Palestine Update 462
US offers half-hearted, politicized ‘humanitarian’ aid to Palestinians
The US pledged to resume financial aid for UNRWA on the pretext of the two-state negotiations. Who stands to benefit: the agency, the Palestinian refugees, or the international community’s diplomacy?
US President Joe Biden is exerting minimal effort in distinguishing his diplomacy from that of the Trump administration. The concept of reversing the previous administration’s policies on Palestine have, so far, been restricted to statements without actions, or half-way attempts which can hardly be defined as outstanding. Let us just take a moment to remember that Biden was the only option to former US President Donald Trump, and the illusion of progress in terms of Palestinian rights is crumbling fast. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the resumption of financial aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in early April, pledging US$150 million to the agency. It is a departure from the previous administration’s decision to end all aid in 2018, ostensibly because UNRWA’s “endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years.” Prior to Trump’s withdrawing of UNRWA-allocated funds, however, the US contributed US$350 million per year.
A Rights based approach alone won’t work for peace
One of the most important yet rarely acknowledged realities about the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the Israeli-Palestinian issue, is that all of its substantive breakthroughs have been undertaken initially by the parties themselves, without U.S. participation. While the United States has played an instrumental role in launching or facilitating peace negotiations over the years—for example, through secretary of state Henry Kissinger’s shuttle diplomacy, president Jimmy Carter’s efforts at Camp David, and the Madrid peace conference—the plans and initiatives that worked came from the parties, with subsequent U.S. participation. To give just several examples, former Israeli defense minister Moshe Dayan stunned U.S. officials in October 1977 when he informed them he had been negotiating secretly with Egyptian president Anwar Sadat’s deputy prime minister. U.S. officials were briefed on the 1992/1993 Israeli-Palestinian back channel in Oslo but were not involved in the actual negotiations that led to the signing of the Declaration of Principles in September 1993. Israelis and Jordanians engaged in discreet discussions for decades without U.S. participation and produced the October 1994 peace treaty with minimal U.S. involvement.
After outrage over event with Palestinian, zoom changes policy
Zoom has introduced a new policy on “academic freedom” for higher education users, which will limit its interference in the shutdown of controversial virtual events hosted on its video conferencing platform. The move comes as Eventbrite last week decided to remove a San Francisco State University-sponsored event on April 23 featuring Leila Khaled — a member of US-designated terrorist organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – from its platform, as it violates the event management platform’s terms of service.
The new policy, which according to the education outlet Higher Ed Dive was announced in recent days, states that “for Zoom meetings and webinars hosted by a higher education institution, the Trust and Safety team will only act on reports alleging content-related violations of our Community Standards or Terms of Service that come from the meeting’s host or the account’s owners or administrators.” It said that exceptions to this policy will include only cases where Zoom sees “legal or regulatory risk, an immediate threat to the physical safety of any person; or the meeting or webinar is unrelated to the institution’s academics or operations.”
Israel arrest 144 Palestinians in first half of April
Israeli forces detained 144 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in the first half of April, according to a Palestinian research center. Six women and five children, including three from Jerusalem, were among those rounded up, the Ramallah-based Jerusalem Center for Studies said in a report. Israeli forces also arrested four candidates in the upcoming legislative elections, including two from Palestinian group Hamas, the report said.
According to the Palestinian center, some of the detainees were released after a few days of arrest, without providing an exact number. Hamas activists and candidates for legislative elections in the West Bank were “principally targeted”. ..This is a clear indication of the occupation’s attempt to interfere in the elections by disrupting Hamas electoral campaigns” “Israel is practicing a form of intimidation against anyone trying to join the electoral process, and dissuading them from doing so.”
In a statement marking the Prisoner’s Day, Hamas called on the international community to put pressure on Israel to ensure that the elections are held in the Palestinian territories. “We call on the international community and the countries sponsoring the electoral process to respond to the occupation over its aggression,” Hamas said, in reference to the recent arrests by Israeli authorities of candidates from its list. An estimated 4,500 Palestinians are believed to be held in Israeli prisons, including 41 women, 140 minors, and 440 administrative detainees, according to data compiled by organizations on the rights of prisoners.