Monday, October 31, 2011
A rocket was fired from the northern Gaza Strip and exploded in the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council. The Color Red alert sounded in the area. No injuries or damage were reported.
RAMALLAH, (PIC)-- The Palestinian agricultural relief committee (PARC) said that Jewish settlers had burnt 2600 Palestinian olive trees in October, assessing the Palestinian farmers’ damages as a result at around 156000 dollars.
The committee said in its monthly report issued on Monday that the Palestinians lost on average 3.5 olive trees per hour in October either through incineration or destruction.
It noted that 53% of the losses were sustained in Nablus province followed by Salfit province at 24%, adding that most of the attacks were carried out by settlers with some of them committed by Israeli occupation soldiers.
PARC said that the damage covered 2440 dunums of land while pointing to the fact that 13 farmers were injured in the settlers’ attacks in the same month mostly in Nablus, and recorded 13 incidents in which farmers were denied access to their land.
PARC: Settlers burn 2600 Palestinian olive trees in October
Netanyahu to convene meeting with senior ministers to discuss punitive measures against Palestinians after they were granted full membership from the UN cultural body.By Barak Ravid and Natasha Mozgovaya
According to a senior Israeli official, it is still unclear whether a decision will be reached on Tuesday, but various proposals aimed at taking punitive measures against the Palestinians are expected.
|Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right.|
|Photo by: Tomer Appelbaum and Reuters|
Among the ideas are cancelling the VIP status of senior Palestinian officials which enables them to cross through Israeli checkpoints, increasing settlement construction, and halting the transfer of tax money which Israel collects for the Palestinian Authority.
Earlier Monday, UNESCO accepted the Palestinian Authority as a full member of the organization.
In response, the U.S. decided to cut off funding for the UN cultural body. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday that since the vote triggered a long-standing congressional restriction on funding to UN bodies that recognize Palestine as a state before an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is reached.
Following the vote on Palestinian membership, Israel also warned it will now reconsider its cooperation with UNESCO.
UNESCO is the first UN agency that the Palestinians sought to join as a full member since Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas applied for full membership of the United Nations on Sept. 23.
The motion to admit the Palestinians was passed at a UNESCO meeting in Paris, with 107 votes in favor, 14 against and 52 abstentions.
The United States, Canada and Germany voted against Palestinian membership. Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa and France voted in favor. Britain abstained.
Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News
In a radio interview, the ambassador added that the changes in rulership in the Arab world “had changed the rules of the game and the balance of power in the Middle East.”
Latest News Briefs
The warrant was issued last week over Suha Arafat’s role in a scandal involving former Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, his family and other high government officials, said Kadhem Zine El Abidine, spokesman for the Justice Ministry.
He did not provide any details, but an online journal Attounissia said she was being investigated over The International School of Carthage, which she founded in 2006 with Ben Ali’s wife, Leila Trabelsi.
Relations between the two deteriorated over the next year until Suha Arafat was declared persona non grata and she left for Malta, where her brother Gaby Al Tawil was the Palestinian ambassador.
A Palestinian official in Tunis said she was still living in Malta, on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
The warrant is not for arrest, but only a summoning for questioning, either as a suspect or witness to the case.
However, Suha on Monday rejected charges of corruption levelled against her in Tunisia.
“I reject all the accusations listed in the media; I am ready to deal with this issue, to submit documents, and I have entrusted a Tunisian lawyer to present these documents,” she told reporters in a telephone interview from Malta.
Suha also said that she was unaware of an international arrest warrant issued against her. “I officially declare that I am not aware of an arrest warrant issued against me and no international organisation has informed me,” she said.
Three Grad missiles were fired at the Be'r Al-Sabe' (BeerSheba) and two others were fired and landed in Sderot town in northeast of Israel, an army spokesman said, cited by local media.
The sixth missile hit the western Negev, he said.
No one was hurt in the attacks.
Meanwhile, a Palestinian human rights center condemned the Israeli aggression against Gaza Strip.
Al-Meezan (scale) center said the international community did not react to the 12 Palestinians who were killed by the Israeli army forces over the past two days.
The Gaza-based center said the Israeli occupation forces were escalating their assault against the Strip
Palestinian rockets fired at Israel - army -
neighborhood near the Mount of Olives on Nov. 26, 2010. Israeli police razed
the house shortly before the owner, a father of five, arrived with a court order
halting the demolition. (MaanImages/Mimmi Nietula)
The demolitions, in Khan al-Ahmar near the illegal Israeli settlement Maale Adumin, displaced 71 people, including 60 children, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
ICAHD, a prominent Israeli non-governmental organization, said Monday that Israel was forcing Palestinians out of East Jerusalem as part of a deliberate policy that might constitute a war crime.
The organization has presented the United Nations with its findings and demanded an inquiry, saying Israel targeted Palestinians by demolishing homes, revoking residency and eroding quality of life.
"We are witnessing a process of ethnic displacement," said Michael Sfard, a lawyer who helped draw up a 73-page report into the issue. "Israel is manifestly and seriously violating international law ... and the motivation is demographic."
Stephan Miller, a spokesman for Israel's mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, dismissed the report. He said in a statement it was based on "misleading facts, blatant lies and political spin about Jerusalem, so I'm sure the UN will enjoy it."
Israel seized East Jerusalem, including the Old City, in the 1967 Middle East war. It later illegally annexed the area and surrounding West Bank villages into a Jerusalem municipality that it declared the united and eternal capital of Israel.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and world powers have not recognized the annexation.
There are some 300,000 Palestinians residents in East Jerusalem, representing about 35 percent of the city's total population, but ICAHD said that since Israel took control of Palestinian areas it had systematically prevented their development.
One third of land in East Jerusalem was taken for the construction of Jewish-only neighborhoods, while only nine percent of the remaining land is legally available for housing. This has all been built on, making expansion impossible.
ICAHD said it was virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits to house their growing families.
"They have no other option than to leave East Jerusalem, build illegally or live in appalling, cramped conditions," said Emily Schaeffer, who authored the report.
Demolitions and residency
Maan News Agency:
One week ago on Friday, October 21st, during the weekly demonstration in our village of Bil'in, Israeli soldiers arrested Ashraf Abu Rahmah yet again. Help us secure his release, demand justice for Ashraf.
On an average Friday morning, no demonstration would begin without Ashraf Abu Rahmah walking at its front, holding the Palestinian flag. Usually, Ashraf would also be the last to walk back home. That is, if he is not injured or arrested.
This week, demonstrators marched on as usual to demand the dismantling of the Wall, but Ashraf was not among us. One day before, on Thursday, October 27th, a military judge decide to extend Ashraf's arrest indefinitely, for the duration of the legal proceedings against him, despite the overwhelming evidence pointing to his innocence.
The judge ordered the extension of Ashraf's arrest despite extensive evidence brought up by the defense to dispute the charges. The court was presented with two affidavits from a B'Tselem employee and a lawyer who were both present at the scene. The depositions stated that Ashraf did not at any stage partake in stone-throwing. Footage supporting the affidavits was also filed, showing Ashraf's arrest. The video depicts him walking peacefully towards the jeeps holding a flag, and the soldiers initially ignoring him.
Ashraf Abu Rahmah is the brother of two Bil'in residents who were killed while participating in the village's demonstrations. His brother, Bassem, was shot dead during a peaceful protest on April 17th, 2009, when soldiers fired a high-velocity tear-gas projectile directly at him from a distance of about 40 meters. Ashraf's sister, Jawaher, died of cardiac arrest caused by poisoning, as a result of inhaling massive amounts of tear-gas on January 1st, 2011.
Ashraf himself was the subject of gross military misconduct. On July 7th, 2008 in the entrance to the West Bank village of Ni’lin, soldiers shot Ashraf in the foot at close range while he was bound and blindfolded. The event was caught on tape, and caused vast international outrage. Due to the concern raised by people like you, Israeli authorities were eventually pressured to bring about an indictment of the shooting soldier and Lt. Col. Omri Borberg who ordered the shooting, and convict them both. Given the context and lack of evidence, Ashraf's arrest and continued detention suggest that Israeli authorities are unjustly persecuting him for past events.
RAMALLAH, October 31, 2011 (WAFA) - Minister of Health, Fathi Abu Moghli said on Monday that the ministry is preparing to apply an application for Palestine to gain full membership in the World Health Organization (WHO), according to a press release.
He said, “With President Mahmoud Abbas’ directives, we discussed Palestine’s membership in WHO with the organization’s director of bureau.”
He commended granting Palestine full member ship in the United Nations organization, UNESCO
WASHINGTON, October 31, 2011 (WAF) – The United States declared on Monday to cut funds for UN Organization, UNESCO, after granting Palestine full membership, according to France Press Agency.
U.S. State Department Spokeswoman, Victoria Noland said, “We were supposed to reimburse $60 million to UNESCO in November, but now we will not.”
JERUSALEM — Israel is forcing Palestinians out of East Jerusalem as part of a deliberate policy that might constitute a war crime, a prominent Israeli non-governmental organization said on Monday.
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) has presented the United Nations with its findings and demanded an inquiry, saying Israel targeted Palestinians by demolishing homes, revoking residency, and eroding quality of life.
"We are witnessing a process of ethnic displacement," said Michael Sfard, a lawyer who helped draw up a 73-page report into the issue. "Israel is manifestly and seriously violating international law . . . and the motivation is demographic."
There was no immediate comment from Israeli authorities on the report other than a statement from the mayor's office, which said that, while East Jerusalem had suffered from a lack of investment in the past, that had now changed.
"Jerusalem, under the leadership of Mayor Nir Barkat, has invested an unprecedented amount of resources and efforts to improve the quality of life of Muslim residents of Jerusalem after decades of neglect by previous administrations," it said.
Israel seized East Jerusalem, including the Old City, in the 1967 Middle East war. It later annexed the area and surrounding West Bank villages into a Jerusalem municipality that it declared the united and eternal capital of Israel.
Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state and world powers have not recognised the annexation.
There are some 300,000 Palestinians residents in East Jerusalem, representing about 35 percent of the city's total population, but ICAHD said that since Israel took control of largely Arab areas it had systematically prevented their development.
One third of land in East Jerusalem was taken for the construction of Jewish neighbourhoods, while only nine percent of the remaining land is legally available for housing. This has all been built on, making expansion impossible.
ICAHD said it was virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits to house their growing families.
"They have no other option than to leave East Jerusalem, build illegally or live in appalling, cramped conditions," said Emily Schaeffer, who authored the report.
Those who leave lose residency rights if they are gone for seven or more years and cannot return. Some 14,000 Palestinians lost their residency between 1967 and 2010, with half of those revocations taking place after 2006, ICAHD said.
Residency entitles you to Israeli health care and national insurance benefits.
Those who built houses illegally, lived in fear of having their property demolished and also faced hefty fines.
Israel demolished more than 2,000 homes in East Jerusalem since 1967, with 771 being pulled down between 2000-2011. A further 1,500 demolition orders are pending execution.
"Palestinians will de facto be deported from East Jerusalem, not by using guns or trucks, but by not allowing them to live a decent, normal life," Sfard said.
Because the annexation of East Jerusalem was not recognised, Palestinians living there should be considered as a people under occupation, ICAHD said. As such, Israel had no right to strip them of residency or demolish their homes.
"There is a suspicion that a war crime is taking place and that is why an investigation should take place," said Sfard.
Supporters of the mayor pointed to a poll released this year by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion.
Asked if they would prefer to be citizens of a future Palestinian state or of Israel, 35 percent of those questioned plumped for Israeli citizenship, 30 percent said they would choose Palestinian citizenship and 35 percent gave no answer.
The vast majority of Palestinian East Jerusalemites rejected offers of Israeli citizenship following the 1967 war, fearing it would undermine Palestinian claims to the area, but most have Israeli residency status.
© 2011 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Israel Forcing Palestinians Out of East Jerusalem, NGO Report Claims
The Palestinian leadership "spoke with former prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert without demanding a settlement freeze," he said, asserting that the PA leadership should do the same with the current government.
The current government took a number of clear steps in the two and a half years it has been in power, Lieberman said, mentioning that Israel Beiteinu accepted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Bar Ilan speech and that the government had agreed to the Quartet's stance
Lieberman: Israel won't make any more compro...
During the Quartet visit to Palestine last week, Israel submitted a proposal to break the current impasse of the peace process. This is by initiating secret direct negotiations, which were immediately rejected by Palestinian officials. This rejection, however, upset Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who stated that Palestinian President Abu Mazen is against peace, the Ma’an News Agency reported.
The newspaper’s website quoted some sources close to Netanyahu's office, which stated that the proposal was made during the meeting which was held last week in Jerusalem, between Malju and the representatives of the Quartet, and a separate meeting between the Quartet and Saeb Eriekat. During the meeting, Eriekat responded to the representatives of the international Quartet with a rejection from the Palestinian party to enter any secret negotiations before the Israel freezes settlement activity completelym and recognizes the 1967 borders.
As a result of the Palestinian refusal to enter the negations, Netanyahu
expressed his outrage and attacked the Palestinian President, Abu Mazen, saying that he rejects peace and has no serious intentions to enter into negotiations with Israel to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The Website also reported that Israel considered the proposal that was made by the international Quartet and the judge. This recommends stating positions, by Israel and the Palestinians, during the next 3 months on all issues of dispute. Thus, it made secret negotiations, which aim to bring the views and discuss the differences as an introduction to reach a final agreement.
International Middle East Media Center
The al-Quds Brigades is committed to the truce as long as Israel is committed, spokesman Abu Ahmad told Ma'an.
Israel has tried to evade the halt to hostilities brokered by Egypt on Sunday, he said.
While the group will keep to the truce, if Israel escalates hostilities, they will respond immediately and severely, he added.
He told Ma'an that the group had used a new portable launcher to fire rockets into Israel on Saturday, and had further tactical developments at its disposal.
Israeli airstrikes on Saturday killed nine al-Quds Brigades fighters in Gaza, and militants fired a volley of rockets and mortars into southern Israel, killing one Israeli in Ashkelon.
An Egyptian-mediated truce early Sunday came unstuck as Israeli war planes killed one DFLP fighter in the afternoon, and the PFLP claimed rocket fire into Israel.
Reports of another truce deal late Sunday were followed by an overnight Israeli airstrike which killed two fighters with the Ansar al-Mujahidin Brigades, the military wing of Al-Ahrar movement.
An Ansar al-Mujahidin Brigades spokesman told Ma'an on Monday that his group "respects the national consensus, but will respond to the killing of two fighters overnight."
The fighting is the worst cross-border violence since August when 27 Palestinians and one Israel were killed in exchanges of fire after Israel blamed a Gaza-based group for deadly attacks on Israeli city Eilat.
Maan News Agency
PARIS, October 31, 2011 (WAFA) – The General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Monday adopted the draft resolution of its executive board to grant Palestine full membership in the organization.
A total of 173 UNESCO member states attended the voting session; the resolution received 107 votes in favor, 14 against, and 52 members states abstained.
JERUSALEM, October 31, 2011 (WAFA) – Israeli authorities Monday demolished three Palestinian residences in Khan al-Ahmar area northeast of East Jerusalem, according to local sources.
Witnesses said Israeli soldiers demolished three tan residences of three brothers adjacent to Khan al-Ahmar elementary school.
The area has been heavily targeted by Israeli forces in an attempt to deport Arab residents, in order to expand the surrounding settlements and army camps.
Palestinian sources reported Monday that one man was killed and another injured as a result of an explosion in a Jabalia building in the northern Gaza Strip.
The Gaza Strip fire and rescue services spokesman said that a gas tank exploded inside one of the building's apartments.
Report: 1 killed in Gaza gas tank blast
GAZA, (PIC)-- Palestinian minister of justice Mohamed Al-Ghoul appealed to local and foreign human rights organizations, and pro-Palestinian groups to necessarily document Israel's crimes and file lawsuits against its war criminals with international courts.
In a press release on Sunday, minister Ghoul stated that the Israeli occupation forces carried out wanton barbaric air raids on Gaza during the past two days killing 10 Palestinians and wounding many others.
He noted that Israel's heinous crimes would never dissuade the occupied Palestinian people from continuing their struggle and resistance to defend themselves, end the occupation and restore their freedom.
The minister also called on the Islamic and Arab countries, and the international community to pressure Israel to stop its aggression and terrorism against the defenseless people of Gaza.
For his part, Dr. Ahmed Bahr, the first deputy speaker of the Palestinian legislative council, stated in a press release yesterday that the Palestinian resistance factions are able to defend their people in Gaza and create a balance of deterrence against the Israeli occupation.
Bahr underscored that the remarks made by the Israeli premier and his army officers in which they threatened to continue their aggression against Gaza would not terrorize the Palestinians and their resistance, but such threats would raise their determination and fortitude to confront Israel's terrorism and break down its arrogance.He pointed out that the Palestinian resistance in Gaza would teach the Israeli government and its occupation forces a new unforgettable lesson in the context of the Palestinian people's existential struggle against the occupation.
Minister Ghoul calls for prosecuting Israel's war criminals
NAZARETH, (PIC)-- Member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament) Shaul Mofaz has called for liquidating commanders of Palestinian resistance factions in the Gaza Strip in retaliation to the firing of rockets at Israeli targets from the Strip.
Mofaz, a former war minister, told the Hebrew radio on Sunday that Israel should target leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in addition to the resistance’s infrastructure in Gaza to restore its deterrence.
The MK, for the opposition Kadima party, claimed that this was the only way to guarantee non recurrence of rocket firing at Israeli targets from Gaza.Palestinian factions fired a number of locally made rockets at Israeli targets near to the Gaza Strip after Israeli warplanes killed five Islamic Jihad fighters on Saturday, which broke a lull that was prevailing in the region. Israel later launched more raids on Saturday and Sunday killing seven other Palestinian fighter
Israeli MK calls for targeting resistance leaders in Gaza
Tirawi's brother told Ma'an that the court convicted the elected official of being a commander in Fatah's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
The court also found Tirawi guilty of planning and undertaking operations against Israel.
His brother described the verdict as unjust, and said his family would appeal.
Tirawi was detained by Israeli forces from his home in Balata refugee camp in Nablus on May 25, 2007 and held for over four years as his trial was postponed more than 70 times.
As deputy speaker of Fatah's parliamentary bloc in the West Bank, he was the first Fatah-affiliated elected official to be detained following the 2006 Palestinian general elections.
Maan News Agency
On Sunday October 30, Canadian Boat to Gaza supporters delivered a special
treat for Stephan Harper, as we brought our opposition to the illegal blockade
of Gaza home to Canada.
On the day before Halloween in Ottawa and Vancouver we challenged the illegal
blockade that has turned Gaza into a “house of horrors.” We did so at the
doorstep of the institution that has become one of the most complicit in the
world with Israel’s illegal blockade: the office of the Prime Minister of
Canada (Also known as Israel’s second embassy in Ottawa).
This summer, Israel outsourced its illegal blockade of Gaza to Greece. Using
economic blackmail and relying on the complicity of Western governments,
including our own, the Canadian Boat to Gaza – the Tahrir – along with many
other Freedom Flotilla vessels, was prevented from reaching Gaza.
This outrageous grounding of the Freedom Flotilla, took place while the Harper
Conservative government had already been eagerly importing and supporting
Israel’s systemic policies of injustice for years. In effect, the illegal
blockade of Gaza extends to Canada as well.
UNMASKING THE INJUSTICE
Thanks to some intrepid “Kayaktivists”, the Tahrir managed to evade the
Greek coast Guard this summer (if only for 20 minutes). In this spirit, we
launched a Kayaktivist flotilla in Ottawa and Vancouver to unmask the local
accomplices of the illegal blockade. Together, we paddled and portaged to the
Prime Minister’s Office to challenge the Harper government’s complicity in
blockading Palestinian human rights. The Occupy Ottawa movement joined us to
show their solidarity and denounce the occupation of Palestine. People power
On or after October 31, contact your Member of Parliament
federal party leaders and Foreign Affairs critics to demand an end to the
federal government’s support of Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza.
Please donate to the Canadian Boat to Gaza: http://www.tahrir.ca/content/
Stay tuned and stay human.
UNE VISITE SPÉCIALE POUR HARPER
Le dimanche 30 Octobre, les supporteurs du Bateau canadien pour Gaza ont livré
des bonbons d’Halloween conçus tout spécialement pour Stephen Harper, des
bonbons de contestation. Le message a bel et bien été livré : nous nous
opposons au blocus illégal de Gaza!
À Ottawa et à Vancouver, à la veille d'Halloween, nous avons contesté le
blocus illégal qui a transformé Gaza en une «maison d’horreurs.» Nous
nous sommes rendus aux portes du bureau du Premier ministre du Canada, où
règne une complicité sans bornes avec Israël et son blocus illégal. Le
bureau du Premier ministre pourrait bien s’appeler la deuxième ambassade
israélienne à Ottawa!
Cet été, Israël a engagé un sous-traitant pour imposer son blocus à Gaza.
Ce sous-traitant, c’était la Grèce… Le chantage économique et les
pressions occidentales (dont les pressions canadiennes) ont eu raison de la
Grèce, si bien que le Bateau canadien pour Gaza, le Tahrir, et de nombreux
autres bateaux de la Flottille de la Liberté, ont été empêchés de se
rendre à Gaza.
Bloquer la Flottille fut scandaleux. Malgré cela, le gouvernement conservateur
de Harper appuie depuis belle lurette les politiques israéliennes
d’injustice systémique. De plus, il importe ces politiques, de telle sorte
que le blocus illégal de Gaza, qui s’est étendu aux côtes grecques,
s’étend aussi à celles du Canada.
L’été dernier, des militants en kayak, ou «kayaktivistes», ont pu
permettre au Tahrir d’échapper, si ce n’est que pour 20 minutes, aux
gardes côtières grecques. En s’inspirant d’eux, nous avons lancé à
Ottawa et à Vancouver, une flottille de kayaktivistes pour démasquer les
complices, au Canada, du blocus illégal. Ces kayaktivistes ont ramé
jusqu’au bureau du Premier ministre pour lui livrer un message de
contestation : ils ont signalé leur mécontentement à l’endroit du
gouvernement Harper et sa complicité dans le blocus qui prive les Palestiniens
de leurs droits humains. Le mouvement Occupons Ottawa s'est joint à nous pour
manifester leur solidarité et dénoncer l’occupation de la Palestine. Le
peuple dit «non!» à l'oppression!
La semaine du 31 Octobre, contactez votre député fédéral
le chef et le responsable des affaires étrangères pour chaque parti
fédéral. Demandez que le gouvernement canadien cesse d’appuyer le blocus
illégal de Gaza.
Faites un don au Bateau canadien pour Gaza: http://www.tahrir.ca/content/
Il faut rester humain…et rester en contact
You have received this message from the Canadian Boat to Gaza.
A diplomatic source told KUNA that a string of controversies and crisis would break out if the Palestinian bid was approved by the organization, adding that the United States would withdraw its financial support to UNESCO, which makes about 22 percent of the total budget estimated at USD 70 million.
He noted that two US legislative laws would prevent financing any UN agency that approves Palestine as a member.
He said that Kuwaiti Minister of Education and Higher Education Mohammad Al-Mulaifi has expressed his country's support for Palestine's membership, as well as the support of Arabic Group, the 77th Group, and Latin American Group. Other European countries have also expressed their support for the Palestinian membership, said the diplomatic source.
The Palestinian bid was added to the conference's agenda on Friday, and was followed by attempts to postpone it for 24 hours in order to make the due day expire, he added.
The source pointed out that the bid will be discussed after Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al-Maliki gives a speech later on today, noting there is an agreement on voting on the item and expressing the opinions of the member countries afterwards.
He said that according to UNESCO's statute on full membership, a country needs the approval of the Executive Board and then two-thirds of the votes of the 193 members during the General Conference.
The UNESCO's Executive Council recommended granting Palestine full membership during the organization's General Conference on October 5.
A draft resolution, presented by 24 states, including non-Arab nations, on Palestine's membership in the organization, won approval of 40 states. Fourteen abstained and four others voted against -- the United States, Latvia, Romania, and Germany.
UNESCO to vote on Palestinian membership bid -
RAMALLAH, October 31, 2011 (WAFA) – A group of Jewish settlers Monday stoned an elderly Palestinian lady as she was picking olives in Mukhmas, a village southeast of Ramallah in the West Bank, according to local sources.
The 80-year-old woman was reported to be injured in the head and transferred to hospital for treatment.
Settlers have escalated their attacks on Palestinians, especially farmers, since the beginning of October to coincide with the olive picking season, a time of great significance to the Palestinian community.WAFA
The terror group's spokesman Abu Ahmed said the multi-barrel rockets, used to fire rockets at Israel on Saturday, are "a new tactic which allows for flexible and quick launches." He added that the group is committed to the ceasefire between both sides, but added that if the escalation goes on they will not hesitate to respond.
On 25 October 2011, around 7.15pm, a Palestinian woman was held at checkpoint56 inTel Rumeida for around an hour after refusing to pass through the metal detector. The woman claimed that she was unwell and had been instructed by her doctor that it was not safe to pass through metal detectors. Although she produced papers from the doctor showing that she was ill, the soldiers refused to let her pass. She was eventually allowed to continue her journey, without passing through the metal detector, after the Israeli police were called and allowed her to return home.
Since 11 October 2011, the Israeli military has stated that pregnant women, people with heart devices and those with medical conditions are required to pass through the metal detector, despite the health risks posed. Furthermore, teachers at Qordoba school have also been forced to pass through the metal detector and submit their bags for inspection, despite passing through a separate gate for the last seven years. Six children were sent to hospital on 11 October 2011 after being injured by the Israeli military during protests against the treatment of the school's teachers. On October 16 2011, Israeli soldiers shot tear gas at a group of young schoolchildren and female teachers, who were attempting to hold a lesson outside of the checkpoint as an act of protest.
However, the Israeli military has repeatedly attempted to confiscate the passports of international activists as they pass through the checkpoints of Tel Rumeida; a practice which is illegal under Israeli law and appears designed to harass international observers going about their work in the area. The military has the right to ask to see passports and record details if deemed necessary -- provided that the passports remain in the possession of the owner In several instances where international activists have refused to hand over their passports, the Israeli police have been called to intervene -- often resulting in a 30 minute delay at the checkpoint.
On 25 October 2011, at around 12.50pm, an international activist was assaulted by the Israeli military after refusing to comply with an illegal demand to hand over their passport. The soldier pushed and then kicked the activist with significant force; the activist stated that "It seemed that perhaps my awareness of Israeli law and my refusal to comply to his illegal demands antagonised the solider." Again, the police were called and looked at the passport before allowing the activist to continue their journey.
On 27 October 2011, several international activists were held at checkpoint56 inTel Rumeida for over an hour after refusing to hand over their passports to the Israeli military. The police were called -- however, in this instance they colluded in the military's illegal activity by taking the passports and then handing them to soldiers for inspection. The Israeli military confiscated three of the passports and kept them at the checkpoint for around 20 minutes. The senior police officer, who gave his name as 'Assaf', threatened to arrest any international visitors to the area who refuse to hand over their passports to the military in the future; effectively threatening to arrest international activists for obeying Israeli law.
RAMALLAH, October 31, 2011 (WAFA) – Israeli forces Monday arrested ten Palestinians from across the West Bank, according to security sources.
A police press release said Israeli forces arrested a man and a 14 year old teenager after raiding their houses in Silwan, a town south of Jerusalem.
Four Palestinians were arrested in Israeli raids at al-Funduq and Hajjah, villages southwest of Nablus in the northern West Bank, while a teenager, 15, was arrested during Israeli inspections of Palestinian vehicles along the road between North Assira and Beit Umrin, towns north of Nablus.
In addition, security sources said Israeli soldiers arrested two brothers in Yatta, a town south of Hebron in the southern West Bank, and took them to an unidentified location after breaking into their house and rummaging through its contents. Another Palestinian was also arrested in the Bethlehem area.The police press release said that Israeli forces raided several areas in Ramallah, Tulkarm, Hebron, Jenin, Nablus and Jerusalem, inspected houses and handed notices to several Palestinians to report to Israeli intelligence.
WAFA - Israeli Forces Arrest 10 Palestinians across West Bank
PNN - Palestine News Network
Police said that they are not rushing to point fingers at right wing extremists as the responsible party and said that "all lines of investigation were being reviewed".
Israel News, Ynetnews
PNN - Palestine News Network
Via @occpal :Gaza Under Israeli Attacks – Timeline Military Operations on Gaza | Occupied Palestine | فلسطين
Gaza Under Attack – in pictures
Gaza Under Attack | Oct 31, 2011 | 2 killed, found unarmed no rocketlaunchers in area
Gaza Under Attack | Oct 30, 2011 | Israel bombards Despite Declared Ceasefire | 1 killed
Gaza Under Attack | Oct 30, 2011 | Israeli Navy try to ram Gaza fisher boats (live update)
Gaza Under Attack | Oct 29, 2011 | Images | Video | 9 killed, many wounded, 4 critically
Gaza Under Attack | Oct 27, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | Oct 24, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | Oct 10, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | Oct 8, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | Oct 4, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | Oct 3, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | Oct 2, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | Sept 30, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | Sept 21, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | Sept 20, 2011 | Israel Attacks Gaza on Even of UN bid
Gaza Under Attack | Sept 16, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | Sept 13, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | Sept 12, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | Sept 11, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | Sept 8, 2011 | 2 killed
Gaza Under Attack | Sept 7, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | Sept 6, 2011 | 1 killed, 2 wounded
Gaza Under Attack | Sept 5, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | Aug 25, 2011 | 3 killed | Images
Gaza Under Attack | Aug 24, 2011 | 3 killed and 1 died due to wounds sustained in earlier attacks | Images
Gaza Under Attack | Aug 23, 2011 | Images
Gaza Under Attack | Aug 22, 2011 | Images
Gaza Under Attack | Aug 21, 2011 | 1 killed | Images
Gaza Under Attack | Aug 20, 2011 |Images
Gaza Under Attack | Aug 19, 2011 | 10 Killed | Images
Gaza Under Attack | Aug 18, 2011 | 6 Killed | Images
Gaza Under Attack | Aug 16, 2011 | 2 Killed, 7 wounded, ( also 1 killed in the West Bank)
Gaza Under Attack | Aug 5, 2011 | 5 wounded
Gaza Under Attack | Aug 4, 2011 | 3 wounded
Gaza Under Attack | Aug 2, 1011
Gaza under Attack | July 21, 2011 | 1 killed
Gaza Under Attack | July 20, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | July 18, 2011 | 2 wounded
Gaza Under Attack | July 17, 2011 | 7 wounded of which 4 children
Gaza Under Attack | July 16, 2011 | 1 wounded
Gaza Under Attack | July 15, 2011 | 5 wounded of which 2 children
Gaza Under Attack | July 14, 2011 | 1 killed, 5 wounded, 1 still missing
Gaza Under Attack | July 13, 2011 | 1 wounded
Gaza Under Attack | July 10, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | June 6, 2011 | 1 Palestinian Killed
Syria Under Attack | June 5, 2011| 25 Palestinians Killed
Gaza Under Attack | June 4, 2011 | 1 Palestinian Killed
Gaza Under Attack | May 23, 2011 | 1 Palestinian Killed
Gaza Under Attack | April 22, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | April 17, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | April 16, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | April 14, 2011 | 2 Killed
Gaza Under Attack | April 9, 2011
- Gaza Massacre Apr 9, 2011 – video
Gaza Under Attack | April 7, 2011 | 5 Palestinians Killed
Gaza Under Attack | April 6, 2011 | Israeli Airstrikes injure civilians
Gaza Under Attack | April 5, 2011 | 2 Palestinians Killed
Gaza Under Attack | April 2, 2011 | 3 Palestinians Killed
Gaza Under Attack | March 30, 2011 | 1 Palestinian Killed
Gaza Under Attack | March 27, 2011 | 2 Palestinians Killed
Gaza Under Attack | March 26, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | March 24, 2011
Gaza Under Attack | March 23, 2011 | 1 Palestinian Killed
Gaza Under Attack | March 22, 2011 | 10 Palestinians Killed
Gaza Under Attack | March 21, 2011 | Starting this page with attacks
BRUSSELS, October 31, 2011 (WAFA) – European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton held the Islamic Jihad responsible for the violence that broke out in the past two days at the Gaza borders with Israel, according to a statement published on Sunday.
“I am very concerned at the renewed exchange of fire in Gaza Strip and the south of Israel following the firing of rockets by Islamic Jihad from Gaza into Israel,” she said.
“I wholeheartedly condemn the indiscriminate targeting of civilians where ever they are,” she added, calling “on all sides to respect the ceasefire brokered by Egypt.”
An Israeli air strike on Rafah, in southern Gaza, on Saturday killed five members of the Islamic Jihad organization and ended more than two months of clam when it provoked a barrage of rocket firing from Gaza at towns in southern Israel.
Israel responded with more air strikes, the latest came at midnight Sunday, two hours after an Egyptian brokered ceasefire, accepted by the Palestinian factions, was supposed to go in to effect.
Medical sources in Gaza said the latest strike killed Yousef Abu Abdo and Ali Aqqad, both in their 20s, whose bodies were found Monday morning in Khan Younis when the civil defense was able to comb the area looking for people killed or wounded in the air strike.
The two were said to be members of al-Ansar Brigades, the military wing of al-Ahrar movement.
The killing of two Khan Younis residents brings the total number of Palestinians killed in the Israeli air raids to 12. The rockets fired from Gaza into Israel killed one Israeli and caused damage to buildings.
Palestine News & Info Agency - WAFA
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – The Israeli military says its aircraft struck at a rocket squad that attacked Israel from the southern Gaza Strip, and Palestinians officials report that two men were found dead in the area.
Palestinian security officials say two bodies were discovered around dawn Monday. They say the men were wearing the uniform of a little-known group with ties to Hamas that previously had not been involved in violence against Israel.
They say the men were unarmed and that no rocket launchers were found in the area.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Deadly violence between Israel and Gaza militants flared over the weekend. In earlier fighting, 10 militants and an Israeli civilian were killed.Israel aircraft hit Gaza, 2 found dead
Sunday, October 30, 2011
(Below is the text of a speech delivered Thursday, October 27 by Ambassador Chas Freeman at the annual conference of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations in Washington. Freeman is a former American ambassador to Saudi Arabia and former president of the Middle East Policy Council in Washington. He was President Barack Obama's early nominee to head the National Intelligence Council. However, a decisive attack on Freeman by the pro-Israel Lobby ended that attempt. Freeman, however, continues to speak out, prescribing what many consider a sensible alternative to US foreign policy in the Middle East.)
The Mess in the Middle East
Remarks to the 20th Annual Arab-U.S. Policymakers Conference
National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations
Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr. (USFS, Ret.)
27 October 2011, Washington, D.C.
When John Duke Anthony asked me to kick off this two-day meeting by talking about recent events and what they might mean for US-Arab relations and U.S. policy, I was greatly honored. I was also reminded of the words of a famous expert on the Middle East who, many years ago, was asked to describe U.S. policy there. He replied, “We don’t have a policy in the Middle East; but that’s just as well because, if we did, it would be the wrong one.”
Recent events suggest that this was a major and memorable insight. The more that “change we can believe in” unfolds in the Middle East, the more things stay the same or retrogress. The more policy we have, the more perverse the results it seems to produce for our country.
Over the year since we last met here in this hall, there have been momentous events in West Asia and North Africa. Some Arab regimes have fallen to popular uprisings. Others appear to be at risk of doing so. Throughout the broad expanse of the Arab world incumbent governments of all kinds must now be much more deferential than before to the will of their people on both domestic and foreign affairs. This is good news for those who favor more accountable government, as I’m sure everyone here does – at least for foreigners. Americans concerned with the capacity of the United States to shape events in the Middle East should, however, hold the elation. Self-determination is, by definition, a rejection of subservience. This means, among other things, that Arab rulers are considerably less inclined to do America's bidding than in the past. They are starting to do things they see as in their interests even when these things are not in ours.
This is especially the case with regard to the Israel-Palestine issue, which remains central to our relations with the region. Given our unbreakable bonds with Israel, it is not at all helpful that that country has now – as some of us feared it might – alienated those few of its neighbors with which it once enjoyed normal ties. American policies have long put sustaining Israel’s military dominance of the region ahead of encouraging it to make peace with Palestinians and other Arabs. Shielded militarily from the need to deal respectfully with its neighbors and those over whom it rules, the Zionist state has progressively segregated itself both morally and politically from the region and most of the international community, including a growing number of Jews here and elsewhere in the West.
Israel has nonetheless also demonstrated that its hold on domestic U.S. politics remains unbroken. This past year, it was able to compel our president to swear allegiance to expansive Zionism and to repudiate policies endorsed by his own and previous administrations as well as the international community. By contemptuously overriding the views and interests of the United States in this way, Israel and its American claque debased and discredited American international prestige and regional credibility. As a consequence, the world has come together in a series of ever firmer votes of no-confidence in U.S. leadership and diplomacy on the Israel-Palestine dispute. American military might remains unchallengeable, but the power of the United States to protect Israel from the political and legal consequences of its policies, statements, and actions has been gravely impaired. This is a perverse result for an Israeli government and its supporters to have engineered.
For their part, after decades of bitter frustration with a feckless, fraudulent, and ultimately fruitless American-led “peace process,” the Palestinians have concluded that they cannot count on the United States. They have ended their deference to what they (and most of the world) now see as America’s meretricious manipulation of their affairs to their occupier’s advantage. They have taken the initiative to rally regional and global support for their self-determination and independence from Israel. They hope in this way to transform the struggle for Palestinian independence into a more equal contest. Theirs will no longer be a bilateral struggle between a strong, US-backed Israel and a Palestine with no leverage. It will, they hope, become a contest between Israel and the world’s conscience.
Ironically, political reactions here to these developments promise not only to isolate the United States in international organizations but to deprive us of our residual influence with the Palestinians. The end of U.S. subsidies to the Palestinian Authority will force Israel to assume responsibility for security and other services in the Occupied Territories that it had successfully unloaded on Palestinian collaborators funded by American and other foreign taxpayers. Instead of facilitating the occupation by paying Palestinians to police it, Americans and Europeans are now likely to face demands to pay Israel directly to conduct it. Europeans, at least, are unlikely to take up this burden.
The perceived need to counter Israeli and American policies is already throwing together some strange diplomatic bedfellows. It is also marginalizing American influence on other issues of concern in West Asia and North Africa. The regional clout of non-Western powers like China, India, and Russia will surely grow concomitantly.
If this sounds grim, I apologize. I cannot promise that, as is the case on Saudi Channel One, amusing cartoons will follow the sermon. I must leave it to those who follow me to provide comic relief. I’m happy to do that. Years ago, Ronald Reagan told me: “you know, they say that hard work never killed anybody. But why take a chance?” He delegated as much as he could to experts who were smarter than he was. He set a good example I plan to follow.
This conference has been convened to weigh the implications of the trends and developments I’ve outlined. As I look at the agenda, I see that it will also consider other legacies of past and present US policies in the region, like Iran’s resentful anti-Americanism and assertive search for regional hegemony, the cancerous growth of sectarianism in the Arab world, the deepening Iraqi strategic alignment with Iran, the proliferation of vengeful anti-American radicalism, and the likely fallout from the failing US-led pacification effort in Afghanistan. In the past, denial that these are urgent problems may have sufficed to evade uncomfortable but necessary dialogue. Neither silence nor inaction is now a viable option for Americans, Arabs, Iranians, Israelis, or others with a stake in the future of the Middle East.
Three decades after Iran’s revolution, some or all of the world’s 340 million Arabs are following Persians into a repudiation of foreign tutelage. The Iranian upheaval of 1979 marked the end of any notion of Iran as the political or cultural ward of Britain, Russia, or the United States. Country by country, whether under new or existing governments, Arabs too are now asserting the right to their own self-determined national identities and policies. Arabs are not Persians; Sunni political culture is not that of Shi`ism; and the histories of the diverse parts of the Arab world differ significantly from those of Iran. It’s unlikely that any Arab country will follow Iran into uncompromisingly theocratic forms of governance that derive their legitimacy from broad confrontation with the West and its values. Still, the Arab uprisings of 2011 have made it politically impossible for rulers to put the agendas of Western patrons ahead of the views, interests, and religious traditions of their own publics.
This shift in mind set and popular expectations has huge strategic implications. It foretells Arab governments and policies that seek the authenticity that only the consent of the governed and respect for their values and views can provide. The colonial era was over elsewhere five or six decades ago. As the Arabs insist on independence under popular sovereignty, whether exercised through one ruler or many, the last vestiges of neo-colonialism are vanishing in West Asia and North Africa as well. In the new era, relations between Middle Eastern states will be determined by local judgments about what is right, proper, and to the national advantage, not what is ordained, championed, or paid for by an outside power, patron, or overlord. That has been the case for Israel. It will now be the case for Israel’s Arab neighbors as well.
Arab rulers have just had it driven home to them that they cannot rely on Americans to protect them from domestic backlash to unpopular policies. They’ve also learned that they cannot look to America to constrain Israel. The strategic utility of the United States to Arab governments has been correspondingly devalued. As a result, Israel can no longer count on U.S. alliances, aid programs, or patron-client allegiances to exempt it from the consequences of its dysfunctional relationships with its neighbors.
Israelis played a major role in creating the adverse circumstances in which they now find themselves. They must now make their own peace with Turkey, sustain their own relations with Egypt and Jordan, and find their own basis for coexistence with Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, among others. They must craft their own modus vivendi and achieve their own reconciliation with Palestinians and Lebanese, whom they have heretofore treated with contemptuous cruelty and disrespect.
The spectacle of members of Congress bouncing up and down like so many obsequious yo-yos as Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to them last May is irrefutable evidence of Israel’s hammerlock on U.S. policy. But U.S. policy no longer decides what happens politically or economically in the Middle East. This has created a new and less certain political environment in West Asia and North Africa. For the first time in decades, Israel must manage its regional and international relationships on its own. Judging from Israel’s recent handling of incidents with the UAE, Turkey, and Egypt, neither its current government nor its political elite understands the new environment or is mentally prepared to cope with it.
Israel would be in difficulty even if American prestige in the Middle East had not imploded. But it has. Our previous reputation was so strong that Americans had to work really hard to do it in. With a little help from our friends, we proved we were up to the task.
The factors that went into destroying our appeal and authority are many. They begin with the disingenuous diplomacy of the now defunct “peace process.” The major result of three decades of American mediation has been to discredit American diplomacy. In effect, the United States facilitated the ongoing seizure of territory by Israel at the expense of a just settlement of differences between Israelis and Palestinians and Palestinian self-determination.
The reputation of the United States for wisdom, truthfulness, and competence was also gravely damaged by the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The course of events in both countries convincingly demonstrated the limitations of U.S. military power. The strategic fallout continues to spread. In Iraq, the U.S. ravaged a proud Arab society. The resulting anarchy set off a widening firestorm of sectarian violence in the Arab world. It also catalyzed a major – and so far uncountered – extension of Iranian influence in the region.
Washington’s eager connivance in the maiming of Lebanon in 2006 and of Gaza just before the Obama administration took office added to the perception of the United States as indifferent, if not sadistically happy about the suffering of Arab or Muslim populations. By conservative estimate, U.S. policies and military actions in the post Cold War period have directly or indirectly caused the deaths of between 250,000 and a million Muslims and displaced at least ten million from their homes. One does not need an advanced degree to understand the origins of Muslim rage against America
America’s ideological appeal has also faded. The abuses at Kandahar, Bagram, Abu Ghraib, and Guantánamo erased the international image of America as a champion of freedom, fair play, the rule of law, and human rights. Inconsistencies in the U.S. response to the popular uprisings in various Arab countries seriously undercut the credibility of American support for democracy. So has Washington’s willingness to attempt the overthrow of freely elected governments it and Israel dislike, like the Hamas-led government elected in Palestine in 2006. There is little sympathy for Hamas in most of the Arab world, but there is now universal outrage at U.S. collusion in the ongoing Israeli effort to terrorize Palestinians in Gaza and permanently ghettoize them. The blatant hate speech against Arabs and Muslims that now pervades American political discourse further reduces the willingness of people in the region to give a sympathetic hearing to American perspectives on events.
So too, I am sorry to say, does the mounting global perception of the United States as a country that can’t get its act together. In the first few years of this century, many abroad came to see us as a military bully. More recently, they have viewed our national leadership as terminally uncivil, unable to set priorities or otherwise address urgent national and international problems, economically illiterate and fiscally incompetent, ignorant and indifferent to foreign realities, and committed to the view that threats, sanctions, and military intervention are the answer to most foreign policy problems.
Of course, we’re not a bully. We’re just a superpower with attitude. A friend of mine who works on Capitol Hill assures me that foreigners seriously “misunderestimate” our politicians. Seen up close, he says, they are without doubt the finest decision-makers that political contributions can lease. If “that government is best which governs least,” he boasts, the United States has now achieved a rare perfection. We have attained a level of political gridlock in which the people’s representatives celebrate their faith in God by leaving it to Him to solve the problems their own previous misbehavior created. We should be happy to be so thoroughly ungoverned, my friend believes. But even he, a well-traveled French intellectual, admits that, from afar, we don’t look as good as we once did.
The fact is that, even without the strategic albatross of all-out support for self-destructive Israeli policies, the United States now has less going for it than ever before to help it shape the strategic contours of a changing Middle East. Yet it is in this highly adverse context that we Americans must protect our interests. To do this, we must acknowledge the multiple failures of our policies to achieve their declared objectives.
We have not persuaded Israel to accept the recognition and reconciliation that all twenty-two Arab countries and thirty-five additional Muslim states have offered. There has been no Israeli offer of peace to the Palestinians or anyone else in the region, only demands for unconditional acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state. Yet contemporary Israel is a transplant in the region that needs mutually respectful relations with its other peoples to assure long-term survival. It is now clear beyond a reasonable doubt that we Americans do not have the will or the self-confidence to help Israel achieve this. Nor do we have the bona fides necessary to conduct the sort of shuttle diplomacy we once did. Anyone who watched the U.S. Congress clap, curtsy, and kowtow to Mr. Netanyahu understands why we now have no credibility as a mediator.
We have not been able to end the increasingly brutal Israeli occupation and siege in the West Bank and Gaza. Neither is compatible with international law, Security Council decisions, Israel's undertakings in the Camp David accords, the spirit of the Oslo agreement, the terms of the “Roadmap,” or other relevant doctrines and decisions. We routinely deplore Israel’s policies and actions without ceasing to fund them or to prevent anyone else from halting them. No one takes what we say about Israeli or Palestinian behavior seriously anymore.
We are now trying to scuttle our own longstanding approach to the achievement of Palestinian self-determination and independence from Israel. The only answer we have to others’ objections to this is the power of the veto. But there is no reason to expect the Palestinians or the vast majority of the international community that is now aligned with them against us to restrict their challenges to the Security Council or other arenas where we can block them. They are pretty clearly ready to exclude and bypass us.
We do not know how to douse the spreading wildfire of sectarian violence in the Muslim world that we inadvertently ignited by thrusting Iraq into anarchy. We have no coherent answer to uprisings and unrest in places as disparate as Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen or to the success of rebellion in Libya. We do not know how to deal with democratic Islamists. We have not come up with a way to counter Islamist terrorists with global reach. Our current approach simply intensifies their fervor, strengthens their base among the Muslim faithful, and multiplies their supporters and copy-cats.
We have no strategy for countering Iranian inroads in the Arab world or causing Tehran to abandon its presumed nuclear ambitions. Iraq is aligned with Iran on issues from Syria and Lebanon to Bahrain. We are about to withdraw from Iraq without reaching any strategically advantageous understanding with Baghdad. We are conducting our relations with Pakistan and Afghanistan in ways that maximize the risk of protracted terrorist reprisal for our slaughter of civilians and alienation of religious and tribal elements in both. We don’t know what to do about the situations we have helped create in either or both countries.
That's a lot of "known unknowns." It would be easy to become depressed.
On the other hand, over the past year, like all right-thinking Americans, I have learned to be happy and love national credit rollovers. I count it a triumph that we have so far avoided a government shutdown. And I’m confident that the “Super Committee” has our fiscal situation in hand. According to my French intellectual friend on Capitol Hill, the Supers are about to produce a comprehensive nonpartisan resolution of our fiscal dilemmas. This will contract the economy while creating jobs and slash budgetary outlays while upping defense spending to produce the best of all possible worlds. I really want to believe this even if it’s clearly nuts. After all, if voodoo economics could get us into this mess, why can’t it get us out of it?
But in the absence of fiscal sorcery and some serious changes in policy, some or all of the following is very likely in our future.
Israel will be increasingly ostracized, boycotted, and prosecuted internationally for its scofflaw behavior, racist policies, and daily violence and intermittent pogroms against Palestinians. The United States will suffer correspondingly from guilt by our continuing close association with Israel. Over our objections, Turks, Egyptians, Saudis, and other Gulf Arabs will make common cause on matters relating to Palestine. The good news is that the Ayatollah Khamenei is aligned with Prime Minister Netanyahu and other yahoos in seeking to block a viable two-state solution in Palestine. Iran will therefore not make common cause with Arab countries. It doesn’t share their current and our former belief that the way to bring peace to the Middle East is through the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 by recognizing the division of the Holy Land between Israel and a much smaller State of Palestine.
The Palestinian issue will move from meeting rooms where we are present to conference rooms where we are not – or where our objections to measures against Israel are opposed or ignored by large, unsympathetic majorities. The defunded Palestinian Authority will likely cease to function. Instead of being able to rely on continuing Palestinian collaboration on intelligence and security matters, Israel will try to deal with those parts of the Occupied Territories still inhabited by Palestinians the same way it does with Gaza. Palestinian and Arab politics will be further radicalized.
Some Palestinian factions, long quiescent, will resume operations against Israelis in Israel as well as the Occupied Territories. Others will return to terrorism against the soft targets represented by Israel's supporters abroad. Not a few Israelis will conclude that the United States, not Israel, is the only secure domicile for the world’s Jews. Jewish emigration from Israel will accelerate. The United States will gain many desirable new citizens as a result.
The visible presence of U.S. troops on Arab soil will attract escalating local protests as well as terrorist attacks. The U.S. will step up assassinations of alleged proponents, planners, and perpetrators of such attacks. Collateral damage will mount. So will popular rage against the United States and pressure on Arab governments to deny U.S. forces access to facilities and installations in the region. Eventually, one or more Arab governments will decide that having an American military presence on its territory or facilitating transit or overflight by the U.S. armed forces is too provocative to local opinion. Other Arab governments will follow. The U.S. ability to rely on strategic lines of communication in the Gulf to link Asia to Europe and to project power around the world will take a big hit.
The Gulf Arabs, Iran, and Turkey will compete for the support of previously uncommitted external powers, like Brazil, China, India, and Russia. Gulf Arab governments will find it easy to buy arms from these countries but impossible to persuade them to replace weakening U.S. defense commitments with their own. GCC member countries will be driven toward greater self-reliance and stronger cooperation with each other. Some will ally with Turkey, Pakistan, and Egypt. Others will make their peace with Iran. Military training in the United States and the ease of cooperation and habits of coordination that it fosters will decline as U.S. budgets contract, military ties to the Gulf attenuate, and the region’s military relationships diversify.
Now that I’ve cheered you up, let me turn briefly to what might be done to avoid or mitigate developments like these. The writing may be on the wall but nothing is certain until the ink dries. Other speakers will have creative ideas about what is to be done. We need some new ideas to end our current wars and to restore our domestic security and tranquility. Before other speakers step up to this challenge, let me venture a few thoughts.
In the Holy Land, it’s about time we recalled the Hippocratic oath. This advises those with the power to intervene to “abstain from doing harm.” To put it more realistically, we should abstain from doing more harm than we already have. Foolishly encouraging Israelis to indulge in a belief that they can enjoy security through eternal reliance on American subsidies and protection and by sustaining a perpetual state of war with neighboring peoples not only does them no favor; it does Israel, the United States, and the Arabs great harm.
For a long time, we have acted as the enablers of self-injurious Israeli behavior. This has made it possible for Israel to choose land over peace, to corrupt its democracy, to deviate from the core values of its official religion as understood by Jews abroad, to empower racism and bigotry among its Jewish majority, and, most recently, to humiliate the president of the United States while extracting twenty-nine kowtows from Congress.
No one now harbors any real hope that America can either deliver peace or help Israelis, Palestinians, and those with whom they share their region to achieve it. We have shown convincingly that bilateral negotiations between grossly unequal parties cannot produce an equitable and sustainable result unless outside parties are willing to intervene to redress the imbalances in power. Yet an equitable and sustainable result is an imperative not only for Israelis and Arabs but for Americans as well. The costs of no peace are becoming too great to be sustained.
The essential objective of stated U.S. policy has always been the achievement of acceptance for Israel in its region through self-determination for the Palestinians in their own state. This is what the Arab peace initiative of 2002 offered. Americans need to get out of the way and let the international community work with the Arabs to help Israel embrace peace.
The last American with a valid claim to the status of peacemaker in the Middle East is the much-maligned Jimmy Carter. He put the squeeze on Menachem Begin to accept the peace that Anwar Sadat had bravely offered. There is no prospect that any elected or appointed American official could now act toward an Israeli leader with the determination that President Carter showed in September 1978 at Camp David. Conversely, as long as the United States fawns on Israel and uses drones and hit teams to carry out extrajudicial executions in an expanding list of Arab and Muslim countries, no president will have any credibility with Palestinians, other Arabs, or the broader Islamic community. The American-led “peace process” is over. We blew it.
The United States must now let the international community do for Binyamin Netanyahu what Jimmy Carter did for Menachem Begin – make Israel an offer of peace it will not let its prime minister refuse. This means ceasing to block the diplomatic tough love for Israel that only non-Americans can provide, and it means withdrawing U.S. funding and other support for Israeli policies and programs that harm U.S. interests or constitute obstacles to peace. The combination of international pressure and diminishing U.S. support is necessary to concentrate Israeli minds on the long-term choices before their country.
Peace has long been available if Israel would only trade sufficient land for it. The vast majority of Israelis favor swapping land for peace. A succession of right-wing Israeli governments has worked to obviate this possibility by creating adverse “facts on the ground.” It is time instead to create circumstances that will empower the Israeli majority to push their country’s recalcitrant politicians into peaceful coexistence with the other peoples of the Middle East.
Most Americans would rather forget Iraq now that we’re leaving it. But Iraq isn’t going away as an issue. Our invasion of Iraq left Iran without a credible military challenger in the region. Our withdrawal from Iraq leaves us with no strategy for countering Iranian aspirations for hegemony in the Middle East other than keeping a large part of our armed forces in the Arab countries of the Gulf. Such a presence is a stimulus to terrorism. Sustaining it is also almost certainly beyond our future fiscal capacity. Our usual response in such situations is to ask for host nation support. Given the loathing our policies in the Holy Land now inspire and the hatred our drone and other attacks are stoking, it is uncertain how Gulf Arab governments would respond to such a request. Subsidies to an American military presence are likely to be highly unpopular even where exceptional levels of citizen affluence prevail.
A better approach would be to adopt a more economic and less fatiguing strategy, like backstopping security arrangements that the GCC might contract with Turkey, Egypt, and Pakistan as well, possibly, with others, like a Syria that is no longer in the Iranian political orbit. Among other benefits, this would share the burden of guaranteeing Gulf Arab security between the United States and other countries with an interest in the security of energy supplies, regional stability, and a global oil patch undominated by a single supplier. Such countries include all the great powers of Europe and Asia. Why should those who benefit from global order not share the burden of sustaining it by supporting the GCC?
In this context, the situation in Bahrain has much broader strategic implications than many seem to realize. Bahrain is a fundamentally decent society but there are serious injustices there, as many in the Bahraini ruling family will admit. The Bahraini opposition is now infected with the revolutionary Iranian ideology of wilayat al faqih, a self-serving and self-righteous clericalism that rejects accommodation with secular authority.
The issues are complex. Negotiation is difficult for both sides. Yet, if there is no meeting of the minds, the disharmony in Bahrain, already an ulcer on GCC security, will afflict more than just Bahrainis. It will become an open wound that neither Iran nor Shi`ite Iraq will be able to resist probing.
It is hard to see how the U.S. Fifth Fleet could remain ashore in Bahrain under such circumstances. The island kingdom has become a crucial arena for the widening sectarian struggle in the Gulf as well as the contest for regional influence between Saudi Arabia and Iran. A measure of order has now been restored in Bahrain. Substantial reform must follow if domestic tranquility is to be sustained and opportunities for external mischief-making contained.
The situation in Bahrain is an example of the strategic dangers posed by injustice that is contaminated by sectarian division. In this and other contexts, I have to say, it’s hard to understand what’s in it for Saudi Arabia to continue to attempt to define itself by its Islam rather than by its character as the heartland of the Arabs. Where Saudi Arabia differs from Iran and resembles the Iranian-penetrated states and societies of Bahrain, Lebanon, and Iraq is in its “Arabness,” not its adherence to one or another school of Islam. The assertion of an Islamic rather than an Arab identity was a rational response to the challenge of secular Arab nationalism half a century ago. It makes little sense today, when the threat emanates from within the Dar al Islam and the objective must be to discourage other Arab states from aligning with a non-Arab state against the Kingdom.
Religious ideology is Iran’s battleground of choice. One should never allow one’s adversary to pick the field of battle. Only Saudis can decide who they are, but, in terms of Saudi prospects for victory in the struggle for the soul of the Arab world, Arab identity and tradition would seem to be a more promising choice of terrain on which to make a stand than religion. There is nothing Arab about the concept of rule by mullahs embodied in the recent theological innovation of wilayat al faqih. It is not a doctrine that Arab Shi`ites should find appealing, any more than Arab Sunnis do. The need to ensure that Shi`ite Arabs do not embrace it is an argument for expanded religious dialogue and tolerance.
Iran’s hegemonic ambitions are a serious problem for its neighbors. There is no magic bullet to put an end to this problem. Military action is more likely to create new problems than to solve this one. Dealing with Iran requires a comprehensive strategy and engagement linked to a long-term effort by the GCC that is backed by the United States and others. No such strategy or effort is in place. The current cascade of sanctions, threats of air attack, and covert actions against nuclear facilities does not add up to a strategy. The sanctions impoverish ordinary Iranians and rally them against foreign enemies. The threats emphasize to them how much safer they would be if only they had a nuclear deterrent. The cyber attacks and other covert actions against Iran retard its nuclear program but do not address its motivations for the program or halt it.
There is no unity of purpose among those concerned about the various dimensions of Iranian behavior. The GCC does not have anything useful to say to Iran about its nuclear programs. Those in the region, like Turkey, who have tried to speak to Iran on this issue have been undercut rather than supported by the West. Iran’s roles in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Afghanistan, and elsewhere are unaddressed by American diplomacy, which is entirely focused on eliminating the presumed Iranian threat to Israel’s regional nuclear monopoly. It is clearly time for all concerned about the diverse challenges Iran presents to confer, to deconflict their disparate policy priorities, and to cooperate.
Osama Bin Laden was finally apprehended through classic intelligence and law enforcement work. He was killed by Navy Seals but it is hard to argue that a military hit team was essential to arrest or execute him. America seems wedded to a militarized approach to combating terrorism despite the fact that this is widening our struggle to an expanding list of Muslim countries – not narrowing it – while deepening existing Muslim animosity toward the United States. We need to rethink our approach. Decimating leadership structures can demoralize and disorient armies. But we are not dealing with armies. We are dealing with an enraged global community and an ideology that tells individuals within it what targets are legitimate objects of retribution and reprisal and that motivates them to act on their own or to seek others of like mind to join them in acts of terrorism.
Unless the causes of Muslim indignation are mitigated and the deviant ideology of those who exploit it is refuted, anti-American terrorism will continue to flourish. The apprehension and execution of Osama Bin Laden or other prominent terrorists punishes their crimes against us but we should be under no illusion that it shakes either the motivation or the rationale of those they inspire. To accomplish that, we need the help of Muslim allies. We Americans are good at killing our enemies. We are unqualified to refute Islamic heresies and unsuited to persuading those who have embraced these heresies to step aside from the path to terror. We need Muslim help to accomplish both.
I am tempted to turn to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where many believe it’s all over but the excuses for the retreat, but, fortunately, my time has expired.
I want to close by affirming my faith in the adaptability and resilience of the United States. With all the problems we have made for ourselves and our friends in the Middle East, we have just about run out of alternatives to doing the right things. Now we may get around to actually doing them, insha’Allah. Bukra. Mumkin.If you like this article, please consider making a contribution to the Palestine Chronicle.
The Mess in the Middle East