimacy and does not have the right to give any legitimacy to Israeli settlements. The US administration has totally lost all credibility and no longer has any role in the peace process. The Palestinian representative said: “We hold the American administration fully responsible for any repercussions of this dangerous step,” he added.

US Embassy in Israel issues travel warning to Jerusalem, West Bank, Gaza after settlement shift
The United States Embassy in Israel has issued a travel warning to Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, cautioning about Palestinian unrest following Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announcement on Monday that the U.S. government will ease its stance on Israeli settlements. “The U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens in or considering travel to or through Jerusalem, the West Bank, or Gaza to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness in light of the current environment,” The embassy said in a security alert on Monday.

“Individuals and groups opposed to the secretary of state’s recent announcement may target U.S. government facilities, U.S. private interests and U.S. citizens. Potential targets include public events, such as demonstrations, holiday events, and celebratory gatherings; hotels, clubs, and restaurants popular with U.S. citizens; places of worship; schools; shopping malls and markets; tourism infrastructure; public transportation and airports.”

Overwhelming vote to extend UNRWA mandate at United Nations
The Special Political and Decolonization Committee (Fourth Committee) of the United Nations General Assembly voted yesterday to extend the mandate of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) until 2023. The UN General Assembly will vote in plenary session next month on the resolution adopted by the Fourth Committee.

UNRWA was established 70 years ago and provides essential services to Palestine refugees based on a mandate given to it by the General Assembly which is renewed every three years. UNRWA is experiencing the worst financial deficit in its 70 year history and is seeking to overcome a financial gap of nearly US$ 89 million before the end of the year. “The fact that 170 UN Member-States reaffirmed their trust in UNRWA and expressed support for it to continue providing its essential assistance for the next three years is a confirmation of the vital role that the Agency plays in supporting the needs of Palestine refugees,” said Acting Commissioner- General, Christian Saunders.