Peace in our Time?

January 29, 2007

The Restrictions Remain: Life Under Prohibition in Palestine

Filed under: Blogroll, Palestine, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 10:21 pm
By AMIRA HASS
Counterpunch
22.1.07
http://www.counterpunch.org/hass01222007.html
All the promises to relax restrictions in the West Bank have obscured the true picture. A few roadblocks have been removed, but the following prohibitions have remained in place.

(This information was gathered by Haaretz, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Machsom Watch)

Standing prohibitions

* Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are forbidden to stay in the West Bank.

* Palestinians are forbidden to enter East Jerusalem.

* West Bank Palestinians are forbidden to enter the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing.

* Palestinians are forbidden to enter the Jordan Valley.

* Palestinians are forbidden to enter villages, lands, towns and neighborhoods along the `seam line` between the separation fence and the Green Line (some 10 percent of the West Bank).

* Palestinians who are not residents of the villages Beit Furik and Beit Dajan in the Nablus area, and Ramadin, south of Hebron, are forbidden entry.

* Palestinians are forbidden to enter the settlements` area (even if their lands are inside the settlements` built area).

* Palestinians are forbidden to enter Nablus in a vehicle.

* Palestinian residents of Jerusalem are forbidden to enter area A (Palestinian towns in the West Bank).

* Gaza Strip residents are forbidden to enter the West Bank via the Allenby crossing.

* Palestinians are forbidden to travel abroad via Ben-Gurion Airport.

* Children under age 16 are forbidden to leave Nablus without an original birth certificate and parental escort.

* Palestinians with permits to enter Israel are forbidden to enter through the crossings used by Israelis and tourists.

* Gaza residents are forbidden to establish residency in the West Bank.

* West Bank residents are forbidden to establish residency in the Jordan valley, seam line communities or the villages of Beit Furik and Beit Dajan.

* Palestinians are forbidden to transfer merchandise and cargo through internal West Bank checkpoints.

Periodic prohibitions

* Residents of certain parts of the West Bank are forbidden to travel to the rest of the West Bank.

* People of a certain age group – mainly men from the age of 16 to 30, 35 or 40 – are forbidden to leave the areas where they reside (usually Nablus and other cities in the northern West Bank).

* Private cars may not pass the Swahara-Abu Dis checkpoint (which separates the northern and southern West Bank). This was cancelled for the first time two weeks ago under the easing of restrictions.

Travel permits required

* A magnetic card (intended for entrance to Israel, but eases the passage through checkpoints within the West Bank).

* A work permit for Israel (the employer must come to the civil administration offices and apply for one).

* A permit for medical treatment in Israel and Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem (The applicant must produce an invitation from the hospital, his complete medical background and proof that the treatment he is seeking cannot be provided in the occupied territories).

* A travel permit to pass through Jordan valley checkpoints.

* A merchant`s permit to transfer goods.

* A permit to farm along the seam line requires a form from the land registry office, a title deed, and proof of first-degree relations to the registered property owner.

* Entry permit for the seam line (for relatives, medical teams, construction workers, etc. Those with permits must enter and leave via the same crossing even if it is far away or closing early).

* Permits to pass from Gaza, through Israel to the West Bank.

* A birth certificate for children under 16.

* A long-standing resident identity card for those who live in seam-line enclaves.

Checkpoints and barriers

* There were 75 manned checkpoints in the West Bank as of January 9, 2007.

* There are on average 150 mobile checkpoints a week (as of September 2006).

* There are 446 obstacles placed between roads and villages, including concrete cubes, earth ramparts, 88 iron gates and 74 kilometers of fences along main roads.

* There are 83 iron gates along the separation fence, dividing lands from their owners. Only 25 of the gates open occasionally.

Amira Hass writes for Ha`aretz. She is the author of Drinking the Sea at Gaza.

The Guardian: Comment is Free: Rabbit in the Headlights

Filed under: Blogroll, Palestine, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 10:17 pm

Seth Freedman

Rabbit in the headlights

The fate of a tiny Palestinian village highlights what is wrong with Israel’s policies.

By Seth Freedman 

Sometimes it’s hard to be Israeli. There are those who think the Arab world wants to kill us all, there are those who think that Europe unfairly singles us out for harsh criticism, there are those who think that, apart from America, we don’t have a single friend out there at all. Then there’re those – like me – who think we deserve all we get.

As I sat on the ruins of yet another demolished house in the tragic village of al-Nu’eman yesterday, I wondered why we think we merit any kind of sympathy at all.

You reap what you sow. And what we’ve sown in al-Nu’eman can only yield a harvest of more anger, more bitterness, more hate. And that’s just from the residents – what the rest of the world will feel for the Zionist machine is another story altogether.

To put it succinctly, Al-Nu’eman has been done like the proverbial kipper. Twenty-two houses, home to a tight-knit community who have lived in the same hills for generations, it sits on land annexed by Israel during the 1967 war.

However, due to the villagers’ clan chief living in a town located deeper in the West Bank, al-Nu’eman residents were registered under his address, and consequently denied Israeli status and IDs. This meant they could not enter Jerusalem – fine, until the plans for the security wall were finalised. Al-Nu’eman is to be fenced off, like countless other Palestinian hamlets and villages, but – and this is the Kafkaesque nightmare – they’ll be on the Israeli side of the wall when it’s completed.

West Bank residents who can’t go to the West Bank. People living in Israel proper who can’t go into Israel. Prisoners in their own homes? Spot on. And an utter disgrace.

I’m not going to bang a drum for peace, co-existence, make-love-not-war, and so on. I’ll leave that to the Israeli girls with flowers in their hair, to the long-haired Israeli boys back from Goa with opium-infused fantasies. I don’t reckon I’ll see a lasting peace in the region during my lifetime – and, truth be told, that’s not the reason I go on trips like these.

Just like I served in the army to try and understand the Israeli psyche better, so I go to Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, etc, to see the other side of the story. And, 90% of the time, I come away ashamed of my country in the same way that a child gets embarrassed by a racist or otherwise socially unacceptable parent.

I’m no mug – the fact that there are PFLP members among the town’s residents doesn’t exactly make me want to rent a villa there in the summer months; the fact that our host – Yusuf – wore a beaming smile and spoke perfect Ivrit doesn’t convince me that he doesn’t raise his kids to hate Jews, but then this is mere conjecture. Whereas the hard facts are these: Israel has stitched up this village – which is in many ways a microscopic example of the Occupied Territories as a whole – and, furthermore, the whole octopus of Israeli authority is complicit in the crime.

From the upper echelons of government who delay reviewing the residents’ pleas for Israeli citizenship, to the municipality who serve demolition orders on the houses, to the boneheaded Magavniks who hassle the locals on an hourly basis. Magav, or border police, are the dregs of the army – the delinquent kids none of the other units want, those with criminal records and other behavioural issues. Often from poor immigrant families, they have a reputation for dishing out their own style of justice – up alleyways, out of the prying eyes of the media – and I know them only too well, from my 15 months in the IDF.

In late 2005, Magav thugs stopped two al-Nu’eman residents and tried to arrest them both. Only one cooperated and, to cut a long story short, the second was found later tied to his mule and beaten unconscious. The 43-year-old never came round – he died, and so too did the chance of his eight children ever forgetting and forgiving Israel for its deeds.

After meeting on Hebron road, we all climbed into our cars and set off for the village. We turned right, past the imposing, fortress-like settlement of Har Homa, and down into the lowland. Within seconds, the landscape became indistinguishable from the countryside in any of the Middle Eastern states. Dotted on the side of the golden, barren hills were stone houses, and down in the valleys were neatly planted rows of olive trees.

The roads we drove along were in such a state of disrepair that we were reduced to crawling pace. They are meant to be maintained by the Palestinian Authority but, as has been witnessed over the last decade of misrule, the swollen coffers of the PA are rarely put to good use for its people.

As we approached the edge of al-Nueman, up rocked a jeepful of Magav. Their first display of their might was to blare on their horn to attract the attention of two passing youths. They checked their IDs perfunctorily, nothing heavy, and to an outsider their behaviour was perfectly above board. I’m not saying any different but, having spent a month doing exactly the same in Beit Jalla, know that it is this low-level form of assertion of power that keeps the Palestinians constantly resentful of us – just as the black and Irish communities in London felt during the stop-and-search years.

We reached the house of Yusuf – a rotund, well-turned out resident and de facto head of the welcoming committee. He ushered us into a beautifully tended garden – lush grass, neat flowerbeds, and rather at odds with the villagers’ assertion that their water was routinely cut off for weeks at a time by the army.

However, splitting hairs was not my aim here – just as listening to the sadly-familiar recounting of IDF abuses by Yusuf was also not my top priority. Anyone can meticulously detail the complaints of the Palestinians, the rebuttals by the Israelis, and go mad trying to see the wood for the trees.

Instead, I prefer to focus on my emotional reaction to the visit. Of the seven of us touring, two of the group were non-Jewish Europeans – one a human rights worker from Paris, the other a film-maker from Bosnia. Their presence sharpened my feeling of guilt and shame at what we were witnessing. Had we been a homogenous group, all Israeli and all Jewish, then perhaps I wouldn’t have felt that our dirty laundry was being aired in public. And this is one of my main concerns with Israel’s policy toward its Palestinian neighbours.

(more…)

January 28, 2007

Forum of the Peace Initiative with Syria

Filed under: Blogroll, Palestine, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 9:53 pm

From: Alla Shainskaya [mailto:alla.shainskaya@gmail.com]
Sent: Saturday, January 27, 2007 4:45 PM
To: alla shainskaya
Subject: Forum of the Peace Initiative with Syria.

Please, confirm your participation, if possible.

Forum of the Peace Iniative with Syria

A new forum for promoting a peace initiave with Syria has been established. This forum came into being following earlier meetings between Israelis and mediators from UK and USA.

Intellectuals, academics and businessmen are members in the forum, amongst
whom:

Sami Michael, Amnon Lipkin Shahak, Yakov Peri, Dr. Alon Liel, Pr. Yoram Peri, David Sasson, Dr.Moshe Amirav, Dr. Alla Shainskaya, Drora Ben Dov, Bruno Landsberg,Yossi Zadik, Niso Bezalel, Iris Elhanani, Linda Menuhin, Rachel Yonah Michael, Fredy Zaq, Nadia Cohen, Sofie Ben Dor, Prof. Yigal Shwarz, Prof. Menahem Klein, Etty Livni, Dr. Dina Ziserman, Prof. Shimon Ulman, David Kimhi and Prof. Galia Golan.

The forum will convene on Sunday the 28th of January at 18:30

the Hebrew-Arabic Theater in Jaffa.
10 Mifratz Shlomo St .

Key speakers at the event:

Sami Michael, Dr. Alon Liel, Yakov Peri , Sofie Ben Dor, Dr. Alla Shainskaya and William Morris CEO – the Next Century Foundation -England

Members of the forum have worked out a declaration calling upon the public to join in order to promote the peace talks with Syria.

Below is the wording of the declaration:

Forum of the peace iniative with Syria

We, the undersigned, represent a wide spectrum of opinions and political attitudes. We believe that the time has come to respond seriously to the signs that are coming from Syria. Since the day the State of Israel was founded, we have regarded Syria as the most stubborn and determined enemy endangering our existence. And now, after bitter wars and conflicts between us, there are hints coming from Syria that show a desire to open a new page, a page of reconciliation for political settlement.

Prior to signing the peace treaty with Egypt, many firm opponents stood up to claim the development as impossible. But peace with the largest Arab state has lasted, despite the great tribulations that befell the region. We believe that ignoring the conciliatory initiative with Syria would be an irresponsible gamble with the future of the State of Israel. Out of concern for our existence, and out of concern for the next generation and the generations after that, we must re-examine our attitude of regarding the border with Syria as one of eternal enmity and war. We gave up Sinai and in return we gained peace with Egypt. We call upon the government of Israel, upon those amongst us who are responsible for designing policy, to listen to the voices that are making themselves heard from Damascus. Peace with Syria means peace with the region in which we live. The price of peace is much cheaper than the bitter and destructive price of war.

We call upon the public to join its voice to ours. We must all take the patriotic step of trying to dismantle the obstacles of hatred, enmity and war that have been sown between us and Syria.

January 26, 2007

My letter of rebuttal to The Jerusalem Post as to Amazon.com petition

Filed under: Blogroll, Palestine, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 10:48 pm

JPost.com » Opinion » Letters » Article

January 23:

For a viable Palestine

Sir, – “Israeli NGO vows Amazon boycott over Carter review” (January 19) revealed a huge gap between fact and fiction. ICAHD, far from being a one-man NGO, had nothing to do with the petition. As a private citizen, I certainly signed it, as did 12,000 within three days. Nor, by the way, does Prof. Halper support a one-state solution. We warn, with [Jimmy] Carter, that a two-state solution is dead due to wanton settlement expansion, for a viable Palestine cannot be attained. This leaves the Palestinians and Israel to work seriously for a serious alternative to bring peace and security to all.

Regional confederation, perhaps? Jerusalem as a neutral Vatican, perhaps? We do not presume to tell Palestinians what sort of state they should advocate for. But Israeli infrastructure reveals Israeli policy. And it undermines peace, and promotes apartheid.

ANGELA GODFREY-GOLDSTEIN
Action Advocacy Officer, ICAHD

[They didn’t print the full submission, leaving out the final part: “Pity Johnny Paul didn’t address the actual message in Carter’s book, and instead favoured lies, destructive ambiguity and distraction. We all deserve better than that.”]

jplogo.gif 

Israeli NGO vows Amazon boycott over Carter review



LONDON – The Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD) has opened a campaign to censor on-line retailer Amazon.com following the posting of a critical review of former US president Jimmy Carter’s book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.The group said the article, written by a customer, was “hostile” to Carter’s viewpoint and had been placed in the wrong section of the Web page on the book.

In an e-mail, ICAHD said it was “deeply disturbed” by the treatment of Carter’s “important new book” and had issued an ultimatum demanding Amazon move the negative review and “restore a semblance of balance” by giving “comparable space and prominence to a more positive evaluation” of the book.

The group is asking people to write to Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, and to boycott the company. The e-mail says: “You insist on running the complete, 20-paragraph, 1,636-word text of a review unabashedly hostile to Carter’s viewpoint.

“You have refused to add information shoppers should have in evaluating this review: the fact that the reviewer, Jeffrey Goldberg, is a citizen of Israel as well as the US, and that he volunteered to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces, for which he worked as a guard at a prison for Palestinian detainees.

“And you have refused to balance his negative review by giving comparable space to a favorable assessment of the book, even though positive reviews by qualified experts have appeared in many reputable publications.”

The ICAHD said it was “not interested in supporting a corporation that uses its power in the marketplace in such a biased and unconstructive way on such an important issue.”

An ultimatum is then delivered: “If you do not, by January 22, remove the Goldberg review, move it to the more appropriate ‘See all Editorial Reviews’ page, or restore a semblance of balance by giving comparable space and prominence to a more positive evaluation of Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, we… pledge to stop shopping at Amazon… and encourage our friends, family and associates to do likewise.”

In a March 2005 brief, NGO Monitor, part of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, described the Committee against House Demolitions as “a well-funded, blatantly political and ideological one-man NGO, which couches its radical anti-Israel agenda and demonization in the rhetoric of human rights.”

The brief continues: ICAHD coordinator Jeff “Halper routinely uses terms such as ‘apartheid’ and ‘war crimes’ to refer to Israeli policy against Palestinian terror, supports a ‘one state solution,’ and advocates sanctions and boycotts.”

January 24, 2007

Amazon.com Customers’ Campaign Wins Fairer Treatment for Carter’s book

Filed under: Blogroll, Palestine, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 11:33 pm

Berkeley, CA – Ten days after shoppers began a campaign to protest Amazon.com’s extraordinarily hostile presentation of former President Jimmy Carter’s book on Palestine, and a day after a petition with more than 16,000 signatures was delivered to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the company has responded by revamping the page in a way that puts the book in a completely different light.

The petition, posted at www.petitiononline.com/Amazon07, complained that Amazon had abandoned its usual evenhandedness in the presentation of controversial books by posting the full text of a lengthy attack on Carter’s Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid in its “Editorial Reviews” section – and repeatedly refusing customer requests that it add a more positive review in the same location for balance. In signing the petition, customers pledged to stop shopping at Amazon and close their accounts there if the retailer did not come up with a more balanced version of the page by Jan. 22. To back up the petition, hundreds if not thousands of customers also wrote directly to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos < jeff@amazon.com> to express their concerns.

A copy of the petition, some 16,200 signatures, and supporting materials were sent to Bezos and his staff on Friday, Jan. 19. The following morning, the “Editorial Reviews” section of the page listing Carter’s book was completely overhauled for first time in almost a month: It now begins with a glowing tribute from Amazon to the former president’s achievements and an interview with him about the book, plus a photo of him and graphic links to some of his other books – all new material, and all of it posted ahead of the negative review.

“This is a huge victory,” said Henry Norr, the Berkeley, CA-based former journalist who initiated the petition. “The whole tone of the page is different now. Instead of saying, in effect, ‘Stay away from this vile book,’ what it now conveys is the truth: that this is an important and fair-minded, even if controversial, book by a distinguished American who has unique qualifications to address the issue of Palestine.”

Added Paul Larudee, an El Cerrito, CA, piano technician and activist who helped organize the protest campaign, “Of course Amazon deserves credit for responding after initially refusing to make a change. However, the real credit goes to the thousands of petition signers who exercised their power – in this case the nonviolent power to take their business elsewhere. It gives hope that boycotts and other nonviolent efforts can help to end the larger injustices that Carter addresses in his book.”

“I’m sorry Amazon continues to display the review by Jeffrey Goldberg, because I think it’s horribly unfair and misleading, and I still wish they would add one of the other reviews we suggested,” said Norr. “Some people who signed the petition have let me know that they still intend to close their accounts if Amazon doesn’t make more changes, and I understand their feelings. But what the petition was really demanding was fair and balanced treatment for the book, and on the whole I think we’ve come pretty close to that objective.”

The change was the second involving Carter’s book that Amazon has made in response to the campaign. Last week, its version of the latest New York Times hardcover nonfiction bestseller list initially omitted Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid altogether, even though the book actually ranked fifth on the list – Amazon’s version jumped directly from number 4 to number 6! This extraordinary “mistake” persisted for days, until two hours after an earlier version of this press release was delivered to scores of reporters and publications.

Photo from Sur Baher (by Virginia Paradinas, ICAHD intern) of home demolition (building of 8 apartments)

Filed under: Blogroll, Palestine, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 8:54 pm

demolition-53.jpg

Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid…Jimmy Carter in his own words

Filed under: Blogroll, Palestine, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 8:41 pm

Democracy Now | 30 November 2006

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is accusing Israel of creating an apartheid system in the West Bank and Gaza. The charge comes in his new book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” We play an address by Carter talking about the Palestine-Israel conflict, the role of the United States and much more. Carter says, “Palestinians are deprived of basic human rights, their land has been occupied, then confiscated, then colonized by the Israeli settlers.” [includes rush transcript]

The Nobel Peace Prize winner has been deeply involved in Middle East policies for the past three decades. As president he negotiated the Camp David Accords – which secured a lasting peace between Israel and Egypt.

In his new book, Jimmy Carter writes, “Israel’s continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land.”

Carter criticizes Israel for building what he describes as an imprisonment wall through the West Bank. He accuses Israel of strangling the residents of Gaza where the poverty rate has reached 70 percent and where the malnutrition rate mirrors countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. And Carter is critical of Washington’s role. He writes, “The United States is squandering international prestige and goodwill and intensifying global anti-American terrorism by unofficially condoning or abetting the Israeli confiscation and colonization of Palestinian territories.”

Some of the most vocal critics of Carter’s book have been fellow Democrats. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “It is wrong to suggest that the Jewish people would support a government in Israel or anywhere else that institutionalizes ethnically based oppression, and Democrats reject that allegation vigorously.”

John Conyers, the incoming chair of the House Judiciary Committee, urged Carter to change the title of the book, which he described as “offensive and wrong.”

Meanwhile, the nation’s newspapers have largely ignored Jimmy Carter’s book since its publication two weeks ago. The book hasn’t even been mentioned in the news pages of the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Boston Globe or Los Angeles Times.

Jimmy Carter, former U.S. President, speaking November 28th, 2006.

AMY GOODMAN: Today on Democracy Now!, we’ll hear Jimmy Carter in his own words. On Tuesday night, he discussed his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, at an event in Virginia. JIMMY CARTER: Some people have said the title is provocative, and I accept that categorization, but I don’t consider the word “provocative” to be a negative description, because it’s designed to provoke discussion and analysis and debate in a country where debate and discussion is almost completely absent if it involves any criticism at all of the policies of Israel. And I think the book is very balanced. Secondly, the words “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” were carefully chosen by me. First of all, it’s Palestine, the area of Palestinians. It doesn’t refer to Israel. I’ve never and would imply that Israel is guilty of any form of apartheid in their own country, because Arabs who live inside Israel have the same voting rights and the same citizenship rights as do the Jews who live there. And the next word is “peace.” And my hope is that the publication of this book will not only precipitate debate, as I’ve already mentioned, but also will rejuvenate an absolutely dormant or absent peace process. For the last six years there’s not been one single day of good faith negotiations between Israelis and their neighbors, the Palestinians. And this is absolutely a departure from what has happened under all previous presidents since Israel became a nation. We’ve all negotiated or attempted to negotiate peace agreements. That has been totally absent now for six years. So “peace.” And then the last two words, “not apartheid.” The alternative to peace is apartheid, not inside Israel, to repeat myself, but in the West Bank and Gaza and East Jerusalem, the Palestinian territory. And there, apartheid exists in its more despicable forms, that Palestinians are deprived of basic human rights. Their land has been occupied and then confiscated and then colonized by the Israeli settlers. And they have now more than 205 settlements in the West Bank itself. And what has happened is, over a period of years, the Israelis have connected settlements with highways, and those highways make the West Bank look like a honeycomb and maybe a spider web. You can envision it. And in many cases, most cases, the Palestinians are prevented from using the highways at all, and in many cases, even from crossing the highways. I’d like to make one other point. When Israel was founded back in 1948 by the United Nations, Israel was allocated 56% of what we would call “the holy land” between Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. After the wars, when the Arabs tried to destroy Israel, treaties were worked out, and Israel wound up with 77% of the holy land. 22% was designated as the West Bank, and 1% only, Gaza. So at the optimum case, as recognized by all the United Nations resolutions, Israel would wind up with 77% of the area, and the Palestinians only 23%, including Gaza and the West Bank. And remember that Gaza is on the sea coast, where the Philistines lived during the time of King David, and it’s separated by 40 kilometers, about 30 miles, from the rest of Palestinian territory. So in order for a Palestinian to go from Gaza to the West Bank, they have to go through 30 miles of Israeli land, though that’s just a geographical description. This book is designed to restimulate the prospect for peace. And I’m going to just read three options that Israelis face. And I’d like to say at the beginning that none of them are completely acceptable to all Israelis. But for the last 40 years, a strong majority of Israelis have preferred to relinquish Arab land in return for peace. And this sentiment prevailed until the time when Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated by an irate Israeli who didn’t like what Rabin and Shimon Peres had done at Oslo in negotiating a peace agreement for which they both received the Nobel Peace Prize.Although a clear majority of Israelis are persistently willing to accept terms that are tolerable to most of their Arab neighbors, it is clear that none of the options is attractive for all of the Israelis. And these are the three options. First one has been discussed quite extensively and most persistently by the present prime minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, who presented this thesis quite early in his career as a young member of the Israeli parliament — he’s now the prime minister — a forceful annexation of Palestine and its legal absorption into Israel, which would give large numbers of non-Jewish citizens the right to vote and live as equals under the law. So, a large sectarian nation involving both Israelis and Palestinians is this option. This would directly violate international standards and the Camp David Accords, which are the basis for peace with Egypt. At the same time, non-Jewish citizens would immediately make up a powerful swing vote if other Israelis were divided. In other words, if Israelis, who now have a majority, were divided 60-40 or 50-50, as you could see, then if the Palestinians voted as a bloc, they would prevail in establishing the basic policies of Israel, if other Israelis were divided. It would also maybe constitute an outright majority in the new greater Israel. This is because of demographic trends. The Palestinians have a much higher birthrate than do the Israelis, the Israeli Jews. In fact, in Gaza, which I describe, the Palestinian birthrate is 4.7% annually, which is the highest in the world. And that means that in Gaza at this time, half their citizens are 15 years old or less.  Israel would be further isolated and condemned by the international community. So I think within 20 years or less, in a combined Israel and Palestinian land, the Arabs would actually have a majority, more than the Jews. Second, a system of apartheid — this is, remember, in Palestine — with two peoples occupying the same land but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights. This is a policy now being followed, although many citizens of Israel deride the racist connotation, which I certainly don’t imply, of prescribing permanent second-class status for the Palestinians. As one prominent Israeli stated, quote, “I am afraid that we are moving toward a government like that of South Africa, with a dual society of Jewish rulers and Arab subjects with few rights of citizenship. The West Bank,” this Israeli said, “is not worth it.” And that’s a majority — that’s the opinion of a majority of Israelis. An unacceptable modification of this choice now being proposed is the taking of substantial portions of the occupied territory with the remaining Palestinians completely surrounded by walls, fences and Israeli checkpoints, living as prisoners within the small portion of land left to them. I think you can quickly see the unacceptability of both of those options. There’s only one option left, and that is withdrawal to the 1967 border, as specified in UN Resolution 242 and as promised legally by the Israeli government in the Camp David Accords and the Oslo Agreement and prescribed in the Road Map of the International Quartet. You remember, the Quartet consists of the United States and Russia and the United Nations and the European Union. Those four comprise a Quartet. And they have devised the latest proposal, known as the Road Map for Peace, which has been enthusiastically endorsed by President Bush, as you know. This is the most attractive option and the only one that can ultimately be acceptable as a basis for peace. Good faith negotiations can lead to mutually agreeable exchanges of land, perhaps permitting a number of Israeli settlers to remain in their present homes near Jerusalem inside Palestinian territory. One version of this choice was spelled out in the Geneva Initiative. The Geneva Initiative is described in a separate chapter. I was involved, in some ways, in the preparation of the Geneva Initiative, and I was there and made the keynote speech in Geneva when this initiative was prescribed. But what it does do is work out a compromise between the Palestinians and the Israelis through which about half of the total Israelis who live now in the West Bank could stay where they are, and the others would withdraw, which would still leave the Palestinians with a contiguous — that is, a constant — area of land over which they could have a united government of Palestinians.

And also a part of that was a swap of land. Whenever the Palestinians would give up part of their land, where the large Jewish settlements are built, then the Israelis would give up an equal amount of land that might lie just west of Gaza or some parts — relatively uninhabited parts — of Israel. So it was a swap of land for land.

The other step was the right of return. This is a very important thing for Palestinians, none of whom would give this up. It’s guaranteed in United Nations Resolution 194. The right of Palestinians to return to their homeland, or either to be compensated for their property if they can prove that they actually have title to that property. And a compromise worked out in the Geneva Initiative was, okay, the Palestinians can return, but they can return only to Palestine. They cannot return to Israel, the new nation of Israel, unless Israelis approve each application for return. But they would still be — have available to them some kind of compensation.

And the third major issue — I’m summarizing very quickly — is the settlement of the property, about who controls or owns East Jerusalem. And this is covered quite extensively throughout the book. But a very good compromise was reached, where the holy places would be under the complete control of the Arabs, on the one hand, and the Jews, on the other, including the Wailing Wall and the adjacent land. And then the rest of East Jerusalem would be administered by a joint commission that would take care of housing and schools and garbage collection and water and electricity and that sort of thing. So it was a very good compromise. In my opinion, ultimately something very close to the Geneva Initiative described in this book is the only avenue toward permanent peace for Israel, with justice and peace for their Palestinian neighbors.

So the book is deliberately — I wouldn’t say controversial, but it’s deliberately designed to be provocative, because, as I said earlier, in Israel and in Europe, these kind of issues are debated every day, in a most vehement way, particularly in Israel. Pros and cons, arguing back and forth, in the news media, television, radio, the major newspapers. Never, in this country, do you hear any of these issues proposed publicly by an elected member of the House or the Senate or in the White House or NBC or ABC or CBS, New York Times, LA Times. Never. And I think it’s time for Americans to start looking at the facts about the Mid-East situation. And only then, and based on the knowledge of the facts, will we ever have a chance to move forward and consummate a peace agreement that would give Israel what they need and what they deserve — permanent peace, recognized by their neighbors and all Arab countries and the rest of the world — and the Palestinians to have their human rights, their land and a chance to have their own state, side by side, living in peace with their Israeli neighbors.

AMY GOODMAN: Afterward President Jimmy Carter spoke on Tuesday about his book, Palestine: Apartheid Not Peace [sic], he took questions from the audience. He was asked to outline what a balanced US-Middle East policy would look like. Again, his book is called: Peace Not ApartheidJIMMY CARTER: Yeah, the word “balance” is one that’s almost unacceptable in our country. If you had a candidate for Congress running either Democratic or Republican and they announced to the general public, “I’m going to take a balanced position between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” they would never be elected. That’s an impossibility in our country. But that doesn’t preclude an incumbent administration from demonstrating with their own actions and words that they are concerned about Israeli peace, they are also concerned about peace and justice for the Palestinians. And that’s what I did. It’s what Richard Nixon did. It’s what Ronald Reagan did after I left office. It’s what George Bush, Sr. did. It’s what Bill Clinton did. But it’s not being done now. There is a general feeling throughout the Arab world, throughout Europe, not even noticed in this country, that our present administration has not given any consideration, in my opinion, to the plight of the Palestinians. And you don’t have to be anti-Israel to protect the rights of the Palestinians to have their own land and to live in peace and without being subjugated by an occupying power. So I think that that is a proper approach. If it is impossible during the next two years of President Bush’s administration for him to take that, to use your word, “balanced” approach, then as a fallback, it may be possible for the International Quartet to take that role. And that would obviously be the United States playing a major role, but not the only role, and for it to involve the United Nations and Russia and the European Union. And I think they could say, okay, let us orchestrate peace talks based on United Nations resolutions, based on the Camp David Agreement that I worked out, based on the Oslo Agreement, and based on the will of a majority of Israeli citizens, and based on the Road Map that we ourselves have prescribed. By the way, every element of the Road Map has been adopted enthusiastically by the Palestinian side. None of the key elements in the Road Map have been adopted by the Israeli side. They have rejected all of them. And I have the actual action of the Israeli cabinet in the appendix to this book. So, to summarize, the international group of leaders, the Quartet, could take strong action to implement the terms of the Road Map. Thank you all very much, and I will sign a few books.

Address by Swedish Foreign Min. Carl Bild on Israel-Palestine

Filed under: Blogroll, Palestine, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 8:13 pm

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

15 years ago here in Madrid a light of hope was lit for the world and the Middle East.

Momentous changes, and deliberate diplomacy, brought the prospect of peace to the ancient lands of Abraham. The years since then have certainly been difficult. The light of hope has often been seen as fading – sometimes as faltering altogether.

When we gather here it is to discuss the lessons learnt from these 15 years – but to do so in order to be able to start moving forward again.

It is not difficult to see the problems we are facing in the region. They are certainly not restricted to the absence of peace – or to the absence of a peace process – between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Iranian issue can be neglected by no one. And we all have a profound interest in the stability and political progress of an Iraq trying to build a fully fledged and stable democracy. Economic, political and social issues are pressing across the region. But there is little doubt that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is of particular importance. Peace here would facilitate progress throughout the region and across its entire agenda of major challenges.

In broad terms, we all know what the solution one day will have to be.

Two states living side by side in peace and security within internationally recognized borders. Indeed, there is now a universal commitment to the principle of a two-state solution.

I am convinced that the longer we delay starting to move decisively forward, the greater are the risks that the challenges one day may seem insurmountable.

There was once perhaps a believe that time was working in favor of peace. That is far less certain today. There might be forces building up across the region that one day could challenge the very foundations upon which peace will have to rest.

Indeed, Kofi Annan recently cautioned that tensions are “near the breaking point”. A report from the EU Institute for Security Studies – looking at the prospect for the decades ahead, even warned of what it called the risks of a “systematic breakdown” of the entire region.

The long-term security of Israel will be a function not only of the reconciliation between it and the Arab world but also of the viability of the future Palestinian state. There is no way in which Israel can be secure if surrounded by areas under occupation, with populations living in anger and despair sometimes opting for extremism.

The first imperative for moving forward is to avoid going backwards. Palestine must not renege either on agreements and understandings reached in the past, or on its own commitment to building a state based on democracy and the rule of the law. The renunciation of all forms of terrorism, as well as the use of violence to settle internal disputes, is fundamental.

Israel must truly honor in deeds, not only in words its commitment to stop new settlements on occupied lands and to abolish those established in violation of international law. This applies throughout Palestinian territories, not excluding East Jerusalem. The end of occupation is a necessity for Israel itself – and policies must be conducted accordingly.

The second imperative is to start moving forward. The cease-fire in Gaza must be extended to the West Bank. The freedom of movement on the occupied territories must be dramatically proved. Prisoners must be released. Economic relations must be normalized. Security cooperation must be strengthened. The political dialogue must be deepened.

Nothing of this should be impossible. All of this is urgent. The third imperative must be to move through these urgent steps towards peace. Not only towards a peace process – time might simply not be there given the forces that might be building up – but towards peace itself.

The essence of that peace will be the building of a Palestinian state with internationally recognized borders, contiguous territory and a viable economy. Nothing else will bring peace to the region. We are talking about a territory that – Gaza aside – will soon have a population density higher than Bangladesh.

The 1967 borders constitute the basis for any agreement that must be concluded. And Israel must understand that no other nation in the world – except Palestine itself – has a more fundamental interest in the viability and stability and democracy of that state of Palestine than Israel has.

Peace must come primarily from the region. We know that the basic outlines of the peace to come already today have broad public support in all the lands between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.

But we in the international community must and can help and assist. A revitalized Quartet is of the greatest importance in order to provide political leadership. And we in the European Union are ready to play a significantly more important role.

We Europeans face mounting strategic challenges in our near abroad. From Kabul to Khartoum we feel the tremors of rising tensions. Clouds are gathering also on our immediate Eastern horizon. Signs of escalating fracture in Africa are increasing.

We need far more of a concerted strategic debate on the challenges ahead. And we need more of a clear policy to help in addressing them.

But nowhere is this more important than when it comes to the conflict we will be discussing here in Madrid, today and in the days to come.

Let us bring back the lights of hope.

Thank you!
[Madrid, 11.1.07]

Response by Sen. Jim Webb to Bush’s State of the Union address

Filed under: Blogroll, Palestine, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 8:09 pm

Democratic Response by Senator Jim Webb

01/23/2007                       http://speaker.gov/newsroom/multimedia?id=0011

Good evening. 
 
I’m Senator Jim Webb, from Virginia, where this year we will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown – an event that marked the first step in the long journey that has made us the greatest and most prosperous nation on earth.
 
It would not be possible in this short amount of time to actually rebut the President’s message, nor would it be useful.  Let me simply say that we in the Democratic Party hope that this administration is serious about improving education and healthcare for all Americans, and addressing such domestic priorities as restoring the vitality of New Orleans. 
 
Further, this is the seventh time the President has mentioned energy independence in his state of the union message, but for the first time this exchange is taking place in a Congress led by the Democratic Party.  We are looking for affirmative solutions that will strengthen our nation by freeing us from our dependence on foreign oil, and spurring a wave of entrepreneurial growth in the form of alternate energy programs.  We look forward to working with the President and his party to bring about these changes.
 
There are two areas where our respective parties have largely stood in contradiction, and I want to take a few minutes to address them tonight.  The first relates to how we see the health of our economy – how we measure it, and how we ensure that its benefits are properly shared among all Americans. The second regards our foreign policy – how we might bring the war in Iraq to a proper conclusion that will also allow us to continue to fight the war against international terrorism, and to address other strategic concerns that our country faces around the world.
 
When one looks at the health of our economy, it’s almost as if we are living in two different countries.  Some say that things have never been better. The stock market is at an all-time high, and so are corporate profits. But these benefits are not being fairly shared.  When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did; today, it’s nearly 400 times.  In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day. 
 
Wages and salaries for our workers are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth, even though the productivity of American workers is the highest in the world.  Medical costs have skyrocketed.  College tuition rates are off the charts. Our manufacturing base is being dismantled and sent overseas.  Good American jobs are being sent along with them. 
 
In short, the middle class of this country, our historic backbone and our best hope for a strong society in the future, is losing its place at the table.  Our workers know this, through painful experience.  Our white-collar professionals are beginning to understand it, as their jobs start disappearing also. And they expect, rightly, that in this age of globalization, their government has a duty to insist that their concerns be dealt with fairly in the international marketplace.
 
In the early days of our republic, President Andrew Jackson established an important principle of American-style democracy – that we should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base.  Not with the numbers that come out of Wall Street, but with the living conditions that exist on Main Street. We must recapture that spirit today. 
 
And under the leadership of the new Democratic Congress, we are on our way to doing so.  The House just passed a minimum wage increase, the first in ten years, and the Senate will soon follow.  We’ve introduced a broad legislative package designed to regain the trust of the American people.  We’ve established a tone of cooperation and consensus that extends beyond party lines.  We’re working to get the right things done, for the right people and for the right reasons.
 
With respect to foreign policy, this country has patiently endured a mismanaged war for nearly four years.  Many, including myself, warned even before the war began that it was unnecessary, that it would take our energy and attention away from the larger war against terrorism, and that invading and occupying Iraq would leave us strategically vulnerable in the most violent and turbulent corner of the world. 
 
I want to share with all of you a picture that I have carried with me for more than 50 years.   This is my father, when he was a young Air Force captain, flying cargo planes during the Berlin Airlift.  He sent us the picture from Germany, as we waited for him, back here at home.  When I was a small boy, I used to take the picture to bed with me every night, because for more than three years my father was deployed, unable to live with us full-time, serving overseas or in bases where there was no family housing.  I still keep it, to remind me of the sacrifices that my mother and others had to make, over and over again, as my father gladly served our country. I was proud to follow in his footsteps, serving as a Marine in Vietnam. My brother did as well, serving as a Marine helicopter pilot.  My son has joined the tradition, now serving as an infantry Marine in Iraq. 
 
Like so many other Americans, today and throughout our history, we serve and have served, not for political reasons, but because we love our country. On the political issues – those matters of war and peace, and in some cases of life and death – we trusted the judgment of our national leaders.  We hoped that they would be right, that they would measure with accuracy the value of our lives against the enormity of the national interest that might call upon us to go into harm’s way. 
 
We owed them our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it.  But they owed us – sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.
 
The President took us into this war recklessly.  He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq,  the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs.  We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable – and predicted – disarray that has followed. 
 
The war’s costs to our nation have been staggering.
Financially.
The damage to our reputation around the world.
The lost opportunities to defeat the forces of international terrorism.
And especially the precious blood of our citizens who have stepped forward to serve.
 
The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought; nor does the majority of our military.  We need a new direction.  Not one step back from the war against international terrorism.  Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos.  But an immediate shift toward strong regionally-based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq’s cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq.
 
On both of these vital issues, our economy and our national security, it falls upon those of us in elected office to take action. 
 
Regarding the economic imbalance in our country, I am reminded of the situation President Theodore Roosevelt faced in the early days of the 20th century.  America was then, as now, drifting apart along class lines.  The so-called robber barons were unapologetically raking in a huge percentage of the national wealth.  The dispossessed workers at the bottom were threatening revolt. 
 
Roosevelt spoke strongly against these divisions.  He told his fellow Republicans that they must set themselves “as resolutely against improper corporate influence on the one hand as against demagogy and mob rule on the other.” And he did something about it.

As I look at Iraq, I recall the words of former general and soon-to-be President Dwight Eisenhower during the dark days of the Korean War, which had fallen into a bloody stalemate. “When comes the end?” asked the General who had commanded our forces in Europe during World War Two.  And as soon as he became President, he brought the Korean War to an end.
 
These Presidents took the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world.  Tonight we are calling on this President to take similar action, in both areas.  If he does, we will join him.  If he does not, we will be showing him the way.
 
Thank you for listening.  And God bless America.

January 21, 2007

Israel’s ‘invisible hand’ in Gaza

Filed under: Palestine — angelajerusalem @ 12:33 am

By Alan Johnston
BBC News, Gaza

Although Israel withdrew from Gaza more than a year ago, its control over the lives of Palestinians there is in some ways even tighter than before, a new report by an Israeli human rights organisation says. In the days after Israeli troops and settlers pulled out of the territory, the then Israeli leader, Ariel Sharon addressed the United Nations.

He declared “the end of Israeli control over and responsibility for the Gaza Strip”.

But a study by Gisha challenges that claim. The organisation says it aims to “protect the fundamental rights of Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories by imposing human rights law as a limitation on the behaviour of Israel’s military”.

“Israel continues to control Gaza through an ‘invisible hand’,” the organisation says, in a detailed, 100-page report.

Gaza residents know that significant aspects of their lives depend on decisions made by Israel’s military
Gisha report

“In contrast to the rhetoric used to describe the disengagement plan, Israel has not relinquished control over Gaza but rather removed some elements of control while tightening other significant controls.”

Gisha argues that this means that Israel still has extensive legal obligations for the wellbeing of the territory’s population that are not being met.

It says: “Gaza residents know that significant aspects of their lives – the ability to exit or enter Gaza, the supply of medicine, fuel and other basic goods, the possibility to transport crops to export markets, the ability to use electric lights – depend on decisions made by Israel’s military.”

My husband’s ID card says he is married, but the box for spouse’s name is blank. My children were born in Gaza to a mother who, officially, does not exist
Mirvat Alnahal
Palestinian lawyer with no ID

The report begins by referring to the continued, overt military pressure on Gaza.Until the ceasefire declared in November, Israeli air raids, artillery fire and armoured incursions led to the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians.

This was all part of the army’s confrontation with militant groups – like the Islamic Jihad organisation – which are based in Gaza.

On an almost daily basis they launch crudely made missiles at towns and villages in neighbouring southern Israel – often describing their attacks as retaliation for Israeli army actions in the occupied West Bank.

Less visible controls

But the new study focuses more on the much less visible forms of continuing Israeli control over Gaza.

GISHA: REMAINING CONTROLS

Military pressure

Effective control over Rafah crossing with Egypt, and frequent closure of Karni border crossing with Israel

Air and sea blockade

Control of Palestinian population registry

Control over aspects of areas of the Palestinian tax system


There is an air blockade. Israel has not allowed Gaza’s international airport to re-open.

The Israeli navy continues to patrol the coastline in what it says in an effort to prevent arms smuggling. Palestinian fishing boats are sometimes fired on for straying outside Israeli-imposed zones.

The Israelis have also been able to maintain control over all Gaza’s land links with the outside world – including the territory’s border with Egypt.

There are no Israeli troops on the frontier any longer, but Israel’s co-operation is required for the border crossing to function under an agreement struck between Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt and the European Union.

That Israeli co-operation has frequently been withdrawn, and the border was closed for nearly half of the first year after Israel pulled out of Gaza.

Israeli control over the flow of goods in and out of the territory remains total. And frequent closures of the main cargo terminal at the Karni crossing point have had a devastating impact on the Gazan economy.

Security threats

The Israelis say the restrictions have been necessary on account of continual security threats. Two years ago there was an attack by militants at Karni that left several Israelis dead.

We would argue that to say legally that Israel has control of what goes on inside the Gaza Strip when there are no Israeli police, soldiers or civilians there is very far fetched
Israeli foreign ministry

But Palestinians believe that the border closures are part of a deliberate effort to maintain pressure on Gaza by strangling its economy.

The report also highlights a range of administrative controls.

It points out that Israel has retained control of the Palestinian population registry. This enables it to decide who can be a resident of Gaza – and who can come and go.

The reports says that tens of thousands of people have been barred from the registry and consequently have no identity papers.

The study sites the case of Mirvat Alnahal, a lawyer of Palestinian origin and who has lived in Gaza since the mid-1990s.

“I am trapped here. I cannot leave for fear that I won’t be allowed to return,” she says.

“My husband’s ID card says he is married, but the box for spouse’s name is blank. My children were born in Gaza to a mother who, officially, does not exist.”

Crippled economy

The report stresses the importance of Israel’s continuing control over areas of the Palestinian tax system.

And in its effort to apply pressure on the Hamas government, Israel has withheld payment of tax revenue it owes the Palestinians worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The report points out that this has had a crippling impact on the services that the government has been able to provide – and the policy has constituted another example of Israel’s ability to continue to exert significant control in Gaza.

The study ends by saying that despite the withdrawal of its soldiers, Israel’s role in the territory means that it remains bound under international and humanitarian law to allow freedoms of movement and economic activity.

With continuing control comes continuing legal responsibility, the report says.

The Israeli government has completely rejected this conclusion.

Responding to the study, a foreign ministry spokesman said: “We would argue that to say legally that Israel has control of what goes on inside the Gaza Strip when there are no Israeli police, soldiers or civilians there is very far fetched.

“It doesn’t hold water under international law.”

Published: 2007/01/17 12:05:29 GMT

© BBC MMVII

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